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archetype spotlight: Reanimator

Magic is balanced around its’ mana system.  Between the number of colored mana symbols and the total cost of a card, it is limited it the number of decks it can be in and, more importantly, the turn it can come in to play.   Reanimator tries to bypass that entirely.

There are two types of reanimation.

  • Explosive reanimation
  • Value reanimation.

The ultimate goal of explosive reanimator is to cheat a 7-8 mana cost creature into play on turn 2-3.

Value reanimation is about bringing mirage creatures back over and over.

Explosive is what we are looking at today.

Explosive Reanimator is a 3-5 card combo. It needs:

  • Mana, usually 2 lands.
  • A creature to cheat in to play – this should usually be a creature that is strong enough to virtually win the game in 1-2 turns if not immediately answered, due to the amount of resources required to cheat in.
  • A way to put the creature in the graveyard.
  • A reanimaton spell.

Ideally, your deck needs several of each category to ensure the combo happens as soon as possible.

Reanimation Spells

These are almost exclusively in black.

  1. Coffin Queen
  2. Reanimate
  3. Exhume
  4. Vigor Mortis (Bonus with Green)
  5. Living Death
  6. Unburial Rights (Bonus with White)
  7. Animate Dead
  8. Dawn of the Dead
  9. Diabolic Servitude
  10. Miraculous Recovery (White)
  11. Torrent of Souls (Bonus with red)
  12. Feldon of the Third Path (Red)

Graveyard Enablers

White: White has no real ways to get things into the GY early.  The closest is land tax, grabbing too many lands, forcing yourself to discard.  Not reliable.


  1. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
  2. Waterfront Bouncer
  3. Civilized Scholar
  4. Forbid
  5. Fact of Fiction
  6. Gifts Ungiven
  7. Monastery Siege

Blue doesn’t have anyway to reanimate on its’ own, but what it brings to the table is card draw and card selection that results in cards going to the GY.

One of the most powerful in this list is Gifts Ungiven.  Combine with Unburied Rites (and white mana) and it doesn’t matter what your opponent chooses, you are going to be able to reanimate something and probably have a decent choice of things to reanimate.

A huge plus is that all of these cards are very playable outside of reanimation. A down side is that because of that, they will all be higher picks.


  1. Putrid Imp
  2. Oona’s Prowler
  3. Liliana, Heretical Healer
  4. Lilliana of the Veil
  5. Entomb
  6. Dread Summons

Blacks cards are usually reusable or in the case of Entomb, a tutor that tutors it right to your second hand. (gy). Putrid Imp is the only real turn 1 option of any color, but the downside is it’s unplayable outside of reanimator.

Oona’s Prowler is good in black aggro, and hopefully the lilianas need no explanation.


  1. Magus of the Wheel
  2. Daretti, Scrap Savant
  3. Wheel of Fortune

Red is currently the second worst color after White for helping fill your grave.   Both wheel effects will work, but you may also lose another piece you need.


  1. Fauna Shaman

Ok, also not an awesome amount, but a reliable engine that can fill the GY quickly.



So, technically any creature will work, but realistically you want a creature that is near unstoppable on turns 3-4.  You are investing so many resources that if this doesn’t work, you’re kind of dead.


  1. Sun Titan – Not my first choice, but a 6/6 vigilant on its own can be enough.
  2. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
  3. Akroma, Angel of Wrath


  1. Consecrated Sphinx
  2. Frost Titan
  3. Sphinx of Magosi
  4. Tromokratis


  1. Geth, Lord of the Vault
  2. Grave Titan
  3. Massacre Wurm
  4. Sheoldred, Whispering One
  5. Griselbrand


  1. Inferno Titan – The only good option for red, really.


  1. Greenwarden of Murasa
  2. Primeval Titan
  3. Vigor
  4. Protean hulk

Green’s options really aren’t much better.  Getting extra lands is ok, but your deck probably doesn’t have much it can do. Vigor wants other creatures.  At least Greenwarden can get you reanimate spells back.


  1. Dragonlord Atarka
  2. Sphinx of the Steel Wind


  1. Myr Battlesphere
  2. Bane of Bala Ged