I know, it’s been quite a long while since I have shown myself on this here website. Life has been harsh to me over the past few months. I got slammed with work, and I am not going to lie – my mental and physical health have not been good either. These things get in the way of me doing what I love sometimes, which is writing articles and making videos about the best CCG in the world. Fortunately, things have calmed down, and I can get back to writing!
So, when deciding what to write for the return, I thought I would bring out a classic Legacy deck that you can pick up and play without breaking the bank. Have you ever wanted to play Reanimator, but couldn’t afford the fetches, duals, and Force of Wills? Well, then this is the deck for you! In mono-black, this deck gets the bonus of being blisteringly fast with Dark Ritual, while still being protected by discard. Check it out:
Mono-Black Reanimator (Legacy)
4 Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
4 Putrid Imp
1 Ashen Rider
1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
4 Dark Ritual
4 Lotus Petal
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Animate Dead
4 Bloodstained Mire
You’re probably reading this because the title says mono-Budget Reanimator. Legacy is an amazing format, but it can be expensive to play if you are just starting out. Reanimator is a strategy that people have tried to break in formats like Modern, but the tools are just not as available in the non-eternal formats. Fortunately, the means to play this powerful archetype are readily available in Legacy, and you can use them without spending too much cash on the format!
This deck runs sub – $300 with the fetchlands. Those are removable easily – I just find that they add a little bit of consistency to the draws of this deck by thinning out Swamps. Perhaps you already have Mires for Burn, in which case there is no reason NOT to run them, but they can also be abandoned to get the cost below $250. Note that this is in paper… Online, with fetches, this deck runs the astonishing price of only $100!
And that’s if you buy from *cough* MTGOTraders. You can probably do a little bit better trading for the cards or getting them from real humans.
The Deck Itself
Optimally, you are looking to reanimate some fat as soon as possible. Preferably the fat is actually rather skinny and spiky, in the form of Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. The faster we can get Jinny-G online, the faster we can win. The reason for playing four copies is simple. He enables us to continue to reanimate other creatures every turn. Drawing seven cards at the end of our turn allows us to pick up and then discard more big creatures, while keeping reanimation spells in hand to bring them back from the dead on our next turn. I like Jinny G more than Griselbrand in this version because he also reduces the opponent’s hand size by seven, meaning that they cannot hold any reactive spells against us and cannot counter anything we play after Gitaxias comes down. This is preferable since we do not have countermagic to fight against opposing counterspells that might stymie the reanimation of other meanies.
The order in which you optimally want to reanimate creatures is as follows: Jin-Gitaxias > Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Iona, Shield of Emeria (depending on whether or not you can / want to fully lock your opponent out of the game or need to mop up some creatures first) > Ashen Rider (more permanent mop-up) > Sphinx of the Steel Wind (Close out the game). Generally by the time you hit your second reanimation, the game is yours. If you fear Swords to Plowshares, Iona on White prevents your opponent from top-decking Swords to kill Iona or Jinny G. If countermagic is an issue, name Blue. If an army of dorks is staring you down with a Batterskull about to smash your face, play Elesh Norn. If your opponent is totally screwed on board, just throw down a Sphinx and beat face.
This is enabled by Entomb, which is the best tool to selectively find any of your bullet reanimation targets. The other easy way to get them into the graveyard is with Putrid Imp. I like the Imp because we are playing eight cards in the maindeck that can be reanimated, so there is a decent chance one or two will end up in your hand eventually. The Imp also eats Liliana edicts like a boss when we have only reanimated one creature. Cabal Therapy also has great synergy with the Imp. Therapy can be used on your own hand to bin fatties, or on the opponent to check is the coast is clear and / or remove their interactive spells. Gitaxian Probe also works quite well with Therapy; it enables us to name precisely what we want the opponent to discard, or allows us to ignore the opponent’s hand and use Therapy to bin our creatures should we have no other outlet to do so.
Playing with Probe and a few fetchlands also enables to play a “virtual” 52-card deck. This helps up consistency without access to Brainstorm and Careful Study. This deck also has more consistent turn 1 reanimations. Lotus Petal in conjunction with Dark Ritual lets us have two or three mana on turn one pretty consistently, which is often all we need to Entomb / discard a creature and Reanimate or Exhume it. The other nice thing about this deck is that it is incredibly redundant. With 12 reanimation effects, one or two counterspells will not fully shut us down if we cannot Therapy the opponent. Just play another Animate Dead on the next turn!
The other nice thing about playing Mono-black is that you can build an effective sideboard without having to drop a ton of money. Your options range from cards like Mindbreak Trap to stop Storm to general utility in Ratchet Bomb and Pithing Needle to more discard in Duress and Thoughtseize. The sideboard can be tweaked to suit your metagame easily. Even with Miracles up the Yang in the current meta, most decks are running one Rest in Peace as the only graveyard hate. You can beat this mere annoyance easily with A) Speed or B) Any number of answers from discard or those Ratchet Bombs.
That’s all for this week. I hope you enjoy smashing your opponent’s expensive Miracles faces with a 100 ticket Legacy deck that is a blast to play on the cheap.
Thanks for reading, and see you in future articles!