(This description is for the very first iteration of this deck. For a brief summary of its current state, please see the "Straight for the Brains" update. And if you're curious to see how it has evolved, please read through the others! Thanks!)
Hoping to use Zombie Infestation and Moan of the Unhallowed to generate Zombies (Army of the Damned in late stages), Endless Ranks of the Dead to multiply them, Cemetery Reaper (which can double as generators) to buff them, and cards like Go for the Throat, Call to the Grave and Doom Blade to slow down my opponent. Vengeful Pharaoh works especially well here. Grimoire of the Dead to reclaim sacrificed big drops like Grave Titan; resurrection as Zombies will protect them from Call to the Grave. Ghoulcaller's Chant so I can feed more into Zombie Infestation.
I have problems going too grand / fancy with my ideas and have trouble focusing down. Basically looking for a deck that really is "endless ranks of the undead," wave after wave of zombies. Any and all feedback is much appreciated!
After the rotation of M12 and the Scars block, I was able to do a little tweaking. Put Havengul Lich back in for additional graveyard reclamation/utility and added the following: Blood Artist to put additional threat on my opponent from killing my creatures, Think Twice for a little card advantage, and Spectral Flight in case there are any fliers (or to gain that advantage if there aren't). The new focus of the deck is to directly damage my opponent as he kills my creatures, forcing him into a defensive position as I build up.
Thinking about Altar's Reap for card advantage instead of Think Twice; it would give me another sacrifice mechanic to force loss of life (possibly for the win, if my position is good) and triggers morbid for Tragic Slip.
I usually manage to get at least one of the heavy hitters (or Rooftop Storm) out, but find myself running out of a hand and getting mana flooded. Thinking about going down to 20 land - my curve really isn't that steep, after all - but don't want to push my luck. It's also very possible that I'm bad at shuffling, try though I might to discover a better way to do it.
Suggestions for sideboard would be very much appreciated. Freshly back from sea and still getting a handle on the new set. Tried to splash in some green for Golgari goodness, but just wasn't worth it with my dearth of dual lands.
This deck has seen a lot of change, but I'm pretty happy with it now. It still has weak points - any kind of graveyard lockdown, flying, or protection will just shut me down - but it is a lot of fun to play. Early play usually revolves around one-drops and getting Gravecrawlers back onto the battlefield. Then the lords and Geralf's Messengers start coming in. Then the Clones, which I usually use on the Messengers but have found a great deal of other utility for them, like cloning Diregraf Captain. But Undying Clones are really, really useful. Late game, in comes Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Grimgrin, Corpse-Born. Most games, I survive long enough to get Rooftop Storm out which is just amazing with Grimgrin and Gravecrawlers. And of course, if there is even one Diregraf Captain out, this is an instant win combo. Really, really fun to play.
So I'm still at sea, but I wanted to see what I could cook up with the release of DKA. I want to maintain the theme of the deck as a neverending wave of Zombies. That having been said, I'm not too happy with the proportion of cards I feel best contribute to that end, but I don't want to go much higher than 60 cards (I'm at 62 at the moment). Cards I wish I could have more of: Endless Ranks of the Dead, Moan of the Unhallowed, Ghoulcaller's Chant, and Undying Evil. As much as I want to increase their count, I would have to start cutting away from things like spot removal and these awesome creatures. There will probably be tweaking after playtesting. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Havengul Lich would be great, but realistically, it's going to be a long time before I can get my hands on them.
As previously stated, this incarnation of the deck will rely on Heartless Summoning to get my creatures out faster. I put three of them in to increase the chance of drawing them quickly, but I wouldn't really want to have more than one on the field at a time. With the advent of Diregraf Captain, I feel that the ability to pair it up with Cemetery Reaper more than makes up for the -1/-1.
Reduced numbers of Grave Titans and Vengeful Pharaohs. These are great cards, but they're late-game and my major focus here is to speed things up without sacrificing too much power. I also removed Call to the Grave, as awesome as it is with a Zombie deck, because I didn't want to have to lose the Titans. Added a Grimgrin, Corpse-Born because he'll work very well with the Gravecrawlers.
Toward the end of endless waves of Zombies, I've added in Geralf's Messengers and Undying Evil to take advantage of the new mechanic. Mid-game should see things like Moan of the Unhallowed and Endless Ranks of the Undead to keep the Zombies coming.
Win conditions: Diregraf Captains should make my opponent think twice about striking down the Zombies I hope to be generating. Grave Titans bringing in two each as they come out. Vengeful Pharaohs that work from the graveyard and Gravecrawlers, neither of which ever really go away. With mana freed up by Heartless Summoning, I can use Cemetery Reapers' activated ability. As those stack up, I can get out one-drop Unbreathing Hordes as powerhouses that refuse to go down. Not to mention the Titans and Pharaohs are powerful deathtouchers, and everything that's out being buffed by Lords.
In its finished form, with Mikaeus and Havenguls, I envision sacrificing undying, cheaper Grave Titans to Grimgrin multiple times. If the engine is up and running very well, with plenty of Lords and perhaps two Heartless Summoning out, that's only two black mana per Titan per Havengul cast. Two more Zombie tokens per Titan per battlefield entrance and Grimgrin growing like crazy.
Anticipated weaknesses: Counterspells from blue. Direct damage and pure speed from red. Board wipes from any number of sources. I would love to splash in some counterspells of my own, perhaps in place of spot removal currently in place. Zombie Apocalypse would handily take care of a board wipe, so that may find a home in here later. In the meantime, there's Ghoulcaller's Chant.
As always, any and all feedback is much appreciated!
Taking into account the excellent feedback I've received, coupled with as much playtesting as I could do, I've removed Grimoire of the Dead and Army of the Damned. They are cool cards and they have really interesting possibilities... in games that go into seven or eight turns, with lucky draws. The deck was middle-heavy, as I've found that many of the "cooler" zombie cards are in the 4-5 mana cost region. A deck shouldn't suffer that much when you can only get three lands out.
I added in a couple more lands, took Cemetery Reaper up to a full playset, added an Unbreathing Horde and then just bolstered my supply of other cards already in the deck: Endless Ranks of the Dead, Ghoulcaller's Chant, and Go for the Throat. The deck should perform faster and more effectively with more theme-centric cards and a greatly eased mana curve.
Part 2 of The Quickening will come in the form of Heartless Summoning. I feel this will really take the deck to a whole new level, freeing up a lot of mana for these cool enchantments and allowing me to go more on the offensive instead of worrying about surviving long enough to get my engine running. At time of writing, I'm about to go to sea for 75 days, but as always I'm looking forward to the journey of completing a deck that really is an endless horde of zombies. It has been a lot of fun to play so far and I'm hoping Innistrad will only make it better.
Thanks for your feedback, please keep it coming!
also throwing in a couple Lashwrithe couldn't hurt
February 5, 2012 1:25 a.m.
Thanks for the suggestions, thorton! I had considered both of those at an earlier time but ruled them out; Sheoldred because I really wanted to use Call to the Grave and Lashwrithe because I just didn't have room. I think you're right about Sheoldred, and while it would be nice to have Lashwrithes in, I'm not sure that anything in particular would be worth taking out. But definitely worth another look. Thanks again!
February 6, 2012 6:59 p.m.
I have a few ideas for you:
Highborn Ghoul really needs to be in this deck.
card:Geralf's Messenger might be tricky to play turn 3 in a dual colour deck.
I think you need to focus on whether this is a slow or fast deck. And try and shape your mana curve so that you get more consistent games.
From the looks of things it seems you would rather play a slower midrange control style to get out the lords.
If you want to use Rooftop Storm , I'd suggest cards like card:Altar's Reap, great synergy with Gravecrawler for early game, keeping your hand full of zombies which you drop when Rooftop Storm is out. Havengul Lich could then to reanimate your graveyard for cheap with Rooftop Storm .
Just a few ideas. Hope they helped!
My Zombie deck: deck:run-of-the-mill-zombies
August 16, 2012 4:54 a.m.
Thanks Ixios! I like your ideas quite a lot, actually. And I have a few spots opening up as the Scars and M12 blocks rotate out. My major problem - at least in my local meta - has always been speed. And my personal problem has always been focus. :P
I haven't had a problem getting turn-three Messengers, honestly. Adding the dual lands has made a world of difference. But I think your assessment that I'm looking for a midrange style is accurate. I want to be able to hit the ground running in the early game, but still have some powerful tactics in mid- and late-game stages. Is that too ambitious? Haha.
I love the suggestion of card:Altar's Reap. I should really go back through my commons and find stuff like that.
So how about: -2 Cemetery Reaper , -2 Go for the Throat , -2 Doom Blade , -1 Hunted Ghoul // +2 Highborn Ghoul , +3 card:Altar's Reap, +2 Havengul Lich . I feel like I should replace the lost spot removal with Murder , but the deck has been performing so well and I'd hate to bog it down. Though the addition of the Lich with Mikaeus and Grimgrin already in might be too much as it is...
Thanks again! I really like your deck and am heading over to comment there now. :)
August 16, 2012 1:34 p.m.
If your playing with a lot of fast decks, I'd suggest adding some mass removal like Mutilate or Killing Wave . It'll clear the board for your mid/late game, and any zombie you lose can be just reanimated!
If you wanted to go down the fast route with this deck. I'd remove all the big mana cost cards, make the zombie lords the focus with some removal cards for control.