As a fan of aggressive decks, when I saw a two-mana 3/3 creature, I got pretty excited. Then I realized what Werewolf Pack Leader does and I quickly got back to earth. I guess we don’t live in 2005 anymore where Watchwolf was a busted creature. That said, I think Graf Reaver can still be quite relevant for both Standard and Historic and that is mostly thanks to its creature type – Zombie.
Champion of the Perished needs some help and it looks like we’re going to get some decent Zombie creatures in Crimson Vow to make it better. Graf Reaver does a good Juzam Djinn impression with an extra ability on top.
If we get some more good planeswalkers in Standard other than Wrenn and Seven, the exploit ability can certainly be relevant as well, but mostly I want to use it as a creature that I can follow up a turn one Champion of the Perished with.
Here’s my first draft at a Standard Zombies deck:
4 Champion of the Perished 4 Dungeon Crawler 4 Graf Reaver 2 Wight 2 Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia 2 Tainted Adversary 4 Skyclave Shade 4 Headless Rider 2 Ebondeath, Dracolich 2 Death-Priest of Myrkul 2 Duress 4 Hero's Downfall 2 Hive of the Eye Tyrant 4 Faceless Haven 18 Snow-Covered Swamp
I like playing Skyclave Shade even though it is not a Zombie. It’s so good and so annoying against the Izzet decks that I think it’s worth it. If more quality Zombies get spoiled, you can move it to the sideboard. You can add blue for Bladestitched Skaab and counters in the sideboard, too.
In Historic, Graf Reaver probably gets even better. You have better support cards like Thoughtseize and the two-mana slot is exactly where you lack good high-power creatures. It can also work in Death’s Shadow decks as a good proactive way to grow your Shadow.
Will this deck be able to challenge the Tier 1 decks? I’m not sure, but I will sure try to make it work!