Monday 05th October 2015,
Comic Booked

MTG Deck-Building: The Walking Dead deck (Black/Red Zombies)

Comic Booked Guest Writer 03/29/2012 ZDONOTUSE

Today marks the start of a bi-weekly deck-building series I’ll be doing on Thursdays to introduce and feature decks I’ve actually built, tested and refined. When I’m building a deck for Magic, it needs to follow the following criteria:

  1. It must run some amount of land(s) that have effects other than producing mana. If we examine many of the top decks, they run cards like Kessig Wolf Run, Gavony Township and Moorland Haunt. These are all lands that put the pressure on the opponent when cards in hand are low or non-existent and give effects late in the game that can shift the turn of crucial turns. For example, a monster that survives a battle due to an extra +1|+1 counter from Gavony Township, where it would have otherwise have died from the clash.
  2. It must have a finisher. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is a finisher. Wurmcoil Engine is a finisher. A finisher, in my book, is the card your opponent drops that you immediately feel a sense of impending doom followed by a rush for answers to remove the threat lest you lose the game.

Today, I’ll be looking at a version of Black/Red Zombies that I’ve outlined a decklist for below:


Diregraf Ghoul x4
Gravecrawler x4
Fume Spitter x1
Skirsdag High Priest x2
Geralf’s Messenger x4
Cemetery Reaper x1
Liliana of the Veil x2
Olivia Voldaren x2
Bloodline Keeper x1
Massacre Wurm x1

Bump in the Night x3
Tragic Slip x4
Altar’s Reap x4
Sever the Bloodline x2
Consume Spirit x1

Blackcleave Cliffs x4
Dragonskull Summit x4
Swamp x13
Ghost Quarter x1
Stensia Bloodhall x2


Phyrexian Crusader x3
Black Sun’s Zenith x1
Nihil Spellbomb x2
Bump in the Night x1
Despise x3
Dismember x1
Ratchet Bomb x2
Ghost Quarter x1
Falkenrath Aristocrat x1

A discussion on some choices I’ve made: (please note that testing is never-ending, and even at the time of writing, I’m thinking of cards I want to replace at certain slots)

No to Mortarpod, Yes to Altar’s Reap.
I personally found that Mortarpod didn’t do enough to warrant its place in the 75 (main and sideboard count), and I replaced it with Altar’s Reap as I valued unexpected card advantage over the over-costed (and expected) “Sac to burn for 1.”The finisher. Altar’s Reap’s place in this deck allows me to respond to my opponent’s removal and draw cards in the process, especially in response to an Oblivion Ring on my Gravecrawler or Geralf’s Messenger. The extra cards always come in handy, and in the video below, helped me to find a card I needed to get rid of a problematic creature.

Stensia Bloodhall.
Yes, THAT card. I mentioned earlier in the article that I don’t build decks without lands that have effects anymore. It was the last thing I expected to find myself using in the deck but it serves a critical purpose in finishing off an opponent that’s trying to stabilize and setup for a comeback when their lifepoints are in the single digits. As I said, top decks have lands with crucial effects that are especially good late in the game, and Stensia Bloodhall is the hand we’ve been dealt. I, for one, would much rather topdeck a Stensia than a Swamp when my opponent is sitting at two, or one, life.

Bump in the Night
A cheap, efficient burn, or rather life reduction spell to be more accurate. The flashback seems expensive, but you’ll be glad it’s there in the late game when you’re drawing too many lands or everything BUT the card(s) you need.

Massacre Wurm
The Finisher. Nuff said.

Ghost Quarter
Kills stuff like Kessig, Moorland and other problematic land cards. Necessary, in my opinion.

A video of the deck in action follows. I was originally going to do a gold-fishing video (just me testing the draws and how the deck plays out), but a friend of mine was kind enough to be available for taping.

GAME 1 (vs a Red/White/Green Birthing Pod deck)

After the match, I’m actually thinking of upping the Stensia Bloodhalls to three, as I didn’t see any in the two matches I had, replacing Consume Spirit with Brimstone Volley, and taking out the second Skirsdag High Priest for a third Olivia or Falkenrath Aristocrat. Choices, choices..

Anyway, that’s all for this week folks. I’ll be back in two weeks with another brew.


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  1. Richard Wilcox 03/29/2012 at 2:54 pm

    This is pretty cool. I've never been one to break down my decks like so, maybe I'll give it a try.

    • Adan Johnson 03/29/2012 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks! I'm glad you like the format.

  2. Adan 03/30/2012 at 9:58 am

    Update: Testing Nim Deathmantle x2 over the Skirsdag High Priests. Nim Deathmantle combos nicely with my creatures (especially the Messenger–resets the undying trigger–>More Burn!), and greatly improves my board presence by boosting my creatures' resilience to removal.

    • Damian 09/07/2012 at 3:11 pm

      card is absolutely garbage, you are just wasting your mana and time with that. arc trial is better then altars reap burn plus deal with multiple sorces. Highborn ghoul because he has intimidate with swords. Brimstone volley does 5 damage? no olivia too slow run just falkenrath. And how can you justify nim deathmantle over mortarpod? it cost 6 in total to use. at that point ive already won with mortarpod. no

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