Return of the Living Dead

Well we finally know all the cards from Core Set 2019, and I have to say it’s looking pretty sweet! I personally loved core sets and was more than a little disappointed when Wizards decided to do away with them, but they’re back now and for many the brewing has begun. I already have a few decks I am keen to try out and today I bring you the first (and in my opinion most competitive) of these new builds. What’s more, the deck in question brings back a tribe that could once again become a tournament powerhouse. So sit back, relax, and prepare for the relentless assault that will soon fall upon Standard – for it is time for the undead to rise.

It wasn’t too long ago that Mono-Black Zombies was one of the decks to beat in Standard. With a plethora of these undead to choose from (thanks to Shadows of Innistrad and Amonkhet blocks) Zombie decks swarmed over the format and left little in their wake. Unfortunately with rotation the deck lost more than a few key pieces and so people moved on to build newer and stronger brews. However, Core Set 2019 has a huge selection of these undead critters and it might just be time for us to dust off our Amonkhet rares to see if we can breathe new life into this strategy.

First off, we need to see what new/reprinted cards M19 is actually giving us. While there are a few decent cards that are available, most of these are simply included to make Zombies a draftable archetype. There are however four cards I believe are more than deserving of a slot in our deck. Diregraf GhoulGraveyard Marshal, Death Baron and Liliana, Untouched by Death.

Diregraf Ghoul is a great one drop for the deck. Not only does it survive the entrance of a Goblin Chainwhirler, but it allows us to apply early game pressure to our opponent’s life total if they are lacking in blockers. It does enter the battlefield tapped, but this is a small inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. Graveyard Marshal is a fantastic two drop that can turn ‘dead’ creatures in our graveyard into more Zombies. 

Next up we have the much-needed reprint of Death Baron. This three mana lord is a mainstay of casual tribal decks, and its inclusion gives us access to three ‘lords’ in the current format. What’s more the Baron also gives all of our creatures deathtouch, making any attacks from our opponent more than a little bit awkward.

Finally, we have to mention Liliana, Untouched by Death. This four mana walker was made for zombie tribal (literally). Her plus one mills us for three (not a very big issue in our deck I assure you) and if one of those milled cards was a Zombie we drain our opponent for two. Her minus two is the back end of Dark Salvation, which can help take care of any indestructible permanents (looking at you Hazoret). Finally, her minus three allows us to cast our zombies from our graveyard, giving us a huge amount of durability.

So that’s what’s new, but what do we already have access to? Dread Wanderer is another great one drop that we can get back if it gets whirlered in the early game. Playsets of Metallic Mimic and Lord of the Accursed gives the deck twelve ‘lords’ to pump our team. Two copies of Plague Belcher punishes our opponent for destroying our horde, while Liliana, Death’s Majesty gives us even more recursion. Last but by no means least, Fatal Push and Vraska’s Contempt gives the deck some of the best removal in the format.

The sideboard is fairly customisable, but you will want to have answers to control so a playset of Duress and a few copies of Doomfall and Lost Legacy will serve you well. Scavenger Grounds gives you answers to other graveyard decks, while Aethersphere Harvester helps against aggro. Trespasser’s Curse is great against go wild strategies, and Bontu’s Last Reckoning is a fine choice when you need to blow up the world.

With that in mind, here’s the list…

Mono-Black Zombies

Creatures (26)
Dread Wanderer
Diregraf Ghoul
Metallic Mimic
Graveyard Marshal
Lord of the Accursed
Death Baron
Plague Belcher

Instants (8)
Fatal Push
Vraska's Contempt

Planeswalkers (4)
Liliana, Untouched by Death
Liliana, Death's Majesty
Lands (22)
16 Swamp
Ifnir Deadlands
Dunes of the Dead

Sideboard (15)
Scavenger Grounds
Duress
Doomfall
Lost Legacy
Aethersphere Harvester
Trespasser’s Curse
Bontu’s Last Reckoning

And that’s the new and improved Mono-Black Zombies for Standard! It has some real game against Red aggro decks (which it can out attrition) and control players (who find it difficult to keep it from overrunning them). Don’t be surprised if these little undead on the top tables in the near future. But what do you think of the deck? Is this the kind of deck you want to play with? If not, what other cards from M19 are you looking forward to brewing with? Why not let us know about it in the comments below, and while you’re there subscribe to the site to stay up to date with all the going on here at Master of Magics. But until next time remember, Good Luck and Have Fun.

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