(Metagame Archive) Marvel Knights Preview: Dracula, Vlad Dracula

By Ben Kalman

“What manner of man feels no remorse for murder?”

—Janus, speaking of Dracula

What man, indeed? It’s not a man, but a vampire, and that vampire is Dracula. No other myth has inspired so much feverish delight amongst the masses as the story of Dracula. No other character has ever been so awe-inspiring. Dracula has made us curious about what vampires are like, whether or not they exist, and whether or not one of them could come and take care of that annoying neighbor who keeps blasting music at three in the morning . . .

When it comes to the undead, Vlad Dracula is the maestro. He is a key figure in the supernatural side of the Marvel Universe—the “Underworld,” if you will—wherein all manner of evil creatures from Hell and beyond exist. Dracula is so powerful a figure that even his name is hypnotic, and the mere thought of his existence charms those who would know more. Bram Stoker was so captivated that he fictionalized Dracula’s story when he wrote his best-selling gothic novel in Victorian England. So, what’s the real truth about the so-called “Prince of Darkness?” Well, according to Marvel continuity, here are the basics about our man Vlad.

He was born in 1430 in Schassburg, Transylvania, and was the second son of Transylvanian noble Vlad Dracul. Vlad Dracul won the title of Prince of Walachia—a title that his son Dracula would inherit.

Dracula first married in 1451 to a Hungarian noblewoman named Zofia. The marriage only lasted five years, but it spawned a daughter named Lilith. In 1456, he would remarry—this time to Maria—and sire a son, Vlad Tepelus.

In 1459, the Turkish warlord Turac finally defeated Dracula and did some very naughty and unpleasant things to Dracula’s wife, family, and household. Intent on vengeance, Dracula engaged in a personal battle with Turac. Dracula was mortally wounded, and his dying body was left with the gypsy healer, Lianda. Lianda was no ordinary gypsy—she was a vampire, and her kiss was one of death. Dracula’s corpse rose up from the figurative grave as a member of the undead. The new and improved Transylvanian prince hunted and killed Turac to avenge his wife, Maria, who was killed at Turac’s hand. Dracula then battled and destroyed Nimrod (no, not the Sentinel, the other Nimrod), and succeeded Nimrod as the lord of all vampires on Earth.

While Dracula would later become much stronger (owing more than a little thanks to the blood of Varnae, who was a true vampire and not a turned one), this week’s preview card reflects the early Dracula. It represents him at a time after he was turned but before he became the figure of strength and power that he would be in later years.

“I do need blood, but it shall not be spoon-fed to me from a bottle.”


This card reflects the power of the vampire in a way that smoothly combines flavor and game logistics. Dracula has the power to create vampires, and the power to control them once they’ve been turned, and that’s exactly what this card does. With stats a little below average for a 5-drop, you’ll have to work harder to take down your target, but Dracula compensates for the lower stats with two key characteristics—flight and concealed.

Of course Dracula can fly. Anyone who knows anything about the Dracula mythology could surmise that. Flight is a boon because it allows him to pick any target on the board, barring a Blob or Ubu. This means that you can choose the target that is most dangerous to you (or most helpful to your opponent) and try to turn that character to the dark side. That accomplished, you can use the character against its former controller. Dracula also has concealed, which prevents his low DEF from making him a liability—as long as he remains hidden, your opponent can’t attack him first. This means that in most scenarios, Dracula will have a shot at taking out a character every turn, and a successful attack means that your opponent will (at the very least) lose an extra 5 endurance.

You want even initiative, along with a little offensive boost, so that you can attack up the curve into your opponent’s 6-drop (possibly through a team attack). This will either force him or her to pay the 5 endurance, or to go into turn 7 facing two 6-drops, a 5-drop Dracula, and a freshly played 7-drop. Those are not good odds to face.

Odd initiative will also work fine, however, as you can try to steal your opponent’s 5-drop. The Underworld team has the tools to win games by turn 5 or 6 if deployed properly. A turn 5 Dracula with the initiative may well be a key piece of that strategy.

Dracula also screams to be teamed up with Satanus. Imagine the havoc you could wreak if you manage to take control of two of your opponent’s drops on turn 6! Granted, Satanus is a big risk, but if you can take Dracula up the curve to attack the 6-drop, Satanus has a good shot at taking down the 5-drop. Also, his soul stealing doesn’t have the drawback that Dracula’s vampirism does—there’s no way for your opponent to save his or her drop by sacrificing a little lifeblood.

With or without another character thief, Dracula is one of the most interesting drops on the Underworld team. He can really shine as the center of a Dracula-themed deck—there are quite a few cards that reward hidden characters, especially those of the Underworld affiliation. You’ll find that as long as your opponent doesn’t have any tricks up his or her own sleeve, you can pit Dracula against your opponent’s key characters and not have to worry about his low stats or durability. And what better way to prepare for Mephisto than to build up an army of your opponent’s attackers?


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