This weekend has been a blast! I learned a lot of things going out to my first Grand Prix, and I am very happy with the experience overall. I ended up going 4-5, and I learned a lot about myself as a player, and about the deck. The deck I ended up playing was UB Zombies, and I am proud to say that zombies can still compete in this standard environment, but not in the way I thought. Let’s go over each match and examine how the deck and I did.
Match 1: UW Approach
Game 1: I wasn’t able to pressure fast enough early on, due to some censors and he won in a quick manner by chaining 2 approaches together. I did learn the value in using hostage taker to exile your own stuff to get around board wipes.
Game 2: I brought in some disruption and aggro in my Ammit Eternal, and gave me a lot of needed early game pressure. He had no out to a 5/5 on the board, and I was able to seal the game quickly.
Game 3: Playing like a traditional aggro deck, and curving out sealed the game for me. I kept my opponent on the backfoot the entire game and made him counter my stuff every turn to simply survive. At one point in the game my opponent became visibly upset when he had to Supreme Will my Liliana’s Mastery, and then cycle his Hieroglyphic Illuminations instead of casting it. Keeping his hand low and out of options allowed me to win the game.
Match 2: Temur Energy
Game 1: Whirler Virtuoso is a very good card against us, providing a lot of chump blockers and a way to fly over in the late game. This Temur player played very aggressively and killed me before I had a chance to amass an overwhelming board state.
Game 2: Going into game 2 I realized that my sideboard was missing a key card in Harsh Scrutiny. (My online order did not come when I expected it to, so I had to scramble for other options). Game 2 played out very similarly to game 1, and I was quickly overwhelmed by the menace that is Temur.
Match 3: Sultai Energy
Game 1: Sultai was a list that I was vaguely familiar with before I started the tournament, and as a result, I didn’t know what to really expect from the deck. Early on in the game, I offered a trade of Metallic Mimic for a Glint-Sleeve Siphoner while 2 Ballistas were on board and he went for the trade. With all of the late game threats this deck has, I was more than ok trading mimic for siphoner. Ended up beating him with aggressive pressure anyways.
Game 2: Kept a hand with no removal and got steamrolled by a turn 3 Winding Constrictor. Do not under any circumstances, let that snake survive.
Game 3: This game ended up going very far into the late game. I had him down to 3 life, where I was at 8 and the only thing on the board was a 2/2 Walking Ballista. We had been top decking for a while, and both of us were drawing nothing. I felt like I was in a very good position until he double pumped Ballista to 4 and killed me with an attack and removing all counters from it. Had I been paying more attention, I very likely could have won that game.
Match 4: 4C Energy
Game 1: Kept a bad hand, thinking I would draw into land, and before I knew it I was staring down a Carnage Tyrant. I knew I had already lost the game but I ended up revealing too much info by casting a Metallic Mimic and naming zombies. The length of the day was starting to get to me.
Game 2: Ammit Eternal is a really powerful card when they aren’t expecting it. He would try to set up favorable blocks against the card, and I would consistently cast a lord making the blocks he had set up unfavorable.
Game 3: The ability to play a powerful threat every single turn of the game always kept him on the backfoot, and 3 Plague Belchers in a row at the end sealed the game for me.
Match 5: Sultai Energy
Game 1: Can’t remember how it went down, but I know I lost.
Game 2: Had to mull very good hands due to having no black mana in them. Kept a 5, and played very aggressively. Got him down to 9 life and was then outvalued and lost the game.
Match 6: Ramunap Red
Game 1: Ended up punting the match by keeping a one land hand, figuring I would draw into them. The hand wasn’t worth keeping anyway, but I figured I would be fine. At this point in the day I felt very drained mentally and ended up making some really bad plays.
Game 2: Got to late game with 10 life remaining, and was able to amass up a huge board of zombies and swung in for a ton of menace damage.
Game 3: Turn 5 Scarab God should have won me the game but blocking a Bomat Courier without considering why it might be attacking cost me my win con after he shocked and magma sprayed it. Had I thought through why he would have attacked with the courier I could have saved my Scarab God and won the game. It was still super close game thanks to the 3 for 1 for Scarab God, and I was still in a good position for the majority of the game, until his top decks beat out mine.
Match 7: Sultai Energy
Game 1: Vraska’s Contempt on his Scarab God followed by my own sealed the game for me.
Game 2: Went really wide and really tall with zombies, just like the decks of old. Made an early attack before I could give everything menace, and lost a lord due to a revolted push. Ended up not mattering, as next turn I was able to punch in for 18+ menace damage anyways.
Match 8: Esper Control
Game 1: This was a very tense game that started off very well for me. Had him down to 0 life, with the only thing keeping him alive being a Gideon Emblem. However, he turned the corner with a Gearhulk and an Approach, making it impossible for me to finish him off. I also attacked with my Scarab God trying to kill Gideon and lost it all to a Settle the Wreckage.
Game 2: Went wide and fast and kept him out of options. At this point, I realized he did not have a lot of card draw in his deck.
Game 3: Kept a 1 land Drowned Catacomb hand that had everything I wanted against his deck. 3 Dread Wanderer and 2 Duress made the hand keepable even if the land said otherwise. The potential to high roll into a land would have made it an unbeatable hand, but not drawing a land and starting off just a turn too slow cost me an otherwise winnable game. It was very close, and I do not regret keeping that hand.
Match 9: Temur Energy
Game 1: Going up against the deck that crushed me earlier gave me the incentive to return the favor. In this game, I learned the value of a 2 for 1, and he had to trade a lot of cards in order to beat mine. He 2 for 1’d my Scarab God, my Plague Belcher, and would even trade cards such as Longtusk Cub in order to kill off one of my zombie tokens. Because of this, I was able to simply out value him.
Game 2: I negated an Attune with Aether when the only mana he had was 2 Aether Hubs, and a Servant of the Conduit thinking that he needed mana from a non-energy source. Ended up not mattering as he drew into all 4 of his Servants that game, and had plenty of mana. He did not have any gas however and I was able to simply trade up against him and win the game.
The deck did it’s best when I was making a wide board of zombies and overwhelming them with pure force. It turns out a lot of decks aren’t well positioned to deal with 5 4/4 menace zombies. Because of this, I feel that cards such as Stir the Sands would perform far better in this style of deck, as opposed to The Scarab God. While The Scarab God is a good card, it did not fit the game plan of this deck. The Scarab God slots right into a control style of deck, while we are an aggro deck looking to overwhelm them through sheer force.
I do believe that zombies still has what it takes to compete, and is a powerful deck that should never be overlooked. In the future, I will be running a mono-black list that will look pretty similar to this list
, and I may come back and talk about zombies again. In the meantime, however, I will simply be signing out. As always, have a great week, and an amazing Tuesday!