Kicking Butt For Nothin’ On Magic Online

I wanted to build a fun, competitive deck for the occasional MOL foray. And it had to be cheap. Surprisingly, the answer came in the form of an Invasion draft, and it’s a blazingly-fast deck for those who want to goof around seriously.

Since Magic Online began several months ago, I have quietly logged on and played in drafts… Exclusively. I have not so much as opened one pack outside of a draft. I’ve plugged around $100 into the Online Fest thus far. Eventually, I can see myself having enough cards to start trading and building a competitive deck. But not yet.

Occasionally, I just get a hankering for Magic. To slate my thirst, I simply load up that good ol’ Magic Online engine and go to town with some draft or other. The problem is that I always don’t have the time or inclination for a draft; maybe Undressed is coming on MTV in an hour, or something. I still need my Magic fix, so I crank up the program and head over to Casual Play – Type Two.

I could randomly assign sixty cards to a deck and have fun playing it. Some day I ought to just play every card in my collection as my deck; that would be so funny. But until then, I want to build a fun, competitive deck. And it has to be cheap.

The problem with Magic Online, or Magic in real life, is that in order to build a good, highly competitive deck, you need resources… And quite frankly, I don’t feel like plopping down $500 on packs so that I have a good collection to build from. So, until I have developed that kind of a foundation, I’ll stay out of the competitive rooms.

I won’t be trading my Birds, City, Painlands, Rage, Upheaval, and Call, of course… But I do want to build a deck that has a good chance of winning, is fun, and is easy to trade for the essential pieces.

It was easier to find than you might think.

I was drafting Invasion-Planeshift-Apocalypse in U/B/r, and emerged from Invasion with several good cards – including a Probe, Duskwalker, Vodalian Zombie, Agonizing Demise, Plague Spores, Ravenous Rats, Recoil, and so forth. My first Planeshift pick was a Nightscape Familiar, followed by a Scuta and Magma Burst. In the fourth pack, there wasn’t much, so I decided to grab that Lord of the Undead, then followed that up with a second Nightscape Familiar, Phyrexian Bloodstock and Confound. Then my eighth pick came:


Oh yes, I was so set.

I grab it, and manage to nab a couple of Maggot Carriers and a Lava Zombie in the back half of the pack. Follow that with a Jilt, Grave Defiler, Brass Herald, Phyrexian Rager, and Last Caress from Apoc – and my deck was practically built. I had a Zombie deck in Limited.

It rolled through the other decks faster than a moped on diesel. Definitely an entrant into "Abe’s Greatest Hits Vol. II: The Online Version." More importantly, I had a theme for a deck already built.

Remember, I want cheap, quick to build, and somewhat competitive. Trading for Lords of the Undead and Deadapults is much easier than trying to find Upheavals and stuff. I check my collection and I have, without trading:

4 Maggot Carriers

4 Nightscape Familiars

2 Shivan Zombies

2 Lava Zombies

3 Crypt Keepers

2 Grave Defiler

1 Brass Herald

1 Lord of the Undead

1 Deadapult

I decide to up my Shivan Zombie, Defiler, Lord and Deadapult count: I hit the trade rooms and find Lords easily enough. A few nice Odyssey Block Uncommons secures me two Lords.

Deadapults? They’re harder to find. I swing by the casual trading room and eventually find them over an hour later. I trade a nice rare for two of them. I still need one more Lord, and finally find that last one before I log off for the night – I trade a Parallel Evolution for it. Before I grab sleep for the night, my deck’s foundation looks thusly:

4 Maggot Carriers

4 Shivan Zombies

4 Crypt Keepers

4 Lords of the Undead

4 Grave Defilers

2 Nightscape Familiars

3 Deadapult

2 Lava Zombie

I awaken the following morning and go play some Madden 2003. It just came out and I’m in a Madden state of mind. I spend my time split between work, Madden, and a certain feminine presence. I don’t hit Wired Magic until a couple of days later. When I finally get around to booting up my Online fun, I look back over my deck and realize that I need something else. I start adding cards and trading for commons before I get:

4 Maggot Carriers

4 Shivan Zombies

4 Crypt Keepers

4 Lords of the Undead

4 Grave Defilers

3 Deadapult

2 Lava Zombie

4 Terminate

1 Chainer’s Edict

4 Volcanic Hammers

I have an Edict left over from a draft, but I don’t really want to trade for any more; they are too expensive online. I nab some Terminates and Hammers for removal. I take out the rest of the Familiars – they didn’t fit the aggressive theme very well. That leaves me with thirty-four cards. There is still room for disruption or more Zombies. Maybe Duress, Bog Down, Fiery Temper or such might help. I throw in twenty-two lands and four Duresses and hit the casual room.

Now, I do not simply want to build some random Zombie deck and that’s it: I would like to have the best Zombie deck in the casual room. So I playtest my Zombie deck. I beat up a few aggro players before rolling over to a Goblin deck. Why are Goblins whooping it up on my Zombies?

Honestly, which would you rather play? A bunch of small, annoying creatures that make chirping noises like chipmunks and scurry around underfoot… Or their corpses? That’s what I thought.

Corpses are cool.

I lose a match to a ‘Tog deck and taunt the ‘Tog player in the chat room. Others join in, eventually causing the player to leave the Casual Room. The Duresses just are not cutting it for me – this room is too aggro. Plus, I need more Zombies.

I toss in that Scuta I drafted. It should help in the aggro matchup. I also grab a Zombie Trailblazer for cheap off a friend, and finally find a home for those two Carrion Wurms I have. Organ Grinder and Putrid Imp are also possibilities, but I elect to continue the bigger route for those last few cards. Plus, playing with Carrion Wurms and a Scuta yield several cool points.

I go back and hit the room, modified deck in tow. I run up a stalemate versus a green beef deck, before killing the player with recurring Deadapulted Maggot Carriers. In another matchup, I am losing vociferously to a White Weenie deck before I topdeck a Deadapult and throw my entire army at my opponent for the win. The following match sees an early Deadapult coming down inside a counter shield, winning the match by making every Zombie a Shock.

My moment of Zen arrives: Deadapult is really quite good. And I am only playing three!

I hit the trade room and try to find that last remaining Deadapult. I actually find this one in literal seconds. It only cost me that Brass Herald I had, too. I take out the Carrion Wurms, which were way too slow, and throw in that last Deadapult and an Organ Grinder for the stalled matches. I go back to my beat.

Four matches and four wins later I am building confidence in my deck. I decide that it is time for the big test – add a sideboard and hit the competitive room!

Initial Sideboard:

4 Nightscape Familiar

1 Tsabo’s Decree

3 Disorder

4 Duress

2 Bog Down

1 Boil

I have the Decree, so why not play it? It can kill all Mongrels or Wurms, for example; the Familiars can block and stall. Remember that the Defilers also regenerate, so that combination can make for some stalled games. I play a few decks.

U/G trounces me.

Another U/G trounces me.

I steamroll Mono-Black.

Lose to White Weenie.

U/G trounces me.

It’s a quick story – quick matches, too. My Zombie deck does not need a lot of time to win or lose. My regenerating team would be a lot better if it could, oh, say – block Wonder-led flyers! I take out the Decree and Bog Downs and add a Boil, Decompose, and Cremate (I have few cards, remember?).

I lose to another U/G before winning my first U/G matchup! A recurring Crypt Keeper kept the flashback and Wonder away from my opponent. I then get the nuts draw versus another U/G deck:

1st Turn – Maggot Carrier (Opponent: 19)

2nd Turn – Crypt Keeper, attack (Opp: 18)

3rd Turn – Attack (Opp: 15), Lava Zombie returning Carrier

4th Turn – Lord of Undead, Attack, Opponent blocks Lava with Looter. (Opp: 12) Carrier (Opp: 11)

5th Turn – Attack with all non-Lords. Opponent blocks Lava with Arrogant Wurm. (Opp: 6). Recur Lava Zombie. Cast Lava Zombie, returning Carrier.

Opponent scoops!

The unrelenting power of the undead is revealed! And the beauty of this is that my opponent cast a second-turn Looter, fourth-turn Wurm. Not too unusual there. These fast hands are actually quite frequent. Carriers, Lords, Lava Zombies, Defilers, Deadapults – there are several ways to keep the pressure up. Lords and Defilers are actual ways of netting card advantage. That Organ Grinder gets doubled to keep up the pressure, replacing the solitary Chainer’s Edict, and the deck is complete.

Allow me to present my current Type Two deck. It is cheap to build, easy to play, and fun as all get out:


4 Maggot Carrier

4 Crypt Keeper

4 Shivan Zombie

3 Lava Zombie

1 Phyrexian Scuta

4 Grave Defiler

4 Lords of the Undead

4 Deadapult

4 Terminate

4 Volcanic Hammer

2 Organ Grinder

2 Urborg Volcanoes

1 Shadowblood Ridge

11 Swamps

8 Mountains


4 Duress

4 Nightscape Familiar

2 Boil

1 Decompose

1 Cremate

3 Disorder

The beauty of the deck is that it can be made better with a few more resources: Maybe Void, Blazing Specter, or Pyre Zombie could help. Phyrexian Arena? Maybe. Flametongue Kavu, Violent Eruption and so forth could all contribute to the mayhem.

If I had to add some cards, I would definitely look to Phyrexian Arena to help with the pressure: Sometimes Defilers do not get anything and Lords get killed. Then the card advantage dries up. Arenas would help with that. Plus, the deck plays fast enough that Arenas should rarely result in a hand glut. Arenas also help recover from a Wrath or Upheaval more quickly.

Anyways, you can build a deck relatively cheaply in the Online version of cardboard crack: The deck can even win some games. Plus, it is loads of fun to play.

Good luck building your random fun theme decks, and may they always roll over U/G.

Until later,

Abe Sargent