Hello! Welcome to a new version of my series A Seat at the Table that I’ve decided to not-so cleverly call: Upgrading the Table! We take a preconstructed Commander deck and talk about inclusions and exclusions I would make.
The Grave Danger starter deck seems like a great place to start because it is a deck based around a huge fan favourite creature type: Zombies!
Dimir Zombies, headed by Gisa and Geralf is popular enough as a deck, but with Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver coming out more recently and becoming the most popular commander for Zombies, it is refreshing to see Wizards build something out for the zombie aficionado siblings.
Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver is a freebie include. You can’t make me choose just five! I won’t let you!
You can check out the full precon deck list here!
Here are the five cards I would put in the deck followed by the five I would remove.
Cards to Add
Hot off a reprint in the mythic slot of the retro artifacts in The Brothers’ War, Altar of Dementia is the perfect addition to this deck. I count five, that’s right, only five ways to sacrifice your Zombies. These creatures were meant to go into graveyards and get out of them. Playing a Fleshbag Marauder and sending it to the bin once a turn can be backbreaking for opponents, and luckily Fleshbag does it for itself. But what about getting Gray Merchant of Asphodel into play again? You need to send it to the graveyard for the siblings to cast it again. Altar of Dementia is perfect because it is a free sacrifice outlet that can put more cards into your graveyard for you to cast with your commander or target with Havengul Lich. A free sacrifice outlet in a deck with Undead Augur, Vengeful Dead, Diregraf Captain, and Midnight Reaper (not to mention some of the other inclusions I’m picking) lets you have more control over what’s going on with your board and your horde! Ashnod’s Altar and Phyrexian Altar get the nod too of course!
Not including Tormod, a Zombie who loves when cards leave your graveyard – like say, when you cast them from your graveyard – should have been included in the base list. I feel like a Zombie who makes a Zombie when you cast a Zombie from your graveyard should have been an instant inclusion in the precon. You get to find your $0.25 copy and pop it in over some cards I’ll get to later.
Since you’ll want your nontoken Zombies to go to the graveyard so you can cast them again, Headless Rider is an excellent inclusion to make sure you’re keeping the undead coming. With Tormod, the Desecrator and Headless Rider, you’ll have Zombies when they’re coming and going!
As someone who has played a token deck with Thalisse, Reverent Medium at the helm for some time now, I can say Gruesome Fate closes out games and people never see it coming. You’ll be making a ton of Zombies and non-combat options to bring down life totals for a follow-up swing if not outright eliminating your opponents. However…
If the image of your pile of Zombies led by a death obsessed pair piling over your opponents and ripping them apart is your fancy, Coat of Arms is a risky, yet powerful finale. If your opponents are also playing tribal decks, it’ll be a tough head to head, but drop this at the right time and you’ll steal the game away no problem.
BONUS PICK – Songs of the Damned
BONUS BONUS PICK – Diregraf Colossus
Cast a Zombie, get a Zombie. Well worth the inclusion.
Cards to Remove
A six mana 5/5 that dies into a 6/6 that mills for five each time it enters sounds really good, but for six mana, you’ve got more to do than what this offers. I can see this being good for the first time it’s cast, but when it hits the graveyard for good, it likely isn’t going to be the card you cast with your commander.
You’ve already got Vizier of the Scorpion one more mana that gives your Zombie tokens deathtouch. Feels like an easy cut, especially if you knock a land off and replace it with a Fellwar Stone or something.
Unbreathing Horde can be really bad if you get it early or if your graveyard is wiped. You’re preventing damage, meaning you likely have a fine blocker for a while. Not really worth the include in my opinion. Diregraf Colossus is much better here.
Never liked this card outside of limited. It’s cool, it does a lot of different things you want in this deck, but frankly, this feels like it’s too low impact.
Tormod, the Desecrator IS Open the Graves stapled to a Zombie. I think Open the Graves is fine, but it comes down for one too many mana compared to the creature version you can actually play directly out of your graveyard.
That does it for this precon upgrade! If you like Upgrading the Table, sound off! Let me know on socials @mikecarrozza.
Thanks for reading!