Deck Tech: B/R Zombies with Josh Cho
Josh Cho turned heads two weekends ago in Washington DC, with a Standard semifinal finish he outdid the following day by appearing in the Legacy Open finals. With another Open Series virtually in his own backyard, Josh was eager to reprise his weekend—and perhaps to do one better, taking home a trophy this time.
Despite his success with Delver-Blade in DC, Josh turned to a different color combination following the release of Dark Ascension. Earlier this week, Josh narrated his decision to explore black and red for this tournament with a Zombie list based on Zombie Infestation and recursive threats, but testing proved many of his original ideas needed more refinement than he could give them before the weekend. “It was too cute,” he said. “I really wanted to make it work, but in the early metagame, I realized I just wanted to be more aggressive.”
Gravecrawler is the obvious lure to the strategy, performing a mean Bloodghast impression and offering black a one-drop on a power level it rarely sees. However, Gravecrawler requires a motley crew to support it. Diregraf Ghoul is no slouch in a fight, but Highborn Ghoul has drawn a couple of looks today. “Highborn was fantastic,” Josh said. “The main thing I was worried about was people running Gut Shot, so it’s basically a worse version of Invisible Stalker. Going forward, I would consider playing it again—it’s much better than Stormblood Berserker.”
Presenting a potent clock and a durable body, Geralf’s Messenger is every bit as good as Josh expected—and maybe better. “Messenger has been sweet,” He decided. “Being able to drain them, and having Mortarpod in the deck to get them for five out of nowhere… It sucks that he comes into play tapped and you can’t defend with him, but you’re the aggressor anyway.”
Reassembling Skeleton doesn’t have the stats to strike fear into the hearts of the innocent either—as opposed to, say, Hovermyr—but he fulfills a few roles. Control decks will have to answer Sword of War and Peace for real as long as he’s around, and he also offers durability to many edict effects. One of his most important jobs? Blocking Dungrove Elder! “It’s fine as a blocker—it’s like a musket with Mortarpod. Not quite a machine gun!”
Bloodline Keeper was a last-minute inclusion for Josh, but the Vampire has held up his end of the deal today. The Mono-Green Aggro lists championed by a few groups of Virginians can’t really beat the four-drop once he gets active, and his synergy with equipment like Mortarpod and Sword of War and Peace can’t be underestimated. “Bloodline Keeper’s insane,” Josh said, summing up the matter succinctly. “It’s easier to cast than Phyrexian Obliterator, although I don’t actually know which one is better in this kind of deck.”
The manabase might need a little tinkering, but Josh isn’t sure he didn’t just fall on some variance. For the most part, the deck served Josh and its other pilots pretty well today!