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By: kelvinmai, Kelvin Mai
May 19 2014 11:00am
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So the title of this article has more than one meaning. Yes, I'm going to talk about graveyard strategies, but this also marks my return to writing. You may be wondering why did I leave, well the answer is simply life. On top of that I was getting a bit burnt out on magic and wanted to take a break from brewing so that I can fall in love with the game all over again. And thankfully I did, and new brews are still the most exciting part of the game to me. And you may also notice that the brand of the article today is "In the Lab" rather than "Brewing on a Budget" and that's because I didn't want to be limited to a certain budget all the time and wanted to have some more freedom when it came to brewing. But have no fear, I'll still bring budget decks when I see one that excites me.



By now I'm sure many of you are familiar with the most common graveyard deck in standard, that being black green dredge. The concept is simple dump half your deck into the graveyard and play a bunch of creatures that get powered up by a stacked grave. Why is this deck so good? Well it has a pretty good match up against the big boogie man of the format, mono black. "How?" you may ask, well it's immune to the strongest card in their deck, Thoughtseize. And on top of that all their removal is almost meaningless when it actually powers the engine of our deck, the graveyard. Ok, the pros are obvious, now what about the cons? Well the strength of the deck came from its surprise factor and no one being prepared for it. Dredge was a lot stronger when it was just a fringe deck, but now Scavenging Ooze and Rest in Peace are making its way into sideboards and even mainboards sometimes. And with the release of the new set there are even more answers in the form of the new black green god and Silence the Believers.

Of course I have a different spin on the deck than the norm. The first big difference is that I cut all the Herald of Torment from the deck. I never liked the card, sure it's great giving a huge creature flying, but it will feel much worse being 2 for 1'd by the brand new Silence. So taking its place is Nylea, because your guys flying is cool and all but trample is even better! The next difference is that I have 3 whips mainboard, and I'll admit that the whip is my current pet card and don't think I'm going to play a deck without it for a while. But the reason why it's so good is that it can quickly end a game when you run out of steam in your hand. And the single Jarad can do much of the same when you have enough mana and you can just fling all your huge creatures and skip the combat phase completely. 

So great deck and all but what's the one thing it falters at? The sideboard. The problem is that if you want to run non-creatures you'll have to include multiples because it's so easy to dredge away those answers. What I used were Duress, (Vraska, the Unseen), and Pithing Needle but because of the nature of the deck those cards ate up a lot of precious sideboard space. I barely had enough room for anything else. Luckily to replace Duress, we are now getting Brain Maggot.

Junk Reanimator

Ashen Rider

The natural progression is to go to reanimator. Big dudes are fun but you know what's more fun? A 7 drop on turn 5! Not only are you speeding up your game, you also get to use some of the cooler cards that are in the format. Ashen Rider, Angel of Serenity, and Sylvan Primordial all have powerful effects but sadly none of them see any play because of their costs. As for reanimating them, we actually have a good selection to choose from; Rescue from the Underworld, Obzedat's Aid and of course Whip of Erebos. But reanimating is only half the battle, the other half is filling the yard with those goodies. And dredging is something that has already been done numerous times before so all the same tools are here as the previous deck.

Ok, I know what you're thinking, that is a lot of 2 ofs! How is this at all consistent? I'll be honest it's not as consistent as it should be. I've seen many other versions of Junk Reanimator where it has a bigger focus on reanimation targets. Those decks are probably better because it knows what exactly what it wants to bring back from the grave. Unfortunately for me, I see so many good reanimation targets and just wish to jam them all into one deck, and I've definitely tried. In fact if you notice it's missing Ashen Rider and Rescue from the Underworld which are great cards in their own right, we just ran out of space here. So instead of a focused tool designed for one job, this deck is more like a swiss army knife. 

So now let's quickly go over each of the targets. Armada Wurm and Obzedat are great whip targets as both don't really get exiled. The wurm leaves a token behind so you can keep up the offense and by now everyone knows the Whip of Obzedat interaction his own trigger keeps him from being exiled forever. The worst target for the whip is the Angel of Serenity as it turns into a triple Unsummon and 5 damage in the air for 4 mana, still an amazing target though. The angel is perfect for killing Elspeth quickly before she gets out of hand. And of course my favorite creature in the deck is Sylvan Primordial, there's a reason he's banned in EDH he kills non-creatures (includes lands) and then ramps you. And then finally there's Vraska, and yes Obzedat's Aid says permanent, not just creature. Truthfully you could substitute Vraska for your own Elspeth, but I felt that the gorgon planeswalker needed more love as she destroys everything in her path.

Courser of Kruphix

The other half of the deck is pretty self-explanatory as it's mostly the dredge shell with the spells and then Lotleth Troll for discard and early aggression. Centaur Healer used to be a Courser of Kruphix but it just didn't hold up against boros burn. Courser however would ensure you hit your land drops so that you can later hardcast your big beaters and it is a better blocker because of his 4 toughness, so he is still a good choice over healer. The other big difference between dredge and this deck is that it lacks the entire dredge package. It's missing the Wayfinders as well as losing one Salvage. The reason we prioritize commune over salvage is that it hits the Whip which is our main reanimation tool in this deck. We lose wayfinders because unlike pure dredge we actually want to hit 7 or 8 lands in this deck so we could hardcast our beaters. His effect loses its significance in a deck that runs over 20 lands. 

Loxodon Smiter

Alright, sideboard time! First thing's first we have access to Sin Collector to replace Centaur Healer against control. Pithing Needle is a catch all answer against most decks. I also ran Sire of Insanity in the side against control, mainly coming in by the whip, but sometimes we are able to cast it because of our very own caryatid. Crypt Incursion was also included as a way to get rid of Chandra's Phoenix or when we are in a clutch match we can target ourselves to gain tons of life. The usual Duress and Thoughtseize can be included here. But in some games I would include Loxodon Smiter as a way to provide earlier aggression when I knew I wouldn't get to 7 mana for an angel. 


Well there you have it guys. Those are the two decks that I've been playing most during Born of the Gods standard. If you haven't already notice I love being able to use the graveyard as a resource. Whether it's to power up my creatures as shown in the dredge deck or reanimate them and blow up lands and enchantments like in the second  deck. As always keep brewing and I'll meet you guys next time with hopefully something super sweet.