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Against the Odds: Midnight Reanimator (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode sixty-one of Against the Odds! Last week on our Against the Odds poll, it was Midnight Oil in Standard cruising to an easy victory over Saheeli Rai and Mortal Combat in Modern, while Worldgorger Dragon in Legacy and Tunnel Vision in Modern came in at the back of the pack and will drop off the poll for new options. As a result, this week we are once against heading to Kaladesh Standard—this time, to try to abuse Midnight Oil, a card that looks like a variant of Phyrexian Arena or Underworld Connections but actually does a lot more!

One other thing: I'm thinking of changing up the way we do the Against the Odds poll a little bit. Traditionally, we've always had two Standard options, two Modern options, and a Legacy option, and while we'll still use this template sometimes, I want to explore some different possibilities as well, like polls that include all options from the same set or polls that are based around a specific cycle of cards. So, make sure to let me know what you think of this idea in the comments!

Anyway, let's get to the videos, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Midnight Reanimator (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Midnight Reanimator (Games)

The Deck

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When it came time to building around Midnight Oil, the main plan would be to find a way to take advantage of both parts of the card—the ability to draw an extra card each turn but also the ability to discard cards thanks to having a reduced hand size. While I think the card could be good in a midrange deck (or even a tap-out control deck) as a way to generate card advantage, simply drawing an extra card isn't enough for Against the Odds. I considered a couple of different possibilities, like Madness and Delirium, but I eventually decided that the best way to go was Reanimator. In a Reanimator deck, Midnight Oil could help us draw through our deck to find our fatties and reanimation spells, and then help us stock our graveyard by giving us a discard outlet as our hand size gets smaller and smaller!

Reanimation

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Midnight Reanimator is made possible by the fact we some good reanimation spells in Standard in Rise from the Grave and Ever After. While both are a little bit expensive at five and six mana, this also puts them on curve with Midnight Oil. Plus, both have additional upside. Ever After can hit two creatures in one shot, and when we randomly get back an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and a Noxious Gearhulk, we're pretty likely to win the game. Meanwhile, Rise from the Grave can get creatures from any graveyard, which is especially important against GB Delirium, where we can steal an Emrakul, the Promised End that our opponent mills while filling their graveyard with Grapple with the Past and Liliana, the Last Hope

Fatties

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Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is our best reanimation target because it wins the game in two attacks by exiling away the opponent's library even through blockers and is naturally resistant to removal thanks to being indestructible. However, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger isn't great in some matchups (for example, against Declaration in Stone or Reflector Mage), and we can't reanimate two with Ever After because Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is legendary, so we have some backup fatties as well. Noxious Gearhulk gains us some life and kills our opponent's best creature, which makes it great against decks playing big creatures, while Demon of Dark Schemes is amazing against decks like Mardu Vehicles that are going wide with a bunch of low-toughness creatures. 

Backup Discard

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One of the downsides of Midnight Oil is that it's fairly slow. We play it on Turn 4, and it takes until the end of Turn 6 until we really start discarding cards. As a result, we have some backup discard outlets for the early game. Collective Brutality does double duty, allowing us to discard a card while also killing a creature and Duressing our opponent. Cryptbreaker is an incredibly powerful card, but we only have one because it matches up poorly with Liliana, the Last Hope. Haunted Dead is discard fodder that later turns into a discard outlet from the graveyard, and Liliana, the Last Hope lets us stock our graveyard while also killing small creatures. And, this is pretty much the main deck, with the rest of the slots being filled by some removal and a couple of copies of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet for value. However, we do have one big surprise in the sideboard. 

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The highlight of the sideboard is four copies of Harmless Offering. Ever since Midnight Oil was printed (and Demonic Pact rotated), people have been asking me about using Harmless Offering to donate the enchantment. Generally speaking, I don't think this is a very good plan, because not only does Midnight Oil not kill our opponent immediately like Demonic Pact, but it also draws our opponent extra cards every turn. So, in many instances, giving our opponent a Midnight Oil, even with zero counters, is actually beneficial for the opponent. This said, I can imagine it being good against control decks, where using Harmless Offering to donate a Midnight Oil forces our opponent to discard their hand (and lose a bunch of life) and then afterwards it makes sure our opponent can't hold a bunch of counters by reducing their hand size to zero. As such, Harmless Offering is our spicy sideboard tech in case we run into Jeskai or Grixis Control.

The Matchups

Breaking down the matchups is complicated by the fact that we can beat a lot of decks when we reanimate Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on Turn 5, so with our best draw, we are pretty much looking to avoid decks with Reflector Mage and Declaration in Stone, which answer Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. On the other hand, we don't always have our best draws, and when the game goes long, we mostly want to avoid super-fast aggressive decks (even though we managed to beat Mardu Vehicles, I'm not convinced it was a good matchup) and decks with counterspells (which are great against our expensive reanimation spells). 

The Odds

All in all, we won 5 of 12 games (good for a 41.6% match win percentage) and 2 of 5 games (40% match win percentage), which make our Midnight Reanimator deck just about average as far as far Against the Odds decks are concerned. This feels like a fairly good representation of the deck, although it really felt like we were favored against GB Delirium when we drew reasonably (because Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is amazing against them) but probably not favored against Mardu Vehicles, even though we won the match. Oh yeah, and the second game against Temur Energy was clearly a punt. That was the first game I had ever played with Demon of Dark Schemes, and for some reason, I missed the "tapped" part of the reanimation text. I thought we could attack and force our opponent to block to generate enough energy to activate Demon of Dark Schemes to get back another Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger from our graveyard as a blocker, but unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. As a result, while some of the matches didn't go exactly as expected, they managed to even out in the end. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

I mentioned in the intro that I wanted to try some new types of polls, so let's give one a shot this week. It just so happens that we have a handful of "you win the game" cards that we haven't yet played in Modern, so let's put them all together and have them battle it out to see which one gets to be next week's deck! One note: while we did play Battle of Wits once before, that was in Legacy, and whichever card wins this poll will be played in Modern. I think the formats are different enough that if Battle of Wits does win, it wouldn't feel like too much of a rehash. 

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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