Night of the Living Modern Beatdown


Night of the Living Modern Beatdown

Modern is an incredibly diverse format with tons of powerful interactions and fun things to do. The format features some of the most powerful cards ever printed in Magic. There are few feelings as good as beating down with a Tarmogoyf or countering a spell and drawing a card off Cryptic Command. What’s that? You don’t have the $800ish dollars it takes to pick up a playset of Goyfs? I guess you’d better play a control deck! Oh, you say you don’t have a trade binder full of Crytpics either? That’s okay too. We can work with that. Not only can we work with that, I think there are plenty of fun things we can do in Modern that won’t break the bank. Over the next few articles, I’m going to take on 5 decks in 5 colors, all reasonably affordable. I’m going to take our decks a level deeper and look for some fun synergy. We’re taking these decks straight off the reservation, because we’re going tribal! The first deck I want to showcase is black. Black has a few different tribes we can work with. We could brew up vampires. Or we could just jam 36 relentless rats in a deck and call it a day. But today, I’m interested in the undead horde. Friends, the zombie apocalypse is upon us.

First things first, let’s review what we know about zombies.

  1. Zombies are created through necromancy (or engineered plagues, but for our purposes let’s stick with necromancy).
  2. Zombies make more zombies.
  3. Zombies come from graveyards.

And that is all we need to know to move forward with our deck.

Lord of the Undead Dance

Part of our deck’s plan is to beat down with a horde of zombies. We’re going to be relying on a bunch of 2/2 zombie tokens and small zombie creatures. Fortunately, Modern has a number of zombie lords to beef up our undead army. First we have Cemetery Reaper. This 3-drop not only pumps up our team, but he also helps to make more zombies. We’ll be wanting those zombies. Next up is Lord of the Undead. Along with the pumps, he brings along the ability to return zombies from our graveyard to our hand. This ability isn’t super relevant, but could prove useful occasionally. Finally we have the recently printed Risen Executioner. Risen Executioner’s ability to be cast from the graveyard will come up in this deck. We’ll take 4 of each of the 3-drop and 2 of the new guy.

Rest of the Walking Dead

What’s a lord without a minion?

John. Just John, the zombie.

We need John to be a lord, so we need to figure out what minions he’s going to rule over. We’ll start with one of the most useful zombies ever printed, Gravecrawler. This is another little guy that can be cast from the graveyard. He’s 2 power for 1 mana. He’s just what we want. Next up is his buddy Geralf’s Messenger. He comes in, he drains the opponent for 2, he dies, he comes back, he drains the opponent for 2 again. He’s great. Finally we have Unbreathing Horde. Unbreathing Horde is a 3-drop that that checks to see how many zombies we have, not only on the battlefield, but also in the graveyard, and then gets +1/+1 counters equal to that. We plan on having lots of both. He’s going to be huge. We’re taking 4 of each of these. All said this brings us to 22 shambling nightmares all looking to eat our opponent’s brains.

Go to Your Home

Remember our lesson from earlier about the things we know about zombies. We’re about to put it to use to finish up the deck. Our plan isn’t just to play our zombies straight out. Instead, we’re going to send them back where they came from: the graveyard. We’ll do this in 2 ways. First we have Necromancer’s Stockpile. This beauty lets us discard our zombies, and in return we get to draw a card and put a 2/2 zombie into play. Next up we have Zombie Infestation. With this we can discard 2 cards in exchange for a 2/2 zombie. Put them together and we’ve got ourselves a couple of ways to make zombies and fill our graveyard up at the same time.

But Chris, why do we care about filling our graveyard up with zombies?

I’m glad you asked, because here is where our deck takes a spicy little turn. I present to you a land that needs no introduction: Crypt of Agadeem.

What’s that? You didn’t play during Alara/Zendikar? Oh, you don’t remember the Crypt deck that brought back all the unearth guys? Huh. Well, I guess I will introduce it then. Crypt is a sweet card that you can activate to add mana equal to the number of black creatures in your graveyard. And since we’ve been discarding black creatures into our graveyard all game, that should be a fair bit of mana. I love making all the manas. In turn we’re going to use all that sweet zombie mana to cast Exsanguinate and drain whatever life our opponent has left. And then make them a zombie. Because that’s what zombies do. Here’s our final decklist:


4 Gravecrawler
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Cemetery Reaper
4 Lord of the Undead
4 Unbreathing Horde
2 Risen Executioner

Zombie Spells

4 Necromancer’s Stockpile
4 Zombie Infestation
2 Exsanguinate
4 Victim of Night

Zombie Lands

4 Crypt of Agadeem
20 Swamp

We’ve got a pretty good, reasonably priced deck here that can do some really fun things. The most expensive card in the deck is the Lord of the Undead at around $9. If you want to go a little cheaper you can easily replace him with any number of other low-cost zombies. If you want to add some value to the deck, some early interaction cards like Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek would fit nicely. That’s it for this week. Be sure to check back for my next brew, when we visit Hogwarts for some blue wizardry. As always, let me know what you think in the comments!

About Chris Lawton

Chris was born and raised in Decatur and began playing Magic during Mirage block. He enjoys constructed magic and drafting online whenever he has time. Lightning Bolt and Baneslayer Angel are his favorite cards.

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