Cook’s Kitchen – Disconnected

Cook’s Kitchen – Disconnected

About a month ago my schedule at work changed, my cozy 8:30am-5pm was shifted back an hour for the holidays. This meant getting out of work at six. Did management not know that almost all Magic events start at that time? How inconsiderate! Well… I still have the benefit of Legacy on Thursday nights starting at six thirty. But that’s not the point! I went from playing in four events a week to one or none. I’m going through a big withdrawal.

“Why don’t you just MODO?”

It seems like a simple solution, however, it’s not. I’m a graphic designer, in my profession we use a lot of Adobe products. These programs just happen to be more efficient on a MAC. I went through a handful of PC platform laptops in high school and college until I broke down and bought my MacBook Pro. I don’t have a preference between the two operating systems – I actually work on a PC at work. Some Dell desktop that has been super suited-up (Quad core plus some other things) by the IT guy and sometimes I still notice the lag. For the price they spent on that desktop they could’ve bought multiple 26-inch iMacs. But at this point, I’m just going off topic.

Want to know what’s ridiculous? MODO has been around for almost ten years and there still isn’t a version for Mac users. While I understand that a large portion of the nerd population uses Windows based operation systems, there’s no love for IOS? Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, or whoever need to make a change in this. I’ve considered buying another crappy Dell laptop just so I had the option of MODO. However, that’s all that laptop would be used for. Another option would be to split my hard drive in half and convert half of it to windows. I don’t like this option, I need all of the space I have currently. Giving away half of the hard drive to run a program on a different platform seems ridiculous to me. There should just be a better alternative.

Lastly, there’s something called parallels. I have never seen it in action or know much about the program, perhaps it’s something to look into.

Well to sum it up, I don’t MODO.

It was time to reevaluate me my options. I had already tried to just be content with playing the one Legacy event per week and sticking to my normal schedule. This left me incredibly bored after the first week, I found myself looking at even more deck lists and coverage trying to engage more with the game. This was a decent option but it was only slightly more entertaining than not playing. Although, it has been beneficial! I’ve really expanded my knowledge of the current standard metagame; What cards really define match-ups, and what decks have become better or worse in the last few weeks.

Standard is really at a flux right now, the best deck keeps changing every week. All of this analyzing has caused me to change decks! I was dead set on playing UW Flash this weekend in Baltimore until I saw the rise of Zombies over the last two weeks at their respective Grand Prix. It just doesn’t seem wise to play a counter magic based deck when over the past two weeks the deck that has won the last two standard Grand Prix plays four copies of Cavern of Souls. Even without Cavern, the UW Flash match-up against Zombies wasn’t that strong to begin with. There was very little life gain and all of the answers were temporary against a very fast clock. Supreme Verdict is actually very bad against the undead horde due to Undying, recurring, and Haste creatures.

Sphinx's RevelationTemporary answers and Supreme Verdict happen to describe another very popular deck of the moment – BANT control. Zombies happens to run that deck over, although, BANT does have the benefit of running four Thragtusk and four Sphinx’s Revelation. Making it slightly, but not a whole lot, better against Zombies. I’ve come to realize from looking at deck lists so much recently that these BANT decks can’t beat a Slaughter Games naming Thragtusk. At this point the win conditions left in their deck are two Augur of Bolas, one Angel of Serenity, and a single Nephalia Drownyard. A horde of zombies should be able to overcome the likes of those.

While we’re on the topic of Zombies, I’ve brought back the Zombie Horde for Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander. Those of you that don’t know what the Zombie Horde is, you can read more about it here. Dan Rae did a pretty good job of describing the format and presenting the basics.

When I was spending all of that time analyzing deck lists and watching coverage I wanted a way to be able to physically interact with my cards. This caused me to work on my casual decks – Godo, Bandit Warlord, Kresh, the Blood Braided, and the Zombie Horde. What I found from Dan’s initial Zombie Horde list was that it was rather easy to beat with competitive decks. I’ve spent the last week or so perfecting this list, while I feel there might still be a hidden gem out there somewhere – it’s close to being 100% optimal.

Zombie Horde


100 Zombie Tokens 20 Zombie Giant Tokens

1 Gravecrawler

1 Dregscape Zombie

1 Rotting Rats

1 Fleshbag Marauder

1 Rotlung Reanimator

1 Death Baron

1 Zombie Master

1 Unbreathing Horde

1 Geralf’s Messenger

1 Adaptive Automaton

1 Stitched Drake

1 Shambling Remains

1 Diregraf Captain

1 Haakon, Stromgald Scourge

1 Anathemancer

1 Dreg Mangler

1 Skaab Ruinator

1 Waning Wurm

1 Viscera Dragger

1 Cackling Fiend

1 Vengeful Dead

1 Graveborn Muse

1 Undead Warchief

1 Grave Defiler

1 Soulless One

1 Ashen Ghoul

1 Nim Devourer

1 Nested Ghoul

1 Noxious Ghoul

1 Tattered Drake

1 Vulturous Zombie

1 Relentless Skaabs

1 Dread Slaver

1 Lightning Reaver

1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

1 Twisted Abomination

1 Grixis Slavedriver

1 Grave Titan

1 Skaab Goliath

1 Brass Herald

1 Maalfeld Twins

1 Sedris, the Traitor King

1 Tresserhorn Skyknight

1 Thraximundar

1 Sutured Ghoul

1 Terrus Wurm

1 Ghoultree

1 Cover of Darkness

1 Intimidation

1 Tombstone Stairwell

1 Endless Ranks of the Dead

1 Call to the Grave

1 Bad Moon

1 Death Pit Offering

1 Grave Betrayal

1 Bottomless Pit

1 Necrogen Mists

1 Gibbering Descent

1 Strength of Night

1 Eldrazi Monument

1 Coat of Arms

1 Door of Destinies

1 Akroma’s Memorial

1 Minions’ Murmurs

1 Distant Melody

1 Siphon Mind

1 Siphon Flesh

1 Barter in Blood

1 Small Pox

1 Innocent Blood

1 Delirium Skeins

1 Empty the Catacombs

1 Living Death

1 Zombie Apocalypse

1 Patriarch’s Bidding

1 Twilight’s Call

1 Reap the Seagraf

1 Moan of the Unhallowed

1 Army of the Damned

1 Plague Wind

One of the first things to notice in my changes is that it’s literally double the amount of cards! Yes, that means it has two-hundred zombies. Beating it is a much more difficult task, especially considering the added creatures that recur every turn. There are a few slight differences as well.

  • My Zombie Horde is highlander as it should be, much like the format it was created for. I don’t know why this wasn’t addressed when the format was created.
  • There are creatures that were added with costs required, Skaab Ruinator, Ashen Ghoul, Nin Devourer, amongst others. These abilities or spells that require a decision such as sacrificing a creature will always target the smallest token first until it’s forced to target the largest token, before sacrificing a non-token creature. Once at that point the smallest power creature well be sacrificed. You’ll get the idea.
  • Spells or abilities that the horde controls that would only affect a single creature the Horde controls, target the largest creature. (See: Scavenge)
  • Creatures with Regeneration have a continuous Regeneration Shield on them.
  • Spells with Flashback or creatures that come into play from the graveyard are recast or put to play the turn after they go to the graveyard.
  • Drawn cards, cards returned to hand, and put into hand are cast. (See: Minion’s Murmors, Empty the Catacombs, Grave Defiler)
  • If a spell or ability causes life-loss to the zombie horde, mill cards equal to the life-loss.

I think I have everything covered, if anyone has any questions feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as possible.

Aside from the Horde, I’ve really been taking into consideration some of the cards that have been a problem for my Godo, Bandit Warlord Commander deck. I knew that the deck had a couple of glaring holes. If a card could stop me from attacking, it was incredibly difficult to answer since Argentum Armor is the deck’s primary answer to most situations. Argentum Armor doesn’t stop an Ensnaring Bridge or and it’s certainly difficult to find Argentum Armor when Nevermore is naming Godo. I needed to make some changes to actually improve the deck’s problems, being able to race every hate card is nice. But actually being able to answer them is nice too – Something I’ve learned from TES. Before I added anything I wanted a strong understanding of what would be leaving first, it’s important to make sure that the cards you’re adding aren’t inherently worse.

Ensnaring BridgeI began to look at what was underperforming and there were three culprits, the first being Chrome Mox. Godo wants to play all of the most powerful acceleration that it can, while still playing the most optimal cards possible. Chrome Mox is no longer optimal for Godo – the reason being that Godo only plays nineteen colored spells! That’s actually less than a fifth of the deck. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out but the card needed to leave. All is Dust is a card that I know the deck could use effectively with only 19 colored spells after all, with less than half of them being permanents. It manages to hit cards like Planeswalkers without having to attack them as well as cards like Nevermore or Runed Halo. The problem was that it didn’t hit Ensnaring Bridge which has been a prime suspect. Spine of Ish-Sah is a reasonable option, even if it is a little high on the mana cost. It’s a catch-all removal spell in a red deck. The slot could easily be another red artifact destruction spell, but it wouldn’t be as versatile and it has the added bonus of hitting Iona, Shield of Emeria! After a lot of consideration I decided that Tectonic Break was the weakest card in the deck. It’s only good when you’re ahead, making the card pretty much the definition of win-more. While it hurt to cut a land destruction spell, it only made sense to add a card with a different effect. The last change was a change that I’ve been putting off for financial reasons, I simply just didn’t want to break down and buy a foil Crucible of Worlds. Foriysian Totem was the card to leave, initially a card to provide a body after Godo was put onto the bottom of the Library or uncastable due to manacost. It was just never necessary and only saw an activation when I was already winning. These changes brought me to my most current list below:

As you can tell by now, there are ways to stay involved with the game even when you are feeling disconnected. I chose to delve into Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander as a way to physically be able to interact with cardboard. But I also helped improve my game by getting a better look at the most rapidly changing format in the game right now – Standard. It’s important to stay sharp and keep your skills intact, becoming rusty is the last thing that any competitive Magic player wants to do. I hope to see and meet some of you at SCG: Baltimore this weekend!
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource

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