Theme decks are generally hard. Despite the lush natures of the intellectual properties that Magic puts together, the massive shifts from year to year in story genre occasionally make it hard to put together a deck that coheres to a single theme. I mean, the body-horror zombies and horrors of Phyrexia don’t exactly mesh thematically with the classic western horror archetypes played with in Innistrad, let alone the changelings from happy Lorwyn block, despite each one of those being viable contenders for inclusion if one wants to make a zombie-themed deck.


But with the printing of Ghoulcaller Gisa and Stitcher Geralf, I have stumbled upon the most entertaining theme for a zombie deck, and I pursued it with singular focus. Drum roll please!





The Addams Family! Yes, now we can do a deck that represents each of the major characters in the Addams Family mythos with a magic card analogue, while being a pretty solid zombie tribal deck at the same time. Each of them have analogues, and it stemmed initially from noticing the similarities between the siblings Gisa and Geralf and Wednesday and Pugsley Addams.


The set designer on that movie was wonderful.

The set designer on that movie was wonderful.


It’s the little things. Wednesday was always the more talkative of the siblings, and Ghoulcaller Gisa’s the only one with a flavor text line. Pugsley was more of a child scientist, particularly in the original iteration, and Stitcher Geralf is that type of zombie maker. So they’re the easy ones, and what brought me around to the idea.


But what about the others? Here are the analogues that I found:


Everyone remembers the Raul Julia incarnation, but his original actor was good too!

Everyone remembers the Raul Julia incarnation, but his original actor was good too!

Let’s start with the weakest analogue, Gomez Addams. It is shockingly hard to find a Magic card that reflects the personality of a man primarily known for wearing a dapper suit and rocking a mustache that’s never actually been in style. So instead of focusing on that aspect of the character, I focused on his conversion powers. What was always cool about Gomez was how friendly he was. And his friendliness made people like his weird little bunch of outcasts. That’s why his analogue is the other conversion leader with stylish facial hair: Lim-Dûl the Necromancer.


"...that's my job."

“…that’s my job.”


From there it gets a lot easier. For example, Morticia Addams has a dead ringer: Coffin Queen!


The last time I saw Christopher Lloyd in something he got violated by an eel. I have to think Fester would approve.

The last time I saw Christopher Lloyd in something he got violated by an eel. I have to think Fester would approve.


Uncle Fester was a little more difficult, due to the prevalence of bald zombies, but I think the modern art on Gravedigger reflects him the best. Plus, he did dig up that grave in the first movie, so it’s a natural fit!


Look at that smile!

Look at that smile!


Lurch was also pretty straightforward. I mean, he’s a big dude with a serious affect who seems a little backwards: Haakon, Stromgald Scourge has the look, and he’s mechanically interesting to boot!


Skateboarding used to be really cool. The 90s were a different time.

Skateboarding used to be really cool. The 90s were a different time.


Thing, the hand with a plan, is basically a further disintegrated Gravecrawler.


She actually does not appear to be a blood relation to the rest of the family. Just another way that the Addams Family's love was pure.

She actually does not appear to be a blood relation to the rest of the family. Just another way that the Addams Family’s love was pure.


For Grandmama, whose links to the Addams family are intentionally ambiguous, and who has some dark history that is only alluded to, I choose Liliana Vess. The original Lilly’s scarification from her demonic pact looks a lot like the wrinkles of old age, and her headpiece makes her hair look salt and pepper. Plus, as she herself would say, “Innistrad’s ghoulcallers are talented enough, but let me show what someone with real power can create.” Apparently, she can create Things.


I probably could have put a picture of ZZ Top here and no one would have noticed.

I probably could have put a picture of ZZ Top here and no one would have noticed.


Finally, we come to the lesser characters, Cousin Itt and Pubert. Did you know the baby in Addams Family Values has a name, and it is Pubert? I didn’t! Absurd. For Cousin Itt, we have our backup commander: Lazav, Dimir Mastermind. Who knows what’s under all that hair!


An indestructible baby with a mustache. How peculiar!

An indestructible baby with a mustache. How peculiar!


And Pubert, the baby, is our commander: Grimgrin, Corpse-Born. Forged by the dark alchemy of two other Addamses, Grimgrin is useful, relevant to the other cards in the theme, and definitively a second-generation Addams. And yes, while Wednesday and Pugsley didn’t actually make Pubert, you can’t tell me that if those two put their heads together and made a monster, that Gomez and Morticia wouldn’t adopt that baby and raise it as their own.


Free sacrifice engine, plus a kill trigger uppon attack because he eats people? Gross!


So here’s the list: Addams Family Value


Commander: Grimgrin, Corpse-Born


Theme (9): Lim-Dûl the Necromancer; Coffin Queen; Ghoulcaller Gisa; Stitcher Geralf; Gravedigger; Haakon, Stromgald Scourge; Gravecrawler; Liliana Vess; Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

Creatures (34): Apprentice Necromancer; Cairn Wanderer; Cemetery Reaper; Corpse Harvester; Death Baron; Diregraf Captain; Drakestown Forgotten; Fleshbag Marauder; Gempalm Polluter; Geralf’s Mindcrusher; Grave Defiler; Graveborn Muse; Gravespawn Sovereign; Grim Haruspex; Harvester of Souls; Havengul Lich; Havengul Runebinder; Lord of the Undead; Noxious Ghoul; Overseer of the Damned; Phyrexian Delver; Pontiff of Blight; River Kelpie; Shepherd of Rot; Stronghold Assassin; Twisted Abomination; Unbreathing Horde; Undead Alchemist; Undead Gladiator; Undead Warchief; Vengeful Dead; Withered Wretch; Zombie Master; Zombie Trailblazer

Arts and Enchants (9): Altar of Dementia; Call to the Grave; Endless Ranks of the Dead; Greed; Necromancer’s Stockpile; Rooftop Storm; Tombstone Stairwell; Underworld Connections; Whip of Erebos

Spells (9): Army of the Damned; Cruel Revival; Dread Return; Fact or Fiction; Forbidden Alchemy; Moonlight Bargain; Nameless Inversion; Wake the Dead; Zombie Apocalypse

Lands (38): Bojuka Bog; Cabal Coffers; Cephalid Coliseum; Command Tower; Dakmor Salvage; Darkslick Shores; Dimir Aqueduct; Dimir Guildgate; Dismal Backwater; Drowned Catacomb; Frost Marsh; Jwar Isle Refuge; Minamo, School at Water’s Edge; Nephalia Drownyard; Oboro, Palace in the Clouds; River of Tears; Rogue’s Passage; Salt Marsh; Secluded Glen; Shizo, Death’s Storehouse; Sunken Ruins; Underground River; Unholy Grotto; Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth; Watery Grave; 3 Island; 10 Swamp


I like to think I’ve made some interesting choices in this deck, and I want to highlight some of them.


First off, I felt weird playing Cabal Coffers in a two-color deck with only 11 Swamps, but what brought me around were the inclusion of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, which is not a particularly interesting addition, and Zombie Trailblazer, which is fascinating. When you have a bunch of zed tokens, Zombie Trailblazer, and Cabal Coffers, you basically can tap your lands for mana, and then tap zombies to turn your lands into swamps to double count them for Cabal Coffers. It’s not as broken as Ashnod’s Altar (which is being snap killed whenever I play it these days, thus its exclusion), but it’s still a neat way to turn bodies into mana.


“You know that drawback you have? Study at Minamo and we can get you back to work again!”


When the main drawback of your general is that it lacks trample and has issues untapping, you can turn to the manabase to solve these things. Minamo, School at Water’s Edge can deal with the untapping issue, if you don’t feel like sacrificing a creature, and it’s helpful for all the other legends in the deck as well. Meanwhile, Rogue’s Passage and Shizo, Death’s Storehouse both help you push through the damage against decks that rely on chumps. Oboro, Palace in the Clouds is also in the mix, although that’s there less for the specific Grimgrin synergies, and more because it’s another way you can get double blue off a single land.


I like to think of this card as “Feed or Greed”


Next are the draw helpers that work particularly well in graveyard decks. River Kelpie is an old standby, and it’s going to do a lot of work in a deck with a zombie theme. What I love about the card is that it triggers on your opponents’ stuff as well, but it also does fun stuff like turning Coffin Queen into a draw engine. Forbidden Alchemy, Fact or Fiction, and Moonlight Bargain are all in the mix because people usually discount instant speed cards from tribal decks. Each one of those feeds the graveyard while letting you snag any cards you’d rather keep out of the ‘yard, like Greed or Underworld Connections, the other draw engines that are hard-to-impossible to dredge from the muck.


This is one of the cards I made sure I had a set of, because it goes in so many different Commander decks.


Overseer of the Damned is a good card. It’s one of the better things they printed in the Commander 2014 decks, and considering how bonkers Containment Priest is, that’s high praise. It’s a demon that creates zombie tokens when your opponents’ creatures die, and that seems worth inclusion on its own. But! Pair it with Noxious Ghoul, and all of a sudden you have a Last Laugh that leaves you with a board full of zombie tokens. That seems pretty cool to me, even if the Overseer of the Damned will auto-terminate if it triggers too many times.


Stromgald Scourge, as distinguished from Stronghold Assassin.


And we end with Lurch, aka Haakon. Hackin’? Hay-Con? This dude is going to be very thankful for the variety of ways we have to put him into the graveyard, including Liliana Vess or Undead Gladiator giving you the means to discard him should you draw him or he gets bounced. Haakon is good because with a card like Rooftop Storm he’s easy to cast and sacrifice, albeit with the downside of costing you a little life each time. So, basically he’s the Gitaxian Probe of creatures. But an ancillary benefit to him is that he combos well with the two other zombie knights in the deck: Nameless Inversion and Cairn Wanderer. With Haakon, Stromgald Scourge and Rooftop Storm in play, you can loop Nameless Inversions to kill off the board, or have Cairn Wanderer take the place of Haakon in the sacrifice loop, being able to get a ton of death triggers without killing yourself.


Anyway, that’s the deck! Commander 2014 has added a bunch of fun cards into the pool, and as a result there’s new life in previously boring archetypes. Grimgrin tribal zombies used to be a boring combo deck, but now it’s a slightly less combo deck, but with an Addams Family theme!


Jess Stirba won a feature match at GP New Jersey and will not shut up about it.

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