Right now, which is a combination that leads to decks showing up a lot. With yetis running rampant on the Solis landscape, it may just be feeding time for our undead friends. I’ve never seen what a Zombie Yeti looks like, but it’s high time we find out.
I designed this deck for the last Forge Watch Invitational Qualifier with the thought process being that many people are going to try to exploit the explosive nature of SolForge’s Abominable Snowmen. Needless to say, it was awesome to be able to play against Yetis four out my five matches during the swiss rounds and secure myself a spot in the Top 16. It was an equally amazing feeling to see RampingShop, a regular viewer of my stream, also take these resilient undead wonders to the Top 8.
Let’s take a look at my deck, “Byzerakian Zombies” and its various components.
3 Zimus, The Undying
3 Everflame Phoenix
3 Xrath, Dreadnight Of Varna
3 Xrath’s Will
3 Byzerak Spitemage
3 Darkshaper Savant
3 Blight Walker
3 Vyric’s Embrace
3 Corpulent Shambler
I started with Alloyin as my second faction and although it was great against Yeti’s, it had issues with Nekrium/Tempys control. I expected the control deck to also be big at the qualifier, and in fact was tied with Yetis as the most popular deck during this tournament, so I was happy I made the switch..
After trying many different cards such as Keeper of the Damned, Shallow Grave, Ebonskull Knights and even Omnomnom, this is the list that brought me the most success in the constructed queues against both Yeti decks and Nekrium/Tempys control. There is always room for improvements in any deck and cards within a deck can shift in or out depending on the metagame. In a metagame filled with Yetis and control, however, I was happy with the tools and consistency that my zombies list gave me.
Zimus, Patient Zero
Zimus, The Undying is most likely patient zero, or the first zombie on Solis considering he starts as a simple human soldier, then evolves into very resilient undead creature. Playing Zimus is typically a very high priority for me when using this deck because if he is not leveled he can make Xrath’s Will much weaker, since you can only use the bonus play for his level two or three version. In some matches where Will isn’t powerful, though, then it’s okay to not level Zimus aggressively; however, it’s seldom a bad choice to level the most incredible zombie that is currently in the game. That being said, there are times when an opponent is far ahead early and you can’t afford to play a weak creature at level one.
Every Day I’m Shambling…
Corpulent Shambler is one of my favorite commons in RoTF and for good reason. It is a versatile creature that can be used offensively and defensively. Talking to many other players in the community, some feel that this should be an Ebonskull Knight. If the 8/8 monster was a zombie, I would probably agree with them. But the fact is that the Shambler already is similar to the Ebonskull in terms of being able to deal eight damage to a creature. The level two of Shambler is weaker than the Ebonskull level two when thinking about how much damage it can potentially deal to one creature, but the level three Shambler once again matches the vampire knight’s damage output.
The Shambler can buy you time against large threats, and your opponents typically don’t want to waste a Spitemage on him like they would on an Ebonskull. The Shambler also doesn’t fall prey to the negative rank up ability, making the Shambler a perfect fit for “Byzerakian Zombies”.
Shambler has served me well against Nekrium/Tempys Control because my opponents have to choose between leveling their bombs or removal, and usually they level the bombs, allowing Shambler to run them over in the early game. If they opt to use their non-level gated removal early to take out Shamblers and his zombie remnants they usually aren’t leveling the bombs to secure them the victory in the late game. The only places where Shambler is really weak is in a zombie mirror or against Grimgaunt Predators, where giving an opponent a Xrath’s Will target or giving the Predator unnecessary food can be counterproductive.
Byzerak or Bust
Byzerak Spitemage is a must for any Nekrium/Tempys deck, but in zombies she is even more potent because her allied ability will trigger 99% of the time. The Spitemage is another versatile tool in the deck. Like the Shambler, Spitemage can be used defensively to stop a threat or offensively to chip away at your opponent’s health. Due to her level gated nature, she is also a card that has a high leveling priority in the deck, but if you can’t level the Spitemage for whatever reason, hse still can chip away at an opponent’s flesh during late game in an open lane.
Blight Walker is an interesting card in the deck and is primarily for Yetis. This is one slot that I feel isn’t as necessary for all matches. You could use other cards, but with there being little removal in the deck outside of Will and Spitemage, Blight Walker fits well. If I did not use this walking removal, I probably would use an Ebonskull Knight or Flame Lance. These would reduce the Zombie synergies in the deck, but having more non-level gated removal can help in certain matchups. Blight Walker is really weak underleveled, while Ebonskull and Flame Lance are both good tools even if you can’t play them early. For now, I’m sticking with the Zombie theme.
Xrath, The Other Dark Meat
Xrath, Dreadnight of Varna is a great card in keeping zombies around and applying board pressure. He makes Darkshapers, Shamblers and Walkers stay on the board much longer than they otherwise could. I always try to level at least one of these guys during the course of the game. If a Zombie ever comes around with very high health in later sets, Xrath will be even more powerful. Using Xrath, with Epidemics and Vyric’s embrace can help a player get more use out of his regeneration ability and enabling his Will to put more zombies in play.
Shape Up Or Ship Out
DarkShaper Savant can be a zombie that seems difficult to play in the early player levels, but once you start playing her early, she can net a lot of value later. Her ability to smooth out bad draws late game, while enabling Xrath’s Will can send your opponents to an early grave. Getting to play more than one underleveled card with Will can often nuke the opponent’s entire board while a Darkshaper is in play. She also has the largest body of all the zombies, along with Xrath, so pairing her with a Dreadknight can help keep early board position.
To Will Or Not To Will? That is the Question.
Xrath’s Will is the “Go to” removal in this deck but knowing when and when not to play it can be tricky. If you have a zombie in hand and can use it with Vyric’s Embrace or Epidemic, it is generally okay since you aren’t really losing a play and can still play zombies. If you don’t see Wills or can’t play them, it isn’t the end of the zombie apocalypse because you can still have other late game bombs like Zimus or Phoenix to fall back on.
Other Zombie Enablers
Vyric’s Embrace, Epidemics and Everflame Phoenix are very useful in this deck for different reasons. Playing Embrace and Epidemic can help you get back in the game when you’re behind, and can also enable your Xrath’s Wills later in the game. Epidemic and Embrace are both especially good against swarm decks, since they can keep them from filling their lanes and give you the extra health you need to stay alive.
Phoenix helps keep pressure in early game while giving you a late game threat that is usually enough to push through the last bit of damage required for the win. You never really need to play the level two Phoenix unless having that bomb around is necessary for a late game finish. If I am not too far behind in a game, I will soft level the level two Phoenix, essentially just discarding it from my hand.
Alternative Zombie Deathstyle
Like Yetis, Zombies is an easy deck to build and doesn’t require many legendary cards to do so. Group meal is a valid alternative and can help zombies be more aggressive. If you want to try a non-legendary build, you can try Umbruk Glider to take the place of the Everflame Phoenix as a mobile beater and Fell Walker to substitute Zimus, The Undying. Grimgaunt Predator is also a solid option for a mobile beater that keeps on beating.
The End Is Nigh
Will Zombies be a good pick for the next tournament? There is no way to know for sure, but as long as many people play Yetis, this archetype will be in a good place to help combat those frozen furry fellows. Good Luck and I wish all those who try this archetype much success in future tournaments.