Many players thought that Reanimator died when Mystical Tutor met the Legacy banhammer but the deck has persisted in tournaments for some time. With the release of a new set and the shifting of the Legacy format the times may very well have changed. “My friend Matt has been playing it a lot online” Sam said. “We play a ton of Legacy online and I already knew it was a good deck that was underappreciated.” The deck remained a Tier 2 contender for some time until New Phyrexia got players thinking. In particular Jin-Gitaxias Core Augur sent Sam's heart into flutters. “When I saw the card for the first time I knew I wanted to be Reanimating it on turn 2.”
The first builds showed a lot of promise and they moved the deck into playtesting. “I was annihilating so many decks” Sam said. “Almost any game where you got a Jin-Gitaxias out on turn 2 or 3 you won.” Unsurprisingly the ridiculous card advantage and the threat of a Mind Twist puts many players in very bad shape.
Even so Sam's wary of the deck's weaknesses which haven't gone away. “The biggest problem is the format is no longer as good for Reanimator as it used to be” he said. “Traditionally if you could get an Iona out on turn 2 they couldn't deal with it but that's changed. Even Merfolk can sometimes just Vial its way through it and some decks are running things like Jace and Plow so it's hard to know which color to name.” Frankly the threats in the Reanimator suite have grown less and less threatening.
“You also used to have Mystical Tutor which was huge because you always had either Entomb or Careful Study” Sam said. “Now you get a lot of hands where you have Entomb Reanimate or Mental Misstep but if they have double counter you may be in really bad shape.”
Another New Phyrexia debut has enhanced the strength of the archetype and I'm sure most of you can guess what card that is. Mental Misstep is redefining the format and warping decks in a variety of ways. Sam thinks Misstep has greatly increased the power of the Reanimator deck. “If I was not playing Jin-Gitaxias it would probably make it worse but when you get him in play and draw seven cards between Daze Mental Misstep and Force of Will you can generally answer one or two cards that could deal with him. If you get to draw the seven it's usually very hard to beat him.”
In addition to dodging decks with a lot of counterspells Sam is hoping to avoid other metagame oddities.” I really don't want to play against something like Burn as that pretty much forces me to get a Sphinx of Steel Wind or Iona” Sam admitted which often requires access to an Entomb to guarantee. “The first games against a lot of the Welder decks and Affinity aren't very good—these are the decks that Jin-Gitaxias is not very good against.” To say that the deck's power level revolves around its enwest fatty may be more accurate than one would think.
So far Sam is optimistic. “I just want to play things like Elves and Zoo” he said. “Dredge is actually surprisingly good because I added in Elesh Norn. Any control deck that doesn't have many threats is good like a Standstill deck.” With Gerry Thompson popularizing such strategies and most Legacy fields featuring plenty of aggressive decks Sam may ride Jin-Gitaxias straight into the Top 8.
- 1 Inkwell Leviathan
- 1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
- 1 Terastodon
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
- 3 Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur