09/05/2011 MM: "C'mon Innistrad, Part 1"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I love the new way zombies are going so far. Recently they felt like they wanted to be regular creature aggro like Lorwyn G/B Elves but they cost a tad too much. They had to go one way or the other instead of stay in limbo, and going for the more expensive way really helped to separate them from the majority of tribes. Now they are the heavy lifters of big mana / control / combo / who the hell cares you get 13 zombies for eight mana (I actually had to back away from my screen when I saw the preview card)
In the past I would've loved this card but ever since Ratchet Bomb, which I'm a huge fan of, came out I can't take tokens seriously. On Besieged Game Day I came with a really cool token deck (that actually defeated a red black vampire deck) only to face a blue white control who had sun titan and ratchet bomb. Needless to say, I was not amused. If Army of the Damned somehow becomes popular, no doubt due to Bruce Campbell, I have no doubt we'll be seeing a lot more of Ratchet Bomb.
However, the flashback aspect is really sweet and protects you from Ratchet Bomb (so long as there's no Sun Titan). Is it wrong that I hope to one day get taken out by an army of zombies created by this card? I'm sick of Grave Titan. 
Weren't Spirits main color green in Kamigawa? So silly questio, what made the Kamigawa spirits different from the ones in Innistrad?
That is an interesting card. I still hope we get a blue/black zombie legend before the block is over to help cement the new direction for EDH. For what has been shown so far, EDH zombies are positioned to have another option over the multiple living death style effects plan. I am looking forward to it.
I'm glad the previews are paying some attention to zombies. That whole first week was too much Werewolf action. We get it: the flip mechanic is the thing everyone is going to talk about... but showing us tons of the exact same thing doesn't help. The people who love it will love it just the same. Those that hate it will still hate it. Instead, show us what the other 75% of the block is about.

That being said, I'm hoping that Zombies go beyond "lots of 2/2s" and beyond standard Tribal stuff. It seems that this flavor will make that a major challenge.
YES! ZOMBIES! 

Between Zombies being Blue Black and a slowly overwhelming archytype, I am totally going Zombies with this set!

Cards like this, Rooftop Storm, Diregaff Ghoul, Rooftop Storm and that Zombie Drake make me want to even more.

I've already got my Drowned Catacomb playset (I managed to get it together between like four drafts) and a Cemetary Reaper.

Innistrad looks phenominal so far. Between the art, flavor and mechanics, i can't wait to play these cards for real. 
Ratchet bomb and nihil spellbomb so far seems to do bad things to Innistrad cards.
 

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Weren't Spirits main color green in Kamigawa? So silly questio, what made the Kamigawa spirits different from the ones in Innistrad?



Spirits in Kamigawa were of all colors, not just Green. Spirit tokens were colorless to feed into this "universality" aspect. Traditionally, a "spirit" is a proxy for soul or ethereal once-living essence, and is directly tied to "afterlife" or whatever, which is why they tend to the White.

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
A great article!  I do wonder if we really need to be intoduced to all the "makers" of a set each and every set?  Maybe set up a different site to link to with all the information we need?

Im really digging the flavor of the set and I like how you have humans vs the world.  Great idea!

But really the important part.  GO KELLY!!!!!!!!!  You are finally getting some respect around there!   HAHAHAHA  Seriously, congrats man.  Tell em you want a pay raise too!
Man I am sooo waiting for the blue/black Zombie lord for EDH... no, Dralnu doesn't count. He's terrible
Good article; I appreciate both that there's some rationale behind each ally pair tribe and (thank goodness) the tribal theme isn't so oppressive this block, for us modular-card lovers.

(Perhaps Tom LaPille will explain one of these days why black-red is not as good an aggro pair as one might first assume. Making the vampires into an aggro deck was one of the big challenges of development.)


Anyone who has drafted the 3 Doom Blade, 3 Lightning Bolt trainwreck with like eight creatures can tell you: aggro decks are about turning guys sideways, so you don't necessarily need or want two removal-heavy colors. The reason mono-red aggro exists is because burn spells can hit the player to eke out the last few life; mono-black aggro is rarely a valid archetype because most of the removal can't play both roles.
Weren't Spirits main color green in Kamigawa? So silly questio, what made the Kamigawa spirits different from the ones in Innistrad?



It seems to me that Innistrad spirits are souls of dead people while Kamigawa spirits are the essence or avatars of nature.
Weren't Spirits main color green in Kamigawa? So silly questio, what made the Kamigawa spirits different from the ones in Innistrad?



It seems to me that Innistrad spirits are souls of dead people while Kamigawa spirits are the essence or avatars of nature.


Ok yea, that would explain it. The tie to nature would definiatly push them most into green. Still, we are getting some Green spirits in the set, so I wonder what they will be like. 
Seems to me Mark would have been better off starting the previews with this article; it does a lot more to whet the appetites for Innistrad than last week's!

Love the zombie cards shown so far; I'm a bit scared of how good my Thraximundar EDH deck will become...
I'm still not happy about the blue Zombie thing, but it seems as though it's one of those things that just sort of comes together, rather than a deliberate decision to pretend Frankenstein's Monster is a zombie.  My kvetch on the subject just a few minutes ago will probably be the last time I'll bother to complain; it seems it just sort of had to happen this way.
The first three Werewolves were black because Medieval attitudes regarded wolves as evil for no other reason than that they killed people - an understandable attitude from people who have to struggle to stay alive and who have a seemingly infinite wilderness beyond the borders of their civilization.  Our modern status as rulers of the entire planet who can get food in the grocery store every day and are almost never killed by wild animals has given us the luxury of seeing matters from the wolf's perspective; having the murderous werewolf shift into green, killing out of instinct or anger rather than anthropocentric "pure malevolence", is very fitting.  I still think there's a place for the concept of black werewolves, but it would be more fitting for a setting in which the werewolf isn't a natural creature but a product of diabolic magic - and it's not like there's a shortage of concepts for that sort of thing, so the black werewolf may well never be needed again.
While red is far and away the best secondary color for vampires, blue is the best tertiary option.  I hope someday we'll see a blue-black Vampire faction explored in more detail.  I could also see them doing another Alara with these tribes - expand werewolves into black, vampires into blue, and put zombies in white as the artificial servitors of some spiritualist church.  Very interesting possibilities all around.
I am glad that the plan to say that All Humans Are White failed, for a lot of different reasons.  Those four-card cycles would have cheesed me off to no end, and I consider White Weenie the most boring deck in the game (closely followed by Red Burn or Red Aggro-Burn), so I'm glad that they did anything to make it more exciting.  I'm a little suspicious of idea of Human-only equipment; what exactly stops a vampire from picking up a tool and being even deadlier with it than without it?  But we'll see how they execute the idea.
It's a bit odd for the "evil Spirits" to be primarily in blue; blue is normally the color least associated with the kind of misbehavior one expects of a ghost.  While blue certainly has an evil side, ghosts really don't fit with the idea of megalomaniacs pursuing some diabolical agenda regardless of the cost; a ghost's wickedness is usually a function of anger, spite, or obsession, which would tend to put them into black, white, and perhaps even red.  Green would have felt extremely odd for them; green's holism suggests that every creature dies and is absorbed by Nature, and a ghost is an interruption of that cycle, so it would have been quite strange.  (You could have mechanical Spirits that were Kamigawa-style animist 'small gods", but that's at best very distantly fitting.)
Thinking back, if they wanted to do a green-blue tribe, they should probably have done Witches.  Witches seem Black on the surface, but this is due to the same vilification that werewolves suffered; as herbalists, polymorphers and diviners who use magic to achieve sweeping goals but don't have the luxury of skipping the important details like using real eye of newt, they would have felt very appropriate in these colors.  Still, they probably made a reasonable call by not delving into paganism and nature worship in a world that has a strong centralized and xenophobic Church - too many potential Unfortunate Implications there.
I'm very happy about Innistrad, especially because it has a complete wheel of two-color tribes (they even seem to have the same "lean" - Humans are W/g, Werewolves G/r, Vampires R/b, Zombies B/u, and Spirits U/w, or at least it seems that way from what we've seen).  I'm glad Mark went the extra mile to give us an article on Labor Day so that I could learn all of this.
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"my greatest joys of having Jenna on the team was that not only did she step up as an awesome liaison with the creative team"

Is he totally hinting at an affair with that Jenna? No wonder, they didn't have time to really think that DFC thing through.

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Is he totally hinting at an affair with Richard Garfield? oO
I can see a trend there.
Did they even spend any time at all actually designing the set?
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I am glad that the plan to say that All Humans Are White failed, for a lot of different reasons.  Those four-card cycles would have cheesed me off to no end, and I consider White Weenie the most boring deck in the game (closely followed by Red Burn or Red Aggro-Burn), so I'm glad that they did anything to make it more exciting.  I'm a little suspicious of idea of Human-only equipment; what exactly stops a vampire from picking up a tool and being even deadlier with it than without it?  But we'll see how they execute the idea.

I don't think he ever said that they changed their mind about the four-card cycles. I'm hoping they did, because I too would not really enjoy it, but from the article I believe it sounds like they're still doing the White-versus-everything-else idea.
As for the equipment, he didn't say it would be exclusive to humans. It sounds like it will be much more like Blade of the Bloodchief: good in the hands of everyone, but better in the hands of those for whom it was made.

I'm very happy about Innistrad, especially because it has a complete wheel of two-color tribes (they even seem to have the same "lean" - Humans are W/g, Werewolves G/r, Vampires R/b, Zombies B/u, and Spirits U/w, or at least it seems that way from what we've seen).  I'm glad Mark went the extra mile to give us an article on Labor Day so that I could learn all of this.

You may be right that vampires are primarily Red in Innistrad but I certainly hope not. Considering they introduced vampires as the new Black tribe (or a new Black tribe) in Zendikar and then in Scars had only three vampires, none of them small enough to count as characteristic rather than iconic, they REALLY need to actually support vampires as Black's characteristic race like they promised.
Zombies are great and all, but there are only so many ways you can do a "shambling dead minion". Vampires are actually sentient, which means we can see the true face of Black rather than just Black's servants. So I'm seriously hoping vampires in Innistrad are primarily Black, only secondarily Red.
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I kinda wish that the "spirit" card type was actually an "illusion." I think it'd be pretty cool to get some more variety there, as well as help get the illusion deck out of just being a pure monblue deck.
I really do not like the preview card, as a mythic. As a rare it would be fine. I believe something like Mirror-Sigil Sergeant would be way more awesome as a zombie mythic that gets the same feeling across. 

I'm really hoping for an awesome green monster hunter like how Isao, Enlightened Bushi was the most awesome samurai. 

The humans are the protagonists of Innsitrad block. This block is their story. As we begin, we find the humans hunted on all sides.



I do hope there's also the feeling of "evil church" as that's perfect for the setting. Maybe it's part of the plot twist? 

A great article!  I do wonder if we really need to be intoduced to all the "makers" of a set each and every set?  Maybe set up a different site to link to with all the information we need?

[...]

But really the important part.  GO KELLY!!!!!!!!!  You are finally getting some respect around there!   HAHAHAHA  Seriously, congrats man.  Tell em you want a pay raise too!



Contradictory much?

Ok yea, that would explain it. The tie to nature would definiatly push them most into green. Still, we are getting some Green spirits in the set, so I wonder what they will be like. 



Not so much avatars of nature, but avatars from another plane* of existence, the spirit realm. They were equally in all 5 colors.
(*I don't really remember, but wasn't Kamigawa 2 planes fused together?)
I'm glad development nixed the idea giving black more cards. I don't really mind blocks that favor one color over the other four and then make up the difference later, but giving the same color two when none of the other colors have gotten one is just unfair.

Calling it now, if those four card cycles made it into the set, they will be completed in Roll.
I agree, having more black cards would have been kind of inelegant.

I'm also glad, development put in the Slith ability for red vampires.
Bloodcrazed Neonate is one of my favorites of the previewed cards. It's just really flavorful.

I love that distinction between black vampires, which are the noble aristocratic kind of vampire, and red vampires which are driven by their bloodthirst.
Of course Stormskirk Noble is quite an exception to this rule, but he's made for tournaments ^^


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Hmmm, I can really imagine the zombies making an appearance in Block Constructed.

So far Liliana, Snapcaster Mage and the Army appear to go nicely together.

If there is some more board control in black, solid bounce in blue, 2 decent card drawers and 2 decent counters I'd try that any day.
I was surprised but pleased to see articles today.

Oh yeah, and although flashback was previewed a while back, it just hit me while looking at today's preview card that the card that does 13 damage to many or all creatures will have a flashback cost of one.  And I forsee a four-card mythic rare cycle of thirteen-themed flashback cards.
If we assume that I'm correct in the last comment, then we know:

 

  • A token-making sorcery which makes more creature tokens than any previous token-making spell (not counting X spells or spells that make a variable number)

  • An enchantment that could let you play all your creatures for free

  • A spell that can deal 13 damage to multiple creatures for one mana (and yes, I mean 13 damage multiple times)

  • Many—and I'm talking more than a few—cards inspired by famous horror stories

  • A planeswalker with five loyalty abilities


We don't know (unless I'm mistaken):



  • A card that turns a loss into a win

  • A two-mana creature that lets you make a 2/2 creature each turn for two mana

  • A card based on a silver-bordered white card

  • A card that lets you exchange your life total with something you've never been able to exchange it with before


I really do not like the preview card, as a mythic. As a rare it would be fine.


I agree.  Mythic feels like it's supposed to be unique mechanics, not just cranked numbers.  At least it used to feel that way.  Ever since we got Mythic utility mana creatures I don't know what the hell it means anymore.


I also feel like the flavor should have been waves of zombies.  Rather than a dump of 13 at once, how about:


Army of the Damned 5:B::B::B:

Enchantment


Whenever a non-token creature you control dies, put a Grave counter on Army of the Damned.


At the end of your turn, put a Grave counter on Army of the Damned.  Then put a 2/2 Zombie token onto the battlefield tapped for each Grave counter on Army of the Damned.



To me, Zombies should feel like "they just keep coming" and to me this accomplishes that better than a Flashback Sorcery.  It does inadvertantly end up feeling like a riff on Mind Unbound, but I'm not trying to be super-original and even at that it feels more creative to me than "here's 26 power".

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Love the flavor text for Army of the Damned.  It would be pretty scary facing down 13 zombies at once and knowing the 13 more can be on the field in two turns.
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In the past I would've loved this card but ever since Ratchet Bomb, which I'm a huge fan of, came out I can't take tokens seriously. On Besieged Game Day I came with a really cool token deck (that actually defeated a red black vampire deck) only to face a blue white control who had sun titan and ratchet bomb. Needless to say, I was not amused. If Army of the Damned somehow becomes popular, no doubt due to Bruce Campbell, I have no doubt we'll be seeing a lot more of Ratchet Bomb. 



True.  But eventually, ratchet bomb will rotate.

The hole in Green could have been filled with popular tropes like Leprechauns, Elementals (think Creature of the Black Lagoon) or King Kong, but they would have been one-ofs and not really in the context of Gothic Horror. Putting more Humans into Green seems like the best choice, especially with Werewolves around.
Designwise I'm not impressed by Army of the Damned.

It looks like a power creeped version of green's Crush of Wurms (Judgment). You just get more bang for less mana: 52 power against 36 when flashbacked, regular mana costs being 8 against 9. And flashback costs 10 against 12. After this Crush is even less relevant than it already was. Is that good design for the game?

And anyways creature token generation has tradiotionally been primary strenght of green and white. But for some reason it has lately been pushed to black's domain with undercosted cards like Bitterblossom and Grave Titan.

Black usually gets the best big creatures so what is the point giving it the best creature token generators too?

Just askin'
Weren't Spirits main color green in Kamigawa? So silly questio, what made the Kamigawa spirits different from the ones in Innistrad?



It seems to me that Innistrad spirits are souls of dead people while Kamigawa spirits are the essence or avatars of nature.


Ok yea, that would explain it. The tie to nature would definiatly push them most into green. Still, we are getting some Green spirits in the set, so I wonder what they will be like. 



Yeah, spirits were kinda an "all color" thing in Kamigawa. On top of that, they should have been elementals. Bah.
Weren't Spirits main color green in Kamigawa? So silly questio, what made the Kamigawa spirits different from the ones in Innistrad?



It seems to me that Innistrad spirits are souls of dead people while Kamigawa spirits are the essence or avatars of nature.


Ok yea, that would explain it. The tie to nature would definiatly push them most into green. Still, we are getting some Green spirits in the set, so I wonder what they will be like. 



Yeah, spirits were kinda an "all color" thing in Kamigawa. On top of that, they should have been elementals. Bah.
If we assume that I'm correct in the last comment, then we know:

 

  • A token-making sorcery which makes more creature tokens than any previous token-making spell (not counting X spells or spells that make a variable number)

  • An enchantment that could let you play all your creatures for free

  • A spell that can deal 13 damage to multiple creatures for one mana (and yes, I mean 13 damage multiple times)

  • Many—and I'm talking more than a few—cards inspired by famous horror stories

  • A planeswalker with five loyalty abilities


We don't know (unless I'm mistaken):



  • A card that turns a loss into a win

  • A two-mana creature that lets you make a 2/2 creature each turn for two mana

  • A card based on a silver-bordered white card

  • A card that lets you exchange your life total with something you've never been able to exchange it with before






The two mana creature is stitcher's apprentice. it makes a 2/2 token, that makes you sacrifice a creature. It has a lot of demented flavor, and it is a great morbid enabler, since you can sacrifice the created token to itself.
What is the 13 damage spell for 1 mana? 
What is the 13 damage spell for 1 mana? 


He made one up in his previous post, and then decided it counts as real for the purposes of his list.

To me, Zombies should feel like "they just keep coming" and to me this accomplishes that better than a Flashback Sorcery.  It does inadvertantly end up feeling like a riff on Mind Unbound, but I'm not trying to be super-original and even at that it feels more creative to me than "here's 26 power".


The only problem is...your card sucks.  They wanted to print something that might theoretically get cast in some universe, and if they have to sacrifice a small amout of top-down design to do it, so be it.  An eight-mana spell needs to pretty much win you the game immediately, and this spell doesn't even do that.  Having to wait one turn to go nuts could be enough to make this unplayable; I'd hate to think about how bad a card that makes you wait five turns to get 15 tokens would be.
I'm a little suspicious of idea of Human-only equipment; what exactly stops a vampire from picking up a tool and being even deadlier with it than without it?  But we'll see how they execute the idea.



Exclusively for humans: Holy Water (as a hand grenade) and a Holy Symbol.  However, Blazing Torch and Elite Inquisitor already have those abilities.

When MaRo said he was doing a lot of top-down design, we all thought it was from the Gothic Horror genre. Little did we realize it was top-down design from breakfast cereal!

Next year, follow the epic tale of Ajani Goldmane as he discovers the power of cereal mana. "They're greeeeeeeeat!"  

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Weren't Spirits main color green in Kamigawa? So silly questio, what made the Kamigawa spirits different from the ones in Innistrad?



It seems to me that Innistrad spirits are souls of dead people while Kamigawa spirits are the essence or avatars of nature.


Ok yea, that would explain it. The tie to nature would definiatly push them most into green. Still, we are getting some Green spirits in the set, so I wonder what they will be like. 



Yeah, spirits were kinda an "all color" thing in Kamigawa. On top of that, they should have been elementals. Bah.


They were more in green than other colours though. The spirit counts by colour:
White - 32
Blue - 31
Black - 36
Red - 26
Green - 43

And the only multicoloured spirit was black/green. However, I'd suggest green's higher spirit count is really just because green gets more creatures than other colours. Green had the least Arcane spells.
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However, I'd suggest green's higher spirit count is really just because green gets more creatures than other colours. Green had the least Arcane spells.



Seems about right. Following your numbers, percentages of the colors' creatures being spirits:

White: 43% (32/74)
Blue: 48% (31/64)
Black: 51% (36/71)
Red: 41% (26/64)
Green: 54% (43/80)

So most colors were about 50/50 spirits vs physicals. The only one striking me as weird now is red with its relatively low number of spirits. Maybe it had to support too many different tribes? Goblins, Samurai (more than black), Ogres (as much as black). White is pretty low too but that has always been the 'human color'.
When MaRo said he was doing a lot of top-down design, we all thought it was from the Gothic Horror genre. Little did we realize it was top-down design from breakfast cereal!

Next year, follow the epic tale of Ajani Goldmane as he discovers the power of cereal mana. "They're greeeeeeeeat!"  



I would be all over a cereal block. Tiger people, leprechauns, rabbits with changeling, insane birds, hound rogues, transforming bears, and sentient suns with two scoops of raisons!
You know, so far I'd really liked the design of this set more than I had the last 2 or 3 sets. The flip cards seemed flavorful and nothing seemed over-powered, for once. Then we see today's preview card. It just seems so...blah. I mean, yeah, it's a sure power card in casual. It's gonna win games flat-out, no doubt about it. But to me it just feels like you took an old card (Crush Of Wurms and Beast Attack spring to mind) and just powered up the numbers by 50-100%. That's nice, I guess, but it feels so clunky and unimaginative, like something a first-time designer might do: find an old card he liked or saw played and then just make a more powerful version.

I guess I'm also getting rather weary of every set having tribal this or that. I mean, every set from time immemorial had elves and zombies and such, but it seems as of late that all Design wants to do is push tribes. Vampires. Zombies. Elves. Soldiers. Goblins. None of them are particularly fun to play, either with or against anymore, because they all have about half a dozen lords and they all drop about 50 power worth of creatures by turn 5. Can't we have a set without pushing the same old tribes again and again? Or better yet, without pushing tribes at all? It's why I had to laugh when Design spoke of Zendikar as a "plane unlike anything we'd see before." And then, of course, proceeded to populate it with all the same elves and goblins we'd seen a hundred times.

I'm still excited about the set. But this mythic rare, the card that is supposed to be a banner card for the set, feels so unimaginative that it kills my buzz a little.
Designwise I'm not impressed by Army of the Damned.

It looks like a power creeped version of green's Crush of Wurms (Judgment). You just get more bang for less mana: 52 power against 36 when flashbacked, regular mana costs being 8 against 9. And flashback costs 10 against 12. After this Crush is even less relevant than it already was. Is that good design for the game?

And anyways creature token generation has tradiotionally been primary strenght of green and white. But for some reason it has lately been pushed to black's domain with undercosted cards like Bitterblossom and Grave Titan.

Black usually gets the best big creatures so what is the point giving it the best creature token generators too?

Just askin'

I'm not impressed by the card either. But it's definitely very different from crush of wurms. Crush of wurms makes 3 6/6 creatures when it's cast. The wurms have a flavor of being very strong. Pretty hard to handle individually. But there are only 3 of them. This card on the other hand makes 13 2/2 zombies. Each individually easy to handle. But hard hard as a group. You play against them very differently.

That said i'm not impressed by the card as well. The mythic vampire is very cheap and effective. Where this card is large and stupid. The vampire has real flavourfull special vampire-like abilities. This card just makes a lot of zombies. Just like the many other cards do. Nothing is flavorfully better.

I would've liked a real zombie-like design. something like this:
Restless Graveyard 3BB
enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep. Return target creature card from a graveyard to the battlefield tapped under your control. It loses all abilies and becomes a zombie in addition to it's other creature types.

I think a card like this would capture zombie-flavor a lot better. Image beiing your opponet. Whenever a creature you control dies. It can come back to attack you as a mindless zombie 2 turns later. That's what zombies are about in my opinion