Zombies are animated corpses. Zombie is a characteristic race for the color black, though in various blocks they have also featured in blue and in Amonkhet in white and red.
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). The default race for zombies is therefore human, which was never mentioned in the type line, until the embalm mechanic created Human Zombie tokens. In the case of other races, the original race is always mentioned in the type line.
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.
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.
In the Shard of Alara called Esper, there exist beings who enter undeath by replacing most or all of their natural flesh with etherium, becoming undead abominations known as aether-liches. An aether-lich houses their soul in an etherium phylactery known as an Immortal Coil.
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. These damned oftentimes aren’t distinguishable from the real living.
Amonkhet is saturated in dark energies that cause every living creature to rise again as an undead after their death, referred to as the Curse of Wandering. The Curse of Wandering only affects flesh and ends when the undead has become skeletal. The resulting zombies are focused in black and white, though some Eternals can be found in blue and red.
Zombies outside the central city Naktamun and its protective shield become vicious abominations. Since the people of Amonkhet believe that the soul will exist as long as the body does, the state of rot these creatures are in is seen as a slow fading out of existence.
White Zombies (embalmed and mummified creatures) are referred to as Anointed. They comprise of all the dead within Naktamun that have not passed the five trials. They are used for manual labor, raising children and similar tasks, leaving the living to concentrate fully on achieving a more blessed afterlife. Their fate is seen as acceptable to the horror of becoming an abomination, even though their eventual afterlife will not be as glorious as the one of the Worthy.
The creation of mummies is an automated process, with embalming facilities underground processing the bodies of the slain by removing the internal organs and sealing them in wraps. While every corpse is reanimated in Amonkhet, mummies are made White aligned due to the preservation of their corpses as well as the use of cartouches. A vizier, the last one being Temmet, controlled the mummies.
The mostly blue, black, or red (or, in the case of Rhonas and Oketra, green and white respectively) Zombies of Amonkhet are eternalized creatures, known as Eternals, are the conclusion of those who pass the trials and are slain by Hazoret. They form Bolas’ lethal undead fighting force, the Dreadhorde, that has transcended their mortal capabilities. They are embalmed in layers of lazotep, a valuable blue mineral, that preserves their lifeforce as well as deeds in life. The Eternals are elite soldiers with all the skill and prowess of living soldiers, but none of the disadvantages that arise in living beings, such as emotions, hesitation, or disloyalty – and not being “living beings” lets them be deployed across planes, given a means of transportation. Bolas has personally crafted all of Amonkhet to create just such an army The five virtues of anointed in the trials are twisted into Tactical Thought, Adaptability, Resilience, Ruthlessness and Fanaticism, virtues more to Bolas liking. Before the Hour of Devastation, they were stored in Bolass great necropolis.
Not only winners of the Trials were transformed into eternals. Several of the dangerous fauna of Amonkhet, such as hippos, manticores and crocodiles, were also eternalized and served in the Dreadhorde.
As Oketra was slain, mummies began to embalm her corpse. The purpose of this was revealed in War of the Spark, where the Dreadhorde was joined by the monstrous abominations that were once the gods. They are coated in massive quantities of lazotep, allowing them to enter Ravnica and cause chaos there.
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.
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).
The zombies raised by the Cabal in Modern Times are known as revenants.
Innistrad is a plane partially infested with Zombies. Zombies come in two variants. 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. 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.
In the plane of Mirrodin, zombies are known as the nim, and inhabit the Mephidross Swamp. The Nim are people that have become zombified by the necrogen puffed out of the smokestacks of the Mephidross Swamp. In turn, the Nim vent necrogen gas themselves, as well.
On the plane of Ravnica, two guilds employ zombies: the Golgari Swarm and the Cult of Rakdos.
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. The Erstwhile once were an important soldier faction in Ravnica. They were laid to rest in coffins in Umerilek, Mausoleum of the Erstwhile. They returned as Zombie Attendants of Vraska.
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.
On their arrival on Ravnica, the Eternals from Amonkhet became known as Bolas’s Dreadhorde.
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.
The Gurmug Swamps of Tarkir are riddled with the sibsig, the wandering zombie hordes of the Sultaian 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.
In Theros, the Noston, or Returned, are undead that escaped the plane’s Underworld, governed by the god Erebos. 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.
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.
In the Grand Creature Type Update the following creature types were changed into Zombie:
Read the original here:
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
Zombie – MTG Wiki