Monday 12 March 2012

Heads Up Cube: Reanimator

Reanimator is the longest running combo deck in the cube and may be built in lots of vastly different ways. The simple premise is cheating a big dork into play really fast and winning the game with it. Strictly speaking reanimate decks do so from the graveyard but due to convenient synergies they often play Show and Tell, Tinker, Sneak Attack or even Oath of Druids to cheat in the big dorks as well. Reanimators power has been waning for quite a quite a while in cube as it was getting harder to recover should they deal with your first threat and more likely that they would do so. I built this deck with the aim of having continued power after making an early threat so as to combat the problems the archetype is facing. My list is below however I was definitely wrong not to play Tinker which should have replaced the Intuition that was over-costed and un-required in the deck. There were other reasonable changes I could make to the list but that is the major one. Otherwise I was very impressed with the way this deck performed and was able to continue to apply overwhelming pressure. This was fortunate as I played a pitifully low disruption count in the deck which is always a scary thing to do.

Frantic Search25 Spells

Mox Diamond
Mana Crypt

Goblin Welder
Enclave Cryptologist
Sensei's Divining Top
Chromatic Star
Faithless Looting
Dark Ritual

Demonic Tutor
Snapcaster Mage
Fire / Ice
Lat-Nam's Legacy
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Frantic Search
Wheel of Fortune
Liliana of the Veil
Recurring Nightmare

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Myr Battlesphere
Wurmcoil Engine

15 Lands

Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island
Underground Sea
Great Furnace
Seat of the Synod
Goblin WelderVault of Whispers
Shivan Reef
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Watery Grave
Graven Cairns

Other Considered Cards:

Living Death
Thirst for Knowledge
Negate / Spell Pierce
Squee, Goblin Nabob
Into the Roil

Typically I play blue black reanimate decks, a few quirky builds have also made use of green. Red was similar to green in having a few cards that had application in non-standard builds and saw infrequent play however with the release of Faithless Looting red has a lot more to offer. Faithless Looting really impressed me in this deck and could easily make the standard build UBR instead of just UB in the future.

I cut all the tutor effects such as Vampiric Tutor that cause card disadvantage to enhance the later game performance of the deck. To compensate for this I played a lot more card quality spells than I usually would to keep the consistency of the deck as high as possible without the tutors. I also played both Goblin Welder and Recurring Nightmare for their repeat use at reanimating. Both required me to build the deck differently to how I would without. The Welder requires a high artifact count along with the reanimate targets being artifacts. The Recurring Nightmare requires that I have a reliable number of creatures to sacrifice in order to work. The Myr Battlesphere and to a lesser extent the Wurmcoil engine are both good to weld out or sac to a Nightmare as the have come into play and leaves play effects. So although neither are so powerful they are likely to win games on their own they do offer a lot more longevity and synergy than more standard reanimate targets such as Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Akroma or Inkwell Leviathan. Sadly being three colours made Sundering Titan highly unappealing as it would be damaging me far more than them, he does have good synergy with the Goblin Welder and the Recurring Nightmare (Tinker too if I was clever enough to play it).

Myr Battlesphere
40 card reanimate decks should have three or four targets depending on lots of subtleties such as ratio of discard outlets to Entomb effects. Often more are played as they can act as out cards as well as win conditions such as Terrastadon. I was planning to win by continuing to apply pressure rather than off the back of one guy they can't deal with. This meant I didn't really need answer guys or really difficult to deal with guys. Battlesphere and Wurmcoil are just all round good and fit the requirements of my deck. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite however was more of a luxury card. I recently picked up a copy and wanted to test it was the main reason to include it. The second reason to play Elesh was that Sphinx of the Steel Wind would have been the obvious choice and I was up against red and green decks for which the Sphinx is really impossible to beat and offers dull games. Elesh was pretty good despite not being an artifact, most of the time I would get a very fast Battlesphere stabilising the game with me in a strong position only to follow it with Elesh for pretty much the instant win. On her own she stabilises well but doesn't win very fast and as a result is probably not very good in the builds which aim to make only one threat to win with.

I played a small package of acceleration which is always useful. It allows you to keep up with fast aggressive decks when you don't just draw your combo pieces and it enables you to play around counter magic very effectively in the early stages of the game. Not all acceleration works well in reanimate decks however, things like Talismans can often be a little slow unless you have the appropriate lands (Ancient Tomb / City of Traitors) which I felt I could not support in a three colour build. The 2 mana colourless lands help with certain aspects of the deck but also deny you access to valuable coloured mana and so you need to be very careful building around them. Grim Monolith and Mana Vault tend to offer too much burst mana of which you can't always make use of. Mana Crypt is more convenient and more manageable than Monolith or Vault and was about as much free colourless mana as I could make good use of. The single Chromatic Star helps a great deal with using all the mana from Crypt as well as smoothing out draws and having good synergy with Welder.

The most noticeable difference with this build and more standard ones is the number of small creatures in this build combined with a huge lack of disruption. Ordinarily the small guys would all be things like Duress, Force Spike etc. Having not built the deck since the arrival of Snapcaster Mage I cannot really call him a staple yet but he is outstanding and would be so in any build you could do. Spellskite and Enclave Cryptologist were added to give Recurring Nightmare some extra fuel while also offering some utility in the deck. The Skite also works for Welder and acts as both a speed bump and protection against their disruption. Cryptologist is a little slow and vulnerable and would probably have just been a Careful Study without the Nightmare, having said this I was never unhappy to draw him and was impressed with his performance when cast. Fire / Ice was basically my only disruption card which is bold but as a stand alone card it is one of the best working well against aggressive decks, not hurting your card advantage and pretty handy against control to tap down their mana. If I have both red and blue mana I will happily play Fire / Ice and this deck is no exception.

EntombThe three mana spells were generally the last cards added and least important cards in the deck. Frantic Search is amazing in this deck but doesn't really count as a three drop and the Nightmare was a big part of the deck design. The other cards however, Wheel of Fortune, Liliana and Intuition were all fine but not necessary. Many of the other suggested three drops would have worked just as well and had similarly low impact on the deck. They are all just adding redundancy to the deck which, despite the power of the cards, is a bit expensive compared to other spells that do the same effect for cheaper. Liliana is both a discard outlet and removal but for three mana you would probably be better of playing a cheaper card that does one or the other. Wheel of Fortune is huge card draw and a discard outlet but hard to set up as such and so Thirst for Knowledge is also probably the better and more consistent card. I might also have previously mentioned that Intuition was the weakest card and should have been a Tinker. For this reason I also would not be playing Buried Alive, it is just too slow at being Entomb and offers no extra utility like Intuition.

The rest of the deck is the core cards, the reanimate effects, the discard outlets, the tutors and the card quality which are pretty similar in all versions of the deck. This build was lots of experiments in all one; testing red as a main colour, testing Elesh Norn, testing out a sever lack of disruption and testing Recurring Nightmare. All of which were a success although Elash may be too narrow not just for the cube but for reanimator specifically, it just so happened she worked out well in this build. While running no counter magic, bounce or targetted discard scared me in construction it was never an issue in play and made my deck faster and more consistent, something I would happily consider doing again.

No comments:

Post a Comment