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Mono Black Reanimator

Written by James Heslip on . Posted in Casual Magic

Mono Black Reanimator

James Heslip

James is a budget Magic connoisseur who values silly strategies and rogue decks. He has been playing Magic since 1998, and competing in Legacy events since 2010. When he is not teaching high school English, he can be found brewing Casual and Legacy decks to play with his students and peers. Always appreciative of feedback, he loves it when people send suggestions and share crazy decks with him!
Reanimator decks have existed since the dawn of Magic. Throwing a fat creature into the graveyard and reviving it for much less than its original casting cost is an enticing strategy. Nowadays it is expensive to be a necromancer, though. The traditional reanimation spells and the most powerful targets are all much too expensive for our meager budget. This is why I set out this week to make the strongest reanimator deck I could on our meager $10 budget. I went a little over, but if you ever wanted to play reanimator and couldn’t get past the price tag, this is probably one of the best lists you have available to you.
The Core

Reanimator can be broken into three major parts. The reanimation spells, the reanimation targets, and the discard that puts your targets into the graveyard. We want to play the best reanimation spells we can on the budget we have. This means traditional reanimation spells, like Animate Dead, are out. Speed is also very important for reanimator. The longs the game goes on, the more likely our opponent can answer our fatties. So, we want our spells to be as low CMC as possible. This means cards like Zombify are out as well.

Soul Exchange costs two mana, just like Animate Dead, and has an extra cost that is not too difficult to pay. Many of our early discard outlets will be creatures, so Exchange fits nicely.

The Death portion of Life // Death is our next key reanimation spell. It’s basically a poor man’s Reanimate, so it’s perfect for us.

I wanted our final reanimation spell to be Victimize, but it put us too far above budget. So, I went with Stitch Together. It has its drawbacks, but we have methods of activating threshold quicker than normal.

The Backup

Putrid Imp, Heir of Falkenrath, and Miasmic Mummy are discard outlets in creature form. They allow us to fill our graveyard with scary monsters while also doing anything a low cost creature can do for us. Putrid Imp and Heir can become small win conditions on their own, too, thanks to their potential to fly.

Mire’s Toll is my go-to budget discard spell for decks like this. It is very important that whatever discard spell we play can target any player, including us. This way, even defensive discard can be used as an outlet to drop a creature into our graveyard. Doom Blade is here simply as backup. Sometimes, you just need to kill something, and Doom Blade is good at that.

The reanimation targets I’ve included are all good in specific situations. Bane of Bala Ged, Breaker of Armies, and Ulamog’s Crusher can each win the game on their own. They are susceptible to removal, though. Plated Crusher and Inkwell Leviathan are more difficult to kill. Magma Giant, Bogardan Hellkite, and Demon of Dark Schemes give us game against swarm decks. Hellkite and Myr Battlesphere also give us some reach, allowing us to damage our opponent directly. Finally, Stormtide Leviathan can prevent our opponent from attacking us outright, which can end the game on the spot in the right matchups.

You don’t have to play any of these creatures in your list, nor do you have to use a bunch of singletons. If desired, play four copies of anything here, or something else. This list simply shows the variety of our many budget options.

Cost: $13.50 at the time of publication
Playing the Deck
  Putrid Imp and Mire’s Toll will usually come down turn one. Know what to discard and when, and don’t forget that your Imp can attack for extra damage. When he gets threshold, that extra power can end games.

When it comes time to cast Soul Exchange, Imp and Mummy will likely be your tributes. Heir of Falkenrath is too good to sacrifice if you don’t need to. Battlesphere tokens are potential targets as well, but this will not happen often.

Because of the all-in nature of the strategy, knowing what to reanimate is vital to your survival. If given the choice, use knowledge of your opponent’s deck to your advantage. Yes, a turn two Ulamog’s Crusher is awesome, but if your opponent plays a large number of removal spells, maybe just settle for the turn two Inkwell Leviathan. It’s not as flashy, but you’ll be more likely to win. Don’t be afraid to play like a control deck, too. Many of your targets can be used to simply shut your opponent out of the game until you can reanimate a second or third creature.

Cabal Therapy and Skull Fracture are interesting discard outlets. Because they have flashback, you can potentially discard them to Imp or Heir and still use them later on. Buried Alive slows you down a bit, but gives you more of a reason to play a variety of one-ofs. Simply find three creatures to answer whatever your opponent’s deck can throw at you, and reanimate each of them in turn. Entomb is harder on your wallet, but is likely better, even though it only finds one creature.

Despite their price tags, I have included almost every alternative reanimation spell for reference. In the right lists, it can be very important for your rez spells to be auras (think Worldgorger Dragon or Kederekt Leviathan). If you want to spend the extra cash, I suggest Reanimate and Exhume, though.

There are countless possible fatties to play, especially if the price is less of an issue for you. I have included some of my favorites, but this is nowhere near a complete list. Avatar of Woe can snipe opposing threats away, Terastodon destroys pesky permanents, and Sire of Insanity puts both players in topdeck mode. Which you choose just depends on what you want your games to look like. I used to play four Petradon, for example, but it quickly became clear that no one has fun when your opponent has no lands in play for most of the game.


Reanimator is one of the first decks I ever designed which had a clear strategy. I remember finding Exhume, Avatar of Woe, and Buried Alive in my cousin’s collection. Everything clicking in my head when I saw them. This was back when my mono-red Crimson Hellkite deck was my “best deck”. Returning to the strategy brought back a lot of memories for me. What was the first “good” deck you ever built? What did you think of today’s list? Tell me about it on my facebook page. You can also send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com. Wondering how my decks have changed since I last wrote about them? Check out all of my updated deck lists here!


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