Bring Out Yer Dead
Reanimator is a favorite archetype of Magic, seeing play across nearly every format. A favorite reanimator commander comes from Commander 2015, Meren of Clan Nel Toth. Few other commanders can keep up with her sheer efficiency, making her extremely powerful. While not as efficient as Meren, the Golgari Guildmage will be our own reanimator commander.
Looking at our commander, we note that he has a fairly high-cost ability, so we know that we need mana ramp. I have talked about ramp before, but here there are a few other options that are available to us. Creatures or spells that sacrifice to search for lands, or creatures that discard to search are not a downside to us. Filling our graveyard is actually useful now, since it can act as a second hand.
Now that some cards are starting to fill the yard, we need ways to recur them. Most of the effects that recur cards from the graveyard only bring them back to hand, but that is not much of a problem. We have a whole slew of cards to choose from, so let’s get started. Stir the Grave is one of the few cards that directly returns cards from graveyard to battlefield, so it’s a must run.
We not only want one-time use effects, we need repeatability. The value of being able to recur a creature each turn or so is immeasurable. Luckily, we have several ways to do so. First, I’m going to talk about my second favorite creature type, Spellshaper. These creatures all feature abilities that are exact copies of classic magic spells. We want them here for two reasons, first is their cost of discarding a card, second is their ability effect.
Speaking of repeatedly filling the bin, let’s talk about one of Magic’s boogiemen: Dredge. A very powerful ability that constantly sees banning and unbanning in other formats. Dedge lets us sacrifice a creature, then instead of drawing, mill a few cards. This means our yard can get really fat really fast.
Now that we have a full bin, what sort of things are in the toybox? We should be aiming for creatures with enter-the-battlefield effects, as recurring a vanilla creature will have little effect on the game state. In this regard, I feel there are a few different flavors of etb’s that we can utilize: recursion, refilling, removing. Let’s dig into ‘em.
Recursion creatures simply bring back cards from our yard to hand, getting us some absurd mileage out of our deck.
Refilling creatures let us get a two-for-one, as when we fully utilize these creatures, we can refill our hand, field, or yard.
Lastly, removal creatures destroy things or attack our opponent’s hands. Chittering Rats is especially potent, as being hit by that effect a few turns in a row can cripple game plans.
Now, in the recursion group I mentioned Hana Kami, a spirit that sacrifices to return an Arcane card from yard to hand. This spirit has a powerful synergy with Death Denied. The way it works is to cast Death Denied, returning a creature or two to hand. Then, sacrifice the Kami, returning Death Denied, which will target the Kami along other targets.
Finally, no graveyard deck is complete without a few sacrifice outlets. The best outlets let us wring out every last drop of value from our creatures, making sure we can grind out any other deck.
Well, I think I’ve unearthed the major digging points of this value-oriented guildmage. I hope you have been inspired to try out this fun archetype whose choices only accrue as a game goes long. Join me next time as we ponder on Mizzix, the spellslinger Izzet goblin!
Find the deck here!