One thing that all Magic players have in common is an instinct for
subverting the normal order of things. In Magic itself, that usually means
taking a card and using it in a way that is completely different than its
Gifts Ungiven is supposed to be an interesting value card where both
players are involved, leading to some elaborate decision trees and
potential mind games. But somewhere along the way someone read the card and
figured out that you don’t have to search for the full four cards. If you
only find two your opponent has to make them to go to the graveyard.
The next step is finding cards you want to put into the graveyard, which
isn’t very hard in a format as large as Modern. So after a life in Standard
as a value reanimation spell, Unburial Rites has taken to a new role in
Modern as a way for Gifts Ungiven decks to go over the top of their
opponents in one fell swoop rather than grinding marginal value over ten
That role has been niche enough that Unburial Rites isn’t a major focus,
merely one of many tools on the Swiss Army knife that is Gifts Ungiven. But
today’s list makes the reanimation spell the star of the show.
With some much needed mana acceleration to cast the four-mana combo pieces
in a relevant time frame, additional enablers in Faithless Looting and
Collective Brutality, and just enough interaction to pull the room
together, the deck is well-crafted and far from all-in on the combo.
It’s the ramp aspect that gives the deck its versatility. It allows you to
cast your threats as a way of dodging graveyard hate while the fixing
enables Bring to Light in a midrange back-up plan that’s supported by a
bevy of silver bullets in the sideboard.
So while this is a Reanimator deck first and foremost, it’s far from all-in
on plan A, which is actually more in line with how Unburial Rites was used
while it was in Standard. I just love it when a deck comes full circle like
I also love how the many tutors in the deck allow you to have consistent
access to your most powerful cards in a matchup. Modern is still a diverse
format of very powerful decks so having Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite against
Affinity and Iona, Shield of Emeria against Storm is important.
So while it’s not as explosive as Goryo’s Vengeance variants, this list is
much more stable, which should be a positive exchange in the
[CEDitor’s Note: Ross added a third Unburial Rites for his video since
the published list was 59 cards.]
- 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
- 1 Thragtusk
- 1 Ashen Rider