I am not a prolific deckbuilder. I like to cast efficient creatures and attack with them. It is not a very complicated strategy, that, but it is one that I am fond of. It doesn’t always work – but sometimes it does. I love tightly focused decks, even some pure combo decks like Academy and High Tide, but you’ll never find me coming up with the Zombie Infestation/Squee deck or some blue/green Beast Attack/Opposition deck. They simply aren’t my cup of tea. It is a failing of mine, to be sure, but when I’m faced with a new environment, my first instinct is to build beatdown decks.
At the Invitational, Chris Pikula and I played aggressive Red/Green decks with birds, elves, Call of the Herd, Flametongue Kavu, Skizziks and some other little beaters and burn spells that left holes in our opponents heads. Prior to States, I had been playing the deck to help people practice; however, and it simply wasn’t holding up. I was losing to all sorts of multi-color control decks and other random stuff, too, so I decided that I needed to find something else to play that could, if not win, at least be interesting.
Ever since New Orleans, I’d been thinking about Entomb, the black instant for B that allows you to search your library for a card and put it in your graveyard. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to do anything. After witnessing some of the Reanimator decks in Extended, however, I quickly changed my mind. The card seems not only powerful in the right deck, but quite versatile in that it can grab spells with Flashback in addition to large beasties to reanimate.
With Entomb in mind, I thought about the best way to use it in Standard. Life/Death seems to be the most efficient reanimation spell in Standard, as both Zombify and its white counterpart cost a whopping four mana. For that price, you’d be better off just trying to get the extra two mana and cast the Crosis, rather than finagling some way to get it into your graveyard and then reanimate it. With only four reasonably priced reanimate-type spells, we were going to be forced to have another theme to the deck.
That theme, of course, is beatdown.
Green provided a great second color for the deck, giving us Wild Mongrel to allow us to discard fatties to the graveyard if we happen to draw them, as well as Roar of the Wurm – a fine candidate for Entomb if we don’t happen to draw one of our four Life/Deaths. A 6/6 creature for four mana is no slouch. In addition, green allows us to make use of Life, which isn’t half bad, really, as a finishing blow. To round things out, Call of the Herd is an outstanding beatdown card and fits right into the deck. Finally, what is the enemy of token creatures and reanimator decks? Blue bounce. To help keep our dragons and tokens on the table, Spellbane Centaur easily fills the role. Not only does he stop the menace of Repulse and Recoil, but he is an efficient beatdown creature at 3/2 for one green and two colorless mana.
Other than Life/Death and Entomb, the only other black spell that fits right in is Duress, everyone’s favorite discard spell for one black mana. That just leaves us with our choice of fatties. Crosis, the Purger seems ideal, as his ability can be easily activated on the third turn after he has been reanimated on the second, allowing you to decimate your opponent’s hand. Rith, the Awakener’s ability can also be activated and he will surely come in useful against other aggressive green decks, dealing six points in the air while making a multitude of 1/1 tokens with which to block on the ground. Finally, Rich Fein (with whom I brainstormed about this deck at Neutral Ground: New York) swears that Iridescent Angel is indispensable. While smaller than our other fatties, she is unstoppable against most Blue/Black and Blue/Black/Red control decks. If Iridescent Angel manages to make it into play, that leaves your opponent five turns with which to try and kill you with Shadowmage Infiltrator. Not likely.
ReanimaTINGS, A Beatdown Reanimator Deck For Standard
2 City of Brass
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Llanowar Elf
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Call of the Herd
4 Spellbane Centaur
2 Roar of the Wurm
1 Crosis, the Purger
1 Rith, the Awakener
1 Iridescent Angel
While I didn’t get a chance to play this deck in the State Championships, I’m eager to see how it does. I’m sure it’s not perfect, but it has the potential to devastate the opponent with a first-turn Entomb and a second-turn Death, and the deck makes sure that neither of these cards will be wasted if you don’t happen to draw everything in the right order. When all else fails, of course, you can just smash some face with Wild Mongrel and Call of the Herd.
I hope you enjoy it.