Welcome to a new column I’ll be posting off and on called Deck Pimping. Each article in the column will be my own reviews of decks being played by local players and ways they can improve them. Today on deck pimping we are going to look at a standard deck by my good friend Earl Stanley. Earl piloted this to win a standard event at Magic City’s Mages and Sages in Milliknocket, Maine, on July 21st. Here’s his list.
Mono Black Zombies (1st place standard 7/21/11)
2x Cemetery Reaper
4x Contagious Nim
4x Grave Titan
2x Hand of the Praetors
1x Nested Ghoul
4x Phyrexian Crusader
1x Vengeful Pharaoh
1x Call to the Grave
2x Diabolic Tutor
4x Doom Blade
1x Geth’s Verdict
3x Go for the Throat
2x Swiftfoot Boots
3x Zombie Infestation
Average Casting Cost = 3.34
Total Black Mana Slots need = 20.96
Here we have basically two deck in one. Zombie Tribal and Mono Black Control. The deck is also attacking on two fronts by dealing both normal damage and poison. This causes the deck to have a lot of options and let the player shift gears mid-game. In combat this deck came get there because the other player has to make bad blocks by either taking the damage or the poison counters.
Mono Black Zombie Control
4x Tectonic Edge
4x Cemetery Reaper
4x Contagious Nim
4x Grave Titan
4x Phyrexian Crusader
4x Vengeful Pharaoh
2x Call to the Grave
2x Go for the Throat
3x Inquisition of Kozilek
4x Zombie Infestation
2x Doom Blade
2x Go for the Throat
4x Hand of the Praetors
Average Casting Cost = 3.36
Black Mana needed = 20.3
Mostly what I’ve done is stream-line the deck and move some of the main deck into the sideboard., and Upping the count of some card in the main.
With the lands I cut out two of the Swamps and added a set of Tectonic Edges so you can kill problem lands. With Caw-Blade, Blue-Black Control, and Valakut still around this deck needs an out to this troublesome lands. Also wrecking the other guys mana base is an added bonus.
Cemetery Reaper gives +1/+1 to every dude in this deck and makes a another dude when you are low on cards to cast because you’ve made tokens with Zombie Infestation.
Contagious Nim is not as good as Phyrexian Crusader but is good a back up to him. Think of him as the knight wing man when they go out to the bar, battle, as all the nasty stuff ends up happening to him.
Grave Titan if only this guy was a zombie himself I wouldn’t be so on the fence about him in the deck because of the two copies of Call of the Grave. With that in play Grave Titan basically reads, “pay 6 and get two zombies and a fat blocker for one turn.” Granted this gives you more than activating two Cemetery Reapers for the same cost. So in the end this gets to stay in the deck.
Phyrexian Crusader stays because… well it’s good. 2/2 Infect body with first strike that blocks all those Goblins and gets around the white blockers. He stays just where he is.
Vengeful Pharaoh is why Earl built this deck, and so it stays. Okay, here’s the real reason. You shouldn’t have to cast Vengeful Pharaoh as it’s meant as a sac to Zombie Infestation. With trampling fatties and unblocked fliers coming in you will love the free removal that this gives you as it mucks up you draw step for a turn. In the early game this just means you have more to build the zombie empire, but in the long game it becomes both removal and a dude to swing with. Just remember, don’t put this back on top unless you can use it either way.
Call to the Grave is another free removal card and turns this deck into a beast. As each turn the other guy is going to have to give up one of their guys without you even lifting a finger or tapping a land.
Dismember is the all-star removal card of standard as you can play it any turn to kill nearly any dork that is giving you problems. As my favorite TV star would say, “Winner, winner, chicken diner!”
Go for the Throat is better than Doom Blade nine times out of ten, and so it gets to stay in the main deck.
Inquisition of Kozilek not only lets you look at what the other guy is holding but also removes one of their answers or threats. Black decks should always have a few of these floating around in them.
Lashwirithe, every mono black deck should run one or more of these. Late game this starts as a fatty and gives a good boost to any other dude that picks it up. This on an infect body means someone is about to die very soon.
Zombie Infestation this card lets you pitch away unwanted cards for dudes and combos with Vengeful Pharaoh for free removal.
Now we’ll look at each sideboard card one at a time just as we did with the main deck.
Deathmark. Verses green ramp and white dorks this card ends up as really cheep removal and lets you side out some Dismembers so you don’t need to pay the four live to kill early Lotus Cobras and Llanowar Elves.
Doom Blade isn’t a main deck card because black is a popular color so you don’t want to have four dead cards main deck. Now when you see an artifact deck it’s time to switch them in for the Go for the Throats.
The Go for the Throats I broke up between the main and side because you don’t want it game one verse an artifact deck like Tempered Steel. Also if you are on the play you can switch in these to replace Dismembers because you will get to your second land before they do.
Hand of the Praetors ends up in the side so this deck gets the chance to transform from a Zombie deck to an infect deck. This lures the opponent to go from his anti aggro cards instead of anti infect ones. This means they will want to get life gainers like Timely Reinforcements that you blank by switching out the lords you are using.
Skinrender becomes side board tech verses aggro decks as it fills out both a remove slot as well as ups the creature count.
As for the cards that have been cast aside here are my reasons. For the most part this section is just for Earl, but everyone else will learn something as well.
Diabolic Tutor. When you don’t own all the copies of a card you really want tutors are the way to go. Seeing as this was a black deck it allows you to use the only standard legal tutor in the deck, but with most times you play it this reads, “skip turn this turn and do something broken next turn.” I’m happy to see you took my advice in the M12 set review and used this in the deck, but now that we’ve up the number of singleton cards it’s time to drop this. If you think you still want it and don’t have some of the cards with casting cost over four I’ve added then keep this in the deck. Personally I would cut two of the Grave Titan to keep this card as they seem like the weakest two in the main deck.
Geth’s Verdict. If not for the risk of not have the double black on turn two this would replace Doom Blades and Go for the Throats in the sideboard. Granted if you cut the Tectonic Edges down to just two copies this can happen. Again it’s something you will want to test out verses decks with pro black creatures. Another flaw of this card is that you don’t get to pick the creature they have to sac, but if you are working them over with removal you’ll be forcing them to sac the one you want anyways.
Nested Ghoul is only good if you can force someone to deal damage to it. Now if you had a way to ping it for a point at the end of every turn you could break this card. Seeing no way to do this it’s kind of jank filler in the deck, and so it was the first card I cut.
Swiftfoot Boots are a win more card. Yes, it makes the deck more explosive by giving all creatures you play haste but it eats mana you could put to better use as it makes you want to pay one more of all your troops. The hexproof it grants still tells me this isn’t worth the slots it takes up. If you can’t live without it then cut a pair of Tectonic Edges, but promise me you’ll test my idea first.
Well that is all for this edition of Deck Pimping, but if you have a deck you would like me to pimp my contact info is as always just down there under my name. So have a good one and I’ll be back soon.
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