Exploring Modern Horizons 2’s Impact On Reanimator In Modern

Did Modern Horizons 2 bring Reanimator back from the dead? Sam Black reviews two notable recent lists and offers his own builds.

Archon of Cruelty, illustrated by Andrew Mar

I just finished reading the most recent Modern deck dump and I’m blown away by how fun Modern looks right now.  To be clear, there’s no way all these decks are anywhere near the same power level and the dust will settle into a normal-looking format at some point, but right now, there are so many things to try that people are picking up 5-0s with literally anything.  Cat Tribal, Moon-Blue Tron, Lantern Control, Enchantress, Dragon Tribal — there are no limits.

With that said, I’m surprised by the very low presence of some cards.

I recently wrote that I think Persist is the most likely card in Modern Horizons 2 to get banned.  I currently think Dom Harvey is right that Urza’s Saga is actually the most likely, but I still think Persist is extremely strong, and I’m surprised it showed up in only two decks in this deck dump.

Before looking through these decks, I had my own idea about how I wanted to use Persist, but I’d like to start by looking at the lists that others have played.  First, we have Mardu Reanimator by Storytime:

First off, let's clarify that I think Archon of Cruelty is indisputably the correct go-to reanimation target. You get a ton of value up front and then they still absolutely have to answer the Archon. I'm not sure if a backup plan is even needed, but it can be nice to have.

I think the cutest part of this deck is the Goblin Bombardment, which forms an infinite combo with a pair of Karmic Guides.  I’m not sure it it’s worth playing, since it’s not especially good without them.  This deck’s ideal start is to use either Insolent Neonate or Merchant of the Vale to set up a Turn 2 Persist on Archon of Cruelty.  I like the speed of this deck, and I think the Goblin Bombardment / Karmic Guide plan is a pretty good solution to situations where the Archon isn’t enough for some reason.

I worry a little about how all-in this deck is.  Its backup plan isn’t great if the opponent is attacking the graveyard and I don’t think Fatal Push is a better support spell than Thoughtseize or even Vindicate, but this is a reasonable turbo-Reanimator strategy.

Next up, we have Hemsley’s Dimir Reanimator:

This is basically the exact opposite of Storytime’s approach.  This is a control deck with a reanimation combo finish.  This deck plays a massive seventeen counterspells to eventually get Archon of Cruelty on the battlefield and protect it.

Hemsley’s backup plan is to win with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and this deck can also realistically just tap eight mana and cast Archon of Cruelty.  The sideboard contains some really weird alternate reanimation targets that I really don’t understand the purpose of.  Fleet Swallower and It That Betrays are big nonlegendary things you can reanimate, but I’m really not sure why those in particular would be better than any other random expensive nonlegendary creature.


The entire reanimation package in Hemsley’s deck is ten cards: two Archon of Cruelty, four Persist, and four Unmarked Grave.  You can support that package with anything you want, and Hemsley chose Dimir Control.

Now let’s talk about some other ways to support it. First, my take on Mardu Reanimtor, which has a very different philosophy from Storytime’s:

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