|Commander / EDH||Legal|
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|Magic 2014 (M14)||Rare|
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Creature — Zombie Warrior
Intimidate (This creature can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it.)
When Lifebane Zombie enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a green or white creature card from it and exile that card.
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Lifebane Zombie Discussion
4 days ago
APPLE01DOJ - I don't know. Yesterday, I could have written you an essay; today, I'm facing down Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I know nothing until further testing. I have rushed to bring back two copies of Liliana of the Veil to the list since the unbans, a card I had eschewed very quickly in my original construction of the deck, since it hardly favours the player drawing an extra card a turn; however, with the advent of Bloodbraid Elf and Jace TMS, opponents are now likely to be able to keep up with the CA of Phyrexian Arena, and as such, Liliana of the Veil is likely to be good again (even if the format is being overrun by lots of Bloodghast, Hollow One, and Faithless Looting).
However, I can offer a breakdown of how the creatures function in non-blue matchups:
a. Pack Rat:
The deck started with the set of Pack Rat. But that all in-strategy was soon found to be suboptimal - drawing multiple Pack Rats was unnecessary and rarely served any purpose; not to mention the speed of Modern means turn 2 Pack Rat is often too slow. As sweepers, Detention Sphere, and Maelstrom Pulse became common, and as Hollow One and Death's Shadow and Tasigur, the Golden Fang started to surface, Pack Rat lost some of its luster.
The natural question, then, if Pack Rat is slow and vulnerable, why play him at all? The answer: Pack Rat is ten cards in one card. Backed up with any kind of disruption and removal, he takes over the board and ends the game, quickly and unstoppably. Two activations are more than enough to put away games, and trading spot removal for Rats is a losing proposition. So in this list, he's gone from being a windmill early slam, to a lategame engine that turns dead land drops and discard spells into an army of creatures. Barring Path to Exile before a single activation is possible, Liliana, the Last Hope can always buy him back - one copy of the Rat, therefore, is ample.
I've covered the virtues of this card in a post above - essentially, he's my Tarmogoyf, but he flies. Whether he functions as The Abyss or as a 6/6 unblockable, he ends games very quickly, and many a game against combo/Tron has been put away by disruption into disruption into Demon. Of the quick clocks available to black, he's one of the better ones. I believe the added utility to be well worth the extra two mana over Goyf (besides, far be it from me to argue against 6 6 fliers for four - speaking of which, Demon is almost always a strictly superior option to Abyssal Persecutor, since Persecutor requiring us to find an additional kill spell for our own demon while Phyrexian Arena ticks down/the burn opponent is topdecking is not a good feeling).
I cannot praise this card enough in any mono black midrange list. He exiles creatures, he gains life consistently, and he makes every removal spell in our deck a 2 for 1. Traditionally, efficient mono black removal has been weak to graveyard recursion such as Flamewake Phoenix, Bloodghast, Geralf's Messenger, Kitchen Finks, and so forth, since all these cards must be killed more than once, at no additional expense to the opponent. Thoughtseize and Phyrexian Arena is a painful combination, especially in a world of Lightning Bolt and Kolaghan's Command. Kalitas solves all of these issues beautifully, and with any removal spell stalls the board incredibly easily and well.
Okay, have you seen the art? If Drana were real, she'd totally be my Valentine.
Jokes aside, one of the issues I was frequently running into with the deck was the amount of time it took me to close out once I had stabilised. While all of my creature threats (Gray Merchant of Asphodel is basically a Corrupt, he doesn't count) end the game quite quickly, I just wasn't drawing them fast enough - my opponent would get the opportunity to find that Cryptic Command or Sphinx's Revelation, or get those last 2 Boros Charm. There is a delicate balance between disruption and pressure that must be maintained in all decks that are not pure control, and maintaining that balance required me to find another fast game-ending threat.
I considered running the fourth Desecration Demon, but the idea of another big dumb beater was not appealing. I wanted a powerful threat with intrinsic value attached to its kit, that could help deal with the board even when I was not drawing multiple cards a turn, and hopefully one that was either resilient, or dodged some of the common removal in the format (Lightning Bolt, Abrupt Decay, Fatal Push - although I was open to playing four drops, since consistently having revolt to deal with a whole myriad of four drop threats is difficult). While black has plenty of value three drops, none of them offered this game ending power, or were too easily killed - Nightveil Specter and Lifebane Zombie, for instance, offer great card advantage in specific situations, but don't really pack the same punch as something like a Desecration Demon or Pack Rat army.
Finally, I settled on Drana. There are a lot of powerful five drops in black with value built in (Bloodgift Demon, for instance), but Drana does something none of the others do - she kills things, turn after turn, while being able to attack in the air for huge chunks. In a meta with Lingering Souls, Dark Confidant and Young Pyromancer, Drana seemed like an elegant solution, and so far, she has far exceeded my expectations. I do not think I should consider running multiples of her, since she is quite expensive and can be killed for no value the turn she comes into play, but untapping with her can feel a bit like untapping after a Supreme Verdict to an empty board.
No Geralf's Messenger, no Phyrexian Obliterator; only 2 Gray Merchant. I do not believe the all in devotion plan is likely to ever become Modern competitive, for sheer want of interactive capability and card advantage - if you are playing a midrange list in Modern, you need lots of early interaction in the form of hand disruption and removal, a proactive plan to end the game with efficient threats, and ways to pull ahead on cards after both players have been stripped down to limited resources. Gray Merchant is an extremely powerful card, as good as or better than Siege Rhino if it drains for upwards of five; it swings races, it ends games, it doesn't care about board stalls, and for all intents and purposes is basically a Modern legal Tendrils of Corruption (not my quote - blame LSV. Then again, that man also calls Disciple of Phenax Mind Twist, so take these statements with several grains of salt).
But despite his inherent power level, Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a very high variance card, and can sometimes be Highway Robber. Removal in Modern is aplenty, and curving out into enough devotion for Gray Merchant to be good is not a reliable plan. Even when the traditional mono black lists do manage to implement their plan - Geralf's Messenger into Gray Merchant, for instance, after having gotten two or more of their creatures removed, despite being an overall drain for seven to nine, just lacks the power/speed to push through opposing Tarmogoyf, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Grim Flayer, Death's Shadow - not to mention blue decks with their Cryptic Command and board sweepers and Sphinx's Revelation.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel in my list is therefore a card I'll often be discarding to the various discard outlets in the early game; using either the second copy or Liliana, the Last Hope's minus two to drain the opponent out if necessary later on. His being a zombie means he can be sacrificed to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet either to simply grow the great vampire, or to be recursed with Liliana, as the situation calls.
I do not think running more than two of the card is likely to be feasible for Modern given the uncertainty of whether Merchant will be Corrupt or Highway Robber, and also given Merchant's relatively high mana cost; while it is possible that one is the correct number (and indeed, often in post board games, I do go down to one or no Merchant) at least in game 1, the proactive plan of discard, kill, kill, flier, smack, Merchant win is a very strong one. Having access to the second copy in case the first gets exiled and therefore cannot be returned with a future Liliana is also quite relevant against decks with Path to Exile and Pyxis of Pandemonium.
Despite Merchant's variance, I believe his power level and his ability to end the game on the spot through cards like Ensnaring Bridge and Witchbane Orb is not to be undervalued. In a deck with Phyrexian Arena and Ob Nixilis Reignited, every life point represents an extra card; while Highway Robber may be terrible, a five mana 2 4 that draws 4 cards on etb and drains the opponent for four is an absolutely phenomenal Magic card.
I would also like to point out the maindeck inclusion of incidental lifegain like Collective Brutality and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in conjunction with Gary makes most burn and aggro matchups extremely favourable.
While the creature suite has been carefully picked, and is constantly being chosen and rechosen and tweaked, the engine that enables this deck is Phyrexian Arena. Any interactive deck with reactive spells always runs the risk of its reactive measures not lining up well against the threats being deployed on the other side; Arena churning through the deck presents the critical mass of answers and threats to overwhelm the opponent, ensures land drops are made, and essentially in every regard dots the deck's i's and crosses its t's. With discard outlets like Collective Brutality and Liliana of the Veil to trade potentially dead cards for relevant spells early on, irksome draws with too many high cmc cards can still function smoothly and well.
2 months ago
2 months ago
Lifebane Zombie and Augur of Skulls both feel like they are very low-impact, with the zombie being very limited in what it can hit, and the augur only being a single-use discard effect only hitting one opponent. Obviously the augur is better in a 1v1 situation, but having it in multiplayer just feels bad. I would recommend Syphon Mind, but it suffers from the opposite problem of being great in multiplayer but bad in 1v1. I believe that the specters and specter-like cards are plenty of discard.
You've got a pretty good amount of strong etb-abilities, so Deadeye Navigator would be a great inclusion. Another great and fun card in decks packing a lot of removal is Grave Betrayal to let you steal the things you kill.
4 months ago
Underworld Connections (one of my favorites) , Desecration Demon and Lifebane Zombie all killer cards! Whip of Erebos stayed on my main once I played it a couple times. Love a devotion deck. I've won so many times with gary! Hit me hard!
4 months ago
I think it all depends on where and how you want to play this deck. I can provide a few examples though.
5 months ago
Gempalm Polluter is a necessity for any Zombie deck. The cycling is really good.
Liliana's Reaver is a good midrange card.
Lifebane Zombie is a great sideboard option vs green and white. With all the recursion in your deck, chances are you'll be exile a whole lot of cards.
Undead Warchief is amazing, and only four dollars.
Cemetery Reaper is a zombie lord.
Call to the Grave is great in that it causes all other players to sacrifice a creature on their turns, while leaving you virtually unharmed. The only problem is that your commander will be sacrificed too, but compared to the advantage, I'd say it's worth.
7 months ago
Okay, first of all, I would cut Geralf's Masterpiece, Geralf's Mindcrusher and Forgotten Creation, they're simply not worth the mana cost. Always try to keep your curve low! Instead you should add Geralf's Messenger, it's a tad more expensive($), but it's a really good card, probably the best zombie card out there. Other zombies you should consider to add:
Plague Belcher - target your Gravecrawler turn 4 after combat and you've got a 5/4 with menace in combination with your opponent loosing 1 lige, plus you can cast Gravecrawler again. Potential trigger for both Diregraf Colossus and Prized Amalgam. Having Plague Belcher + Diregraf Captain in play at the same time strongly disencourages the opponent sweeping the board, since he/she will loose a lot of life.
Diregraf Ghoul - 2/2 for 1 mana, it's an okay card.
Cryptbreaker - Bit more expensive, but it can discard a Prized Amalgam, giveng you a nice 2/2 blocker, and gives you card advantage.
Relentless Dead - Also a bit more expensive, but this card is pure win, attack with it and if it dies you can return it to your hand and return a 1 cmc zombie to the battlefield, triggering Prized Amalgam.
Somewhat interesting zombies:
Lifebane Zombie - Sideboard
Zombie Outlander - Sideboard
Dark Salvation - You can pay X=0, giving you a 1 mana kill spell if you have enough zombies. If you have a lot of mana that you can't use otherwise you get a couple of tokens. A solid card.
Personally I'd consider cutting Unbreathing Horde, Butcher Ghoul, Cemetery Reaper (you want to keep your GY), Dimir Aqueduct, Bone Splinters, Ghoulcaller's Chant, Necromancer's Stockpile and maybe Rotting Rats in favor of the above.
Fatal Push - Great removal.
8 months ago
Relentless Dead is too slow on too small of a body in modern. I could see keeping 1, but personally I would rather run 2x Bile Blight and 1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang/Gurmag Angler/Bontu the Glorified/Erebos, God of the Dead/Kolaghan's Command instead.
Profane Command is a waste of sideboard space. I really don't think Tragic Slip warrants additional space either. If it's within your budget I would suggest 1x Sword of Fire and Ice or 1x Sword of Light and Shadow.
Crumble to Dust, Blood Moon, Fulminator Mage, Deathmark, Demon's Horn, Lifebane Zombie, Damnation, Phyrexian Crusader, Phyrexian Arena, Pithing Needle, Boil, Flashfires, Terminate/Dreadbore (in place of Go for the Throat) are all viable options as well.