Monday, 30 May 2016

In Your Head, In Your Head, Balthor, Balthor

When I was travelling around North America last year, EDH was a great way to kill time in stores where I knew no one. The players I tend to get along with are the ones trying to win PPTQ's. Typically those players don't play pick-up games of EDH in stores with strangers but despite that, it was a good way to just hang and get a feel for local lives. Also, if you don't mind waiting seven minutes until your turn and just let go of your bullshit, EDH is a blast.

I've only ever had one EDH deck and I love it. When I first started playing magic my friends were given their cousin's collection. This collection was comprised mostly of Odyssey, Onslaught and Mirrodin block commons and uncommons. Odyssey and Onslaught block had heaps of cards which read, "play this with other zombie cards". With minimal understanding of the game and little idea of how to build a deck, that was a clear seed to build with. The zombie decks didn't win much but the art was dark and badass.

Those first months of playing Magic with my friends were awesome fun; Sitting cross-legged on rugs, drinking cold milk and milo, watching Big Brother Up Late and playing Tony Hawk's Proskater 2. I wanted to pay homage to those times.

BALTHOR THE DEFILED <<< link to decklist

100 card decks are a lot to take in. I'll break it down:

Fill your graveyard with as many zombies as you can before you get to seven mana, then bring them all back with Balthor.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel a.k.a Grey Merchant of Ass-phodel or Gary, typically wins the game. This deck was ok before Grey Merchant got printed, now it's great.
I love the feel of the deck. It really feels like you're commanding a horde of relentless zombies. They get obliterated and just get back up again. More, more, more, again, again, again.

I'll categorise the cards:

Yes, he goes to the command zone after you activate him. No, I don't play minions. I play zombiiiiiieeesss!!!!
Check out that gnarly hat. Dunno what's going on there, two twisted trumpets?
As a rule I never cast Balthor when I haven't got the mana remaining to activate him; otherwise he'll surely die (again) before I can activate him. I almost always activate immediately. If you give your opponents the chance to untap/draw cards then you risk some kind of instant-speed-graveyard-removal-split-second-ability-countering nonsense.

I've never written about an EDH deck before. Adding links to all these cards would take ages, so I'm only going to link the unusual ones, which is still a lot.

Note that Balthor brings back EVERYONE'S creatures, therefore I'm playing cards which just fill my graveyard. I'm not playing Mesmeric Orb, for example.
Buried Alive typically finds Stinkweed Imp, Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.
Corpse Connoisseur
Putrid Imp: This deck is weird in that you would rather have zombies in your graveyard than your hand. Putrid Imp lets you put all the Zombies you've drawn from Skullclamp and Grave Deflier, into the graveyard. Also great for discarding dredge cards.
Bazaar of Baghdad: Only just added this to the list since I don't like proxying in EDH. However, if I had a Bazaar I would definitely play it.
Sultai Emissary: I think this card would actually be better if the manifest went straight to the graveyard heh.
Stinkweed Imp: One of the key cards in the deck. This is your go-to find with Entomb, Buried Alive and Corpse Connoisseur.
Street Wraith: Notably not a zombie. Just in the deck for Crypt of Agadeem and devotion for Grey Merchant.
Necromancer's Assistant
Necromancer's Stockpile: Insane with Stinkweed Imp. I need to keep zombie tokens in my deckbox just for this card, which is taxing considering it's a 100-card sized deck.
Gempalm Polluter
Undead Gladiator
Viscera Dragger
Twisted Abomination
Returned Centaur
Crow of Dark Tidings
Codex Shredder: When to activate this is interesting. If you suspect someone will be using a 'put on top of library' tutor (including yourself) then you may want hold it up.

Your opponents often feel safe thinking that Balthor is seven mana to cast and activate. These sorceries mess with that timing, leading to serious blowouts.
Zombie Apocalypse
Patriarch's Bidding
Living Death

Gray Merchant of Asphodel: As mentioned, this guy is the main win condition. Kokusho, the Evening Star is banned as a commander. Grey Merchant is Kokusho on crack in this deck.
Mogis's Marauder; Turns all your Dawn of the Dead zombies into 28 Days zombies.
Shepherd of Rot
Vengeful Dead

Important for preventing your zombies from getting exiled or put back into your library
Nantuko Husk.
Nim Shambler
Phyrexian Ghoul
Carrion Feeder
Corpse BlockadeLol such a bad card, love that it works in this deck.

If you mass-reanimate with Grey Merchant, a sacrificer and one of these, you get an extra Merchant trigger, which is game winning. Note that Phyrexian Delver wouldn't work since you can't sacrifice Grey Merchant into the graveyard before you need to target it with Phyrexian Delver.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Gravespawn Sovereign
Apprentice NecromancerApologies, in the art it looks like its head is coming out of a vagina.

Crypt of Agadeem: Insane in this deck.
Cabal Coffers: Often tutored for. Urborg and Zombie Trailblazer give this a little extra kick
Expedition Map: Finds the above two. Bazaar of Baghdad and Cavern of Souls are also common finds.
Terrain Generator
Myriad Landscape
Thespian's Stage: Copies Cabal Coffers or Crypt of Agadeem.
Undead WarchiefTypically dies before your next turn but often gives you a nice power boost to attack with the one turn it's alive undead.
Temple of the False God
Sol Ring: When will this be banned from EDH?
Mana Crypt: When will this be banned from EDH?

Sidisi, Undead Vizier: hmmm the royal vizier!
Demonic Tutor
Diabolic Intent
Vampiric Tutor: Typically finds Mana Crypt turn one.
Imperial Seal: Typically finds Mana Crypt turn one.

I've been wrecked by Anafenza too many times. All these except Fleshbag Marauder and Stronghold Assassin are new additions which I haven't tried yet but I like the safety they provide. The four-cost tap ones will probably be too slow but I'm trying them.
Stronghold Assassin
Tsabo's Assassin
Eastern Paladin
Western Paladin also kills Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, which is another problem creature.
Fleshbag Marauder
Phyrexian Bloodstock

Good to have against scary red and black creatures of your opponents', which Balthor would bring back, e.g. Massacre Wurm.
Withered Wretch
Agent of Erebos
Crypt Creeper

Zombie Trailblazer. Surprisingly powerful. Its ability isn't effected by summoning sickness and with enough zombies you can lock all your opponents' mana for the rest of the game.
Vengeful Pharaoh
Gloomdrifter: Kills surprisingly few creatures but I'm keeping it in for now.
Skinrender: Same as above.
Lifebane Zombie: Ability is rarely relevant. Could be cut soon.
Grave Defiler
Noxious Ghoul: Devastating effect. Ignores hexproof and indestructible. Typially kills ALL your opponents' creatures.
Skullclamp: Obv obv
Gravecrawler: Nice with Skullclamp...I should probably play Bloodghast.
Zombie MasterMakes all your zombies unblockable with Urborg or Zombie Trailblazer. Unblockable isn't very good though, since you normally get wrathed before you can attack with all your zombies. Zombie Master was not a zombie until the great creature type overhaul a few years back.
Geralf's Messenger

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Cavern of Souls: Good idea to slow roll this until you want to cast Balthor.
28 Swamp


  • Graveyard removal. I have a lot success with this deck because I'm not part of a regular EDH playgroup. If I was, they would surely begin to play graveyard hate. Static enchantments and artifacts are especially problematic. It may be worth adding a single Karn Liberated or Ulamog or Oblivion Stone to the deck.
  • Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite.
  • Fast combo. The deck is low on interactive spells.
Make sure you get up to speed with your zombie movie and pop-culture references before you play this deck. Gotta bust out those quotes with gusto!

Gold mask. Definitely inspired by Grey Merchant of Asphodel


Luke Mulcahy

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