Seb Celia is back with an, umm, well-researched article. Enjoy! / Martin
Let us talk about Reanimator. And I will show you my thought process in three gentle steps. But before we do that, I need to tell you what I had in mind when putting it together. I wanted to build a resilient and consistent deck and what I had to give up doing that is speed or “explosiveness”. Hence, I cut all the Dark Rituals and Lotus Petals for a more control-ish two-colour deck. The all-in version of Reanimator might use the new mulligan rule to a better advantage, though, but that’s neither here nor there. I make way for a steady mana base, ye trusty ol’ blue and black and hopefully that gives us some advantages regarding stability, but we have also given up some colours doing it, which mostly means no red and no Stronghold Gambit or Pyroblast in the sideboard. If you want to go that route, you will probably need Gemstone Mine and the Lotus Petals. I give you Hapless Reanimator, voilà!
Step 1. Looting spells
So, what we need are some discard outlets. And we do find the best ones in blue. The MVP is Careful Study—it not only gets your creatures where they’re supposed to be to be able to be targeted by your reanimation magic summonings (drawing a pentagram on the floor and the use of candles for the right atmosphere is very helpful also, by the way). Careful Study also makes your opening hands a lot better, since you might need that extra land or some peeking and pulling on the opponents’ cards in hand.
Another sweet card that I have started to favour over many other loot options is Hapless Researcher. He is a clumsy feller, but we use that to our advantage. The best thing with the researcher is that we can make use of him in a later stage, but I will get back to that. He also gives us the option to flashback Cabal Therapy, and that’s pretty good if you are as bad with card names as I am (Is it Rhystic Study or Rhystic Cage?). If I may take a small detour, I also like to stress that I lost a match in a tournament NOT naming Tormod’s Crypt with it due to my opponent thinking way too hard on his keep. He did have it though, he had two actually. And that folks, is how you get mind gamed.
So, what are we missing here? Well boys and gals—clearly we need to make use of the fact that we now can play with another research-related card, namely Frantic Search. Boy, oh boy this deck loves to fund research. It makes Gemstone Mine a bit worse, so if you already have fallen off course with my take this might be something to have in mind for you. But what does it do? Everything, actually! It loots and it does not constrain your mana, all at instant speed! Instant spells are sometimes good to try to get some baiting going at end of the opponent’s turn if you suspect they have a counterspell lurking in their hand. Three might not be the correct number in the deck but you will have to figure that out for yourself.
Step 2. Discard and reanimation spells
Let’s take cards from our opponents’ hand and put them in their graveyard, shall we?
I have already mentioned Cabal Therapy as one of the discard spells in the deck. What I really think makes the deck tick is the turn 1 discard. So, four Cabal Therapy and four Duress are the right numbers for me. What we need to take care of are removal and permission spells. Cabal Therapy names Swords to Plowshares or Counterspell and after sideboarding we can get rid of Tormod’s Crypt etc.
Regarding reanimation spells, I probably don’t have to say much about why Reanimate and Exhume are good. I did try Animate Dead for a while but since we play Akroma, Angel of Wrath I don’t like it. If you have other targets such as Visara the Dreadful or Verdant Force, feel free to add one or two, though. Recurring Nightmare could be a Living Death but five mana is a lot in this deck since we don’t rock any rituals. I did play a combination of 4–5 Merfolk Traders and Vodalian Merchant before Frantic Search got unbanned and clearly with all those guys it’s easier to get Recurring Nightmare going, now I am not as sure as before.
Step 3. Fatties
The reason why we play this kind of deck is probably so you can get to this point. When we slam a creature that is large and in charge. I actually started out with Rorix Bladewing and Spirit of the Night but they didn’t feel right and are probably better in the more aggressive version of Reanimator. I settled for the trio of Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Petradon and Reya Dawnbringer.
Akroma, Angel of Wrath wins most fights on the battlefield and the vigilance makes it almost impossible for the opponent to race. Petradon usually just makes the opponent scoop. The most fun thing with this deck is Reya Dawnbringer though. With reanimation each turn you get to go wide. And do you remember that clumsy researcher that fell off a ladder? Well, you can bring him back and keep looting for that other creature you need in the following turns. Bear in mind though that both Akroma and Reya are legendary.
Well, that’s about it folks. Regarding sideboard choices, I think you need some number of Null Rod and Chain of Vapor in there. Phantom Nishoba is nice too. For another take on this archetype, make sure to read up on Andy’s earlier post too.
‘Til next time!
–I am Seb.