zondag 24 september 2017

Archetype: Black/Red Reanimate

My cube is very archetype-centered. Most color combinations have two or more distinct archetypes or themes available to them (outside of plain aggro/midrange/control) that overlap with archetypes in other color combinations.

The plan is to eventually talk about all of the archetypes in my cube. Some are quite straightforward, while others might be a little more off-beat.

Today's archetype:

Black/Red Reanimate

The Reanimate deck aims to put large impactful creatures in its graveyard to cheat into play through reanimation spells. Preferably, the creatures are either very hard to deal with or do something when they enter play. The red version of reanimate adds the element of 'haste' to the deck.
You can classify it as a tempo/combo deck. It's main gameplan uses more resources than it takes to answer them in the hope that when it comes together, it puts the game away in short notice.

Historic relevance
Most people know Reanimate historically as either a blue/black or mono black deck. See John Larkin's and Rob Dougherty's decks, respectively, from the top 8 of Pro Tour Houston 2002. Another historical Reanimate deck people might remember is the Angry Ghoul deck from old extended that pairs self-mill with reanimates.
Blue/black reanimate has seen a lot of play in Legacy, especially since Griselbrand got printed, but lately there has been an uprising of black/red reanimate as well.

All the strengths of 'regular' blue/black or even green/black reanimate apply here. There's a reason Pelakka Wurm and Plated Crusher cost 7 mana, and it's not hard to see why it is good to put either of them into play on turn 2-4. Cheating of manacost is powerful, and a fast fatty usually means removal or bust for your opponent. Also, the fun thing about reanimate is that you can pick up the best creature finishers in the cube regardless of their color.
The big difference between red and non-red reanimate is that red reanimate is a lot more aggressive. Where blue 'only' gives you looting and card draw, red also gives you haste. This means your opponent's window just got smaller by a full turn. Imagine reanimating Ulamog's Crusher with Anger in your graveyard. That's usually game over on the spot if it happens fast enough.
Where it gets even more aggressive is that red has access to cards like Bloodrage Brawler and Burning-Fist Minotaur that create a lot of pressure by themselves while also helping you with your reanimate gameplan. Having a solid plan B is great, because:

The biggest weakness of reanimate is that its main gameplan is a three part combo deck. To execute this consistently, you need enough a)reanimation, b)discard outlets and c)reanimate targets. While discard outlets aren't the hardest to find, there are only so much quality reanimates and targets in the cube. You really want at least 3 of each of the latter (and enough card draw/tutoring to find them).
This is both a weakness while drafting (it doesn't always come together) and in gameplay (it can be somewhat inconsistent).
Other weaknesses are:
- Spell-based disruption - discard and counterspells - targeting your reanimation.
- Depending on the fatties, a deck with a lot of removal can be very good against reanimate.
- VERY fast aggro can race. This also depends on the fatties (Pelakka Wurm is super hard to race), but you can pressure and swarm around reanimate. Also, the best reanimate spell, Reanimate, asks for a hefty life payment.
- Red/black do not have great fatties inside their colors, so you don't have the luxury of being able to hardcast your big creatures like Black/green reanimate does. You should have enough discard outlets that you always have use for them if they get stuck in your hand, but it does cut off a back-up plan.

Key cards
Reanimates: Reanimate, Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead, Exhume, Necromancy (and less efficient ones if you can fit them in)
Reanimate targets: Pelakka Wurm, Plated Crusher, Scaled Behemoth, Ulamog's Crusher (and the like), Trostani's Summoner, Jetting Glasskite, etc. Although, anything big is a good substitution. Cycling creatures work as well.
Filling your graveyard: Faithless Looting, Cathartic Reunion, Tormenting Voice, Insolent Neonate, Stinkweed Imp, Bloodrage Brawler, Heir of Falkenrath, Pale Rider of Trostad, Burning-Fist Minotaur, Lightning Axe.
Haste enablers: Anger, Lightning Greaves, Reckless Charge, Bloodlust Inciter

Overlap with other archetypes
The deck overlaps well with other graveyard based decks, like:
- blue/black reanimate
- green/black reanimate
- red/green graveyard midrange
- blue/red graveyard control
- Psychic Spiral

It also overlaps somewhat with some of the more top-heavy red/green Fires of Yavimaya decks.

Experience with the deck
One of our favorite decks to draft. I noticed the other day that I'm often looking for Anger in my last couple of packs.

Powerful deck, and a lot of fun to pilot. Swinging in with a hasty fatty on turn 3 is exhilarating. While sometimes hard to deal with, its kept in check by being somewhat inconsistent. That said, I can see cubes owners not wanting the kind of swingy gameplay B/R Reanimate can bring.

Its existence in the cube creates depth by being an archetype that operates on a different axis than other decks. I love having enough decks that use the graveyard in general, but this deck both has a different speed than most decks and requires different play patterns with and against it.

If you support graveyard decks in general, and want the fat anyway because you have ramp in your cube, it's not super hard to support. However, some of the red cards are specific to red supporting the graveyard, which is not something every cube does. You also need to run enough reanimate spells to make the archetype not a complete trap to draft.

Like U/B Reanimate, it's a fragile deck that does not always come together. It's probably even more fragile because B/R has less card draw and worse (reverse) looting.

If Reanimate is something you like supporting and playing with, give this a spin. It has replaced Blue/Black Reanimate as our go-to 'traditional' all-inreanimate deck, with U/B taking the role of slightly-slower-but-more-consistent Reanimate.

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