Last weekend, there were two Standard GPs around the world: one was in Turin, and the other in Washington DC. Many of the players on my testing team were playing in them, and we kept in touch about our findings. After I tested Temur Energy extensively, I chose to trust the Zombie master Christian Calcano. I had a 13th place finish at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation with Zombies, so I took that list, had Calcano tune the list, and went 5-0 on MTGO.

Today I will take you through the list we all played. Despite me doing poorly, Calcano managed to X-4 in DC. I don’t think Zombies is great, but it does beat Red and Mardu, so if you expect a lot of both, you know what to do!

Zombies

The main difference here is Hour of Glory, a kind of overcosted Murder that we needed in order to defeat The Scarab God.

Temur is a close matchup. At the Pro Tour, I defeated both of the players I faced, but things have changed since then.

The Scarab God now rules the late game. You can find your draw positioned well for the late game with Liliana’s Mastery, but you’ll always lose to the mountain of value the God can produce. Hour of Glory is also strong versus Rhonas, the Indomitable, which is otherwise rock solid against you.

We rightfully identified that Liliana, the Last Hope and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet were less relevant right now, so we chose to cut them for more discard spells in the bad matchups (Gift, Control, and Ramp).

Gonti, Lord of Luxury was just okay against Temur and fine versus the slowest decks. I’m not sold on it, but I wanted to try to fight slow decks with wrath effects, like Ramp and Control.

Never // Return is mainly for Mono-Red’s Chandras, and it’s decent versus The Scarab God as you can remove it for 7 mana.

Sideboard Plan

Mono-Red

On the Play

Out

In

On the Draw

Out

In

Mono-Red is a great matchup. You can’t attack them until you reach the turning point, and make sure they don’t burn you out. Your goal is to stabilize the board, and then you can easily win.

Temur

Out

In

This matchup is very close, and we discussed at length what to board out for the four extra removal spells. We thought that Dark Salvation was just fine and they started boarding in Negate, so we didn’t want to have too many expensive sorcery-speed spells.

The post-sideboard matchup slows down a lot. Be aware of Radiant Flames and never commit more than two Zombies that won’t come back.

Zombies

Out

In

The mirror is about the lord effect and Skysovereign Flagship. Make sure to gain as much value as you can with Diregraf Colossus and Dark Salvation.

Remember that you can kill your opponent’s Cryptbreaker with Dark Salvation for X=0, targeting them on turn 1.

U/R Control/Grixis Control

Out

In

This is a bad matchup. The Scarab God has begun to pop up even here, so Hour of Glory is good, as well as being serviceable versus Torrential Gearhulk.

Dispossess isn’t the best but it’s fine—it’s better than the 6th or 7th removal spell.

Make sure to play your Cryptbreaker only when you already have two Zombies in play, don’t let it just trade for a removal spell. The same goes for Relentless Dead. It would be better if you waited until you had a Liliana’s Mastery in play to let it survive Magma Spray.

Gift

Out

In

This isn’t a great matchup but Dispossess can turn it into a great one. Just be aware of their possible sideboard plan with Chandra, Flamecaller and Glorybringer, and you’ll be good.

I like boarding out Liliana’s Mastery and keeping in all the removal spells since you can beat them if they reanimate some small creatures, and you already have a decent board presence.

G/W Ramp

Out

In

G/W Ramp has been a very popular deck recently, and one I was very close to playing because my friend Federico del Basso was doing great with it and really talked it up to me. Unfortunately, in my games, it was very fragile, and the matchup with Mono-Red  put me off playing it. The deck is good versus Zombies though—they have 6 wrath effects, which will carry them to the late game. Ramp is another reason why I like Hour of Glory over Murder, since it answers World Breaker and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.

This Standard format is almost over and I had a blast playing it after the Aetherworks Marvel ban. As I said in my past articles, I’m sure Standard will be great for many years to come, since Wizards has now been putting a lot of effort into keeping it that way.