Pontiff of Blight: Aside from being forgotten in the list, it's expensive for an effect that I've never seen work well in an EDH deck. Usually it ends up using valuable mana that could be used elsewhere in the turn. Your Mileage may Vary
Corpse Connoisseur: Overcosted for what he does. You can get the same effect for only 2B with Buried Alive which will cost you 6 less total and still get you 1 more creature into your graveyard.
Withered Wretch: I've been running this card on and off for about 10 years now since it's release in Legions. It is a very situation card that rely's on the cards in your opponent's deck, which reduced the consistency and control. Another card that half the time would turn into a dead draw. Another Mileage May Vary
Filth: You've already got Zombie Master in the deck. Although this is a sac creature, you're better off putting something else in there. Both a reliant on Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to use the swampwalk ability, and Zombie MAster also grants regeneration.
Liliana's Reaver: Yes it is nice that the creature has deathtouch, but as I have found with some of the Swords of X and Y, triggered abilities reliant on dealing combat damage to players tend to be very hit and miss. It's easy to chump block him and then use removal, or give up a low costing 3/whatever creature, or block with any creature with First Strike. It may depend on your meta, but overall the card isn't a reliable token generator. The same can be said for Sword of Body and Mind. It may fit into your mill theme, but it's very easy to keep them from dealing combat damage.
The big thing about Deathtouch is it really is more of a defensive ability. It's much more of an attacker deterrent if your opponent has some big or important creatures. For that reason it still may be good to keep Liliana's Reaver, but remove Corpse Blockade. Relying on sacrificing a creature that could be used as another blocker isn't the best idea. I'd recommend keeping one or the other.
On Pontiff: My group still has not gotten the hint on playing any targeted land destruction, so the ability to swing life totals in my favor with a single spell, and keeping my head above water from Shepherd of Rot keeps it from being cut, for now. As you said, results may vary. If I wasn't running a token build (this grimgrin build has changed paths many times) I would surely switch it out for Geth, Lord of the Vault or Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.
On Connoisseur: You're absolutely right. I was fond of the creature when I ran a reanimator build of Grimgrin, but now that I'm not Buried Alive is the superior and still on theme choice! Great suggestion!
On Withered Wretch: My meta is graveyard medium I would say, so I would prefer to keep the little guy in. He's a nice mana dump when I need it as well. Though, now saying it, I would probably prefer a Tormod's Crypt or Nihil Spellbomb late game. Then again, it may kill some of the potential on cards like Coffin Queen and Havengul Lich. I will look into this card further in future games.
On Filth: Now that buried alive is in the deck, I REALLY want to keep Filth around. Yes I already have Zombie Master in the deck, but redundency is great in EDH, as we both know. Black is also the most popular color in my meta, so the swampwalk is great for turning the tide mid to late game. However, if you have an alternative for Filth, please let me know!
On Reaver: A reliable token generator Liliana's Reaver is not. A few more games after my initial post with him and, as you said, it is easy to chump block him without the sword in play. I'm actually contemplating running Havengul Runebinder in it's place. The effect is similar to Cemetery Reaper, and the card at first glance looks harmless enough that it may fly under the radar.
On DHG: Diabolic Intent is a nice card, didn't even know about it until now! I'd rather play the house guard with my current build now, as the cards I usually look for cost 4 anyway. Diabolic Tutor is just too plain in my opinion to run, and having a repeatable sac outlet puts the skeleton above it. However if I ever acquire the intent, it will surely find a place in this deck!
On Desires: Yes, I'm going to miss this card as a poor man's Phyrexian Arena. However, now that Dark Prohpecy has been spoiled I'm not sure if I should run the Arena, Prophecy, or both! I will test them both and see which I prefer. Until then, because I have a spare copy lying around...
Thraximundar is actually my friend's pet general, and for that reason I decided to turn away the potential that Red gives this strategy. I'd probably run Dralnu's Crusade and make a janky goblin zombie hybrid deck. I also love Grimgrin as a sac outlet, though I could very well just run him in the 99 instead of at the helm.
and because of this, I would like to remove the wraths from my opponents hands entirely. Lifebane is more easily abusable than Appetite, though it was excellent when it worked. Different card, different restrictions, so we'll see how this guy plays out.
@ Riven Good call on the Phyrexian Altar. It'll also help generate colored mana for the Pontiff when needed. There aren't many problem lands in my meta, and with Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter, and the new Encroaching Wastes, I'd rather use those than slow and not so sure Helldozer. I had it in one of my first Grimgrin builds and it underperformed every time. Not for lack of mana, but it was just too slow for what I wanted now. A threat, yes. An answer, not quite. 9 Mana with a form of haste is just not fast enough in my opinion.
The jar is great wrath insurance, allowing me to grab something out of my deck, and I'm hoping Dark Prophecy will grant me the same thing at the cost of a bunch of life. While not as useful as a straight up tutor, I have found it's reusability very valuable. Mimic Vat is a card I haven't put in the deck, but have definitely thought of. I may try it out after I do more tests with Havengul Runebinder, which is completely useless early game, but very interesting mid to late game especially after a wipe.
Havengul Runebinder I dislike due to having to exile your own creature. Zombies and black in general run a whole lot of graveyard return, so exiling them tends to hamper returning cards. Also, due to the +1/+1 counters, Mikaeus's Undying won't trigger.
8 cards have been taken out:
I like Grim Return more, and I already have Coffin Queen for the same effect. Both have the same CMC, the NOW effect (although Necromancy's is more versatile), but when used as an instant, Necromancy kills the creature at EoT. While less versatile, Grim Return lets the creature stay longer (if it's mine) and wastes a removal (if it's an opponents). Having the creature an opponent controls go back to their graveyard for more shennanigans should happen less often with the Return.
Was only using it to grab the missing Urborg/Coffers piece anyway, wanted something a little more interactive.
-Shepherd of Rot and Rooftop Storm
A certain other enchantment has been overperforming for me, so having the Shepherd out has actually killed me more times than creating ties. Rooftop goes out because I never enjoy playing into an "oops I win" combo. It may find a place in here again, but for now I need a break from it.
Drawing it early game sucks because sometimes I don't have double U, and I'm not running a grand reanimator suite to make full use of it.
Some games it feels like I have too many sac outlets in the deck, so out it goes. If I need another one back in the deck afterall, Nantuko Husk will probably get it's slot instead.
Was in the original build, taken out, and is now put back in after much consideration with the new legend rule. The idea of having two Undead Warchiefs out makes me feel that removing Rooftop Storm will be worth it.
+Patriarch's Bidding and Nihil Spellbomb
Wanted another mass reanimate effect. With the addition of this and the spellbomb, I should be able to come out on top most of the time.
Since the Rooftop is out and with it, some (maybe all?) of the "oops I win" combos are gone. So, Polluter joins the ranks of the undead. Repeatable with the few graveyard to hand effects I have, and pitchable to the Runebinder when needed.
Good stuff. Should stop some enemy combos for at least one turn.
+Dark Prophecy (yes I know I added this last time, but after testing I need to comment on it)
This enchantment has made quite the impact in my games! It makes every sac outlet I have better, grabs fuel from boardwipes, grabs three cards with Skullclamp, and makes Grimgrin that much better. Drawing a card off of a resolved Fleshbag Marauder makes me very happy. Some downsides are that sometimes after a boardwipe or a healthy amount of sac effects, I have a large discard to throw in the graveyard, which makes me a nice GY nuke target. However, this also makes Zombie Apocalypse and Patriarch's Bidding that much better. Another downside is that a large Tombstone Stairwell makes this card very scary very fast, so that's something I now consider when playing games. Prophecy has prevented some boardwipes and caused some others to knock me out of the game, which is fine by me. This is definitely a card I need to get in foil, and I HIGHLY recommend that anyone playing Grimgrin should try this out in addition to or as a swap for Phyrexian Arena in some cases.
1: It has the potential to prevent grave robbery.
2: Having a 1/1 counter on all of my zombies is better than gaining three 2/2s at times
3: Opponent's creatures are less of a factor when I have a swampwalk effect.
It's still iffy, so if I don't like it I may just end up finding a Mikaeus, the Unhallowed or grabbing a copy of Coat of Arms I have lying around. While neither of them create tokens, I have found that the semi-anthem effect of the runebinder can make one hell of a difference in games. I could also add Eldrazi Monument, which works well because of how Tombstone Stairwell is worded.
- How has your ramp been? Last time I had my Geth Zombie deck running, I really felt the 5cc spot was stuffed and I couldn't get the mana fast enough...or once I did, I was limited to 1 spell per turn. Corpse Harvester really seems to be the only excellerant outside of rocks. What have you done to mitigate this slowness found to be withing zombie builds?
- How has your ramp been? Last time I had my Geth Zombie deck running, I really felt the 5cc spot was stuffed and I couldn't get the mana fast enough...or once I did, I was limited to 1 spell per turn. Corpse Harvester really seems to be the only excellerant outside of rocks. What have you done to mitigate this slowness found to be withing zombie builds?
Don't know how to multiquote so sorry for the long post, thanks for commenting though!
Rotting Rats and Black Cat
I have been hit with these to great effect against a friends Micky mono B combo deck. The single discard effect without a means to combo out with seems pretty lackluster. However, if you were somehow able to get the opponent to discard a creature that you could later reanimate, I can see it. If I were running a discard effect like that, I would probably run Syphon Mind instead, if only for the card draw. If this were run as a duel deck, I'd probably run both.
Extremely difficult to pull off. I have tried, and it's only really worth it if you have either a First Stike or Deathtouch enabler with it. Otherwise, you trade a blocker for whatever you just killed. Oddly enough, Grave Betrayal and it's synergy with Call to the Grave and Grave Pact have been much easier to pull off. Even though it's more mana and multiple cards, they are a lot more reliable and great stand alones than having the Slaver. I want it to be good, so maybe in a deck with Lure like effects or the Fight mechanic would make it a bigger threat.
Geth, Lord of the Vault
It does seem like a must, but I have NOT been able to find one locally. I'll eventually buy it online, but I always try to buy locally first. Gotta support local business! Yes he would be fanastic, if only to grab artifacts from my opponents graveyard. It's synergy with Undead Alchemist alone should give it a slot. I haven't been able to pull or trade for one since it's release way back when, and I've been meaning to grab one. Thanks for the reminder!
If I were running more single reanimator effects, I would probably use it. I have thought about the idea of running this alongside Blood Scrivener for the zombie token every turn, but it seemed too cute. In a Sedris deck, I would definitely give it a try.
Rite of Replication
It didn't even occur to me to play this card! Getting tons of anthem effects from a single lord sounds oh so good. Compulsive Research may be getting the boot for this. I have considered playing one or two more counterspells, as well as Brainstorm (get it? Braaaiiiinnnstorm) as other blue card choices, and I will now add this to the consideration!
Card Draw: Skullclamp and the newly added Dark Prophecy have given me enough card draw for the past 10 or so games, but I'm always considering adding more card draw. Taking out Careful Consideration recently, I always hated paying four (and double U to boot) for a net two cards. In a reanimator build, yes I'd replay it. As of now, the card draw doesn't seem to be a problem, but if it continued I would either add Rhystic Study or Phyrexian Arena, because I love enchantments.
It seems to be a problem for us then. Getting to 5 used to be a problem for me, so I added two more rocks and an accelerator (Dimir Cluestone, Sol Ring, Spectral Searchlight recently removed), and started using the Alara fetchlands because they at worst tap for a colorless mana before thinnning my deck. Cards like Jhessian Zombies and Twisted Abomination aren't actually bad for ramp. Pitch 'em for Swamps or Islands, and reuse them with Lord of the Undead and Ghoulcaller's Chant. If you're still having trouble, I would either up your land count, 36-37 is what I usually run (36 here I believe), and if you have some other fetch lands Grim Discovery isn't a bad option to get more of the above interactions.
I think everyone who was reading this thread saw this coming. For what I want to do, it's not good enough. It's half a lord, costs 7 to use if it has haste (which it never has), and usually gets to pump once before a wipe. I tried too hard to make it work, but at least I tried. In a deck with self mill and a zombie sub theme, I can maybe see this working as some sort of combo card or something. Also it wasn't a zombie, so good riddance.
With my recent removing of Rooftop Storm, it usually just becomes a 4/4 or larger beater with the ability of reanimating something. I'd rather spend my mana on doing other things during my turn, and without the "zombie in your graveyard for 1" effect that almost never happened with RTS it gets the boot. Shame, Zombie Wizard is my favorite creature type, but Coffin Queen is still around with an exile effect tacked on.
Just didn't do what I wanted it to. Not sure what I was thinking, as I can deal with most creatures anyway.
I'm having a lot of fun with the new power of Evil Twin from the legend changes, being able to either copy a releveant lord or the best creature on the board. Figured I might as well add another clone that can copy an artifact. I mean have you SEEN that new Theros Legendary Artifact Enchantment? If those decide to pop up in games you can bet I'll try to copy it.
+Rite of Replication
Suggested by GFireflyE, and assuming I'm going to love another version of Evil Twin in the form of the metamorph, I'm going to love getting five copies.
Whenever I have it in my hand, I'm glad to see Soul Manipulation. I can't find my copy of Spell Crumple, but I'd be tempted to only use it on generals most of the time, so I'lll play good old counterspell for my own sake.
There are three new blue cards in the place of two, two of those replacements being double blue. Not sure how my manabase is going to change as a result, but if it does I'll be back with changes.
Looking through Archangel29's Grimgrin, Chaos Marine deck (which you can find here if it ever falls behind the first page http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=398281) I am considering adding Fact or Fiction in the place of Compulsive Research. FoF digs deeper, but letting my opponents split things into piles always makes me uneasy. It would be nicer to have a larger reanimation with either of the two I currently play, but having things I can't currently get back from the graveyard (like enchantments and artifacts) getting pitched would be painful. Does FoF still work great in builds that are not reanimator heavy?
After some discussion with Archangel and other talks with some friends, the deck will be going through some changes. I have ordered a selection cards and have pending trades for some others, but here is what is happening when the order comes:
Getting to five mana on turn four means Grimgrin can come out earlier. I was debating the inclusion of this over Worn Powerstone, or running both. I have decided that running Sol Ring alongside the relic will give me enough chances of a turn 4 Grimgrin without clogging up my deck with rocks late game. Getting him out on turn 4 isn't that much of a priority either, but the colored mana should help regardless.
I've been drawing the Marauder a lot late game, and the deck has a lot of draw power right now. There have also been some token decks running around, so I think it's time to upgrade.
+Repay in Kind
While more expensive, Repay doesn't have the restrictions of requiring zombies in play for it to work. I always want to cycle the Polluter, and when there's an empty board and this thing staring at me it feels like a waste of a slot. As stated before, Repay will pair well with Dark Prophecy and Shepherd of Rot (which will find it's way back in the deck soon). Cycling the Polluter may kill one player, but Repay has a better chance of bringing the entire game to an end.
I decided to buy a Sovereign to see how it would play out. It was always a consideration during the initial deck building process, but it never found it's way into the deck. Sheoldred, Whispering One could be a better fit for the deck, but it's not a zombie and there's a chance that with all of the tokens I will have that I can activate Gravespawn multiple times per round. Another use for those Tombstone Stairwell tokens will be nice. Jhessian Zombies gets to stay only for the added Islandcycling.
+Fact or Fiction
Being instant means that I can activate it at EOT on an opponent's turn. I have also decided that digging for 5 and pitching a few is more productive than doing a raw draw of three off of Concentrate. It also costs 4, which is another thing to consider when I transmute Dimir House Guard, though I don't know if FoF will be a likely target.
The Harvester kinda slow unless I can cheat him into play, and even with the addition of the TYE it would cost 7 mana to drop and sac a creature to grab another and land. Also very lackluster late game. Not what I want to be doing most of the time, so out it goes for the Monument.
Here are the rest of the cards that I have coming in through trades and the mail:
Another update. While I have not received the rest of the cards yet, I have decided what will be taken out for the remaining cards.
-Dralnu, Lich Lord
+Geth, Lord of the Vault
After some consideration, Geth brings a much bigger impact on the board than Dralnu. Even with the ability to give flashback to an instant or sorcery in my graveyard, the Lich Lord is sometimes a dead draw if I don't have anything in the graveyard. While it is nice to be able to replay cards like Rite of Replication and Counterspell, Geth makes an immediate impact on the board by being able to steal milled artifacts and creatures the turn it drops without the aid of other cards. Geth can also win games by himself, and as I'm delving more on the side of milling for profit instead of milling to win I may consider cards like Sepulchral Primordial and Memory Plunder more often in the future. Snapcaster Mage and Yawgmoth's Will are also cards I have considered to put in Dralnu's place, but I have neither.
+Shepherd of Rot
I really only grab a few targets with the Chant anyway, and I believe it was just in here because it had the word "zombie" in it. Lord of the Undead works just fine for that effect and has an anthem as well. Shepherd of Rot finds itself in the deck again to bring games to a close, and works well on the back of Dark Prophecy (which I seem to have a fascination for).
With the addition of Geth and Gravespawn Soveregin I find myself using my opponents' graveyards more ofthen than I used to. Only one of the decks in my meta utilizes their graveyard heavily, so I don't have a real need for a tomb effect. I may miss one sided Living Deaths, but I think the value of Brainstorm will benefit me during more games. I also will never be happy not to draw it.
Nantuko Husk is not in the deck yet, but I am putting Dimir House Guard on a watch list now to see if I am either using him more as a tutor, sac outlet, or a body. If I had a copy of Phyrexian Altar I'd make the switch immedietly.
I am hoping that the versatilty of the Vat will outshine the girth of the Horde. It was nice to have a blocker that wouldn't die every once in a while, but chumping a token accomplishes the same task. There was also the mill for a good chunk with Altar of Dementia, but that was more of a corner case scenario. The Vat with Evil Twin is just one of the many scenarios that I look forward to. Kill a targetable creature for 3UB every turn? Yes please.
Here are some other changes that I have made:
Skinrender is more abuseable, but with the addition of Shepherd of Rot I feel a little lifegain is in order. With Grimgrin out I can usually control what remains on the otherside of the board, so the Vapors should (in theory) be able to take out what I left behind, and again on the rebound. If I feel like I need more lifegain, I may look elsewhere while still trying to be on theme.
+Black Sun's Zenith
I'd rather have Damnation, but BSZ gets around indestructables, has a chance of not killing Grimgrin, and shuffles back into my deck for further use. While Plague Wind was nice, I want to lower my curve.
I would also like to switch out Dimir Aqueduct and Rogue's Passage for Tolaria West and either Unholy Grotto or Volrath's Stronghold. The passage doesn't matter as much in games where I'm swinging with tokens. For grimgrin's sake, the Kamigawa Legendary Lands do the job just fine, as do the swampwalk enablers. The Aqueduct needs to go because it slows me down. While there is a chance to bounce Bojuka Bog, it almost never happens.
Sweet list, though. I might try my own hand at the deck, I'll post it if I do.
I was going to push away Trailblazer, but after some thinking it would be a great inclusion because I could tap my excess tokens to make sure others get through. Noted!
This deck isn't as Graveyard based as it could be (or used to be), but those are all excellent choices for that type of strategy. Thanks for taking a look, much appreciated. If you do post it, drop me a message so I won't miss it!
I've done a few updates but I can't remember them all so I'll post them when I have time, as I've finally found work. With CMDR2013 around the corner I've been brewing a lot lately and have set aside focusing on making and updating all of my decks listed on MTGS. I'll probably pretty up the OP as well this weekend if I can find time.
With Born of the Gods fully spoiled, I'd figure I'd review some of the cards that may be useful in this deck.
Crypsis - In a deck that would use Grimgrin for Voltron purposes, I can see this being very useful as a way of untapping it and swinging big. It may also offer some protection to utility creatures like Coffin Queen and Cemetery Reaper.
Fated Infatuation - Three blue may be asking too much in my current build, but having another copy of my creature with the off chance of being able to Scry 2 is nothing to scoff at.
Champion of Stray Souls - In a build that's heavy on reanimation, this guy rocks. Might be too slow for some decks but if I rip a copy in my box I'll try it out.
Siren of the Silent Song - With all of this mill, maybe I will run more reanimation? Also a Zombie Siren is pretty neat, and it has flying?
Astral Cornucopia - I like flexible cards, and while I could run Gilded Lotus instead of this one, it is fetchable with Trinket Mage which is something to consider for those playing it. Won't be much of a dead draw late game either. I may test this one out if I want another mana rock.
I'm thinking this is going in my build, more for the hand disruption that the mill. But if it mills a good reanimation target, I'm all about that too.
With all of the awesome support for mill lately I am thinking of adjusting the deck to push more toward the mill plan to include things like more reanimation Sepulchral Primordial, Rise of the Dark Realms, Animate Dead, Necromancy, etc., and maybe that Sword of Body and Mind that I've been on the fence about for years. I also still can't get over the fact that the siren has flying! With enough support it definitely has the potential to do some damage, and it's begging to be a beater.
Between the two boxes I had purchased, one for my friend's birthday and one of my own, we pulled every single card except the lion king, Chromanticore, and Kiora. With all of the new cards, I'm making a few changes to the deck and committing more to the mill and reanimation plan:
Out: Mimic Vat - It's a good card, but would perform better if I played more spot removal. Since it also exiles the creature, it doesn't help my reanimation suite any. The vat will probably find it's way into another deck.
Jar of Eyeballs - I love the flavor of this card, but I believe it's time to let go. Peforming as almost half of a tutor made this a hit or miss card in most games. Without a propor board presence, the Jar would ultimately fail as a source of card advantage/draw fixing.
Sword of Vengeance - I didn't want to remove this card for it's synergy with Grimgrin, but I needed to make room for newer cards that would open up other avenues for the rest of the deck. I'll be keeping it close by in case I want to throw it back in. For anyone playing Grimgrin as more of a voltron style, this card is nuts and I highly recommend it. Haste, Trample, and First Strike along with the extra power boost make it a very effective and often overlooked card when compared to the Swords of X and Y.
Dimir House Guard - Looking to cut down on tutor effects, so DHG may finally fall into retirement. The versatility of this card is amazing if you can utilize both of it's abilities, and I'm sad to see it go for this reason.
Counterspell - This card, however, I'm not sad to see go. I want more out of my counterspells and while I won't be replacing this with another of it's kind, I didn't like it anyway. Why play with what you don't like? Moving forward I will be looking for other counterspells like Soul Manipulation that have some versatility. Perhaps I will give Dimir Charm a try.
Lifebane Zombie - There's only one Green deck and two mono White decks in my meta, so this card really only worked when those decks played all at the same time. I also misread the card and realized it only hits creatures, which is a real bummer.
Black Sun's Zenith - Switching this out for a similar card that will have more synergy with the deck.
Now for the additions:
Servant of Tymaraet - I'm so happy I pulled this in foil! The Servant is another addition to my suite of life drain and gain cards. Being able to hit each opponent upon untap means I'll usually gain 3 life out of Inspired every time. Something I have noticed with my deck is that unless I have Zombie Tokens I normally don't swing with any creatures. Adding the Servant gives me another creature that I'll be glad to attack with, and the built in Regeneration makes this card a decent beater even at a 1/3.
Siren of the Silent Song - Another zombie with the Inspired mechanic, the Siren should help with hand disruption upon attack while simultaneously aiding the mill and reanimaiton routes I now have in the deck. Much like the Servant, this is another creature that I will be happy to turn sideways. I still find it odd that this is a Silent Siren, which doesn't make much sense to me from a flavor standpoint. The flying tacked onto this card is even more strange, but I won't complain about extra evasion.
Liliana's Reaver - I want to give this card another try. It gives me something scary to attack with and also has a chance to cause some hand disruption and give me more zombie tokens to play with. After experimenting with my Polukranos list below, I think I have a better understanding of how Deathtouch can work best in a number of scenarios.
Phenax, God of Deception - A VERY welcome addition to the mill suite in the deck. Undead Alchemist, meet your new best friend. I want to live the dream of having both of them out and milling the entire table. I have not been able to play with any gods yet, so I don't know if having Phenax as a creature would a good or bad thing.
Gild - Another new card I would like to try out as a spot removal option. While it does exile the creature, making my reanimation spells less effective, it's a permanent answer to problem creatures that also giving me one mana to work with. The only other black exile card I can think of is Sever the Bloodline, but I think this one will work better.
Animate Dead - It was this or Necromancy. It does miss out on the chance to be instant, but I find myself tapping out more often than not. I would like to play both, but currently I haven't found room yet or a card that I DON'T want to play with.
Toxic Deluge - The replacement for Black Sun's Zenith. I am hoping this card performs well with Repay in Kind. I'll only get one use out of it, but being able to pay 2B instead of XBB makes me feel a bit better about drawing it early game.
With the release of Born of the Gods the deck has evolved yet again to fit my current interests. Before closing this post, I want to profess my love for Grimgrin a bit. I've had Grimgrin as the general of this deck since it's release and it doesn't look like that will be changing any time soon. Having access to tribal, combo, voltron, control, and mill opens up a ton of possibilites for deck building, and I believe this is why Grimgrin is such a popular choice in Dimir colors. I'm sure the other Grimgrin players on MTGS feel the same way. To those of you who are looking for a general in BU to play the role in any of the playstyles above, I stronlgy urge you to at least consider Grimgrin, Corpse Born as your general.
Out Patriarch's Bidding - While still very good, I wanted to add a card to the deck that I've been dying to get a hold of since it's inception.
Gravespawn Sovereign - I can tap both of my inspired Zombies to help with it's activation, but it never got to go off as much as I wanted it to. Replacing this zombie with another, cheaper option I would like to test out.
Gild - Too expensive for it's effect. The artifact doesn't do much late game either.
Jhessian Zombies - I've always on the fence about this card. It comes back in and out from time to time, and with a lot of ways to bring it back to hand from the graveyard it can be a neat trick to grab lands from your deck. However it's not as useful on it's own, being a 2/4 for 6. It's only really useful for the land cycling ability, and I'm looking for something more.
In All Hallow's Eve - I finally have a copy of this card! It's damn cool with the 'scream' counters on it, and if it resolves it's going to happen no matter what. Our opponents get their creatures back as well, but there are plenty of ways to steal and/or remove them from the game before the last counter is removed.
Dimir Charm - I think someone mentioned this in a SCD, and it's got a few things going for it. First, it counters a sorcery spell, and most of the scary sorcery spells in this format are game enders. Genesis Wave for 20? I'll spend 2 to stop that, thanks. It can also kill a utility creature, or even Azami, Lady of Scrolls without protection. The last ability is actually useful in this deck, screwing with an opponent's next draw or forcefully throwing a useful creature into the graveyard for me to reanimate. Also, FNM foil version is very pretty.
Dance of the Dead - I would like to try this card out because I like the name and it's an older card that doesn't look like it sees a lot of play and it's another reanimation spell. Reanimate is a much stronger card (and i had forgot about it until now), but if this card doesn't completely suck I'll end up using it instead. I like the art on it too.
Unholy Grotto - Finally got a copy of this very on-theme land. Not much to say about it, good card is good.
Phyrexian Delver - I'm not sure how good this card will be, considering I don't have many or good enter the battlefield effects that I would like to use. Time and testing will tell if this card pulls it's weight enough to earn a slot.
+Agent of Erebos: Since committing more to the mill and reanimation plan, I find myself needing another graveyard nuke alongside Bojuka Bog and Nihil Spellbomb. I didn't believe the constellation effect until I had a copy of this card in hand, and in my opinion it's kind of ridiculous! There are enough enchantments in the deck that will trigger it's effect throughout the game.
And one more changeout:
-Phyrexian Delver: If I had better ETB triggers on my creatures, it would be a better card for this deck.
+Sword of Body and Mind: Mill 10, protection from Simic which will come in handy with all of the Kruphix decks that will undoubtedly pop up, and it gives Grimgrin something to eat.
Since the card's release, I've had a Grimgrin deck at my disposal since almost the very beginning of my EDH career. After making a plethora of tweaks, builds, strategies, and buying cards, I had the deck at a point where I was truly happy with it. Or so I thought. After a few games, I felt the deck had lost it's focus and had turned into a bunch of cards that I really enjoyed playing with, worked well with each other, but were trying to do too much at once. In an effort to keep the deck fresh and fun to pilot, I decided to rebuild my deck from the ground up. This new rendition of the deck takes advantage of Grimgrin's interactions between a few key cards, and is built on using him as much as possible by dropping him early, offering protection, and building around all of the abilities he has. This deck is not a voltron deck, nor does it require Grimgrin in play to perform well. With an understanding of what cards really work for me and which strategies work best (imo) with Grimgrin, this deck has, so far, performed as intended. I am set on not only making this deck and strategy better, but perfecting it; not perfection as in making the deck unbeatable, but making sure that every single card interacts with another in some way to make this a well oiled and ultimately easy and fun to pilot war machine. It is not meant to be oppressive, but it does attempt to remain strong through every stage of the game.
With all decks that are built around their chosen general, it is of utmost importance to fully understand each aspect that the face of your deck will bring to the table. This includes who your general is, what your general is to your strategy, and how vital they will be for the deck's success.
Starting from the beginning, The first card your opponents will see is the man in black (and blue). Grimgrin flies the Dimir colors, which should signal to your opponents that you may be up to some graveyard shenanigans, counterspells, creature destruction and sacrifice. I know in my own playgroup, the majority of players dislike Blue and immediately paint a target on my head, but your meta may vary. Grimgrin is a 5/5 Zombie Warrior with a CMC of 5. Having the creature type zombie and being in the Dimir colors opens up a ton of options for a zombie tribal build, so cards that support the zombie subtype will be welcome additions to the deck. The warrior subtype doesn't offer too much support in these colors, though there are special cases such as in the form of Obsidian Battle-Axe. From a Vorthosian perspectivem, it just means that Grimgrin is ready and able to duke it out on the battlefield. At a converted mana cost of 5 Grimgrin is able to come down during the end of the developmental stages of the game (early game). Utility creatures are abound, mana bases are making their way to optimal levels, and there hopefully aren't too many threats on the table yet. Because of this, people may be holding up removal, so it may be unsafe to drop the big guy on turn 5 without adequete protection. It's also worth mentioning that Grimgrin is only 2 power away from being a 3 hit kill, and given his abilities, which will be discussed below, makes him a respectable beater for his cost.
Abilities are what defines generals, and are usually the main reasons why they are selected in the first place. Grimgrin is no different for this build. The first ability reads: Grimgrin, Corpse-Born enters the battlefield tapped. This means that wherever Grimgrin enters the battlefield from, whether it's from the Graveyard, Library, Hand, Command Zone, Exile, or Blink, he will always enter sideways. This is a downside to Grimgrin, however there are ways around it. There are a plethora of untap effects out there such as Fatestitcher and Thousand-Year Elixir that can untap him with ease. However Grimgrin comes with a built in way to resolve this problem. His second ability reads: Sacrifice another creature: Untap Grimgrin and put a +1/+1 Counter on it. With enough things to eat, untapping Grimgrin shouldn't be a problem. In fact, this is a wonderful ability to have as it gives you vigilance provided you have enough snacks to satiate his hunger, and Grimgrin gets bigger every time you sac a creature with the ability. Token creators like Ophiomancer and Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder provide plenty of tokens for Grimgrin to eat. Creature tokens and creatures that are easy to recur or provide some benefit upon death are preferred. Grimgrin's last ability reads: Whenever Grimgrin attacks, sacrifice target creature defending player controls, then put a +1/+1 counter on Grimgrin. This means that upon the declaration of attack, Grimgrin acts as a kill spell while also beefing himself up, provided that there is a targetable opposing creature. Doing some simple math here, untapping Grimgrin with a creature, and then eating an opposing creature brings Grimgrin's power to the magical number 7.
What makes Grimgrin such a respectable choice for a general is the variety of directions you can take the deck, should you choose to build around him. Zombie Tribal, Mill, Combo, and Voltron are all viable paths to take when Grimgrin is in the hotseat. With all of that being said, I find I get the most out of him by using his second ability, killing off your own creatures to do various things throughout the game. It's very easy to go infinite with a few cards and make Grimgrin a 1 hit killing machine, but it's also not that hard to do it without going infinite (it also feels more rewarding for me when I have to work for it).
As stated above, there are a few cards to get around the ETB Tapped clause without resorting to sacrificing creature, but in my opinion you absolutely want to use the second ability as much as possible to get the most out of Grimgrin. That doesn't mean we can't include a few ways to cheat in an uptap effect or two, though. With that, we'll look at some key creatures that will help keep Grimgrin up and running.
Creatures that are self recurring or cards that produce tokens are excellent partners for Grimgrin to get him started.
Gravecrawler is Grimgrin's best friend. Sacrifice him to Grimgrin's 2nd ability, pay B to bring him back to the battlefield. Simple, yet effective. Reassembling Skeleton does the same for 1B, but does not require a zombie to be on the battlefield, and can be activated at instant speed if you need an untap immediately. Ogre Slumlord does some fine work in this deck. Everytime Grimgrin eats an opposing non token creature, you get a free 1/1 rat with deathtouch that you can either use as a blocker or to untap Grimgrin. Undead Alchemist turns your gameplan on it's head by making all of your combat damage to players from Zombies into mill. It's second ability means that whenever any creature enters the graveyard from the library, that creature is exiled and you get a 2/2 zombie token. This can quickly get out of control if unanswered, as not even Eldrazi or Colossus can stop you. Endrek Sahr's greatness comes from the fact that it can produce multiple token creatures per creature cast. The seven or more drawback on this card is mitigated from Grimgrin's second ability. We can sacrifice all of the thrulls away without ever getting to seven. Ophiomancer pops out one deathtouch token on every upkeep. While being a decent blocker. It also gives a way to untap Grimgrin and pump him up on every single turn! With more players comes more snakes and a bigger general as a result. Grave Titan makes an appearance in this deck because it puts 2 tokens into play upon entering the battlefield, and two more on every attack thereafter. Better yet, they are zombie tokens so they can take advantage of the tribal support cards in the deck. Manbag (satchel) may not always produce a token, but it also has a chance of helping us ramp or gaining 2 life on each activation. Lich Lord of Unx puts in one zombie wizard token and also has the potential to mill an opponent for a decent amount in addition to doing damage! Tombstone Stairwell gives a substantial amount of tokens with a fully stocked graveyard, while also giving each opponent the same benefit on each upkeep. However, those tokens are destroyed at end of turn, so using all of the tokens on each turn can generate some serious advantage. Endless Ranks of the Dead requires a bit of a board presence, but when it gets going there will be enough zombies to either overrun your opponent or create game changing sacrifice fodder.
Since the best way of untapping Grimgrin is through sacrificing creatures, we can take advantage of this by adding a few cards to profit even more off of it.
Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos are two powerhouse enchantments that forces each opponent to sacrifice one creature per creature lost on our end. So, every time we sacrifice one creature, so must everyone else. Blade of the Bloodchief grants extra counters when one of our creatures kicks the bucket, and performs double duty on Vampire creatures. Dark Prophecy allows us to draw cards off of each creature that dies. This can get dangerous if you have a large board presence and someone drops a board wipe, but that's a small price to pay when you're busy drawing gas. Speaking of drawing gas, Skullclamp is in here to draw to cards off of the equipped creature. Snake Tokens, Reassembling Skeleton, Rat, and Thrull tokens make excellent use of this card. Tragic Slip is one of the best spot removal spells in the deck when Morbid is activated. More often than not, you're giving target creature -13/-13 for B at instant speed.
Additional sacrifice outlets will add more synergy to the deck as a whole for when Grimgrin is not around.
Viscera Seer helps smooth out draws when sacrificing creatures. It's also an excellent target for Blade of the Bloodchief. Carrion Feeder is a miniature version of Grimgrin, gaining a +1/+1 counter for each creature it eats, all for one mana! Altar of Dementia adds a mill subtheme to the deck, allowing each creature to turn enemy libraries upside down. Mortarpod may seem like the odd man out in this deck, but with things like Ophiomancer and Ogre Slumlord, those tokens become killspells for 2! The often overlooked part of the card is that it brings it's own token into play, which can be used for various things.
Focusing on Grimgrin's third ability, I've added a few cards that can generate even more advantage when he successfully kills a creature.
Unhallowed Pact can steal an opposing creature that Grimgrin eats. An argument can be made saying that if I can't enchant it then I can't steal it. This is true, but it also means that it can't be targeted by Grimgrin's ability in the first place. Fool's Demise is similar in nature, but for a bit more mana you can use the effect again and again. Grim Return is the instant version of Unhallowed Pact, and is great when you can catch someone off guard with it.
Adding more mill to the deck will help create a small subtheme to give us an extra win condition.
Dimir Charm counters opposing game ending sorcery spells like Insurrection and Rise of the Dark Realms, kills a utility creature, and messes with the top three cards of any player's library. It does all that Dimir usually does and it does this very well for only UB. Sword of Body and Mind offers protection from Simic, creates a token for sacrificing, and mills the top 10 cards upon contact. Phenax, God of Deception turns all of our creatures into milling machines. Geth, Lord of the Vault simultaneously steals opposing creatures and artifacts while milling the opponent for the cards CMC.
The deck will cause each player's graveyard to be full at most points of the game, so some graveyard control and shenanigans will be welcome additions.
Nihil Spellbomb nukes someone's graveyard upon tap, and draws us a card for B. In decks that play black, I prefer this over Tormod's Crypt just because of the extra card draw. Nezumi Graverobber gets rid of a single card in a graveyard. When it flips, it turns into a Rise from the Grave on a stick. Withered Wretch removes one card for 1 generic mana. Coffin Queen reanimates a creature and then exiles it if the queen dies or is untapped. So when something better comes along, untap it and take it! Necromancy reanimates a creature as an enchantment, but can be used at instant speed in case of emergency. Another instant, Fated Return, can also reanimate a creature. It may cost 4BBB, but it makes gives the creature indestructible so it sticks around longer. It also fixes our library a bit if it's used on our turn. Havengul Lich can grab any creature in a graveyard provided you have the colored mana to cast it. Lich is mostly useful for our deck, but grabbing enemy Solemn Simulacrum and other useful artifact creatures can swing the game in our favor. All Hallow's Eve brings all of the creatures in all graveyards to the battlefield. If it's not countered, you have two turns to mess with opposing graveyards before the effect goes off. This gives you time to make this a one sided effect. Wight of Precinct Six is a cheap beater that gets larger as the game goes on. Necrotic Ooze is able to use any activated ability of a creature in a graveyard for itself. This means it can be a Nezumi Graverobber, a Coffin Queen, or even a Burnished Hart if there's one around.
Zombies tribal support will give Grimgrin and other cards more oomph.
Death Baron gives all of our zombies and skeletons deathtouch and a P/T boost. The deathtouch is the most important part, as it makes opponents weary of attacking or blocking zombies, and it turns our zombie tokens into kill spells with Mortarpod. Undead Warchief makes our zombie spells cheaper and gives a sizable P/T boost. Graveborn Muse has the potential to draw a bunch of cards decent board presence. At worst, it draws an extra card per turn by itself. Vengeful Dead causes each opponent to lose 1 life when any zombie dies. This turns Tombstone Stairwell into a game ending threat. Zombie Apocalypse brings back all of the deck's zombies for a second round of undead mayhem. Army of the Damned puts down 26 power on the board without support, and a ton of sacrifice fodder.
Throwing in a some ramp, kill spells, boardwipes, ways to protect Grimgrin, and otherwise useful spells and that's it, deck is made.
It was a lot of fun and very insightful to rework the deck, cracking down on what really works for me and Grimgrin and takng out what doesn't. I'd love some feedback or suggestions as to what can be added to further push the deck along. At this moment, three things come to mind:
Zombie Master could be swapped in for Filth. Filth was put in because it can be easily sacced to Grimgrin and it gives the whole team swamp walk, not just zombies. However, Zombie Master is cheaper and allows Grimgrin and other Zombies to regenerate. If I find myself attacking with Zombies more than other types of creatures, I may make this change.
Trinket Mage may have a place in here. There's a few CMC 1 artifacts that are important to the strategy and other useful ones, so it won't be bad late game either. At worst, it can be sacced for profit. If it does end up in the deck later on, I may have to readd Sol Ring.
Blood Artist also may have a place in here. I don't own a copy, but becuase I don't plan on going infinite I don't know how well it would fare in the deck. If anyone has good results with this card, please let me know.