Graveyard Decks With Core Set 2019

Sam Black is one of the best boneyard builders in the business! Get his newest brews in trying to exploit the Zombies, Dragons, and legends from new Standard!

Looking over the spoiler for Core Set 2019, black really stands
out to me. To kick things off, we have a really weird take on Liliana that
doesn’t do anything unless you put her in a Zombie deck, so it looks like
they have to be pretty serious about supporting Zombies, and I think
there’s a chance that they’ve delivered. The other card that really stands
out is Bone Dragon. Seven is a lot of cards, but a 5/4 flier that didn’t
necessarily cost me a card is something I’m willing to work for, and I
think there are several promising paths that lead to free 5/4 flier town.
Without further ado, let’s get brewing!

This is the baseline. This isn’t the optimal build; we don’t actually want
a deck of 60 permanents, but it’s interesting to note that we’re really not
scraping the bottom of the barrel and we can build a version of the deck
that’s completely dedicated to the cause. This means we have room to work
with. This level zero deck doesn’t even seem that bad, but I
suspect an optimized version trims some Death Barons and Stitcher’s
Suppliers for maindeck removal spells.

So, seeing it laid out, how does this tribe play now that Cryptbreaker is
no longer part of the mix? Dread Wanderer, Diregraf Ghoul, and Scrapheap
Scrounger don’t leave a lot of room for confusion. Their purpose is clear:
they’re all designed to attack. So, we’re starting every game with
aggressive creatures, then on turn three we’re casting a lord that pumps
the creatures we already have. On turns four and five, we’re probably just
looking to keep slamming more lords, especially Liliana’s Mastery on turn
five. So, we curve out creatures that aren’t great to use removal on, then
pump our team bigger every turn so they can keep attacking.

Liliana, Untouched by Death is a decent aggressive card, as it’s about 80%
to drain our opponent for two each time we use its +1 ability. The -2
ability is extremely clear, as long as things are going according to plan,
Liliana can play something like Chandra, Torch of Defiance, killing
something the turn it enters the battlefield and sticking around. The
interesting ability on Liliana is the -3. Liliana doesn’t have an ultimate
in the traditional sense in that she has enough loyalty that you can use
this the turn you cast her, but since taking advantage of it requires
additional mana, it’s unlikely you’ll want to. Instead, this is an
extremely powerful tool against control decks; if they can’t answer or
pressure Liliana, she threatens to flood the battlefield with Zombies from
your graveyard.

Stitcher’s Supplier is the last piece of the puzzle, and it’s not as
aggressive as the rest, but base power and toughness might not matter that
much when you have twelve cards that pump all your Zombies, and this
provides fuel for Liliana and Graveyard Marshal on top of finding Scrapheap
Scroungers and Dread Wanderers.

It’s worth noting that we’re using our graveyard a lot, enough that
Stitcher’s Supplier is a reasonable card. Given that, it’s possible that
Scrapheap Scrounger is actually too demanding. We could play Metallic Mimic
instead, which plays much better with the plan of chaining lords, since
it’s always disappointing to have one creature that’s missing out on all
the pump effects and just ends up being too small to matter, but I’m
hesitant to play a two-mana creature with one toughness in a Goblin
Chainwhirler world, even if our lords will get it out of range.

Desecrated Tomb is an interesting card. In this deck, it makes a 1/1 flier
any time you activate Dread Wanderer, Graveyard Marshal, or Memorial to
Folly, and it makes two any time you activate Scrapheap Scrounger. It’s
probably too bad against red to play maindeck because it’s slow, dies to
Abrade, and the Bats get swept by Goblin Chainwhirler, but if your opponent
is trying to answer your threats with removal (already a losing strategy
against you), this card is a nightmare.

Outside of Graveyard Marshal, the color requirements for Zombies aren’t
that strict. There’s no reason this deck must be mono-black.Amonkhet offers some white Zombies[more human than Humans -DWest], but the best Zombie lord in Amonkhet was U/B: The Scarab God. It would be easy enough to just
splash The Scarab God in a deck like the deck above, and there’s a good
chance it would improve the deck, but we could also go further into blue to
add Minister of Inquiries to our self-mill plan, allowing us to incorporate
Gate to the Afterlife and God-Pharaoh’s Gift. This pushes us away from

This deck isn’t anything new, we just add Stitcher’s Supplier to help
enable Gate to the Afterlife, with Bone Dragon as a backup plan. The Bone
Dragon is particularly good against decks with Abrade where it’s hard to
count on an artifact, but where a big flying Dragon might be a serious

Demon of Catastrophes is mostly there to make sure our Stitcher’s Supplier
dies, but I think Goblin Chainwhirler should usually take care of that for

Bone Dragon is also a potential one-of in a Dragon deck that uses rummaging
effects to fill its graveyard; Jaya Ballard is fantastic at this, but Core Set 2019 offers further support from Dismissive Pyromancer
and Sarkhan, Fireblood.

The mana in this deck is a little weird, as you may expect in a three-color
Goblin Chainwhirler deck. Unclaimed Territory is a card you’ll want to play
as late as possible; if it’s your third land, it can name Goblin for Goblin
Chainwhirler, but you’d like it to be the fourth land to provide the
missing color for Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.

Dismissive Pyromancer is a really interesting card; a 2/2 for two isn’t
great, but it’s the absolute worst if you’re trying to attack, and its
abilities are very good. This deck isn’t taking advantage of it, but it
also happens to be a Wizard, which has significant implications for the
playability of Wizard’s Lightning.

All the rummaging in this deck is great. Spit Flame, Squee, the Immortal,
and Bone Dragon are all great cards to discard, but it also goes a long way
to smooth the draws to make the mana work and find removal to stay alive
early and Dragons to end the game quickly.

This deck is pretty good at having a legendary creature or planeswalker on
the battlefield, so it’s actually possible Jaya’s Immolating Inferno should
be in the maindeck, but I left it in the sideboard for now, as it’s at its
best against midrange green or white decks, and I don’t know how common
those will be.

Building a deck around Spit Flame is also a great starting point if Nicol
Bolas, the Ravager ends up being very popular, since it lines up perfectly
against opposing copies.

Stepping aside from graveyard decks for just a moment, another way to
position yourself well against opposing Dragons is just to be the biggest
Dragon deck:

Dragon’s Hoard seems really powerful if you can commit to it, and Sarkhan,
Fireblood is extremely scary here. Interestingly, I suspect a common line
might be Dragon’s Hoard on turn three, then on turn four cast Sarkhan, add
two mana, then cast Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. This line should allow you to
untap with Sarkhan to slam another huge Dragon on the following turn.

One of the most exciting elements of this deck is subtly the memorials. The
deck wants a very high land count, but it can get away with that because
Memorial to Unity and Memorial to Folly can both reliably turn into huge
threats in the late game by finding more Dragons.

With only twelve spells that cost less than three, this deck is certainly
on the dangerously clunky side. I’m trying to manage that with Sweltering
Suns out of the sideboard, but the other option is to play Llanowar Elves,
which would require reworking the mana somewhat to have more untapped green
mana. If Goblin Chainwhirler drops off in popularity, this is worth looking

The only new cards in this deck are Isareth, the Awakener and Bone Dragon.
Isareth helps reach a critical mass of cheap legendary creatures to play
Mox Amber, and it also benefits from milling ourselves. Minister of
Inquiries is a weird fit here; it aspires to do just enough to earn its
keep by enabling turn two Chart a Course while surviving Goblin
Chainwhirler, providing energy for sideboard Glint-Sleeve Siphoners and
milling ourselves to set up Rona, Isareth, and creatures to return with
Memorial to Folly, Liliana, Death’s Majesty, or The Scarab God.

Most likely, this kind of strategy still isn’t there, or rather, the payoff
isn’t quite enough to justify playing legendary creatures instead of
playing a normal U/B midrange deck, but Rona and Isareth returning Gonti is
very appealing to me, so I kind of like the way it looks anyway.