Kaladesh preview season has begun and all eyes are looking toward it and even further ahead of it to the Standard format that will emerge with its entrance. Remember that this is not just a new set entering the format — Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins also rotates out. This leads to quite a big shake-up indeed.

Major cards that have almost defined Standard for the past two years will rotate. Hangarback Walker, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Dragonlord Atarka, and Collected Company are all out the door. Can you even remember back to a time where a Collected Company deck wasn't actively making top 8s, let alone of a time where it wasn't in Standard? This rotation is going to be huge.

That all said, current Standard is still here and now and Kaladesh is three weeks away from changing that and probably six weeks from changing that online. So, lest we get too ahead of ourselves, we can focus on viable decks in the here and now while paying special attention to avoid any cards that are about to be hit in the rotation. While this isn't perfect, it does mean that if we discover a viable deck through this means, we can improve upon it going forward with an entire new set.

So, I wanted to focus on just that type of deck this week. While there are many different options to explore for this, the couple that stood out to me were B/R Vampires and U/B Zombies. I have played red/black decks, even B/R decks with vampires in it, a few times over the last couple of weeks, so I decided it was a good time to mix it up and explore our favorite undead.

When building a deck like this, focusing on as linear of a shell as possible is a fine way to start. This will give you a good measurement of how the synergies all work out and just what key pieces to the puzzle actually exist for you. For zombies, there are all sorts of synergies and lord effects in Standard and it can be very difficult to tell which ones of these are good or not without actually playing with them. For example, is Gisa and Geralf good? I have no idea. The textbox looks sweet, but how does it actually play out? Well, now is a great time to answer those questions.


As you can see, we paid special attention to maximize the number of cards that will survive the rotation. There is a notable exception here in Shambling Ghoul, which I have included basically purely on rate. The next best two-drop in zombies is probably Screeching Skaab, which isn't saying much, so i wanted to test the slightly above rate common, expecting that something can fill its shoes here in the near future.

Beyond the Shambling Ghoul though, we have really pushed our synergies about as far as they could go. Crypt Breaker, Dark Salvation, Liliana, the Last Hope, Gisa and Geralf, Compelling Deterrence, and Diregraf Colossus all ask you to check your zombie count when building a deck and that much synergy at a constructed power level usually leads to good things. And again, this is all ignoring the cards that are in Kaladesh, which we can add later on after seeing the full set.

For now, let's enjoy some tribal zombies and pay special attention to what the list is going to look like after rotation. Did someone say brains? Until next week, thanks for reading!

--Conley Woods--