If you haven’t noticed, zombies have invaded Magic.

 

The breakout deck from Pro Tour Amonkhet was zombies. Whether mono-black or black-white, zombies dethroned Mardu as the deck to beat in standard. It’s not hard to see why. Magic zombies don’t have to be shambling, decomposing, pushovers. Our zombies are more like the 28 Days Later version. They’re fast, resilient, and get disgutsting as more hit the battlefield.

 

But why should 60-card decks have all the fun? Zombies are just as terrifying in Commander.

 

An Experiment Gone Wrong (?)

 

There are plenty of possible Commanders for our zombie deck – and each one will take us down a different build path. In this way, we’re kind of like mad scientists working to reanimate decaying tissue.

 

For this deck, we are going to lean a little bit into madeness. Instead of playing it safe with mono-black, or keeping thinngs fresh with black/white, I want to go old school with Grixis zombies. Grixis has a long tradition of supercharging the undead. Sedris, the Traitor King and fan-favorite Thraximundar are well known zombie Commanders. Being able to combine graveyard tricks, solid removal, and the best tribal cards from Innestrad give this color combination amazing options.

 

For this week’s deck, we’re going dig a little deeper into the rich earth that is the Magic card pool, and pull out the rotting corpse of high-risk, hig-reward zombie legend from Alliances – Lord of Tresserhorn.

 

 

Lord of Tresserhorn is an incredibly interesting creature to build around. One one hand, he’s a 10/4 reginerator for four mana. Even a single tribal pump, or piece of equipment, means he can kill with Commander Damage in two attacks. And it’s not like you are going to beat him in combat. 10 power is enough to take down anything short of an Eldrazi titan. Regeneration is just icing on the cake. If you have a single black mana open, you shrug off most targeted removal, board wipes, and chump blockers.

 

On the other hand, he has some steep additional costs. Losing two life isn’t that bad when you start with 40 life, but his other costs demand some sacrifices. Losing two creatures actually matters. Giving an opponent two cards caan go either way. It’s not like in normal Magic where giving your single opponent two cards means they are going to use them to wreck you. You might be able to use Lord of Tresserhorn’s ability to make a new friend, or give them to a player so far behind that he or she won’t be able to abuse them.

 

This is definitely a deck where we want to play our Commander early and often. That means we need to figure out how to build around his drawbacks – as well as accentuate his strengths.

 

Unleashe The Horde

 

Everyone knows that a single zombie isn’t much of a threat. It’s when you’re out of breath, running down a blind alley, and facing down 30 zombies that you see how you misjudged the threat.

 

Our shambling horde will both wear down the opposition and feed Lord of Tresserhorn.

 

But if we’re constantly sacrificing our creatures, we want each individual creature to cost next to nothing. That’s why instead of focusing on playing zombie cards, we’ll just flood the board with zombie tokens.

 

 

Tombstone Stairwell is one of the most underrated cards in Commander. It doesn’t ask all that much – just fill up your graveyard with creatures, and pay a little bit of mana. But it’s upside is amazing.

 

Not only do you get dozens of points of hasty power every turn, but you can then use these disposable bodies for other nefarious purposes. Go ahead and sac two to pay for Lord of Tresserhorn. Activate your Dictate of Erebos or Grave Pact to wipe away your opponents’ real creatures.

 

Endless Ranks of the Dead is the other side of the coin. Instead of moving fast, it moves slowly and methodically. But the result is the same. You end up with countless 2/2 zombie tokens.

 

Hail to the King Baby

 

Now that we’ve established two of the pillars of our deck (Lord of Tresserhorn, and zombie tokens), we need to figure out the best ways to abuse them. Luckily, zombies re one of the deepest tribes in all of Magic. They have lords for days.

 

 

 

You know what’s better than a swarm of 2/2 zombies? Clearly a swarm of 4/4 zombies. This isn’t hard to achieve. Just load up your deck with “lords” like Cemetery Reaper, Undead Warchief, Lord of the Undead or Death Baron.

 

While the lords above are great, the one that really powers this deck – and the reason to go into blue – is Diregraf Captain. Alongside Tombstone Stairwell, Diregraf Captain puts all your opponents on a quick clock. Your zombie tokens come in bigger and badder, and at the end of turn you get to fireball someone for free.

 

We can lean into this strategy even farther. Vengeful Dead doesn’t pump your zombies, but he also pings all opponents when your guys die. Noxious Ghoul doesn’t do direct damage like the previous two guys, but he acts as a free Wrath of God that even takes care of indestructible dudes.

 

While Mikhaeus the Unhallowed isn’t specifically a zombie lord, he does pump your guys while bringing them back for a second shot at undeath.

 

Up From the Grave

 

With all the sacrificing and death going on, we need ways to abuse our fully stocked graveyard. The first stop is creatures that reanimate themselves like Gravecrawler and Dread Wanderer. The guys love being sacced to a Lord of Tresserhorn.

 

You can also go with cards like Oath of Ghouls and Oversold Cemetery. An extra zombie a turn can mean the difference between a stalled engine and a fully revved chainsaw.

 

 

 

When you’re ready to end the game, you have plenty lopsided of mass reanimation spells to consider. Living Death is a classic Commander power card, but you can get even more specific by choosing the zombie-focused cards. Zombie Apocalypse is guaranteed to flood your board, and you might even snag a couple opposing humans like Anafenza the Foremost or Captain Sissay.

 

The baddest card of all might just be Patriarch’s Bidding. Sure, your opponents might have a small tribal theme, but you can be pretty sure that they won’t be returning as many creatures as you – nor will they have as many lords to maximize the synergy.

 

Rev Up The Chainsaw

 

So far, we have three synergistic pieces in place for our deck.

 

  1. Generate a bunch of zombie tokens
  2. Use those tokens to pay for our undercosted Commander
  3. Exploit zombie synergies to deal huge amouns of damage in combat, or when your zombies die.

 

Let’s add one more piece to really make this deck an implement of destruction. We’re already doing massive damage in combat, and when creatures leave play. How about we do the same when a creature comes into play. I’m looking at your Pandemonium and Warstorm Surge.

 

 

Now whenever a creature comes into play, we get to blast a creature or player. Who cares if Pandemonium is symmetrical? We’re going to have more tokens coming into play. And our Commander deals an immediate 10 damage when he get’s played.

 

Cards like Flayer of the Hatebound and Stalking Vengeance round of the non-combat damage suite.

 

— A quick aside about infinite combos. If you are against info combos in Commander please look away. —

 

Some times, you just want to end a game. Or maybe you just play cuthroat Commander and need a way to kill an entire table at once. Grixis zombies makes this incredibly easy. You just need three pieces:

 

  1. One of the myriad cards that ping your opponent when it comes into play. In this example, we’ll go with Pandemonium.
  2. Rooftop Storm
  3. Lava Zombie.

 

Lava Zombie is a forgotten common from Planeshift. I’m not sure he’s worth playing straight up in this deck. A 4/3 for three is alright, but not game changing. But when you combine him with Pandemonium, you get a machine gun.

 

Lava Zombie comes into play. He deals 4 damage to something because of Pandemonium. Then you choose the same Lava Zombie to bounce with his EtB ability. With just these two cards, you get a repeatable Lightning Blast for 1RB.

 

What makes it grossly unfair is the addition of Rooftop Storm. Now instead being bound by your iterations of 1RB, you can trigger the cycle as many times as you want. I’ll guarantee this won’t make you any friends, but it will win you a pod.

 

— End aside. —

 

Pick Your Parts

 

Now that we have the core synergies of the deck up together, the rest is up to you.

 

Do you want to focus on Commander damage? Add a Rogue’s Passage and a Whispersilk Cloak. A bit of Assault Strobe or Temur Battle Rage will also help you end the game quickly.

 

Need some more death triggers? Deathbringer Thoctar wants to have words. Want to go more controlling? Check out Chandra’s Ignition.

 

This is only the tip of the undead iceberg. Zombies are one of the deepest and most customizable tribes in all of Magic. How would you personalize the core of this deck? Sound off in the comments below.