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Modern on a Budget Week 3- COMBO ZOMBIES

With the deck of choice for ‘Week Three’ of my adventure into budget brews returned to it’s storage box, mixed emotions arose as to the performance. Obviously result wise, this week didn’t go particularly well, but it felt like the deck deserved to do better.

Saffron Olive (shout out as always) took this deck into a 5-0 performance on MTGO, which is no easy task. I think the main blocker I came across was leaning too much into the combo aspect of the deck, as opposed to just going wide and turning those cards sideways.

The deck is built around a (kind of) infinite combo, in which you can pump either Carrion Feeder or Nantuko Husk into infinite stats, OR provide infinite drain with Plague Belcher. This is executed by having a Thran Vigil on board, and your persist superstar, Putrid Goblin. Sacrifice the Putrid Goblin to either aforementioned outlet, pump/drain, Putrid Goblin comes back, Thran Vigil puts a counter on the Putrid Goblin, rinse and repeat to your hearts content.

As previously mentioned with past weeks, cheap removal was often a problem here when attempting to execute said combo. A lot of the time it seemed having a Headless Rider (or two) on board provided better value to simply amass an army of zombies. This of course was followed by relentlessly hitting my opponent with the soggy lettuce leaf that is 2/2 beaters.

I fully intend on running this one out again, and attempting a better result. The combo can for sure hit people out of nowhere if they’re not paying attention.

Round One petered out into a tame draw (I think I would have eventually lost to top decks due to the matchup) against Mono Green Tron. Game one was close, but after top decking an Ugin, my board was wiped and we went to game two. Game two… My goodness game two. It did the thing. Turn one Carrion Feeder, turn two Thran Vigil, turn three Putrid Goblin and hit out for 20. It was beautiful.

As mentioned game three was a tame draw, but I amassed a huge board state and my opponent simply had a Wurmcoil whilst trying to top deck an answer. Damping Sphere was huge in this matchup, as a lot of time was taken up trying to deal with said Damping Sphere. On the Tron side though, Pithing Needle naming one of my sacrifice outlets was also a huge blocker for my win con.

Round Two was a swift 0-2 against Zoo. I seem to have the worst luck against this deck. Admittedly I did know I was up against Zoo before the round started as I know the opponent well, and I did snap keep a hand with two Fatal Push in as a result like the scumbag I am. When they mulled to five, I was hopeful, but when a Scion of Draco was slammed turn two into another Scion of Draco on turn three… The lights dimmed. Game two wasn’t as open and shut, but these budget decks really seem to struggle against Zoo. The removal is far too effective, and they slap you very, very hard. Just in case this is being read by Smurfyyy from Team Templar though, Zoo does indeed still suck, and Merfolk will always be infinitely better.

Round Three I faced Affinity yet again (de-ja-vu), and though I ‘did the thing’ and drained my opponent to 0 in game one that was hella close. I believe I ended the game on 1 or 2 life, having had to ‘heart of the cards’ my way to the combo with Undead Augur draws. Game two and three were both hard mulligans on my side, and I simply couldn’t keep up with the speed of Affinity, particularly when my opponent kept a hand of seven in both games. Too many 0 drops for me to deal with, and with a Shadowspear wielding Ornithopter repeatedly slapping my forehead, it didn’t end well.

Round Four was the sole win of the day, and it was against the old but gold 8 Rack archetype. This was a clean 2-0, with Gravecrawler providing a lot of utility here to combat the discard spells. Lilliana of the Veil’s minus ability did slow me down temporarily, but the zombie army prevailed. I never got the chance to abuse Carrion Feeder’s low starting stats, but it was always a thought in my head as a potential sneaky way to get around Ensnaring Bridge, swinging in before pumping up to deal 20 damage.

Unfortunately a lot of the card choices in this deck aren’t transferrable into other deck archetypes, but despite this it was a lot of fun to pilot, and although I performed badly, I think it more than has the legs to do well. If you’ve been eyeing up a deck like Yawgmoth but can’t stomach the price barrier, from my perspective this has a very similar win condition/play pattern. It almost comes across as a win-con you’d be more likely to see in Commander, which also could appeal to some players.

As a brief update to this, during Week Four of the challenge I actually lent this deck to my friend Owen at FNM – he walked away with a solid 3-1! I believe the only loss was to Enchantress, with some very greedy one land keeps, so it does indeed seem like the deck has legs. 100% looking to run this back myself at some point.

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