Legacy Reanimator Primer by the Arcanis Super Legacy Finalist
30/04/2023 · 13 min read
1. Quick intro
My name is Nicolás Leiva Medina, also known as Satu2112 on MTGO. I have been playing Reanimator for more than a year and have achieved good results, such as winning a Challenge or more recently, becoming a finalist at the Arcanis Infinity Super Legacy , a tabletop tournament with over 119 players.
I hope you enjoy my analysis!
4c Reanimator is one of the best decks since Expressive Iteration was banned, and as a consequence, UR Delver is not as strong in Legacy . The deck seems much more consistent due to the latest inclusion, Grief. I've been playing this my current version without Atraxa for quite some time, which and as far as I'm concerned, it feels like a much better-performing version to me.
In this article, I'll share some tips for improving your games, introduce some basic concepts, and provide my personal sideboard guide.
2. My Current Version of the Deck
|3 Archon of Cruelty||$17.99|
|1 Serra's Emissary||$4.49|
|4 Lotus Petal||$9.49|
|4 Dark Ritual||$0.99|
|4 Faithless Looting||$0.99|
|4 Animate Dead||$5.99|
|2 Bloodstained Mire||$39.99|
|2 Marsh Flats||$16.99|
|2 Polluted Delta||$47.99|
|1 Underground Sea||$419.99|
|2 Verdant Catacombs||$17.99|
|3 Dauthi Voidwalker||$9.99|
|3 Faerie Macabre||$1.79|
|1 Iona, Shield of Emeria||$6.99|
|4 Show and Tell||$42.99|
Since this deck is currently very strong, the sideboard can be adapted according to the shifts in the meta, but the main 60 cards are untouchable for me.
3. Deck Breakdown and Crucial points
3.1 Mana Base
The mana base in this deck is specifically designed to navigate around cards like Pithing Needle or Anointed Peacekeeper. That's why running 2x of each black-tutoring fetchland is the optimal choice. For our primary strategy, keep in mind that aside from Lotus Petal, you only have 2 Badlands to cast your Faithless Lootings, so playing around Wasteland is crucial. In fact, it's important to carefully plan your land drops not only due to the prevalence of Wastelands in the current meta, but also because finding them can be challenging since the deck only includes 14 lands.
3.2 Mana Generators
This deck is a great option because it contains several tools that enable you to get a huge creature into play during turns 1-2.
Petals can also help you obtain various colors in several situations, which is why they are so powerful in this deck.
3.3 Hand Disruption
This deck contains a large number of zero/one-cost discard cards, such as Grief, Unmask, and Thoughtseize.
Some of them like Unmask or Thoughtseize can also be used to make yourself discard a creature which makes them even better.
This deck presents creatures such as Griselbrand, Serra's Emissary, Archon of Cruelty, the previously mentioned Grief, and Iona, Shield of Emeria. Other versions also play Chancellor of the Annex or the new multi-format staple, Atraxa, Grand Unifier.
3.5 Reanimation Spells
Although the most commonly used reanimation spells are Reanimate, Animate Dead, and Exhume, Shallow Grave and Dance of the Dead are sometimes played.
3.6 Threats to put your creature in the graveyard
There are a bunch of cards that can make you put a creature in your graveyard. The most commonly played ones are Entomb and Faithless Looting, but you can also use Unmask and Thoughtseize targeting yourself to do it.
4. Reanimator: Choosing the Right Creature
What is the right creature to reanimate?
Sometimes, choosing the right creature to reanimate can be a difficult task. Generally speaking, Griselbrand is usually the best option, as it allows you to cast multiple discard spells, leaving your opponent without answers in hand. It also depends on which card you will use to reanimate your creature back into play, considering that Reanimate will take at least 7 life points.
Although Griselbrand can be the most powerful creature to get into play, Archon of Cruelty and Serra’s Emissary are probably better in some matchups. In the mirror, Serra’s Emissary can completely destroy your opponent naming “creature” since not even the Archon’s trigger will go off.
Archon of Cruelty is a nightmare vs some decks such as Elves or Selesnya Depths because despite of some of those decks play Swords to Plowshares, Archon jumps over Maze of It, Karakas or Glacial Chasm and sometimes it allows you to get rid of Elvish Reclaimer.
Serra's Emissary is not only the best card for game 1 in mirror matches, but also against Painter and 8-Cast, as it could save your life by naming "Artifact." This way, you can prevent yourself from being milled with the Grindstone or avoid having a creature returned to your hand with an Aether Spellbomb.
Another key point is that Archon of Cruelty and Serra’s Emissary are not legendary and in the case of Archon you can even stack a couple of them into play dodging Karakas and getting some great value.
5. On the Draw VS on the Play
In spite of all decks that usually take advantage of being on the play, Reanimator along with Storm are the ones that take the most.
Being on the play makes everything easier, as you are not in range of Daze or Crop Rotation into Bojuka Bog. The best way to start using cards like Faithless Looting is to always cast a Thoughtseize, Grief, or Unmask before to prevent opponents from playing any of the abundant graveyard hate cards that are prevalent in the current meta. Once you have checked your opponent's hand, we can set up our plan.
Being on the draw can present significant challenges when going up against blue decks, since they have access to cards like Daze, Spell Pierce, and Mental Misstep. Other troublesome cards include Crop Rotation and Chalice of the Void. There aren't many advantages to being on the draw, but one classic strategy is to not play anything and then discard a creature during the end step to prevent it from being countered, preserving a card that can later be pitched to Grief or Unmask.
People often assume that this deck is always going all-in, but if you know how to handle your disruption spells, it can be quite reliable. Playing Reanimator can sometimes be a bit frustrating, as in the current metagame, decks like Lands, Selesnya Depths, Elves, or even Painter are incorporating threats in their main lists to combat it.
When facing decks that utilize cards like Force of Will, Daze, or Spell Pierce, such as UR Delver, UB Shadow, Cephalids, and so on, your strategy needs to be significantly changed. In these situations, it's crucial to understand how to effectively use your Griefs, Unmasks, or Thoughtseize cards, as they will be the key to making sure your creatures successfully enter the battlefield.
Mulliganing plays a crucial role in piloting this deck, as you frequently need to pitch a card to play a “free” spell. Mulliganing down to five or even four cards can significantly hinder the consistency of your game plan.
6. Sideboard Guide
In this section I will address the most relevant matchups I faced in the tournament as well as the most common ones in the current meta.
This is not a good pairing since they play threats such as chalice of the void and Force of Will. That is why I decided to use Serenity, Wear // Tear and last but not least, Show and Tell for their graveyard’s hate cards.
Since Expressive Iteration got banned, the matchup feels much better because they do not have that card to constantly get a 2x1. In this kind of matchup, disruption cards are as crucial as being on the play to avoid Daze. I usually side out Animate Dead because an Exhume can avoid a Surgical Extraction if you have two different creatures in your graveyard. Show and Tell for graveyard hate as usual.
I believe that this deck isn't a favorable match-up due as we will have to face Force of Will, Daze, and Swords to Plowshares.
The best game plan is the Griselbrand one. Dauthi Voidwalker and Faerie Macabre are also relevant for annulling their principal gameplan or even to exile a key piece with the ability of Faerie Macabre while they are milling themselves.
This matchup is normally favorable if they do not get their main Soul-Guide Lantern. The first game should not be difficult to win. An early Archon of Cruelty is really solid as they do not have anything to get rid of it directly. Serenity and Wear // Tear are the mvp cards in this matchup and you will control their Painters as their Urza’s saga. Goblin Welder could be a nightmare if they get 2 of them into play. Show and Tell although it is weak against Pyroblast and Red Elemental feels ok as an alternative plan. Exhumes could be really bad as they also interact with graveyards.
DEATH AND TAXES
This pairing should be a good one in the first game as they do not have a lot of main threats to stop you. For this matchup Exhume could be really bad as their main threats to beat you are creatures that you don't want to reanimate for them. Show and Tell are included for graveyard hate such as Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void but the card that you have to be more careful with is Containment Priest as it will stop you both graveyard and Show and Tell plan.
SNEAK AND SHOW
Against Sneak and Show I usually do not sideboard anything as you can even get one of their creatures back under your control. Archon of Cruelty is a key piece because if they cast Show and Tell it will destroy their creature, so It is always good to keep one in hand. It is also really important to manage your disruption properly to discard their Sneak Attack.
That being said, Wear and Tear can be effective against Gravedigger's Cage, and it can also destroy their Sneak Attack. Therefore, one sideboarding option is to remove two Exhumes and include them.
Doomsday is a scary pairing to play on the draw because you will be weak to daze or even to lose your game in turn 1-2 once the doomsday is casted. Your best option is to try to reanimate a Griselbrand and cast several disruptive cards. Show and Tell is again as good as Exhumes versus Surgical Extraction.
Elves has always been a free game 1 but since the last inclusion of Endurance in the main deck it could be a little bit harder. Show and Tell is again a good game plan as they play Leyline of the Void and Endurance so It could be the most consistent strategy post-sideboard. I decided not to play Exhume as against an evoked Endurance could be a disaster.
MONO RED PRISON
This pairing might be a really difficult one on the draw as they play Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere and Unlicensed Hearse in the main list. I decided to sideboard in Wear // Tear, Serenity and Show and Tell because they will add Leyline of the Void to their other threats making it so hard for you. A good alternative could be to get one or even two of their creatures back under your control like Caves of Chaos Adventurer or Goblin Rabblemaster that can quickly finish the game.
In this matchup it is a must to constantly play around Crop Rotation that will bring them a Bojuka Bog. Show and Tell is really good against the previously mentioned Crop Rotation, Endurance and Surgical Extraction. This game plan is almost the same for Naya / Selesnya Depths.
NAYA / SELESNYA DEPTHS
It is not always true that in the mirror game the one who is on the play usually wins, but it gives you an immense advantage since you are the first one casting a disrupting card or reviving a creature. Dauthis are one of the best cards in the mirror game because not even a Snuff Out will kill them. Faerie Macabre is also good for obvious reasons. Iona, Shield of Emeria will be literally GG if you can get it into play, naming “Black”. Exhumes could be really bad in the mirror match as having some big creature in hand being on the draw because your opponent can discard it and get it back under their control.
AD NAUSEAM TENDRILS
This pairing is completely favorable for the one who is on the play as Reanimator has no instant threats to stop it. This matchup is usually one of the worst due to the short time you have to try to reanimate a creature. If you are on the play the best plan is to reanimate a Griselbrand and clean their hand with several disruption cards. Show and Tell is a great option for the post side plan because this kind of decks (Epic Storm, Nauseam Tendrils etc) usually play Leyline of the Void. Iona and Serra’s Emissary can frustrate their game plan so hard and will get you in a good position.
7. Final Words
This tournament was the first time I’ve ever played Legacy in a face to face event and I enjoyed it more than playing any other format.
I started playing modern several years ago but when I tried Legacy and Vintage they became my favorite formats.
Playing in MTGO taught me everything I know from Legacy and I’m sure that it was what made me almost get the first place. Finally, I would also like to mention and thank @burrarun1 (Pablo Carrasco) as my sensei through eternal formats.
Social Media : Twitter @niconsn9