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 intended purpose.
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 plus turns.
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 that.
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 post-Jace/Bloodbraid world.
[CEDitor's Note: Ross added a third Unburial Rites for his video since the published list was 59 cards.]
- 1 Ashen Rider
- 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Thragtusk
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
- 1 Sigarda, Host of Herons