Tribal Fun in Modern #2: Zombie Apocalypse

zombie apocolypse art

Hello again! Time for another installment of tribal fun in Modern! This week we are going to look at Zombies in Modern. So, without further ado, here is this list:

[d title=”Zombie Apocalypse (Modern)”]

4 Cemetery Reaper
3 Death Baron
3 Grave Titan
4 Lord of the Undead
2 Vengeful Pharaoh
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Gravecrawler

Instants and Sorceries
4 Dismember
4 Thoughtseize

2 Zombie Infestation
2 Endless Ranks of the Dead

4 Cavern of Souls
3 Tectonic Edge
15 Swamp
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

3 Liliana of the Veil
3 Hero’s Downfall
2 Infest
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Black Sun’s Zenith
1 Spellskite
1 Massacre Wurm [/d]

The deck runs quite well and I have found that the sideboard seems to work better than I ever thought it would have. Again, I am going to run down the card choices, strategy, play style, matchup and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.

The cards intend to provide a quick early game, crunching in a few points, then rounding out the midgame and pumping all of your zombies and playing a [c]Grave Titan[/c] then winning. The lords are [c]Cemetery Reaper[/c], the [c]Imperious Prefect[/c] of the deck, [c]Death Baron[/c], an amazing way to let you take the upper hand, and [c]Lord of the Undead[/c], a great source of card advantage.

The early game mostly consists of [c]Gravecrawler[/c]s, [c]Thoughtseize[/c]s to keep your opponents off of whatever is good in their hand, [c]Zombie Infestation[/c]s, [c]Cemetery Reaper[/c]s, and [c]Death Baron[/c]s. All of these are early threats that can be quickly deployed and by turn three you can get a lord down and start to crunch in for significant amounts of damage.

The finishers in the deck include [c]Grave Titan[/c], [c]Vengeful Pharaoh[/c], and [c]Endless Ranks of the Death[/c]. [c]Grave Titan[/c] and [c]Endless Ranks of the Dead[/c] will easily take the game over if left unchecked (and [c]Endless Ranks of the Dead[/c] is rather hard to deal with). [c]Vengeful Pharaoh[/c] is just a huge body that is even more of a pain to deal with once he is in the graveyard.

The playset of [c]Dismember[/c] is the removal for the deck.

The land base is simply some Swamps, two [c]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/c] for the [c]Tectonic Edge[/c]s and the [c]Cavern of Souls[/c], a playset of [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] because they NEVER hurt in tribal against control, and three [c]Tectonic Edge[/c]s just for the land destruction.

zombie horde art

The strategy is somewhat like any other Junk or Midrange decks. Depending on your hand and whether you are on the draw or the play, the deck will generally lead with either a [c]Thoughtseize[/c] or [c]Gravecrawler[/c] into a [c]Zombie Infestation[/c] then into one of the many three drop cards in the deck. After some beatdown in the midgame, you can play one of the finishers to take over the game.

The [c]Dismember[/c]s can deal with threats but the [c]Death Baron[/c]s can really help with keeping creature threats off, especially considering all of the recursion. The [c]Endless Ranks of the Dead[/c] can just sit there and let you win. [c]Zombie Infestation[/c], although it may not seem that potent in this deck, can just allow you to pitch irrelevant cards to it to churn out zombies every turn. The deck is quite easy to pilot. Probably the hardest thing is to pick which card to take from [c]Thoughtseize[/c].

The playstyle is a bit like a slow-paced Dredgevine. The deck uses the graveyard, but it does not heavily rely on it. Graveyard hate won’t really hurt you that much. As well, the deck is fairly midrangy, with some early game aggro. The deck also has an 8-Rack feel, considering that it is mono black. As well, the deck obviously has a lot of synergy, considering that it is tribal and all. The playstyle is quite unique.

zombie infestation art

With some tweaking I feel that this deck can really be competitive. At its current state it is not quite fully polished and finished off. There are still some minor changes that could be made (I need a few more games for testing). The deck squeaked out a few wins against Abzan, generally could hold up against aggressive decks like Boros Burn, RDW and Infect, but generally has poor matchups against some combo decks (Scapeshift especially, but Twin is quite the match too) and can sometimes just run out of steam against some control/UWX midrange builds (I feel like this could be one of the tweaks by adding something like [c]Damnable Pact[/c] for the card draw) and Tron, who usually beats us to the win.

Again I’m not great with sideboards, especially in mono black. I considered splashing, but I felt in the end the life loss in lands and some other factors didn’t make it strong enough. The Lilianas are for general use. They come in against most decks.

[c]Hero’s Downfall[/c] helps to support our removal package (this is a flex spot). I usually bring these in against Abzan and Infect and anything with annoying creatures.

[c]Infest[/c] tries to stop affinity and most aggro decks. I’ll bring these in against Boros Burn, RDW, Infect, Zoo, and UR Aggro.

[c]Grafdigger’s Cage[/c] is for anything that uses the graveyard (Dredgevine, Reanimator, Living End). [c]Spellskite[/c] is for the Twin matchup and the Infect matchup.

[c]Black Sun’s Zenith[/c] is for this too, and other uses, like aggro and affinity decks. Generally I’ll bring it in against anything but control.

Finally [c]Massacre Wurm[/c] helps in a lot of slower matchups (mostly control).

endless ranks of the dead art

Starting with the sideboard, basically anything can be changed. It is a fairly mediocre sideboard and really just a starting point. Mainboard, almost all creatures can be cut to 3 of (I try to keep the early aggression at 4 of) and the finishers can be cut to 2 if the deck becomes more controlly.

[c]Thoughtseize[/c] can be lowered if you don’t need the disruption.

[c]Zombie Infestation[/c] and [c]Tectonic Edge[/c] can be cut if you don’t want to discard and/or you don’t want/need the land destruction.

If he isn’t working out for you, [c]Vengeful Pharaoh[/c] can be cut.

Some good additions include [c]Army of the Damned[/c], [c]Damnable Pact[/c] for the control-heavy metas, and splashing either blue for cantrips and [c]Grimgin, Corpse-Born[/c] and some control or green for [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], [c]Lotleth Troll[/c], and [c]Abrupt Decay[/c]. More removal could also be added to the deck.

There are lots of other edits in terms of number changes that can be made to the deck, most of which can be found through a simple gatherer search, but those are my starting suggestions.

Leave some comments and let me know what you think!

Have a nice day,