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Undead Unleashed Upgrade Guide – 5 Different Ideas

Our second return to Innistrad comes with a new set of Commander pre-constructed decks. Today, we’re looking at the Undead Unleashed deck, helmed by Wilhelm, the Rotcleaver. In this Undead Unleashed Upgrade Guide, you’ll find my recommendations for cards that I would add to or take out of this deck.

A Brief Note on Budget

Before we get too far, I want to say that this article is intended to be a brainstorming exercise. I am simply tossing around ideas for how to upgrade your new Undead Unleashed deck. I probably won’t think of every card that plays well in this deck, though. Please feel free to let me know about any cool synergies that I missed by commenting below.

Additionally, this article won’t tell you exactly which cards to put in and which cards to take out. There are plenty of other content creators that make those kinds of recommendations. Like I said, here we are just brainstorming. That way, you can choose which cards you like and which ones you don’t, so you can really make the deck your own.

The other thing, is that I am not putting any kind of budget restriction on my recommendations in these articles. I’m not trying to recommend spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a deck at all. On the contrary, I want each player to invest as much as they are comfortable with, and no more. For this reason, I’ll try to include budget options when available.

When they are not, though, I still feel it is important to mention the expensive cards. Who knows, maybe those expensive cards will inspire you to build a certain way, even if they are outside your price range.

If you would like to purchase the Undead Unleashed deck, you can order it on Amazon.

Undead Unleashed Innistrad Midnight Hunt Commander Decks

Undead Unleashed Decklist

Commander (1)
Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver

Planeswalker (1)
Liliana, Death’s Majesty

Creatures (23)
Forgotten Creation
Havengul Runebinder
Stitcher Geralf
Undead Alchemist
Butcher of Malakir
Cemetery Reaper
Death Baron
Diregraf Colossus
Eater of Hope
Gravespawn Sovereign
Midnight Reaper
Overseer of the Damned
Gisa and Geralf
Eternal Skylord
Corpse Augur
Fleshbag Marauder
Liliana’s Devotee
Lord of the Accursed
Spark Reaper
Undead Augur
Diregraf Captain
Gleaming Overseer
Ruthless Deathfang

Sorceries (8)
Hour of Eternity
Army of the Damned
Dark Salvation
Dread Summons
Zombie Apocalypse
Distant Melody
Feed the Swarm
Syphon Flesh

Instants (2)
Aetherspouts
Go for the Throat

Artifacts (6)
Arcane Signet
Charcoal Diamond
Commander’s Sphere
Sky Diamond
Sol Ring
Talisman of Dominance

Enchantments (5)
Rooftop Storm
Dreadhorde Invasion
Endless Ranks of the Dead
Liliana’s Mastery
Open the Graves
Lands (40)
Choked Estuary
Darkwater Catacombs
Exotic Orchard
Sunken Hollow
Temple of Deceit
Bojuka Bog
Command Tower
Dimir Aqueduct
Mortuary Mire
Myriad Landscape
Path of Ancestry
Tainted Isle
Unclaimed Territory
12 Island
15 Swamp

New Cards (14)
Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth
Cleaver Skaab
Curse of Unbinding
Drown in Dreams
Empty the Laboratory
Hordewing Skaab
Shadow Kin
Crowded Crypt
Curse of the Restless Dead
Ghouls’ Night Out
Gorex, the Tombshell
Prowling Geistcatcher
Ravenous Rotbelly
Tomb Tyrant

General Upgrades for Undead Unleashed

When I started writing these articles a little over a year ago, the pre-constructed Commander decks that Wizards of the Coast released lacked a lot of focus and synergy. Since then, they have increased the quality of these products dramatically. So much so, that I will likely not have much to say in this section of future articles unless the deck really needs it. I will, however, have a few things to say about the mana base, as that can always be improved.

The Mana Base

Speaking of, let’s just jump into it. The lands that come in the precon are fine, for the most part. My biggest issue with them is that there are forty. That’s probably 2-4 too many. Most of the utility lands are decent, but you can cut some basics and/or lands that enter the battlefield tapped.

On top of cutting out a couple of lands, you will probably want to upgrade to whatever dual lands you can. I recommend the ones that can enter the battlefield untapped, if at all possible. Here are a bunch of those:

Utility Lands

Field of the Dead Undead Unleashed Upgrade Guide

Undead Unleashed deck comes with Bojuka Bog, which is a great card to have in your deck. It doesn’t, however, synergize much with what this deck wants to do. Feel free to keep it in, but also consider some of these utility lands as well:

These are all especially good in the tribal Zombies version of the deck. However, you might be able to find homes for them in other versions of the deck as well.

What to Take Out

This deck is so well focused, that the choices of what to take out are going to be between a good card and a better card, rather than between a good card and a bad one. As such, you will likely have to decide which 99 cards you like best and run those. Err on the side of cheaper mana costs and higher synergy. When possible, try to focus your deck’s main theme a little bit more. This can help you make some of those harder cuts a little easier.

With that being said, Ruthless Deathfang could probably be cut from all of these lists. Sure, it’s a helpful card, but it is the least synergistic of all the cards in the deck. If I had to choose one other card to call out specifically, I would say Curse of Unbinding. This card can be powerful, but it doesn’t really do what any of these versions of the deck are trying to do, and it costs seven mana.

Other than that, most of the cuts for this deck are going to have to be according to your preference. This will make your Undead Unleashed deck hopefully feel a little more personal to you, even though it might look very similar to someone else’s.

5 Ways to Upgrade Undead Unleashed

These are the five directions for the Undead Unleashed upgrade:

  1. Zombie Tribal
  2. Aristocrats
  3. Investigate
  4. Surveil
  5. Affinity

I’m sure there are many more cool things you can do with this deck, but these are the five that I’ve chosen to go with today.

Power Level

At the beginning of each of the next sections, I’ll include a range of numbers. That range is what I expect this deck to be able to perform at on a 1-10 power scale (Based on the power scale established by the Command Zone Podcast). For more information on the Commander power scale, you can take a look at the table below.

Power LevelNameDescription
1-2JankVery little synergy among cards. No Commander staples. Under powered on purpose.
3-4CasualSome synergies, but lacking the strong ones. Deck still lacks focus. Mana curves mostly neglected. A deck that a new player would build.
4-6FocusedSynergy exists, deck has a focused gameplan, although doesn't always win in the exact same way, usually after turn 13. Includes staples and a small amount of tutors. On the same power level as most Commander precons.
7-8OptimizedPowerful and varied synergies between the cards. A decent number of good tutors. Good mana curve. Has an efficient and consistent way to win on turns 10-12 (level 7) or 7-9 (level 8). Some social rules - like no mass land destruction, no consistent combo wins - still exist.
9-10CompetitiveThe most powerful decks, on cEDH level. Quick and explosive, can win on turns 4-6 (level 9) or 1-3 (level 10). No social rules, no jank cards. Only the most powerful commanders and strategies can reach this level.

Actual power levels may vary, but let those numbers be a guide when considering upgrading this deck in those ways.

1. Zombie Tribal (5-9)

Recommended Commander: Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver

Obviously, Undead Unleashed deck is designed to be a Zombie tribal deck. Not only that, but I think it does a pretty great job at it. I don’t think a ton of things would need to be added to it. If anything, I would say you could put in the rest of the Zombie lords, to grow your army, and maybe more things to reanimate your Creatures.

Lords

Undead Warchief Undead Unleashed Upgrade Guide

This precon did a fantastic job reprinting the tribal lords. Almost all of them come with Undead Unleashed. Here are a few that do not, though:

Obviously, you can never have too many of these. If you want even more than this, you could always run Clone effects to grow your stuff even bigger.

Reanimator

The other thing that Zombies do so well is that they come back from the dead. The precon has a few things that will get your undead back for you, but here are a few more:

Zombie/reanimator decks’ ability to bounce back after a board wipe is one of the tribe’s most powerful characteristics. Your opponents won’t have time to rebuild before your horde overwhelms them.

New Cards From Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia Undead Unleashed Upgrade Guide

As Zombies are a pretty prominent theme on Innistrad, there are plenty of new cards you could add to this deck. Check these out:

There are a lot more, but most of them have marginal abilities at best. If some of them have utility you need, feel free to run them. However, I don’t think you need to include draft chaff into a tribal deck that is as well fleshed-out as Zombies.

What to Take Out

Again, choosing cards to take out of this version of the deck is going to be hard. My best advice is to find a facet of the Zombie tribe that you want to lean into most heavily. For example, if you want to play the “Oops, All Lords” idea that only plays lords and Clones, you can cut most of the other Zombies that don’t pump each other. If you want to instead focus on reanimating things, you can take out the lords, and just rely on your recursive threats the keep coming back for more.

You can also learn more about Zombie tribal in Commander here.

2. Aristocrats (5-9)

Recommended Commander: Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver

I have mentioned before that the three elements of an aristocrats deck are 1) things that sacrifice 2) things that want to die and 3) things that care if something dies.

Things That Sacrifice

Dictate of Erebos Wilhelm, the Rotcleaver Upgrade

Zombies provide each of these elements in abundance. You can use cards like Carrion Feeder, God-Eternal Bontu, Grimgrin Corpse-Born, and Corpse Harvester as sacrifice outlets. These also work well with cards like:

Things That Want To Die

While you don’t necessarily have to use Zombies for this part of the deck, there are a lot of Zombies that work well. Gravecrawler, and Relentless Dead, for example, are great Zombies that can bring themselves back from the graveyard. Reassembling Skeleton, Ophiomancer, Nether Traitor, Bloodsoaked Champion, Bloodghast, though, are non-Zombie Creatures that have an amount of recurability.

Things That Care If Something Dies

Finally, this is the icing on the cake. Without cards that pay you off for sacrificing your own creatures, your deck doesn’t do anything. There are Zombies that care about things dying, such as:

Blood Artist MTG

But you can also run the more typical aristocrats cards:

Depending on if you want to focus in on the Zombie theme or just play aristocrats, you can choose which cards fill the different roles. Each theme has the potential to make a truly awesome deck.

New Cards From Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Probably the single best card from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt for this deck is Meat Hook Massacre. It cares when your Creatures die, as well as your opponents’. And in addition to that, it can also be a board wipe when you need one. This card will likely see tons of play in Commander, but especially in aristocrats decks like this one.

Gisa, Glorious Resurrector is also a good option, even though she doesn’t fit perfectly into any of our categories. She sort of cares about your Creatures dying, and she sort of gives you more things to sacrifice. Despite this ambiguity, she makes a great addition to this deck.

Another option you might consider is Hostile Hostel. It takes time to make it work, but its a sac outlet on a land, which is never bad.

Finally, Morbid Opportunist is pretty restricted by its once-per-turn clause, but could still generate plenty of value throughout a game. Consider running it. If you already have Grim Haruspex, Midnight Reaper, and plenty of other such effects, you might not need it.

What to Take Out

If you choose to make this another iteration of the Zombie tribal deck, you can keep a bunch of the Zombies in. You’ll probably really want the payoffs like Rooftop Storm and Diregraf Colossus, as well as maybe the lords. Otherwise, you can probably get rid of most of the Zombies. Keep the ones that fill the aristocrats roles that we discussed, but the rest need to be cut to make room for other cards to fill those roles. Also, you likely don’t need Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth. She does care about Creatures dying, but if her payoff doesn’t inspire you, cut her from the deck.

3. Investigate (4-7)

Recommended Commander: Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth

At long last, we have a great commander to helm a blue/black investigate deck. Obviously, feel free to build a Vorthos deck themed after Sherlock Holmes. I’d love to see what one of these looks like. However, today I’m just going to talk about Investigate and how to upgrade this precon to better utilize that mechanic.

Tamiyo's Journal Undead Unleashed Precon Upgrade

First, we need to know what cards are out there with Investigate on them. Behold:

These, along with Eloise herself, will generate plenty of tokens for us. Since those tokens are all going to be artifacts, we can take great advantage of Inspiring Statuary to help us cast our things. And no Clue deck would be complete without the new Academy Manufactor to glean even more value. Urza, Lord High Artificer can turn your clues into Mox Emeralds, as well as cast stuff from your library.

Shimmer Dragon is probably another necessary card to make sure you draw plenty of cards. Since all decks need a way to end the game, Marionette Master could turn your Clues into lethal damage quickly.

New Cards From Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Surprisingly, Midnight Hunt even came with a few toys for the Investigators out there. There aren’t many, but you still might consider running the ones there are:

What to Take Out

While this version of Undead Unleashed deck could take advantage of some of the Creatures that sacrifice themselves, it doesn’t want to play quite like an aristocrats deck. Most of the Zombies and Zombie synergies can come out, but feel free to leave in things that will trigger Eloise’s ability.

4. Surveil (4-7)

Recommended Commander:Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth

Surveil is a neat mechanic that has been fairly popular in Standard when it came out in Guilds of Ravnica. It naturally allows you to generate excellent card selection, as well as fill your graveyard however you like.

Lazav the Multifarious Undead Unleashed Upgrade Guide

These are probably the best cards that have Surveil:

In addition to these, you will likely want to have cards that care in some way about being in the graveyard. Cards with Flashback, Dredge, Unearth, Aftermath, or other mechanics that you can use from your graveyard are a great place to start. Additionally, cards like Creeping Chill, Prized Amalgam, or Narcomoeba, Modern all-stars, could give you some incremental value. You will also want cards like Secrets of the Dead to fully take advantage of all the action from your graveyard.

This strategy can seem a lot like the Reanimator one we discussed earlier. You can definitely add those elements to the deck. However, this version is going to feel distinct, simply because you don’t care as much about creatures. Instead, you’re more focused on simply filling your graveyard and using it to your advantage.

New Cards From Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned Undead Unleashed Upgrade Guide

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned is perfect for this kind of deck. They let you cast spells from your graveyard, which you are happy to do. Plus, they give you a bit of protection against your opponents’ counterspells. Just remember, that if you include Lier, you shouldn’t run many if any counterspells of your own.

If you don’t have Lier, you can still utilize some of the many new Flashback or Disturbed spells from this set. For example:

Lastly, Lord of the Forsaken is a great card for this kind of deck. It does everything you want: fill your graveyard, and cast stuff from it. This is an easy include from the new set.

What to Take Out

Again, if you don’t play some sort of Zombie-centric strategy, there are plenty of cards to take out of this deck. Surveil doesn’t care about any of the Zombie lords or aristocrats, so all of those can come out. You can also reasonably take out anything that makes Zombie tokens or cares about them in any way. That should hopefully free up enough slots to include all the Surveil cards you need.

5. Affinity (4-7)

Recommended Commander: Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth

And now for my obligatory farfetched idea. Eloise makes Clue tokens when your Creatures die. This can sometimes make numerous Clues, which are all Artifacts. And what mechanic cares about a lot of Artifacts? That’s right. Affinity.

Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge Undead Unleashed Precon Upgrade

Lumped into Affinity, I’m also assuming that this deck would be a great one to focus on Improvise as well. Both of these mechanics let you cast your things for cheaper, as long as you have plenty of Artifacts on the board. Here are a bunch of cards in blue/black that have Affinity:

By themselves, these cards aren’t going to win you any games. You will likely want a bunch of Artifacts and Artifact payoffs to round the deck out a little better. There’s also a chance that Tezzeret makes it possible to run a superfriends-like strategy, but that would be slightly more complicated since you can’t have him in the command zone.

New Cards From Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

There aren’t any new cards in the set that have Affinity, nor are Artifacts a very prominent theme on Innistrad. However, The Celestus is a handy artifact if you want to throw it in.

What to Take Out

Like the other non-tribal tribal builds, this deck will want you to take out most of the Zombie stuff. Fortunately, that leaves plenty of room for Artifacts. The only things I think you should absolutely keep in are the mana rocks and whatever other utility pieces you like. Other than that, it’s all replaceable.

Consclusion

Thank you so much for making it to the end of another Commander deck upgrade article. These are great to write, so I hope you enjoy reading them. If you have any feedback for them, feel free to leave a comment below, or find me on Instagram or Twitter. I also have a podcast, Gathering: My Thoughts, available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

More Midnight Hunt

If you want to open some new Midnight Hunt cards, to upgrade your Undead Unleashed deck with, you can get a Set booster box on Amazon.

Innistrad Midnight Hunt Set Booster Box

If you want the shiniest and the rarest card, then you’ll probably like Collector boosters. You can check the Midnight Hunt Collector Booster contents here.

More Commander

If you want more Commander articles, check these out:

Until next time, enjoy Magic and have fun with your upgraded Undead Unleashed deck!

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