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Reanimator is an archetype of deck named for the card Reanimate. It refers to decks that intend to "reanimate" creatures into play. There are tons of Reanimation strategies, but the most remarkable one is the one that gives the name to the archetype: Reanimator.

Intro[edit | edit source]

Reanimator shares some traits with both the Combo deck and Aggro deck archetypes. Take some Combo decks as an example: Storm, Twin, Omniscience, High Tide, Painter. These are all decks that, once they combo, are most likely to win on the same turn. Now, take a look at Aggro decks: Goblions, Affinity, Merfolk. These decks attempt to win the game through persistent, quick damage dealing. Reanimator is a Combo-Aggro-ish deck because it Combos so it can Aggro the opponent.

As any combo deck, there is a "1-2" it has to follow so you can land the combo. Think of this "1-2" the same way as it is in Boxing: a 1-2 hit in Boxing means a combo, and the same thing can be said with Reanimator. First, you have to put a creature in the graveyard. That can be done by, either discarding it from your hand, or tutoring it from your deck to the graveyard, or milling yourself. That would be your "1". The "2" you are seeking would be to use a "cheaty" spell to bring your creature to life. It is considered cheaty because you are capable to cheat a "bomb" that wouldn't normally come to play until turn 9 (for example) on turns 1 to 4.

There are things to consider when picking creatures to add to a Reanimator deck. Not only a creature should be big (a fatty), but it also should have an impact on the board (like some powerful static ability of some kind).

Recently, reanimator strategies go in decks such as Grishoalbrand and Gifts in Modern, as well as Tin Fins, Dredge, All Spells and, of course, Reanimator in Legacy or Dragon Reanimator in Vintage.

Reanimator[edit | edit source]

Although there are many decks using Reanimation strategies as seen above, the "Reanimator"is generally reserved for the Legacy version. The Legacy deck Reanimator is a competitive contender. The deck is commonly in colors Blue-Black (UB), although it can be seen in Black-Red (BR) or Mono-Black versions as well. Reanimators tend to splash Green for Abrupt Decay since it hits almost all cards that shut down the deck.

LEGACY CORE DECKLIST: Legacy is a format that demands efficiency in your spells. For that reason, most lists resort to this pattern:

The rest of the list changes by the colors you're playing.




There are other versions of reanimation that might use:

Colors[edit | edit source]

Reanimator decks can be found in many colors and shapes. The notorious ones are: UB Reanimator, BR Reanimator (also called Faithless Reanimator) and Mono Black Reanimator (as shown above).

Of course each player will always add the colors he/she sees fit alongside with the obligatory black, but here are the most frequently used colors:

MONOBLACK: This strategy is the most simple one. Basically the player uses discard spells as disruption and the black combo to reanimate. This suffers a great deal on Games 2 and 3 because of the lack of means to remove artifacts and enchantments (which represent most grave-hate in town). But, one could always sideboard more discard and Ratchet Bomb or Powder Keg to do the trick. This version also has access to Dark Rituals and Lotus Petal, so it's fairly explosive, but less consistent.

BR Reanimator: BR is a combination of colors that provides a good explosiveness and speed, as well as nice means to deal with weenies (via pyroclasm), artifact (via the color red) and the player gains access to Faithless Looting and Stronghold Gambit, which are two powerful cards in red. Sometimes this version abuses of its explosiveness to cheat Sire of Insanity on the early 1-2 or even 3rd turns (meaning the opponent will have to concede in most cases this creature lands).

UB Reanimator: In this version the player usually trades the speed (Dark Ritual) for consistency (via Ponder, Brainstorm and maybe even Preordain) and trades discard for counterspells (Force of Will and Daze). It's the safest way to combo of all major versions. But the most expensive as well. With this version, it is possible to go around grave-hate with Show and Tell.

Splashing Green: A card that most lists use in the sideboard is Abrupt Decay. Basically, this card gets rid of ANY grave-hate permanent in Modern and Legacy except for Leyline of the Void.

Accelerators[edit | edit source]

Reanimator strategies often use accelerators to be able to combo in the early turns. The most frequently used are:

Main variations[edit | edit source]

As mentioned before, the strategy of reanimation spawned a series of decks that all have the same core strategy of reanimation, here are the most famous ones:



  • Dredge - it's strategy constitutes of milling the player's own deck as a means of filling up the grave and setting a huge resource (since Dredge decks play mostly with their graves instead of their hands). Some opt for an aggro strategy with Bridge from Below, as well as others opt for a more combo one with Griselbrand and Laboratory Maniac;
  • Oops! All-Spells - This deck is one of those that give Force of Will the recognition and value it holds: it is a glass cannon strategy with zero lands in it to mill the player's deck on the first, second, or third turns. Due to its speed it gives little room for response and interaction. The way it reanimates goes with Dread Return by sacrificing Narcomoebas and provoking a chain reaction of reanimation leading to an instant win through Laboratory Maniac;
  • Tin Fins - This deck, also called GriselStorm, uses Griselbrand, Children of Korlis and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to basically draw the entire deck with Griselbrand's ability along with Children of Korlis. Then shuffle the graveyard back to the deck, draw it again, cast it all again, repeat until the player either hits with 22 damage from Emrakul and Griselbrand (reanimated with Goryo's Vengeance or Shallow Grave) or, the player throws an infinite Tendrils of Agony on the opponent - can be found in UB Tin Fins and BR Tin Fins versions;
  • Reanimator - The star that started it all. Reanimator decks consist on ditching a fatty to the graveyard and then cheating it onto the battlefield. The combo in this one makes the creature stays in play and then use it to beat the opponent down - can be found in Mono Black Reanimator, UB Reanimator and BR Reanimator versions.
  • Burning Reanimator / LED Reanimator - Explosive version with Lion's Eye Diamond(LED) and Unburial Rites
  • Faithless Reanimator - a mix of Tin Fins and Reanimator, this version can go off with reanimation or instant reanimation. It also includes non-lethal/lethal storm in the list.


  • Grishoalbrand/ Instant Reanimator - This deck can be better described as a Modern Tin Fins instead of a Reanimator per se. The player draws the entire deck (or a significant part of it), cheats Borborygmos Enraged into play and then converts lands into Lightning Bolts to the opponent's face. Or, in the other version, it generates a loop of Combat Steps with Fury of the Horde;
  • Gifts - Gifts Reanimator is a deck that uses Gifts Ungiven to tutor for the creatures to reanimate and Unburial Rites to use it as a reanimation spell by its flashback cost.

Defending the combo[edit | edit source]

Reanimator strategies usually rely on discard and counterspells to protect the combo. It all depends on the version the player is using.



Sometimes when the opponent has landed a grave-hate permanent. Grave-hate are cards that are used to specifically shut down graveyard-based strategies (example: Grafdigger's Cage, Leyline of the Void, Relic of Progenitus, Rest in Peace, etc.). Reanimator strategies are so strong and "cheaty" that almost every player sideboards or mainboards these cards so that they worry less about facing reanimator decks. And the player of a reanimator may need to, either get rid of it or go around it:



More sideboard options[edit | edit source]

Filling your graveyard[edit | edit source]

Whom to fill it with[edit | edit source]

How to bring them back[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]