“…But this is Zombie Redneck Torture Family. Entirely separate thing.”
Hello! My name is Max and you might know me from the internet as someone who makes cool Magic: the Gathering things on a 3D printer. However! Today I have a much more important goal – it’s Halloween, and therefore it’s time to bring out the ghosts and ghouls and other spooky things and shove them all into a Halloween-trope-themed Commander deck.
Picking the right inspiration is hard. My original deck was going to be based around the Hellraiser set of films, but the essential pieces would have completely destroyed the paper budget of $50 that we have set ourselves. Instead, I picked one of my favourite horror films ever – The Cabin In The Woods. Needless to say – spoilers ahead, but I’m going to try and write this without revealing too much if you haven’t seen the film (You should definitely watch it).
The Cabin In The Woods is one of those films which starts out completely horror-cliche and then completely flips the genre on its head. For the most part, it’s a very straightforward zombie movie, but throughout the film, we do get to see references to other monster tropes from the genre. It’s pretty interesting for deckbuilding in that it gives us:
- A list of monsters to work from
- A list of items to work with
In general, I’ve tried to fit in as many monsters from the available lists as possible, and a number of items that could plausibly be found in the movie, all while trying to juggle a very aggressive budget and a challenging mana base.
Progenitus is perfect for our Commander. We need 4 or 5 colours in our identity, and Progenitus plays the part of The Ancient Ones with aplomb. If we manage to get to 10 mana and cast it, the end is nigh (for our opponents). Let them pay the blood sacrifice!
The deck is built around themes of resurrection and bringing back powerful threats to grind out a victory with your horde of Zombies. Ostensibly a 5 colour deck, it leans predominantly on Black.
Zombie Redneck Torture Family / Zombies
The chosen evil! There is a strong theme of Zombies throughout the rest of the creatures and the support cards in honour of the main threat throughout the film. The following cards either are a Zombie or are thematic support cards that care about zombies.
- Festering Mummy
- Empty the Pits
- Moan of the Unhallowed
- Hour of Promise
- Syphon Flesh
- Necromantic Selection
- Necromancer’s Stockpile
- Endless Ranks of the Dead
- Call to the Grave
- Open the Graves
Witches / Sexy Witches
Witches are a solid movie trope; Sexy Witches perhaps less so. Regardless, Cuombajj Witches are a solid inclusion to take care of smaller creatures.
Maybe surprisingly, Wizards haven’t created a Bat that is also a Dragon yet. Surely it can’t be long? In the meantime, we’ll settle for this common which can make itself bigger when feeding on blood (and also looks terrifying).
The Scarecrow Folk
Far from being terrifying, our Scarecrow folk are lovely and helpful at both fixing and adding mana. Essential for our deck, and maybe even essential for summoning our Ancient Ones.
In researching this film, I had to work out the difference between “Reanimated” and “Zombie”. Apparently, in the lore, a Reanimated is a corpse that’s been brought back to life by science or mad scientists, whereas Zombies are resurrected by magic or viruses. The more you know! Obviously Innistrad is our stop here for a Skaab – put another tick in the Zombie box as well.
The Merman. Still hoping for that conch to be picked… In isolation most Merfolk are bad, but thankfully Cold-Eyed Selkie can at least give us some much-needed card draw.
I mean, it’s a Giant. Nobody says it can’t be a Zombie Giant, am I right? Especially a Zombie Giant that cares about other Zombies. It basically adds itself.
Thankfully this film allows me to keep a small part of the Hellraiser deck alive with the Hell Lord (better known as Fornicus, but don’t ask him his full name…). We need something from Rakdos, and we want something with a semi-relevant ability. It even has the word Hell in its title and has chains in the art! This card is perfect.
Sometimes you just need a majestic beast which isn’t at all murdery – Opaline Unicorn is another of those useful creatures to help us out when mana gets tough.
Trying to find actual Giant Snakes in Magic art is surprisingly hard – in the end I gave myself the benefit of the doubt and picked up this Commander classic.
Can’t argue with the scariness of malevolent spirits, though you might be able to argue with the scariness of this particular spirit. A decent budget option at Wraith.
Yes, Snowman. We’re really starting to get eccentric here. Thankfully there’s not much choice here, so we’ll include the only Snowman in Magic.
There are a surprising number of Yeti in Magic! Unfortunately, they’re mostly rubbish. This one isn’t really any different, but it’s better than a Hill Giant.
What is a ‘Kevin?’ Apparently we’re now into the realm of murderous psychopaths – luckily Rakdos has us covered yet again. Put another tick in the Zombie column!
Despite Throne of Eldraine existing, we didn’t actually get a sugarplum fairy that would be any good in Commander. With my “squinting really hard at it” hat on, we get Wizened Snitches as something with a potentially relevant effect.
Creepy dolls! Perfect horror movie trope. Not far to look here, though Stuffy Doll creeps in as the most expensive creature in our 99.
Scary wolves are obviously easy to find, though there are no creatures in MTG that are just werewolves all the time; either they’re Humans that turn into Werewolves, or Werewolves that turn into eldritch horrors. I went with a classic option which works really nicely in Commander.
Having never seen Evil Dead, I had some research to do. Deadites are evil spirits that control bodies, which means that we turn once again to Innistrad for the unique Soul Seizer – Mind Control on a stick.
Magic doesn’t really have the concept of evil doctors – maybe Yawgmoth, but they are very outside the budget for this deck. For a nice thematic entry here I chose Stitcher Geralf, who efficiently pumps out Zombies from your opponents’ ever-dwindling libraries.
An obvious homage to The Shining, we turn again to – you guessed it – the plane of Innistrad, for some mildly creepy little girls. A little expensive if we don’t manage to exploit the Madness cost, but we do have some discard outlets like Necromancer’s Stockpile.
Mutants / The Blob
Coming in to rep Mutants (and the Blob) is everyone’s favourite Mutant that’s also a terrifying Ooze monster! Yes, Experiment Kraj comes to play – there are no infinite combos as far as I know, but combined with Pila-Pala and someone else’s creatures, the world is your delicious oyster.
Towards the top end of our deck we have Archdemon of Unx and Overseer of the Damned; both very expensive Demons and a nice way of generating even more Zombies for your army.
To reward the minor sacrifice subtheme that we have, Butcher of Malakir plays an important role as a Grave Pact with wings. Nothing like mutually assured destruction to prevent your opponents from killing your things!
Angry Molesting Tree
I don’t pick the creature names!!! Let’s go for the most terrifying Treefolk here – Ghoultree ticks a Zombie box and synergises with us getting creatures in our graveyard.
The last creature reference isn’t actually a creature at all, but an artifact. Jester’s Mask seems like a really interesting way to completely screw over one opponent, and I really look forward to doing this!
The place where it all starts to go to hell… Fills our graveyard and makes Zombies – what’s not to love?
The Book of the Dead! In our case, the book of resurrecting all dead creatures as compliant Zombies on our side of the battlefield. If your opponents let you get this off, you’ll hopefully end up winning…
Various monsters are chosen from picking up necklaces. Does that give me an excuse to use all the mana-fixing Lockets that I can? Yes, yes it does.
Given that we’re building bases on a movie about Zombies, we would be remiss not to include a little reanimation…
The movie plays heavily on the fact that blood sacrifices are required. This trope is used to good effect here, where we sacrifice our own creatures for greater gains, such as resurrecting something even stronger.
- Barter in Blood
- Blood Divination
- Blood for Bones
- Infernal Offering
- Rescue from the Underworld
- Treacherous Urge
- Covenant of Blood
- Death Pit Offering
- The Eldest Reborn
- Bloodsoaked Altar
The deck is already bursting at the seams; adding in any complex lands would blow the budget very quickly. We’re running Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, and basics – keeping a hand with any of the artifact based fixing is recommended.
There is one more land, which I will leave you with. It’s the only card that could be in this slot.
If you have your own plans for Halloween, we would love to hear about them in the comments below. While you’re there, you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.
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