What Falls Down, Must Come Up

Building On A Budget - Reanimator

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Magic Online is a funny place...I think it might be an economists dream (or nightmare) to study. (There's at least a PhD in it for someone. -- Dan) I tend to be pretty good at keeping track of card prices, but sometimes Magic Online can take twists with prices I would never expect -- hence this article. I wanted to do a Reanimator article a while back, but the card prices were staying too high. Now that they have come down a bit, this deck (which is chocked full of goodies) is finally possible for under 30 tickets, which I hold to be my maximum for any deck I write about in this column.

Reanimator has been a staple in the Magic metagame from the beginning -- since the days of Alpha, Animate Dead was lurking around in somebody's deck. When Dance of the Dead was printed in the Ice Age set, Reanimator started picking up steam. Eventually (through a few incarnations) it turned into the deck we know today. In general, the Reanimation spells available today are much worse than before (compare Zombify or Stitch Together to Animate Dead). However, the creatures coming back from the graveyard are far, far better (compare any creature in a previous Reanimator deck to Arcanis, Phantom Nishoba, or Visara).

The thing I always liked about Reanimator was how simple it was, yet it had the ability to crush opponents with the sleek effectiveness of just putting a creature out there and saying: "Go ahead. Just try to deal with this." In the old days, there was an entire turn where you had this somewhat helpless feeling as your fatty suffered from summoning sickness, but not anymore. Anger was one of Reanimator's biggest and best innovations -- effectively letting the deck go from sleep mode to smash mode in the blink of an eye.

Building on a Budget - Reanimator

While the deck concept is rather simple, you need to know certain things while playing it -- mainly which creature to get in any situation. In this regard it's much like the old Rec-Sur deck. When you cast Buried Alive, you have to know what you're playing against and what's best to dig up. Anger is always right, but the other two depend on the situation. Here are some guidelines:

  • Arcanis is what you get if you aren't in a dire situation. Drawing cards is like candy in this deck.

  • Phantom Nishoba is great if you're low on life or are playing against a super-aggressive deck like Red-Green or Goblins.

  • Visara is even better in the above situation if you have plenty of life.

  • Symbiotic Wurm is great if you think your opponent has Edict or Wrath.

  • Petradon is wonderful against Control and land-light opponents.

In general, the game plays out by you casting an early Sickening Dreams or Last Rites and discarding some manner of fatness. When turn four rolls around, you bring said fatness back into play to smash said opponent. Got it? Mix in Buried Alive for flavor.

The trick to winning with this deck is to not overcommit while not taking it too slow. There's a fine line between when you hold back and when you start swinging with Visara and start ignoring your opponent's creatures. Seeing that line is the hard part. The ultra-fatties aren't born to block, so fight with them!

Tips On Playing the Deck

  • If you have Anger in the graveyard, you may be better served by not casting Doomed Necromancer on turn three. Instead, wait until turn four when you can cast and activate it (with haste). This is especially important if the Necromancer is the only reanimation spell in your hand.

  • Stay at a high life total. If you're at 10, that's too low. Get the Nishoba as a rule of thumb in that situation.

  • Don't be afraid to tap Arcanis during your turn. Sometimes you need him to block, but three more cards will probably say otherwise.

  • Don't worry about discarding excess lands to Dreams or Rites -- you only need four to function.

  • Don't forget that you need a mountain for Anger to work. This is the only reason the pricey Bloodstained Mires are in the deck.


Silent Specter
Silent Specter with haste is a good way to start the day against control decks.

Guiltfeeder is another anti-control card -- you can actually cast this one, too! Great versus Tog and Wake.

Ancestor's Chosen
Ancestor's Chosen is a life-gaining machine that's good to board in versus the same decks Phantom Nishoba is good against. One of the two cards will win you the game.

Undead Gladiator
Undead Gladiator is another anti-control card, but it's also nice because it is one of the few cards that has great synergy with Buried Alive without any help.

Engineered Plague
Yah, you know what to do with this one already.

Withered Wretch
Withered Wretch is just plain good against much of the field (not to mention against this deck). Use it to your advantage!

Adding More Money To The Deck

Alternative versions of the deck exist that have more of a green mana base; using eight fetchlands and Genesis, creating a toolbox effect that is less dependent on the reanimation spells. This allows you to reuse creatures with Buried Alive and Genesis, making the deck far better versus Control. Entomb is another card worth considering in the deck, especially a green version because it lets you dump a Riftstone Portal into the graveyard.

If you decide to play the green version, never underestimate the power of Birds of Paradise. That creature never ceases to be good in almost every deck. It is truly the best creature in Magic.

Very few things compare to the feeling of putting a Phantom Nishoba out on turn four. Try it. Like it. Reanimate it. I am just glad that this deck can now be built on a budget!

Until next time, may your creatures gain +X/+Y.

Nate Heiss
Team CMU
Nateheiss on Magic Online

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