Going into the Pro Tour, I had tested with Zombies more than any other archetype by a major amount. I didn't end up playing it, opting instead to pilot Ramunap Red as I felt it was stronger against the field, but seeing the utter dominance of Ramunap Red at the Pro Tour, I want to go back to Zombies. Zombies has an actual, factual good matchup against the red deck. A lot of people will boast that they beat Ramunap Red with their whatever deck, but most of those people are actually just straight-up wrong.
Ramunap Red is really good and simply having Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in your otherwise random midrange or control deck isn't going to actually beat that deck or even come close. They just play a Chandra or Collective Defiance, kill your Kalitas and go on their way. A lot of decks that people think are good against Ramunap Red are actually sub 50% and probably even worse after sideboard when the Red deck can adapt by going bigger with Glorybringer or Reality Smasher or what have you.
Zombies is actually good against Ramunap Red. I tested Zombies against Red for a ton of hours leading into the Pro Tour and it was good pre-board against Ramunap Red and good post-board against it. Those hours were partially spent on Magic Online, where I literally had a 100% win rate against Ramunap Red with a sample size around 10 matches. The rest of that time was spent testing physically and online with the members of Team Genesis, where I was certainly not 100%, but still well above 50% with Zombies against Red.
Zombies is good against the deck because it gets on the board almost as quickly as the red deck does, it plays defense very well, it can pressure the life total and win races in scenarios where they are just waiting to kill you with Ramunap Ruins, and it has seven main deck ways to kill Hazoret the Fervent between Grasp of Darkness and Dark Salvation. It can also just beat Hazoret by leaving cards like Relentless Dead back to block and just swarming past it on offense.
After the Pro Tour, Magic Online has been filled a lot with Zombies as well as level three decks. For reference, Ramunap Red is level one. It was the best performing deck at the Pro Tour. Zombies and other anti-red strategies are level two. They beat up on level one. And then there are decks like Ramp or Blue-Red Control or the like that are level three strategies. They are played with the assumption that the level two decks will beat up on Ramunap Red and then they can clean up by preying on level two afterward.
As a result, I want my Zombies deck to be good against Level three strategies. Zombies is naturally powerful against level one (Ramunap Red), so there is no reason to really change that formula any, but you also don't need additional cards to improve there. You can focus your sideboard to beat level three, and I'm trying to do that. Lost Legacy is a weird card that we haven't seen for a while, but ramp strategies are picking up significantly in popularity and Lost Legacy on Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or World Breaker are going to be integral to beating that deck.
Transgress the Mind is for control decks or relatively underplayed strategies like God-Pharaoh's Gift. I don't expect to play much against that deck, but it is pretty decent against Zombies so I would like to have access to some interaction. Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is for other level two strategies. Skysovereign is phenomenal in the mirror. It's usually game over most of the time. Murder is basically an anti-Skysovereign card, so you have Skysovereign yourself and also a way to kill their boats.
- Brian Braun-Duin