It’s rare the Magic player who doesn’t like getting something big and powerful into play early—it’s one of the most exciting plays you can make in the game. With a strategy devoted to bringing back a giant monster from the graveyard, Legacy Reanimator is just the deck for the job.
First, you need ways to get these creatures into the graveyard. The best tool for the job is Entomb. For a single mana, and at instant speed, you can tutor any creature from your deck into your graveyard—which happens to be exactly where you want it. Faithless Looting is another effective way to fill your graveyard, but it requires you to have already drawn the creature you want. In a pinch, casting a discard spell targeting yourself will also work, especially if the creature you get back is powerful enough to win the game that you don’t need additional help.
Once in the graveyard, you need ways to bring these monsters back. Reanimate is a great one since it costs a single mana, but you lose a ton of life. It’s going to be difficult to ever cast 2 copies of Reanimate in a game, and it’s not uncommon that you can’t afford to play the first.
For an additional mana, both Exhume and Animate Dead will get the job done. Exhume lets your opponent return a threat, but that’s rarely relevant considering how powerful your creatures are. Animate Dead can actually target a creature in an opponent’s graveyard, so there will be matchups where you can force them to discard their own big creature and then bring it back on your side.
The final critical component to the Reanimator strategy is its creatures. Since Griselbrand’s printing in Avacyn Restored, it tends to be the creature of choice to bring back from the graveyard. This is true of decks like Vintage Oath, Legacy Sneak and Show, and of course Reanimator. A 7/7 flying lifelink creature is already a huge threat, but you can use those life points to draw a whole new hand.
The other 4-of creature in this Reanimator list is not a card we’ve not seen much of: Sire of Insanity. There are plenty of matchups in Legacy where getting a Sire into play is lights-out. Combo decks need the cards in their hand, so making them discard everything spells doom. Midrange decks also struggle against a creature that is out of Abrupt Decay and Lightning Bolt range, especially when they can’t combine multiple spells to get rid of him.
While playing a 1-of creature in many formats doesn’t make a ton of sense, it works out well in Legacy Reanimator thanks to Entomb. Iona, Shield of Emeria ends the game against Burn or Storm players, even at a low life total. Tidespout Tyrant isn’t as powerful as some of the other options, but it can get you out of spots where nothing else could.
The final component of the deck is speed. Dark Rituals and Lotus Petals give the deck ways to go off as early as turn 1. A Dark Ritual on 1 enables an Entomb and any of the reanimation spells. A Lotus Petal and land can still let you Entomb plus Reanimate, or a turn-1 Thoughtseize plus Entomb to bring something back with Animate Dead or Exhume on turn 2. Petal can also enable a turn-1 Looting into Reanimate, so there are tons of possibilities and draws that allow this deck to come out on top in the first couple turns.
This is a focused Reanimator deck that is looking to accomplish the same plan game in and game out. It’s loaded up with 4-ofs, knows exactly what it wants to do, and it does it well. If you’re interested in turn-1 Griselbrands and Sires of Insanity, then this is the Legacy deck you want!