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By: stsung, Ren Stefanek
Aug 30 2016 11:00am
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During Onslaught there was a Sealed GP in the capital city of our country and I decided to give it a try. I had no idea what Onslaught possibly looked like but when I saw the contents of the packs I immediately decided to play Zombies and Clerics. Since then my love for Zombie tribal lasts. I've played mono black Zombies or BW Zombie/Clerics decks in the past but nowadays Zombies did not get much love from me. Primarily because they started to 'invade' other colors - blue and red. Even though I like blue in general I did not like the new Zombies much. Especially when the general that would lead them would be Thraximundar or Grimgrin, Corpse-Born . A creature that simply attacks three times or less and wins the game, that does not sound too interesting to me. Two cards that raised my interests were printed recently and changed everything. The cards I have in mind are Gisa and Geralf and Forgotten Creation.

Gisa and Geralf's ability is a pretty good one in my opinion. Each turn you can replay a Zombie creature card from your graveyard which makes this card similar to Meren of Clan Nel Toth (even though Meren is way better). When it comes into play it mills four cards which helps find at least one creature to play from the graveyard next turn.

When Gisa and Geralf was spoiled I tried building a deck around this card for Standard. It was black-blue-green self-mill deck that played Prized Amalgam (and few other zombies), Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector . It played Eldritch Evolution so it could find Gisa and Geralf and get the engine going. With all the mill it was capable to reach Delirium fast making Traverse the Ulvenwald a creature tutor, so Emrakul, the Promised End could be found and played. Unfortunately anything that dies to Grasp of Darkness is not that good, Mindwrack Demon does the job better. To my surprise the deck worked but when there are cards around like Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet the deck is not really viable. Gisa and Geralf is a legendary card though so I thought about using it as my general since trying to play it in Standard was a mistake. That is how this deck was born. I wasn't too enthusiastic to build the deck at first since I knew I would have to buy a majority of the cards but this fact alone meant that the deck wouldn't be full of cards that are format staples and would certainly get me out of my comfort zone.

When building this I was looking for a casual deck that would be able to create Zombie tokens and be rather aggressive while still being able to do some cool things. If things would go bad the deck would have access to Zombie Apocalypse, Living Death or Patriarch's Bidding. This deck is not meant to win too many games but to have fun and naturally draw the cards, not look for them (even though this deck can draw 7+ cards per turn). This way the deck can do various things trying to survive or trying to win the game.

A game that took a while. I couldn't get any damage through since my opponent destroyed all his Swamps making my Swampwalk ability useless while having about 30ish creatures in play. In the end I was able to play Damnation destroying all creatures and later play Patriarch's Bidding bringing all the Zombies back. This was the attack that followed next turn.

For whom is this deck?

Those players that like graveyard recursion and don't mind sacrificing their own creatures might like this deck. It is a tribal deck so I guess the player of this deck needs to have some affinity for Zombies (for example I do not like Merfolk so no matter how 'cool' Merfolk deck can be I would most probably not play such a deck, so I guess that if someone does not like Zombies they might not want to play this). This deck is aggro so naturally those that like being in control won't most probably appreciate this deck much. This deck has to simply overrun opposing deck strategys no matter what it is. It can win the game without attacking though.

Strategy and Card Choices

This deck simply plays Zombies and even more Zombies. The Zombies can come from your hand or graveyard. That is why you should play Gisa and Geralf on turn 4 if possible. Via the general the deck gains card advantage and it doesn't matter if you discard Zombies because you can replay them later. In order for this deck to function it needs a lot of Zombies, certain amount of card drawing spells, few spells that can grant you life, sacrifice outlet and cards that simply say 'I win the game' sometimes if plan A - attacking with all those Zombies - fails.

If possible as much of the effects mentioned above should be on creatures. Some zombies are just bodies - Wight of Precinct Six, Diregraf Colossus. I put them there because they are cheap and can stop some initial aggression from the opponent. I omitted the Zombie avatar - Soulless One - because it is too expensive for my tastes even though the card may creep back in. Next there are 'Lords'. Those are creatures that pump other Zombies and/or grant them other abilities. In my deck there are Lord of the Undead, Zombie Master, Death Baron, Cemetery Reaper, Diregraf Captain.

The cards that can draw large amount of cards are Graveborn Muse, Forgotten Creation, Erebos, God of the Dead, Corpse Augur and Cryptbreaker. There are also two lands that can help find what one needs - Geier Reach Sanitarium and Cephalid Coliseum. Wretched Confluence also can draw some cards if needed.

In this game against Extort deck I really needed to draw as many cards as possible to find solution to the situation. I needed to gain a lot of life as well since my opponent was slowly draining me and I was down to 14 life. I managed to get my life total back to 34, remove my opponent's graveyard and cast Living Death eventually winning the game.

You probably noticed that card draw is linked with life loss. The life loss can be huge and if an opponent is also dealing damage it can become a problem. For that reason the first card to fix this problem that came to my mind was Whip of Erebos. This deck is capable of producing a lot of power on the board and sometimes swinging in a suicidal way with all creatures into a wall of creatures with Whip in play is the right thing to do. The reanimation ability of the Whip can be used as well but it is not that ability that I was looking for when putting this card in my deck. Gray Merchant of Asphodel is more of a win condition, but it is the second card in my deck that can gain large amount of life.

The deck can also create sometimes large amounts of Zombie tokens. Some cards are not good at it but their token generating ability can be relevant - Cryptbreaker, Lich Lord of Unx, Cemetery Reaper. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Grave Titan while not being Zombies are actually capable of creating many Zombie tokens. Noosegraf Mob is the last creature producing Zombie tokens. Next there are spells that can create some tokens - Graf Harvest that also grants Zombies Menace, Empty the Pits that can be easily cast for its Delve cost, Endless Ranks of the Dead and From Under the Floorboard. Sometimes if Liliana, the Last Hope goes ultimate she becomes the ultimate zombie generator.

Shepherd of Rot and Pestilence used to be my win conditions years ago. Shepherd of Rot can still do its job and kill my opponents!

The most obvious win condition cards are Living Death, Zombie Apocalypse and Patriarch's Bidding. The cards that can also win the game but require some set up are Diregraf Captain/Vengeful Dead, Shepherd of Rot, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Gempalm Polluter, Profane Command and Liliana, the Last Hope. In order to play Living Death and/or Patriarch's Bidding safely there are cards that help control opponent's graveyard. There is Agent of Erebos that removes it from the game, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet that removes creatures from the game if they die, and Withered Wretch.

To protect your own Zombies so they won't end up removed from the game there are cards that allow sacrificing creatures as a cost. There is Carrion Feeder, Nantuko Husk, and Phyrexian Ghoul. I put also Grimgrin, Corpse-Born in the deck because of its sacrifice ability as well even though I'm not a huge fan of the card. I wanted even more sacrifice effects and for that I added Phyrexian Tower to the deck since I couldn't find any other Zombie that would suit my needs (High Market is another good choice). Since my deck can produce tokens and I usually have many creatures in play I also put (Westvale Abbey) in the deck. If something goes wrong (Wrath effect) I can sacrifice 5 creatures and create Ormendahl, Profane Prince.

There are few tutors in the deck but nothing like Vampiric Tutor or Demonic Tutor. There are Corpse Connoisseur that entombs a creature and Sidisi, Undead Vizier that for sacrificing a creature searches for any card. She is a Zombie and belongs to the deck! There is one more tutor - Expedition Map. I put this card in the deck so I could look for utility lands that allow creature recursion (Volrath's Stronghold, Unholy Grotto), produce a lot of mana (Crypt of Agadeem, Cabal Coffers) or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth but so far the most tutored land was a blue source. Obviously my mana base needs revising.


Except from totally dying to any combo deck this deck is weak to decks running too much removal and graveyard hate. That is something that is not common though so most of the time this deck will simply die to combo. The common weakness of black and blue decks is their incapability of dealing with artifacts and enchantments.

Budget options

Apart from the mana base as usual there aren't too many expensive cards. The cards that cost more than 2 tix are:

Cards more expensive than 2 tix Aprox. Price
Gravecrawler 3
Relentless Dead 3
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 23
Havengul Lich 3
Geth, Lord of the Vault 2
Grave Titan 5
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed 7
Liliana, the Last Hope 32
Damnation 10
Patriarch's Bidding 3


Cards like Damnation or Liliana, the Last Hope are not necessary in this deck even though global removal still should be in the deck. The other cards have a certain function that is irreplaceable. The card you should definitely buy and not cut though is Patriarch's Bidding as this card is crucial. As for the other cards there is no replacement but there are other Zombies that are nice. Since I do not run Soulless One it can be one of the cards. Haunted Dead and Undead Gladiator does not seem bad either even both of these cards require time and mana. I also often used to run Corpse Harvester. It is not the fastest card either but it tutors both a Zombie card (thus also Nameless Inversion for example) and a Swamp which is pretty good if the card sticks. Necromancer's Stockpile looks sweet as well. You can always replay your Zombies from graveyard and 2/2 Zombie token is usually all you need with the right creatures in play. But what is more important, the enchantment lets you draw a card!

There are Zombies that mill cards when they come into play. There is actually quite a lot of such creatures only some are close to being playable. Wailing Ghoul costs 1B which I would add even to my decklist and was doing pretty well in my BUG Dredge list. The other cards are usually blue so it requires more blue sources in the deck - Screeching Skaab, Armored Skaab, Laboratory Brute.

Another possibility is not to run creatures. In that case I would run cards that (virtually) draw cards and let you discard or put cards in your graveyard. For example a card that seems ideal is Read the Runes. Other cards to be considered are Forbidden Alchemy, Fact or Fiction or Epiphany at the Drownyard (cards are also blue).

I think I covered everything so now it is time for a decklist in a text form that you can also download in txt or dek format.

Follow me at Twitter @stsungjp or contact me via Magic Online (stsung).

Gisa and Geralf
by STsung, 268tix
1 Agent of Erebos
1 Carrion Feeder
1 Cemetery Reaper
1 Corpse Augur
1 Corpse Connoisseur
1 Cryptbreaker
1 Death Baron
1 Diregraf Captain
1 Diregraf Colossus
1 Erebos, God of the Dead
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Forgotten Creation
1 Gempalm Polluter
1 Geralf's Messenger
1 Geth, Lord of the Vault
1 Grave Titan
1 Graveborn Muse
1 Gravecrawler
1 Gravedigger
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
1 Havengul Lich
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Lich Lord of Unx
1 Lord of the Undead
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1 Nantuko Husk
1 Noosegraf Mob
1 Phyrexian Ghoul
1 Prized Amalgam
1 Relentless Dead
1 Shepherd of Rot
1 Undead Alchemist
1 Undead Warchief
1 Vengeful Dead
1 Wight of Precinct Six
1 Withered Wretch
1 Zombie Master
39 cards
Other Spells
1 Animate Dead
1 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Chainer's Edict
1 Cruel Revival
1 Damnation
1 Dark Salvation
1 Empty the Pits
1 Endless Ranks of the Dead
1 Expedition Map
1 From Under the Floorboards
1 Graf Harvest
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Living Death
1 Patriarch's Bidding
1 Profane Command
1 Sever the Bloodline
1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Victimize
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Wretched Confluence
1 Zombie Apocalypse
21 cards
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Command Tower
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Crypt of Agadeem
1 Geier Reach Sanitarium
1 Drowned Catacomb
5 Island
1 Nephalia Drownyard
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Polluted Delta
1 Sunken Hollow
15 Swamp
1 Underground Sea
1 Unholy Grotto
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Wasteland
1 Watery Grave
1 Westvale Abbey
39 cards
1 Gisa and Geralf

1 cards


Deemed's picture

Great article, but where do you even play 1v1 edh on modo?

Thanks for reading. To find by stsung at Wed, 08/31/2016 - 03:01
stsung's picture

Thanks for reading. To find any EDH game go to -> Play Lobby -> Constructed Open Play -> Just for Fun. Under the format filter you can check Commander to show all the EDH games. You can also check if you want to play multiplayer or 1-on-1.

Seems to me when I look at by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/31/2016 - 13:38
Paul Leicht's picture

Seems to me when I look at all the games being offered many of the commander games that come up are for 1v1. It should not take long at all. Be wary it is not the same format at all, more resembling 100cs than multiplayer edh.