Insider: Where Does the Zombie Archetype Go From Here – Competitively and Financially?

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Last week, I wrote about the Pro Tour and all of the competitive and financial implications from that event. If you missed it, be sure to check it out. At this point, everyone knows that the biggest deck to emerge from that event was Zombies. Both versions are great, so whether you like the black-white version or the mono-black version, you will be choosing a competitive deck.

Today, I want to highlight the version I’ve been playing, as well as go over each card that has significant financial implications. First, let’s see the list.

The first thing I want to mention was my skepticism before building and playing this deck. The main reason I put Zombies together was to get a feel for why the deck was so successful at the event and whether it seemed like a deck that would stay at the forefront of the metagame or wane in popularity.

After playing with the deck, I will say that the strategy is much stronger than it appears on paper. When looking over the list, it seems like a weak tribal strategy to me and not one that would stick around. After playing with it, though, it’s clear that the format is ripe for being overtaken by the Zombie horde.

The numbers overall might be down for the deck, but I still think the strategy is strong, so don’t underestimate this tribe. Let’s start off by breaking down the creatures and then we’ll get into the spells and sideboard cards.

Main Deck

First up is Cryptbreaker, which might be the best card in the deck. Many cards let you create multiple Zombies in one turn. With Cryptbreaker, you can take advantage of those summoning-sick creatures and draw an extra card. The life loss is minimal, while the extra card is incredibly valuable. There have been games where Cryptbreaker acted like Phyrexian Arena. Sometimes it is correct to not attack and instead draw the extra card, and often when you do attack, you still treat Cryptbreaker more like an enchantment than a dude.

Although this one-drop has descended a little, he’s still holding strong at $4. As long as Zombies is a deck, he will be worth something – because he’s essential to this strategy.

Dread Wander is the aggressive part of this deck; you are looking to open on this Zombie as frequently as possible. Oddly enough, the format is ripe for a one mana 2/1. Depending on what other cards are in your hand, you may want to trade with their creatures, but often it’s better to save him as he will be bigger and better in a turn or two. You can regrow him later in the game, though, so don’t be too afraid to trade.

Financially, he is one of the most stable cards on this list. At $6, he doesn’t seem to be moving much up or down. He preordered for $3 or under, so some players made money on this one. Even if Zombies stops being tier one, Dread Wanderer will still be good in any aggressive black deck, so even in the worst-case scenario, the price shouldn’t drop too much.

Initially, I had a very low opinion on Relentless Dead, but even though it often is only a 2/2 for two with menace, it's still a powerhouse. Having menace is in fact extremely relevant, and your opponent never wants to trade with it. The issue is that balancing playing your lords versus keeping your mana open to utilize his ability is a tight rope to walk. Where he shines is in the super late game when you can do both. Against controlling strategies, if they don’t have Magma Spray or Declaration in Stone to remove him, Relentless Dead will haunt them until they are defeated.

Unfortunately, the biggest gainer of this deck is also the biggest loser as well.

As soon as Zombies started being spoiled, I picked up my copies of this card, and if you did so as well, you could have made a ton of money. I wish I had gotten more than my playset, because it popped all the way up to $25!

Now it's on the way back down. Today, I lowered its price to $18 in my store. That’s still a very respectable price, but just not quite as amazing as its hyped-up peak. I think it has a bit more to drop too, especially until we see a new version updated to fight better against Aetherworks Marvel decks.

Diregraf Colossus is an insane Magic card, and if you untap with it, you are likely to win the game. Since there isn’t a ton of removal, and your other threats are important as well, you can usually sandbag the Colossus as your one of your last threats, slamming it down with some extra counters. Then if you untap with it, you can usually play another zombie or two and have a huge army once again. Diregraf is a great way to refuel after a wrath effect as well.

It seems like $6 is the price maximum for this synergistic Zombie. Two different times now we have reached that price point and both times he has slipped down afterward. I think this time he should stick around the $4 mark, because he is so good in this tribal strategy.

There’s not much to say here. When you are playing a tribal strategy, lords are the best reason to stick with the tribe and Lord of the Accursed is no different. Its second ability is bonkers too: alpha striking by giving all your guys menace ends games. What I’ve found, though, is that usually just attacking with him alongside your other creatures is enough to win most games.

Surprisingly, Lord of the Accursed isn’t the most expensive uncommon in the set, but it makes sense that Censor would be worth a bit more. Players love those counters, especially when you can get them with Force Spike or cycle it for another card! Get your hands on all the copies of this guy you can, though, because he’s a great long-term investment. We’ll be excitedly pulling these from bulk in a couple years for sure.

Fatal Push is the best removal spell since Path to Exile. And just like Path, Fatal Push is now getting a promo as well. The announcement of the promo has left the original printing unaffected so far, but the impact will come. Never fear, though, this tier-one removal spell is still a great investment. Everyone needs this to fight Zombies and Heart of Kiran.

Liliana's Mastery is a five-mana enchantment that is absolutely awesome. When was the last time that was a relevant sentence in Standard? I think my brain initially didn’t put together that by playing this you were getting two 3/3s. Not only that, though: it pumps your entire team! I have four in my version and I love all of them.

Liliana's Mastery is holding strong around $4, but I think that soon enough we’re going to see this dip down to $3 or even $2, because every version of the deck isn’t playing this card. With less demand, the price should fall a bit.

The only thing holding back Dark Salvation from being ridiculous is the fact that it’s a sorcery. Don’t forget that you don’t deal your negative counters based on your X mana, you deal them based on how many zombies you have in play. That makes a huge difference! Besides Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Heart of Kiran, Dark Salvation basically removes every other threat in Standard, which is pretty amazing. You also get guys by playing it too!

Sadly, this interesting removal spell/token generator might be one of the first slots to see a cut. This deck needs to make room for Heart of Kiran removal like more Fatal Push as well as some interaction with Aetherworks Marvel. I think it may be time for main deck Transgress the Mind again.

Dark Salvation has dipped a little, and I think it will continue to fall down to $2. It should stay above bulk, though.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Westvale Abbey

We can’t wish we’d unloaded all of our Westvale Abbeys at $18 forever, so let’s take what we can get. Abbey is a great Commander card as well as Standard role player. So as long as it’s legal, we will see it continue to pop up. I think $3 to $4 is as low as it will drop, though, so we should be close to it bottoming out.

Sideboard Cards

Primarily a sideboard card, Aethersphere Harvester should be able to start being found in bulk bins.

Why is Gonti, Lord of Luxury, one of the best sideboard cards in Standard, under $1? I still don’t know the answer to this question, but get yours while you can, because I doubt he will stay there forever.

Liliana, the Last Hope is relegated to the sideboard because she doesn’t really fit with the maindeck strategy. I may even cut her for Never // Return because I’ve been super impressed with that card.

Here’s another bulk box find that is an amazing sideboard card. I love bringing Lost Legacy in against Aetherworks Marvel to hit the deck’s namesake card. If it’s already in play, you can even choose Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and remove most of that deck's win conditions too.

As a recursive threat, Scrapheap Scrounger should be seeing play in Standard for a long time. I wish it could have fit main deck, but it’s still great as a sideboard card. Since there aren’t many strict control decks in the format, though, we could cut this to make room for something else.

As I said earlier, Transgress the Mind may need to be moved to the maindeck depending on what your meta looks like. Dealers are buying these too, because we have a hard time keeping them in stock.

To sum it up, Zombies is great, but it needs to be updated for the current meta. Many of the cards are too good to cut, but there is some room to brew up new ideas. If you have any other questions about Zombies or the deck's financial implications, let me know in the comments. I’ll try to do a deck tech on my YouTube channel too, so check out the link below.

Until next time,
Unleash the Zombie Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
MtgJedi on YouTube

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