I can’t imagine anything more terrifying than being near a Zombie Infestation.
From what I’ve seen in the movies a zombie outbreak is generally pretty much game over for the humans. Everybody is dying, but they’re not dying. But they’re not alive. Your friend is not your friend.
Dangerous dehydrated husks of human corpses spreading through the streets. Gotta be prepared to put down a zombie or escape at all times.
Terrifying as a Zombie Infestation is my desire to control one. I mean, if I could control a Zombie Infestation I could control it away from me and that sounds great. Disaster averted.
If it means my human opponent across the Magic: the Gathering battlefield gets devoured by zombies in front of me then “oops my bad.” I mean, at least it’s not me.
So today, we are going to be controlling Zombie Infestation.
Zombie Infestation the Magic card is one of my all-time favorite build around Magic cards.
Zombie Infestation came from the graveyard themed Odyssey block—full of absurd discard options.
Times sure have changed, but one thing hasn’t: Zombie Infestation. This card is still an absurd build-around and it’s time is now.
Zombie Infestation is a lot like Seismic Assault, which is much more established as a busted Magic card. Both are enchantments that let you exchange cards in hand for a free effect. The cards do have some key differences so let’s check ’em out.
For starters, Zombie Infestation is WAY easier to cast at 1B than Seismic Assault is at RRR. We’re going to have a much easier time casting Zombie Infestation in any deck so we need less resources to get it out and get to use the effect faster. This is a big deal.
For every two cards you discard, Zombie Infestation gives us one 2/2 Zombie while Seismic Assault does 4 damage. 4 damage is nice but it takes ten cards for 20 damage, where an 8-card Zombie army would get the job done as well.
The rate of resource exchange might be “better” on Seismic Assault but we’re restricted by having to discard lands. This is a big deal. What if we don’t want to discard lands?
After all, land cards generally don’t have discard or graveyard abilities—they generally just stay in the graveyard to maybe hopefully be recurred with Life from the Loam.
Zombie Infestation lets us discard ANYTHING, which gives us a lot of flexibility and power that Seismic Assault does not offer.
I can think of some sweet cards to discard…
But first! Zombie Infestation’s partner in crime:
If we’re going to build a whole deck around a card I’d like to have at least 8 of them. That way we don’t have to mulligan all the time.
Lotleth Troll is like a Zombie Infestation clone. It’s a 2-drop that lets us exchange cards in hand with power on board for free. Pretty similar. Lotleth Troll offers the same rate of resource conversion but all in one big trampling body.
But now we need discard fuel for Zombie Infestation and Lotleth Troll.
We don’t mind discarding either of them because they’re even better in the graveyard. They’re hard to kill, and they’re resilient too, so opponents are going to have to clean our graveyard or kill us fast.
Now to get the draw engine going:
Squee is our honorary Goblin Zombie. This guy just keeps coming back. And each turn we get to pitch him again for free. Sweet deal. This is a great card to discard that Seismic Assault does not get to play with.
Veilborn Ghoul is a tasty Zombie treat that comes back much like Squee… although we need to drop a Swamp to do it.
You know what’s a Swamp? Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is a Swamp. It’s a Swamp that lets us turn our Verdant Catacombs into an absurd Zombie engine that recycles Veilborn Ghouls over and over.
This is some serious fuel!
Now that we know we are going to have so many sweet plays from the graveyard, we should take advantage of dredge to fill it up.
Stinkweed Imp has the biggest dredge around at 5 flips a turn. That quintuples our draw step turning over all kinds of fuel into the bin.
This card also gives us an important recursive flying blocker. We can clog up the ground with our Zombies pretty nicely, but without Stinkweed Imp we could be weak to flyers. This function makes Stinkweed Imp, impervious ‘Goyf/Colonnade brick wall, much more useful than Golgari Thug.
And then we have Life from the Loam which plays great with Zombie Infestation. Cards in hand with a growing graveyard? Sure.
Loam does a lot of other great things though—like letting us hit our land drops in a land-light deck, finding our Urborg and fetchlands for Veilborn Ghoul and Bloodghast, like finding our Mutavault to recur our Gravecrawlers, like recurring Dryad Arbor to discard to Lotleth Troll.
Life from the Loam is a crazy card. And it happens to play very nicely with:
Raven’s Crime is absurd with Life from the Loam. This combo empties the opponent’s hand out so fast while the dredge advances our board position.
Many kinds of decks struggle heavily against this combination, early or late. It seems to me to be the best interactive option by far.
Looks like we found our Anger. This thing has a huge hasty body, and the ability to come back for free?
Between Gravecrawler, Stinkweed Imp, and Squee Goblin Nabob, we should be able to return Vengevines starting at 4 mana with lots of alternative options for 3rd turn returns.
Somehow I forgot about this card until after the video series (which was a success). So if you are into this deck there is a chance of a second video coming. This deck is so crazy I want to show it off in its final form.
Zombie Land Base
Now that we have roughly 40 cards we need to fill in the lands, which we talked about a bit before.
Because of Veilborn Ghoul and Bloodghast we are going to have an emphasis on these lands:
This supplements our graveyard engine and helps us fix our mana. We are going to need Overgrown Tomb to fetch out and I’m also playing a Blood Crypt to cast our Squee.
Once we have some basics in Swamps and a Forest, we can trick the lands out a bit.
Mutavault is a nice one in that we can recover it with Loam and use it as a Zombie to bring back all the Gravecrawlers. This won’t happen all the time but it’s a nice option and Mutavault is strong either way.
Dryad Arbor is a way of turning an extra land into an extra creature. It’s also the only card that has true combos with Lotleth Troll and Life from the Loam. This combo lets us grow our Trolls guaranteed.
I love these double bounce lands so much and this one is great here. By itself it’s infinite fuel for Bloodghast, and with an Urborg it’s infinite fuel for Veilborn Ghoul.
Zombie Infestation List
Now for the list. This deck has EXTREMELY fast openings coupled with insurmountably grindy late games. There is some weakness to Zombie repellant (graveyard hate) but everyone is getting gobbled alive.
As beautiful as this deck are the opening hands. This deck produces some opening hands that are pure works of art.
Zombie Opening Hands
While not every opening hand is going to be this good a lot of them will be. The lesser opening hands have a lot of range as well.
Obviously we’d like to open on either Zombie Infestation or Lotleth Troll but even if we don’t we can play Magic. We can just cast our guys which is a fine plan, or we can combo Life from the Loam with Raven’s Crime.
Graveyard Hate = Zombie Repellant?
For those of you who want to jump on the Zombie bandwagon but are concerned about Zombie repellant, let’s have a talk.
Yes, graveyard hate can beat us, but that’s good for the game. If it didn’t exist we’d be overrun by Zombies for all times. That would be horrible for the humans. So let them have some Zombie repellant.
As for the Zombie repellant itself, there really isn’t that much of it… the biggest thing is the maindeck Scavening Oozes and the occasional sideboard Rest in Peace. Those are gonna suck.
But for everything else we can just play our game. If they tamper with our graveyard a little bit, whatever, we can just cast our guys. It’s not the end of the world.
Zombie Infestation Sideboard
If you’re interested in building a sideboard for this deck I am as well. My first thoughts with a deck like this are having options to take advantage of our graveyard that didn’t fit in the main. Rather than sideboarding away from the graveyard, we can just dig deeper into it.
For instance Vengeful Pharaoh is a card I want to play with.
This isn’t going to help us much against graveyard hate, but whatever. It’s a great card against creature decks.
Similarly, this plays great with our plan and gives us access to the best kind of artifact removal.
Burn seems to be a player in every meta and I always want to have a plan against them. We can dredge for these cards and use them as absurd life gain… yum, the taste of Burn Mages’ tears!
Tectonic Edge plus Life from the Loam is unbeatable for a lot of control decks. If a UWR player can’t find her Rest in Peace she’s never casting anything bigger than a Restoration Angel all game. Those Celestial Colonnades and Sphinx’s Revelations will rot.
Necromancer’s Stockpile was the original inspiration for the build but unfortunately it’s just not that good. It doesn’t offer a free resource conversion like Zombie Infestation or Lotleth Troll which means it’s really slow.
However, slow is okay against some decks. Slow decks are going to struggle against Necromancer’s Stockpile plus Shambling Shell… every 2 mana dredges 3 and puts a 2/2 into play. Never ending stream of dudes.
It’s not the fastest engine, but it’s a powerful engine. Perfect from the sideboard for slower decks.
Pretty solid sideboard I would say. Importantly, it’s proactive. Rather than hide and try to destroy Rest in Peace or Relic of Progenitus we instead play our own hosers. That’s the better strategy I think, although I am rocking a couple Abrupt Decays to cover all bases.
Zombie Infestation Game Play
If you’ve gotten this far and you just need to see the deck in action, wait until the video/videos. This deck is FAST and POWERFUL going long.
It’s a deadly combination of aggro and control that, while admittedly has some vulnerabilities, has the potential to overwhelm and overtake any deck.
Peace, love, and let me know what you think in the comments. I’m happy to answer any questions on the deck.