Modern: Nykthos Zombies

It’s Tuesday O’Clock! Time for a Deck Tech!

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Hello and welcome to Only On Tuesdays! I am a big fan of undead creatures in all forms. Zombies, Vampires, Spirits you name it! While my favorite tribe by far is spirits, I gotta give some love to other creatures beyond the grave every once in a while. This week, I’m going to be trying my hand at Zombie Tribal. Zombies are an incredibly fun tribe due to 3 simple reasons. 1.) They have a ton of lords. 2.) They are sticky and hard to keep dead permanently. 3.) Zombies are one of the biggest tribes and have a ton of support for them. Zombies have been done to death though, and finding new ways to take the tribe can be difficult. One avenue I haven’t seen discussed much, however, is Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.

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Nykthos is an incredibly powerful land. As long as you can commit to playing a single color strategy, you can be rewarded with a land that can tap for upwards of 7 mana! For a lot of decks sacrificing the ability to splash for other colors, is more than ok when you can be rewarded with this. Zombies as a tribe are primarily black and have no need to splash for any other color. Thanks to all of the above, playing Nykthos is hardly a concern, and can lead to some really insane plays.

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One of the main reasons to play a zombie deck focused around Nykthos is because of Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Gray Merchant, or Gary, is one of the more powerful zombie cards to get printed in the last few years, and actively encourages you to play a Mono-Black deck. At minimum Gary is a 4 point life swing, with the potential to just win the game on the spot. Gary saw a lot of play when he first came out, but zombie tribal with Gary hasn’t been as popular as of late. However, with some recent new additions to the tribe, I feel that both Nykthos and Gary can have a place in the zombie’s deck.

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How is this kind of strategy enabled? Obviously, it’s done through the use of cards with a lot of black pips in their converted mana costs, and surprisingly there are a lot of great zombies that have multiple black pips in their cost. One of the most pushed zombies ever printed in Relentless Dead is huge for this deck thanks to its double Black mana cost. Recently, with the release of M19, zombies just got another great double Black pip card in Graveyard Marshall. However, dropping a Nykthos on a field with a ton of zombies doesn’t really change things all too much if you don’t have any mana sinks.

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Fortunately, zombies have that covered as well. One of the best tribal spells ever printed just so happens to be an X spell specifically about zombies. Generating 8 mana and dumping it all into a Dark Salvation can be a huge swing of tempo in your favor. The only thing better than killing their Tarmogoyf is creating three zombies in its place. The other amazing payoff for zombies exists in Josu Vess, Lich Knight. For four mana, a 4/5 with menace is no joke. 5 toughness dodges a lot of things in Modern, and menace is an often underlooked keyword that is actually incredibly powerful. Most games, I’m happy to play this as a cheap, beefy, and evasive beater, but every so often, games will happen where Nykthos will be able to singlehandedly pump out a kicked Josu Vess. Combine that with a few other lords on the battlefield, and your opponent had better have an answer by the time they untap.

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Nykthos Zombies is a fun new take on a classic tribe. Adding Nykthos to the deck gives two different avenues to the deck, where you either curve out and kill your opponent with an army of souped-up zombies, or you generate enough mana to drown your opponent in devotion. If you have a zombie deck, consider adding a few Nykthos’ to it, as the effect it provides to Mono-Color decks is both unique and powerful. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!


Nykthos Zombies

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