Goryo’s Vengeance is perhaps the most powerful card in Modern that isn’t seeing any play. For months, I’ve been trying to figure out a good shell that uses Goryo’s, Faithful Mending and Griselbrand to generate massive amounts of value. It always felt like the pieces of the puzzle never quite fit together until I realized that there’s an innocuous but powerful spell that not only fits great in other reanimator shells, but is also the perfect card to pair with a vengeanced Griselbrand.
Ephemerate is a card I’ve liked a lot in other reanimator variants to protect your payoff creature and to abuse the enters the battlefield effects of the evoke Incarnations Grief and Solitude. I was working on this Goryo’s list and it felt like the stars aligned when I realized that on turn three, when you use Goryo’s Vengeance to get back a Griselbrand, you can dig deep for Ephemerate with Girselbrand’s draw seven ability, use Ephemerate to flicker your Griselbrand, untapping it and allowing you to keep it around permanently! The evoke Incarnations are also amazing to have when you have a Griselbrand in play as Solitude can let you interact with your opponents creatures, exile your own Griselbrand for seven life in a pinch, and you can use multiple Griefs to rip apart your opponent’s hands.
After I figured out this interaction, my priority was to look for some redundancy for the combo. While Goryo’s Vengeance is a great card, with just four copies in your deck it’s just too inconsistent of a game plan to rely on drawing a copy early every single game. It’s also true that while Faithful Mending is an amazing discard enabler (and the incidental life gain is great in a Griselbrand deck), the deck needs some redundant ways to get Griselbrand or another big legendary creature into the graveyard. The glaring issue is of course that Modern’s premier reanimation enablers, Unmarked Grave and Persist, both explicitly forbid you from pairing them with legendary creatures (a design specifically intended to stop players from returning Griselbrand). There is, however, another two-mana reanimation spell from Modern Horizons 2 that doesn’t have that legendary restriction.