Deck Tech: RBW Reanimator with Nassim Ketita
One of the breakout Standard decks at the Indianapolis Invitational was Frites, piloted notably by Brad Nelson to a 4-0 start and by Brian Braun-Duin to a Top 8 finish. Brad’s brainchild exploited a hole in the metagame, one he’d been aiming at since the release of Avacyn Restored when he first brewed up a Reanimator deck: people just weren’t respecting a big man in the early game!
Today, in Detroit, Nassim Ketita has the same idea with a similar weapon.
Nassim's WBR Reanimator build puts Tibalt to good use!
Nassim’s deck is also based around reanimating a giant creature—generally Griselbrand or Elesh Norn, though he has others—but this is no Frites deck. Much more similar to the WRB Block Constructed deck that Luis Scott-Vargas proposed prior to Grand Prix Anaheim, this deck’s focused significantly more on board control combined with the resurrection strategy.
Because Nassim isn’t in blue, he has to find efficient card filtering elsewhere. Without assembling a big man and a Zombify effect, he’ll be in trouble, so that makes digging through the deck doubly important, and including redundant effects is also useful. Faithless Looting is obviously the best at what it does, but Nassim’s doubling down on draw with Tibalt, the Fiend- Blooded.
This planeswalker enjoyed a lot of hype upon release but has yet to prove worthy of the interest, and the format marched on without him. In the deck, he serves a variety of roles. Randomly binning a big guy or a flashback spell is obviously quite efficient, and he serves to scratch towards assembling your two-card combo as many times as possible.
Also, since you’re always boosting Tibalt in this deck, his ultimate is a lot more likely to come online! If your opponent is floundering with a few small men capable of surviving Elesh Norn, then stealing all of them should quickly put an end to the game!
To that end, Nassim also has Defy Death to increase his reanimation density. There aren’t any Angels to boost with the effect, but it’s just the best option available for now. Magic 2013 will bring the deck Rise from the Grave, a slightly easier to cast card that also has the slight upside of making Elesh Norn immune to Doom Blade.
Zombie Infestation is a nice card when you’re jamming so many reanimation targets and effects. It’s an enabler, and it also drops 2/2 defenders into play and serves as a win condition in the late game. Alongside Elesh Norn, those Zombies are serious business!
Let’s take a look at the large creatures Nassim can put into play. Elesh Norn is obvious and has been discussed—he’s often the best creature on any given board. The new kid on the block, Griselbrand, sure can give him a run for his money though! This giant Demon has run amok in other formats, so I doubt I need to focus much on him here.
The other options are more curious. Chancellor of the Dross has some synergy with Griselbrand, enabling you to make additional activations of the draw ability while also posing a powerful clock for offensive-minded opponents. I’m digging Vengeful Pharaoh as well—the Pharaoh is a sweet card that not many people will see coming, and you can sneak it into the graveyard with Zombie Infestation a lot of the time.
Nassim is running some of my favorite sideboard cards in the format. Mental Misstep is just an all-star if you know what you want to counter against Delver, and shutting down the bug as well as Vapor Snag will give Nassim a much more reliable endgame kill mechanism through Griselbrand. He’s not messing around against black and red with a full playset of Celestial Purges in the mix, which will make sure he doesn’t accidentally kill himself against a Blood Artist and Geralf’s Messenger when he brings back Elesh Norn.
Torpor Orb is a real nice card right now that you should keep an eye out for. Huntmaster of the Fells is on the rise, and Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, and Blade Splicer are all big players in Standard’s most popular archetype. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this card finding more homes!