Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sidisi, Zombie Tyrant

It's been a while since I updated, sorry. I lost the notes I took for my second round of Eldritch Moon updates, so I got a bit frustrated and didn't want to take time to sort out all 24 of my decks just to find one or two minor changes.

But one deck in particular got a much more significant makeover. In my Eldritch Moon Top 10 post, I hinted that I was considering making my Sidisi deck into a zombie tribal deck... well, I did just that.

It was quite painful cutting cards like Jace, Vryn's  Prodigy and other generic good stuff spells, but I'm pretty happy with how the deck turned out, so I guess it was for the best.

Here's the current list:


Sidisi, Brood Tyrant

Fleshbag Marauder
Unbreathing Horde
Diregraf Colossus
Cemetery Reaper
Lord of the Undead
Death Barron
Geralf's Messenger
Corpse Augur
Vengeful Dead
Undead Warchief
Graveborn Muse
Liliana's Reaver
Corpse Harvester
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Ghoulcaller Giza
Grave Titan
Soul of Innistrad
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Forgotten Creation

Diregraf Captain
Prized Amalgam
Gisa and Geralf
Possessed Skaab
Havengul Lich
Grimgrin, Corpse-Born


Corpse Churn
Necromancer's Stockpile
Dread Return
Barter in Blood
Endless Ranks of the Dead
From Under the Floorboards
Living Death
Ever After
Zombie Apocalypse
Decree of Pain
Army of the Damned
Rise of the Dark Realms
Dread Summons

Cyclonic Rift
Deep Analysis
Pore Over the Pages
Rooftop Storm

Traverse the Uvenwald
Cryptolith Rite
Kodama's Reach
Eldritch Evolution
Skyshroud Claim
Splendid Reclamation
Season's Past

Villainous Wealth

Sol Ring
Dimir Signet
Golgari Signet
Simic Signet
Commander's Sphere
Hedron Archive
Door of Destinies


Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Watery Grave
Overgrown Tomb
Breeding Pool
Polluted Delta
Drowned Catacomb
Woodland Cemetery
Hinterland Harbor
Twilight Mire
Sunken Ruins
Flooded Grove
Temple of Malady
Temple of Mystery
Temple of Deceit
Simic Growth Chamber
Golgari Rot Farm
Dimir Aqueduct
Opulent Palace
Command Tower
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Bojuka Bog
Volrath's Stronghold
Alchemist's Refuge
High Market
Geier Reach Sanitarium
Drownyard Temple
Temple of the False God
3x Island
3x Swamp
3x Forest

So... what do we have here? Basically, a bunch of zombies, really. Nothing groundbreaking there. Originally, I kept a few of the non-zombie utility creatures, like Mulldrifter, Eternal Witness, etc., but I just kept finding more zombies I had forgotten in the initial pass.

One of the big challenges was trying to make having Green in the color identity matter beyond a smattering of ramp spells. I'm not sure I completely solved this problem to my satisfaction, but ultimately I find that having access to Cryptolith Rite, Seasons Past and Splendid Reclamation makes the deck a little more dynamic and consistent than just going straight Dimir with, say, Grimgrin or Gisa and Geralf.  So, in the end, having access to a smattering of ramp DOES make Green rather relevant. I'd like to get a couple of Green cards into the creature section, but there aren't many great options.

I considered Ghoultree for the lulz (how awesome is the creature type "Zombie Treefolk", but ultimately the only real contender for inclusion is Lotleth Troll. There have been a few times during games where I found myself wishing for a discard outlet. The only reason the Troll isn't in yet is that I'm just having a hard time finding room for more stuff!

Vulturous Zombie also has some appeal and has a pretty good track record in EDH already, but the five-drops are already a bit crowded and the Plant Zombie has no particular synergies here. 

It also bugs me intensely that I don't have Geralf the Stitcher to go along with his sister and their new shared card. But again, space is extremely tight and I have cut everything that hasn't proven its value. Not saying the list is perfect, or "optimal" or anything like that, but there's just nothing left in here that has failed to perform to my expectations, really.

Actually, that's not strictly true... Villainous Wealth was one of my MVP's in the previous build, but in this version it doesn't really quite gel with the rest of the deck any longer. But, given it's color identity, this is the only deck I can play it in, and I really, REALLY like this card!

Also, I keep meaning to replace Commander's Sphere with Chromatic Lantern because the deck is now extremely dependant on having black mana in abundance. I added Urborg to help with this, and I probably have a few too many colorless-producing lands. But I think Chromatic Lantern would also help smooth out the mana.

One janky idea I really wanted to try to squeeze in, but ultimately couldn't make it work, was to combine Exquisite Blood with Shepherd of Rot. On one hand, I find this idea to be hilarious, at least on paper, but in reality I'm torn between feeling like it's way to janky to be good and feeling like it's a bit too combo-ish. I dislike winning with, and losing too, things like Exsanguinate or other "Pay X mana, kill you" type of cards. This isn't quite that, but still... plus I tend to only run combos like that when the two cards involved are good enough to run on their own, and aren't dependent on drawing both of them. I'm not at all sure that's the case here. Shepherd of Rot might be okay-ish on its own, but Exquisite Blood is definitely not a card I'd have thought to run if it weren't for the interaction with Shepherd.

One small issue I've had with this list is the lack of card draw. When I do find some kind of draw, I do really well, but occasionally I just don't see any and wind up running out of steam. That's an odd problem to have with these colors, but I feel like I need to find a slot for just one more draw spell... thinking about Shamanic Revelation, maybe. The life gain would be a nice bonus.

Speaking of life gain, I've never been able to cast From Under the Floorboards for it's Madness cost, which is one reason why I'm looking to get a discard outlet in here (Necromancer's Stockpile doesn't count, since it can only be used to discard creature cards). So it's probably the one new card that I haven't been all that impressed with, but just hardcasting it has been relevant in a few games, so it's not bad either.

One notable exclusion is Noxious Ghoul... and that is intentional. I'd love to be able to run him, but having a non-Zombie commander and the importance of the few non-zombies makes it more of a liability. I'm sure I could probably just play around it if need be, but I'd rather not complicate my own lines of play. I haven't exactly been hurting for removal/answers, so I don't feel like I'm missing out by not having him, but I won't say it wouldn't be nice to have once in a while.

Beyond those few small issues, I've been really enjoying the deck. It's fairly straightforward in the early game - play zombies, and attack as often as opportunity allows. With the strong recursion theme, you can afford to be a little reckless, even. Most of your zombies will come back a few times.

I don't roll over to graveyard hate, either. I mean, sure, some games a well-timed Bojuka Bog can really take the wind out of your sails, but I have already have one game where somewhere between 66 and 75 card exiled over the course of the game, and still managed to win. Something like Graffdigger's Cage, on the other hand... we probably just scoop to that. But my group tends to shy away from such hateful archetype-hosing cards. Stuff like Tormod's Crypt and Relic of Progenitus are fine, but those permanent effects like Torpor Orb, we dislike.

There are plenty of other zombie-themed cards out there; it would be impossible to fit them all into one deck. I just picked the ones I like most and/or thought were the best options for the style of deck. The core of the deck is solid, but as always, season to taste. I'll probably keep tweaking this until I manage to fit in some of the cards mentioned above.

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