Burning Reanimator in 2018: A Dormant Monster
Is there a Reanimator deck more powerful and brutal than the common black-red and blue-black variants? A deck that can choose to win via Empty the Warrens, Tendrils of Agony, and Griselbrand? Definitely! But it's remained underneath the surface for far too long.
It has already been four years since StarCityGames featured Anthony Lowry's Burning Reanimator. Previously brought into the spotlight in Carsten Kötter's legendary Eternal Europe series, this variant of reanimator was created by Daniele Terra and Daniele Pergolesi, and the deck wants to reanimate either Griselbrand, Sire of Insanity, Iona, Shield of Emeria, or Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. It uses its reanimation to targets to swing in for lethal or using the card draw to secure a Burning Wish and enough mana to go for a lethal Tendrils of Agony or an early Empty the Warrens. At heart, it's a monstrous abomination and a bastard child of Storm and Reanimator.
This version of Reanimator, even more so than standard Reanimator, has interesting synergies that allow the player to put large creatures onto the battlefield. Reanimation spells like Shallow Grave and Exhume don't demand a target and can be played without having a creature in the graveyard. Reaction to one of these spells by activating Lion's Eye Diamond and discarding a creature allows for a neat interaction that is more difficult to interact with. Unburial Rites's flashback ability also makes good use of Lion's Eye, in connection with Gamble, simulating a deadly Gifts Ungiven pile, where a certain combination of cards often leads to a failsafe win. Especially Burning Wish provides a healthy amount of flexibility and can grab cards like Stronghold Gambit even in game one.
Apart from some air time on StarCityGames stream, Burning Reanimator has not made any major appearances in the Legacy world. Much like its more streamlined cousin, BR Reanimator, which utilizes cards like Chancellor of the Annex and eschews a combo kill, the Burning Wish version experienced a hype back in 2014, even though it was rather short-lived. While BR Reanimator has become an established deck, Diamonds, Wishes, and Tendrils have faded into memory.
Since Summer 2014, the metagame has changed substantially - not least because Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, and Sensei's Divining Top have been stricken from the format. New decks have spawned, such as Eldrazi Stompy, whereas others were logical casualties of a shifting format. One would think that a deck that can power through massive hate and, additionally, is faster than most other combo decks could stand the test of time and play a steady, albeit minor role.
Other, more popular Reanimator builds are a potential culprit in Burning Reanimators lack of play. The classic and well-established UB variant, which plays Careful Study and a counter package has pulled off some decent results, even though decks running Deathrite Shaman have increased in popularity. The blue version gains traction by relying on its consistency and its ability to play controlling games. Naturally, it's more popular with players who prefer a safer route to victory. It is also easier to transition into playing another deck with cantrips and Force of Will than to abandon safety measures and go all in and praying for insane starting hands.
This notion relates perfectly to a comparison between BR Reanimator and Burning Reanimator. While BR has always been regarded as one of the format's strongest all in decks, Burning Reanimator tops this scale by a lot. There are very few other decks that have access to such a fast kill and enough protection in the form of discard or counter spells. At the moment, Oops All Spells, a deck that runs almost no protection and an extremely fragile combo, sees play online and Belcher was able to reach the Top 8 of MKMS Hamburg. Thus, glass cannon decks are definitely not dead in 2018 and while Burning Reanimator certainly is not necessarily an all or nothing deck, it has its moments of going off on turn one without protecting its combo – something Storm, Show and Tell, and blue Reanimator all have to do occasionally.
Four years after its first steps in a competitive environment it is time for this deck to wake up and spread terror. In contrast to Bilbo Baggins entering Smaug's cave and trying not to disturb the dragon, revaluating Burning Reanimator – the sleeping monster – serves the purpose to awake the deck, tweak it, and throw it into the current 2018 meta game. Consequently, the most important question is whether it is capable of performing satisfactorily.
Based on Lowry's list, one could make some changes to the deck and its general strategy. First of all, the creature package demands changes. While Sire of Insanity, Iona, and Jin-Gitaxias are scary creatures early on, they lose their power rather quickly in a longer run and do not fit the storm-esque approach of this deck. It seems like running a playset Griselbrand alongside a single Children of Korlis not only opens up new slots but also focuses solely on a combo-kill and therefore makes the deck much more coherent. Griselbrand turns into a real Yawgmoth's Bargain and running Shallow Grave over Unburial Rites lets players activate Griselbrand's ability an additional time.
Furthermore, Silent Gravestone and Collective Brutality improve the deck's stability and make it more resilient. The gravestone looks like a must-have in the sideboard, while Collective Brutality – the black Swiss army-knife – meets fierce competition for a main deck slot. Silent Gravestone works extremely well because only Unburial Rites needs targets, where Exhume and Shallow Grave dodge its prohibitive effect. Burning Reanimator turns into a mixture of a classic Reanimator strategy, a Storm deck – it resembles TES's playstyle quite a bit –, and TinFins, a deck that has been struggling quite a lot in recent time – mostly because it depends much more on its main business spells: Entomb. In fact, a proposed list looks more similar to a TinFins list than a BR Reanimator one.
In the end, Burning Reanimator fears the same hate the other variants are afraid of as well but having early access to different lines of play and making Lion's Eye Diamond a superior Black Lotus enables powerful and game breaking moves that makes this deck worth your consideration.
Burning Reanimator by CabalTherapy, 18.06.2018
|13Lands||15Creatures and Artifacts||32Other Spells|
|3Badlands||1Children of Korlis||4Dark Ritual|
|4Bloodstained Mire||2Chrome Mox||4Shallow Grave|
|3Polluted Delta||4Lion's Eye Diamond||4Burning Wish|
|3Abrupt Decay||1By Force||1Cabal Therapy|
|1Empty the Warrens||1Exhume||1Massacre|
|3Silent Gravestone||3Stronghold Gambit||1Tendrils of Agony|
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