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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Feb 10 2021 12:00pm
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For those who may not be familiar with what Reanimator is. It as a very old archetype that is based around putting big creatures with powerful abilities into the graveyard very early, then using a card such as Reanimate to bring them back (as quickly as turn 2) and ride them to victory.

Pauper has always had a Reanimator strategy, but it hasn’t had an amazing amount of success. This is due to a number of factors. One is that graveyard hate is everywhere, another is that the best creature you have is Ulamog's Crusher and although it is a power house, it dies to Terminate very easily. However, when has the odds being against Pauper players ever stopped them?

WingedHussar is both a very strong Magic player and fun streamer to watch that does many different formats (you can find his twitch page here). He decided to play the Pauper challenge that took place on 1/17/2021 with a cool Grixis Reanimator list. Although he finished 29th place, I still want to talk about it. Let’s get to it it!


Ulamog's Crusher – This is your big win condition and it is a strong one. It has a whopping 8 power, 8 toughness and it has Annihilator 2, which means if it comes down early enough, even if your opponent has blockers, they will slowly start to lose the game.

Gurmag Angler – You secondary win condition. Since you end up putting cards in your graveyard quickly, you can usually play a very early Gurmag Angler and start trying to win the game.

Stinkweed Imp – This is an interesting one. It is a decent blocker in the format since it has flying and 2 toughness. However, it also has Dredge and it puts 5 cards in your graveyard, helping you turbo out a Gurmag Angler or get a copy Ulamog's Crusher into the graveyard quickly to be reanimated.

Exhume – This is the only card that reanimates creatures in your deck. You have to be careful though, as it also gives your opponent a creature from their graveyard as well. This is one of the problems with Reanimator in Pauper, but I will discuss that later.

Dragon Breath – This is an extremely important card to this archetype because when you get one of your big creatures in play, this will give it Haste and that is huge for Ulamog's Crusher. Winning the game quickly, or giving your opponent the least amount of time/draw phases is very important to this archetype.

Faithless Looting and Careful Study – The best draw spells in your deck. They both draw 2 cards for only one mana and help you put Ulamog’s Crusher, as well as Dragon Breath in the graveyard if they are stuck in your hand. Faithless Looting is of course particularly strong here because it has Flashback, so it going to the graveyard off of a Stinkweed Imp for example, is still a lot of card advantage.

Ponder and Preordain – 2 of the best 1 mana blue spells in the game. It is no surprised they are in here, especially considering that you are a combo deck and trying to goldfish as fast as possible.

Pieces of the Puzzle – I love seeing this card here. It is basically a sorcery version of Fact or Fiction and it does a great job here. It lets you see 5 cards deep, helping you fill your graveyard and it helps find Exhume quickly.

Lotus Petal – Again, you are trying to goldfish and win the game as quickly as possible. This is helps a lot and allows you to off as quickly as turn 1 in some opening hands.

The Manabase

The Manabase is pretty straightforward here. You have 5 dual lands in the form of 4 copies of Thriving Isle and 1 copy of Thriving Moor. With Blue and Black being your main colors, you always want access to them and red is more of a splash color, so having a copy of the red Jumpstart dual doesn’t do much for you.

We then see 2 copies of Bojuka Bog because you need the graveyard hate these days and playing a copy of Bog is fairly free. The rest of the mana is just basic lands. In this archetype, you do not want a lot of enter the battlefield tapped lands because you are trying to combo as fast as possible.

The Sideboard

2 Diabolic Edict – While I think Chainer's Edict is a better card overall, in this archetype, if you ever get to 7 mana and are able to Flashback Chainer's Edict, there is a good chance that the game has gone too long for you. Having access to an Edict effect is a good thing these days and this one being an instant is quite helpful.

1 Duress – Gotta love good old Duress. Getting perfect information and being able to rip a removal spell or counter spell from your opponents hand so that you can combo off freely is very helpful. I personally would like to see a second copy instead of the 3rd Hydroblast, but that might not be correct.

3 Fiery Cannonade – Everyone needs a good board wipe effect and this is the best one around currently.

3 Hydroblast – If you hate Burn or just any red based aggro deck, this is here to help!

4 Pyroblast – For any blue deck you come across, here is probably the best way to fight them all.

2 Shenanigans – I like this over something like Gorilla Shaman because not only does it help against Affinity, but it can also help against other matchups, such as Tron with destroying their Prophetic Prism cards to try and stop them from being able to cast a lot spells. It also has dredge, which is great for this deck because it wants cards in the graveyard.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

I know everyone loves a good Reanimator strategy. Honestly, what is there not to love about cheating in gigantic monsters that do extremely powerful things so early in the game?

Unfortunately, with that being said, Reanimator isn’t the best strategy in the Pauper format. You only really have Ulamog's Crusher (for those thinking about the Cascade creatures, Cascade only triggers when cast) and even then, with so many Doom Blade like spells in the format, the creature is easily countered.

This deck is really just a goldfish deck, similar to how the Belcher archetype plays in the Legacy format. If you don’t have the nuts in your opening hand, you probably went past the point of being able to win. I used the word probably here because you can win on turns 4, 5 and so on, but it is going to be very hard and not guaranteed.

Do I think you should play this deck? I think you can tell by now my answer is probably not. I wouldn’t risk it in the challenges and it is fun to play in the leagues, but passed that, it is more of a casual or fun deck and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. WingedHussar is a very good player, but being good will only get you so far with this archetype as there really isn’t much going on passed the Reanimator plan and it is easily disrupted.

The biggest problem here, is not only do you only have Ulamog's Crusher, but even worse, is that there is only Exhume for a reanimate spell and if any of your copies get countered, Duressed away etc, it’s gonna be an extremely tough and uphill battle going forward.

With that being said though, do remember, my words are not gospel and you should take them with a grain of salt. I will always encourage you to try out a deck I show you and this is no different. Let me know if you tried it out, how well it did for you and what changes you would make!

Would you like to compete in a free Pauper tournament with some great prizes? Head on over to Gatherling.com on Tuesday nights at 8pm EDT and play in our weekly Pauper Classic Tuesday's event! Join the chat #PCT to chat with us and feel free to find most of the competitors on Discord!

I sometimes stream PCT. Visit my page during PCT if you ever feel like hanging out!

Thank you so much for reading. Catch you all next time!