Standard Brew of the Week:
Necromancy for Beginners -or- Cinnamon Brain Crunch
While it may not be very strong against any specific match-up (Game 1), it's not weak to any match-up either. It's consistent and reliable, and can be put together fairly cheaply with some downgrades. So I present to you fine folks Cinnamon Brain Crunch!
The Starting Point: Every deck has a starting point, a single spark that ignites into a full-fledge brew.
This is our major component. This is the card that keeps everything working and flowing so nicely. The big thing to understand about this card is the sheer value when you consider other cards. Every single zombie in our deck becomes a 2/2 creature. This single enchantment allows you to play around destruction and board wipe, allows you to force the hand of control decks, allows you to ditch cards for tokens only to be recurred back in.
To truly appreciate this lowly enchantment, you need to see how it synergies with our other cards. As such, when we continue with our list, we'll keep Necromancer's Stockpile in mind.
The Help: Fueling our Stockpile requires creatures, and zombies produce the best zombies. We'll sort by CMC.
It's no Festering Goblin, but it'll do. This wonderful little 1/1 can do a lot of wonderful things. Besides attacking in, he can take out a morph creature, he can disrupt token strategies, he can just kind of chump block. He's nothing fancy with Stockpile, but you can at least upgrade him to a 2/2 if you don't have need of a -1/-1 effect.
|Tymaret, the Murder King:
Bwah? Red? In a zombie deck? Oh, for sure. I didn't always run Tymaret, in fact he's something that has officially gone in just 2 weeks ago, but in that short time he has proven himself invaluable to the zombie nation. Tymaret does so much good for us that it's hard to find the right place to start, but let's begin. If he's in the graveyard and you have a Necromancer's Stockpile on the field, your zombie tokens gain the following effects:
- 2BB: Target creature attacking you becomes blocked. Draw a card. Tap this Creature.
- 2BB: Counter target spell that targets this token. Draw a card. Tap this Creature.
- 2BB: Draw a card. Tap this Creature.
Basically, you sac the token to pull Tymaret to hand, then drop Tymaret with Stockpile to make a new token. Boom! Only thing you're down is 4 mana and your token is tapped. Don't even need to do it all in one turn. Any fear of Bile Blight is a thing of the past! 100/100 attacker coming in? No Trample, No Problem! Spare Mana? Draw some cards!
AND... And and and... If you really need to play him, you can shoot your Zombies straight to your opponent's head.
There aren't a lot of people who like the Executioner, but they don't see him like I do. They complain about his over-costed recursion ability. They say it's too much, it doesn't mesh well with zombies creatures.. You know what it does mesh well with? Necromancers Stockpile.
T2 Land, Stockpile
T3 Land, Ditch Executioner. Get 2/2, Draw.
T4 Land, Cast Executioner from GY.
Boom! A 4/3 and a 3/3 and you're up a card. Pure value and happens more often than you'd expect (Unless you're really good at statistics, in which case it happens exactly as often as you'd expect).
But that's not the only use for Executioner. Risen Executioner is a 5 turn clock. It needs an answer. Against control decks that love their answers, Risen Executioner is the only card you need to play from T4 onwards. Don't play other creatures, don't let them increase Risen's cost. Force them to waste their counter-spells and destruction spells. They'll think that they're controlling the board, when in reality you're controlling everything. As long as you don't play other creatures into the Graveyard, Risen Executioner will keep coming back for only 4 mana and force the enemy into a bad situation. Once they've exhausted a number of answers on a single card, push forward.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel:
Old Gary is back. This iconic card from the Ravnica/Theros Mono-B Devotion deck performs the same role as before but with added "I'm a spooky zombie!!!" attached. Gary is going to end games and save your butt. Even popping Gary down for 5 can turn the tide of the game when you're sitting behind 4 tokens. Gary is going to be your finisher, your comeback card, and your old dear friend for a very long time. No special interaction with Stockpile, other than a method of getting Gary into the GY if you want to cheat him into play.
| Sidisi, Undead Vizier:
Snakelips here became one of the zombies she used to summon and we're happy to have her on board. You'll have plenty of exploit targets (including herself) so her tutor ability is always beneficial. Plus, a 4/6 booty with Deathtouch is gravy. Again, no special interation with Stockpile, but it's nice to be able to have a use for a 2nd Sidisi when you've already got one on the field.
Assisted Unliving: The Help is going to need some Help, and we're here to provide.
There's not much to say about Thoughtseize that can't already be said by it's $30 pricetag. The card performs. Every deck you're up against will have problem cards that need answers, and Thoughtseize answers those cards before they become a problem. Got a token swarm strategy in hand, pull their board wipe. Going for an Executioner build, grab their removal. Focusing on Devotion, stop the counterspell. Whatever they have to hold you off, you can pull off their hand.
WHA? A non-zombie creature? This spot was originally Spiteful Returned, which was fine when I was winning or playing aggressively, but horrible when I needed to control. Black Cat was tested instead(2cc Zombie), and while the discard was nice the random was not. So Brain Maggot wiggled its way into the deck. This deck needs a moment to build up sometimes, and having the ability to stall your opponent is nice. Forcing them to use a piece of removal to get a card back is also nice. While it's certainly no Tidehollow Sculler, it does the job admirably. It pairs with Thoughtseize as a wonderful T1/T2 punch. You've also got the benefit of dropping it to the Stockpile if you just want to cycle a card.
Because sometimes Planeswalkers need to die.
Whip of Erebos:
The whip has a bunch of useful targets in this deck. Aside from the classic Gray Merchant (Which you will kill yourself just to Whip him back in), Sidisi is a second use of Explot Tutor (And you can exploit herself, so 2BB:Tutor isn't a bad call), and Brain Maggot can give you a turn free from whatever disruption they had been holding onto. Other targets aren't as beneficial, unless you're clearing the GY so Risen is cheaper. The Lifegain is also extremely beneficial. There have been many games where the aggressive RDW/Temur/BW deck got me very low and Whip came in to save me.
Siege does a few things for us here. 1) It's recursion so we can fuel the stockpile. Getting a creature back every turn so we can start a Stockpile run over again is nice. 2) It's a clock. If you can land this against a control deck, they start to have so many problems it's not even funny. 2 Life every turn makes their stall strategy into a slow death, and while they scramble to suddenly shift gears, you don't have to do anything extra to take advantage of the situation. You immediately put them on their back foot and force them to answer you in 10 turns or lose AND you get to continue playing your normal course of action. It has a use of some sort in every match-up, and while I've often debated about including it, I've yet to find anything close to the utility that it provides.
Locations: The mana must flow.
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx:
You have a decent devotion shell and you'll often find yourself with 4+ Devotion which is a gain for Nykthos. When you don't have devotion on the board then the lack of B from Nykthos is typically not an issue.
Bloodstained Mire and Mountain:
If you want to be able to play Tymaret and use his ability, you're gonna need some spicy red mana.
Fetchlands are Swamps, Nykthos is Swamps, Mountains are dual lands, Swamps are Swamps. Everything is Swamps.
Sideboard: Your shop and your meta is different than mine. Build the sideboard to suit.
In against Weenie decks and token strategies, Bile Blight proves it's worthy of the $2 pricetag.
Crux of Fate:
You know how nice it is to look at your opponent dead in the face and call "Dragons". It's real nice. Also - You rebound from a boardwipe rather effectively, so clearing both boards with "Non-Dragons" tends to hurt you less than it hurts them.
Drown in Sorrow:
There's a trend here and it's because RDW is our worst matchup. Drown takes care of that with little to no drawback. Yeah, you lose your tokens and Shambling Goblins, but you can rebuild far better than they can.
Erebos, God of the Dead:
Sometimes your opponent breaks your Stockpile with Back to Nature or Sultai Charm or another horribly effective enchantment destroyer that we shall not name... When that happens, Erebos is an effective swap for a different strategy in Game 2. Pulling Stockpile in favor of Erebos can throw off your opponent if they side in Enchantment destruction. Anti-Lifegain is an added benefit that severely hurts Mastery of the Unseen decks.
Stain the Mind:
Say it with me, "I name a card and exile all copies of it from your hand, deck, graveyard." You practice this because every opponent and the guy sitting next to them is going to go "Huh? What's that?". Stain the Mind is exceptional when you know what your problem cards are. Dragons are a big problem for me, so I typically call Silumgar and Dragonlord Ojutai. Crux in Hand? I'm calling Silumgar's Scorn or Dissolve. Abzan deck? Rhino. Someone's in love with the CoCo? Collected Company. There is a use for every deck you're up against and as long as you know your meta, you'll know what to call.
Wha? Huh? Bwah? Other exclamation of confusion! Yeah... I'm playing anti-token tech. I go up against 2 RDW decks on a regular basis. Last friday, I played a Jeskai Tokens deck. The week before, 2 RDW. Before then, RDW and Secure the Wastes. This card is in because I know the meta at my shop and because I know I can do without the token strategy while my opponent fully relies on their tokens for a win. No tokens for me = Oh no, I'm stuck actually playing these zombies. No tokens for them = Well, these 12 cards are dead. This is a meta pick and may not be right for you.
I don't use it currently, but it has it's uses.
What makes this deck perform so well is that it doesn't have a horrible match-up against any specific archetype. It performs very well against control, with multiple resilient threats like Risen Executioner that keeps coming back and Tymaret that keeps recurring himself as a Stockpile engine. It stabilizes against aggressive decks with Whip of Erebos and Gray Merchant helping recoup that early damage (as long as you can survive past T5). It can tear apart your enemies hands with Thoughtseize and Brain Maggot, while building the perfect engine with Palace Siege and Sidisi (Nothing like Exploiting the same Sidisi every turn).
The other joy of this deck is the fluid nature of its playstyle. You can aggro out early and then transition into a devotion strategy. You can control early and then move into a Token swarm strategy. You can switch as the game dictates and still end up on top. You're more resilient and have a better transition than other decks and with some smart play you can switch the game midway. Everything provides an option and utility, and you're rarely on your backfoot for long.
Budgetwise, the deck as above is pricing around $180 for the full 75. We can easily drop that down if budget is a concern.
- Thoughtseize -> Duress
- Bloodstained Mire/Urborg/Mountain -> Swamp
Boom! $75 for the full 75 now. 11 cards out, $105 in savings.
The Thoughtseizes are certainly better than Duress, but $22 x3 is $Buttload. Duress saves $21.96 each, and that's certainly worth it. Bloodstained Mire and Mountains are not absolutely needed. It is certainly nice to have the option of playing Tymaret, but he is fully more useful in the graveyard and only requires black mana to get there. Once you remove the red mana, Urborg can come out as well (No point fixing your opponent's mana).
MTGO Player? $58 tickets is going to buy you the full 75 non-budget version while $19 gets you the cheapo 75.
Why should you care? Certainly a valid question... Let me give a quick recap of my recent FNMs.
M1: UB Dragons. 2/0. Risen Executioner/Tymaret forced removal. Ugin desperation wipe, rebuilt. SB Stain.
M2: Jeskai Tokens. 2/0. Stockpile survives tokens. Gray Merchant wins over defense. SB Plague.
M3: Esper Dragons. 2/0. Risen Executioner. Pressure into Devotion win. Palace Siege ticks down G2.
M4: Real Life issue, had to leave early. Forfeit to opponent.
M1: Mono-R Dash. 2/1. Tymaret keeps tokens on board. Whip turns tide. SB Bile Blight/Drown win.
M2: Temur Smashy. 2/0. Big creatures. <5 Life each time. Stockpile Defense. Gary wins twice.
M3: Esper Dragons. 2/0. Risen Executioner forces answers. Tymaret counters Bile Blight.
M4: RDW. 2/1. First game heavy loss to aggro. SB Bile Blight/Drown ends game before it begins.
7/1 if you count the forfeit. 14/4/0 in Games.
I'm by no means in a bad shop. We're a bit more casual than some of the other 6 shops in the area, but we still like to win. I'll admit, the Mono-R Dash player is newer and the Temur deck is a brew, but the other decks are exactly what you'd expect by their titles, give or take a card or two for meta. Abzan, RDW, Dragon Control, GW Manifest... The Zombies have beat them all. I've lost to them all, but I've also beaten them.
Test it for yourself, though. This may not be the front-runner for best deck, but it's situated perfectly in the middle so as to be good against everything. It's different and janky but consistent. It's fun to pilot, fun to play against, and fun to watch. So pick up a zombie or two and start Stockpiling.