Most of the decks that I write about here on ChannelFireball are existing or new strategies that I feel are competitive in the Modern metagame. Today’s deck is a little different. Every Modern player has a soft spot in their hearts for a deck or two, decks that they just play for fun. Fun is an extremely important and underdiscussed aspect of our game. Every player needs to identify what they want to get out of Magic, be it tournament success, enjoying the gameplay, or having fun with friends. Playing a deck simply because you enjoy it is a totally valid way to play the game, and is something I encourage every player to do from time to time. Modern Zombies is one of my favorite decks to play in Modern. I love how surprisingly grindy and resilient to removal the deck is. I love getting to make a lot of interesting decisions while playing a tribal deck. I love drawing a lot of cards in an Aether Vial deck.
Modern Zombies has never been a good choice for a tournament, but I’ve had some success with the archetype in MTGO leagues in the past and it’s totally playable in that environment or at your LGS. It’s also gotten a few new tools with the release of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt!
Zombies have always wanted access to more good one mana creatures, and Champion of the Perished is a perfect fit. When you’re recurring Gravecrawler multiple times a turn Champion can get gigantic. It’s also incredibly relevant that unlike some of its undead counterparts, Champion of the perished can actually block which is very helpful against Ragavan or in racing situations.
Here’s where I’m currently at with the deck. I’ve had surprising success in the MTGO leagues with this list and have found it a ton of fun to play and pilot.
Modern Rakdos Zombie Bombardment by Evart Moughon
At its core, Zombies is a resilient aggro deck that uses tribal synergies to fight through removal spells and accrue card incremental card advantage. Against opposing fair decks, instead of trying to kill your opponent as quickly as possible, you’ll want to maneuver around their interaction and make their plays as inefficient as possible.
Aether Vial is a card that has lost a lot of value in Modern with the printing of Prismatic Ending. Vial is however crucial in a creature-based deck like this that are both mana hungry and have lots of avenues to generate card advantage. It allows you to play Undead Augur at instant speed to draw a card off of a removal spell or put a Mayhem Devil into play and spend your mana sacrificing and recurring Gravecrawler. All of your best draws start with a turn one Aether Vial, and the card has too much upside to omit. It’s a card you trim a lot in sideboard games, since you dilute your deck post board with interactive cards.
Undead Augur is the best card in the deck and the best payoff for Zombie tribal. Not only is it almost always going to be at least a two-for-one, but if you assemble a sac outlet with Undead Augur and Gravecrawler, you can draw a card for each available black mana you have. Be careful not to lose too much life however; sacrifice your Undead Augur once you’ve drawn enough cards.
While Undead Augur is much better than Cryptbreaker at generating card advantage, Cryptbreaker is important to give yourself an additional way to generate value. Remember that you can discard Gravecrawler to Cryptbreaker and try to wait to play Cryptbreaker when you have two other untapped Zombies in play so you can draw a card through a removal spell.
Neither of these cards are Zombies, but they synergize so well with the rest of the deck that not only are they worth including, they’re one of the main reasons to play the deck. Goblin Bombardment is an incredibly powerful and underplayed card in Modern. In this deck, it’s capable of dealing massive amounts of damage, either killing your opponent’s creatures or killing your opponent. You can double up on Goblin Bombardment triggers with Mayhem Devil. Devil also synergizes Carrion Feeder. Remember that Mayhem Devil triggers from both players sacrificing permanents, and in a format dominated by fetchlands and Mishra’s Bauble, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how often your opponent will trigger your Devil.
It might seem strange to see such a narrow card like Magnetic Theft in the sideboard. In my experience, while this deck can fight through the interaction of a lot of fair decks, and it can control the board against some fair decks, Zombies really struggles against Hammertime. I think Magnetic Theft stealing an opposing Colossus Hammer is the best way to cheese a win in that matchup.
As always, thanks for reading. Like I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t recommend this deck for any serious tournaments. But this is one of my favorite decks to play in the whole format, and if you’re looking for something fun to pick up or a nice change of pace I recommend summoning the undead horde. Here’s how I would sideboard with this list.
In: +2 Bone Shards (it’s alright to board in one to three cards versus Mill as long as you don’t have other cards you’d like to cut)