Amonkhet is coming, and so are the Zombies. And, as it turns out, that's going to be a pretty good thing for Modern, at least if this week's deck has anything to say about it.
I spend a lot of time cruising for the coolest Modern decks, and you better believe that when I saw "Mono-Black Zombies" in the Top 8 of a good-sized tournament – in this case, the SCG Modern Classic in Worcester – I took notice. And the deck, courtesy of Top 8 finisher Nick Vallas, didn't disappoint.
Talk about a beauty. While the deck may be more aptly described as "Undead hordes" since there's nearly as many Vampires as there are Zombies, the entire thing comes together in a great package. The cards in the deck are pretty solid in and of themselves much of the time, but this deck truly is more than the sum of its parts.
Bloodghast and Gravecrawler start things off, with enough recursion to give opponents fits. Geralf's Messenger and Relentless Dead keep up the pressure and the neverending stream of creatures, not to mention providing the perfect payoff after setting up with Cryptbreaker in the first turn or two.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Gray Merchant of Asphodel provide a solid top end – and a key sacrifice outlet in Kalitas – while Gifted Aetherborn is probably the most surprising but also surprisingly strong inclusion. A two-drop with lifelink is relevant in a lot more matchups than you may think at first, and even when it's not at its best it can trade all the way up with a Tarmogoyf. It looks a little odd at first, but it really does plug the gaps really well while providing key swings in certain matchups.
Liliana of the Veil was a one-of in Vallas' deck, but I could easily see adding another copy or two. It's obviously just incredibly strong on its own, but it has additional utility in this deck by serving as a discard outlet for Bloodghast and Gravecrawlers. Collective Brutality serves that role as well, while also shoring up a ton of matchups, all the way from combo to Burn. Thoughtseize is here, of course, and Dismember and Fatal Push round out a removal suite that guarantees the ability to interact with other creature decks.
I was really impressed with how well this deck served in our matches this week. It has a lot of interaction and recursive threats against other creature decks, and the same recursion does wonders against control decks, as was evident in the videos. While the deck is certainly a bit softer to combo it isn't just drawing dead in game one, and this can be answered by tailoring the sideboard toward those matchups if you expect them.
With Amonkhet on our doorsteps and Hour of Devastation a few months away, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing if the archetype can be pushed further with what we gain from the next few sets. There are definitely some incentives to look at adding white, but even in black something like Plague Belcher could deserve a spot. It's a giant beater, and the drawback doesn't look so bad when you're dumping counters on a Bloodghast or Gravecrawler you're getting back anyway.
Thanks for reading,