Phoenix Rising – Reanimator in Standard

Last time I had talked briefly about a Junk Reanimator list I started tinkering with for the GP. I wound up playing the GP in two different last chance grinders and went 2-1 in the first I played in and got absolutely obliterated by Mono Black Devotion in the second grinder. Turns out the first version of this deck cannot beat triple Pack Rat game 1 and in game 2 cannot beat opposing Desecration Demons that are dropped on turns 4, 5 and 6. Some of the sweet plays that came up when I had gone 2-1 however included chaining Sylvan Primordials destroying 2 Detention Spheres I was able to get back a Whip of Erebos back from one of Spheres, whipping into play an Angel of Serenity and attacking to kill an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Overall I enjoyed that version of the deck but I wanted to change a few of the card choices in the deck.

After the GP, BBD (Brian Braun-Duin, @BraunDuinIt on twitter) had posted an article and a daily event video about the deck featuring some changes to the mainboard and the sideboard for Junk Reanimator. I have been playing with the daily event version of the deck which is the following:

Creatures (21)
Satyr Wayfinder
Sylvan Caryatid
Courser of Kruphix
Polukranos, World Eater
Shadowborn Demon
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Sylvan Primordial

Spells (13)
Grisly Salvage
Whip of Erebos
Obzedat’s Aid
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Lands (22)
Overgrown Tomb
Temple Garden
Temple of Plenty
Godless Shrine
Temple of Silence
Sideboard (15)
Bile Blight
Hero’s Downfall
Abrupt Decay
Vraska the Unseen
Sin Collector
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Ashen Rider

The main difference between this version and the previous version of the deck has to do with some changes with numbers in expecting to see less control and more aggro decks. Quite possibly the best feeling playing the deck is activating a Polukranos with a Whip in play gaining a ton of life then proceeding to make your normal block (or attack) and gain even more life. Last week at FNM I monstrosity’ed  2 attackers out of the Mono Green Aggro deck, blocked a 6/6 Scavenging Ooze and gained 9 or 10 life when the entire exchange was finished. The Bile Blights in the main board are absolutely necessary against Pack Rat, but can also come in against some of the more hyper aggressive decks like the Mono Black and Mono Red Aggro variants. Rounding out the sideboard changes are the Vraskas and the Hero’s Downfall which are almost entirely dedicated to Jace, Architect of Thought. This card is very troublesome to deal with because the reanimator deck is a bunch of 1/1s and a fatty scattered here and there.

This deck however, plays much differently than the previous incarnation of the deck with Unburial Rites as I mentioned in the last article. Here’s the list that I played to a top 8 finish at Spring States last year at Desert Sky Games:

Creatures (25)
Acidic Slime
Angel of Serenity
Arbor Elf
Avacyn’s Pilgrim
Fiend Hunter
Restoration Angel
Sin Collector

Spells (12)
Grisly Salvage
Sever the Bloodline
Unburial Rites

Lands (20)
Cavern of Souls
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Overgrown Tomb
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Woodland Cemetery
Sideboard (15)
Abrupt Decay
Acidic Slime
Deathrite Shaman
Garruk Relentless
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Sever the Bloodline
Sin Collector
Voice of Resurgence

The first thing to notice about this deck is that the amount of Forests are incorrect. For some reason I kept on seeing the list posted with 1 Forest when it should have 4 Forests. Another thing is this list played very differently but I want to show where the deck got its beginnings from. Recurring Acidic Slimes was the plan that I was on for most of States, playing against: the Reanimator mirror, Jund, Junk Tokens, Esper Control, and the Reanimator mirror winning all of these matches before drawing against Bant Hexproof and Jund to make Top 8. Recurring land destruction is a possible plan with the current deck, but getting to 7 mana is much harder than getting to 5 mana. We also don’t have the luxury that was Restoration Angel to blink our Acidic Slimes over and over at instant speed.

The strongest part of the previous version of the Reanimator deck was that it showed the power of flashback which is unfortunately no longer in the format. Now we have to focus on being more of a midrange deck that can abuse a Whip of Erebos or Obzedat’s Aid on occasion. Ramping into a planeswalker on turn 4 or casting a huge creature on turn 4 or 5 is the plan this deck wants to be on. It goes bigger than most of the other decks in the format, barring some UG devotion decks with Prophet of Kruphix. The deck’s worst matchup comes in the form of Esper Control purely because of Jace. The deck isn’t really fazed by Elspeth, or Sphinx’s Revelation but Jace is a real uphill battle to defeat.

Looking towards the new set the cards I think fit this deck the most are the GB temple in Temple of Malady and Banishing Light. The land allows us to still scry when needed, but will allow the deck to cast Bile Blight without worry against the Mono Black deck. Banishing Light provides the deck with more answers to troublesome Gods as well as Planeswalkers that just ruin our day. I don’t think that Pharika will be around too much to ruin our graveyard as much, and if Gods do become problematic we are able to play Deicide to solve their issues.