Stop the presses! Newspaper Zombie OTK (Ultimate League 285 stars)

The first wave of Teleport-Valkyrie decks flooded the board with cheap zombies, and didn’t try very hard to control the opponent’s side of the board — normal removal spells don’t boost Valkyrie’s power, so it makes sense to try to compel the opponent to trade with your creatures instead.

That’s beautiful (or frustrating, depending on which side you’re on) when it works.  But no matter how you mulligan, you have at most a ~59.2% chance of having at least one in your opening hand.  Some of the other games will still proceed according to plan A, as you topdeck a Valkyrie within the first few turns; but at least a quarter of the time, you need to win without your signature combo.  Basic board flooding is unlikely to get the job done against good opponents.

Here’s an alternative Teleport-Valkyrie build which has a lot more play when Valkyrie doesn’t arrive on time.

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New card choices/quantities:

4 Barrel of Deadbeards: The cornerstone of this build.  Counts as two creatures for Valkyrie.  Efficiently pumps Newspaper Zombie when it explodes.  And best of all, it shuts down most of the scariest plant starts, especially in combination with Fireworks Zombie.  At a cost of only 2 brains!  The only drawback is, these are legendary.  But if you have ’em, you sure as hell want to play ’em.  And you don’t need (or want) any other legendaries for this deck.

4 Newspaper Zombie: Most 1-2 drops available to you don’t play well with Barrel of Deadbeards or Fireworks Zombie.  But Newspaper Zombie can not only take the punishment, it thrives on it!  It’s a solid turn 2 play regardless of what else you have (without backup, it still trades with Black-Eyed Pea, Jugger-Nut, and Fire Peashooter), and it’s frequently upgraded to a must-answer card by turn 3 Fireworks Zombie.  Later in the game, these make a well-timed Barrel/Fireworks teleport absolutely devastating.

2 Beam Me Up: 4 is too many, thanks to Black-Eyed Pea.  But you want a few; it does trade with or beat the other good plant 2-drops (most importantly, Jugger-Nut, which Plumber doesn’t handle), and dropping a chump blocker for 2 mana during the tricks phase will save your ass sometimes.

4 Bungee Plumber: You know what’s better than giving your Valkyrie +2/+0?  Clearing away the plant blocking your 9-strength Newspaper Zombie.  Or ensuring the death of the Bananasaurus Rex blocking your Kite Flyer before it can go nuts.  Or triggering the opponent’s transform/freeze/etc. block superpower before teleporting your Valkyrie in for the kill.

1 Abracadaver: 4 Plumber/4 Lurch/3 Rocket Science is a solid, but predictable package; good plants players will counter it by creating a bunch of situations where you really need to do 3 damage.  I briefly ran a singleton Zombot’s Wrath to try to claw back some value, and it actually worked, but it’s a horribly inefficient card when you have no reliable way to fill the water lane.  Then I noticed I had an Abracadaver, tried it, and haven’t looked back.  Yes, it’s a bit of an awkward fit since Barrel/Fireworks kills it, so more than one is probably a bad idea, but it’s a great gravestone surprise.

2 Hail-a-Copter: I originally tried Disco-Tron 3000 in this slot, but found that tapping out on turn 6 resulted in an alarming number of losses to the likes of Re-Peat Moss; giving your Valkyrie +6/+0 is not very useful when you die in the process.  The 2 ‘Copters, on the other hand, have more than pulled their weight.  Sometimes, you fail to draw a Teleport (or you’re forced to burn the one you drew to stay alive), and you have no hope of killing with an unteleported Valkyrie, but ‘Copter gets the job done.  Or you’re a bit behind, but ‘Copter prevents the situation from snowballing into a loss as it answers the opponent’s biggest threat while staying alive.  With that said, two copies is enough; you absolutely don’t want it in your opening hand (after I lost a game to having both copies in my opener, I’ve made sure to mulligan it last, to minimize the chance of redrawing it).

 

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On mulligans:

Against most opponents, you do NOT go all-out for Valkyrie.  Instead, you don’t mulligan away your last Teleport, you don’t mulligan away your last Barrel/Fireworks Zombie against Kabloom (to minimize the risk of losing to mushroom/Pineclone aggro), you frequently don’t mulligan away your last Kite Flyer, you frequently keep the Newspaper + Fireworks opening, you do mulligan away a second or third Valkyrie, and as mentioned above you mulligan Hail-a-Copter last to avoid redrawing it.  This way, you end up with very few hopelessly bad draws.

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Christmas edits:

+4 Regifting Zombie, -1 Exploding Imp, -1 Kite Flyer, -2 Hail-a-Copter.  Regifting Zombie turbocharges all Valkyrie OTK decks and makes cheap spells even more valuable relative to expensive spells.  So Hail-a-Copter is an obvious cut, you have little use for Exploding Imp as “Rocket Science #4” because you’re sufficiently likely to draw into one of the first three, and a Kite Flyer gets shaved since the Regifting Zombies push you close to the hand size limit (the 2 remaining Kite Flyers are great when Regifting doesn’t show up, though).

This changes mulligans a bit, you do throw back the last Teleport if you’re missing either a Valkyrie or good-enough turn 2-3 plays.  You now have enough ways to dig for the Teleport later.

I was actually considering shaving a Newspaper Zombie for the 4th Regifting Zombie, but then, in the last game I needed to win to earn Regifting #4, a single 13/1 Newspaper Zombie took the opponent from 20 to 0 on turn 5.  I took that as an omen.  They’re remarkably good at punishing the “go for the face, don’t remove their creatures when you don’t have to” counterstrategy (or “I wanted to remove it, but I didn’t draw a Berry Blast and all my normally-adequate blockers were Plumbered/Lurched”, for that matter).  And, as a combo card of sorts, it’s improved by Regifting.

I expect Teleport and/or Valkyrie to be nerfed soon, but for now, knock yourself out.

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Some opponent-specific notes:

Grass Knuckles feels like the most formidable adversary, especially if it’s running Sting Beans and a bunch of ways to pump them to 3/4 (you have a lot of difficulty dealing with such a thing in the water lane).  This is the one matchup where I feel I’m plausibly disadvantaged; too many mana-efficient threats and ways to protect them, and too little charging of my block meter.  The only time in recent memory where I lost multiple games in a row to the same player, they were playing Grass Knuckles.

Mirror-Nut decks are #2.  But in my experience, you can expect to overpower a single Mirror-Nut; you need to kill Mirror-Nut quickly when it does appear, and time Barrel/Fireworks well, but it tends to be doable.  Only a second Mirror-Nut puts you too far behind to win.  Overall, it feels like a 50/50 matchup, which is great against a dedicated counter that’s weak against much of the rest of the field (unlike Grass Knuckles…).

Captain Combustible is #3, but you should have the edge.  Don’t let Re-Peat Moss survive an entire turn if you can help it (it’s okay to let it live till your first phase, then finish it off with Fireworks).  If it does, or you get to turn 8 (at which point Espresso Fiesta makes any plant act like Moss; note that this applies to the other Mega-Grow heroes too), use gravestones to reduce the risk of dying before the tricks phase (Barrel can do a poor imitation of a gravestone in a pinch).  Try to avoid quickly charging up the opponent’s block meter, unless you can force them to use superpowers just to stay alive; otherwise you’re letting them set up a combo kill (note that Captain Combustible does not have access to any non-superpower 1-sun tricks).

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One thought on “Stop the presses! Newspaper Zombie OTK (Ultimate League 285 stars)

  1. TryHard
    December 9, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Love it. I actually run 4 dead beards from time to time also. Keep up the good work bro.

    Reply

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