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Varina: Roid-Rage Zombos n' turn 2 Combos *PRIMER*

Commander / EDH Combo Infinite Combo Tokens Tribal WUB (Esper) Zombie



This is the strongest Varina list possible without boring cards like Doomsday. This deck will win you games.

Drawing cards is important to maintain an advantage and Varina, Lich Queen can draw you a whole lot. The Esper color combination gives you access to Magic's best removal, card draw and most importantly in this deck's case, Zombies.

Varina has a triggered ability that reads "whenever you attack with one or more zombies, draw that many cards, then discard that many cards. You gain that much life" this is what pushed me into building zombie tribal, which I will cover in the next section.

This Looting ability is strong on it's own. It's a draw engine, a discard outlet and can gain you some decent chunks of life to use as a resource. I would have still built varina if that was her only ability, but that's not all our commander brings to the table.

Varina also has an activated ability that reads ", exile two cards from your graveyard: Create a 2/2 black zombie creature token." This ability gives you defense if your board gets wiped and can also prevent people from stealing your creatures from the graveyard. The ability becomes stronger once you have ways to enhance your token production.

In conclusion, I built Varina because Esper is my favorite color combination and Zombies are my favorite tribe. I dont think we've seen a better commander for a viable Zombie Tribal deck yet, and with some of the new Zombies from the newer sets, Varina proves herself to be a super strong and fun commander to play.

My build for Varina, Lich Queen is a Zombie-Tribal Combination deck that takes advantage of Varina's triggered ability that I went over in the first section of the Primer. It also likes to go wide with Zombies as well as have contingency plans to reestablish our board state after a wipe.

Varina's ability let's us filter through our deck to grab our combo pieces and our Zombie tribe buffs eachother up, gives us evasion and allows for some pretty sweet synergies that go in multiple directions.

Is this deck a Tier 1 CEDH deck? No.

Can this deck beat Tier 1 CEDH decks? Yes. It absolutely can.

The problem with this question is that it really depends on the meta you're up against. Also, I've focused this deck on maintaining some strong flavor, while still being a very strong deck. There are other versions that are more competitive, running things like Doomsday and Laboratory Maniac. That just seems kind of boring to me.

One of the big reasons why I like this deck so much is because it's a sleeper. I've won on turn 2 with this deck, and a lot of times, it threatens a win on most turns after that as well and I'll explain how in the Combos and Synergies portion of the primer.

Although the deck functions the best with Varina on the field, I like to make sure my decks can pull weight with or without my commander. This deck can explode and win out of absolutely nowhere, and while it's building up for it's combos, it gives you a beefy board state that's hard to deal with. Zombies have great synergies together and I built this deck to make them as strong as possible.

To sum this section up, My build Draws cards, overwhelms the board and wins in alot of different ways, both Quickly and later in the game as well.

This is a combo deck that wants to win with it's ability to quickly draw into its synergistic combinations.

There are alot of combos to shoot for in this deck, and while some are easier to pull of than others, you pretty much always have a backup plan to go for if one of your combos gets interupted.

If you cant pull off an infinite combo, there are some different ways to win with life drain effects from Lich Lord of Unx and Shepherd of Rot and also with the sheer power of beefy ass zombies.

You want to get Varina out as early as possible and you want to start swinging to draw cards. Reconnaissance helps if you want to get the Varina trigger but dont want to lose your creatures if your opponent has sufficient defense. Alhamerats archive is a great way to double up on those triggers as well as Kindred Discovery and seeing as were running some awesome mana rocks like Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Ancient Tomb, etc.. it's pretty feasible to get one of them out sooner than later.

Graveborn Muse is right at home in a zombie tribal deck and is also a great way to keep drawing cards. With Varina out, her life loss is negligible for the most part.

Later in the game, we have spells like Living Death and Zombie Apocalypse to potentially end the game with a massive Gray Merchant of Asphodel trigger.

To sum up our strategy, we draw lots of cards, we fish for our combos, we drain life with zombies, and we make our zombies as strong as possible.

This deck houses a ton of combos that can flat out steal games. First, I will be touching on our main combos. The ones that are the easiest to set up and pull off. As I progress in each category, I will get into the more difficult, more mana intensive, more awkward and risky combos, lethal and non-lethal. And eventually end by touching on some strong card interactions and synergies.

3 card Life-Drain combos:

  1. Gravecrawler+Phyrexian Altar+Wayward Servant. I've opened and ended a game on turn 2 with a turn 1 Swamp+Gravecrawler+Mana Crypt+Dimir Signet. Turn 2 Plains+Phyrexian Altar+Wayward Servant. Game over, lol.

  2. Gravecrawler+Phyrexian Altar+Plague Belcher

  3. Gravecrawler+Phyrexian Altar+Diregraf Captain

  4. Gravecrawler+Phyrexian Altar+Vengeful Dead

Other Life-Drain combos:

  1. Rooftop Storm+Liliana, Untouched By Death+Phyrexian Altar or Ashnod's Altar+(any zombie for desired effect)

  2. Gray Merchant of Asphodel+Rooftop Storm+Liliana, Untouched By Death+Phyrexian Altar or Ashnod's Altar

Infinite Zombies (and life loss if paired with cards mentioned above):

  1. Gravecrawler+Phyrexian Altar+Diregraf Colossus

  2. Grave Titan+Nim Deathmantle+Ashnod's Altar

  3. Rooftop Storm+Grave Titan+Phyrexian Altar+Liliana, Untouched By Death

  4. Carrion Feeder or Nantuko Husk+Gravecrawler+Rooftop Storm+Ghoulcaller Gisa (or any zombie can be the sac target if Lili is activated)

Infinite life loss/drain after X amount of zombies:

  1. Lich Lord of Unx activation after X amount of zombies

  2. Shepherd of Rot activation after X amount of zombies.

  3. The Scarab God triggered ability after X amount of zombies

Infinite black or colorless mana:

  1. Rooftop Storm+Gravecrawler+Phyrexian Altar or Ashnod's Altar

Board wipe:

  1. Noxious Ghoul+Gravecrawler+Phyrexian Altar

  2. Fleshbag Marauder+Rooftop Storm+Liliana, Untouched By Death

If all of our combos get stuffed, our backup plan is a massive recursion spell.

Zombie Apocalypse will most likely only benefit us, hopefully bringing back everything that hasn't been exiled.

Living Death we have to be careful with because we dont want to reestablish our opponents boards; However, if we have a Gray Merchant of Asphodel in our yard as well as alot of black devotion, it might just win you the game.

Game session 1: just a 1v1 with my buddy to playtest. We played 2 games, the first one, I won on turn 4 with Gravecrawler+Wayward Servant+Phyrexian Altar combo. The second, I was able to make a big army and keep draining life from him and swinging hard.

Was able to close out the game with zombies.

Game Session 2: This was a 3 man free for all. I Won the first one tutoring into an infinite around turn 8. Got God-Eternal Oketra down super early and she put in work!! Had to bait a counterspell out of my opponents hand before chucking down a Gravecrawler and a Phyrexian Altar going infinite with Wayward Servant.

Game 2 was more fun, lol. Opened with a Mana Vault and ended up casting a rooftop storm on turn 4. Already had Varina down so I was drawing shit tons of cards. Ended up draining everyone to death with The Scarab God. Noxious Ghoul was also a star in this game.

Game session 3: this deck was slamming hard in the early game and was able to take one of my opponents out by draining his life with Lich Lord of Unx. Ultimately, i lost to my buddies group hug deck which spiraled out of control and was able to wipe my board and counter my contingency plans.

Game Session 4: Decided to playtest Archfiend of Ifnir and it pulled its weight extremely well. Enough to earn it a spot in the list. I started out the game getting Varina out on turn 2 along with alot of ping zombies that deal damage when other zombies hit the yard. Had alot of lords out as well for beefy attacks and then got down Alhamerats Archive and Rooftop Storm and was so far ahead of the table at that point that it was easy to close out the game. I love how i dont need to go infinite all the time to win with this deck. Sometimes beefy ass zombies are enough tonget the job done!!

Game Session 5: Managed to win with huge shepherd of Rot triggers after getting Rooftop Storm, Alhamerats Archive and Kindred Discovery down pretty quickly. My life total was huge and everyone was too far behind to stop me. Corpse Knight also helped alot as well as the star of the game Reconnaissance which allowed me get Varina's attack triggers to keep filling my hand with zombies to play for free with Rooftop storm. Another non-infinite win!

What I have noticed about this deck so far is its ability to remain forceful at every stage of the game.

It's strong and unforgiving out of the gate especially when you get some fast mana rocks out early. The only problem I've really ran into so far is that the table turns against you pretty quick if you're laying down a Rooftop Storm on turn 2, lol.

I've noticed that the deck struggles a bit when we run into counterspells and board wipes. If someone wipes my board and then counters my Zombie Apocalypse it's not too easy to come back from. I will continue updating this section as my time piloting the deck increases.

I've had enough time now with this deck to be able to say that it's the strongest zombie deck I have ever built or played for that matter. I always seem to have answers for any threat my opponents have and I can confidently say that it's probably my most consistent deck.

Not only is this deck a blast to play, but its flavorful and wins games from turn 2 to any turn after. As long as my graveyard isnt getting hit too hard and as long as my board isn't getting wiped over and over again, I am always confident that my deck will win. It always seems to be able to stay ahead of my opponents and generate a crazy amount of pressure super early.

My closing thought is this. If you want a deck that wins in a variety of ways; If you love zombies and strong card synergies and interactions, then this is the deck for you! I dont see myself changing how this deck works, but I will keep updating it with better versions of the cards I have as new sets come out.

I decided to take put Anointed Procession and put in Mana Drain for playtesting. Procession isnt a bad card, but it ends up sitting in my hand alot. I think i would rather have another counterspell to protect my main gameplan over a token generator. This deck does a good enough job going wide without it anyway.


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93% Competitive

Top Ranked
Date added 3 years
Last updated 2 years

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

15 - 0 Mythic Rares

53 - 0 Rares

20 - 0 Uncommons

7 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.09
Tokens Copy Clone, Zombie 2/2 B, Zombie Army 0/0 B, Zombie Warrior 4/4 B, Zombie Wizard 1/1 UB
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