Hello Zombie fans! Ever since Alpha, Zombies have been a beloved creature type with support in the first set. Even today, according to EDHREC.com, this is the second most played creature type after Dragons at a massive 37,229 decks as of this writing. Nasty. They are still beloved! There are 565 Zombies legal in Commander. Which are the top ten for that format as well as multiplayer? For this list we will not consider formats like Five Color, Type Four, Cube, or Pauper. Just Commander specifically, and multiplayer generally matters. We'll be doing one more Honorable Mention than normal for four for 14 total slots. Also, we won't be considering the best of non-Zombies that lead the tribe, like Gisa and Geralf or The Scarab God. Just Zombies. I am also not considering sorceries and instants that make Zombies.
Zombies have a bit of an identity crisis, since they have Liches (which are skeletons in fantasy) and Mummies from the plane of Amonkhet. They feel really weird as a result. Anyways, let's move on!!!
What is the tip of the top, cream of the crop?
Honorable Mention #1 (#14 Overall) - Havengul Lich
Ready for our first Lich on today's countdown? Let's do it to it! This five-drop 4/4 Zombie Wizard has a bit small body and isn't legendary for Command Zone purposes. You can spend a mana any time to cast a dork in any graveyard for that mana. That lets you replay the good stuff in your deck for another mana and the stuff in your foe's deck that your mana can tap for. When you run this in a Dimir colored deck, toss in mana rocks like Fellwar Stone and Darksteel Ingot that tap for more mana than just Dimir to cast them. And don't sleep on the fact that the Lich gains their activated ability for the turn too. You don't have to run it in an activated ability deck, but it's nice with things randomly like Avatar of Woe or Arcanis the Omnipotent in your colors. Nicely done folks! Nicely done! Now let's move from a Dimir Lich to a Golgari One!
Honorable Mention #2 (#13 Overall) - Underrealm Lich
Another 5-drop, 4-power Lich. This Zombie Elf Shaman will let you pay four life to make it indestructible and tap it, so that'll save it at instant speed and four life is nothing in a 40-life format like Commander. Then if you would draw a card, dig three and put one in your hand and the rest in your graveyard. That's nasty card flow over time with no brakes like "once per turn" or "once per draw" to stop Ancient Craving from digging 9.
It's so strong in Commander since players love their card flow. Note that some "card draw" doesn't draw, so things like Fact or Fiction won't trigger it. Also note that this replaces your draw, so if your foe controls an Underworld Dreams or similar effect you won't take damage. It'll also dig three times with Sylvan Library and you won't have to put them back. See how synergetic this thing is with the format and key cards already played? It also digs in a 100-card deck and puts stuff into the graveyard for recursion, so it's synergistic with the format and various archetypes like Golgari Reanimation. Once you see how deep and powerful this is, its presence on my list shouldn't be skipped by. Next is a remake of a previous card and our first legendary Zombie.
Honorable Mention #3 (#12 Overall) - Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Hello Naga fans, I've got your leader here, all legendary and stuff this time on another 5-drop but with a 4/6 deathtouch body. Sidisi might be Commander-eligible, but it's better in the 99 of a deck. This has exploit, which is a may effect. When you exploit you'll get a tutor on a critter. Nasty, and if you need the Tutor and don't have other dorks, you can sacrifice it to itself for that effect. Then the deathtouch is strong to play keep away with bigger things that might attack elsewhere. But it doesn't really play keep away well on a five drop, but if you attack, people might not trade down and block, thus letting it be better aggressively not defensively like Typhoid Rats. This was our second printed Sidisi. The next dork is another Golgari Zombie, this time also a legendary and the first of that name in today's list!
Honorable Mention #4 (#11 Overall) - Glissa Sunslayer
Our final card before the Top Ten, and our first scoring Glissa is this three-drop 3/3 powerhouse. She was recently printed, but she's already leading 815 decks in EDHREC.com and in 8,956 as a 99. Very high numbers since she's only been printed for a short time. She rocks the very powerful deathtouch and first strike combo, so she will kill, in combat anyone she engages without first or double strike. That's very strong at playing keep away or not blocking.
And then when Glissa punches face, you get a Charm to trigger with one of three options - Draw and lose a life, Demystify, or remove three counters from something. She is card flow, enchantment removal and planeswalker control in one trigger on a three-drop 3/3 that no one wants to block. She is very strong at the dropping for the wins. And in a 40-life format, the card flow doesn't really have a break on it, it'll be the default one chosen most of the time. Note that you cannot pull counters off players, just permanents, which is bad because this isn't an answer to Experience Counter abuse in Commander.
#10. Headless Rider
Our only tribal Zombie card is this fun thing. The rest are just good without any infrastructure to build up around them, but this loves Zombies. Three-drop 3/1? When this, or another nontoken Zombie dies? Make a 2/2 Zombie token that's not tapped. That's very strong, and you can easily build around it as a way to make a free dork without jumping through any mana or cards or tapping or "once per turn" or anything else. Just lose your Zombies in combat, sacrifice engines, and mass removal like Damnation and replace them! See how strong this thing is? Nice! Now let's finish our "Glissa List" with the next card!
#9. Glissa, the Traitor
Ah yes, the most played Zombie in Commander as a leader in the early days of the game. She also rocks the rough first strike and deathtouch combo on a harder to cast three mana 3/3. Then when an opposing dork dies you can return an artifact from your graveyard to your hand. You build around it with artifacts that sacrifice like Executioner's Capsule and Nihil Spellbomb. She turns control into recursion. Even today, years later, she is still leading 2,185 decks over at EDHREC.com. I built two decks around her way back when here - The Kitchen Table: The Next 100 With Glissa - Star City Games in a First 100 with the power stuff and the goods and then the Next 100 with all new cards for you. Even then she's pretty good. Get your Glissa on! The next is the best card draw Zombie.
#8. Midnight Reaper
This three-drop 3/2 mono-Black dork gives you all of the cards! Did you lose a nontoken dork? Draw 1 and lose 1. Strong card flow. Again, no brakes like once per turn, or a bigger life loss, 1 is nothing here, and then you didn't spend mana or tap or do anything else, all of the card flow happens. This fun thing? It nets you tons of cards! Next is one of a four cycle.
#7. God-Eternal Bontu
Our first God-Eternal is Bontu! Hitting around halfway on our list is this fun thing! When this 5/6 menace ETBs, you sacrifice any number of permanents. Then draw that many cards! It's a Reprocess on a stick that's on curve and evasive. It's very strong at the punching and when it dies or is exiled you can tuck it to draw it again. This is a legendary for Commander and will kill in 5 punches with Commander damage with menace built in. Nasty!!! It loves decks with a sacrifice theme alongside Blood Artist. It's likely better in the 99 than leading. What does EDHREC.com think? It's run in 170 as a Commander built but 16,753 in other decks, so it seems they agree with me! (I create my list first), next is our first Esper Zombie and thus White one!
#6. Varina, Lich Queen
Another Lich arrives for our list! Varina has a 4-drop 4/4 body, on curve for the beats. Then when you attack with one or more Zombies, you draw that many, and then discard that many, and then gain that much life. Deep. She loves a going-wide Zombie brew. Then you can spend two mana to exile two cards to make a 2/2 tapped Zombie token, so she's a token maker at instant speed.
Since you are discarding for her ability already, you'll have fuel for the Zombie token making. Love her loads as a Commander in three supported colors of Zombies with white for Amonkhet, Dimir for Innistrad, and black for everything. She's very strong at the fun times, with the card flow like Merfolk Looter as well as gaining a metric ton of life incidentally, so lean into life loss effects since you'll have tons. Great card for our list, but her three colors keeps her at the 6 spot just outside of my Top 5. She's so specific and color heavy, that she doesn't even crack 1k in the 99, since she hurts a deck not built around her or with the colors needed. Next is our top hitting Zombie God!
#5. God-Eternal Oketra!
This five-drop 3/6 rocks double strike with a cast trigger for a dork. Did you cast one? Make a 4/4 Zombie Warrior token with vigilance. Don't sleep on that vigilance. No breaks on that like mana, tapping or "once per turn" they all give dorks! That's very powerful in going wide decks like midrange, Zombies, Boros Aggro, Selesnya or Orzhov Tokens, and more. She's synergetic with everything.
Ready for the engine that breaks Aristocrat decks?
The Aristocrat broken body! When this 2/1 for one is in your graveyard you can cast it if you control a Zombie. If that's your Commander, it's guaranteed. Here's how this combo works:
- Control Phyrexian Altar, Blood Artist or another dork with a similar ability, a Zombie.
- Sacrifice this for a mana to the Altar
- Trigger Blood Artist to ting a foe for damage
- Cast Gravecrawler
Repeat killing every player in the game for your tings from things like Zulaport Cutthroat. It's very strong at the winning fun times. You can also sacrifice for mana to Ashnod's Altar, for damage to Goblin Bombardment and then make a mana on arrival with Mana Echoes or Carnival of Souls. It's the cog that makes those decks work, and it's in a massive 42,722 decks! Yup! It's an icon here. And then there were three! What hard to cast Mono-Black legendary is next?
#3. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Otherwise known as "Dark Mike!" He's hard to cast, but he's a powerhouse for 6 mana with a 5/5 evasive body, and he's our penultimate hitting legendary dork! Although, again, he's a powerful dork in the 99 rather than the Command Zone. He has two other abilities - whenever a Human deals damage to you? Destroy it, so he's a sort of a worse No Mercy or Dread, but that's the most common tribe. Then when your non-Humans die? They have undying, so they'll come back with a +1/+1 counter once. Then they also get +1/+1. That's very strong and enables so many game winning combos. For example?
- Control Dark Mike and Triskelion with three +1/+1 counters:
- Remove one counter to shoot an opponent for one damage
- Remove two to shoot Triskelion which leaves it with none
- It dies with undying with Dark Mike and comes back with three +1/+1 counters
Repeat until everyone else dies.
And that also works with other key things too. It's in a massive 41,232 decks! Also note the combo with -1/-1 counters since you can put that on it after it comes back from undying and it'll come back again. There is a mono-black heavily played dork that will put a -1/-1 counter on your thing to activate the good stuff named Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. The next is the final Dimir Zombie!
#2. Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver
Our final legendary dork, Blue Zombie, and Command Zone able dork is this beloved powerhouse! It's run as a Commander in 15,475 decks, which is seventh overall. Wilhelt is the second most popular Dimir colored Commander in the game! So, he has to be here, and he has to be a high hit! Right? Yuppers Puppers!
So let's look at Wilhelt. Your four mana investment nets you a 3/3 Zombie Warrior. Whenever another Zombie you control dies, if it didn't have decayed, make a 2/2 token with decayed of the Zombie nature! Free tokens! Although they'll only hit once. Note that this works for tokens without decayed as well. Also, at the beginning of your end step you can sacrifice a Zombie to draw a card, so you can sacrifice your Zombie token with decayed you made to draw a card. Free card flow and dork making in the right colors? Imagine this as your Commander with the Gravecrawler above now making infinite 2/2 Zombie tokens that can attack to give you another path to victory in case that was stopped by your punching above your weight. This has to be here! But the next card is a clear #1. What is it?
#1. Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Gray Merchant says duh! It's a winning condition on a five mana 2/4 body. When this ETBs your foes lose life equal to your devotion to black, which will always be at least 2 with this. And you'll gain life equal to what was lost, so in a four-player game with 5 black pips, your foes will each lose 5 and you'll gain 15.
This wants you to maximize the black pips of your stuff and is great with a very heavy black Commander like Ayara, First of Locthwain. It's strong everywhere! But it's great in a few places - midrange where you have lots of bodies with black pips that are mugging up the board. Or blink where you can blink this a few times to get wins. Or Life Gain to gain a ton of life for things like Test of Endurance to win or spending for life loss things like Greed. Or it'll go great in Zombies since it's in the tribe already. It's so iconic. And it was first printed as a common, so it's the first common to top our Top Ten Tribes list we've been rocking and rolling over the last few weeks. It's a Commander Classic!
And there we go Zombie lovers! What did you think of my 3rd of this Top Ten Tribes in a row that started with Elves and did Goblins last week!