Deck Tech: Esper Reanimator with Stephen Sloan
Stephen is putting together a Praetor puzzle in the Standard Open.
Wandering by the tables, Stephen Logan’s deck wasn’t hard to pick out. Proudly displaying a Zombie+Infestation, a few moments later put the deck through its paces, looping Vengeful+Pharaohs against a few creatures with draw spells to make sure they stayed out of the deck and constantly entered the bin—with 2/2 Zombies to boot! Thought+Scour has never looked so good.
Piloting an admitted brew, Stephen had a reasonable start but knew the deck had holes. “I built it last night,” he said. “I was on MTGSalvation and some guy had posted a list with the Jin Gitaxias and Zombie+Infestations. I thought it seemed like fun, so I threw some Elesh Norns in and a lot of mill.” The Elesh Norns have been key so far, representing a Praetor top-end that many archetypes can’t ever beat—especially on turn 4. “It needs tweaking still—I don’t like the Sphinx+of+Uthuun too much. The Pharaohs are kind of fun but a little situational,” he admitted.
It should be obvious what the deck’s central focus is. “Unburial Rites is key,” Stephen said. Without Rites, the deck just cycles through itself without doing much of anything, failing to present a game-winning threat. Multiple Rites, however, can become downright nasty. The deck’s greatest strength lies in its ability to fake a reasonable control game, all the while setting up for a combo finish!
Stephen likes most of the matchups he expected to see. “Humans isn’t bad because Elesh Norn is so solid,” he said. “I played against the Frites deck and that wasn’t too bad, because I think I’m a little bit faster—I went off turn 4 both games.” Conquering his opponent’s mana accelerants, Stephen’s consistency and his Zombie+Infestation gave him the edge he needed. But what about the boogeyman? “Wolf Run seems like it might not be too bad; they don’t play removal like they used to. They can’t kill Elesh Norn, and Jin-Gitaxias is a must-waste too.” One big fatty is all it takes, sometimes.
Improving the deck is necessary, but difficult—there are many options, including potential color additions. “It needs more draw, somehow,” Stephen said. “I should probably try Think+Twices. That’s pretty much the deck; just turn 1 Ponder, turn 2 Zombie+Infestation, turn 3 some other draw spell and hopefully turn 4 get back a fatty.” Not a bad plan! Of the other colors, red is the most promising. “Red might be good for Desperate Raving and Faithless Looting, but it sounds like it would be tough to get the colors consistently.”