MTG Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander

Jarad, Reanimator
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Author:  razzliox [ 2014-Feb-13 7:22 am ]
Post subject:  Jarad, Reanimator

Jarad Combo Graveyard


Before we begin, I'd like to talk a little bit about myself and my history in magic, and the deck's history. I started playing Magic when I was about seven, and EDH when I was about ten. My first EDH deck was a terrible, terrible Eron the Relentless deck, focusing on land-destruction. At the time I didn’t even really realize it was considered a dickish thing to do - I just had four or five LD spells and started working from there. It eventually evolved into a casual Heartless Hidetsugu deck which I began to really tune. Including ways to give Hidetsugu lifelink or other shenanigans was the beginning of my career as a brewer. After a couple years of stagnation, my meta started to really evolve as I made friends in early high school. It was the best deck in my meta when we first really started wanting to compete, though we were still unevolved compared to where we are today.

After it grew boring playing (and winning) with the same deck over and over, I designed a Kresh the Bloodbraided fatties deck. It wasn't as good as Heartless, but it was a lot of fun. After a long time, and mild success, I eventually sucked the red out of Kresh to force myself to diversify. Little did I know that I was on the way to my best deck in the format, Jarad. Jarad started as a quirky ramp deck. It was still fatties from its Kresh days, but now used more sorceries and ramp creatures to achieve it's goal. I used Crypt Ghast, Boundless Realms, and Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger to establish a large X spell, typically Exsanguinate or Genesis Wave. Jarad slowly became better than Heartless, which was still a top condender, though much less so than before.

Already I was familiar with graveplay, but it wasn't the main focus of the deck - combat damage was. When Sylvan Primordial was spoiled, I knew I had to use it. I switched over from a rampy build to a classical reanimator deck - with many reanimation spells and things like Entomb, I tried to reanimate SyPri and other fatties many times over. The "big three" of the deck were Vorinclex, SyPri, and It That Betrays - none of which I play now. As I introduced my playgroup to more competitive play, I faltered as the "lead player," and now was competing with opposing Sharuum the Hegemon decks and Roon of the Hidden Realm decks. Ironically enough, the banning of Sylvan Primordial helped the deck out a fair bit. It forced me to explore other options outside of classical reanimator, which brought me to the combo build I use today. Of course I've tweaked it a significant amount, but the core is the same. You'll see some remnants of my past builds - things like Rune-Scarred Demon and Crypt Ghast hint of times past, though they still function well in this deck. While my meta is much more varied and diverse now, and our games are rarely identical, I like to think I'm still in the lead. My tournament reports are consistent with this.


Today, my metagame is a constantly-evolving animal. Consistent foes include Tasigur, the Golden Fang combo featuring Doomsday combo, Nin, the Pain Artist Artifacts with several ways to generate infinite mana and draw her deck, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary tempo with eighty ways to stabilize quick and softlock the table, Omnath, Locus of Mana stompy which preys upon the fact that many decks in our meta are weak to combat damage, Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge control with Enter the Infinite and opponents' Tooth and Nails as their prime win-condition, Purphoros, God of the Forge aggro which punishes every deck that takes advantage of its life total, and Yisan, Wanderer Bard toolbox which tutors entire combos by itself. All-in-all, our games end around turn four to eight. We're an especially control-based meta compared to other cutthroat metas, using the control to stop early-game combos.

The metagame has helped shape the deck by forcing it to be resilient enough to win after a control deck has stabilized, yet fast enough to race my more speedy opponents. You can see even in this quick combo deck we're running, what, twelve pieces of spot removal, plus sweepers? Disrupting the early-game combos is as important as comboing off on our own. Finally, there are few other grave-based effects in our meta - of course there's the occasional Eternal Witness or whatever - because of the disproportionate amount of GY hate pointed at me necessitates things like Deathrite Shaman.

Why play this deck?

First off, enough with the long introduction. Here's what you're here for - the list.

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Likes and Dislikes

We'll start with the traditional "You might enjoy this deck if:"
  • You like comboing out. We’re a combo deck.
  • You have an unknown meta.
  • You enjoy winning. Yeah, I’ll say it - this is a powerful deck. If you’re building a new deck, and you like to win, I recommend you consider this deck.
  • You like recursive gameplans. This doesn’t mean linear - it just means that you like to re-attempt the scary threat you tried to resolve two turn cycles ago.
  • You have a budget. While my deck is budgetless, this deck doesn’t require anything super-expensive to work well.
  • You enjoy skill-intensive decks. Jarad’s easy to learn and hard to master. The plethora of tutors or tutor-effects means that your options are always wide-open, and it’s often correct to not play the obvious choice.
  • You enjoy proactive decks. We try to win before other players have stabilized.
You won’t like playing this deck if:
  • You like winning in the combat phase. I rarely attack.
  • You think your general should be an integral part of the deck. Jarad as a deck doesn’t rely on Jarad as a card, though he’s important to our late-game action.
  • You don’t have a very sharp understanding of the rules. Knowing that Necropotence creates a triggered ability in your discard step which allows you to Necromancy before your creature is exiled, or similarly complicated interaction, comes up frequently.
  • You prefer working with the options provided by blue, red, or white.

Commander Comparisons

That question we started with can mean different things, though. Let’s say you want to play a Bxx graveyard deck. What edge does Jarad have over The Mimeoplasm? The biggest difference between me and Mimeo decks is that Mimeo decks are reanimator decks with a combo finisher (or sometimes Voltron), whereas I'm a combo deck with a reanimator engine. Mimeo decks revolve around getting that Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur or similar early-game. Blue really doesn't give us a lot of cards we want to play - some exceptions being Intuition, Pact of Negation, and some way to port Hermit Druid combo. We're much faster than classical Mimeo decks, and our Commander allows for more alternative game plans.

You can also compare Jarad to Karador, Ghost Chieftain. Why play him over Karador, then? Well, Karador only gives us a few options we don't already have. Iona, Shield of Emeria is a powerful creature I can't play due to a lack of White, but other than that there's not much cost. There are a few utility options that aren't bad, but the mana base is a lot weaker, and our extra-mana-from-swamps package gets a lot worse. Again, Karador is a different deck. It relies more on smaller utility creatures. The other Junk reanimator commander, Teneb the Harvester, is also different. Where Karador focuses on smaller utility creatures, Teneb is a more classic "reanimator" deck similar to Mimeoplasm.

One more commander often compared to Jarad is Chainer, Dementia Master. Instead of adding a color and diversifying, Chainer stabilizes as a mono-black deck, the most traditional reanimator deck out there. Chainer decks often have ETB/LTB themes, repeatedly using and losing effects like Kokusho, the Evening Star, Solemn Simulacrum, and Rune-Scarred Demon. Chainer decks enjoy a longer, grindy game. Some of them are combo decks, while others win with more traditional wincons. However, the loss of Green is a serious detriment to the deck. Our ramp is obviously green-reliant, and a couple all-star cards (Survival of the Fittest and Greater Good require Green. Finally, we of course can't fling Lord of Extinction or Phyrexian Devourer to Jarad when he's not our commander!

Finally, playing two colors allows us to focus on casting spells. We can't support three colors on a measly 31 lands, especially with so many colorless ones. Jarad is a very greedy deck, meaning that simply playing this build is a gamble, but one that in my experience pays off nicely. We don't want to be playing the safe route most of the time, and while we have plan Bs and plan Cs, the plan A is to combo before our opponents can stabilize. Jarad is a proactive deck; the removal spells are mostly in here for things that shut down our combos like gravehate.

So, I've convinced you to play GB gravestuff. Of course, from here Jarad's not your only option. What makes Jarad better than, say, Glissa, the Traitor or Varolz, the Scar-Striped? Well, Glissa is a very different deck and ultimately hard to compare to Jarad. Glissa often takes advantage of her ability by repeatedly using things like Executioner's Capsule, Mindslaver, and Codex Shredder - it's the GB artifacts deck,

On the other hand, Varolz plays more similarly to Jarad, with a slight focus on enter-the-battlefield abilities, which he can re-use with his sacrifice clause. Ultimately, however, Jarad's fling ability and growing body synergize more with the all-out combo style of the deck.

One more important distinction between traditional graveyard decks and us is that when a player sits down to a table with The Mimeoplasm or Karador as their Commander, people groan and t1 Enlightened Tutor for Rest in Peace. People know these Commanders, brought fame due to their powerful abilities and their spot in the original Commander pre-constructed decks. Because of their popularity, the matchup is an easy pilot. The Karador player broadcasts his own gameplan. When we sit down with Jarad, everyone expects the Wall of Blood / Hatred / Mossbridge Troll shenanigans that the other lists play. (This is starting to change in recent years, in no small part due to this primer across multiple forums.)


Game Progression

0) Before the game begins, sit down and look at the opponents. This is the most important step, and the most difficult. Figure out which deck is most worrisome, and why. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but hopefully the table looks like Maelstrom Wanderer, Animar, and Prossh, Skyraider of Kher. Why? These decks are all very consistent, but they don't play much counterspells or other disruption. Generally assume Jarad is the fastest and most resilient deck here - while it's not always true, we have to play as if it is or we lose a war of attrition. Keep in mind - time is our opponent. We’re a combo deck, and we definitely have a late-game, but Jarad is a good deck because of its early-game. Mulligan aggressively; if your playgroup doesn't allow Partial Paris mulligans like SCG pods, play more lands than I do. Mulling this deck is actually a more difficult element of the deck, just because most players want to play with some plan extending to turn six. Don’t. Let the deck pilot itself in this regard - just worry about the early-game for now, until you have more practice piloting this deck. After some practice, the strategy becomes evident. The general rule of thumb is to mulligan anything that isn't ramp, cheap card draw, tutors, or sometimes reanimation spells.

1) Resource conversion - Some games can skip this step, but it's necessary if we're a bit slower. We start the game with an abundance of two resources - cards in hand, and life - and no other resources. Obviously, these cards in hand will run out pretty quickly, so we should set ourselves up to keep a healthy amount of cards in hand, without missing too many land drops. Do this by putting a permanent into play which will maintain card advantage - Sylvan Library, Necropotence, Baleful Force, Graveborn Muse (and hopefully Jarad), et cetera. If you can, reanimate a creature within the first two to four turns. We go for Baleful Force, unless your group plays very little removal or the spell we're using forces us to lose life (like Reanimate). Otherwise, we probably want Rune-Scarred Demon, depending on our hand. Woodfall Primus is also a solid choice with a sac outlet - don't go for Mikeaus or Lord of Extinction, because they aren't good until mid to late game. Do this with Entomb or Jarad's Orders. After a couple turns of generating card advantage and presenting threats, hate starts coming in in the form of opponents’ removal and counterspells. Follow this up with more resource conversion - we turn cards into mana. Find some ramp spells or a Hermit Druid. The preparations for the next step are beginning.

2) We're ahead now. After a few tutors, we find our first combo. About sixty percent of the games we win, we win in this step. If there's a Rest in Peace or whatever, instead tutor up Krosan Grip or an appropriate removal spell (unless you can go for Devourer combo), and use your next tutor for a combo. The best enablers to set yourself up for a resilient gameplan are Survival of the Fittest, Pattern of Rebirth, Jarad's Orders, and Liliana Vess (for repeatable tutoring). If we get disrupted or don't have enough tutors to win now, that's fine; we proceed to the next step.

3) Don't mess this part up. In sharp contrast to the linear early game, this is where our diversity and toolboxing abilities thrive. We can play the long game as well as any other deck. We have a powerful early- and late-game, but our mid-game is weak - just try to get by and shut any opposing shenanigans down. We're probably behind if we even reach this step, but that's ok. Playing conservatively, we tutor up removal spells if needed. If playing against decks like Arcum Dagsson or Azami, we play around counterspells and instead of resolving huge must-answer threats we go for cards which will grind out advantage over time. Our life total is a weak point, so we kee track of it. We play a lot of cards that lose us life - fetchlands, Necropotence, Sylvan Library, and more - and sometimes a combo deck's plan C, being "turn my creatures sideways," works against us. If you think you're having trouble with life, find Crypt Ghast and another source of card advantage to extort some spells.

4) Eventually you'll draw into another win condition. Either recycle your used-up combo pieces, find a new one, or take one of our many side-plans. Flinging big creatures - especially Woodfall Primus - wins more games than it seems like it would. You can also simply entwine a Tooth and Nail, or maybe even reanimate combo pieces in your opponents grave. This deck has a weird resilience and plays better than many other decks when the game goes into topdeck mode, due to our low land count. Sometimes we can get there just with a Rune-Scarred Demon and a few combat steps. You want to close out the game quickly, but don't be afraid to let it get grindy!

Winning the Game

Of course, it's easy for me to tell you to simply win at a certain step. But what's the best way to effectively end the game? Obviously, this will depend on what cards you already have in play and what's in your hand.

Our first win-con is very easy to assemble. All we need is Survival of the Fittest, *or* a Buried Alive and any reanimation spell. Grab Necrotic Ooze, Phyrexian Devourer, and Triskelion. If you're using Survival to set this up, make sure to grab Ooze last so you can cast it from hand. The exception is when we're playing around on-board gravehate. Here, we grab Ooze first, then use SotF to cycle the cards into the 'yard at instant speed, and continue to do so in response to gravehate (this requires a few creatures...). If we gets countered, we start digging for another reanimation spell - if we're using Survival, we can tutor up Phyrexian Delver to try again. Once Ooze is in play, we activate the zero ability on Devourer and get some counters, then remove them with Triskelion. Repeat until your opponents' life totals are 0. This is a good chunk of our wins, and our most consistent win-condition. If our opponents try to kill Ooze with, say, a Swords to Plowshares, we can kill them in response to that. If it's super late-game or an opponent has a lot of life, we might not be able to flip kill them with our library. If that's true, we can hold the Ooze in play and kill people who try to remove it or clone it or whatever in response. Eventually we can kill the table. Save Buried Alive for this. It wins games in one turn if we need to later on. Try not to actually cast the Buried Alive until the kill turn, or you're playing straight into countermagic and/or graveyard hate. You should go for this combo if you have little mana and want to combo out without playing into creature removal.

The next-easiest is also a one-card combo: Phyrexian Devourer (+ Jarad). We usually do this when there's a some graveyard hate in play, as it's the only combo that doesn't involve cards our GY. However, it is mana-intensive. We exile the top card of our library until Devourer is power 7. With the sacrifice trigger on the stack, we repeatedly use that ability to add to its power, then sacrifice to Jarad, draining the table for the combined CMC of my deck. If for whatever reason we can’t activate Jarad (Hinder, Pithing Needle, not enough mana) we can instead sacrifice Devourer to an Altar of Dementia and kill one player, or to Greater Good to draw any other combo. This combo can also respond to creature kill by just... keep going, same as before. The exception is Krosan Grip or Sudden Death. It's also weak to Stifle effects - nobody wants to have half their library in exile and not win. You should go for this combo if you're confidant you can resolve the ability without Krosan Grip or Stifle effects getting in the way and you don't have access to Nooze combo, or when there's on-board gravehate.

Find Mikeaus. Find Triskelion. This is a pretty common combo, but for those who have never seen it, we use Triskelion to ping itself until it dies, and then undies, pointing extra counters at our opponents. Making sure to keep in mind that Triskelion is a 2/2 due to Mikeaus's power-and-toughness-boosting ability, we repeat this iteration until opponents' life totals hit 0. We can play around Krosan Grip by maintaining priority and removing all the counters at once, or we can play around Deglamer by holding an extra counter to respond to it, but we can't play around both. This combo is disrupted by instant speed GY exile or by creature removal, and is easily tutored by Buried Alive + Victimize, Jarad's Orders and a reanimate effect, or Tooth and Nail. Another way to land this combo is to sacrifice a Lord of Extinction or other large creatures to Greater Good or Altar of Dementia (in the late game) and draw essentially your deck, pitching Mike, Trike, and Phyrexian Delver. Reanimate the Delver, then grab Mike with it. Sac the Delver to the sacrifice outlet and grab Mike. Sac it again, and when it undies, grab Trike. (This can also be done with the Woodfall combo below.) You should go for this combo when it's late-game enough that you can entwine a Tooth and Nail and you're confidant that the combo won't be disrupted.

With Mikeaus and Woodfall Primus, we can sacrifice Woodfall repeatedly to any sacrifice outlet and destroy all noncreature permanents we don’t control. As this includes lands, this is usually met by concession from the rest of the table. If our sacrifice outlet is Altar of Dementia, we can mill the table out. If it’s Phyrexian Altar, we can generate infinite mana, cast Jarad, and burn the table to death. If it’s Greater Good, we draw our deck and go from there - but a 1-sided mass land-destruction usually ends the game itself. One easy way to assemble this is using Pattern of Rebirth with either a sac outet, Mike, and a creature, or with a sac outlet and Primus. The reason it's better to go for this combo instead of the Triskelion combo here is that if Mike somehow gets removed, you still have a Primus with a +1/+1 counter and a fast sac outlet, which is better than a lone Triskelion. This combo is disrupted by instant speed GY exile, creature removal, or artifact/enchantment removal. You should go for this combo when you have the pieces for Mike+Trike, but happen to have a sac outlet in play.

Another common route to victory is to fling Lord of Extinction to Jarad with a bunch of cards in graveyards. You should go for this late-game, when graveyards are big, as it's a hard-to-disrupt combo and only requires one non-commander card.

Finally, with an Eternal Witness and a bunch creatures on field or in the ‘yard and a Phyrexian Altar in play, Living Death allows me to recur them and generate more mana than it costs to cast the Living Death itself. E Wit will grab back the Living Death and we can repeat this process indefinetely for infinite mana. Then, we can cast Jarad and use his sacrifice ability repeatedly to burn the table. If Jarad is tucked, many other creatures with an Enter the Battlefield abilities like Rune-Scarred Demon or Woodfall Primus can also make this combo practically lethal as we get those abilities repeatedly. It's easier to perform this combo with creatures in play / graveyards that allow additional mana, like Mikeaus. You should basically only go for this combo when you naturally draw enough of the pieces, as it's easy to disrupt and requires many pieces.

Synergies and Tactics


We have a few gameplan-defining synergies. Obviously we have many gameplan-defining combos, but I talk more about that below. Usually, we will be tutoring for combos, as while synergies put us very ahead, combos simply end the game. That being said, occasionally we want to be more conservative, so I've included a few interactions that can define our plays for a couple of turns.

Perhaps most notable is the Greater Good line. This card, in play, warps the game. Not only does it generate a great deal of card advantage with Jarad and other value plays, it's part of a slowroll setup to a combo. A common line of play is to sacrifice Rune-Scarred Demon, draw six and discard three, and cast a reanimation spell on demon. Demon will go and tutor up another reanimation spell, and we can repeat this to fill our yard with creatures. End the loop by tutoring up Living Death, Victimize, or something similar. Alternatively, we can fill our yard, then flashback Dread Return and combo out. Lord of Extinction really shines here as a card-advantage engine.

Another Greater Good synergy is with Woodfall Primus. Here, we're going to try and get as many Primus triggers as we can get, and once the biggest problems have been dealt with, use them on lands. I typically won't hit sources of card draw except the very best ones, because it doesn't matter how many cards my opponent draws if he's got two other noncreature permanents. Our best friend here is Pattern of Rebirth for either powering out an early-game Primus or finding Mikeaus to finish them off once we have it.

Using Opponents' Graveyards

As many of our spells, such as the classic Reanimate, work with our opponents' graveyards, we want to keep an eye on them at all time. Keep in mind that you can use cards in your opponents' graves differently from the way they do. That Riku of Two Reflections deck may be playing Palinchron as a combo piece, but we're just reanimating it and floating mana so we have enough to entwine Tooth and Nail. (Seriously, I've done this a few times.) Keep track of important creatures in your opponents' graveyards, and make sure to weigh in the fact that not all of your spells work from your graveyard. That Rune-Scarred Demon in your yard might look juicy, but we can get that at a later point when we draw, say, Victimize, whereas we can't use that on the Consecrated Sphinx on the other side of the table.

Speaking of C-Sphinx, it is not uncommon for us to get into a TS war with another player. Named after the infamously banned Trade Secrets, this occurs when two players have a Consecrated Sphinx in play, and now have the option presented to them to draw their entire library should both players agree to. This is only sometimes a good choice. Generally speaking, if we are taking our next turn before they take their next turn, it is favorable to draw our deck, as we can probably combo out before they untap and kill us. Of course, the contrapositive of this statement is that generally it is unfavorable to trade your secrets when your opponent will take their turn before yours. Naturally, our opponent will be operating under similar logic, so rarely do players truly draw their deck. However, when we do, there are some points to keep in mind. First of all, we will have to play through every counterspell they have mana for. Know your opponents - know if they run Pact of Negation, Force of Will, and other cheap counterspells like Swan Song. If they do end up using a Pact, we might be able to kill them recurring a Woodfall Primus at to destroy their mana sources before they untap. Also, we can't get too greedy - leave a good ten cards left in your library so you don't get blown out by some random mill card.

The most useful card for interacting with opponents' graveyards is Necromancy, simply because you can do it in response to their interaction. If an opponent is trying to reanimate one of their own creatures, there's no reason to make them go through all that trouble! We'll do it for them, the gentleman that we are. Seriously, the card plays as a reanimation spell and incidental gravehate.

While we're on the subject of incidental gravehate, let's take a minute to talk about Deathrite Shaman. DRS serves a grand total of four whopping purposes in this deck. It's primary purpose, obviously is a mana dork, and its secondary purpose is gravehate. After that, it's lifegain, and finally reach in the form of burn - not that we need much of that in a Jarad deck. Anyway, I want to talk about it specifically in the context of gravehate. The general rule of thumb is that we never want to not use the guy as long as there are targets available. At the player to your right's end step, we'll want to eat something, assuming the lil guy is untapped. What do we eat? Well, that depends. Typically we don't want to eat a bomby creature we'll be wanting to reanimate at some point, unless you're afraid of another player reanimating it. In other words, Azami's Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur can stay, but The Mimeoplasm's? Not so much. Anyway, generally we want to eat creatures first, as lifegain is more important than lifeloss, but if we don't want to eat a creature, don't hold back on eating spells. Speaking of which...

Using Your Life Total

Gee whiz, razzliox! Between Necropotence, fetchlands, Reanimate effects, Snuff Out, Baleful Force, Toxic Deluge, and half the other black cards in your deck, how do you manage to keep your life total high? Well, the short answer is that we don't. Our life total is a resource, and we use it as such. Playing black and hoping to end a EDH game at thirty life is like playing mono-green and hoping to end the game with six lands in play. It simply means you're not using your resources the best. So, how to properly allocate your life total as a resource? How greedy is too greedy? Ultimately, that depends on who you're playing against. If your pod looks something like Purphoros, God of the Forge, Maelstrom Wanderer, and Nekusar, the Mindrazer, then our first tutor better be for Crypt Ghast. If that pod is closer to Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Sharuum the Hegemon, and Narset, Enlightened Master, go ahead and Entomb for Baleful Force. In other words, the more combo-focused and less combat-focused our opponents are, the better we can smoothly eat up our life total. Watch out though! If you're in a regular playgroup, your opponents will eventually recognize how much damage you deal to yourself and capitalize on this by attacking you first with their random creatures. A couple combat steps later, you might be in for trouble if you haven't prepared.

I totally get that some of you are reading this and thinking about how your bud's Krenko, Mob Boss tokens deck and his brother's Animar, Soul of Elements fatties are gonna tear you to shreds. Never fear! With a little tuning, you can make this deck as resilient to combat as you need it to be. A couple key cards you may want to include are Kokusho, the Evening Star or Exsanguinate. You could even go so far as to include Wurmcoil Engine. (Damn you Rules Committee, give me Griselbrand back!)

If you're more inclined to take the tactical route than the deck-adaption route, then you're like me. If you're fearing getting aggro'd out, tutor up Lord of Extinction. Not only is Lord one of the most solid bodies in the format, you can also fling it to Jarad mid-game to incentivize your opponents to attack each other (they should be at low life totals).

Similar Decks

Editor's note: This primer's main thread (link) is hosted on MTGSalvation, and the threads referenced in this section are on the same platform.

I’d like to throw a shout-out here to Dies_to_Doom_Blade’s The Mimeoplasm primer. Dies and I have had some correspondence over the years and we’ve helped each other out on more than one occasion. He certainly helped me a lot in the beginnings of my deckbuilding. If you’re into the whole graveyard thing but not so keen on comboing, definitely check out his primer, not to mention a standup guy.

I'll also throw a shoutout to DTrain's Jarad deck. It's very similar to mine, but without infinite combos. If you want to build this deck for its engine, but are averse to infinite combos, you can read his thread, which is great.

My good friend Avvina runs a Tasigur deck that's another of the best decks I've seen. He's helped shaped my deck and is an a-rate EDH player. If you're interested in looking at a very different deck that plays some of the same colors as I do, performs very well in my meta, and has a bit of my influence (I helped construct the deck, after all), check out Avvina's Tasigur, the Golden Fang list.

Jebus4054's Momir Vig deck (really a Prophet of Kruphix deck) is the third pillar of our meta. While it's not too similar to Jarad, we definitely have influenced each other - this was the deck that got me playing Sudden Death and Decree of Pain. You can see some of my influences in his list and vice versa, and it's definitely an interesting deck that has changed the way I think about control decks in the format.


Bayou, Command Tower, Mana Confluence, City of Brass, Overgrown Tomb, Woodland Cemetery, Twilight Mire, Llanowar Wastes - Whatever. Duals are duals. I will say about Overgrown Tomb that the effect can be relevant not because you lose two life but because you alert your opponents that a spell is coming if you're trying to do end of turn shenanigans.
Cabal Coffers - Pretty good late-game, but early game it's a spot mulligan without Urborg.
Dryad Arbor - Really only in the deck because we can t1 Green Sun's Zenith into it, which is pretty common. Earns its slot well.
Phyrexian Tower - Sac outlets are great. Tower can tap for a two mana, which is nice. I've been using it a lot lately in conjunction with Pattern of Rebirth.
Strip Mine - Wins games, yo. Usually we play it to a blue source on the counterspell player's table, then move to next main phase so the floating mana goes away. Sometimes our opponent keeps a low-land hand in hopes to draw into more, because they have just enough for their early-game draw engine (Rhystic Study, Phyrexian Arena, whatever). This thing takes them out pretty early.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth - Goes really well with Crypt Ghast and Cabal Coffers. Still pretty good outside of that. It makes fetchlands tap for mana which is pretty nice, because retaining the ability to crack a fetch at a later point can be pertinent.
Verdant Catacombs, Marsh Flats, Bloodstained Mire, Misty Rainforest, Wooded Foothills, Polluted Delta, Windswept Heath - Solid, of course. Shuffles away stuff for Scroll Rack, Sylvan Library, Oracle of Mul Daya, et cetera.
Bojuka Bog - I figured with Tempt with Discovery in the deck, it's indecent not to play at least one utility land. I may cut it at some point simply for basics or other utility lands.
Temple of Malady - Pretty feel-bad but ultimately it's a nice card.
Reliquary Tower - Generally irrelevant outside of Necropotence, but the colorless isnt super painful.
Ancient Tomb - Don't think I need to explain this. Pretty strong card. The damage can be rough.
3x Forest, 4x Swamp - I think the right choice might be 4 Forest, 3 Swamp. Still testing. The low number of basics is to make Hermit Druid better.

Ramp / Mana
Mana Crypt - It's insane. The only thing I'd say is that we ought not to cast it until the turn we use it, to minimize damage.
Sol Ring - No explanation needed.
Deathrite Shaman - It's ramp with fetchlands, and it's also grave hate. I'd probably replace it with Llanowar Elves if you can't afford the fetchlands or nobody else in your playgroup plays them. Incidental lifegain is nice.
Birds of Paradise - Actually very nice. Nothing special, though.
Nature's Lore - Great card. Note that it can find Bayou / Dryad Arbor.
Hermit Druid - We don't play a bunch of basics. Fills grave fast and hits land drops. Unless we have a super early combo, Green Sun's at 2 or turn one Worldly Tutor usually hits this, otherwise it's Steve. It's not the combo piece used in a lot of other decks though. You want to be real careful activating this into gravehate as sometimes it dumps half my deck.
Golgari Signet - Has the advantage that it can be played t1 off of Sol Ring / Crypt / Tomb, and is ramp that puts me on green if we don't have any. Fine accel.
Phyrexian Altar - "Fast" sac outlets, meaning there's no other cost to sacrifice, are always useful here. Part of a combo I was speaking about earlier.
Oracle of Mul Daya - Not great, but not terrible either. Synergy with Sylvan Library and Scroll Rack.
Crypt Ghast - Good without Urborg - I play five swamps, plus seven fetches, all of which find swamps. Great with Urborg. The extort is one of the two forms of lifegain in the deck, so that's important what with all the cards that deal damage to us.
Skyshroud Claim - Note that Skyshroud gets them untapped. Can also find Dryad Arbor / Overgrown Tomb / Bayou. Very solid ramp.
Tempt with Discovery - It's a very complicated card, really. If we're ahead, typically it only will find one land. If we're behind, it'll usually get two or three. If we'll only get one use out of it, Ancient Tomb is typically the correct target. Going for Urborg and Coffers is a possibility I recommend. Outside of table talk and collusion, in terms of game theory and microeconomics, it's usually correct to take the land - it sets you and one other player ahead, which is similar to setting two players behind. When one land drop is worth three of your opponents to keep a game at equilibrium, that land drop is very valuable.
Gilded Lotus - 5 for 3 is solid, especially when it comes in untapped. Gets around Armageddon effects I guess. It's in the deck to support the late-game big mana plan.

Lord of Extinction - A newer inclusion, but a typical one in a Jarad build. Superb with Greater Good, it's Devourer #2. Also great with Hermit Druid, obviously.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed - Also a combo piece, but is fine for stuff like Phyrexian Delver or whatever. Nothing to joke about. The +1/+1 can be relevant, but the Undying makes the card.
Rune-Scarred Demon - Tutor on a stick. Superb. As mentioned above, the card often finds Greater Good.
Baleful Force - Pretty strong. Note that it triggers each upkeep, not just mine, so it's like half a Consecrated Sphinx. The life loss is pretty pertinent though.
Woodfall Primus - Combos with Mikeaus and blows stuff up fine. Powerful with Greater Good or other sac outlets.

Altar of Dementia - Another fast sac outlet. Great for self-milling. Kills one player with Phyrexian Devourer, if I'm willing to flip part of my deck into exile.
Eternal Witness - Regrowth on a stick, it's great. Turns every one of my reanimation spells into Regrowth.
Faerie Macabre - Testing. Makes Survival of the Fittest gravehate at instant speed, which seems super strong.
Crop Rotation - It's solid ramp to find Ancient Tomb or the other half of Urborg + Coffers, and instant-speed gravehate to find Bojuka Bog. Still in testing.

Slaughter Pact - Comes as a surprise often. Careful not to cast it into Armageddon, Blood Moon, etc..
Deglamer - Powers through the typical Darksteel Forge + Nev Disk lock and hits gods. Also shuffles away a Sharuum or any other artifact / enchantment commander. Often used early game on mana rocks. Solid.
Sudden Death - I personally play this because it kills Prophet of Kruphix, which is very common in my meta, and is uncounterable. Pretty great outside of that too.
Beast Within - Versatile as hell, only costs 2G. The 3/3 hardly matters.
Krosan Grip - Uncounterable, best against Sharuum or Arcum but often used against others. Noteworthy that it kills Nev Disk or O-Stone without a crack in response, and also Tormond's Crypt and friends.
Putrefy - Versatile removal; typically hits powerful early game threat like Zur or whatever.
Song of the Dryads - In testing. Seems good for removing permanents I don't want in graveyard or Command Zone.
Toxic Deluge - Cheap sweeper. Sometimes I can cast it for a small amount and make my Baleful Force or whatever survive.
Damnation - The black WoG. It's one of those solid cards that's perhaps cuttable one day but not yet.
Snuff Out - Hard to play around, but it's painful that it only hits nonblack creatures. Still, quite potent.
Murderous Cut - Usually one mana. Exiling from your graveyard is a little counterintuitive in this deck, but one-mana unconditional creature removal is too good to pass up. Being instant-speed, you can cast it in response to your opponent trying to reanimate your own fatty.
Decree of Pain - Either a late-game sweeper that draws a bunch, or a mid-game sweeper for utility bears that draws one, is instant speed, and uncounterable. Not a bad card at all.

C-c-c-combo pieces
Necrotic Ooze - I go into detail above. Inherits Hermit Druid, which is sometimes useful. Also inherits Sakura-Tribe Elder, which is less useful. Note that it can be a Phyrexian Devourer either for the Triskelion combo or the Jarad combo. It also gets stuff from opponents' graveyards.
Phyrexian Devourer - Great with the aformentioned combos. When I'm desperate it feeds Greater Good.
Triskelion - Also part of two combos. Sometimes used as utility removal, either on stuff like Gaddock Teeg or that Illusion clone everyone's playing nowadays.

Green Sun's Zenith - T1 into Dryad Arbor is a strong play. Pretty much *only* finds utility creatures until the late-game.
Vampiric Tutor - It's pretty good I guess. Not much to say.
Entomb - T1 into Baleful Force, T2 Reanimate. Really pulls the deck together.
Worldly Tutor - Read the card. Not much detail, except that the fact that it goes to the top is pretty good if we need it in our GY an we have a Hermit Druid, Altar of Dementia, whatever.
Survival of the Fittest - Ridiculous. Note that it can fill a graveyard just as well as Buried Alive if we have the green. A common play is tutor up fatty, discard fatty and tutor up Phyrexian Delver, Phyrexian Delver targeting fatty. Probably the best single card in our deck.
Demonic Tutor - Usually find Buried Alive early game but obviously tutor for anything. Our best tutor.
Buried Alive - Combo piece and general enabler. 10/10.
Pattern of Rebirth - This card is nutty. Half the time, it's a Baleful Force or whatever, and half the time it's the second part of some combo I'm assembling.
Tooth and Nail - Finds combo pieces, wins the game. We basically always entwine it.
Liliana Vess - Better than she looks. Being a two-turn five-mana Entomb is actually pretty cute, but the repeatable Vampiric Tutor is really scary. Not to mention the possibility of dragging the game on into a Rise of the Dark Realms.

Reanimate - Really really good. Hits opponents' graves.
Animate Dead - Straightforward card. Hits opponents' graves.
Life/Death - Noteworthy that with a Mikeaus and a fast sac outlet out, we can cast it as Life and have them undie as untapped noncreature lands. Bonus point if our outlet is a Phyrexian Altar.
Exhume - Pretty good early game. Less good late game. One interaction to be sure you know about is that a clone coming in off this can't copy a different creature coming off on this.
Dance of the Dead - It's basically an Animate Dead in this deck, but it sucks on Hermit Druid. Hits opponents' graves.
Makeshift Mannequin - Weird lil' card. Requires extensive testing in an individual deck, as it's an oddball.
Necromancy - Pretty important card. The Flash thing is good, allows me to go infinite on other players' turns or have combat tricks. Sometimes I'll target a Woodfall Primus with flash and get two triggers. There's also a bit of synergy with Mikeaus. Hits opponents' graves.
Victimize - Another powerful oddball. Sometimes we recur a utility creature and a fatty. Sometimes two utility creatures. Occasionally two fatties. Pretty good.
Dread Return - Great card on the combo turn when mana is tight. Otherwise... meh.
Phyrexian Delver - Mostly playable because it's a creature, so it's more easily tutored. It's a little slow but still a solid pick.
Living Death - Also functions as a sweeper. The Living Death combo isn't particularly hard to pull off but it's a helluva lot harder than the other combos. I guess that just speaks to how easy it is to combo off with Ooze, really.

Card draw
Sensei's Divining Top - Great with Oracle and shuffle effects. It's a little mana-hungry, unfortunately.
Sylvan Library - Very nice card, though unfortunately with all the other self-damage effects in the deck we can't overcommit. Because the card counts cards in your hand you've drawn this turn, there's some marginal synergy with Phyrexian Arena and similar effects.
Scroll Rack - It's ok. We can usually shuffle or mill away the useless top cards.
Necropotence - Either wins the game or does very little. BBB is rough. One fun play is when we have a significant amount of mana - Necro for our life total minus one. Go to end step, get cards. Cast removal on Necropotence. Discard step. In the next upkeep, combo out from our graveyard. Also has wonderful synergy with Oracle of Mul-Daya.
Phyrexian Arena - One of the slower draw engines, but it doesn't require additional input, which is good. Really gets there in a slower grindier game.
Greater Good - As the name suggests, it's greater than good. A true engine. Jarad gets pretty big over the course of the game, especially when we're discarding, so don't be afraid to go hard with Greater Good.
Harmonize - In testing. Mostly just playing it because I have the promo. Anyway, it's nothing terribly complicated, but it's been playing well so far.
Graveborn Muse - We use this as a second Phyrexian Arena. Notably, Jarad along with Mike and Delver are Zombies.

Sample Hands

Swamp; Overgrown Tomb; Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth; Necropotence; Woodfall Primus; Buried Alive; Hermit Druid;

This is a good hand. We mulligan the Woodfall Primus and draw Lord of Extinction, which is pretty bad here but our hand is solid. We have a solid turn two play which might eat removal and two solid turn three plays, depending on what we draw and the boardstate. What's probably going to happen is we're going to cast Necro on turn three and draw into the reanimate spell - if it eats a counterspell we still have a very powerful second plan.

Forest; Command Tower; Temple of Malady; Twilight Mire; Necromancy; Snuff Out

This hand is the opposite of the previous. Looking for gas, we mulligan all but the Temple of Malady, finding Urborg, Bloodstained Mire, Demonic Tutor, Exhume, Wordly Tutor, Faerie Macabre. This is much better - our two tutors allow for a versatile gameplan. We're probably either going to use Demonic Tutor to play Buried Alive combo or use Worldly + Demonic for Mike&Trike Combo. Macabre is resilience... we have options.

Command Tower; Hermit Druid; Eternal Witness; Tooth and Nail; Decree of Pain; Putrefy; Life // Death

This hand is hard to mulligan in a goldfish because a lot of these cards are dependent on our opponents. Generally, we'll pitch TAN, Decree, and Putrefy, relying one HD to pull through utility. We find Necropotence, Bojuka Bog, and Sakura-Tribe Elder. That's pretty solid in that we can either go for t3 Necro or T2 Hermit Druid. Again, we have options.

Changelog started Thursday, November 13, 2014

11/13/14 Added Sample Hands section and added card tags
11/24/14 Removed Quillspike and Devoted Druid, added Song of the Dryads and Birds of Paradise. The combo simply didn't ever go off - I never needed it to. The added cards aren't replacements but just things I've been wanting to test.
12/1/14 Removed Corpse Dance, added Makeshift Mannequin - The exile clause was too relevant for things like Baleful Force.
12/07/14 Removed Riftsweeper, added Vraska the Unseen - Riftsweeper was always redundant or unneeded. Vraska is some added utility a repeatable removal spell.
12/15/14 Removed Regrowth, added Liliana Vess - Regrowth doubles up on E Wit, an effect that I don't need very many of. It always seemed slow anyway. Liliana Vess as a repeatable tutor seems like sick tech.
12/17/14 Removed Bitter Ordeal, added Pattern of Rebirth - Bitter Ordeal didn't win games, and pattern did. Simple as that.
02/02/15 Removed Vraska the Unseen, added Harmonize - Vraska was intended to give the deck a little midgame action, while I have not much to do. Harmonize does this better by accelerating me into the lategame.
2/13/15 Removed Reclamation Sage, added Crop Rotation. I have a lot of removal and I decided to add another proactive card. Crop Rotation will usually function as ramp but can also find Bojuka Bog for the instant-speed gravehate if I need it to.

And that's all, folks! Thanks for reading.

Author:  Sid the Chicken [ 2014-Feb-13 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

I take it since you keep mentioning mill-related victories that none of your usual opponents run Kozilek or Ulamog, since that would negate the whole thing?

Author:  Kemev [ 2014-Feb-13 3:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

The ornithopters still haven't towed tappedout in to the nearest skyship repair shop, so you might want to post a decklist here. [url][/url] can tag your cards if you type it in there.

Author:  razzliox [ 2014-Feb-16 6:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

Kemev wrote:
The ornithopters still haven't towed tappedout in to the nearest skyship repair shop, so you might want to post a decklist here. [url][/url] can tag your cards if you type it in there.


Author:  Sid the Chicken [ 2014-Feb-16 8:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

It's really helpful to card tag your list, so that people don't have to have gatherer open or go from memory to ID all your cards. You can highlight each card name and then hit the [card] button above the text box, or you can use like Kemev suggested.

Author:  razzliox [ 2014-Feb-17 3:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

Sid the Chicken wrote:
It's really helpful to card tag your list, so that people don't have to have gatherer open or go from memory to ID all your cards. You can highlight each card name and then hit the [card] button above the text box, or you can use like Kemev suggested.

My bad. Done.

Thoughts on the decklist?

Author:  Snake-Eyes [ 2014-Feb-17 5:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

I got a question, Crypt Ghast has the Exort ability, and that has a white simbol in this ability, is legal tu run that card if the commander does not have that mana color?

Author:  razzliox [ 2014-Feb-17 5:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

Snake-Eyes wrote:
I got a question, Crypt Ghast has the Exort ability, and that has a white simbol in this ability, is legal tu run that card if the commander does not have that mana color?

It is legal; extort doesn't affect color identity.

Author:  razzliox [ 2014-Feb-20 1:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator


Author:  Sid the Chicken [ 2014-Feb-20 2:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

I hate to suggest these sorts of things, but since you're trying to be a jerk...

Triskelion? Instant win with Dark Mike & can suppress annoying utility critters like Nin for a few turns

Lord of Extinction? "Ooops! I win!"

Author:  razzliox [ 2014-Oct-22 2:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

Major update of old thread as I migrate back to this forum, now a bona fide primer. I plan on including a sample hand section soon. Furthermore I hope to put up some video footage of the deck in progress, either via an above-player camera or a screen recording of Lackey /

Author:  YawgsAgenda510 [ 2015-Mar-11 2:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

Skullclamp is missing from your Decklist but you mention it the Card-by-Card section.

How's Necropotence been working out?

Do you miss Golgari Grave Troll, Nighthowler, or Life from the Loam?

The deck seems powerful, you have a bunch of tutors to setup reanimation on an early bomb. I guess I'm kinda thrown off as I've never seen a Jarad list with this few lands and this few creatures.

No offense, just kinda doubtful because I've seen Jarad decks with way more synergy, but maybe this build makes up for it in power.

Author:  razzliox [ 2015-Mar-12 3:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Jarad, Reanimator

YawgsAgenda510 wrote:
Skullclamp is missing from your Decklist but you mention it the Card-by-Card section.

How's Necropotence been working out?

Do you miss Golgari Grave Troll, Nighthowler, or Life from the Loam?

The deck seems powerful, you have a bunch of tutors to setup reanimation on an early bomb. I guess I'm kinda thrown off as I've never seen a Jarad list with this few lands and this few creatures.

No offense, just kinda doubtful because I've seen Jarad decks with way more synergy, but maybe this build makes up for it in power.

Hey, it's been forever since I've been active on these forums or updated this primer, but I thought I'd answer a few of your questions. I haven't played Skullclamp for ages.

Necropotence is a great card - a big gamble for sure, but it often pans out. It's not very good early-game as I still have gas, so I usually won't cast it until at least turn five.

GGT and Nighthowler were never in the deck. You've likely seen fling-based Jarad builds where sacrificing big creatures to Jarad is the main gameplan. Here that only plays a minor role, as a plan-c. Life from the Loam I played for a long time but eventually replaced it with Crucible of Worlds once I got my fetchlands going, but ultimately Crucible was just too slow. I may yet try LftL again.

I have a constantly-updated primer on MTGSalvation. Link

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