Back in March of 2013, I played in one of my last paper Magic tournaments. That was not my intentions, but my health had started to deteriorate, and traveling while not as impossible as it is now, was at least a little more bearable then. I hadn't planned on making the drive to Owensboro, but after Friday Night Magic was over, I decided to hop in my insanely ugly Hunter Green Oldsmobile and drive the ninety or so miles. Since they are an hour behind I would be able to make it the shop my buddy owns while their FNM was wrapping up, if my body cooperated with me. Thankfully I was able to get there with no issues, hung out with my friends for a few hours, and found a place to rest for the night. I was expecting a smallish IQ, and knowing that things were going sideways in my life, I just wanted to have the most fun I possibly could. Yeah, winning the thing would have been nice, but if it came at the cost of making me miserable while playing, I did not want to take the chance.
So I registered a deck with Unburial Rites, Boros Reckoner, and Obzedat, Ghost Council. It was a weird deck, and had the possibility to be bricked by Rest in Peace (There might have been other graveyard answers in the format, I can't recall if there were or not, or if the Angel of Serenity decks had really hit the scene or not yet), but if the enchantment came into play, I was still a pretty okay control deck. It had Dreadbore, Rakdos's Return and for some reason Gloom Surgeon (Gloom Surgeon was for the aggro Boros decks, it was not a clean answer, but it was a 2/1 that blocked forever, which bought you enough time to actually cast the dumb spells in the deck). I went 3-1-1 in the Swiss, and then promptly lost in the top eight. I got my IQ pin, some booster packs, and said goodbye to the friends that were there before I hit the road, heading back home.
I just want to show off the decklist before I move on.
I guess I've always had a thing for four casting cost reanimation spells in Standard. I tried to make Resurrection work when it was reprinted in Time Spiral, Breath of Life was something I toyed with back in 2001. Diabolic Servitude was in the main deck when I won my first tournament with the Rock and His Millions. Doomed Necromancer with an Anger in the graveyard and a Mountain in play was pretty much a creature version of Zombify. I've done work with Dread Return (and would love to cast that card in Modern, please and thank you! (yeah that is not happening, but I would love it.)). Makeshift Mannequin was a staple in my Lorwyn Standard decks. Heck I've even played with Strands of Night. Whip of Erebos was another one, but my love of reanimation spells is not limited to the ones that cost four mana. Stitch Together, Reanimate, Animate Dead, Torrent of Souls, Ever After, Profane Command and Stir the Grave are cards I have cast. Soul Exchange was in a deck I played once, and back then, I might have had a serious problem, because there was no good way to actually put cards in the graveyard, but when that Spirit of the Night came into play during my high school anything goes game, I felt really good about my deck!
Vigor Mortis may be the only reanimation spell I've not cast in a constructed tournament, but I loved it in Limited.
Just to prove my point a little further, here is the deck I played at Grand Prix Atlanta back in 2003.
Yeah I had 61 cards in my main deck. Looking back, Guiltfeeder should have been in the main, as it was great against Mirari's Wake, but these kind of decks are some of the most fun I have while playing Magic.
That's why I started to pay attention when Refurbish started to see fringe play in this current Standard format. It won an IQ, and top eighted in a handful of State Championships, but it has not really done anything to set the world on fire. It did however, set a flame in my heart.
I've seen Esper versions, and I think in the future, that may be the way the deck wants to go, but for now, the deck has had the most results in the Mardu wedge. You've got some great creatures in the colors, with the goal to rain Gearhulks on your opponent starting on turn four. The list I first had looked like this, and sadly I can't find the source for it anymore. I'm sorry for not crediting the builder.
The creature base is twelve gearhulks, and at the beginning of the format, that may have been for the best, but Cataclysmic Gearhulk is low-key terrible.
Yeah it kills a lot of creatures, and that is super, but what it does not do is deal with Smuggler's Copter. Since it does not kill all creatures, it leaves a creature to crew the Copter as well. So while you may slowed opponent down, you didn't actually stop anything. They are set up well post Gearhulk. It's super cool that you kinda cleared the board, but you also kinda played yourself. Cataclysmic Gearhulk is a downside to Refurbish saying target artifact card, instead of target creature. While there are more artifacts being played, the quality of them is kinda meh. For every Noxious Gearhulk, there are two mediocre artifacts.
So what can we do in regards to creatures that we want to reanimate? Filigree Familiar is a solid card, but it's not a very good reanimation target. Metalwork Colossus is huge, but the only value you get from it is a huge body. And you can often times get into play on turn four in the right builds of Metalworks decks anyways. Torrential Gearhulk would be kinda cool, as you could rebuy something, but it puts us in to Esper and we really want to stay in Mardu for the article.
The deck, while capable of some great turns, and a lot of fun, just was not putting up the kind of results I wanted when I was testing it, so I put it away, and focused on other fun stuff, but every so often I will see the deck do well and regain interest, because I want to make it work, and think that it can in the format.
When I saw the Instant Deck Tech from a recent IQ I was curious, and when I clicked on the link it had my attention. Justin Gilley seemed to have solved the problem that I had with Cataclysmic Gearhulk, by replacing them with a nice little Haunted Dead Prized Amalgam package. Both kinda have the same purpose, you're trying to catch up or clog the board until you can make your own powerful plays, but I believe (and think the format has spoken) that more powerful stuff can happen you combine Haunted Dead with the Amalgam. You're very explosive.
Let's take a look at Justin's list:
The early game looks to spent casting Tormenting Voice or Cathartic Reunion and filling your graveyard up with tasty artifacts. You might kill a creature early, but looking at this, it appears to be built for consistency. Outside of the Voice and Reunion, Key to the City fills the graveyard as well, and gives a creature unblockability. This deck appears to be built for Refurbishing, and doing it as quickly as possible. I would hazard a guess and say that the deck does not mind getting beat up on in the early parts of the game, because when it hits turn four, it starts to do late game things, and those plays should be outclassing your opponent, short of them casting and activating (Aetherworks Marvel).
Skysovereign and the world of tomorrow (I mean Skysovereign, Consul Flagship) is something I really like in the deck. With all the card filtering you are going through, it should be easy to find, and it's a solid thing to Refurbish. Haunted Dead makes it easy to crew, and deals with what I considered a weakness to the deck, and that would be opposing Planeswalkers. Because Key to the City is really about the only thing that can allow your monsters to punch through, Liliana, the Last Hope can be a huge threat, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a bit annoying as well.
The only thing that I dislike about the maindeck are the copies of Fiery Temper. Yes, you want some extra value when you're discarding so many cards, but it feels like there should be a playset in the deck. There so much stuff I'd love to find room for in the main deck. Unlicensed Disintegration would be a card I would love to have in the main. Collective Brutality is another one that I feel would be great, and could act as not only a discard outlet but as removal and disruption as well. In the ultimate pipe dream, Peace of Mind and Perpetual Timepiece are also cards that I would love to try out. Peace of Mind could be outstanding against Aggro, and the Timepiece great against control, allowing you to shuffle in copies of Refurbish or to get ready to go into the long game, and putting more threats back in to your deck.
The sideboard to me looks pretty good. The Insolent Neonate are not a thing I am happy with, and would love to see something in those slots against the Marvel deck. Perhaps more Fragmentize are in order there?
The deck currently costs less than 70 tickets, and is a blast to play. It's not quite ready to be a major player in the Standard format, but it does have game against some of the more popular decks out there. I'd strongly recommend giving this deck a try!
Next time, I might brew up an Esper Reanimator deck, or do people still call that Solar Flare? If Sun and Moon can be a deck in Modern, Solar Flare can come back to Standard!
Thanks for reading!