Much like this year’s Archenemy, last year’s Planechase had a deck devoted to Zombies and the Undead. As previously reviewed, Bring About the Undead Apocalypse was a delightfully intricate concoction, particarly when weighed against its predecessor, Zombie Empire. It had fatties, recursion, and loads of ways to cheat the beats into your graveyard for reanimation.
Zombie Empire, by contrast, distinguishes itself with a more Tribally-based theme. There is recursion, but it’s less for cheating the deck’s bruisers into play and more for asset recovery. The deck is single-minded in purpose, and has more or less one win condition:
The trick, then, is to do this well, and to give you all the tools you need to accomplish it. How does Zombie Empire fare? Let’s begin by looking at the fundamental building block of the deck: its Zombies.
It’s been awhile since we reviewed a deck in the format of playtest-then-analyse, but if ever there was a good candidate for a revisit of that model, it’s Zombie Empire on a nice, tranquil Friday night (this was written on 8/20). Having played the deck before, it holds few surprises but still can be a lot of fun to play, and to give it a foil Sam picked up Elemental Thunder in her comfortable colours of Green and Red.
On the play, Sam kicks things off with a Shivan Oasis before passing, and I as expected drop a Swamp. The first play of the game goes to Sam’s Fertile Ground, which she casts upon her Oasis for a nice little shot of ramping. I repeat my turn 1 play.
Things kick off in the third, as Sam gets out a Rockslide Elemental, a 1/1 for now but with the promise of getting bigger. I make an investment in my future, passing up playing a creature for Phyrexian Arena. Although I’ll take damage for it every round (and I’ve died to it before), getting the card advantage out this early massively skews the game in my favour.
To give Metallic Dreams a good run for its money and to see how the deck functions under pressure, Sam and I decided to put it through its paces against Zombie Empire, a nasty mono-Black Planechase deck. Much like Phyrexia vs The Coalition, it would be interesting to see how an essentially five-colour deck handled itself against a single-coloured one. Here are our game notes…
Centuries before the first tides of the Quicksilver Sea rose to meet each new sun, Mirrodin’s light shone on the golems alone…
While not directly tied to Mirrodin thematically, it would be impossible not to acknowledge the heavy imprint of that set and story upon the Metallic Dreams Planechase deck- a design which rests very heavily on the golems and their affiliated kin. Metallic Dreams is an uncommon thing- a deck which shies away from allegiance to and playstyle of any particular set of colours, instead choosing to both embrace and shun the coloured path on its way to victory. That may seem impossibly contradictory, but once you dig into the deck it begins to make perfect sense.
We’ll start our analysis of this most unconventional deck in a conventional manner, by focusing first upon its creatures and the role they play. As with Archenemy, Ertai’s Lament is less worried about the Planechase mechanic (planes, die, and all), but rather how the actual preconstructed deck itself plays out. The Planechase design proper can be lots of fun and has been covered extensively elsewhere- we’ll be looking at the deck.