Varina, Lich Queen

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I have gone back and forth on a number of tribal decks in the past. I started with Garza Zol, Plague Queen with Vampires, which moved into Edgar Markov and then I tried Grimgrin, Corpse Born for Zombies. I had stayed away from Thraximundar because it was already being used by someone in my group and red is really my least favorite color in EDH anyway.

After those were all taken apart for a variety of reasons, I really got the itch to try out another tribal deck and Varina was top of that list. I enjoy Zombies much more than Vampires and after seeing some of the things being done and discussed in toctheyounger77's Varina thread, it seemed like this would fit my style more. White is not my favorite color in EDH (that honor goes to Blue) but, for some reason, it is the most prevalent color among my EDH decks so it made sense to try it out here.

Now, there are not many good zombies with White in them, but the support cards are still really good. The deck itself isn't too far outside the norm of what a Zombie deck would be. There are a lot of common includes with some cards, like Alhammaret's Archive, here because of their synergy with Varina.

The main focus of the deck is to simply swarm with zombies as fast and effectively as possible. In the event that our board is wiped (which can happen often) we have mass reanimation spells to help us get back on track. A few cards are used as single reanimation to get back important cards as well.

Here is the current decklist being used:
Varina, Lich Queen

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Post by SocorroTortoise » 1 year ago

I've been very pleased with The Scarab God in zombie lists. While it's arguably less useful here because of the amount of card selection you already get from the general you still get some very potent upkeep triggers and the ability to instant speed zombify opponents' cards is powerful.

Your mana rocks are weighted towards black, which makes sense. Any plans to include Talisman of Hierarchy? On a similar note, is Prairie Stream needed when you already have 3 other fetchable UW duals?

Have you had an opportunity to play with Soul Diviner yet? You have limited support for the activated ability, though Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is admittedly a fun interaction. It feels like a lot of work for card draw and removing counters is a downside most of the time.

I've always found Coffin Queen a little clunky, especially when you don't have haste sources (as much as I want it to work). Have you had better experiences with it?

Is Liliana, the Last Hope good enough as small removal and Raise Dead? I have trouble seeing you untapping with 7 loyalty very often.
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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

SocorroTortoise wrote:
1 year ago
I've been very pleased with The Scarab God in zombie lists. While it's arguably less useful here because of the amount of card selection you already get from the general you still get some very potent upkeep triggers and the ability to instant speed zombify opponents' cards is powerful.
I have tried it before and I just never liked it. I think it is a powerful card and I am not sure why I wasn't impressed with it, but I think it just felt slow. It is also 5 mana and I have been trying to lower the curve. It is probably a good card to include though. I will think on it.
Your mana rocks are weighted towards black, which makes sense. Any plans to include Talisman of Hierarchy? On a similar note, is Prairie Stream needed when you already have 3 other fetchable UW duals?
It actually is in the deck. You'll notice my list was only 98 cards and that is because the Talisman was omitted. I use a program to keep track of my deck lists and then use another program to create deck tags for here, and the decklist program had not been updated yet and I forgot which card I was missing. I updated the decklist above.

As for Prairie Stream, it might not be needed due to being weighted towards black, but I don't think there is a good reason to cut it. I still want to be able to get to my White and Blue when needed and it just adds another fetchable dual to do that job.
Have you had an opportunity to play with Soul Diviner yet? You have limited support for the activated ability, though Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is admittedly a fun interaction. It feels like a lot of work for card draw and removing counters is a downside most of the time.

I've always found Coffin Queen a little clunky, especially when you don't have haste sources (as much as I want it to work). Have you had better experiences with it?

Is Liliana, the Last Hope good enough as small removal and Raise Dead? I have trouble seeing you untapping with 7 loyalty very often.
I am just going to respond to all of these at once since the answer to all of them is basically "no, they are not super good".

Soul Diviner is cool with the interactions it *allows* but, practically, it isn't that good. It has stuck around because of that potential and because it is 2 mana. It is one I am not entirely sold on, but it has done some good things with Dreadhorde Invasion to keep my hand full so it gets a pass (for now). It is likely an easy cut if something better comes along though.

I only included Coffin Queen because a) I have a couple copies and I have tried to make her work in other builds and b) she is a Zombie. I am not sure exactly how good she is here since I haven't actually gotten her on the field yet. I am hoping to get a better feel for her efficacy once I can get her on the battlefield.

Liliana has the same problem here as she does in my Nicol Bolas deck; she is tough to actually ultimate. Now, here she is easier to protect and her first ability is kind of good, but you are right that untapping with her at 7 loyalty is tough. And it has not happened yet. It is another that I have given serious consideration to cutting. I haven't yet because, like Soul Diviner, she is low cost. Plus, her ceiling is really high in this deck.

I have never actually used her minus ability though I don't think that is because it isn't good. Filling the graveyard and getting something back can be good in this deck. Instead, I haven't used it because I never felt there was a time I needed to.

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I played this deck last night and had a few cool plays with it. I ended up losing due to a few factors but mostly I just couldn't deal with an opposing Athreos deck very well.

I was playing against Athreos, God of Passage, Karn, Silver Golem, and Emmara, Soul of the Accord. Relatively early, Karn got out Mycosynth Lattice and started blowing up lands. Due to this, I needed to spend a fair amount of resources to keep them off of Karn and/or Lattice which worked out fairly well.

At one point, I reanimated their Walking Ballista with Havengul Lich with 4 counters on it so I could destroy Karn if I needed to. I ended up using it to destroy 2 creatures of Athreos so their gods couldn't attack. I then reanimated the Ballista again next turn with 5 counters so it could kill Karn and now stay alive. I never needed to kill Karn though.

Another instance I reanimated Coffin Queen with Lich and then used the Lich to reanimate an opposing Avenger of Zendikar to get a bunch of tokens (15 I think). Someone wrathed so the next turn I just played my entire hand which was Carrion Feeder, Shepherd of Rot, Gravespawn Sovereign, and something else (I can't seem to remember the other card). I also cast Varina. This allowed me to reanimate Avenger again and get 16 tokens. The game got back to me and I was in a pretty bad position as I couldn't deal with opposing flyers and I was at less than 8 life.

I ended up sacrificing the tokens and Avenger to Carrion Feeder, creating a token with Varina, and then reanimating Avenger again to make Carrion Feeder a 34/34 (or something like that) and swung out at Karn. I did this for two reasons: they were open and they insisted on tutoring up infinite combos and the previous LD situation so I just took them out of the game. I then scooped since I couldn't deal with the other two people and I was going to die no matter what. The game ended shortly afterwards with Athreos as the winner.

While I got a cool play with Coffin Queen, I really don't think it works here. As I had a tough time with the game I was in, I think I really just want a Wrath of some sort. Probably Cleansing Nova. Also, Liliana of Hope didn't do much either and I am starting to lean towards cutting her too. She did recur a creature for me so she wasn't all bad but it seems like there might be something better there.

Maybe I do end up wanting Phyrexian Reclamation after all. I had mentioned it in toctheyounger's thread that I didn't think it was a great card in this deck as we really want more mass reanimation, but maybe it can still work. Maybe Command the Dreadhorde? I am not sure what others ones I might be missing. Or, I just add another Wrath as I am not running many in the deck. Probably Supreme Verdict.

Otherwise, the deck does seem to still be performing decently well and, other than possibly Soul Diviner (mentioned above) I don't see anything that stands out as something to cut.

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I got to play this deck again the other night and it went well. I played against Sevinne, the Chronoclasm and another general (I can't remember the one the other player played). It might have been Vaevictus Asmadi, the Dire.

Oddly enough, not a whole lot happened this game. I basically just cast one zombie per turn and the ones I remember casting were Lord of the Accursed, Undead Mummy, and Varina herself. I think there was one other. But, for the most part, I just dug with Varina, I Rifted at one point to save myself, and I tried to keep Sevinne from doing too much.

Basically, the entire game was me just looting into lands, pitching expensive zombies, and trying to just not die. I did end up with 3 mass reanimation spells in hand so I was just trying to use those. At one point, neither player had creatures in their graveyards so I cast a Patriarch's Bidding which only benefited me. This got me back 3 or 4 zombies including Gray Merchant and Mikaeus. I swung in a couple times and then sacrificed Gray Merchant which then returned from Mikaeus. I then cast a Living Death which got me back the zombies I had been pitching to Varina since the Bidding and also let all the other zombies (besides Gray Merchant and Mikaeus) return from Undying. I then immediately cast Zombie Apocalypse to get those 2 back and drained for enough to be lethal to both players.

The main mistake was not putting Varina in the graveyard at one point so I could just reanimate her with everything else. I took the more cautious route of putting her in the Command Zone just in case, but I think I should have just let her die since I knew I was planning on reanimating everything soon.

Otherwise, not a lot to report on for the deck. I did end up with Coffin Queen on the field and she did nothing. I think my short list of potential cuts is still the same with Soul Diviner and Coffin Queen. I am not sure on whether I should add another wrath as I was thinking above, or maybe just Command the Dreadhorde. Hopefully I can grind a few more games and come up with something good to replace those 2 cards with.

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Post by WizardMN » 11 months ago

It had been far too long since playing this deck so I decided to bust it out last night. This came after a grindy win with Karador so I wanted something a little more aggressive and a little less powerful. I played against Prime Speaker Vannifar and Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire. The game did not go well and this is going to be kind of a mini rant against the Vannifar player.

I started off slow but got Varina down on turn 4. I swung on turn 5 and started filling my graveyard for the Zombie Apocalypse I had in hand. However, that turn Vannifar went off and tutored out 5 or 6 cards. The first few just untapped Vannifar so they could use her again but then they got to Agent of Treachery to steal Varina. No big deal. But, they then sacrificed the Agent of Treachery (they had another effect to untap Vannifar) to get Terastodon to blow up 3 of my 4 lands. I got my 3 tokens, blocked Terastodon next turn, and then they cast Loaming Shaman to get everything back into their library to try again next turn.

During this time, I stuck it out and played the lands I got and the creatures I could. Luckily, Vaevictus had an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth so I had my black mana (I wouldn't have otherwise) but, of course, Vaevictus just blew up my stuff anyway.

Since I was basically not even playing the game, Vaevictus, rightfully so, sent all of their creatures at Vannifar. Not only had they shown they were willing to essentially play with themselves without ever demonstrating the ability to actually win the game (beyond beats with Terastodon), they were also clearly the threat at the table as I could only cast 1 thing per turn and Vaevictus could make me sac it.

Vannifar got super salty at this and actually scooped because they couldn't deal with being the threat. We had a bit of a "discussion" about how they effectively turned themselves into the threat and, being that Vaevictus only had 2 opponents, they were the one that it made sense to go after. They didn't seem to quite understand that eliminating a player (me in this case) automatically meant that they were the one that was left.

The game was already not fun pretty much right off the bat since we had to sit there for about 3-5 minutes waiting for them to go through their deck which then just eliminated me by blowing up my lands (and I was targeted since I won the previous game; not because of what was going on in this game). As I told them, I didn't necessarily mind that I was targeted, or that I lost (can't win 'em all after all) but players who make themselves the threat only to get salty when they are focused on just rub me the wrong way.

Once they scooped, I did the same since the Vaevictus player had the game in the bag and there was no sense in continuing. Vaevictus got a well deserved win (they knew the way to end the game through the Vannifar loop) and Vannifar got a well deserved loss.

Anyway, now that my rant is over, the deck did what it could. I actually had a decent starting hand and planned on dropping an Alhammarret's Archive the turn after my lands got blown up. And I still might have been able to escape out of the situation I was in if I actually drew lands or mana rocks. At one point, my only out was to get a land off Vaevictus and then draw Living Death. Obviously that didn't happen :)

One of the plays I had was Coffin Queen and I had this big idea to steal Vannifar's Agent of Treachery to steal Vannifar and slow things down but that didn't really work out. While this isn't the greatest game to base things on I do still think Coffin Queen is really slow and inconsistent. I don't know what to put in this slot, but I think I want something. The deck is pretty light on spot removal so maybe I should add in a Murderous Rider (mostly because it is a zombie) or something else.

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

Despite the white mana commitment, hour of revelation is my go to for first sweeper in aggro decks -- the ability to slow play and then dump your hand after sweeping for 3 mana is very nice. It does everything, and you don't seem to be that reliant on artifacts/enchantments, so seems better than cleansing nova.

In my aggro affinity deck I run winds of abandon in addition to living death since 1) they pair well together, and 2) winds acts as an "all your creatures are unblockable" effect when needed.

I would suggest adding Ashiok, Dream Render. Deck feels light on graveyard hate to be playing living death, and honestly living death is kind of at odds with part of Varina's ability, so that's something to consider. Remorseful Cleric also worth considering. Not exactly a zombie but kinda close :)
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Post by toctheyounger » 11 months ago

Not sure how I missed your list, glad it's up though. Some interesting differences to my list, and with so many potential inclusions it's good to get an idea of how other things are working.

How has Mission Briefing been? I came really close to adding it to my build purely because it's so easy to lose removal if you're not careful with Varina's looting abililty. Ultimately I decided I had enough redundancy, but if it does good work it might be worth another look.

No Bone Miser? Honestly, that card has been straight up batsh*t bonkers in my list. I play into the discard slightly more with Zombie Infestation and Ancient Excavation, but the value you can pull from the guy is obscene, cannot recommend enough.

In terms of a potential replacement for Coffin Queen, there's some decent options about now. Maybe Corpse Knight could do things for you? He sort of rewards you for just playing the game anyway, and goes into turbo mode when you mass reanimate him and anything else or spam tokens. Otherwise there's Prized Amalgam, which is sort of a nice 'I call shotgun' option whenever you reanimate. I haven't got any recent experience with the latter, but I've been mulling it over for a slot.

I can also confirm that Hour of Revelation is pretty decent. It's very rarely full price. That being said, some of my best advantage engines are artifacts and enchantments so I definitely prefer the modal options of Austere Command and Cleansing Nova.
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Post by WizardMN » 11 months ago

toctheyounger wrote:
11 months ago
How has Mission Briefing been? I came really close to adding it to my build purely because it's so easy to lose removal if you're not careful with Varina's looting abililty. Ultimately I decided I had enough redundancy, but if it does good work it might be worth another look.
I don't know yet since I haven't played a game where I have cast it yet. I do think the *idea* behind including it is sound; but I haven't seen it do anything in a game yet.
toctheyounger wrote:
11 months ago
No Bone Miser? Honestly, that card has been straight up batsh*t bonkers in my list. I play into the discard slightly more with Zombie Infestation and Ancient Excavation, but the value you can pull from the guy is obscene, cannot recommend enough.
I probably should throw it in here, but I am getting kind of tired of having these cards and not having them available in foil. It is a dumb reason not to include them, but whatever. It's not like it is breaking the bank though so I should probably pick one up and slot it in somewhere.
toctheyounger wrote:
11 months ago
In terms of a potential replacement for Coffin Queen, there's some decent options about now. Maybe Corpse Knight could do things for you? He sort of rewards you for just playing the game anyway, and goes into turbo mode when you mass reanimate him and anything else or spam tokens. Otherwise there's Prized Amalgam, which is sort of a nice 'I call shotgun' option whenever you reanimate. I haven't got any recent experience with the latter, but I've been mulling it over for a slot.
I like the idea of Corpse Knight. It has seemed somewhat underwhelming but maybe I am not really giving it a fair shake. It is also low on the curve so I lose very little with including it. I will pick one up.
toctheyounger wrote:
11 months ago
I can also confirm that Hour of Revelation is pretty decent. It's very rarely full price. That being said, some of my best advantage engines are artifacts and enchantments so I definitely prefer the modal options of Austere Command and Cleansing Nova.
I have always wanted to find a deck where Austere Command made the cut because I like the versatility of the card. It never sticks around for long. I think I might still go with Cleansing Nova over it here since Nova is 1 mana cheaper. And, you have a good point on Hour where it should almost always be WWW. I don't play that card much either so maybe I will try that out. I think I can afford that a little more than you since I don't think I run quite as many artifacts and very few enchantments. Though, if I find I am often regretting the loss of the artifacts I do have, one of the others may fill in later.
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Post by toctheyounger » 11 months ago

Fair enough for all of this. I get the whole foil card thing, it's a bit frustrating with precon stuff. Nonetheless, Miser is pretty great. Being able to sculpt your hand, make an army or generate is superb utility.
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Post by WizardMN » 11 months ago

pokken wrote:
11 months ago
I would suggest adding Ashiok, Dream Render. Deck feels light on graveyard hate to be playing living death, and honestly living death is kind of at odds with part of Varina's ability, so that's something to consider. Remorseful Cleric also worth considering. Not exactly a zombie but kinda close :)
I realized I never responded to this comment. I think we talked about the merits of different sweepers, so I am not going to rehash that. Ashiok does seem like they could do a lot in terms of hating out other graveyards. At least, I like that over Cleric just because I don't want any non-zombie creatures if I can help it (and Solemn and Hart get a pass for now).

I also like the idea of being a lock piece of sorts to stop different shenanigans from getting out of control. The previous game, with Vannifar, it could have done a lot of work and there are enough tutor effects where I don't think their static ability will ever be "dead".

So, with that in mind, and based on the suggestions you and toctheyounger have offered, I am going to try this:
11/28/19
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I think the adds have been discussed well enough above but to give a little insight on the cuts:

Corpse Queen, as mentioned, has been very underwhelming. She really only made the cut to begin with by virtue of being a Zombie but here ability is just too slow.

Unraveling Mummy doesn't often do enough. I like the lifelink, which is what got it here to begin with, but it becomes less useful with Varina gaining us life. I might revisit this but it hasn't seemed good enough.

Soul Diviner was talked about a long time ago and, beyond the interaction of removing a counter from an Army, it is not likely to do a lot. And I think I have other, and better, card draw options in the deck. Especially with the addition of Bone Miser (even if the mana cost is higher).

And, finally, Timetwister. It plays in kind of a weird space in this deck since I don't really want my graveyard to go away and, as mentioned, I should have other routes of card draw. The biggest boon was being able to fire it off in the early game after dumping my hand of mana rocks, but I probably should just lean on Varina a little more in those cases to filter through until I find a "real" card draw option.

Gravespawn Sovereign is likely close to being cut. It is high on the curve and I would prefer to just use my mass reanimation spells. Even Twilight's Call might be better here. But, I like being able to steal my opponents' stuff and it has some good utility in the late game, so it is isn't an easy cut. Being 6 mana kind of pushes it over the edge.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I have been putting a lot of focus into my Primer decks (Ephara and Karador) and it has left very little room for other decks to play. But, I finally got a chance to play this deck again last night. I played against Thraximundar, Etrata, the Silencer, and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim.

I started off really slow and kept a 1 land hand with a Sol Ring. Objectively, this was the wrong decision, but I did it anyway. It ended up paying off as I drew a land and then cast Graveborn Muse on turn 2 which helped draw me into lands. I was able to get a decent board by turn 4 with Varina and a couple other zombies which also helped the card draw. Thrax blew the board pretty early.

I then rebuilt pretty quickly thanks to small zombies as well as Phyrexian Delver. Varina kept me with good cards in hand and Thrax had to blow the board again.

At one point, Etrata landed a Helldozer and I was concered about it since I had an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth on the field and I didn't have a lot of lands, but I wasn't thinking about how much that would hurt Golos. So, I removed it. This almost cost us all the game as Golos tutored for 10 Gates and Maze's End pretty aggressively and none of us had, or got to, any real form of grave hate.

While they were doing that, Thrax was falling behind since the wrath they used twice was Bontu's Last Reckoning and Etrata was trying to slow Golos down but they had a ton of zombies from Field of the Dead. Interestingly, these zombies hurt them in the end since I had Vengeful Dead on the field and I had Noxious Ghoul which meant that their own Zombies killed their Azusa, Lost But Seeking. It wasn't much but it worked out.

Eventually, they got 11 gates and Maze's End on the field, but the End was tapped. So, we had 1 turn to kill them and it didn't look promising. They were at 20 life with a bunch of blockers and no one really had any fliers. Then, Etrata cast Fraying Omnipotence. I was able to keep 2 cards in hand and 2 or 3 creatures on the board. It didn't really decimate Golos's board too much since they had a bunch of tokens to sac....but Vengeful Dead made them pay for that. In the end, they took 8 more from Dead so they were at 2 life (I was still at 26 since I was at 52 thanks to Varina and Alhammarret's Archive) and everyone else was pretty low too. It got to my turn and I landed a Liliana, Untouched by Death which let me cast Gray Merchant of Asphodel which killed everyone and gained me a ton of life thanks to Archive.

In the end, the removal of Helldozer worked out in my favor but it probably was a little impulsive on my part. Other than that, the deck was able to rebound from 2 actual board wipes and was still able to survive a Fraying Omnipotence reasonably well. I like the resiliency.

I do think I want to go a little lower to the ground though. Gravespawn Sovereign for example (which I know has been touched on here and toctheyounger's thread) is pretty much guaranteed to be cut now. I had it in my hand for a couple of turns and it just wasn't good enough. Mostly because of the wraths but if it only helps me when I have a full board already, I don't think it is really that helpful.

Corpse Harvester was another that didn't do a lot for me so I might cut that one as well. It is really helpful to ensure I hit land drops but 5 mana is actually a lot when it is most useful when I don't have 5 lands yet.

I am also contemplating cutting Burnished Hart and Solemn to make this a "true" zombie deck so if I find better cards for those I might cut them too. I haven't really been keeping up with new sets for this deck since I have been preoccupied with my Primers so I will probably peruse toctheyounger's thread some more for ideas and see where he ended on things.

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Post by toctheyounger » 8 months ago

This sounds like it was a nail biter! I still really love the deck for it's resilience. It bounces back, but I also love that it hurts anyone else that tries to hurt it, too.

If it saves you any time, there's very little I've added from recent sets. Thematically there's not been much for us anyway - Mire Triton was briefly talked about, but I personally think the ceiling is pretty low on it. I'm toying around with Dance of the Manse to recur enchants and rocks, and Mirrorweave for crazy blowout plays, both offensively and defensively. Both have been pretty good recently, although Dance is the sort of card you leave in hand till it's relevant (or lump it if Varina gives you something better). Other than that I've added Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, purely because my build splashes a ton of .

I think you've got the right idea though; my iteration has worked best when it's able to cast low to the ground creatures into Varina and steamroll, so trimming the top of my curve has been something I've not really noticed as detrimental whatsoever.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I played another game with this last night. I played against Tuvasa, the Sunlit, Vaevictus Asmadi, the Dire, and Ghalta, Primal Hunger.

I didn't really ramp much this game, though I got a couple rocks out. I got Varina down on curve which then let me loot for more things. But, really, I only had Varina and a couple Zombies out for the majority of the game. Vaevictus made sure I didn't keep many for long. They did flip over a Nyxbloom Ancient at one point. I attacked into Ghalta so I could dig for an answer without my stuff dying. They took this as an affront so on their turn, they played Thrashing Brontodon but refused to blow up the Ancient.

It ended up not being a big deal since Vaevictus didn't have a lot of cards in hand, but it still allowed them to do a lot for a turn with one of those things being getting down a Dragonlair Spider. This gave them a lot of blockers for a while. They did eventually crack their Brontodon to blow up the Ancient so that was good.

Luckily, I had Noxious Ghoul to wrath away their tokens. In fact, Noxious Ghoul ended up being pretty good in this game by wiping away a fair number of things from Tuvasa as well.

One turn Vaevictus made me sac Varina and I flipped over Alhammarret's Archive. This stuck around for the rest of the game. They didn't really get a chance to swing in much more after this as the rest of the table (not really me, since I still didn't have much) ganged up on them.

I cast Timetwister to draw 14 cards. I used these to get 5 zombies in play along with a Midnight Reaper. Soon after, someone wrathed so I drew 10 cards (thanks to Archive) which ended up working out super well. One of those 5 cards was Gray Merchant of Asphodel which had let me gain 32 life off 8 devotion. Again, thanks to Archive.

Tuvasa on their turn cast Decree of Silience. So, I cast Sol Ring and 2 Signets into it to get rid of it. Then, I cast Patriarch's Bidding. This brought 11 zombies back to the field and wrathed everything else thanks to Noxious Ghoul. I also gained something like 72 life off of Gray Merchant with 18 Devotion

One of the cards I returned was Mikaeus, the Unhallowed along with Carrion Feeder so I could just get Gray Merchant to die and come back. Which is what I did to finish off the other two players.

This game relied pretty heavily on my opponents focusing on Vaevicitus and, eventually, Tuvasa, but the mass reanimation was huge.

Of note, I still hadn't actually made the physical changes to my deck that I mentioned 2 months ago. I said I would make them and then didn't play the deck for the longest time and then keep forgetting to actually swap out the cards. That is why I still had Twister (and Coffin Queen popped up too). If I stop being lazy, I will hopefully actually make those changes at some point.

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Post by WizardMN » 7 months ago

I had a pretty good game last night. I played against God-Eternal Oketra, Rhys the Redeemed, and Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire.

No really did anything too drastic too early. Rhys was a Squirrel tribal deck with a couple of Silver Bordered cards (not really sure how I feel about this, but there we have it) and Vaevictis missed their green mana for a long time so all they had was Birthing Pod out for a while.

I didn't really have much going on either. I kept a pretty decent hand, but didn't have a way to make black mana for non-zombies (I had Unclaimed Territory) but I was able to draw into more.

Eventually, after about 7 turns, Oketra really started going off. They had gotten Oketra down and had ways to make a decent number of tokens as they had gotten to about 4 zombies. Rhys had also gotten a few tokens of their own. It felt kind of premature, but since Oketra had out a couple decent artifacts, I decided to wrath the board with Hour of Revelation. I only had a Talisman, a Dreadhorde Invasion, and a couple small Zombies so it didn't affect me too much.

Luckily, before I wrathed, I had gotten Burnished Hart down to get me actual swamps. Unluckily, Rhys had Liege of the Hollows which gave Oketra and Vaevictis a few Squirrels. Rhys themselves were tapped out so they got nothing. I also got 5 squirrels. I dropped in Liliana of the Last Hope on my next turn and killed Rhys with it. I then used my tokens to protect her as best I could. Eventually she got overwhelmed but I was able to get rid of a couple more Squirrel tokens with her and it kept the focus off me.

The main issue with these tokens was that my Fleshbag Marauder wasn't as good. I could have easily cleared the board with it since people just went for the generals the next turn, but that didn't work out very well.

The game went on a little bit longer until Oketra needed to wrath due to Rhys and Vaevictis swarming the board. I still didn't have a lot on board, but it was enough to justify destroying everything anyway.

From here, I actually rebuilt pretty nicely. I got a Kindred Discovery off Vaevictis a little later, followed by Varina. I created a few tokens with her to draw me cards. I also had Diregraf Colossus on the field so every zombie I cast drew me 2 cards. A couple turns after, I was able to land an Alhammarret's Archive which meant that now every zombie I cast got me 4 cards. I swung with 5 zombie tokens, gained 10 life and drew 20 cards (discarding 5). I discarding a bunch of zombies.

Next turn I had to sequence a bunch of things very specifically because I only had about 13 or 17 cards in my library. I did some things, and ended up with 1 card left. I was able to land Gray Merchant the turn before to give me some much needed life and take out Vaevictis . I ended up reanimating Grimgrin, Corpse-Born with Havengul Lich with the idea to sac my board and reanimate everything with one of the 3 mass reanimation spells in hand. I would have had to stack the triggers in order to make sure I didn't draw before Gray Merchant would kill the opposing player, but it turned out I was able to get just enough zombies on the field, and Oketra's zombies counted too, where Shepherd of Rot just closed out the game.

Other than the small stutter at the beginning where I didn't have a lot of black mana, this game went pretty well. I might actually think of adding another wrath since Hour was very good and Oketra's wrath ended up helping me win as well since I was getting a little behind again at that point. Other than that, Liliana of the Last Hope still fails to impress. I might just cut her for an Austere Command or Akroma's Vengeance or something. 3 mana to 6 mana doesn't help the curve, but I think I want to be able to get rid of most of the board in one sweep. I might also think of leaning towards Winds of Abandon so I don't have to mess with my own board too much at the risk of leaving Artifacts and Enchantments alone.

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Post by toctheyounger » 7 months ago

Last Hope does seem like one of those walkers that you run for their ultimate despite having relatively weak abilities otherwise. If you can hit the emblem, great. If you can't she's attack fodder.

Personally I'd recommend Austere Command. It's been great for me for the option of being able to sculpt the board to best suit me while still disadvantaging my opponents.

Winds of Abandon I'm super hesitant about myself. It seems like unless you can close the game out yourself shortly after casting it you risk being blown out yourself. I've never played it in any context though so that is just supposition. I'd be happy to be proved wrong.
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Post by WizardMN » 7 months ago

I agree on Liliana and her ultimate just takes too long to get to (the same concern I had in my Nicol Bolas deck).

I like Austere Command. It seems that the flexibility might just be enough to make it really break the symmetry of the spell. Especially since I really want to keep my stuff with CMC 3 and less and I am mostly concerned with opponents stuff CMC 4 or more.

Winds was a suggestion because I have seen it do good work in my Ephara deck (and @pokken has seen it do work in his Ephara deck) and I figured with a more agressive deck like this, it wouldn't be a huge concern for the opponents to ramp.

I think I am going to go with Austere Command for now and keep Winds in the back of my mind just in case I still feel I need something more.

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Post by pokken » 7 months ago

What's funny is we all had the same reservations about winds of abandon in my thread. I am something like 15/1 in games I have resolved an overloaded winds. I can't remember the loss but I feel like there was one. By the stage of the game you're resolving it people have generally overcommitted to the board, and usually have more than enough mana -- they're just constrained by cards, and often specific cards. Decks only have so many big cards these days since everyone's pushing for efficiency.

So many games develop into these board stalls where I can't win but no one else can either; winds breaks board stalls and also is a not horrible single targeted removal spell when you need it.

Exiling is good. And it makes a huge difference when you exile a bunch of dangerous threats forever. Lots and lots of decks rely on recursion to recover from board wipes and Winds shutting that off is very meaningful.

The fear I had was that I would wind up having to use it defensively, but what it does is it frees me to commit harder to the board when I know I have it. If I'm going to spellseeker for Winds I play differently than if I am going to try to Verdict/Hour.

In a deck that wants to win by combat damage, it's significantly better than austere command imho. What I kept finding with Austere is I had to use it as a crappy supreme verdict a lot of the time and I often had to kill my own dudes with it.

Edit to add: You do have to really be careful to have enough ways to beat anti-combat stax like sphere of safety - but I think this deck has enough ways to beat those effects. Austere seems fine but I think it's going to generate fewer wins than Winds would.
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Post by toctheyounger » 7 months ago

pokken wrote:
7 months ago
Exiling is good. And it makes a huge difference when you exile a bunch of dangerous threats forever. Lots and lots of decks rely on recursion to recover from board wipes and Winds shutting that off is very meaningful.

The fear I had was that I would wind up having to use it defensively, but what it does is it frees me to commit harder to the board when I know I have it. If I'm going to spellseeker for Winds I play differently than if I am going to try to Verdict/Hour.
This is interesting. I've always thought of it as something that had a massive potential to backfire. Which I guess it still does if you're exiling entire hordes and your opponents have Exsanguinate or Torment of Hailfire in hand. But that seems like it potentially is a bit of an unlikelihood.

My other big concern with it is ramping that much you stand to significantly improve the prospective draws of your opponents, too. I guess it's the same concern as above just thought through a different way. Ultimately what I'm hearing though is that it's worth it for the massive tempo swing and freeing up the board, even if an opponent can bounce back from it. That sounds promising.

For myself, I use Austere Command slightly differently, in that it can get rid of control pieces like Sphere of Safety or Silent Arbiter, or just shave the top off of the board. I'm more likely to drop it while I'm building up to make my game easier, but I can definitely acknowledge that the casting cost is high.

I may well keep an eye on Winds myself; just checked and it's like a $3 card so it's easy enough to pick it up and give it a go in my build. It'd be easy enough to drop Kindred Dominance for a cheaper wipe.
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Post by pokken » 7 months ago

Yep, Austere definitely has some advantages there. I think it's really a meta call.
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Post by WizardMN » 5 months ago

After some thought, and in anticipation of maybe starting in person play again in the next couple weeks, I decided to go with Winds of Abandon. I am still trying to figure out what else I can include in the deck as I currently have 5 cards in my "cut" list, but this will allow me to get rid of Solemn Simulacrum. I am also going to try out Twilight's Call over Burnished Hart. I have decided to cut these because I want this deck to be a "true" zombie deck. I still have Liliana, Gravespawn Sovereign, and Corpse Harvester as potential cuts, but I want to see if the deck really loses a lot with the loss of these two ramp cards.
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Post by WizardMN » 4 months ago

With the full spoiler of Core 2021 and Jumpstart, I have decided to finally post some of my thoughts on new cards. I will separate then by color but Jumpstart and Core 2021 cards will be lumped together.

It doesn't look like there was much for Varina in these sets. @toctheyounger went over many more in his Primer but since this isn't a Primer, I just stuck to the ones that stood out as being definite includes or at least on the line. And there were only two.

Here is what I can see as being potentials:

Blue Cards

Teferi's Ageless Insight - This is a cheaper Alhammarret's Archive that doesn't grant us the bonus for life. I don't think that is a bad thing though and the cheaper cost might be enough to simply swap them but I think I want to try both out at first. I still like the Archive and the life gain is very useful since Varina is gaining us life. Having another draw doubler is great and helps fill our yard as well if we get to a mass reanimation spell.

Black Cards

Liliana's Standard Bearer - This is a cheap Zombie that gives us a lot of cards in the even of our creatures dying. Since this deck wants to commit pretty heavily to the board, this can be a good way to rebuild if our stuff gets destroyed. Even in the event of just a few creatures dying, drawing 3-4 cards for 3 mana is still a good rate.

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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Yeah, they're both solid adds. There's potentially other stuff that could make the cut in a build off the beaten track, but these two are both solid. I am surprised not to see Peer into the Abyss here, but I guess suicide draw isn't everyone's cup of tea.
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Post by WizardMN » 4 months ago

I saw it in your list of cards and I guess I just have been getting further into the wanting the curve low so the 7 mana really put me off of it. Maybe that is wrong though? The effect is obviously awesome and we should have enough life for the Peer to not totally set up back too far. Maybe I will give it another look after I see how well it works if you add it :)

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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

WizardMN wrote:
4 months ago
I saw it in your list of cards and I guess I just have been getting further into the wanting the curve low so the 7 mana really put me off of it. Maybe that is wrong though? The effect is obviously awesome and we should have enough life for the Peer to not totally set up back too far. Maybe I will give it another look after I see how well it works if you add it :)
Ahahaha, fair enough! Happy to be the test subject here.

I think it'll be exceedingly good myself. With half the library in my hand I can almost certainly end the game very quickly; but it's an all or nothing sort of card, so if it backfires somehow, you're absolutely boned. I totally understand wanting to approach with caution.
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