Mono Black Zombie Aggro: War of the Spark Standard

Well it’s finally here. War of the Spark is available at your local game store and boy howdy is it a great set. Not only is the limited environment fantastic and powerful, but this sets’ impact has spread to nearly every single constructed format there is. While it may still be early days and the meta still needs time to settle, many Standard players are already looking for what will be the next breakout deck for the next session. Today, I want to share with you one deck that I believe has a real shot at being one of those brews. Mono Black Zombie Aggro.

Built around tribal synergies and some of the best removal in the format, Mono Black Zombie Aggro is a simple but effective deck that can easily drown your opponent in value. It also has some real staying power and can easily survive into the late game if your primary game plan falls through. This was a deck that I tested during the Early Access War of the Spark Preview Stream, and it was a blast to play with. I even managed to scratch a win against the one and only Saffron Olive during the event so you can take my word for it, this deck has legs. (Even if these legs are rotting off).

We start off our Zombie deck with, you guessed it. a lot of Zombies. We first off, let’s dust off some M19 all-stars with playsets of Diregraf Ghoul, Graveyard Marshall and Death Baron. The Diregraf Ghoul is a great turn one play, even if it does enter the battlefield tapped. Graveyard Marshall is the two drop that just keeps on giving, recycling our dead (well, more dead) zombies in order to give us a steady stream of 2/2’s. And as for Death Baron, it’s a zombie lord with upside so what’s not to like.

Death Baron

Accompanying our M19 zombies we have some of the shiny lazotep covered brutes from War of the Spark. Lazotep Reaver is a two drop that at worsted gives you two bodies with a combined two power and three toughness, and at best buffs up your Zombie Army and gives you a chump blocker. Vizier of the Scorpion does a similar role, bringing two bodies to the battlefield as well as giving our entire team deathtouch. Finally, Herald of the Dreadhorde might seem on the expensive side as a 3/2 for four mana, but this underrated zombie will often trade up in a fight and add to our army in death.

We also run three copies of Dreadhorde Invasion to give us a steady stream of undead to keep the pressure on. The life loss can be an issue, but with all the Amass in the deck it won’t take too long before we can trigger that life link clause. We are also running a full playset of Vanquisher’s Banner to increase our number of anthem effects, as well as giving us some decent card draw once we get to the mid-game. We also want to make sure we take full advantage of the removal black has to offer. Cast Down is a great removal spell provided our opponent isn’t running too many legendary creatures but fear not, as we can just make use of Vraska’s Contempt for them.

Dreadhorde Invasion

Finally, it would just be rude to run a zombie deck and not have the queen of the undead Liliana involved somehow. In fact, both her M19 and her newer War of the Spark versions are fantastic additions to this style of deck. Liliana, Untouched by Death is the quintessential zombie planeswalker, allowing you to load your graveyard with zombies to either cast later thanks to her -3 effect, or fuel your Graveyard Marshall. Additionally, she can work as one heck of a removal spell once you have an established board.

This is also true for Liliana, Dreadhorde General, who can edict two of your opponents’ creatures when she arrives. Sure, you must sacrifice two creatures too, but losing a Herald of the Dreadhorde or a zombie token is nothing in the grand scheme of things. She can also provide us with those tokens and her ultimate is just plain game ending. Not to mention that static ability can draw us a ton of cards as the game goes on. Top off the mainboard with twenty-two Swamps and we are about done.

Creatures (22)
Diregraf Ghoul
Lazotep Reaver
Graveyard Marshall
Vizier of the Scorpion
Death Baron
Herald of the Dreadhorde

Planeswalkers (4)
Liliana, Untouched by Death
Liliana, Dreadhorde General

Instants (5)
Cast Down
Vraska's Contempt

Enchantments (3)
Dreadhorde Invasion

Artifacts (4)
Vanquisher's Banner
Lands (22)
22 Swamps

Sideboard (15)
The Elderspell
Open the Graves
The Eldest Reborn
Golden Demise
Diamond Mare

The sideboard gives us some interesting options. Four copies of Duress helps handle those pesky control decks that keep popping up, while The Elderspell is a catch all for anyone thinking of running super-friends. Open the Graves gives us some psuedo-protection against removal. Two copies of The Eldest Reborn allows us to handle hexproof threats and then play with them ourselves, and Golden Demise is mostly a one-sided board wipe once we have the cities blessing. Last but by no means least, Diamond Mare gives us life gain against fast decks such as RDW.

The Elderspell

And that is Mono Black Zombie Aggro for War of the Spark Standard. The deck is a ton of fun to play and can win pretty consistently. It might still need a bit of tweaking, but I’m very happy with it as it stands and believe it has some potential. But I’m curious, what decks have you been testing for War of the Spark Standard? Why not tell us in the comments below, and 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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