Mono-Black Zombies by Nick Vallas at SCG Worcester Classic – 8th

Creatures (24)
4 Bloodghast
3 Cryptbreaker
3 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Gifted Aetherborn
4 Gravecrawler
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
4 Relentless Dead

Non-Creature Spells (13)
2 Collective Brutality
2 Dismember
4 Fatal Push
4 Thoughtseize
1 Liliana of the Veil

Lands (23)
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 Mutavault
14 Swamp
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Sideboard (15)
2 Collective Brutality
2 Damnation
4 Ghost Quarter
2 Lashwrithe
2 Phyrexian Obliterator
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Surgical Extraction


While tribal deck have historically struggled in Modern, lately the rise of Merfolk and Elves has proven that tribal synergies are more valuable than most people think. This deck, Mono-Black Zombies continues the the theme of the rise of tribal decks in Modern, but this time with the relentlessness of zombies. This deck is primarily a graveyard synergy deck, but it also has cards like Gifted Aetherborn, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and Gray Merchant of Asphodel that simply play well with the rest of the archetype.

Cryptbreaker‘s power has been seen in Standard since its printing, and it’s especially powerful when paired with cards with graveyard text. This deck keeps core synergy, and adds Modern’s best recursive threats like Bloodghast and Gravecrawler to the equation. However, Cryptbreaker is the card whose primary purpose is enabling the graveyard in this deck, so its usually stretched thin, and I would recommend adding a fourth copy. To a certain extent, Collective Brutality and Liliana of the Veil also help enable these recursive graveyard threats, but they are in the deck for different reasons.

Gifted Aetherborn and Geralf’s Messenger are just about the most fair cards imaginable. They’re undercosted for their value, but the deckbuilding constraints they put on the player is no joke, which is why they don’t regularly see play in Modern. This deck, however, can afford the double or triple black easily, and both cards are a welcome inclusion to the deck.

Generally in Modern, Thoughtseize plays second fiddle to Inquisition of Kozilek, in large part because the decks that want discard spells are generally trying to play from behind and later turn a corner, so the life loss from Thoughtseize can sometimes be its undoing. This deck, however, is aggressive enough that the life loss from Thoughtseize will rarely be a factor in deciding the outcome of any game. Similarly, Dismember is one of the format’s best removal spells, but the life loss turns a lot of decks off from it, but this deck doesn’t think much about the life loss, and is simply happy to have a flexible, 1 mana removal spell.

I want to change a lot of this sideboard. I understand the reason for the inclusion of Ghost Quarter, but I don’t believe it’s the best option for this deck, as it effectively wastes your entire turn and still lets your Tron opponent get a basic land. Similarly, Lashwrithe seems very unnecessary. The extra beatdown points that you’ll get from this card doesn’t mean a ton in the long run of deciding the outcome of a game.

Here are the changes I would make going forward:


-1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

+1 Cryptbreaker


-2 Damnation

-4 Ghost Quarter

-2 Lashwrithe

+4 Rain of Tears

+1 Surgical Extraction

+2 Duress

+1 Phyrexian Arena

This is day 110 of’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 109 here, where we featured a Legacy deck that has a unique take on a classic archetype.

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