Hello & welcome to this weekly deck tech! This week we’re shambling into EDH for a very spooky deck: Gisa & Geralf.
Since I talked about Merfolk, Goblins, Humans & Elves already, the only major tribe missing was Zombies; while there is some zombie decks floating around in Modern & Standard, they are often subpar and so different from each other that doing a deck tech about them would feel weird. EDH on the other hand is where zombies thrive, where they can roam free and use their full potential. The new addition of Gisa & Geralf with Eldritch Moon just gave zombies the commander they needed & deserved. Let’s jump right into it.
Let’s start big and cut straight to the chase: Lords. Zombies have access to plenty of good lords to pump them up & give them really nice utility. Cards like Metallic Mimic, Cemetery Reaper, Undead Warchief, Lord of the Undead, Zombie Master, Death Baron, Mikaeus the Unhallowed, Risen Executioner, Door of Destinies, Coat of Arms, Urza’s Incubator, Obelisk of Urd & Graf Harvest. With those cards your zombies will be bigger, badder & meaner.
Now that you’ve got some Lords to pump up your nice little decaying buddies, you need more ways to generate as many zombies as possible, as quickly as possible. Zombies are extremely good at overwhelming a board via tokens. You’ve got plenty to choose from, with cards like Diregraf Colossus, Army of the Damned, Ghoulcaller Gisa, Grave Titan, Stitcher Geralf, Noosegraf Mob, Rite of Replication, Undead Alchemist, Liliana’s Reaver, Havengul Runebinder, Kalitas Traitor of Ghet, Empty the Pits, Dark Salvation, Dread Summons, From Under the Floorboards & Moan of the Unhallowed. Just try to swarm your opponent with some 2/2s (that tend to be bigger, but whatever) and unless they have board wipes, there’s not much they can do about it.
A good thing with Black decks is that most of the time if you don’t need something on the spot you can just discard it to get something else & just bring it back later if needed. You have a few nice cards that play with a discard synergy like Crypt Breaker, Forgotten Creation (which I always forget exists…), Ancient Excavation, Geralf’s Masterpiece, Advanced Stitchwing, & Grimoire of the Dead (which can be an amazing game ender); or cards that feed your graveyard straight from the library like Corpse Connoisseur, Entomb, Buried Alive, Geralf’s Mindcrusher, Epiphany at the Drownyard, Fact or Fiction & Forbidden Alchemy. Just fuel your graveyard while getting some card advantage.
Since you’re already fueling your graveyard with zombies from your hand library, why not use the ones on the field as well? Keep the tokens & the lords, get rid of the rest! Or you can also get rid of your tokens, it’s all up to you. You have some great cards that benefit from sacrificing cards; stuff like Grimgrin Corpse-Born, Sidisi Undead Vizier, Corpse Harvester, Corpse Augur, Scourge of Nel Toth, Stronghold Assassin, Nantuko Husk, Carrion Feeder, Eliminate the Competition, Grave Pact & Dictate of Erebos. Just sacrifice those zombies and be rewarded by great value and a lot of pain in your opponent’s eyes.
Bring Out Your Dead
So now that your graveyard is filled with goodies and the board filled with more goodies, what are you going to do? Just bring back the sleeping zombies from your graveyard to join the party! You have so many options (we’ve seen Grimoire of the Dead just a second ago) with cards like Gravecrawler, Prized Amalgam, Relentless Dead, Havengul Lich, Magus of the Will, Yawgmoth’s Will, Geth Lord of the Vault, Gravespawn Sovereign, Phyrexian Delver, Possessed Scaab, Fatestitcher, Sheoldread Whispering One, Gravedigger, Ghoulraiser, Cruel Revival, Victimize, Living Death, Living End, Ever After, Dread Return, Rise from the Dark Realms, Ghoulcaller’s Chant, Dread Slaver, Rise from the Grave, Cemetery Recruitment, Patriarch’s Bidding, Reanimate, Beacon of the Unrest, Nim Deathmantle, Whip of Erebos & Animate Dead. Use your graveyard as another resource! Oh, and try getting some huge zombies while the graveyards are full, like Soulless One, Unbreathing Horde, Liliana’s Elite & Wight of Precinct Six.
There is no way around it, you need to deal with cards. Every deck needs some removal and this one is no different. Here are some good options to consider: Fleshbag Marauder, Yahenni’s Expertise, Fatal Push, Noxious Ghoul, Custodi Lich, Skinrender, Vengeful Pharaoh, Cyclonic Rift, Sudden Spoiling, Doom Blade, Hero’s Downfall, Decree of Pain, Tragic Slip, Life’s Finale, Damnation, Call to the Grave & Black Sun’s Zenith. To be honest you have access to way more but it’s really up to personal preferences.
Slow Zombies, Fast Mana
Little know fact, black has access to quite a bit of mana acceleration; you just have to know where to look! You can play stuff like any mana rocks, Ashnod’s Altar, Phyrexian Altar, Sol Ring, Cabal Coffers, Nykthos Shrine to Nyx, Phyrexian Tower, Magus of the Coffers, Crypt Ghast & Songs of the Damned. Ramp up and swarm your opponents with zombies!
Weirdly enough, zombies have a tendency to drain life out of your opponents. Odd, yet very reliable win condition! Cards like Lich Lord of Unx, Vengeful Dead, Shepherd of Rot, Geralf’s Messenger, Gempalm Polluter, Raging Dead (not really draining, but it deals quite a chunk of damage), Exsanguinate & Foul-Tongue Shriek. It’s not a lot, but just with a few of these cards you can finish off a game quite easily.
Dawn of the Dead
Now that we’ve seen the pillars of the deck, let’s see how to take this overboard & really make sure that the zombies take control of everything. Obviously Rooftop Storm is pretty much a game ender, but other cards like Liliana the Last Hope, Liliana of the Dark Realms, Liliana Vess & Liliana Heretical Healer are all amazing cards that will help close the game. You have also access to amazing card advantage to really take the game away from people like Phyrexian Arena, Necropotence & Graveborn Muse.
That’s it for this week! I hope you guys enjoyed this deck tech as much as I did. If I missed anything let me know. I’ll see you guys next week for a Standard deck tech.
Okay, that title is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t hate Jashi, and I’ll probably be fine with how it’s portrayed throughout the rest of the series, as they only have two episodes left and a lot of threads to tie up. So the romance between Jack and Ashi will probably be just another one of those threads and not take centre stage.
Like it did in this episode.
Full Disclosure: I was on the side of the fandom hoping Jashi wouldn’t become canon, instead hoping that the two would have a more father/daughter or teacher/student relationship. Along with that idea fitting both characters well, it would be a nice diversion from the common male/female dynamic that often ends with the two romantically involved.
That being said, I was not against the idea of them getting together and, while I did have a few issues with the age gap, I did not consider it unhealthy or immoral. So when the last few episodes began to hint that romance was where the writers were taking these two, I thought, “Okay, as long as they handle it well and naturally for the characters, I can get behind this.”
That is not what they did.
What the writers did was every other clichéd rom-com gag they could in 22 minutes. I get that this was supposed to be a lighter, more comedic episode to lead up to the finale and progress Jack and Ashi’s relationship, but boy, was this the wrong way to do it. Most of the humour came off as forced and uncomfortable, relying more on the audience accepting what was happening because “that’s how these stories go” than on anything that would emerge naturally from these characters.
Now yes, if Jack was attracted to someone he probably would be rather awkward and not know what to say, being a man of few words already and having pretty much no experience with romance. But really, I think he would know better than to allow himself to start getting flustered over touching a woman’s hand while he’s in a fight for his life. (I know it was supposed to be funny. It wasn’t.)
And if Jack’s behaviour is a little out of character, Ashi’s is completely out of character, particularly the very end. Yes, I’m talking about the kiss.
A few weeks before this episode is supposed to be taking place, Ashi and her sisters were flummoxed at the sight of two deer nuzzling in affection. They didn’t even understand what the deer were doing then, and we’re supposed to believe that in this short time her first impulse after a near-death experience would be to make out with Jack? Would she even know what making out was?
It would’ve been so easy to have the two admit their love in a way that fit them. When the monster was dead, they have a good laugh at how silly they (particularly Jack) had been acting and that they were both almost naked, and then have them exchange a tender look and hold hands. It’s nice, quiet, and understated compared to all the over-the-top antics of the rest of the episode, but completely in character for both of them. You could still have Dean Martin singing “Everybody Loves Someone” as the two enjoy their moment. It might even be funnier as you’d expect that song accompanying a kiss or slow dance, but here it would just be a hand hold, and it would be just as beautiful.
But that isn’t what we got. Instead the only Jashi moment we got this week that wasn’t facepalm worthy was the desert scene where Jack made himself and Ashi some nice leaf hats. And even putting Jashi aside (which is almost impossible in this episode), there wasn’t much more to dig into. The prison ship and the desert scenes were cool and drawn beautifully, but the green tigers were rather silly, and the prison monster pretty lackluster. I know they were going for an ‘Alien‘ feel here, but it lacked any of the suspense or terror that that particular monster evoked, which is sad given this is the show that gave us some thrillers with the creepy zombie graveyard and the even creepier haunted house. Not to mention the seppuku ghosts from this season.
I would go so far as to rank this as my least favourite Samurai Jack episode; not just this season, but overall. Before this, my least favourite episode was ‘Jack and the Rave’ but I disliked that episode because it was boring and its villain forgettable. This just made me angry; that the writers who up to this point had done a really good job telling the final chapter of Jack took such a crummy detour for a few jokes and clumsy shipping.
I’m still here for Jack until the very end, and I can still get behind Jashi. But fuck this episode.