Last weekend, I played U/W Approach to an 11-4 finish at Grand Prix Denver. I thought the deck was truly excellent in a field full of midrange. I lost an extremely tight 3-game match to Mono-Red, which is a close matchup. I lost a pair of close matches to good matchups after some rough draws. And then there was the 4th loss in which I got completely annihilated. That was to Ivan Espinosa and his U/R Zombie Emerge deck. Despite a number of dead cards in his main deck, he completely crushed me and I’m not sure there’s anything I could have done to even make it competitive.
The deck has lots of recursive creatures, so even killing them with 1-for-1 removal or sweepers is not the most effective strategy. Advanced Stitchwing and Stitchwing Skaab come back from the graveyard over and over again for value. You can discard them to many of your other spells, mill them, and they hit reasonably hard each turn.
The deck doesn’t actually care about casting Prized Amalgam since it has so many ways to get it into the graveyard and then into play. Triggering your Stitchwings during your opponent’s second main phase and discarding Amalgam(s) will put a ton of power into play at instant speed. This is the card that makes the deck so tough to overcome.
Elder Deep-Fiend can put the game away. With your Stitchwings and Amalgams coming back from the graveyard, you have plenty of high-casting-cost options to sacrifice that didn’t cost you much mana to get into play. Deep-Fiend gives you more instant-speed play, can tap down an opponent on a key turn, and pave the way for massive amounts of damage. Then, Sanctum of Ugin allows your Eldrazi to chain into more Eldrazi.
Champion of Wits is a nice addition to the deck to help get the Zombies into your graveyard or to simply discard dead cards in the matchup. It’s not as big a cost to play bad removal spells and sweepers when you have so many ways to discard them for value. You already need cards to discard to your Champions and Stitchwings, mitigating this downside almost completely.
Fevered Visions keeps you well stocked on cards to discard to bring creatures back, or to stay ahead on threats. It also deals damage to your opponent as you get to see large portions of your deck to find key spells.
Cathartic Reunion and Strategic Planning bring more ways to find the cards you need while putting Zombies into the graveyard. For just 2 mana, you’re churning through your deck, and you end up with tons of virtual card advantage in the late game when you utilize the cards you’ve added to your graveyard.
Kozilek’s Return is a great sweeper as your creatures will return from the graveyard, and you have Deep-Fiends to trigger the 5-point version. You can resolve a Kozilek’s Return before activating a Stitchwing, bring back Amalgams, and have tons of power on the battlefield against a cleared board for the win.
The U/R Zombie Emerge deck plays a good number of spot removal spells. The full playset of Lightning Axes can give you a good tempo play when you don’t mind discarding a card. A couple Magma Sprays and an Abrade give you additional early interaction. Stitchwings, Champion of Wits, and Reunions let you discard these spells when they’re bad or dead, giving you a great control matchup.
U/R Zombie Emerge could be a great way to attack a metagame that is focused on beating Red!