Archetune-Up - Graveyard Smash 2: Electric Boogaloo

(Niambi, Esteemed Speaker | Art by Eric Deschamps)

Let's Get Our Hands Dirty!

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, an article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme Pages!

Three years ago this week, the first iteration of Archetune-Up was published. It's hard to believe it's been so long since starting this column, but hey, time flies when you're having existential dread every waking moment of your life for the past two years fun!

As a nod to my first article, I've written anniversary articles on both Neheb, the Eternal and Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion. Patterns would therefore dictate that today I would be finally be going over Neheb, the Worthy to round everything out, but alas, patterns are wrong. Instead of continuing with this mighty Minotaur Warrior, I wanted to shine a light on a different legend I wrote about during my tenure here at EDHREC.

Of all the articles I've written, one in particular stands out to me.

In August of 2020, I wrote an article covering an Azorius Reanimator deck with Niambi, Esteemed Speaker at the helm. At the time, this lovely lady only had 27 decks and no themes to her name. Players were just getting into the idea of using her to facilitate a reanimation theme, but it was still a bit sketchy. Today though, in March of 2022, Niambi has over 300 decks to her name, has helped construct an Azorius Reanimator Theme on the site proper, and also has a new friend in Shorikai, Genesis Engine, who has emerged as another option to lead this style of strategy in blue-white! Not bad for just two years' difference!

Archetune-Up Niambi Reanimator

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Commander (1)
Creatures (24)
Sorceries (9)
Planeswalkers (2)
Artifacts (10)
Enchantments (6)
Instants (12)
Lands (36)

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Above is the list that I left everyone with at the end of my 2020 article. There are lots of reasons I wanted to revisit this deck in particular.

First and foremost, people really seemed to enjoy this off-color style of reanimator, and it's gotten a lot of positive feedback. Along with that, a lot of good cards have been printed over the past two years. There's now an Azorius Reanimator theme on the site, Niambi decks have solidified their identities more, and I've also had the pleasure of seeing Niambi decks played in the wild. As such, I felt like there were plenty of new tools to work with and plenty of changes that could be made to make this deck more optimized than I could have previously.

After digging into the old list, I swapped a total of 23 cards, which sounds like a lot, but let's lightly touch on 10 of them first. I cut a bevy of unimportant utility and basic lands for a handful of legendary lands that I found searching Scryfall! Having the most mundane legendary lands, like Tolaria, is awesome in this deck, as they are great to play out early game when you need them, or can be cashed in to draw two cards late game with Niambi when you need to refill your hand.

As for the other changes, I went up a land, bringing the mana base to a total of 37 lands. I also cutting a lot of "air" in the deck, that ironically, I had added in the first article. The deck has a fantastic card advantage option in Niambi, which I originally underestimated, so things like Fact or Fiction and Careful Consideration ended up feeling redundant in the face of her powerful abilities. On top of that, there have been some banger legends printed recently, so the ones that don't really add to our gameplan, like Medomai the Ageless and Yorion, Sky Nomad, also got the axe. I also wanted to emphasize the fact that this deck revolves around powerful legendary creatures, so I cut every nonlegend from the deck aside from Body Double and Karmic Guide, who are essential to this style of build.

If you're interested in seeing all of the changes I made, please check out the list here, but before I take much longer, let's jump into the additions!

Work Smarter, Not Harder

As with any reanimator list, the mana curve is going to look relatively high when compared to the average deck, thanks to the suite of mana-heavy creatures. Some of the most powerful cards are the most expensive, and since I wanted to keep the deck running as smoothly as possible, the first thing I did was access what, if any, "vegetables" the deck needed.

Ensuring that a deck functions is just as important to me as is making sure it does "its thing", since without the former, you cannot have the latter. This is why I have praised the Zendikar Rising MDFCs in every article since their release, as they pivot between lands and powerful spells, giving you what you need when you need it. Hitting land drops in this deck is super important, so I added in two MDFCs, Ondu Inversion and Sea Gate Restoration, to make sure we had more play both early and late game.

Along with that, I wanted to slightly retool the deck's ramp package. The Celestus is one of the best three-mana rocks printed in years, and it's perfect for this deck. It's legendary, produces mana, loots, and gains life, all on one card! You can't ask for much more out of a rock than that! I also added Gilded Lotus, as it helps us get from five mana to eight, in case we need to cast any big creatures outright. Getting over that mid-game mana hump is imperative in a deck like this. Niambi also draw us heaps of cards, which means Archaeomancer's Map will come in extra handy as a way to play all those extra lands that get stuck in our hand because of our excess card advantage.

Finally, this is a reanimator deck, and as such, this list already had quite a number of ways to bring back big creatures. I didn't want to go overboard, but there were two new white reanimation spells printed in the last two years that showed up on the theme page: Late to Dinner and Invoke Justice. While both of these are great options for this list, I opted to only add in Late to Dinner, as it's cheaper and is much less restrictive in terms of color weight. Both cards are solid options, and if I were a bit more heavy in white and running more noncreature permanents that I wanted to reanimate, like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, I think Invoke Justice would have edged it out instead.

Many Hands Make for Light Work

Alright, now that the necessary stuff is taken care of, let's get into the fun stuff: the legendary creatures! Last time I focused on huge creatures that I planned on reanimating, but this time I was a bit more even-handed, adding six legends all along the curve.

Dennick, Pious Apprentice is an excellent pickup for this deck. He's an early-game creature that can stem aggression, has usefulness in the graveyard, can produce Clues every time we discard cards, and can also be bounced back to our hand with Niambi if he's flipped over onto his back side! Dennick is cheap, flexible, and plain awesome for this style of deck. Welcome aboard!

Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate is a fantastic little legend out of Zendikar Rising. She's a cheap, well-costed flyer, and she can help keep our reanimated threats from being removed. She's also a great late-game target for reanimation spells once we have the board on lock. Bringing her back late in the game will have much more value on an established board than another huge beater would. This deck was previously missing that kind of flexibility and utility, so I'm really happy to find it in a single legend here.

Speaking of flexibility, I can't think of many more flexible legends than Sakashima of a Thousand Faces. Sakashima the Impostor was already in the deck, so I didn't see a reason why his second iteration shouldn't be either. Think about multiple Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobites or multiple Reya Dawnbringers. Yikes!

I've already mentioned it once, but Shorikai, Genesis Engine is another great enabler for the deck alongside Niambi. Shorikai is much more difficult for opponents to deal with and can pitch any card, not just legends, like Niambi. I thought about swapping Shorikai to be the commander for this article, but I much preferred Niambi's restriction, as it gave the deck more of an identity and theme to work around.

Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage is an underrated little legend from Dominaria that does work. Raff is a Vedalken Orrery for historic spells, giving the deck the option to outright cast our threats and not have to tap out on each of our turns to do so. Like with Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate, Raff is a great utility piece for the deck and can give it another way to play depending on the situation you find yourself in.

Finally, rounding out the new inclusions is the one and only Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant! This version of Jin is incredibly strong, doubling any of our spell-based card draw or Breath of Life effects, while also stifling our opponents' ability to deal with our growing board of massive threats. I'm stoked to be able to fit the newest Praetor into the deck, and I can't wait until I can add the inevitable second version of Elesh to this list as well.

Riding the Grave-y Train!

And there we have it! A riveting and reviled reanimator deck!

I love off-color theme decks like this one. There is something so cheeky about nonblack reanimator, and it just gives me those good brain chemicals. 🥰

Overall, I've been impressed with Niambi's growth over the past two years, even if she only recently broke 300 decks. She's no Atraxa, Praetors' Voice or Meren of Clan Nel Toth, but up until Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty she put U/W Reanimator on the map all by herself, which is awesome to see.

What about you, though? While this theme has been able to grow and flourish over the past two years, I'm sure there are a handful of legends that this deck would love, but aren't listed. Do you have any favorite legendary cards or suggestions for the latest iteration of Niambi Reanimator? Make sure to let me know down below!

I also wanted to mention that I'll be taking a break from this column over the next few months, as I need to get some things in my personal life in order, including moving to a new place, so I hope that you all have a lovely Spring/Autumn in the meantime! I wish you all the best, and I'll see you all again soon!

Until next time, you can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, get vaccinated, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

Reanimator 2 Electric Boogaloo

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Commander (1)
Creatures (22)
Sorceries (12)
Planeswalkers (2)
Enchantments (6)
Artifacts (12)
Instants (8)
Lands (37)

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Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.

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