Video Deck Tech - Zombie Pod (Standard)

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
6/20/2012 11:32:00 AM
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Well, you guys asked for it, so I've tried to deliver! On my Facebook page, I asked what deck you guys would like to see this week, and while a lot of the answers were pretty varied, I was surprised at how many of you chose Zombie Pod! Truth be told, the deck is pretty fun to play; actually, it's as fun as Zombies is...but if you added Birthing Pod to it.

...cause that's kind of exactly what it is.

The deck was made known - and I concede that it might have been created before this - at the TCGplayer Open 5k in Edison by Gerard Fabiano who made it to the Top 16. Here was his list:

Zombie Pod by Gerard Fabiano
Finished 5th - 8th Place at 2012 TCGplayer.com MaxPoint Diamond - Edison
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Blood Artist
4 Diregraf Ghoul
1 Falkenrath Aristocrat
2 Fume Spitter
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Gloom Surgeon
4 Gravecrawler
1 Manic Vandal
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Zealous Conscripts
Creatures [28]
4 Birthing Pod
2 Go for the Throat
3 Tragic Slip
Spells [9]
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
3 Cavern of Souls
4 Dragonskull Summit
10 Swamp (236)
3 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [24]
Deck Total [61]


1 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Despise
2 Liliana of the Veil
2 Manic Vandal
3 Phyrexian Obliterator
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Sorin's Thirst
1 Tragic Slip
1 Zealous Conscripts
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


This list was what I was testing with online almost exclusively at first. While I really liked the Gloom Surgeons, since they had a real knack for stopping aggro decks cold, you could tell the deck still needed a little work. I mean, it even had 61 cards!

Despite putting up positive results with Gerard's list, I felt like I could do even better with a more refined list. I kept checking the Magic Online results and sure enough, one list in particular kept popping up, including three very similar copies in the same Premier Event Top 8! Here is the list I decided to go with.

Zombie Pod by G0D_L1k3
Finished 5th - 8th Place at MTGO Standard Premier - 6/9/12
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Blood Artist
1 Butcher Ghoul
4 Diregraf Ghoul
2 Falkenrath Aristocrat
2 Fume Spitter
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Gravecrawler
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Phyrexian Obliterator
1 Zealous Conscripts
Creatures [26]
4 Birthing Pod
2 Go for the Throat
2 Mortarpod
3 Tragic Slip
Spells [11]
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Dragonskull Summit
12 Swamp (236)
3 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


3 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Doom Blade
2 Gloom Surgeon
1 Manic Vandal
2 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Phyrexian Obliterator
1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Zealous Conscripts
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Most of the more recent versions had removed the Gloom Surgeons in favor of more toolbox cards, such as Phyrexian Metamorph, one Phyrexian Obliterator, Fume Spitters, etc. While some of these cards made the deck look more like the traditional Zombie list, it was also an improvement over the traditional Zombie list, since you could easy sacrifice something like a Perilous Myr to kill a Delver of Secrets and put a Geralf's Messenger into play. Kind of not bad at all! In fact, let's see just how not bad it is!

T2 Zombie Pod vs. BR Zombies



T2 Zombie Pod vs. Haunted Humans



T2 Zombie Pod vs. Esper Control



So the first thing I want to point out is how good Blood Artist is. I said it a while back, but this format would be much different if there was a Cunning Sparkmage type card available, machine gunning down Delvers, Blood Artists, Gravecrawlers, etc. Blood Artist is probably one of the best cards in the deck, and I could definitely see the mirror match coming down to who drew more Blood Artists. Kill this thing on site. The amount of life gain and incremental damage you're able to deal with a Blood Artist adds up more than Vapor Snag could ever hope to.

One of the deck's largest pitfalls has to be mana. The colors were very rarely an issue since your splash cards are all able to be played with Phyrexian mana often, but sometimes you simply won't have enough lands or you'll have way too many lands. Aggressive decks like this live and die on their mana bases in the sense that if you draw more five or more lands too quickly without enough pressure, you simply won't make it to the mid game. This can be seen in my third game against Haunted Humans. You need to have an adequate mix of lands in spells in your opening hand which allows you to play threat after threat without flooding out.

It seems a little late in the article to be finally mentioning this point, but the deck plays almost identically to BR Zombies, only instead of Brimstone Volley, you have things like Birthing Pod. This is actually quite an interesting inclusion since the deck doesn't actually have many “silver bullets” to find. Often Birthing Pod lists are crammed full of one-ofs, but this list only has a few out-of-the-ordinary cards. Specifically Phyrexian Metamorph, Falkenrath Aristocrat, one Phyrexian Obliterator, one Butcher Ghoul, and one Zealous Conscripts. Everything is pretty much stock from Zombie Lists. I think the deck is kind of funny like that since it pretty much acknowledges the synergy of zombies, where the best card you want to get each turn is a often going to be a better zombie. I'll go ahead and save you the trouble by telling you if you have the option to get a Geralf's Messenger, it's usually correct to do so; and this isn't because he's your only three drop!

High
Mid
Low
 Geralf's Messenger
$5.00
$2.51
$1.40
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Cavern of Cards 4 $1.50
Card Crazy 1 $1.50
Two Headed Games 1 $1.66
Two Headed Games 3 $1.75
Signpost Games 2 $1.76
HiTek Gaming 1 $1.79
Meta-Gaming 5 $1.80
Grinders Emporium 4 $1.99

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One card that does tend to give the deck some trouble, however, is Mirran Crusader...for obvious reasons. There were some other versions running multiple copies of Perilous Myr, which seems really good, as Perilous Myr enables you get rid of problematic cards like not only Mirran Crusader, but also things like Delver of Secrets or Silverblade Paladin. You even have multiple routes in which to accomplish this by either blocking or Birthing Podding the lil' Myr away for presumably a Geralf's Messenger (again, the only maindeck three drop). Anyway, while useful in certain situations, the Fume Spitters had proved slightly underwhelming and I might even be compelled to switch them out for Myrs in the future. Mostly because you can also Pod into Myrs from things like Gravecrawlers, and also because if you don't hit a Fume Spitter on turn one or so, he gets notably worse against things like Champion of the Parish and Delver of Secrets. Sure, Fume Spitter allows some cute tricks with Geralf's Messenger, but I think the benefits of the Myr outweigh that.

As I said, I really liked Gloom Surgeon. It's basically able to block everything from Strangleroot Geist, to Huntmaster of the Fells, to Geist of Saint Traft, to Silverblade Paladin, all while surviving in the process. This is an insane advantage against a format that is so aggressive. He's also a two drop that allows you to Pod into Geralf's Messenger for whatever that's worth.

I'm pretty sure this deck is the real deal, since it can sneak a lot of pressure underneath decks like Delver, but it also has a lot of versatile answers for other decks as well. In addition, you have ways to completely circumvent attacking for the most part with cards like Blood Artist who, as you have seen, can literally deal the last nine points on his own if he needs to. The card is simply brutal in multiples and is almost comparable to Kalastria Highborn in vampires. While I think the deck might benefit from a few more silver bullets (Manic Vandal, Skinrender, things like that), the creatures the deck is utilizing now have simply been proven effective, and having ways to search them out might be all you're looking for. Also, Falkenrath Aristocrat is nothing short of insane and definitely worth the ten ticket price tag it commands on Magic Online. I think the card is severely underappreciated right now, and I think more people would be playing it if they weren't still convinced that the card was kind of "meh" because it premiered at the same time as Lingering Souls.

Either way, I know a lot of people are interested in this deck and with good reason. It's zombies, it's fun, and it's not Delver. Definitely give it a try, but I warn you: like most aggro decks, it isn't the easiest to play simply because of all the numbers you need to consider (damage, combat math, mana, etc.). Anyway, give the deck a shot, test it out some, and let me know what you think! I'll see you guys next week, presumably with an M13 spoiler once they resume, and if you haven't done so already, be sure and check out the MTGatTCGplayer Facebook page! I'm constantly - and consistently - posting the latest spoilers and discussion threads (like Card Battles), so it's always good for some free content! Thanks for reading, guys and I'll see ya soon!

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter
FrankLepore on TwitchTV



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