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Deck Guide: Standard Mono-Black Zombies

Standard Mono-Black Zombies is a deck that has been doing well while flying under the radar.  This is a zombie tribal deck, using a lot of zombie creatures and strong interactions.  The deck has a great winrate on Untapped.gg, this week clocking in at 58.2%.

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Mono Black Zombie - Huey Jensen

 

The deck wins by using zombies and zombie synergies to pressure the opponent’s life total, as well as to remove their threats. There are a lot of cool itneractions, and it is capable of great draws, most notably when those draws contain turn one Champion of the Perished.  The most aggressive draws will have Champion of the Perished, usually into Jadar.  However, the deck can do a good impression of a midrange deck.  Archghoul of Thraben, Headless Rider, Fell Stinger, and Ebondeath, Dracolich are all pretty grindy, and capable of winning games on that axis. The closest thing we’ve got to a backup plan in this deck is Agadeem’s Awakening, or maybe Faceless Haven.  Both of those cards slot pretty nicely into the deck though, so I’d think of them as part of the main plan in the case of Faceless Haven, or a plan against sweepers, in the case of Agadeem’s Awakening.

Early in the game, we’re playing a curve out deck. Ideally we want to play Champion of the Perished into Jadar as often as we can.  On the second and third turns, things have a tendency to become a bit more interesting than the first turn.  Sometimes we’ll have to take a turn off to play removal.  The deck also has a lot of three drops. In general, in games where we have Jadar, Headless Rider is the worst of the three drops to curve into, as it doesn’t get any value from the tokens dying, while Fell Stinger can exploit a token for max value, and Archghoul of Thraben can spin the wheel.  Tainted Adversary is a great two drop, but especially if we have Infernal Grasp and a target, we may decide to hold Tainted Adversary until we can afford to pay the kicker.

In the late game we can switch to grinding with Ebondeath, Dracolich.  It’s particularly strong with Jadar, Fell Stinger, and Eaten Alive, as it’s very easy to make sure a creature dies with all those cards.  Ebondeath is good at dealing a big chunk of damage before the opponent can react.  Agadeem’s Awakening into The Meathook Massacre, to get a bunch of triggers, can also be a potent finisher late in the game.  We can even set up Headless Rider plus Meathook Massacre, potentially wiping the opponent’s board while leaving us with an army of 2/2s.

 

It’s hard to pick too many key cards in this deck, but I’d say Champion of the Perished, Jadar, and Ebondeath, Dracolich.  They are definitely the most unique cards, and typically when a deck has a bit of redundancy, it’s more important to draw the unique stuff. Champion of the Perished applies a ton of pressure, Jadar combos with most cards in the deck, and Ebondeath is the best finisher.

 

There are a lot of cool interactions in this deck.  Jadar basically interacts with every card so let’s start with that.  Jadar plus Champion of the Perished can make a Zombie every turn to pump the Champ.  We can attack with our Zombie even if it will die in combo to a blocker in order to get another one.  Jadar plus Archghoul of Thraben gives us a trigger every turn.  Jadar plus Fell Stinger gives us easy fodder to sacrifice to draw two cards.  Jadar plus Ebondeath, Dracolich lets us guarantee a creature dying so we can cast Ebondeath whenever we want.  Headless Rider or Archghoul of Thraben plus Fell Stinger is another interaction, as well as Fell Stinger plus Shambling GhastEaten Alive combos with Jadar as well, a free sacrifice, as well as comboing with all the other cards that have death abilities, and Ebondeath, too.

 

A good starting hand in this deck will contain a perfect curve, good land count, usually three, and exactly one removal spell.  Easy, right?  Champion of the Perished is the best card to have in our opening hand.  We don’t want to have too many cards that cost more than two.  If our hand is cluttered with three mana cards it can make it too hard for us to cast multiple spells in a turn, which we really need to do to win with this deck, and decks like it.

We have to mulligan hands with too many lands, too few lands, and hands that are too clunky.  Unfortunately, the deck doesn’t mulligan all that great.  It could be worse, but the deck really needs to maximize it’s good hands, and the way to do that is with good resources.  The Scorpion can help mitigate some card disadvantage, and even a six card hand that starts with Champion into Jadar into basically any three drop is powerful enough to have a chance.  Mulligans in general are pretty punishing, though, as we all know, and this deck is somewhere in the middle of punishment received.

 

Monogreen

A runaway Champion of the Perished can be really strong here.  It can also be tough for them to do much about Ebondeath, Dracolich if we can keep parity in the first few turns.  The challenge is that the Green deck plays creatures that are big and above curve.  Eaten Alive is great removal against them, however it’s not great against Esika’s Chariot, for which we only have a couple copies of Infernal Grasp, in the main deck anyhow.

 

+2 Infernal Grasp

+1 Eaten Alive

+2 Blood on the Snow

 

-3 Meathook Massacre

-2 Shambling Ghast

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Monowhite

Mono White is about speed.  They try to play more spells than their opponent.  Shambling Ghast and Meathook Massacre are both very good in this matchup.  Our goal is to control the board as best we can, and win with Meathook Massacre.

+2 Ray of Enfeeblement

+2 Infernal Grasp

 

-1 Ebondeath

-1 Fel Stinger

-2 Archghoul of Thraben

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Izzet Epiphany

There’s nothing we can do in the first game other than try to apply max pressure.  We more or less want to make whatever decision does the most damage on every turn of the game.  We have no way to interact with their combo, so we just have to win before they do.  We do get to board in disruption, which is helpful.

 

+2 Duress

+4 Go Blank

+2 Soul Shatter

 

-3 Eaten Alive

-2 Infernal Grasp

-3 The Meathook Massacre

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Izzet Control

This is about the same as against Izzet turns.  We want to maximize damage, though in this case, they are going to be going for Hullbreaker Horror, which we do have a few ways to interact with.  Notably, Infernal Grasp because it’s instant speed.

 

+2 Duress

+4 Go Blank

+1 Infernal Grasp

 

-3 Eaten Alive

-3 The Meathook Massacre

-1 Shambling Ghast

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Izzet Dragons

The final of the Izzet trifecta, here we want to be able to interact with Goldspan Dragon as well as Alrund’s Epiphany, though there’s no Epiphany combo, and usually fewer copies.  Soul Shatter is the best removal for dragon, and we can occasionally block it with Ebondeath Dracolich.

 

+2 Duress

+4 Go Blank

+2 Soul Shatter

+1 Infernal Grasp

 

-3 Eaten Alive

-3 The Meathook massacre

-3 Shambling Ghast

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Humans

Selesnya is a cross between white and green.  Get it?  Anyhow, the deck is a bit aggro, a bit slower than white, but a bit cheaper than green.  Removal is going to be good here, and we particularly want to make sure to not lose to Brutal Cathar.  Thalia isn’t that good against us, so no need to worry there. Adeline can be tough if unanswered for too long.

 

+2 Blood on the Snow

+2 Ray of Enfeeblement

+2 Infernal Grasp

 

-1 Shambling Ghast

-3 Archghoul of Thraben

-1 Ebondeath

-1 Jadar

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