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Zombies are animated corpses. Zombie is a characteristic race for the color black. [1]

Creature type[edit | edit source]

In Magic: The Gathering, zombies are unique as a creature type in that sometimes it functions as a race (Mournful Zombie) and sometimes it functions as a class (Vodalian Zombie). [2] The default race for zombies is therefore human, which was never mentioned in the type line [3], until the embalm mechanic created Human Zombie tokens. In the case of other races, the original race is always mentioned in the type line. [4]

The first card to bear the type was Scathe Zombies in Alpha. That set also contained Zombie Master and Scavenging Ghoul which later gained the subtype Zombie, as well. [5]

Storyline[edit | edit source]

Zombies are normally simply animated and have little to no connection with the soul of the deceased, though some especially powerful necromancers know how to bind the dead to their bodies to create smart zombies.

Alara[edit | edit source]

Esperian zombies[edit | edit source]

In the Shard of Alara called Esper, artificers animate corpses grafting them with etherium modifications.

Grixian zombies[edit | edit source]

In Grixis, necromancers create zombies to do their bidding or to prolong their own life. One of the major powers of the Shard, Sedris, is a zombie himself.

Dominaria[edit | edit source]

Liches[edit | edit source]

Liches are beings who have stored their life force in an object called a phylactery so that their mortal body will endure upwards of millenia in undeath.

Otarian zombies[edit | edit source]

Zombies were disturbingly common on Otaria thanks to the Cabal. These included zombified Beasts, Birds, Cats, Centaurs, Dragons, Dwarves, Giants, Goblins and Wurms. As the Mirari exerted its powerful influence over the races of Otaria, the zombies began growing additional deformed appendages (and in some cases, extra heads). [6]

Innistrad[edit | edit source]

Innistrad is a plane partially infested with Zombies. [7] [8] Zombies come in two variants. [9] On one hand, there are the common shambling corpses associated with the color black, called ghouls. Reanimated by necromancers and ghoulcallers they go about making more zombies, killing the living and devouring their flesh. Even gameplaywise these Zombies are slow but overwhelming if the opponent cannot contain them, typically being powerful creatures for their cost and difficult to permanently kill (either through the undying mechanic or occasionally the ability to be recast such as on Gravecrawler) but with some kind disadvantage (coming into play tapped, unable to block etc).

The second variety are in the vein of Frankenstein's Monster, the failed experiments of insane mages who attempted to toy with life itself, associated with the color blue. These are called skaabs, and their creators are called skaberen. [10] [11] A common mechanic for them is the requirement to have creature cards in the graveyard removed, such as corpses as the base for these medical abominations. These creatures are typically very powerful but can be difficult to get into play because they need dead bodies first. This can be provided by self-milling that the mad scientists enable, such as on Deranged Assistant.

Mirrodin[edit | edit source]

In the plane of Mirrodin, zombies are known as the nim, and inhabit the Mephidross swamps. [12] [13] [14] [15] The Nim are people that have become zombified by the necrogen puffed out of the smokestacks of the Mephidross Swamp. [16] In turn the Nim vent Necrogen gas themselves, as well. [17]

Ravnica[edit | edit source]

On the plane of Ravnica, two guilds employ zombies: the Golgari Swarm and the Cult of Rakdos.

Golgari Swarm[edit | edit source]

The Golgari uses ritualistic magic to make zombies, which can deliberately be made to be mindless deadwalkers for labor purposes, or letting them keep their full faculties and abilities, like their Guildmasters Svogthir and Jarad, who were zombies themselves. Their zombies are usually imbued with plants, insects or fungi.

Cult of Rakdos[edit | edit source]

They are usually made as mindless deadwalkers and servants. Unlike the Golgari's these ones have their bodies altered with spikes, metal teeth and other torturing implants to make them more deadly.

Phyrexia[edit | edit source]

While, Phyrexian Scuta has the creature type "zombie" while actually being a Phyrexian, zombies of Phyrexian origin do exist. Cards like Metathran Zombie and Vodalian Zombie represent creatures that were killed by a Phyrexian tingler. The tingler is a nasty device that resembles a spiny centipede-like insect. One end of the tingler is fashioned with small hooks used both for movement, and for carrying out its main function, which is to zombify enemy troops in the midst of battle, turning them against their allies.

The tingler zombifies by crawling into its victim's mouth and using its hooks to literally rip out their spinal cord, effectively killing them. It will then crawl down their mouth and into the cavity once occupied by the spine and replace the spinal cord, controlling their body. This process is short and leaves the corpse mostly intact, as opposed to the long process by which Phyrexian soldiers usually are created.

Tarkir[edit | edit source]

The Gurmug Swamps of Tarkir are riddled with the sibsig, the wandering zombie hordes of the Sultai — an amalgam of fallen soldiers from the other clans of Tarkir. The bodies of the sibsig zombies are kept well preserved through powerful necromancy, while the rest of the undead army is left to rot.

Theros[edit | edit source]

In Theros, the Noston, or Returned, are undead that escaped the plane's Underworld, governed by the god Erebos. [18] To escape the Underworld, one must lose one's own identity, and as such the Returned not only have no faces beyond a few holes, but also have lost their memories, both of their past lives and the capacity of holding long term memories in themselves. As such, while they are sapient and feel emotions, their existences are nothing but shadow-play, being unable to connect with other living beings and form an actual identity, forever in a state of negative emotions and empty routines.

The Returned wear golden masks: clay masks are used in Theros to frame the faces of the dead, so the elimination of these masks is a symbolic act for the return to the world of the living. Gold is the most common material in the infernal realm, so the Noston use it to craft new masks, that serve as flimsy, hollow identities. They value gold very little beyond their masks, but use currency based on the broken fragments of the clay masks, which have immense symbolic value. When not wandering alone and rejecting civilisation, the Returned go to cities called necropolises, two of which being of particular importance: the neutral Asphodel, where the Noston simply embrace their fate, and the aggressive Odunos, where the undead give in to violent emotions and perform raids on the living.

Zendikar[edit | edit source]

Whenever a Zendikar vampire fully drains the blood of a living creature without destroying the husk, that creature does not become a vampire. Instead, it becomes a null, a faceless zombie that is stronger and much faster than typical zombies. If nulls are left without orders, they will hunt and kill living things that they can find. [19]

Notable zombies[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Zombie tokens[edit | edit source]

Token Color Type P/T Additional Rules Source
Zombie Black Creature — Zombie 2/2
Black Enchantment Creature — Zombie 2/2
Black Creature — Zombie */*
Blue Creature — Zombie X/X
named Tombspawn
Black Creature — Zombie 2/2 Haste
Zombie Giant Black Creature — Zombie Giant 5/5
Zombie Goblin
named Festering Goblin
Black Creature — Zombie Goblin 1/1 When Festering Goblin dies, target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.
Zombie Horror Black Creature — Zombie Horror X/X
Zombie Wizard Blue/Black Creature — Zombie Wizard 1/1

Zombie manlands[edit | edit source]

Grand Creature Type Update[edit | edit source]

In the Grand Creature Type Update the following creature types were changed into Zombie:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (March 15, 2015.) "Characteristic and iconic creatures for each color?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  2. Mark Rosewater. (April 11, 2015.) "How about some trivia on Magic zombies in general?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater. (September 12, 2015.) "Why zombie human doesn't exist?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  4. Magic Arcana. (May 18, 2004.) "Would You Like That Zombified?", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  5. Mark Rosewater. (March 03, 2003.) "I cc: Dead People", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  6. Magic Arcana. (March 05, 2003.) "Style Guide - Zombies", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  7. Mark Rosewater. (September 05, 2011.) "C'mon Innistrad, Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  8. Monty Ashley. (October 10, 2011.) "So Many Zombies", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  9. Magic Creative Team. (October 19, 2011.) "A Planeswalker's Guide to Innistrad: Nephalia and the Undead", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  10. Magic Creative Team. (July 9, 2015.) “The Worlds of Magic Origins”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Ant Tessitore. (August 10, 2015.) “A Skaab by any Other Flavor (Text)”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Doug Beyer. (December 08, 2010.) "The Nonhuman Cultures of Mirrodin", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  13. Magic Arcana. (October 29, 2003.) "Sketches: Flayed Nim", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  14. Jeremy Cranford. (February 03, 2004.) "Creating Mirrodin: Swamps and Zombies", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  15. Magic Arcana. (March 23, 2004.) "Adam Rex's Nim mural", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  16. Magic Arcana. (July 13, 2004.) "Crispy Nim", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  17. Magic Arcana. (May 19, 2004.) "Sketches: Nim Grotesque", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  18. Trick Jarrett. (December 05, 2013.) "The Returned", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  19. Magic Creative Team. (October 21, 2009.) "A planeswalker's Guide to Zendikar: Guul Draz and Vampires", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  20. Jenna Helland. (January 16, 2012.) "Preview Article: Mikaeus, the Unhallowed", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  21. Monty Ashley. (November 28, 2011.) "Who Is Grimgrin?", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  22. Magic Arcana. (May 13, 2002.) "Chinese zombies", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  23. Magic Arcana. (November 14, 2005.) "Alternate Chinese Art in Ravnica, Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]

External links[edit | edit source]