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John Shultis on Magic
Relentless Dead

       Welcome to Precon Recon here at Pojo.com! Here at Precon Recon I take a preconstructed deck, and reconstruct it to perform better. This time around, I am taking a look at the new decks from Dark Ascension, and begin with Relentless Dead. The Relentless Dead deck is a black and blue Zombie deck. The original decklist can be found here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/productarticle.aspx?x=mtg/tcg/darkascension/intropacks#deck2.

Main Deck
60 cards

2 Evolving Wilds
10 Island
12 Swamp

2 Abattoir Ghoul
2 Black Cat
2 Diregraf Captain
2 Diregraf Ghoul
2 Farbog Boneflinger
1 Ghoulraiser
1 Havengul RunebinderDiregraf Captain
1 Headless Skaab
1 Makeshift Mauler
1 Rotting Fensnake
3 Screeching Skaab
1 Skaab Goliath
1 Stitched Drake
2 Walking Corpse
2 Zombie Goliath

1 Cellar Door
1 Corpse Lunge
2 Dead Weight
1 Endless Ranks of the Dead
2 Forbidden Alchemy
1 Moan of the Unhallowed
1 Negate
2 Reap the Seagraf
1 Zombie Infestation

     I must admit I am not the biggest fan of the newer ways the zombies run, with the need to exile an already dead creature first, but that is what this deck is built around. The thing about using those creatures though is that in the event that you are forced to discard something that you didn’t intend to, you better have a way to bring it back to your hand, and yet, this deck does not utilize those spells. So that will be an area of focus in iForbidden Alchemymproving the deck. Just because things are sent to the graveyard does not mean that that is where they should remain. The other main focus of improving the deck is not relying so heavily on creatures that exile other creatures from the graveyard. Instead, we should focus on cards that can trigger when they die, complimented by the creatures requiring an exile. Then again, there is always the method that we could just take the self-milling to an extreme, and in doing so, use certain cards that capitalize on that.

     So let us get on with the first stage, some removal. Zombie Goliath is just a high cost zombie but for generally low power and no ability. For the same amount of mana, we could add in a game ender, both copies removed. Farbog Boneflinger does have a nice ability, but same as the Zombie Goliath, there could be better options for the same casting cost. I am really torn on the single Rotting Fensnake. It is a decent creature for its cost that could take something down, and gain benefits if it does. Take it out if you’d like, leave it if you’d like. The two Dead Weights are kind of outdated due to something that released in Dark Ascension, and certainly are a better option and should be removed. The single Negate is an insult to using counterspells in a deck. The one time you actually pull the Negate you’d better hope it is not a creature that can kill you. Pull the Negate. Then there is Corpse Lunge. Not like there isn’t already enough creatures trying to exile things from your graveyard, but then you need this? No, you do not, pull it out. Lastly, let’s remove the Screeching Skaab. They may seem nice, but they mill yourself two cards for dropping it for a 2/1. While nice, not necessary compared to some other options. Now if you chose to go the self mill route, you may indeed want to keep these in, since it is a nice early advantage, and gets two cards in your graveyard. This remodel though, not helpful.

      That makes for only twelve cards out. A fairly tight window when trying to improve a deck in need of improving. I must say though that the spots will fill fairly easily, and nicely. The main focus in my opinion is to fill up more of the early game, and then should your early attack force die off, the exiling creatures can pick up in their wGhoulraiserake, more devastatingly. One way for your opponent to not want to take damage, or possibly kill your zombies is the Diregraf Captain. He makes your Zombies bigger, and should they die, your opponent still loses life. Really a win win situation. Now imagine four of them, all out at once. What does your opponent do? Take at least 5-6 damage from the attack, or guaranteed lose 4 life for killing the zombie? Now multiply that for each attacker. So, we definitely need to bring the number of Diregraf Captains up to four, which means two more. Another card that I just feel is such a great card, and especially in combination with the Diregraf Captains, is the Abattoir Ghoul. If your Abattoir Ghoul is the follow-up drop from your Captain, it is a 4/3 first strike that should it damage something that dies, you gain life equal to that creatures toughness. The first strike is the best part, and should only get bigger as more Diregraf Captains drop. I feel that adding two more may be too much due to the cost, so one more bringing our total to three, but by all means, go four if you prefer. Ghoulraiser is another great zombie card, particularly for this deck. Should something you didn’t want to die, well, die, you can use Ghoulraiser and fish for it. Hopfully exiling things you do not want back so that you are assured to get what you do want. But if the only dead thing is the thing you want back, no need to worry ;). Two more. But, should you not like the random factor, and feel that it’s not worth three mana, feel free to use Ghoulcaller’s Chant in their place. Three of which ever copy you prefer. A good removal spell for this particular deck is Tragic Slip from Dark Ascension. Should something die, you can give a creature -13/-13. Should something not die, it still gives -1/-1. But you can always push the issue. When used properly with Abattoir Ghoul, it makes a great defensive duo. Block/kill one attacker with Abattoir, drop Tragic Slip on the possibly larger attacker. Running three copies would be best.

      That brings some meat and bones up to eight cards,Gravecrawler still leaving four spaces to fill. I feel that there are some great rare cards that could benefit this deck. One great example is the Gravecrawler. Only a one mana drop for a 2/1 that cannot block, but can be cast from your graveyard. This makes Gravecrawler an excellent kamikaze runner when used with the Diregraf Captain. The other good rare would be the Havengul Lich. This way should something die that you didn’t intend you can re-cast it. And you could also possibly cast creatures from your opponent’s graveyard. As the insert says, Cemetary Reaper and Rooftop Storm are also nice, but not really necessary. While Army of the Damned would be nice, it is a lot of mana, and the zombies come into play tapped. This makes it slow, and not that great. And Zombie Apocalypse is another nice spell, but may not get the best effect if all your zombies are being exiled from your graveyard. The main other rare you could look for would be Mikaeus the Unhallowed. Mikaeus would give your creatures Undying, and pump them, not to mention should a human damage you, it would be destroyed.
      But should you be unable to get your hands on the rares, instead of say to Gravecrawlers, get two more Diregraf Ghouls. And instead of two Havengul Lich, put in two Unburial Rites.

      And there you have it, another preconstructed deck, reconstructed. Here is what our undated decklist would look like:

-2 Evolving Wilds
-10 Islands
-12 SwampsMikaeus, the Unhallowed
-4 Diregraf Captains
-3 Abattoir Ghouls
-3 Ghoulraiser/Ghoulcaller’s Chant
-3 Tragic Slip
-1 Endless Ranks of the Dead
-1 Havengul Runebinder
-1 Stitched Drake
-1 Headless Skaab
-2 Walking Corpse
-2 Black Cat
-2 Diregraf Ghoul
-1 Makeshift Mauler
-1 Moan of the Unhallowed
-2 Reap the Seagraf
-2 Forbidden Alchemy
-1 Zombie Infestation
-1 Cellar Door
-1 Skaab Goliath
-2 Gravecrawler or Diregraf Ghoul
-2 Havengul Lich or Unburial Rites
      And that is how the deck should look once reconstructed! Join me next week when I take a look at another deck. Now should there be a deck you would like me to reconstruct, send me the name of the deck, and what format you would like the deck reconstructed in, and I will be happy to work on the deck.

      So until next time, keep safe, and keep gaming!



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