Arcane Laboratory: Grave Consequences

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

Do you know what the best thing about the current Standard format is? No one is playing graveyard hate. Well, almost no-one. The dredge decks have a few Deathrites, but whatever. That deck is underplayed anyway.

When I play Standard I like to do powerful things: Sphinx’s Revelation, Elspeth, Jace. But, lately there are just so many mirror matches that playing UWx Control is abysmal. So I started looking for other powerful things to do. I was looking at both Reid Duke’s Junk Midrange that Scotty played on stream AND the BG Dredge deck. Both did awesome things. I really liked Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Obzedat, Ghost Council, and Courser of Kruphix. But, I also really like digging through my deck and playing Whip of Erebos.

That was when I realized I could just do both. One of my stream enthusiasts had mentioned that he played a Junk Reanimator deck. I asked him for a list, which he graciously sent. It did some things I liked and some others I wasn’t a fan of. What the deck primarily showed me was the power of Obzedat’s Aid.

When building my list I sat down and figured it out like this:

Step 1: Enablers

We need ways to get our boom booms into the yard. The options are Commune with the Gods, Grisly Salvage, and Satyr Wayfinder. I knew it wanted four Salvages. They find both creatures and lands at instant speed, which is key. The real debate was over Commune vs Wayfinder. In the end I decided on Wayfinder because it was a body to chump with until I got set up and with only 24 lands in the deck sometimes I’d want my enablers to find my mana.

Step 2: The Fat

What did I want to be reanimation? I know I wanted a diverse array of options. I went with a 2/2 split on Blood Baron and Obzedaddy because Blood Baron is so strong against the black decks while Obzedat is great against control. I could also easily cast both without reanimating them. I knew I wanted some bigger things and ended up with a 3/2/1 split on Ashen Rider, Sylvan Primordial, and Angel of Serenity. Ashen Rider could exile anything I needed, especially gods. An active Thassa would be very scary for the deck because it puts them in a situation to effectively race us. I found myself wanting the Primordial more because it could hit Planeswalkers and block Stormbreath Dragon. One Angel of Serenity seemed enough for when I would square off against the faster aggro decks where she could shine.

Step 3: The Reanimation

This was actually the easiest step. I knew I didn’t want to touch Rescue from the Underworld. Being required to have a creature to sacrifice in order to cast it is far too much of a detriment. I wanted to be able to reanimate something even after a Supreme Verdict. Four Obzedat’s Aid and 2 Whip of Erebos was plenty of action. Aid even had the bonus of being able to return the Whip.

Step 4: The Mana

The lands themselves were relatively easy to nail down. I decided to only play 2 Godless Shrine in order to play a few more basics so I wasn’t constantly shocking myself when I needed untapped lands. I debated playing mana dorks but I hated having a dork turn 1 followed by a Temple of X turn 2. I’d rather cut the dorks, play the Temple of X turn 1 and play a Sylvan Caryatid or Satyr Wayfinder on turn 2. Four Caryatids was a must. They couldn’t be offed by removal spells early but did protect my fatties from Devour Flesh. I also knew I wanted 4 Courser of Kruphix. The card is just insane, especially on MTGO where there is so much of the red Burn style decks running around.

Step 5: The Leftovers

I was left with 5 spots in the maindeck to fill. I knew I wanted some number of Abrupt Decay. They’re good against both the early aggressive decks while still destroying Detention Spheres and Domri Rades. I also wanted a few Scavenging Oozes as a way to gain some more life against Mono Red and to interact with the Dredge decks I could face. I was 3/2 Decay and Ooze until very late while looking through my binder of standard playables. There staring me in the face was a card I knew I just needed to try, Deadbridge Chant. It was a card I knew would win me long protracted games. It also put some stuff into my graveyard to reanimate. The best part was that I could actually Obzedat’s Aid it back into play if I had binned it early. I found even further synergy between it and Scavenging Ooze. Ooze would allow me to filter my graveyard so I would only “draw” stuff that was relevant with the Deadbridge.

Step 6: The Sideboard

I will admit that this part of the deck was cobbled together relatively quickly. I knew I wanted 4 Mistcutter Hydra because it is just a house against MonoU Devotion and Control. With 4 Grisly Salvages to dig for the Hydra it was an easy fit. I opted for a 2/2 split on Thoughtseize and Sin Collector. I chose Sin Collector because it could apply some pressure on a control deck while hitting a Sphinx’s Revelation or a counterspell.

I was still worried about seeing Red decks so I added 3 Centaur Healer to ensure they had 0 chance of ever winning against me. Two Erebos, God of the Dead were added to act as an Underworld Connections against control while also stopping the lifegain from opposing Blood Barons.

Finally I added a third Abrupt Decay and a Shadowborn Demon. I wanted to Decay for aggro decks, especially Naya Hexproof. The Shadowborn was my only way of ever actually killing a Stormbreath Dragon after it went monstrous. It would also hit Archangel of Thune, Polukranos, and other midrange-type creatures that could be problems.


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We ended 3-2. This is a decent result, except that our three wins were all from crushing MonoRed players under tremendous amounts of lifegain. We lost to a very interesting UW Heroic build because we couldn’t find enough Abrupt Decays to take out their suited up guys. In our final match we saw just how bad multiple Stormbreath Dragons are for us when we can’t kill them.

The deck was enjoyable to play, but it definitely needs some work. I had some idea’s, like adding another 1-2 Shadowborn Demons and moving away from Ashen Rider for another fatty. However, Brian Braun-Duin just had an article come out this week with his own Junk Reanimator deck and it is everything I could ever want mine to be. So, I’ll let him do the work for me, because honestly, I still hate Standard.

Next week I’m going back to Modern and I’ll be ripping my opponents’ hands to shreds with Mono Black 8 Rack. Make sure to check it out, Tuesday at 8:30pm EST.

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