Deck Tech: Zombie Pod with Gerard Fabiano
Gerard’s never eager to sleeve up the Deck to Beat—he’d much rather be attacking it from unexpected angles. That’s exactly the sort of mentality that led to the creation of his deck for this weekend’s event. Aggressive Zombie variants have been performing well in events with increasing frequency, and many players are pegging the undead horde as the next big thing for Standard.
Gerard Fabiano's Zombie Pod list has a few more tricks than most!
Black cards are increasing in power, with Restoration Angel making opposing Doom Blades and Go for the Throats better than ever before against Delver of Secrets decks. The strong creatures and durable disruption effects are both awesome tools that you won’t find equaled in many other available options.
Birthing Pod is a frightening card to see from any Zombie player, because Gravecrawler and Geralf’s Messenger are such powerful sources of recursive card advantage that also provide a stern clock against any opponent. Combining them with Birthing Pod’s long-game strength just gives the deck more power, but the tutor aspect of Birthing Pod also gives the deck a new element. “Honestly, the only good card is Birthing Pod and I’m only playing three—you never want to draw two.”
Gerard took advantage of the artifact by including a singleton Manic Vandal, Skinrender, Falkenrath Aristocrat, and Zealous Conscripts for particular situations. That’s a lot of answers to a lot of potential problems! Gideon Jura can’t protect you from the Conscripts, and the Aristocrat is an excellent threat against virtually any planeswalker in its own right. The popularity of various Swords made Manic Vandal a natural choice, while Skinrender is good action against most of the metagame.
Blood Artist is a new member of the Zombie deck, and he’s dead in a very different way—he’s a Vampire, not a Zombie. That said, his effect is incredibly potent alongside all those Zombies, especially when they start dying to Birthing Pod or combat! The reach is also appreciated against sweeper effects, of course. Jesse Smith has been pushing hard for Blood Artist to make its first foray into Standard on the back of Killing Wave—another underutilized Avacyn Restored card—but only time will tell where this uncommon should make its home.
Gerard loves a strong draw step, and there aren’t many in the format more powerful than Bonfire of the Damned—the sweeper is frightening card for any creature-based deck, especially when Geralf’s Messenger may be bearing down on you! The extra damage is incredibly useful, and the synergy with Blood Artist is also very dangerous. The card’s castable from the hand, although significantly less impressive, so be sure to check your draw step carefully!
Strangleroot Geist has gained traction in recent weeks, thanks to decks like Naya Pod, Dungrove Aggro, and G/R Aggro posting strong performances. Gloom Surgeon is a fantastic play against the pesky Spirit, blocking it without breaking a sweat constantly and turning into a beatdown machine when he’s not on defense. Vulnerable to removal spells—especially Gut Shot—Gloom Surgeon’s cheap cost still ensures he can do a lot of damage without too much risk.
Gerard designed his sideboard to augment his maindeck, featuring additional copies of a couple key players plus some specialized tools. Appetite for Brains and Despise both replace your dead removal against the control decks, picking apart their hand instead of their board.
Plus, it’s Appetite for Brains—in a Zombie deck. Come on!
Nihil Spellbomb is especially effective against Sun Titan decks, removing all their playthings and drawing a card on the side. The sideboarded Swords are an interesting call, given the risk of seeing artifact removal post-board, but bringing them in carefully will make sure an otherwise minor threat, like Gravecrawler, maximizes his constant presence. Gerard recommends one switch for the future, however. “I forgot to put in two Phyrexian Obliterator—I had them last week, and put in Batterskull and two random cards. I would run them in the sideboard, definitely.”
If you’re looking to taste brains or groan uncontrollably, give Gerard’s brew a spin. He’s confident it’s a reasonable deck in the format. “I played it last week and made Top 8 in another tournament, and I think it has a good matchup against Delver—it can win against anything.”