May 18, 20171212 views

Monoblack Zombies at Pro Tour Amonkhet

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At the recent Pro Tour in Nashville, the majority of Team Massdrop played a Monoblack Zombies list. I was very happy with the deck, going 7-3 in constructed, which was the only positive point to my Pro Tour, as an abysmal 0-6 draft record kept me from any reasonable finish. Still, I was happy with my standard choice and to see a different version of the deck win the whole tournament in the hands of Gerry Thompson. I’d like to talk for a bit about the exact list I played, why we made some of the choices we did, and where I would take this list going forward.

My List:
23 Swamp
1 Cradle of the Accursed 4 Cryptbreaker
4 Dread Wanderer
4 Relentless Dead
2 Metallic Mimic
2 Miasmic Mummy
4 Lord of the Accursed
3 Diregraf Colossus
4 Liliana’s Mastery
4 Dark Salvation
3 Fatal Push
2 Grasp of Darkness

Sideboard:
1 Fatal Push
1 Grasp of Darkness
2 Yahenni, Undying Partisan
1 Bontu, the Glorified
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Transgress the Mind
2 Dispossess

23 Swamp: This is the best part of the deck. Having perfect mana was great, and led to me hardly ever having to mulligan. The other deck I almost played was our team’s 4 color Aetherworks Marvel deck splashing for Fumigate and Harnessed Lightning. The tiebreaker for me was that I got to play with just Swamps instead of every other color.

1 Cradle of the Accursed: We were not very sure on if the utility land slot should be this or Westvale Abbey. While the Abbey seems more powerful at first blush, during all of our games of testing it was almost never activated. The problem is any game you have 5 Zombies in play, they likely are worth at least 15 power and affect the board as strongly as Ormendahl. Although the threat of activation of Abbey is strong, Cradle gives you an easy way to turn on revolt to Fatal Push, as well as being able to quickly rebuild a board and draw cards with Cryptbreaker following a wrath. At the end of the day, though, neither land felt particularly important, which is why we only played a single colorless land.

4 Cryptbreaker, 4 Dread Wanderer: Having 8 powerful one drops is a great way to take advantage of the perfect mana, and helps quickly reach the critical mass of zombies.

4 Relentless Dead: The other really big draw to not splashing white, because this is the most powerful 2 drop the deck has access to. A gap at 2 mana is a shortcoming of the deck, and while adding Plains gives other 2 drop options (Wayward Servant / Binding Mummy), losing Relentless Dead was not worth it.

2 Metallic Mimic, 2 Miasmic Mummy: 4 Mimic is more standard here, and is what I would register going forward. The advantages of Mummy are that it plays much better with Diregraf Colossus, filling the graveyard as well as counting as a Zombie both in the graveyard and on the stack. It is also one of the few cards in the deck that are better on the draw. You often shave your worst 2 drop in sideboarding, so I liked that this split gave us the choice of which to keep in for the given matchup. However, the Mimic is more important in the mirror and Mummy will often get rid of a useless Ulamog from your Marvel opponent. With one toughness punishers like Liliana and Walking Ballista not super common right now, the Mimic still seems better positioned.

4 Lord of the Accursed, 3 Diregraf Colossus: Lord is another important addition from Amonkhet that pushed Zombies to a Tier 1 archetype. The additional menace ability is very important in the mirrors, as it often leads to lethal attacks on one turn. Colossus is also powerful, but the deck is crowded at 3 mana, with Dark Salvation often also filling in as a 3-drop, so one got shaved to make room for the other important cards.

4 Liliana’s Mastery: The last key addition from Amonkhet. While some lists trimmed this card to 3 or even 2 maindeck, I would strongly recommend the full playset. It is one of the most important cards in the mirror, which is often about racing to the larger board with the most lord effects.

4 Dark Salvation: Highly flexible, letting the deck run enough removal spells while keeping a critical mass of Zombies. An especially important play to keep in mind for the Zombies mirror is that Dark Salvation can target your opponent (for x=0) and count their Zombies, so this can be used as another 1 mana answer to Cryptbreaker.

3 Fatal Push, 2 Grasp of Darkness: The cheap interaction of Push is important in tempo games, but access to Grasp is a much to be able to handle Avacyn or Glorybringer. I had an extra copy of each in the sideboard. The 4th Push isn’t crucial for any main matchups, but against any aggressive deck, there are few relevant cards in your sideboard and Fatal Push is one of the best cards you can add. I actually regretted not having access to the 4th Grasp in my 75, as being unable to kill Avacyn was one of the easiest ways to lose against Mardu post-board.
Also in the sideboard:
1 Bontu: This was here mostly for UR Control, a matchup we were worried about but barely showed up at the PT.

2 Yahenni, 4 Scrapheap Scrounger: These creatures help the deck prepare to face more sweepers in postboard games. Both can be added to the board fearlessly before a sweeper, and Yahenni is also useful vs Mardu because the unexpected haste damage can help take down a planeswalker.

4 Transgress, 2 Dispossess: Transgress is your best card against Marvel, so don’t leave home without the full 4. Dispossess varies. I had it be great one round, saving me from getting turn 4 Marveled and letting me see exactly what my opponent was up to for the post-board games. However, I also heard some Japanese pros were actually siding out all of their Marvels in anticipation of Dispossess vs Zombies, transforming into a Torrential Gearhulk control deck.
There were a few cards that did not make our sideboard, but were impressive in the mirror and I would consider adding to my sideboard for the future. The first is Liliana, the Last Hope, which can pick off opposing x/1 zombies, rebuy a Lord, and threaten ultimate since it is hard to remove in the mirror. Second is Sky Sovereign, Consul Flagship. Although 5 mana expensive, no cards in our deck can actually kill it, so I would like to try 1 in my list.
Taking these changes into account, here is the list I would play in a tournament next week: 23 Swamp
1 Cradle of the Accursed 4 Cryptbreaker
4 Dread Wanderer
4 Relentless Dead
4 Metallic Mimic
4 Lord of the Accursed
3 Diregraf Colossus
4 Liliana’s Mastery
4 Dark Salvation
3 Fatal Push
2 Grasp of Darkness

Sideboard:
2 Grasp of Darkness
1 Yahenni, Undying Partisan
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Transgress the Mind
2 Dispossess
Finally, a direct guide on how I would sideboard in the common matchups:

Mirror: -4 Metallic Mimic
+2 Grasp of Darkness +1 Liliana +1 Sky Sovereign
If your opponent is playing B/W, consider bringing in Yahenni to help save your Zombie tokens from all dying to Declaration in Stone.

Mardu: -4 Mimic -1 Dark Salvation -3 Diregraf Colossus
+4 Scrapheap Scrounger +1 Yahenni +1 Sky Sovereign +2 Grasp of Darkness
You could also board a single Transgress once you are sure your opponent is boarding into sweepers and more planeswalkers. Being able to attack their planeswalkers with resilient threats is more important than attacking their hand, however.

Marvel: -3 Fatal Push -2 Grasp of Darkness -2 Diregraf Colossus -2 Metallic Mimic -1 Liliana’s Mastery
+4 Transgress +2 Dispossess +4 Scrapheap Scrounger
Be flexible here based on your opponent’s individual list / sideboard plan. If they are a creatureless build, cut Dark Salvations instead. Scroungers are important to be ready for their sweepers.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with the deck. Although the metagame will likely react and become a bit more hostile with more sweeper effects, I still think Zombies is a great choice. Having a super consistent manabase and flexible cards like Cryptbreaker and Dark Salvation gives this deck a very low fail rate.
Please post any questions or feedback below!
We had an exciting reveal of two Amonkhet masterpieces , check out the video here: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1482/scouting-report-massdrop-east-west-on-2-amonkhet-masterpieces
If you are curious about our team, check out our intro: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1117/announcing-team-massdrop-east-west or, read our previous weekly articles:
1. How to Prepare for an MtG Pro Tour by Ben Weitz (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1158/how-to-prepare-for-an-mt-g-pro-tour)
2. Approaching New Magic Drafts by Ari Lax (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1193/approaching-new-magic-drafts)
3. Constructed Testing for Pro Tour Aether Revolt by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1213/recap-of-constructed-testing-for-massdrop-east-west-for-pro-tour-aether-revolt)
4. Breaking into Eternal Formats - Case Study: GP Louisville by Jon Stern (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1240/breaking-into-eternal-formats-case-study-gp-louisville-massdrop-east-west-article-4)
5. In Good Company - Top 8 at GP Vancouver by Eric Severson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1285/in-good-company-top-8-at-gp-vancouver)
6. Adapting to Full Block Kaladesh Limited by Jiachen Tao (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1323/adapting-to-full-block-kaladesh-limited-massdrop-east-west-article-6)
7. Sorry My Felidar Guardian Ate My Homework by Mark Jacobson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1364/sorry-my-felidar-guardian-ate-my-homework-massdrop-east-west-article-7)
8. Taking a Mardu Vacation - Top 8 in New Jersey and Heading to an Eternal Extravaganza by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1401/taking-a-mardu-vacation-top-8-in-new-jersey-and-heading-to-an-eternal-extravaganza-massdrop-east-wes)
9. A Guide to the Grind by Pascal Maynard (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1448/a-guide-to-the-grind-massdrop-east-west-article-9)
10. Asking Aggro-vating Questions by Timothy Wu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1493/asking-aggro-vating-questions-massdrop-east-west-article-10)
11. The Meat and Potatoes of Jund by Paul Dean (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1534/the-meat-and-potatoes-of-jund)
12. Hidden Values in Magic: The Gathering for Kids and Parents by Scott Lipp (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1572/hidden-values-in-magic-the-gathering-for-kids-and-parents-massdrop-east-west-article-12)
13. The Importance of Preparation in Competitive Magic: The Gathering by Ricky Chin (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1606/the-importance-of-preparation-in-competitive-magic-the-gathering-massdrop-east-west-article-13)
14. How to Find Amonkhet's Star Players by Ari Lax (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1643/how-to-find-amonkhets-star-players-massdrop-east-west-article-14)
15. Top is No Longer on Top by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1692/top-is-no-longer-on-top-massdrop-east-west-article-15)
16. Casual Multiplayer Fun by JC Tao (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1731/casual-multiplayer-fun-bang-magic)
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Olivier Camus, esahc161, and 2 others
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Trying this deck out at gameday this weekend. Looks better than my previous zombie decks!