Reanimator is a type of deck that has seen play in every format since the early days of Magic’s history. The strategy is to put an expensive creature into the graveyard and then put it into play with cards like [[Reanimate]], [[Exhume]], and [[Animate Dead]]. The creatures they are trying to reanimate are [[Griselbrand]] and two newer additions [[Atraxa, Grand Unifier]] and [[Archon of Cruelty]] since the last time I covered this matchup. The rest of the of the deck aims to putting these creatures into the graveyard and playing discard spells to disrupt the opponent and clear a path to executing this game plan. It’s been a good deck in Legacy for a long time, and since the printing of [[Atraxa, Grand Unifier]] and [[Archon of Cruelty]], Reanimator has only gotten better and more popular. Every deck needs a game plan against Reanimator to be successful in the current metagame.

How does Reanimator matchup against TES?

[[Faithless Looting|]]

[[Atraxa, Grand Unifier]], [[Archon of Cruelty]], [[Griselbrand]] – These are the creatures that Reanimator is trying to put into play. [[Atraxa, Grand Unifier]] is new to the deck with the release of Phyrexia: All Will Be One. [[Atraxa, Grand Unifier]] has a similar role as [[Griselbrand]], but still allows them to refill their hand even if they are at a low life total. This is pretty important against [[Delver of Secrets]] decks or any other aggressive creature deck. [[Archon of Cruelty]] is the one we are least afraid of as it doesn’t win right away and only requires us to discard one card is very beatable.

[[Grief]], [[Thoughtseize]], [[Unmask]] – Reanimators form of disruption is discard spells. Most decklists contain 10 discard spells. That is quite a few to slow our combo down. After reanimating an [[Atraxa, Grand Unifier]] or a [[Griselbrand]] they will draw several more discard spells that they can usually play because eight of the 10 discard spells cost zero mana. Being hit with several discard spells by the first or second turn of the game can make it difficult to combo early.

Deck List

the epic Storm

Main Deck
  • 4 [[Burning Wish]]
  • 4 [[Wishclaw Talisman]]
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 4 [[Mishra’s Bauble]]
  • 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Ad Nauseam]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 4 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 4 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 3 [[Urza’s Bauble]]
  • 1 [[Verdant Catacombs]]
  • 4 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
  • 1 [[Scalding Tarn]]
  • 1 [[Misty Rainforest]]
  • 1 [[Badlands]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Taiga]]
  • 1 [[Bayou]]
  • 3 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
  • 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 2 [[Boseiju, Who Endures]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]
  • 1 [[Pulverize]]
  • 1 [[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]]
  • 1 [[Massacre]]

Ways to Win This Matchup

[[Rite of Flame|]]
[[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]]
Our Game Plan

This matchup is one of the harder ones in the current format. Reanimator has a faster combo and plays up to 10 discard spells in the main deck. In order to win this matchup, our opening hand is going to be crucial. We can expect the opponent to keep a hand that either has a very fast reanimate line or tons of disruption. We should only be keeping that are resilient to a discard spell or can combo on the first or second turn. Because the opponent’s form of disruption is discard spells, we want to put any important cards into play and not just hold them in our hand if we have the opportunity. When the opponent does reanimate a creature, they don’t just win the game on the spot. They do get plenty of card advantage, but that only draws them into more discard spells,. If most of our cards are already in play or exiled with a [[Galvanic Relay]], we could have the opportunity to win even after they reanimate a creature. In postboard games, we do get [[Thoughtseize]] and have our main deck copies of [[Veil of Summer]] to both disrupt their combo and protect our own. These cards are pretty important since Reanimator does have a faster combo and free discard spells.




-3 [[Galvanic Relay]] +3 [[Thoughtseize]]

This matchup is all about who can combo first. There will be some discard spells being traded, but it’s mostly going to be a race. We won’t have time in this matchup to win over multiple turns with a [[Galvanic Relay]]. Card advantage isn’t something we are looking for in this matchup. While [[Galvanic Relay]] does prevent our cards from being discarded and helps us recover from discard spells, the disadvantages far outweigh that. [[Thoughtseize]] is the perfect substitute to slow down their combo to give us the turns we need in order to combo first.


Game Play

For the first game, I was on the draw, and I took a mulligan down to five cards. I kept a hand with lots of mana and a [[Galvanic Relay]]. It’s not an ideal hand for this matchup, but it’s better than most four-card hands and can set up to win on the second or third turn. My opponent took a mulligan to six and started the game off with a land and a [[Lotus Petal]].

Matchup Battles Reanimator- Image 3

I took my first turn and cast [[Galvanic Relay]] for five. It did exile some mana, but not any tutors or pay off cards. On my end step, my opponent cast [[Entomb]] for [[Griselbrand]]. On their turn, they cast [[Exhume]] off their land and [[Lotus Petal]] to put [[Griselbrand]] into play. The game quickly ended from there.

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I sideboarded like I recommended, and we were off to the second game. I took the play and mulliganed down to a six-card hand, but I had a turn one [[Echo of Eons]].

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My new seven cards were pretty good, but not good enough to win this turn. Instead, I decided to setup for a future turn and play out as many cards as I could in case the opponent had any discard spells. I played out the [[Mox Opal]], [[Mishra’s Bauble]], [[Dark Ritual]], and the [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. I didn’t activate it with the floating mana. I didn’t want the opponent to have it on their turn.

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My opponent’s new seven cards were much better than mine. They spent their first turn casting [[Thoughtseize]] targeting them to put an [[Archon of Cruelty]] into the graveyard. The opponent followed that up with a [[Lotus Petal]] and a [[Reanimate]]. I discarded the [[Burning Wish]]. Not a bad turn one, but I’m glad it was [[Archon of Cruelty]] and not any other creature. That one is beatable. On the opponent’s end step, I activated my [[Mishra’s Bauble]]. I took my second turn and still couldn’t combo. I was one mana short of an [[Ad Nauseam]]. I had to pass the turn again.

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The opponent spent their turn just attacking, and I discarded another card. On their end step, I sacrificed my [[Mishra’s Bauble]]. We went to my turn, and I drew a [[Lotus Petal]] and another [[Mishra’s Bauble]]. I was in a tough position because I was down to eight life from being attacked and the ability from [[Archon of Cruelty]]. I had to win this turn and it was certainly a long shot, but I had the mana and went for [[Ad Nauseam]].

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The cards on the top of my deck were near perfect. Artifacts for initial mana sources, [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Brainstorm]], and a [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. I played out all of my mana and the [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. I could [[Wishclaw Talisman]] for [[Burning Wish]] for the [[Tendrils of Agony]] with one mana left over. Before I did that, I decided to cast the [[Brainstorm]] with the extra mana and found the [[Burning Wish]] anyway.

Matchup Battles Reanimator- Image 9

Matchup Battles Reanimator- Image 10


Unfortunately, the third game went about as good as the first game. Most of the games in this matchup go just like the first game. Reanimator has a much faster combo and is very consistent at reanimating a creature on turn one or two. This is a very difficult matchup and usually requires some luck on our end. Even in game two, I needed some luck in which creature they had in their hand. If it was any other creature, I probably lose that game. Only having three copies of [[Thoughtseize]] as disruption isn’t much to swing the matchup in our favor when they can play 10-plus discard spells. If Reanimator continues to gain in strength and popularity, it may require additional sideboard cards in order to feel confident in this matchup. I hope you enjoyed this article, can take some of the lessons learned, and apply them to your own playtesting.