With the release of M20, we are nearing the end of another Standard season. This is the time when the past few years of Magic get a chance to coalesce and show off all of the different themes that Wizards has been trying to promote. At this time, I like to revisit old deck ideas and see how new cards may have reformed the strategy. This brings me to Reanimator, a deck that I toyed around with all the way back in Guilds of Ravnica and had a lot of fun with.
When I first built Reanimator 9 months ago, I focused really hard on the Surveil mechanic. There weren’t a lot of ways to discard cards in Standard at the time, so my primary method of getting fatties in the yard was from the library. The deck was cool but was really slow at actually reanimating anything. The earliest the deck could bring anything back from the graveyard was turn 5, and with The Eldest Reborn, you would often be waiting until turn 7 just to bring anything back. This meant that the deck had to shift into a control deck, but because of the reanimator package, it ended up diluting the control shell and making the deck worse overall. A lot of fun, but ultimately wasn’t good enough to compete in Standard. Link to the old article.
Almost a year later, and almost everything about the deck has changed. War of the Spark gives us one of the best reanimation spells we have seen in years in Bond of Revival. Giving haste to our reanimation target is huge, and means that in the face of a Ravenous Chupacabra we can still get some value out of our creature. And as we will see once we get to the creature package, haste gives us access to powerful attack triggers.
The other reanimation spell and the one that changes the deck far more dramatically is Blood for Bones. A 4 mana reanimation spell is something we haven’t seen in Standard since 2011 with Unburial Rites, so this is something that is worth paying attention to. The main thing that makes this reanimation spell different from others, and completely changes our deck in comparison to the one from 9 months ago is the requirement of needing to sacrifice a creature. This forces us to shift our gameplan to one much more creature based, in exchange for a much more powerful reanimation spell. Getting to attack on turn 5 with a huge fatty is worth the deckbuilding costs associated with it. Returning the creature you sacrificed back to your hand is just gravy.
Building a reanimator deck based around creatures is not something that I am used to doing. Discard effects have been pretty limited this Standard season, which was what initially led me to using Surveil to setup the reanimation. With M20 switching to an all creature base means that discarding cards from the hand actually becomes viable again, with Tomebound Lich being one of the best discard outlets in the deck. My favorite discard outlet in the deck has to be Rotting Regisaur, however, and he can effortlessly set up a turn 4 fatty, while also being a fatty himself.
Most of our fatties remain the same from the previous deck, and truth be told, most fatties are interchangeable amongst one another, but M20 brings us a spicy new toy in Drakuseth, Maw of Flames. Bolting 2 creatures and attacking for 11 will make quick work of any opponent, and is the main reason why getting to attack by turn 5 is so important either with haste or cheaper reanimation. Reanimator is a classic archetype from Magic’s history, and it isn’t until recently that we started getting decent reanimator cards. With this kind of support, reanimator has a chance to actually become a relevant deck in Standard. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!