Hey everybody and welcome back to another installment of Goode Times! These past couple weeks have certainly had their share of ups and downs, starting with all my Magic collection being stolen up to today’s story which is me finishing 3rd at a local IQ. With my card pool being dramatically lowered and having to pick a deck to basically build from scratch, I chose to go with the boogeyman in the format: BR Zombies. For some time now decks have been built in Standard with one of the qualifications being can it stand up to Zombies. Zombies is quite an impressive deck in that its simplicity, synergy, and speed are what make it a threat. And not many decks can handle the onslaught of the curve that the deck can provide. Having 2 one drops that provide 2 power plus the recursion of Gravecrawler is strong. Being resistant to wrath effects with Gravecrawler, Messenger, and Aristocrat makes any matchup against a control deck a favorable one as well. And to top it all off it has Hellrider and
Round 1 Wally Baldwin 4C Reanimator
Wally was a very nice guy who I’ve played with before. He brought a deck that utilized blue instead of red for some counters and Supreme Verdict in the board and some number of Tracker’s Instincts maindeck. Game one we both mulliganed to 6 and I had the nice start of Gravecrawler into Infamy into Messenger while Wally was struggling to hit his land drops. He eventually got up to 5 mana to play a Thragtusk but from that point he was way too far behind.
Sideboard -4 Diregraf Ghoul +3 Cremate +1 Slaughter Games
Game two started off with both of us keeping our 7. My draw this game was a bit slower with turn 2 Knight into turn 3 Messenger while Wally had a
Round 2 David Watkins G/W Midrange
David is a local player that I see frequently at FCB. We both keep our 7 and he won the roll. He starts off with a Pilgrim and I start with a Gravecrawler. He then casts a Loxodon Smiter on turn 2 and me following with a Knight of Infamy (these guys were all stars throughout the tournament, often swinging past big dudes to chip away at the defending player). On turn 3 he drops his third land: a second Cavern. At this point I’m wondering what type of hand he kept and whether or not he’ll have any more lands this game. On my turn 3 I try to bash with both of my dudes, but I run into the Restoration Angel I was fearing. Smiter then untapped and blocked the Crawler. I Victim of Night the Angel and at this point I’m trying to find either good removal for his board or any of my fatties to push through damage. His next turn was a pass with no additional land and now I’m starting to see some light out of this game. My turn 4 draw yielded me the land to play out an Aristocrat and I bashed with my team, bringing him to 12. It’s at this point in the game where one play basically handed me the game: David miracles a Terminus and chooses to play it, sending his 4th mana source to the bottom of his deck. Soon realizing his mistake, he gets stuck on just the 3 lands he played all game and I eventually draw a Hellrider then a Thundermaw Hellkite to seal the game up.
Sideboard -4 Diregraf Ghoul +4 Vampire Nighthawk
Game two started with him mulliganing to 6 and playing out 2 Pilgrims early off of one land. I started with a Sign in Blood and a Vampire Nighthawk. His turn 3 yielded him another land and a Centaur Healer. My draw got me a Searing Spear for the Healer and a Gravecrawler with a swing by Nighthawk bringing me back up to 20 and him to 21. Turn 4 gave him yet another land and a Smiter with 2 mana up. I draw the land needed for my Aristocrat and I swung over the top for 6, bringing him to 15. At this point I feel like I can just get through the rest of the game on the backs of my flyers, but an untimely Sigarda, Host of Herons stops my Aristocrat cold. A couple turns past with my Nighthawk swinging past the Sigarda taking him down to 11. The next turn he brings out another Smiter and tries to get through with his fatties on the ground, but a Victim kills one Smiter and keeps me at 21. I take this opportunity to Spear one of his Pilgrims, leaving him with only 1 mana open. If I draw my 5th land I can just cast the Hellkite in my hand and win the game outright. I knock the top of my deck and draw….. Cavern of Souls. Hellkite comes down and taps down Sigarda and I swing with everyone for the win.
Round 3 Adam Beauchamp BR Zombies
Adam was playing a Zombie deck as well but was using Blood Artists and Bloodthrone Vampires instead of Hellriders and Thundermaws. Game 1 we both mull to 6 and I yet again hit my curve with Diregraf Ghoul, Knight, and Messenger. He can only manage a Bloodthrone Vampire on his side which is killed in short order. I close the game out with an Aristocrat and the Messenger, sacrificing the Knight in response to a Tragic Slip and making my Vampire a 5/2.
Sideboard -4 Diregraf Ghoul -2 Victim of Night +4 Vampire Nighthawk +2 Bonfire of the Damned
Game 2 we yet again both mull to 6, but his hand just contains the nuts while mine contains nothing but 2 Messengers. He kills me in short order with Aristocrats.
Game 3 we finally keep our hands and we both have average starts. We both have Gravecrawlers on turn 1 and I hit a Messenger on turn 3 with his turn 3 play being a Bloodthrone. I try to weave through combat the next couple of turns and try to force through as much damage as possible before he can start dropping bombs. Thankfully his deck never gave him anything relevant to play all game whereas I drew a Hellrider into a Thundermaw and just pounded through enough damage to win.
Round 4 Josh Dietz U/W Flash
This round just perfectly highlights the strengths of this deck. Against a reactive deck such as Flash or any other Pike decks, putting a lot of pressure on the board early messes with their plans of holding up counters and resolving Sphinx’s Revelations while cycling through their deck. My deck just fired on all cylinders game 1 with Knight of Infamy providing beats through an Auger of Bolas bringing him to 14. Back to back Caverns on Zombie and Vampire allow me to build a board presence of Knight, Messenger, and Aristocrat and I just force through the damage by ignoring countermagic and Azorius Charm for the most part.
Sideboard I didn’t change anything from the maindeck.
Game 2 starts off almost exactly like the first, with him on a turn 2 Auger and me resolving a Sign in Blood to sculpt my hand. Turn 3 I drop a Messenger that thankfully resolves and turn 4 I got an Aristocrat off of a Cavern (Caverns are so crucial in the U/W and U/W/R matchups, allowing you to ignore all of their counters) and swing for 7. He attempts to Charm my Geralf’s but I sac it in response and drop him to 12. He Supreme Verdicts my board and I sac Messenger to Aristocrat again to have it stick. My 5th turn I drop Thundermaw and swing for 9 and he just scoops on the spot.
Round 5 Patrick Hill Mono Red Aggro
So I fianlly run into a deck that’s potentially faster than me where I have to assume the role of control. I mull to 5 the 1st game and just get stomped down by 2 Rakdos Cacklers, a Pyreheart Wolf, and a Gore House Chainwalker plus burn to the face.
Sideboard -4 Diregraf Ghoul -2 Sign in Blood -1 Knight of Infamy +4 Vampire Nighthawk +3 Bonfire of the Damned
Game 2 it was his turn to mull to 5 and I just completely dominate the board with Messenger, Gravecrawler, and Hellrider while he only musters one Cackler the entire game.
Game 3 we both keep and he starts with a Stromkirk Noble. I start with a Gravecrawler followed up by a Spear for his Noble. He drops Pyreheart and 2 Chainwalkers and at this point he has overwhelming board position. Luckily a Nighthawk stalls just long enough for me to find the 5th land to Bonfire for 2 and wipe his board and from there Nighthawk plus a Hellkite seal the deal.
Round 6 Zac Elrod Esper Control
Round 7 Evan Allen BR Zombies
ID into top 8. Although I could’ve played for a better seeding, I’m not one to come between a man and his food.
Quarterfinals Evan Allen BR Zombies
To be honest these games are a blur in my memory. It was a typical mirror match where we both tried to establish a better board and win with our top end creatures, I just happened to draw more of mine than he did. That’s about what the mirror boils down to.Sideboard -4 Knight of Infamy -2 Victim of Night +4 Vampire Nighthawk +2 Bonfire of the Damned
Semifinals Glen Garrett Angel of Glory’s Rise Reanimator
This deck completely stomped me two games in a row. Even though my curve was excellent both games, having turn 4 Angel both games to bring back multiple Huntmasters and Staticasters is something that this deck just can’t compete with legitimately. Maybe if he was slower in those games or I saw any sideboard I could’ve made it a game, but as of now I’m not sure whether or not there’s a good way to combat this deck with Zombies other than just being faster.Sideboard -4 Diregraf Ghoul -1 Brimstone Volley +3 Cremate +2 Slaughter Games
Well that’s all I can really say about the deck. If anyone is looking for a deck that punishes slow starts or any missed land drops, this is probably the deck for you. What surprised me most about the deck is the amount of damage that it can force through midgame to seal the deal. I guess there’s a reason Thundermaw Hellkite is $40+ right now. I hope you guys enjoyed the read this week and I look forward to any questions/advice in the comments below. See you next week!