Zombie Nexus: A Post-Rotation Thing?
When Bant Nexus decks took off out of nowhere in Standard, I wondered how awkward it was for the designers of Guilds of Ravnica to suddenly worry an unbalanced promo card would break all the mechanics and cards they were introducing after rotation. Now that we see how much of the new Ravnica is built around graveyards, and how much Blue is especially built around getting things into your graveyard and then recasting them with surveil and jump-start, I think Nexus is going to get even more popular. But I don’t think it will be built around protecting Teferi and speeding up his ultimate ability, like the current Bant version. I’m predicting something else: Zombie Nexus.
Probably something that looks like this decklist, all post-rotation:
1 Bone Dragon
4 Death Baron
4 Graveyard Marshal
1 Josu Vess, Lich Knight
4 Stitcher’s Supplier
1 Crucible of Worlds
3 Cast Down
1 Chemister’s Insight
2 Nexus of Fate
4 Sinister Sabotage
3 Vraska’s Contempt
1 Search for Azcanta
1 The Eldest Reborn
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
3 Liliana, Untouched By Death
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Watery Grave
This is my first original decklist, I’d really appreciate feedback.
Early game you defend with your zombies, making sure to get your Stitcher’s Suppliers (who are zombies) killed as often as possible. (For a change, you want the Chainwhirler to rip your 1/1s apart!) You then transition into UB control, using removal and surveil counterspells to deal with bigger threats. Finally, you use Liliana to discard cards and cast your suppliers from the graveyard over and over until your library is down to two Nexus of Fate.
Playing a version of this in Arena, getting down to two cards can happen quickly. What then? Unless you caught that Crucible of Worlds on the plummet down you may not have much mana, but there’s a lot you can do. The Narcomoeba should pop up from discarding, pinging away one damage a turn on infinite turns. Bone Dragon can be cast from the graveyard. Graveyard Marshal can go wide. If you cast the first one on your opponents’ turn, Josu Vess can be kicked at 10 mana from the graveyard with Liliana’s -3 ability, creating a small army of zombie knights with menace. Liliana can go infinitely high with loyalty, since you can discard the Nexus of Fate an unlimited amount of times. With just one mana extra she can bring back four stitchers and -4/-4 anything on the board. There are options.
One problem with the Bant deck was trying to dig for your Nexus of Fate. There were guides about how to stack your Karn, Nissa, Teferi and Azcanta abilities to try and scry as deep as you can for the Nexus. You had to run four Nexus to find them easier, which are brutal draws to get early. Here we see why surveil is better than scry, as we just bypass that digging by dumping everything into the graveyard. People focused on Nexus being an instant as the reason it was broken, and looked to use Teferi’s endstep untapping to exploit it. But that it never goes into the graveyard is just as broken. The two Nexus of Fate will catch you and prevent you from milling yourself to death if you were able to get to seven mana.
Stitcher’s Supplier is just so good at milling yourself and the M19 Liliana is excellent at casting Suppliers from your graveyard. She can cast all four stitchers for four mana with her -3 ability, and she can also use her -3 ability immediately after entering the board. This is the one way she has an edge on Liliana, Death’s Majesty. That more obviously powerful Liliana could bring back one big creature for free, and was often used on the Scarab God or Nico Bolas the Ravager. M19 Liliana can instead go wide with smaller zombies.
We’ll see how it looks, but I’m optimistic against counters and match-ups. Just a bit of life gain from Vraska’s Contempt and Liliana’s ability can balance out burn decks. Since the Nexus never goes in the graveyard and you don’t need much, just a Narcomoeba unopposed in the sky, graveyard hate may not be as effective as it normally would be either. Black has many sideboarding options, especially against control decks.
Cards are still coming out for Guilds of Ravnica, and it is possible to add Green in this deck, given it will have one of the best removal in the game, to get even more goodies. I’m not sure I really want to play a deck like Zombie Nexus, but it is possibly going to be the best way to break the Nexus of Fate card. Feedback is appreciated.