Monday Wednesday, so you know what that means. Welcome back to Mining Modern… Mining Standard.
You're used to finding Mining Modern from me every Monday. While that's not changing, something weird happened while I was covering Grand Prix Minneapolis last weekend – I actually got excited watching Standard. It's taken a year, five bans and a Pro Tour dominated by red decks, but I think we've actually arrived at a pretty good place in Standard. Ramunap Red is good but not dominant after the Pro Tour, and the Zombies and Black-Green Constrictor decks that showed up in Minnesota to beat Red are beatable themselves. There were a bunch of fun and new decks not just being played in Minneapolis, but doing well.
One of them in particular caught my eye – and the eyes of thousands of viewers following along on Twitch. While the Sultai Reanimator deck piloted by two players at the event didn't finish in the Top 32, Fanchen Yang did finish in the Top 64 with the deck. People spent all weekend asking about it, so I figured I may as well deliver by playing some Standard for the first time in a long time.
It was definitely worth it.
This deck is simply awesome. Tear through your deck for the first few turns, thanks in large part to Champion of Wits, and then clear out opposing creatures with Fatal Push, Grasp of Darkness and Yahenni's Expertise. After that, it's time for the fatty boom-booms, with Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Noxious Gearhulk and even Razaketh, the Foulblooded filling the role.
For a Standard deck, this is surprisingly consistent. It has plenty of card selection to both find the reanimation pieces as well as get the creatures into the graveyard, and it turns the corner very quickly once the reanimation begins. Liliana, Death's Majesty does a ton of work here, and the fact Noxious Gearhulk has incidental life gain is actually key to a lot of matchups. Casting Ever After is just as fun as it sounds, and "going off" with Demon of Dark Schemes is right up there as well.
While the deck is obviously weak to Crook of Condemnation, it has enough card selection to play a fair game as well, not to mention they have to find it in sideboarded games because you probably crushed game one. And when your reanimation spells double up as powerful planeswalkers or 5/5 fliers or removal/life gain on a 5/4 body, narrow sideboard hate doesn't actually do as much against the deck as you might expect.
This deck isn't going anywhere. It has a winnable, though unappealing, Ramunap Red matchup, but it absolutely walks all over the midrange decks that have risen up to combat mono-red. This deck is both fun and strong enough to pull me back into Standard, and that's no small feat. I hope you enjoyed the foray into Standard with me, and I would definitely suggest sleeving this up if you enjoy playing Reanimator in Standard as much as I have.
Thanks for reading,