Deck Tech: B/W Zombies with Nick Dalton
Zombies has been notching some strong finishes on the Open Series lately, culminating in a win for Brad Eier last week. The metagame moves fast, however, and the shambling undead are not known for their sprinting abilities.
So what’s the next step? It’s been proven that you can make room for blue in the deck, with Phantasmal Image and Ponder seeing widespread adaptation in recent lists. Red’s been done—even green, with Birthing Pod mixed in. So why leave white out to dry? Nick Dalton decided to mix some vanilla with his brains, and wound up with this creepy concoction.
The biggest gain is certainly Restoration Angel, one of the most powerful cards in a Standard format where creatures are all very, very good. Its synergy with Geralf’s Messenger is incredible, and its size—a 3/4 flying beater with flash to boot—makes it a unique weapon in the Zombie arsenal. Zombies aren’t known for a particularly diverse set of instant-speed sequences, but the Angel offers that option and lets you reverse unfavorable races with surprise blocks.
Adding to his fours, Nick’s got Sorin and Skinrender. Skinrender is a Zombie, which is nice, and his inclusion in the maindeck demonstrates a real prejudice against creature decks. Toss in his interaction with Restoration Angel, and he’s quite threatening.
Sorin presents some long game power to a deck known for its early offensive potential, but that emblem is no joke. With Lingering Souls and Gravecrawler providing consistent attackers all game long, it’s easy for a quick -2 to generate tons of value over the course of the game.
Lingering Souls is another powerful card available to white and black, and with the heavy Delver presence it has become one of the better reasons to be white in other decks. It’s interesting that Nick cut the popular Blood Artists in his list, as they become much better with Lingering Souls around. They’re not so hot on their lonesome, admittedly, but Sorin can even let them attack!
Four Oblivion Ring offer a more versatile removal option for Zombies, although the playset seems like a bit much for a deck with lots of cheaper removal options available. That said, the card is always strong, if not incredible, and most white decks that want to play fair on the battlefield would do well to consider their inclusion. Personally, I might go down to a pair here in order to make room for some Doom Blade-esque effects.
The manabase is clearly where things are going to get tough. Two Plains and Vault of the Archangel is a demanding inclusion for a deck that wants to have Geralf’s Messenger on turn 3 with twenty-three lands, total. It might be reasonable to trim down on Sorins and Rings in order to justify going to one Plains, although I’d loathe cutting Vault.
The sideboard’s got plenty of action for a diverse field. Nihil Spellbomb’s stock is definitely rising with all the Esper decks in the field, while Sever the Bloodline and Black Sun’s Zenith always have their place.