Standard Brew: Zombies

Standard Brew: Zombies

Standard Zombies with a twist.

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Interesting deck, though I'm not a huge fan of Highborn Ghoul and I think you could probably get something better for a 2-drop. Intimidate just never does it for me.

I do like the white splash though.

I'd like to have help with my zombie deck, it uses all the lords to power up tokens from endless ranks, a zombie decks best friend.

My twists are that my zombie deck isn't all zombies, and that sometimes you need a touch of blue for a Havengul lich. Or in my case a bit more than a touch when you reanimate your opponent's sliver queen. Of course, I play a bit more bounce and discard too.

A friend of mine is actually running mono-black aggro at FNMs, and he's running mostly Zombies due to their great costs and effects. He was running Porcelain Legionnaires, but having to pay 2 life to cast them was making it harder to win some games.

I believe the decklist goes something like this:

The numbers might be a little off, but that's the basic gist of it. There are quite a few BU control decks that feature zombies, but no mono-black aside from my friend. In fact, me and my friend are the only ones running mono-colored decks at all (I'm trying out a RDW variant; 1-4-0 so far, not off to a stellar start).

Last week, my friend lost in the first round of the Top 8 to a BU Zombie control deck running Diregraf Captain, where the real game winner was that loss of life.

I guess I'm just a purist who likes his zombie decks mono-black (plus I like all creatures to be zombies, but even blue zombies feel weird). But yeah, fliers are the big enemies there.

The aggro zombie deck seems solid, but a captain would benefit it a lot. I'm thinking Lord of the Undead and/or Death Baron.

The question's answer is during your next end step.

Given that Zombies just won a Grand Prix tournament (and $3500 cash prize), I strongly believe they are already "a stand-out competitive force" in Standard. It's also worth noting that it splashes blue, instead of white (Decklist).

I have to ask, why would you splash white for control instead of splashing blue for more aggro? Zombies already exists as a tribe that wants to win by turn 4 or 5, and splashing for O-Ring moves that win back a turn or two, and gives the opponent more time to answer the creatures or fly over for the win. I freely admit that Black cannot deal with artifacts, enchantments, or fliers, especially in standard, but in a strongly aggro build, the opponent is at half their life total before any relevant artifacts, enchantments, or fliers are on the table.

If you're really having trouble with fliers, Skirsdag High Priest answers them rather effectively. I know it's not a zombie, but Black has an excellent ability to activate morbid. If the creature kill suite isn't enough, suddenly spitting out a 5/5 flier tends to tilt the balance in your favor.

KefkaCultist:
Interesting deck, though I'm not a huge fan of Highborn Ghoul and I think you could probably get something better for a 2-drop. Intimidate just never does it for me.

I do like the white splash though.

I considered Black Cat for the extra disruption, but with Distress in there, I'd really rather get to choose what they discard. I admit that the 2-drops are a little lackluster at the moment, but I'm open to suggestions!

As to the QotW, you're quite right. It happens after your End Step, specifically during your Cleanup Step. You are only required to discard down to your Maximum Hand Size during your own Cleanup Step.

402.2. Each player has a maximum hand size, which is normally seven cards. A player may have any number of cards in his or her hand, but as part of his or her cleanup step, the player must discard excess cards down to the maximum hand size.

RaikuFA:
I'd like to have help with my zombie deck, it uses all the lords to power up tokens from endless ranks, a zombie decks best friend.

I've not had much luck with Endless Ranks of the Dead as yet, but I'm just waiting to see a deck that can wield it effectively. What format are you going for here?

Crimson_Dragoon:
I guess I'm just a purist who likes his zombie decks mono-black (plus I like all creatures to be zombies, but even blue zombies feel weird). But yeah, fliers are the big enemies there.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with that! Until recently, I was pretty reluctant to extend Zombies out of Black but, even with the influx of new Zombies, the options in Standard are limited in mono-Black builds so I figured I'd branch out and see what happened. I'm pretty pleased with the results so far.

I think blue is probably more optimal here. With only 16 zombies, gravecrawler isn't always going to be able to recur, and diregraf captain/havengul lich are too good to pass up on. The latter is especially good with Liliana, since in a pinch you can just discard a creature and recur it with the lich.

Your mana base is also more stable with blue (8 duals rather then 4) and you have access to counterspells for all-purpose "removal". Thing is, though, you shouldn't really be all that concerned about dealing with your opponent's threats with this deck... You should basically never run out of fuel, because they're going to run out of O-rings and Celestial Purges eventually. just bash until they die.

One last thing: I'm not sure I like Lingering souls here. It's an amazing card, to be sure, but it's not at it's best here because it doesn,t synergize with the rest of the deck. Against decks with tons of fliers (esper spirits, UW delver, that sort of thing) your fliers will just get eaten by their bigger fliers, and in decks without (basically everything else), you'd probably be better off with another ground guy that can help tilt the balance of the ground game in your favour (allowing tons of damage to go through rather then 2 a turn).

In any case, I still feel BW is an interesting color combo, and this is an interesting example. BW tokens is the deck Wizards has been puhsing the most, obviously, but it's nice to see something different.

Encaen:

KefkaCultist:
[quote="RaikuFA" post="6.353396.14022819"]I'd like to have help with my zombie deck, it uses all the lords to power up tokens from endless ranks, a zombie decks best friend.

I've not had much luck with Endless Ranks of the Dead as yet, but I'm just waiting to see a deck that can wield it effectively. What format are you going for here?

Casual, just playing with friends. Also have a Werewolf, Demon, Goblin and Vampire deck

paronomasiac:
Given that Zombies just won a Grand Prix tournament (and $3500 cash prize), I strongly believe they are already "a stand-out competitive force" in Standard. It's also worth noting that it splashes blue, instead of white (Decklist).

I have to ask, why would you splash white for control instead of splashing blue for more aggro? Zombies already exists as a tribe that wants to win by turn 4 or 5, and splashing for O-Ring moves that win back a turn or two, and gives the opponent more time to answer the creatures or fly over for the win. I freely admit that Black cannot deal with artifacts, enchantments, or fliers, especially in standard, but in a strongly aggro build, the opponent is at half their life total before any relevant artifacts, enchantments, or fliers are on the table.

If you're really having trouble with fliers, Skirsdag High Priest answers them rather effectively. I know it's not a zombie, but Black has an excellent ability to activate morbid. If the creature kill suite isn't enough, suddenly spitting out a 5/5 flier tends to tilt the balance in your favor.

That's fantastic! I am pleased to see that Zombies are making their mark on the format!

As to the White, by the time I'm casting O-Rings with this deck, I've already got threats on the board, and I'm just looking for ways to punch extra damage through. Kill spells are great, but not universal, and O-Rings give me answers to things that mono-Black doesn't. I don't want to trade a Zombie for an Honor of the Pure'd Doomed Traveler as a matter of course. White may not be optimal, in general, but it seems to serve my purposes here pretty well.

I do like the Skirsdag High Priest option here. I've seen him used to pretty solid effect, and I may have to craft some sort of general horror themed deck for him to live in along with Phyrexian Obliterator.

A. Smith:
I think blue is probably more optimal here. With only 16 zombies, gravecrawler isn't always going to be able to recur, and diregraf captain/havengul lich are too good to pass up on. The latter is especially good with Liliana, since in a pinch you can just discard a creature and recur it with the lich.

Your mana base is also more stable with blue (8 duals rather then 4) and you have access to counterspells for all-purpose "removal". Thing is, though, you shouldn't really be all that concerned about dealing with your opponent's threats with this deck... You should basically never run out of fuel, because they're going to run out of O-rings and Celestial Purges eventually. just bash until they die.

One last thing: I'm not sure I like Lingering souls here. It's an amazing card, to be sure, but it's not at it's best here because it doesn,t synergize with the rest of the deck. Against decks with tons of fliers (esper spirits, UW delver, that sort of thing) your fliers will just get eaten by their bigger fliers, and in decks without (basically everything else), you'd probably be better off with another ground guy that can help tilt the balance of the ground game in your favour (allowing tons of damage to go through rather then 2 a turn).

In any case, I still feel BW is an interesting color combo, and this is an interesting example. BW tokens is the deck Wizards has been puhsing the most, obviously, but it's nice to see something different.

All fair points! As I mentioned above, I'm not convinced White is the perfect color for a splash, for all the reasons you mentioned, but it allows some flexibility that is not necessarily afforded to other colors. I've played with a few BW token builds as well, but I rather enjoyed the novelty of this.

RaikuFA:
Casual, just playing with friends. Also have a Werewolf, Demon, Goblin and Vampire deck

Well, in addition to the Zombie lords, I like Bone Dancer a lot. It can be hard to get through sometimes, but can be a nightmare to play against. Likewise, Balthor, the Defiled can be great in a longer game, and Grave Defiler can give you some much-needed card advantage!

I had a Zombie deck that I'd like to recreated. I based the idea around Lich Lord of Unx, so I had a good splash of blue. I never really got the deck up to snuff, but when it did get going or my opponents were having a bad game, it was pretty killer. Zombie army. I'd like to rebuild it, but have it a little more focussed. My problem is cards. I only have limited cards to choose from, so it's a bit of a barrier to an effective deck sometimes.

I only play casual though, so it's no biggie.

Encaen:
As to the White, by the time I'm casting O-Rings with this deck, I've already got threats on the board, and I'm just looking for ways to punch extra damage through. Kill spells are great, but not universal, and O-Rings give me answers to things that mono-Black doesn't. I don't want to trade a Zombie for an Honor of the Pure'd Doomed Traveler as a matter of course. White may not be optimal, in general, but it seems to serve my purposes here pretty well.

I admit that I love the splash of white to throw Vault of the Archangel, and O-Ring is fantastic removal.

I would disagree that black kill spells aren't universal in Standard right now. Go for the Throat kills most relevant creatures. Victim of Night and Doom Blade kill the rest of them. Tragic Slip kills anything indestructible. Geth's Verdict takes care of anything you can't target.

Sure, running 20 creature kill in the main deck isn't feasible, but that's what the sideboard is for! =-D Of course, local metagame decisions always trump what's "better in a vacuum," and if there's just too many Tempered Steel and Humans/Spirit Tokens running around, then you need to be able to deal with enchantments.

Answer to the question is at the end of your next turn.

I have to go to class right now and I skimmed this, but as a standard deck I'm inclined to say that B/W wouldn't work just because of the lack of more than 4 B/W dual lands. The fact you're playing colorless lands (Vault) with Highborne Ghoul and Geralf's Messenger only makes it worse, you really need to land those on turn 2/3 consistently, and by playing plains and vaults you're not doing that. That's why most decks that do splash go blue, because they can play 4 catacombs and 4 darkslick shores and still have the perfect color mana (barring a 3x catacombs opening hand).

Encaen:

All fair points! As I mentioned above, I'm not convinced White is the perfect color for a splash, for all the reasons you mentioned, but it allows some flexibility that is not necessarily afforded to other colors. I've played with a few BW token builds as well, but I rather enjoyed the novelty of this.

Oh, absolutely. I guess I'm just biased because my FNMs attract some legit pro players - one of them went to the world championships twice - and I don't have many occasions to play beyond that, so I'm used to a competitive mindset.

Not that I'm good at it, mind you. Hell, the only reason I do half-decently is that I netdeck all the things.

I guess what I'm saying is that I shouldn't have posted in the first place :D

The biggest problem with zombies is that they're too slow for true aggro, they don't have the sheer numbers of tokens and they have no true bomb to late game. They're annoying as shit, but ultimately a lot of standard decks are just going to walk over them.

Hell, my R/W Humans deck wouldn't fear them at all really without blue, and even then you'd have to keep wasting counters to cards I can win with or without.

Encaen:
no mono-Black spells have ever actually dealt with Enchantments

Not technically true. There's a mono-black zombie druid which can, but the activation cost is in green. His colour is still black, though.

I like the look of the deck, but it's just a little to straight forward for me. I, for example, would be playing UB and turn those Gravecrawlers into Grimgrin food.

Anyway, good article as always.

Zom-B:
I had a Zombie deck that I'd like to recreated. I based the idea around Lich Lord of Unx, so I had a good splash of blue. I never really got the deck up to snuff, but when it did get going or my opponents were having a bad game, it was pretty killer. Zombie army. I'd like to rebuild it, but have it a little more focussed. My problem is cards. I only have limited cards to choose from, so it's a bit of a barrier to an effective deck sometimes.

I only play casual though, so it's no biggie.

A good match for the Lich Lord is Undead Alchemist. They're brutal together.

SL33TBL1ND:
Not technically true. There's a mono-black zombie druid which can, but the activation cost is in green. His colour identity is still black, though.

That's not actually correct. Color identity is defined by any mana symbols in the cost and the rules text. (And color identifiers and CDA's.) Quagmire Druid's color identity is Black and Green. There is no card in all of M:TG which has a color identity of black that can target enchantments.

Edit: Okay, that's not entirely accurate. Vampire Hexmage can target enchantments. The enchantment remains a permanent, but it definitely has its uses.

paronomasiac:

SL33TBL1ND:
Not technically true. There's a mono-black zombie druid which can, but the activation cost is in green. His colour identity is still black, though.

That's not actually correct. Color identity is defined by any mana symbols in the cost and the rules text. (And color identifiers and CDA's.) Quagmire Druid's color identity is Black and Green. There is no card in all of M:TG which has a color identity of black that can target enchantments.

Edit: Okay, that's not entirely accurate. Vampire Hexmage can target enchantments. The enchantment remains a permanent, but it definitely has its uses.

EDIT: Actually, I was right.

From the comprehensive rules:

202.2. An object is the color or colors of the mana symbols in its mana cost, regardless of the color of its frame.

So it doesn't include abilities.

SL33TBL1ND:

EDIT: Actually, I was right.

From the comprehensive rules:

202.2. An object is the color or colors of the mana symbols in its mana cost, regardless of the color of its frame.

So it doesn't include abilities.

No, you weren't.
From the comprehensive rules:

903.4. The Commander variant uses color identity to determine what cards can be in a deck with a certain commander. The color identity of a card is the color or colors of any mana symbols in that card's mana cost or rules text, plus any colors defined by its characteristic-defining abilities (see rule 604.3) or color indicator (see rule 204).

Color identity =/= color.

paronomasiac:

SL33TBL1ND:

EDIT: Actually, I was right.

From the comprehensive rules:

202.2. An object is the color or colors of the mana symbols in its mana cost, regardless of the color of its frame.

So it doesn't include abilities.

No, you weren't.
From the comprehensive rules:

903.4. The Commander variant uses color identity to determine what cards can be in a deck with a certain commander. The color identity of a card is the color or colors of any mana symbols in that card's mana cost or rules text, plus any colors defined by its characteristic-defining abilities (see rule 604.3) or color indicator (see rule 204).

Color identity =/= color.

A minor mistake in the term I used, I apologise. I meant colour.

SL33TBL1ND:

A good match for the Lich Lord is Undead Alchemist. They're brutal together.

Indeed that seems like a brutal combo, but I dismantled the deck right around the time Innistrad came out. I'll be coming into possession soon of the MtG cards my cousin and I have pooled together in order to create a cube for our play group to use, so either I'll remake the deck then or just include a good whack of zombie stuff in the cube to make it a viable draft strategy. Either way, fun times. I think we may have at least one Undead Alchemist. If there's just one, Zombie cube. If more than one, I'll just make a deck. I'll be pulling a few others apart anyway, in service of the cube.

I've been running my own UB Zombie deck, and I really don't like Skirsdag High Priest. Tragic Slip kills all of the Inkmoths and Delvers you need it to, 8 duals in blue means you don't need to run any Islands, and can play Obliterator. Steel Sabotage makes a good artifact SB card in this deck, and you have Phantasmal Image, which is broken OP with Messenger (when it dies, it comes back from undying with the +1/+1, but can copy a new creature. For instance, I had an Image copying Messenger die, and it came back as an Oliterator with a +1/+1 on it)

Honestly, Skirsdag High Priest seems too slow to run effectively. The fact that it requires Morbid to use just kills it for me. Blood Seeker is a good card for slowing down other aggro decks, especially humans/token decks. Black Cat is used in the sideboard versus control decks in the list I mentioned above. He switches them in for the Seekers.

Volafortis:
I've been running my own UB Zombie deck, and I really don't like Skirsdag High Priest. Tragic Slip kills all of the Inkmoths and Delvers you need it to, 8 duals in blue means you don't need to run any Islands, and can play Obliterator. Steel Sabotage makes a good artifact SB card in this deck, and you have Phantasmal Image, which is broken OP with Messenger (when it dies, it comes back from undying with the +1/+1, but can copy a new creature. For instance, I had an Image copying Messenger die, and it came back as an Oliterator with a +1/+1 on it)

Or, hilariously, coming back and copying Geralf's all the time. BSZ is great with undying as well, because if you have your Geralf and/or Phantasmal Image with counters, you Zenith for 1 or 2, deform/kill the opponents field and get rid of the counters on your guys without killing them, so they can trigger Undying again.

Zom-B:

SL33TBL1ND:

A good match for the Lich Lord is Undead Alchemist. They're brutal together.

Indeed that seems like a brutal combo, but I dismantled the deck right around the time Innistrad came out. I'll be coming into possession soon of the MtG cards my cousin and I have pooled together in order to create a cube for our play group to use, so either I'll remake the deck then or just include a good whack of zombie stuff in the cube to make it a viable draft strategy. Either way, fun times. I think we may have at least one Undead Alchemist. If there's just one, Zombie cube. If more than one, I'll just make a deck. I'll be pulling a few others apart anyway, in service of the cube.

If you don't have enough, they're generally pretty cheap if you're ok with buying singles. It also makes pretty good Grimgrin fuel.

Frylock72:
Honestly, Skirsdag High Priest seems too slow to run effectively. The fact that it requires Morbid to use just kills it for me. Blood Seeker is a good card for slowing down other aggro decks, especially humans/token decks. Black Cat is used in the sideboard versus control decks in the list I mentioned above. He switches them in for the Seekers.

Volafortis:
I've been running my own UB Zombie deck, and I really don't like Skirsdag High Priest. Tragic Slip kills all of the Inkmoths and Delvers you need it to, 8 duals in blue means you don't need to run any Islands, and can play Obliterator. Steel Sabotage makes a good artifact SB card in this deck, and you have Phantasmal Image, which is broken OP with Messenger (when it dies, it comes back from undying with the +1/+1, but can copy a new creature. For instance, I had an Image copying Messenger die, and it came back as an Oliterator with a +1/+1 on it)

Or, hilariously, coming back and copying Geralf's all the time. BSZ is great with undying as well, because if you have your Geralf and/or Phantasmal Image with counters, you Zenith for 1 or 2, deform/kill the opponents field and get rid of the counters on your guys without killing them, so they can trigger Undying again.

I was so happy when they made counters cancel each other out. Best rule change in a while, in my opinion.

I can't help but feel there's something interesting to be done with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed. I'm not talking about the obvious things either. I was thinking about Spinal parasite, but one would have to figure out how to put a second counter on him, to make it so he can ultimately end up a 0/0.

EDIT:Of course, Etched Monstrosity pops into my head, because he comes into play with more than enough -1/-1 counters on him to ignore Undying.

Mikaeus + Loyal Cathar // Unhallowed Cathar can form a infinite sacrifice engine.

(The human side doesn't have undying from Mikaeus, it just comes back transformed (with no +1/+1). Then, when it comes back transformed, it's no longer human, so it gets undying. However, when it dies, it goes to the graveyard before coming back from undying, so due to the zone change, it flips back to its front face before returning with the +1/+1, so it's a 3/3 without undying that comes back again transformed without the counter when it dies. Repeat infinite for infinite sacrifices.)

Also, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is just a total bomb 6 drop.

Here's my list:

SL33TBL1ND:

Zom-B:

SL33TBL1ND:

A good match for the Lich Lord is Undead Alchemist. They're brutal together.

Indeed that seems like a brutal combo, but I dismantled the deck right around the time Innistrad came out. I'll be coming into possession soon of the MtG cards my cousin and I have pooled together in order to create a cube for our play group to use, so either I'll remake the deck then or just include a good whack of zombie stuff in the cube to make it a viable draft strategy. Either way, fun times. I think we may have at least one Undead Alchemist. If there's just one, Zombie cube. If more than one, I'll just make a deck. I'll be pulling a few others apart anyway, in service of the cube.

If you don't have enough, they're generally pretty cheap if you're ok with buying singles. It also makes pretty good Grimgrin fuel.

Frylock72:
Honestly, Skirsdag High Priest seems too slow to run effectively. The fact that it requires Morbid to use just kills it for me. Blood Seeker is a good card for slowing down other aggro decks, especially humans/token decks. Black Cat is used in the sideboard versus control decks in the list I mentioned above. He switches them in for the Seekers.

Volafortis:
I've been running my own UB Zombie deck, and I really don't like Skirsdag High Priest. Tragic Slip kills all of the Inkmoths and Delvers you need it to, 8 duals in blue means you don't need to run any Islands, and can play Obliterator. Steel Sabotage makes a good artifact SB card in this deck, and you have Phantasmal Image, which is broken OP with Messenger (when it dies, it comes back from undying with the +1/+1, but can copy a new creature. For instance, I had an Image copying Messenger die, and it came back as an Oliterator with a +1/+1 on it)

Or, hilariously, coming back and copying Geralf's all the time. BSZ is great with undying as well, because if you have your Geralf and/or Phantasmal Image with counters, you Zenith for 1 or 2, deform/kill the opponents field and get rid of the counters on your guys without killing them, so they can trigger Undying again.

I was so happy when they made counters cancel each other out. Best rule change in a while, in my opinion.

You just have to make sure not to kill them while they still have counters on them, since that won't trigger undying as they will have a +1/+1 counter at the time of death.

I have a small rules question about a certain card in Dark Ascension. Is it possible to legally use Elbrus, the Binding Blade/Withengar Unbound in a nonblack EDH deck? Normally I run a blue/white deck with Geist of Saint Traft as my Commander (the deck needs a lot of work and testing before I'm fully comfortable with it) but I would definitely throw Elbrus/Withengar in there if possible.

CounterAttack:
I have a small rules question about a certain card in Dark Ascension. Is it possible to legally use Elbrus, the Binding Blade/Withengar Unbound in a nonblack EDH deck? Normally I run a blue/white deck with Geist of Saint Traft as my Commander (the deck needs a lot of work and testing before I'm fully comfortable with it) but I would definitely throw Elbrus/Withengar in there if possible.

No, I'm afraid that the Color Identity of the card includes the flip-side, which is Black.

903.4c The back face of a double-faced card (see rule 711) is included when determining a card's color identity.

From what I've seen, black artifact creatures can significantly disadvantage your opponent (seeing that they're immune to both "go for the throat" and "doom blade").

 

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