MDB: "Undead Alchemy"
So I think for the next couple of weeks I’m going to update once a weekend (at the least) to discuss either a new or ongoing Magic: The Gathering project. MDB or “Magic Deck Building” is a twofold idea, one being that I get a chance to post something and think about my project more deeply and also if I lose the deck I can easily and quickly replace it because I’ll know exactly what is in it.
So today we’ll talk about one of my most recent projects, the “Undead Alchemy” deck. It’s an old favorite creature theme, Zombies, but this time it is largely blue with a splash of black. My old zombie deck (which will eventually be posted) is mono-black which tends to work well but makes it susceptible to protection spells and other trickery. Multicolored at least benefits from the unpredictability and effectively doubles the amount of protective enchantments, artifacts, or equipment that the opponent needs to solidify a win.
2 Terramorphic Expanse
2 Soaring SeaCliff
1 Darkslick Shores
4 Frightful Delusion
4 Diabolic Tutor
2 Zombie Infestation
2 Go for the Throat
2 Whispersilk Cloak
2 Endless Ranks of the Dead
2 Cackling Counterpart
2 Call to the Grave
60 Deck Total
3 Armored Skaab
1 Stitched Drake
4 Reassembling Skeleton
2 Cemetery Reaper
4 Undead Alchemist
2 Skaab Ruinator
1 Grave Titan
1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
Estimated Cost?: $69.64
(I got the Darkslick Shores from a booster, you could slash 12 dollars off the cost of this deck just by removing that card.)
Now I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this deck now. I’ve been testing it against my other decks and trying to see how it feels. As you play you start to sense a momentum to decks, a speed, a necessity, and in the end you know what you want in your opening hand.
If nothing else this is a deck of necessity, with the exception of some cheating in the lands I have picked 100% of the other cards from Standard Range. I’ve never limited myself before and wanted to take the challenge.
The basic goal of this deck is different from any other deck I’ve ever made, it is to mill the opponent. Also I’m not going to be as wordy as I’d like because it is freezing in our house…but back to the talk. There are 6 cards (2 creatures) in my deck that I don’t mind dropping into the graveyard:
These are my discard bait, in the case of the Ruinator he can be cast from the graveyard, I actually prefer to do so. Generally when casting from the graveyard I tend to catch my opponent off guard. They are looking at my hand, so this is an action from a generally ignored play area. The reassembling Skeleton is good for zombie bait when chained with Zombie Infestation.
This is a good defensive card. Waiting until your opponent attacks to discard any safe creatures from your hand into the graveyard. Suddenly you’ve got 1-2 2/2 blockers ready and willing to either kill or take the bullet.
Additionally if you are sitting on sets of 2 mana you can bring back all the skeletons during your opponents turn which will in turn untap on your turn. The infestation is a good way to get the dead into your graveyard to bring out the beastly Skaabs. But these are only the original inspiration for the set, getting cards (specifically creatures) into either my opponent or my own graveyard are the major theme.
The deck is obviously named after one of its signature creature cards, the Undead Alchemist.
When I first saw this card I realized I wanted to build a zombie deck. To simplify the large wall of text on the card, your damage causes their library to shrink and each time an undead creature hits their graveyard you get a 2/2 beasty to amp up the onslaught. Obviously this guy is death bait, red decks will be trying to lightning bolt him, white decks will be wanting to oblivion ring him, blue decks will be trying to counter spell or boomerang, and black will be trying to drop a go for the throat, as for green? I imagine they’ll just Prey Upon it (force it to fight something).
Regardless I have a few (and sadly only a few) means to combat this issue.
The Frightful Delusion is fairly straight forward. It also has a secondary and pleasant possible result. When your opponent is forced to discard you may get lucky and cause them to discard a creature card. Now you’ve still got our alchemist and an additional 2/2 zombie. The Cackling Counter part is slightly more clever, while their spell is on the stack you create a clone of your Undead Alchemist so that even with the loss of the original your influence still reigns.
The observant reader will notice that I also have a whispersilk cloak in my deck, I had actually thought it was in 2012 but apparently it is not. Because of this I suggest (and will personally) replace it with Swiftfoot Boots. 2 Mana less to drop and equip and it provides you with haste and hexproof. The Hexproof actually being more beneficial than shroud.
So I would say replace the cloak with:
It’s much cheaper and thus might be possible to drop on the same turn you put down the alchemist. You really want to keep him going. I would also suggest if you have enough damage to kill your opponent to just sacrifice your alchemist with “Go for the Throat”. It’s malicious but sometimes necessary.
So now we have the Alchemist, a means for supplying zombies, and some potential counters for losing the Alchemist. We now need some sort of control for the opponents side of the field. This area I admit is much weaker in this initial build but what I’ve got is Call to the Grave and Go for the Throat.
I would strongly suggest saving your GftT for flying targets, I have only weak responses to flying creatures. Additionally if the match is moving slowly I would strongly suggest tutoring out a Call to the Grave.
It’s not the most impressive card but I like it in sets that have black mana. If you have the time to do so this is a nice way to grab that card you need to survive. Have they popped out a giant flyer and you have 6 mana? Drop this and then GftT on that bad boy, assuming it isn’t a Platinum Angel or something.
What else…well obviously I was looking for ways to quickly cycle through my deck to find some creatures that I can summon from the graveyard. For that I have the Armored Skaab.
I’ve been tempted to try and chain this with Ponder but I’m fairly sure I’d screw it up. Regardless this is a nice creature and in a few tests I’ve found myself dropping a Ruinator and some Skeletons into the graveyard. Likewise when I’m doing solid on mana and graveyard 4 lands in a row I feel great, a potential loss of 4 turns is avoided by one simple creature.
But trust me this card can come to bite you in the ass since the deck has a lack of return from graveyard sorceries.
In closing, every deck seems to have some big “F-U” cards. The kind of things that seal the match and put final nail in the coffin. For us it is Grimgrin and the Grave Titan.
I like both of these guys. Grimgrin is fed quite easily by the copious amount of zombies I tend to have by the time he is on the field. Likewise every creature he kills ends up becoming more food for eating. Secondly the Grave Titan is great for milling your opponent off the Alchemist, alternatively he’s just a massive asshole who generates plenty of creatures to block and attack.
That’s basically it, we have a few more cards for generating more creatures, a few more creatures who are self explanatory and again this is just the second draft of this project. I look forward to Dark Ascension to see just how much more creative I can get while limiting myself.
I’m not 100% sure yet, but I suspect that the next deck I’ll present will be “The Good Doctor” another project in progress. That’s not set in stone though, not that it means anything in just a name.
If you have any suggestions for changes or improvements drop them in comments or send me an email. I’d be genuinely interested :).