Dominating with Rite Aid Reanimator by Crazed Ferret

Elderscale Wurm

Dominating with Rite Aid Reanimator by Crazed Ferret

The following is a guest article by a friend of mine who took 4th place at a local $1,000 Standard tournament.  It was pre-M14, but the deck was very interesting and off the radar and still possibly something that could be updated for today despite the presence of Scavenging Ooze.  He played me for top 8 in the event, so there is some relevant content regarding Mono Red as well.  Enjoy! – Red Deck Winning

Thoughts on Play and the Deck

First I must recommend reading Travis Woo’s original article on the deck, which can be found here. There are good ideas on game play in there as well as other possible cards to use. I however stand by my iteration of the deck. It works well for me. I like how it plays and it is competitive.

Rite Aid Reanimator by Crazed Ferret

Maindeck (60 Cards)

Creatures (13)
4 Angel of Serenity
3 Sphinx of Uthuun
3 Elderscale Wurm
1 Griselbrand
1 Dinrova Horror
1 Archaeomancer

Spells (19)
4 Faithless Looting
4 Izzet Charm
4 Breaking // Entering
3 Obzedat’s Aid
4 Unburial Rites

Enchantments (2)
2 Omniscience

Artifacts (4)
4 Chromatic Lantern

Lands (23)
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Blood Crypt
2 Godless Shrine
2 Isolated Chapel
2 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Watery Grave
1 Drowned Catacomb

Sideboard
3 Ral Zarek
4 Pillar of Flame
3 Syncopate
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Cyclonic Rift
1 Cavern of Souls

Opening Hand–>

You need to enable your filter cards. Just about anything is keepable if you can get Izzet Charm and Faithless Looting online in the first 2-3 turns. If you can get Breaking // Entering online turn two, it is worth considering keeping particularly if you have more than two lands in hand. Because then it is likely that you will be able to flashback a Faithless Looting in the yard followed by a turn four Unburial Rites. Don’t keep hands that have no filtering. These hands are slow and will lead to losing turn 4-5 versus anything faster than you.

Playing the Deck–>

Filter as quick as possible dropping stuff into the yard. Ideally you are looking for the possible turn four Omniscience into Sphinx into Angel loop play. Just as good, however, is nerfing your opponent’s first four turns with a turn four Angel of Serenity or an Elderscale Wurm. Those are hard to fight through and require removal. Obviously Angel works better at nerfing the opponent’s plays so that is the best target. Being able to ignore all attacks however is not a bad play either and just may save your game. Beyond turns 4-5 look to hold onto cards in your hand a little more. Sure still play lands if it makes sense to play them, but you never know when you might need to dig for something and holding that extra land in your hand may make the difference between winning and losing as you need to be able to pitch something to Izzet Charm and Faithless Looting to keep your best card.

Aim to stabilize first, combo second unless the opportunity presents itself. Consider yourself a Reanimator deck with potential to combo out. My meta is aggro heavy, not control heavy, the way most metas seem to be lately and you will lose often turn 5-6. Turn four for some decks. This is why there are 7 maindeck creature answers to recur against aggro; Griselbrand counts to a lesser extent as an opponent has more tricks and options with his creatures on the board and it is possible that you won’t gain life or the life you gain won’t be enough. You will likely find at least one of them with all the filtering. Dinrova Horror and Archaeomancer are there to both help enable the combo and to win on the spot once you’ve got the combo up. For instance Dinrova can bounce your own Angel or Sphinx of Uthuun to keep the gas up. Once the combo is up, it bounces everything they have and makes them discard a bunch. They don’t recover from this. You can almost leisurely finish them off after that. Archaeomancer is a more immediate win with the combo up. If you don’t have the combo, Archaeomancer can recur an Obzedat’s Aid out of the yard that you may have binned with Breaking. And you certainly could reanimate Archaeomancer to get Obzedat’s Aid into Omniscience if you have the turns / mana. Mostly though I end up using it as a way to get back Breaking to continue finding the cards I want. Once you have the Omniscience Angel Loop, splicing this guy in there means you can get any instant or sorcery out of your yard which means you can get Breaking and Entering many times.

So if you wanted to, you could:  mill out your opponent taking all of their creatures out of their deck with Breaking // Entering as well as mill yourself taking all of your own creatures out of your deck, followed by bouncing everything they have with the Horror, followed by playing every permanent in your grave straight into play with Obzedat’s Aid, followed by placing every single instant and sorcery in your grave into your hand, followed by swinging in with ALL the hasty creatures from both your decks, followed by SAY WHAT? HE JUST SURVIVED VIA FOG, no matter, pass the turn… win via decking.

Sideboard Plan–>

For any deck that will kill you turn 4-5-6, I bring in most of the board. Your goal is no longer to play for an Omniscience, but to slow them down just long enough to land Angel, Wurm, or Griselbrand. Anything and everything that doesn’t contribute to surviving I chop. I take out Omniscience, I take out Horror, Sphinxes and Archaemancer. We are no longer hunting for Omniscience so I take out Obzedat’s Aid (we still have 8 pieces of recursion, but less creatures to find) and if I need even more I will trim a Lantern and 1-2 Faithless Looting. This is 13 cards swapped. Obviously bring in only what is needed, but this is where I look for space.

I bring in Pillars for anything with quick or recurring 1 drops (Young Wolf, Doomed Traveler, Red Deck) and possibly even for Mana Elf creatures. Syncopate from turn 2 and on is gold. I bring it in to mainly nerf a turn 2 play. Ral Zarek I consider bringing in as he carries two Searing Spears and likely buys a turn if your opponent swings into him. He can also act as acceleration for your 7 drops as well as a way to clear the path for one of your beasts. Oblivion Ring is also something to possibly bring in as more removal. Cyclonic Rift likely won’t be overloaded here so it is not really a good option as bouncing a guy is not what you are looking to do.

Anything that will take longer to kill you is likely Control, in which case I for sure bring in Ral Zarek, probably Syncopates and depending on the grave hate they show as well as the planeswalkers, Oblivion Ring and Cyclonic rift. I look to trim Faithless Looting first and Chromatic Lanterns second to find space. You will have time to find lands, and you will still be able to pitch things via Izzet Charm.

Thoughts on Graveyard Hate–>

If a deck is playing it, sure it nerfs a part of your deck. You can still play your monsters normally with Chromatic Lantern. Most of the grave hate will come down on turn 2 or later with the exception of Tormod’s Crypt. If they play Tormod’s Crypt, you need to be smart about how you feed your grave and get them to Crypt things that aren’t as relevant. If they play Ground Seal, Rest in Peace, or Scavenging Ooze, Izzet Charm takes care of them in the main deck. With the board you have many more options, but ideally they don’t make it into play or last longer than a turn with the answers you have in Syncopate, Oblivion Ring, Cyclonic rift etc. Ground Seal is not as much of a problem with Breaking // Entering as that recursion spell in particular does not target the monsters. Similarly with Scavenging Ooze and a couple of mana open, you could still rip a monster out of a yard depending on how many are in there. There are other grave hate cards – Cremate and Purify the Grave in particular, that can beat you, but you pretty much just have to play through them. Entering is very useful in those situations in particular.

Transitioning to M14–>

There are new things that have changed the landscape a bit, I do believe this is still a viable deck despite them. I have not however tested it versus any newer iterations of decks. From what I hear Jund is the top dog more or less with main deck Scavenging Oozes and Junk Reanimator has fallen off the radar a bit. Not necessarily a bad thing for this deck as that means less hate in the sideboard plans and a bit less preparation for a true Reanimator deck. As long as you plan to see Scavenging Ooze, there should be a plan for it.

Weak Spots–>

The manabase; it’s four colors… with a fifth being accessible with Lantern. You want to have a turn one red source, followed by turn two having BOTH blue and black available. This lets you cast all of your filter cards which will let you further fix your mana. You also need on turn 4 or 5 at least one white source for Obzedat’s Aid and Unburial Rites. On top of all that you shouldn’t kill yourself with your own shock lands so some amount of tap lands makes sense. I’m not sure my manabase fully accomplishes this task, but I think it comes close.

Sideboard Considerations–>

The sideboard could certainly could use fine tuning. I’m pretty certain the only necessary cards are the Syncopates and a couple of Oblivion Rings. I really wish Pillar could be something else like Terminus, but it may just be a necessity to slowing down certain matchups. I could see Snapcasters in the mix too as well as more counter magic, but I’m not certain that is what the board needs. Terminus, Detention Sphere and Supreme Verdict as well as more white toys…I don’t believe we are white enough for them to really be useful exactly when they are needed. To accommodate them I believe we would have to completely rethink and retool the deck which certainly is a possibility.

Tournament Report (4th Place, $1,000 Standard Open Madison, WI)

My version has a few quite notable differences from Travis Woo’s list that shored up some key matchups.

First and foremost, Elderscale Wurm…

Elderscale Wurm

This huge wurm crawls out of the graveyard on turn 4 or 5 and makes aggro players throw fits. What do they do? It nullifies attacking and locks my life total against most decks. So I played 3 main over things like Borborygmos and Tyrant of Discord.

Second, I played Breaking // Entering over Forbidden Alchemy – This card was key in setting up a consistent turn four Angel of Serenity or Elderscale Wurm. If I had a Rites or Wurm / Angel in hand, Izzet Charm and Faithless Looting were enough. Often though I found that I was missing either the Unburial Rites or the big creature in hand to make that work out. Milling myself eight cards meant I got to see a solid chunk of the deck which more often than not allowed me to find the four Rites to get to a turn four reanimation. Plus it acts as reanimation spell 8-11 and also gives your giant creature haste. This allowed me to steal a game or two that the opponnent thought he had locked up. With an Angel and another dude or two in play, their army vanishes and yours crush on through. You can also rip something out of their yard if yours is a little empty.

Third, I cut one Omniscience, one Obzedat’s Aid (hence only 11 reanimation spells), turned the one remaining Tyrant into a Dinrova Horror and added one Archaeomancer. This put the focus more on reanimation with the possible oops I win via Omniscience which still happened often enough to warrant play. The Dinrova Horror acts like an Angel in the sequence of free Omniscience Angels; a way to bounce a Sphinx to play it again as well as a way to bounce all of your opponnents permanents. It’s targeted where the Tyrant of Discord is not. Tyrant of Discord may accidentally hit more, but it cannot target what you need to get rid of. Archaeomancer enables an immediate win via Breaking // Entering and the free Omniscience / Angel loop.

Fourth, and MOST important… I HAD A SIDEBOARD PLAN.
This is probably the most crucial thing I did to shore up the aggro matches. I can’t say my sideboard was perfect but it definitely won me games by just having a plan. When there was a blitzy deck that I was playing against I dropped the Omniscience package and sided just about my entire side board to slow them down just enough to get out an Elderscale Wurm or an Angel.

Final List (same as above)

Maindeck (60 Cards)

Creatures (13)
4 Angel of Serenity
3 Sphinx of Uthuun
3 Elderscale Wurm
1 Griselbrand
1 Dinrova Horror
1 Archaeomancer

Spells (19)
4 Faithless Looting
4 Izzet Charm
4 Breaking // Entering
3 Obzedat’s Aid
4 Unburial Rites

Enchantments (2)
2 Omniscience

Artifacts (4)
4 Chromatic Lantern

Lands (23)
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Blood Crypt
2 Godless Shrine
2 Isolated Chapel
2 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Watery Grave
1 Drowned Catacomb

Sideboard
3 Ral Zarek
4 Pillar of Flame
3 Syncopate
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Cyclonic Rift
1 Cavern of Souls

Moving onto the matches. . .
Round 1 versus G/B Rock

Game 1 he had main deck Cremates for my turn 4 Omniscience. Luckily for me he had no solid answer to my turn five Griselbrand which netted me life, drew me some cards and was joined by two Angel of Serenity. It’s nice when Angels and Demons work together.
Game 2 Appetite for Brains stole an important card from my hand and I didn’t recover from his Desecration Demons.
Game 3 he hit both of his Cremates and an Appetite for Brains. Thoroughly wrecked my hand that game.

So the tournament started out poorly…

Round 2 versus Maze’s End

Game 1 I choose to mill him with Breaking to see if I can get rid of one of his win conditions – by far his quickest win con. I’m not sure I even saw what the other win cons were. I’m pretty sure I actually cast Omniscience in this game. Then combo’d for the win.

Game 2 I believe I sided out a couple of Faithless Lootings and I think a Wurm for some Ral Zareks as this was going to be a slow match where Ral could just take over. I was for sure right on that one. Ral Zarek went ultimate, I flipped coins, then proceeded to play a second Ral Zarek and start taking my extra four turns. He cast Slaughter Games calling my Breaking // Entering, but it didn’t matter. I found an Omniscience, combo’d off and played another creature to attack with. I had I think two extra turns left and an Obzedat’s Aid in hand which really made me wonder, how many extra turns could I take?

Round 3 versus Prime Speaker Bant

Game 1 he’d never seen this deck before and I managed to get a relatively quick Omniscience; I think turn 6 or so. I did just enough of the combo for him to realize the Angel loop and the win condition.

Game 2 He had lots and lots of countermagic for me to contend with and I just could not overcome it.

Game 3 I found some of my own countermagic. Managed to go to one life, stick a Wurm go to seven life, lose the Wurm to Selesnya Charm, go to four life, and then stick another Wurm.  Unfortunately time then got called and we ended with a draw.

So 1-1-1 in games not great, but not bad. Relatively small crowd and an opportunity to turn it around.

Round 4 versus Mono-White Humans

Game 1 I was mana screwed after a mull to six and lost pretty quick. I couldn’t find a white source for the Unburial Rites which made all the difference.

Game 2 I bring in the sideboard I created for quick aggro and dropped the Omniscience package. I proceeded to burn, counter and destroy all of his creatures and let the Wurms and Angels play cleanup.

Game 3 more of the same. Big stuff out of the yard, remove all other threats.

Round 5 versus Mono Red (a very good friend of mine, John, with the winner advancing to Top 8 – Red Deck Winning)

Game 1 John got an extremely good start curving perfectly as that deck does. I Izzet Charm’d his two drop which bought me at least a turn. He used his burn, to my face. Then I believe on my turn five I managed to find a Wurm, drop both Unburial Rites and Wurm into the yard via Faithless Looting and recur the Wurm to take over. I believe I was at three or four life before that.

Game 2 I board in some removal and counters for the Omniscience package, manage to stick the Wurm and then lose to a Traitorous Blood.

Game 3 on the play I decided boarding in Ral Zarek would help with the creatures. I’d get to turn 4 and be able to play one to pick off a guy. The removal helped me survive quite a while. I managed to stick an Angel of Serenity and then stick a Wurm. He had double Traitorous Blood on five land and me sitting on an Izzet Charm. The wording on Wurm as well as how intense the tournament was (John was asked to speed up play) resulted in a big misplay that may or may not have swung the game in his favor. He stole the Angel and then realized the Wurm would still keep me alive even though the Angel could attack past the Wurm. He meant to take the Wurm and swing into my Angel. Thus putting me at less than seven life which would have meant the Wurm would no longer protect my life total. That would have given him I think 2 guys back on his side of the board which may have made the difference. On my following turn I had an Izzet Charm and a land. I kept the land in hand and swung with both my Wurm and my Angel which was also a misplay. I should only have gone in with the Wurm. Next turn he Traitorous Blooded my Wurm again with two land open. I mentally smack myself as Izzet Charm does nothing. Then I decided to draw with it on the off chance that I would hit a Syncopate. I got so incredibly lucky. Syncopate for four which stunned John. He didn’t believe I’d brought that in.

That put me in Top 8, 3-1-1 in the Swiss.

I played my round one opponent again playing G/B Rock

I know what he has, he knows what I have.

Game 1 he hits double Cremate again (the only two in his deck) and I lose.

Game 2 I board out the Omniscience combo as it wasn’t likely that I’d get to it and Appetite for Brains was a real threat. I board in Ral Zarek which manages to take a swing from a Desecration Demon which kept the pressure off of me and allowed me the opportunity to get an Angel out onto the board. I had Wurm in play but it didn’t matter as he doesn’t prevent life loss, just damage, so Geralf’s Messenger’s effect could still get through. He did however tap out for a Demon. I manage to play Breaking // Entering to fetch an Angel and finish it up.

Game 3 I tried very very hard to throw…

I managed to hit Angels and Wurms and Oblivion Rings for his creatures. I kept bouncing his life gain dudes and Demons and Disciple of Bolas. I get him to eight by Breaking // Entering in an Angel to remove all his dudes and swing in. He rips a Mutilate to wipe my board and starts recovering life. I stick Griselbrand. He sticks Demon. Move to my turn. Pre-combat I chose to draw cards with Griselbrand, and set my hand down. I start drawing in twos, 2-4-6 but for whatever reason I kept going… 8-10 cards…… I can’t believe I did that right in front of a judge watching the match. We spent probably the next half an hour hunting down rules trying to figure out if there was anything that would save me from this horrendous misplay. It would have sucked bad as I was about to pull back out ahead. I was about to accept the game loss when John, thank god, noticed the one card that was separate from the 10 card pile. I had set my hand down apart from the mess that I drew. That alone kept it from a game loss as I hadn’t technically drawn the card yet and turned it to a warning. Three cards got put back on top and shuffled and I continued in a shaky and an incredibly careful way, making sure I only drew 1 card at a time from then on. Oblivion Ring out of that seven cards got rid of his Demon and allowed me to swing in with Griselbrand.

Another Mutilate and we had no creatures on board. He kept drawing cards and drawing cards from then on, and I realized it was only a matter of staying alive long enough to find Breaking to finish it up. He was a very good sport and a very good player. It would have sucked to go out with a game loss but at least I’d give the game to a decent person.

The last round I lost horribly to a fast Gruul Aggro deck.

Game 1 was hardly a match. I died because I couldn’t find a white source or many creatures to recur.
Game 2 I stumbled on lands hitting multiple comes-into-play-tapped lands which resulted in a turn too late Unburial Rites with an Angel in the yard. Had the deck not stumbled I would have had a turn four Angel.

Great tourney overall and awesomely fun deck to play.

– Crazed Ferret

– Red Deck Winning

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