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Budget Magic: $99 (58 tix) Standard Reanimator

नमस्ते Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week we are heading back to Battle for Zendikar Standard for Reanimator!  Reanimator is a deck built around getting Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on the battlefield as early as turn four. One of the biggest advantages of the new Eldrazi over his ancestors is that Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger doesn't have that pesky "shuffle your graveyard into your library" trigger when he goes to the graveyard. Sure, we might not get to exile two permanents with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger when we reanimate him, but we still get a 10/10 indestructible that can win the game in two or three turns. 

Let's get to the videos, and then we'll talk more about the deck. First, a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Reanimator Intro

Reanimator vs GR Ramp

Reanimator vs Atarka Red

Reanimator vs UW Control

Reanimator vs RB Aggro

The Deck

Like any good Reanimator deck, we can break our deck down into four basic parts: ways to stock our graveyard, reanimation spells, fatties, and other spells designed to keep us alive long enough to execute our game plan. 

Graveyard Fillers

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Screeching Skaab might seem like a strange and underpowered inclusion for the deck, but it is actually super important. Not only does it fuel our graveyard with its enter the battlefield ability, but it also trades with early game creatures like Zurgo Bellstriker and chumps mid-to-late game creatures like Tasigur, the Golden Fang. As such, Screeching Skaab ends up reading like, "Mill two, gain two to four life," So while the Skaab might look odd, it's good in the deck. 

Gather the Pack and Scout the Borders are pretty much the same card in our deck. Their purpose is to dump a bunch of cards from our library to our graveyard, while sometimes finding us an important creature like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant or Greenwarden of Murasa. One thing I've learned from playing the deck is that there are many situations where we "fail to find" a creature and just dump everything in our graveyard. We almost never want an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in hand, and with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant on the battlefield, a Zombie Token is often better than a Screeching Skaab in hand. 

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Sidisi, Brood Tyrant deserves its own slot when talking about graveyard fillers. She not only fills the graveyard, but can win the game on her own if unchecked. Formerly a Standard staple, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant isn't any less powerful than she was six months ago. The reason she sees less play is that her partner, Whip of Erebos, rotated. There are still plenty of pieces to build around her if you get creative. In this build she is probably the most important card in the deck. She makes a bunch of chump blockers while we wait to get our finisher online. I wouldn't build Reanimator without her. 

The Reanimation

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Necromatic Summoning is the best reanimation spell in Standard. In our deck, which fills the graveyard quickly, we not only get to return a creature from either graveyard, but the creature almost always enters the battlefield with two +1 / +1 counters. While getting counters on Ulamog isn't a big deal, in some instances spell mastery is a huge deal. One example is when we want to reanimate a Sidisi, Brood Tyrant to block a Siege Rhino

I wanted one additional reanimation spell in the deck, and Fearsome Awakening is basically the only other option. It's worse than Necromantic Summoning because it can't hit our opponent's creatures, and we don't play any dragons. As a one-of Fearsome Awakening is serviceable, but not exciting. 

The Fatties

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Greenwarden of Murasa is amazing in this deck for one important reason: it's a free reanimation target. Because of how enter the battlefield triggers stack, you can return a Greenwarden of Murasa from the graveyard with Necromantic Summoning or Fearsome Awakening and immediately return the reanimation spell from your graveyard to you hand. This loop allows us to reanimate something else the next turn, and if that something is another Greenwarden of Murasa, the turn after that as well. 

As a fatty, Greenwarden is serviceable, trading with Siege Rhino. When reanimated by Necromantic Summoning (7/6), Greenwarden is pretty much bigger than anything in the format. Greenwarden also provides resilience to removal and wraths. Once our opponents realize we are going to win the game with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, they are motivated to hold their exile-based removal, which means they are often forced to kill Greenwarden of Murasa with an Ultimate Price or Ruinous Path. This distinction on Greenwarden's death trigger is important. It's a "may" effect. If you choose to use it, you get back a card from your graveyard, but Greenwarden of Murasa is exiled. So if the plan is to reanimate the Greenwarden of Murasa again on the following turn, it is better to choose "no" on the death trigger to ensure the Elemental remains in the graveyard. 

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Big daddy Ulamog is the payoff for our hard work of filling up the graveyard. When we get him on the battlefield on turn four or turn five, we put our opponent under an intense amount of pressure. There are really only four commonly played cards in Standard that can deal with an Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerStasis Snare, Abzan Charm, Crackling Doom, and Utter EndCrackling Doom is another answer, albeit temporary since we'll eventually draw into another reanimation spell. The point is an early Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger puts the opponent on a limited number of  outs. Because of his "exile the top twenty" ability, Ulamog only gives the opponent a couple of turns to draw an answer. While a turn four Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger isn't automatically game over, it's as close as it gets in our current Standard.

Other Stuff

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Originally we were playing eight copies of Screeching Skaab with the help of Sultai Skullkeeper. After testing, I realized filling our graveyard wasn't the problem. The problem was getting Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Necromantic Summoning online as fast as possible. While I hate two-cmc mana dorks, Leaf Gilder allows us to jump the curve from two to four, which is Sidisi, Brood Tyrant territory. Leaf Gilder allows for our version of a nut draw: turn two Leaf Gilder, turn three Sidisi, Brood Tyrant milling Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, turn four Necromantic Summoning

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Languish is another card that was not in the original build of the deck. Early on I realized I was getting overrun by aggro decks. Against a deck like Atarka Red we would sometimes reanimate an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn four and still die the next turn. Languish is an answer to this problem. It allows us to sweep away the board on turn four and reanimate Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn five. Ulamog on an empty board is a frightening sight for an opponent. 

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As you learned by now, I'll jam Dig Through Time into just about any deck that can support it and even some that can't. The card is just too good. It's even better in Reanimator since the deck is built to abuse it's power. We can legitimately cast Dig on turn three with the help of Gather the Pack. That's dirty. We can use Dig to find whatever pieces we are missing. Most often it's a reanimation spell, but sometimes it's Greenwarden of Murasa or Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. Pro Tip: unless you are in some crazy control matchup where you expect to hard cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, you never want a copy in your hand. Basically, Dig Through Time is the glue that holds everything together and makes our deck hum along at full efficiency. 

The Sideboard

I'm not going to break down the entire sideboard because most of it is fairly obvious. We use the counterspells to fight control decks, often removing Leaf Gilders since they are likely going to die anyway. Feed the Clan is great against any aggro deck, and Greenwarden of Murasa getting it back from the graveyard can win the game on its own. I do want to touch on two cards individually. 

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While Duress is good against control decks, it's main purpose is to fight against removal spells that can deal with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. When we are in a matchup where we know our opponent has access to Stasis Snare and the like, it's often best to hold a Duress and fire it off on the turn before or the turn in which we plan to reanimate. Since Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger will win the game by itself in two or three turns, it is worth spending a card specifically to protect him. Don't fire off your Duresses willy-nilly. Instead use them to protect what matters most, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

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I wanted to briefly talk about Ultimate Price because it probably strikes you as odd we are playing it over Murderous Cut in a deck that fills the graveyard. Yes, Murderous Cut is a far more powerful card, but it's actually worse at what this deck wants, a turn two removal spell against Monastery Swiftspear or Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. We don't care so much about mid-game creatures. Our mid-game is better than our opponent's mid-game 90% of the time. Instead, we need to make sure we live long enough to get to the mid-game since even our brew can't cast Murderous Cut on turn two. That said, I could very well be wrong, but at least you know my reasoning for the choice. 

The biggest problem with an ultra-budget version of Reanimator is that it's lacking the powerful top end of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. While this build is probably fine for the kitchen table or low-end FNM play, it really needs the indestructible Eldrazi to be competitive. 

The non-budget version of Reanimator is insanity. Obviously, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is a huge addition since it allows us to get creatures from our hand to our graveyard, something the budget build is lacking. We also get eight reanimation spells since we can use Bring to Light to search for Necromantic Summoning. Bring to Light also doubles as additional copies of Languish and Siege Rhino. Finally, we get Dragonlord Atarka, which gives us more flexibility in our reanimation targets. Against aggro decks Dragonlord Atarka is a better target than Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Not only do you present a huge, unkillable threat, but Atarka wipes away our opponent's board. 


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, and options in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 


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