I’m a huge fan of mono-black decks in Magic: the Gathering and today I’m excited to present my take on a budget Zombie tribal strategy with Gisa, Glorious Resurrector at the helm:
There’s nothing that pleases me more than a deck that harnesses the ghastly power of basic Swamp to great effect and today’s deck is geared toward sharing my love of “Black Magic” with all of the necromancers on a budget.
Over the past week or so, I’ve been working on a non-budget version of Zombie tribal and I noticed that the core of the deck (including a lot of basic Swamps!) is actually quite budget friendly to assemble and even without the expensive staples still functions with both power and consistency.
Zombie tribal as a strategy is pretty straightforward and has great flavor. Much as we’d expect to see in a Zombie horror flick, the goal for today’s deck will be to amass a huge swarm of undead to overwhelm and overpower the other players at the table.
First of all, Gisa, Glorious Resurrector is an absolute gem of a Commander. It shuts down opposing graveyards and recruits all opposing slain monsters into our mob of undead. It’s particularly fantastic with the edict effects I have baked into my deck that force all opponents to sacrifice a creature (and thus allowing Gisa to take a creature from each player).
Although I wasn’t able to feature these cards in the deck for budget reasons…
Both are staples of Commander and play particularly well suited with a swarm of Zombie tokens, sacrifice outlets and a commander with strong synergy for stealing slain creatures. These are centerpieces of my “non-budget” version of Zombie tribal and format defining multiplayer cards.
Even without expensive multiplayer “bombs,” we can still summon the undead to our side and overwhelm (and enlist!) the forces of the living into our shambling mass of necrotic ghouls.
So, let’s make zombies happen for $60!
$60 Budget Gisa Zombie Tribal by Brian DeMars
First things first, I really tried to stay on flavor with my Zombie deck. Nearly every card in the deck makes Zombies and/or involves necromancy.
One thing to keep in mind is that this is a deck built to perform a specific type of play pattern which is to swarm and overwhelm our opponents with a huge army of the undead. Much in the same way we wouldn’t expect to encounter a zombie flick where the undead outwit the competition, a good Zombie Tribal deck seeks to build up a beefy swarm and overrun opponents in combat.
Since the deck is primarily geared toward amassing a lot of creatures in play it’s natural predator is going to be board control decks with a lot of sweepers and reset buttons.
With that said, sweepers have always been and will always be the Achilles heel of tribal swarm decks such as Zombies. One of the great things about Zombies is that it has a lot of ways to recoup the card disadvantage of having its creatures killed.
So, even when our Zombies get swept away, there’s a great chance that we’ll be able to replace those bodies with extra cards to help rebuild. The general idea of the strategy is to put a bunch of power and toughness onto the board to overwhelm our opponents and be able to rebuild quickly if something goes wrong. In the case where we get to untap with bodies on the battlefield, we’re able to use lords and anthems to bolster our forces to add additional damage during combat.
It’s also worth noting that Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow both added a ton of fantastic Zombie tribal options especially in terms of budget options and I’ve utilized a lot of those cards to give my deck some depth and sustainability. It’s probably the best tribal Zombie block since Onslaught Block, which added a ton of excellent cards and really put Zombies on the map as a tribe to be respected and, dare I say, feared.
One of the great things about playing Zombies is that there is so much redundancy in terms of lords and synergies. We tend to have a lot of cards that do similar but slightly different things but all have tribal and recursive synergy with one another. In combination with lots of effects that force all players to sacrifice a creature, the strategy is quite potent and well positioned for multiplayer games.
One of the things I love most about playing aggressive decks in Commander is that it gives the pilot a lot of decisions and control over how games play out because we’re able to leverage who and where we attack each turn. Our choices about who to target first, second or third will have a lot of implications at forcing specific players to take actions (instead of simply ramping and building up resources). I generally think tribal-based swarm decks are a lot of fun to play (especially on a budget) and tend to be one of the best budget strategies in multiplayer.
As has been my mantra for my budget Commander series, the key is to focus on building for synergy as opposed to building for individually powerful cards. The powerful cards of the format, like Grave Pact, tend to be individually expensive. For instance, a Dictate of Erebos and a Grave Pact would cost essentially the same amount as my entire 100-card deck!
Zombies are a sweet Magic tribe with fantastic flavor. I tried to focus today’s list not only upon giving players the most Zombie bite for their buck but also making sure the deck is packed with powerful Zombie synergies and on-point undead flavor.