Beach Zombies

What’s up everyone? Hope you’re all doing well! I’m writing this piece from the beach, and I need to let my sunburnt shoulders rest anyway, so I’m glad to be here. Today I’m going to be talking about Reanimator in Standard. Beach + zombies = Beach Zombies! We will be going over {U}{B}, {W}{B}, and Esper Reanimator. The inclusion of White is for a powerful angel that I believe is being overlooked in Emeria Shepherd. Being able to bring back a creature that recurs more non-land permanents from the graveyard is powerful and puts your opponent in an awkward spot. Do they kill the angel or what it brought back and risk you recurring more threats? A difficult decision that I’d gladly present my opponent with. Let’s talk some reanimator!

The first list we will be going over is from my good friend Joe Herrera. He’s been grinding and tuning his list on Magic Online and he really likes the deck. In fact, he likes it so much that he went ahead and bought in paper not owning anything else in paper except Jund. Let’s look at his tuned {U}{B} list.


The term Reanimator comes from the card called Reanimate, a very powerful spell that returned creatures from the graveyard for a single Black mana. The card is still powerful enough to be played today in Legacy. While we don’t have Reanimate in Standard, we do have one of the best spells to return creatures from graveyards ever printed, Liliana, Death’s Majesty. Liliana is also extremely versatile in that she not only brings creatures back from your graveyard but she can also put them there with her plus ability. She is way this archetype is viable. Let’s dissect the deck.

Digging / Filtering

Strategic Planning
Champion of Wits
Oath of Jace
Collective Brutality

We know Liliana can enable our reanimate spells by putting the top two cards of our library into our graveyard but we would rather not have to do that. We’d rather cast Liliana and immediately bring something back with her. This is where our filtering and digging comes into play. Strategic Planning, Champion of Wits, Oath of Jace, and to a lesser extent, Collective Brutality all help fill up our graveyard with powerful creatures. Champion of Wits not only filters but provides a body for blocking or attacking. Later in the game you can return Champion of Wits with The Scarab God or eternalize it for not only filtering but card advantage. Champion of Wits is a very powerful engine mid to late game that is a welcome addition to the deck.

The Zombified Threats

Noxious Gearhulk
Razaketh, the Foulblooded
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
The Scarab God

Noxious Gearhulk is a very inconspicuous threat. It’s really not doing anything fancy for a creature. Whenever you bring one back your opponent might find it annoying but not really a big hindrance. However, once you start recurring the second and third Gearhulk, your opponent is going to feel how behind they are really getting. The lifegain aspect of Noxious Gearhulk is huge. It buys you time so that you can reanimate more creatures or just start hardcasting them. Noxious Gearhulk after Noxious Gearhulk will put away in midrange creature deck over time.

The Scarab God is the ultimate grind card. Nobody is going to out value you if you’re activating The Scarab God’s ability turn after turn, especially since it can grab creatures from any graveyard. The Scarab God works very well with Liliana since Liliana’s plus and minus ability both make zombies. This will allow you to Scry through your deck while also draining your opponent’s life to dust. The Scarab God is extremely hard to kill without an exile affect, which makes it a slow but very resilient threat.

Razaketh, the Foulblooded will close out games extremely quickly as an 8/8 flier with trample. He can end the game almost as fast as Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. The reason he gets the nod over Ulamog is because he is easier to cast and you can use Razaketh’s ability if you cast him from your hand or reanimated him. Ulamog’s Exile is only cast from hand. Razaketh doesn’t have a lot of great targets to sacrifice for his Demonic Tutor ability but you shouldn’t need to do it more than once or twice, especially if he’s sticking around on the battlefield.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is a fine creature to reanimate or just cast, especially since he bridges the game into the mid-late game with his lifelink ability. He can also eat zombies from Liliana’s plus or minus ability. Eating a zombie Noxious Gearhulk to grow your Kalitas so that you can reanimate Noxious Gearhulk again is a real thing. So, don’t forget if you minus with Liliana the creature is a zombie so you can use it for The Scarab God and for Kalitas. Kalitas is a great way to get rid of opposing pesky creatures for good like Earthshaker Khenra, Scrapheap Scrounger, Dread Wanderer, and opposing Scarab Gods.

Cheap Removal

Yahenni's Expertise
Grasp of Darkness
Fatal Push

The cheap removal is another great way to keep you alive so that you can start casting or reanimating your big powerful creatures. We all know how good Fatal Push is in the format. Grasp of Darkness is good as well especially since it can kill Hazoret the Fervent by shrinking its toughness to zero. Yahenni’s Expertise is the newer one to the block and I believe this deck is the best deck to utilize it. Not only can this spell wipe the battlefield of creatures but it can get your engine really going by allowing you to play Oath of Jace, Strategic Planning, or Champion of Wits off of it. Doing that can gain you a massive temp advantage.

{U}{B} Reanimator is what has been tested, but I really want to toy with Emeria Shepherd because it’s such a powerful threat and can generate so much value. Reanimating Emeria Shepherd and then playing Evolving Wilds will allow you to bring one non-land permanent to your hand and another onto the battlefield if you’re able to get a plains with the Evolving Wilds. Keep in mind she brings back anything that’s non-land, not just creatures. This is my first brew with her.


Pure {W}{B} Reanimator has more action instead of filtering to get to its big reanimation threats. It would rather grind out through its creatures like Gifted Aetherborn, Kalitas, and Gisela, the Broken Blade instead of filtering with something like Strategic Planning. The pro of this style is that you are always going to be committing to the battlefield. The con, however, is that you won’t be able to reanimate a big creature as fast or consistent as a reanimator deck with Blue in it.

{W}{B} Reanimator has tutor effects in its creatures through Thalia’s Lancers and Djeru, With Eyes Open. Thalia’s Lancers can get you a creature threat that can buy time with lifelink like Kalitas or Gisela. Lancers can also find you a big creature to stabilize with in Linvala, the Preserver or close the game out with Bruna. If you need an extra land Thalia’s Lancers has you covered as well since it can fetch up Geier Reach Sanitarium. Djeru can be fetched up with Lancers too but Djeru will get you a Planeswalker instead of a creature. This means he can find you a reanimate spell in Liliana, Death’s Majesty if that’s what you need.

I haven’t tested this deck much but I know it’s going to be slow yet powerful. It has a lot of lifelink creatures that should bridge you into the mid-late game pretty well so that you can close the game out with Brisela, Voice of Nightmares or Emeria Shepherd. Again, don’t forget that Emeria Shepherd can bring back Planeswalkers to the battlefield or even a Cast Out that you cycled earlier. It’s a very powerful card if you’re able to continue making landfall trigger.

The last deck I want to talk about is Esper Reanimator. This shell is based off the {W}{B} Reanimator deck except it’s also playing Blue so that it can reanimate a threat into play much quicker.


This list takes both form the {W}{B} and {U}{B} decks and tries to combine them into one. What this means is that the power level and answers this deck has compared to the other two is higher. However, what it gives away is consistency in its mana base. Playing three colors instead of two means you have a lot more come into play tapped lands and you will have awkward hands sometimes because you are trying to cast a double Black and White spell on turn four while also having access to Blue mana.

You still have access to five plains here thanks to Irrigated Farmland and Prairie Stream so you can still trigger Emeria Shepherd pretty easily as long as you keep your mind on it. So, turn ten don’t play the plains if you really don’t need the mana since you can bring back anything except a land from your graveyard with Emeria Shepherd.

I’m going to acquire these decks on Magic Online and test them all out. If I find anything insane, I’ll get back to you all with an update. I’m also curious to try out a Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign with Curator of Mysteries and possibly even Archfiend of Ifnir. It might be an entirely different {U}{B} reanimator deck, but Unesh seems very powerful. Even drawing multiples isn’t bad because if you have one on the battlefield you can still cast the second one for four mana and trigger the ability twice. That means you’ll be looking at eight cards, which is no Demonic Tutor but it’s pretty darn close, could just be better than Razaketh since it’s a lot easier to cast as well if you have to.

Well everyone, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Go out and discard some creatures so you can just return them as zombies to kill your opponents! Mmmm, brains! I’m gonna go get me a drink and enjoy this lazy river.

As always, thanks for reading.

Much love,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi on Twitter


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