Death's Awakening



Before we start, I just want to say that this deck has been my lovechild with magic over quite some time.. I seriously have put a lot of time and effort into the construction. Lots of hours in the kitchen, game rooms, and tournament tables. So, if you like it, please let me know by hitting that upvote button. If you think there are some changes I could make, let me know in the comments. As always, thank you TappedOut community!

Thanks for checking out this deck. Before you start reading this primer, let me explain the idea of the deck and it's best win strategy.

First, you'll need two very important things to happen.

  1. you will need Varolz, the Scar-Striped to be out on the field as soon as possible in the early game. As long as you can protect him with Blossoming Defense or draw another Varolz into your hand, you should be okay.

  2. you absolutely have to have Death's Shadow in your graveyard. He is the big money ticket to a super enjoyable win.

Now that, that is out of the way...

I will be totally honest with you, this deck features well against mid-range decks that take a second to churn. Decks like Tron and mono-green lands decks are the best matchups. This deck also does surprisingly well against the dreaded burn decks. The issue though is that Golgari themed decks just don't have the right key card yet to turn this into a tier 1 competitor. (Unfortunately) What is truly missing from this deck is a two cost creature in black or green that has hexproof and trample, that is ultimately the best card for this. There is Hexproof and reach, there is Hexproof and "slightly" unblockable though, so I had to make it work.

Here's the skinny, the game plan, the process... you get it.

Primer Alert

Varolz has a unique ability, that honestly is a bit broken, and Death's Shadow is probably one of the best cards to use as an example of how broken it is.

The idea is to get out one of the 7 hexproof creatures that can attack, once they are out (preferably turn 2) then it's a race to get the combo built.

So, on turn 3 you can drop Varolz, the Scar-Striped, but, lets be honest... he will get removed immediately and you won't have the creatures to regenerate him at this point. The best answer to this is to instead play your hand to support the turn 4 drop when you have the land to both play Varolz, and perhaps load up counters with Death's Shadow. This is still subject to removal, so watch your opponents land. If you know they're holding, you can always fish out their spells by playing Abrupt Decay to slow down their board. Ultimately, you'll want to play Varolz and scavenge the same turn.

In turns 4 or 5 you can play Grisly Salvage or Jarad's Orders as a way to load your hand with the combo needed if you haven't drawn it by then. Don't worry, you have access to Treasured Find if something important gets lost in this process.

Your goal is to swing with Ledgewalker (Hexproof and can only be blocked by flying creatures) after putting 13 +1/+1 counters on it. This is possible in IDEAL situations on turn 5, and it can be lethal. Predator's Strike + Ledgewalker + 13 counters = 17 damage. If your opponent has used fetch and shock combo lands, if you've attacked earlier, then this is usually enough to win the fight.

Since the deck is often a turn 5 to turn 7 win strategy, this deck also pairs up well against Living End type decks. Treasured Find is important to keep in your hand here, and you may want to add more to the deck in these matchups.

Every card has been carefully chosen here to help you win. In some scenarios I have had to use Varolz himself to attack, so Predator's Strike is still important here. Blossoming defense as well.

Cards I won't suggest using -

Mulch and Corpse Churn. They just don't give you what you really need and Grisly Salvage is just a much better card. Also, Noxious Revival is mediocre here. While it can be cast for free, it doesn't load the card into your hand immediately, which gives your opponent the time they need to interrupt the game plan. I've sideboards copies, but you can switch them out for more Treasured Finds. I use the card to play on my opponents turn to gain access to Abrupt Decay or Blossoming defense if I need it next turn, and usually at the cost of life.

Sheltering Ancient is really the best Scavenge creature I could find other than Death's Shadow. It does TWO important functions.

  1. you can cast it and have a 5/5 blocker until your next upkeep with no benefit to your opponent.

  2. it self loads itself into your graveyard if you sacrifice it rather than pay its cumulative upkeep. (5 counters for 2 is still a great return and no other creatures in this deck are giving you close to that)

Cards I won't suggest using - Phyrexian Gorger and Hunted Horror. Here's why. Most modern decks will have a load of artifact hate, so Gorger really is only useful in the graveyard and can't usually be a blocker the turn before you sac him. He also requires you to sacrifice creatures if you decide to keep him around. He isn't bad, but I have found that through playtesting he doesn't provide the same utility. As for Hunted Horror, he gives your enemy two 3/3 creatures when played (not good) and they get protection from black.. (also not good), in a game of numbers, it sets you back too much. He has no self sacrifice mechanics as well, so he is only useful in your graveyard.

Now, here's some pretty cool options -

You can splash blue by adding 2 green blue Fetchlands, 3 green blue shock lands, 1 black blue fetchland, and 2 black blue shock lands. You'll have to mess with the lands and find the best way to slot these. Once you do that, you can add Blighted Agent, Glistener Elf , and Phyrexian Crusader into the deck in place of Sheltering Ancient, Ledgewalker, and Bassara. This essentially gives you a gnarly effective Infect version of this deck that can avoid Red White removal, attack unblocked, and still effectively use Varolz and Death's Shadow. However, you'll want to replace all Predator's Strikes with Vines of Vastwood to have a total of 8 cards that can give your creatures hexproof and buffs.

Decks that this has not worked well against -

8 rackModern Collected Company AlliesEzuri ElvesAffinity

8 rack just simply won't let you play what you need to play to get rolling. In some lucky matchups, this deck has prevailed, but seriously.. it's a bad matchup.

Collected Company allies gives you a 5 turn clock on average, but with the right setup, it has been near impossible to win against. The mixture of protection and lifegain puts the allies just out of reach.

Elves are unique in that they can flood the battlefield and deal lethal around turn 4 usually with the infinite combos of Ezuri and Devoted Druid. This is a 50/50 matchup if you can remove Druid or Ezuri.

Affinity is surprisingly also 50/50 on average. There's just enough removal to deal with Inkmoth Nexus, Master of Etherium, Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager, and all the rest of he crew... as long as you draw the right cards. That doesn't always happen though.

That's all I have for now! Good luck.


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Date added 10 months
Last updated 5 months
Exclude colors WU
Splash colors BG

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.02
Folders All Hail the Golgari Swarm!!, Modern Non-budget ideas, Modern, favorites, Primers, Potential Decks, normal, maybe, Modern, Other people's Modern, See all 12
Top rank #17 on 2017-06-09
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Revision 15 See all

5 months ago)

+2 Fatal Push side