We’re back on Innistrad, everyone’s favorite gothic horror plane. Midnight Hunt’s Undead Unleashed is a ghoulish romp featuring zombies aplenty. Is this precon to die for, or rotten enough to shamble past? Let’s find out in this precon review and upgrade guide.
Wilhelt is a 3/3 Zombie Warrior for four mana. Whenever another Zombie you control dies, you’ll get to make a 2/2 Zombie token with decayed if that previous Zombie didn’t have decayed. That’s already pretty good, but to whet the appetite further, you can also sacrifice a Zombie during your end step to draw a card.
For a precon commander, this is right where you want to be: card advantage and synergy galore. As for playing with Wilhelt in the wider format, I think it’s actually a really great option for Zombie decks, especially seeing as though you can lose a whole board of Zombies and get an immediate replacement board of decayed Zombie tokens. It’s perfect for when board wipes happen.
If you’re looking for an easy upgrade to the deck, you’re more than welcome to blow the budget on Tombstone Stairwell. You read it right — the Zombies from the Stairwell will be replaced by decayed Zombies every turn. That’s incredibly good, but also the reason the card has spiked.
Thankfully, we have cheaper ways to get value from Wilhelt’s ability. Rise of the Dread Marn can be foretold, and if we can get Poppet Stitcher to flip, we can loop our Zombies with Wilhelt. Essentially, the Poppet Factory means the Zombie tokens we get from Wilhelt will lose decayed, so we can then sacrifice them to make more Zombies. All we need is a free sacrifice outlet to profit from this loop.
Undead Unleashed Deck Review
If you’ve ever wanted to brew with Zombies in Commander, I’ve got good news — this precon is a really great way to get started.
Before I even get into the new cards, let’s look at some of the reprints.
There are some classic Zombie cards in this deck, and some that were desperate for a reprint. Gravespawn Sovereign hadn’t even had a new border printing! Just looking at the value of the reprints, you’re getting more than double the value of the precon. They’re also powerful reprints; Rooftop Storm and Gravespawn Sovereign are two of my favorite reasons to be in Zombies.
As far as new cards go, there are some really interesting designs in this kit. Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth is a flavorful and mechanically interesting option for an alternative commander, while cards like Empty the Laboratory capture the polymorph dream, and Shadow Kin is just cool.
There are some synergistic and powerful Zombies and graveyard cards, and you’re sure to have a lot of fun playing the precon and beyond. Ravenous Rotbelly is disgustingly good for a Fleshbag Marauder effect, and Geistcatcher is going to find a home in so many Aristocrats decks.
The deck plays really well out of the box, and is one of the better precons recently when it comes to consistency and ability to formulate a game plan. Wilhelt’s ability to draw cards is no small part of this.
Upgrading Undead Unleashed
When sitting down to work out the upgrades for this deck, I wanted to be clear on what our game plan is.
The win condition — aside from combat damage, of course — is going to revolve around creatures entering or leaving play.
Our combos will either be using Wilhelt or Rooftop Storm. With Wilhelt and Poppet Factory in play, our tokens will not have decayed, which allows us to do an infinite loop with Altar of Dementia, milling our opponents out. When we sacrifice a Zombie token, Wilhelt will give us another.
Our other combo uses Rooftop Storm and Acererak. This allows us to loop Acererak indefinitely, and if we send him through the Lost Mine of Phandelver, we get infinite drains to finish off our opponents.
We also need a little more removal, so adding some removal pieces that support our Zombie synergies is a good way forward. Noxious Ghoul has no right to be as good as it is, and we should absolutely be playing it.
Making tokens and going wide is still a big part of our game plan, though, so packing extra ways to enable that is a good choice. I really like Noosegrab Mob for this, as it synergizes excellently with the Gravespawn Sovereign in the precon. You can make the Zombies, use them to reanimate Noosegraf Mob, and go again.
Cards to Swap Out
When considering what to remove, I’ve opted to reduce our curve where possible. As much as some of the X spells and sorceries are attractive options, they don’t really help with our overall strategy, which is now to draw into our combo or swarm with deathtouch tokens.
The creatures I’ve chosen to remove have largely been to either reduce the curve, or to get in much stronger and more value-based options instead. I’ve also cut a lot of the superfluous milling cards, as we’re not laser focused on milling opponents except as an infinite combo. These cards are good in certain versions of the deck, but ultimately not what we’re trying to do.
- 1 Eater of Hope
- 2 Island
- 1 Swamp
- 1 Curse of Unbinding
- 1 Liliana’s Mastery
- 1 Curse of the Restless Dead
- 1 Hour of Eternity
- 1 Zombie Apocalypse
- 1 Drown in Dreams
- 1 Sky Diamond
- 1 Dread Summons
- 1 Dark Salvation
- 1 Ruthless Deathfang
- 1 Stitcher Geralf
- 1 Liliana’s Devotee
- 1 Spark Reaper
- 1 Corpse Augur
- 1 Havengul Runebinder
- 1 Shadow Kin
- 1 Syphon Flesh
Example $50 Undead Unleashed Upgrade
Our list of upgrades spans a solid 21 cards. We’ve been able to get some really strong pieces in the budget, including Drown in the Loch and Infernal Grasp as interaction. I’ve also included the fantastic Wand of Orcus from the AFR Commander Decks — deathtouch on our Zombies, plus making more? What’s not to love? As we love deathtouch, Vizier of the Scorpion also makes an appearance.
- 1 Acererak the Archlich
- 1 Altar of Dementia
- 1 Arcane Denial
- 1 Carrion Feeder
- 1 Cemetery Recruitment
- 1 Curse of Disturbance
- 1 Drown in the Loch
- 1 Erebos, Bleak-Hearted
- 1 God-Eternal Bontu
- 1 Gravedigger
- 1 Infernal Grasp
- 1 Murderous Rider
- 1 Necrotic Hex
- 1 Noosegraf Mob
- 1 Noxious Ghoul
- 1 Plumb the Forbidden
- 1 Poppet Stitcher
- 1 Rise of the Dread Marn
- 1 Undead Warchief
- 1 Vizier of the Scorpion
- 1 Wand of Orcus
Our final list looks a little something like this. I’ve kept Eloise because she’s cool, but she could easily be swapped for more Zombie synergy, too. The list is creature-heavy, but that’s okay — Wilhelt lets us trade creatures for cards every turn. I’ve opted to add a little more instant-speed interaction, and overall, the strategy for the deck is more focused.
To take the deck to the next level, I’d recommend adding some tutors to find your combo pieces. They can be quite expensive, so take care to consider whether it’s really worth it. Often, buying 5-10 other cards will do a lot more for your deck than buying one.
If you’re wanting more redundancy to your combos instead, consider a $7 or so Blasting Station which can replace Altar of Dementia in our existing combos. We can also add the classic Gravecrawler/Phyrexian Altar for those infinite “dies” and “enters” triggers.
Zombies is always a fun time in Commander, and I’ve had a lot of fun running Varina, Lich Queen in recent months. Wilhelt looks to bring the heat in the Dimir sphere, giving some consistency and combo potential in the command zone for blue-black decks. For a precon, it’s a really great option, combining a lot of Zombie staples with some strong reprints and exciting new spells. Are you picking up the precon? How will you customize it? Let me know on Twitter.
Kristen is Card Kingdom’s Head Writer, and member of the Commander Advisory Group. Formerly a competitive Pokémon TCG grinder, she has been playing Magic since Shadows Over Innistrad, which in her opinion, was a great set to start with. When she’s not taking names with Equipment and Aggro strategies in Commander, she loves to play any form of Limited.