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April 12, 2017

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Daily Dose of Amonkhet – Red/Black Zombies Revisited

Welcome all to the Daily Dose of Amonkhet, where today I’m going to be talking to you all about Zombies. That’s right folks, good old graveyard crashing Zombies.

Today I don’t want to talk about the Zombies you get from Embalming a Sacred Cat or an Honored Hydra, but instead about cards that create some classic Black Zombie creatures. The last time we saw a major source of Zombies was back in Shadows Over Innistrad, but don’t worry all you Zombie lovers, Amonkhet is bringing them back in full force. Not only is Amonkhet providing Zombie creatures, but enchantments and Planeswalkers that help Zombies as well.

Let’s start off by having a look at the leader of the Zombies herself, Liliana. She’s back with a new card in Amonkhet, here is Liliana, Death’s Majesty.

lilianadeathsmajesty

Let’s break down everything Liliana, Death’s Majesty has to offer. For five mana, you get a five loyalty Planeswalker, which is a strong start.

[+1]: Create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token. Put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard. – I’m always a fan of a Planeswalker that can protect itself, and Liliana does it with Zombies to boot. Having a plus Planeswalker ability that can make a creature every turn is quite powerful. The fact that you also mill yourself for two cards creates a great synergy in a Black/Red Zombie deck, and with her second Planeswalker ability.

[-3]: Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. That creature is a black Zombie in addition to its other colors and types. – Forget bringing a creature back to your hand, you get to put a creature from your graveyard directly onto the battlefield and it becomes a sweet Zombie! Even if you use this ability on the turn you cast Liliana, Death’s Majesty, you are left with a Planeswalker and any creature from your graveyard. Imagine getting back a Voldaren Pariah to sweep your opponent’s board or a Hazoret the Fervent to deal a quick 5 damage.

[-7]: Destroy all non-Zombie creatures. – This is a no-brainer, and I’m not just saying this because there are Zombies everywhere. In most cases this will be a one-sided sweeper that will most definitely swing the game in your favour. Being able to use this two turns after casting it and filling your battlefield with 2/2 Zombies is quite impressive. It might not be as powerful as Liliana, the Last Hope’s ultimate, but it can still make a strong impact on the game.

Next is a one-drop Zombie that just keeps on coming back. Let’s introduce, Dread Wanderer.

dreadwanderer

I’ve been waiting for a powerful one-drop Zombie to come out that works well alongside Cryptbreaker. To start off you get a 2/1 creature for one mana, which is always strong. Even though it does enter the battlefield tapped, you’ll likely be attacking with it most of the time, but it is nice to have the option to block if needed.

Dread Wanderer works great if you need to discard out of your hand, as you know you’ll be able to get it back later in the game. You also don’t mind if it dies through combat or by sacrificing it to Voldaren Pariah. It’s also another creature in your graveyard on top of Haunted Dead and Scrapheap Scrounger that you can use to bring Prized Amalgam back onto the battlefield. Dread Wanderer works on so many levels with a Zombie deck that it will be a valuable new addition.

The next card I want to talk about is one of the new Aftermath split cards that has a Zombie twist to it. Here is Never // Return.

neverreturn

When Return to Ravnica came out, we were given our first card that could directly kill a Planeswalker called Dreadbore. In Theros, Planeswalker killing was taken to the next level with an Instant way to kill them thanks to Hero’s Downfall. It appears that being able to kill Planeswalkers at Instant speed was a little too powerful, so then came along Ruinous Path. Planeswalker killing went back to being a Sorcery, but to compensate for that an additional chance of getting a 4/4 creature out of it in the late game was added.

Never // Return is the next evolution in Planeswalker killing with the classic 3 mana Sorcery black spell that can destroy target creature or Planeswalker. This time the bonus comes in Zombie form. Thanks to Aftermath, when the card is in the graveyard, in some future turn you can spend four mana to get additional value out of the card in the form of a 2/2 Zombie creature. This might not seem like a lot, but currently if you cast a Ruinous Path early in the game then that’s all you get from that card. Don’t underestimate the power of having an extra 2/2 Zombie creature later in the game when you have nothing else better to do with your mana.

Now that we’ve seen some of the new Zombie related cards from Amonkhet, let’s see how they would fit into a Standard archetype we’ve seen before in recent months, Black/Red Zombies. Here is an updated take on the list utilizing the cards I’ve talked about above.

Black/Red Zombies Revisited

Creatures (25)
Cryptbreaker
Haunted Dead
Insolent Neonate
Prized Amalgam
Scrapheap Scrounger
Voldaren Pariah
Dread Wanderer
Hazoret the Fervent

Artifacts (2)
Key to the City

Instants (9)
Fatal Push
Fiery Temper
Lightning Axe
Unlicensed Disintegration
Never // Return

Sorceries (2)
Cathartic Reunion

Planeswalkers (2)
Liliana, the Last Hope
Liliana, Death’s Majesty

Lands (20)
Mountain
Smoldering Marsh
12 Swamp

I think that these three new cards from Amonkhet will fit nicely into this deck and help make it better than it’s ever been. What kind of deck do you want to build with all your new Zombie friends? Zombies are just one of the small subsets of amazing cards we’ve seen so far in Amonkhet. There are many more cards that are looking to shake up the Standard format in the coming months and I’m looking forward to testing them out at my local FNM. Thanks for joining me today on the Daily Dose of Amonkhet and I’ll be back again tomorrow to talk about some more previews from the set.