Persist | Modern Horizons 2
8, Jul, 24

MH3 Special Guest Gives Rise to New Persistent Graveyard Strategy!

Article at a Glance

The release of Modern Horizons 3 has been massively impactful in a variety of different formats. Obviously, Modern has seen significant metagame shifts since the set first came out, with Bant Nadu combo completely dominating the Pro Tour. Meanwhile, Psychic Frog has made a name for itself in Legacy and Vintage, further improving the established Dimir Reanimator and Dimir Lurrus of the Dream-Den shells in both formats, respectively.

What doesn’t seem to get talked about nearly as much, though, are the changes that these cards brought to MTG Arena. Both Historic and Timeless have seen completely new decks arise over the past month. Luckily, this weekend, Historic players got to put these MH3 cards to the test. The Qualifier Play-In event took place, serving as a way for players to earn invites to Qualifier Weekend later on.

One deck that appeared to take the event by storm is none other than Grixis Reanimator. Made possible by the appearance of Persist as an MH3 Special Guest card, this deck focuses on trying to return some game-breaking bombs from the graveyard to the battlefield. This strategy helped a multitude of players qualify, so let’s take a closer look at one of the decklists that went undefeated.

Ways to Get Creatures into the Graveyard

Faithless Looting

As you should expect from a Reanimator strategy, this deck plays a solid mix of enablers and payoffs. Getting to cheat huge threats into play for cheap is extremely powerful, but this only works if you have the requisite tools to get those creatures into the graveyard. Fortunately, this deck is quite good at both fueling your graveyard and digging for your reanimation effects.

In the one-drop slot, we have three efficient cards that fill this role. Faithless Looting is undoubtedly the most powerful. Faithless Looting is the most reliable way to set up a turn-two Persist. As long as you have a big creature in hand to discard, you’re in great shape. Thanks to its Flashback ability, it’s also a solid card to mill over with the other one-drops in the deck.

Speaking of, both Stitcher’s Supplier and Otherworldly Gaze do a great job filling the graveyard. As we will see in the next section, this deck relies on having a stocked graveyard in order to get the most mileage out of the reanimation targets featured.

Then, in the two-drop slot, we have Fallaji Archaeologist and Psychic Frog. Fallaji Archaeologist mills three cards just like Stitcher’s Supplier, but lets you put any non-creature spell from among those cards into your hand. Psychic Frog acts as another discard outlets similar to Faithless Looting. Of course, Psychic Frog is just a solid card in its own right, as it threatens to grow and generate card advantage for as long as it’s in play.

Read More: MH3 Special Guests Boast Evoke Elementals and Multi-Format Staples!

Reanimation Plan


Most of the rest of the deck falls into two categories: ways to reanimate creatures and big creatures to reanimate. As mentioned, Persist is what gives this archetype its most explosive starts. Importantly, Persist can only bring back non-legendary creatures, which does place some deckbuilding restrictions on the archetype. However, with Reanimate banned in Historic, Persist is the next best option given its efficiency and lack of major drawbacks.

Outside of Persist, this deck also features a couple copies of Victimize. Victimize is a sweet card but does require you to have a creature on board to sacrifice. Fortunately, Stitcher’s Supplier and Fallaji Archaeologist can do the job just fine.

This brings us to the two cards to return with Persist and Victimize: Conspiracy Unraveler and Scholar of the Lost Trove. Conspiracy Unraveler has shown up in Standard before alongside Reenact the Crime and Breach the Multiverse. The main objective, of course, was to cast Breach the Multiverse for free by exiling cards with total mana value 10 or greater from your graveyard. This would let you put more pressure into play, while simultaneously filling your graveyard to let you cast more cards for free.

This deck is looking to accomplish something very similar. You can always bring back Conspiracy Unraveler and cast Breach the Multiverse from hand if you have enough cards in your graveyard to exile. Otherwise, if you have Breach the Multiverse in your graveyard already, reanimating Scholar of the Lost Trove can let you cast Breach for free.

Chances are, you’ll hit either Conspiracy Unraveler or another Scholar off the Breach and get to keep your engine rolling. In an ideal scenario, you’ll cast enough copies of Breach to effectively mill both players out. This lets you win the game by simply passing the turn, as the opponent will lose the game trying to draw from an empty library. Even if you don’t get that far, though, you should still be able to put a bunch of power into play quickly that the opponent will have a tough time dealing with.

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The Beauty of Bo1

Spell Pierce

This deck had an incredible showing this weekend, dominating a lot of the top Historic strategies from weeks prior. For instance, the pilot of this decklist faced Boros Energy four of the six rounds, without breaking a sweat. This does make sense, as this deck can assemble a big army in short order.

That doesn’t mean this deck isn’t fool proof per se, but this deck gets a huge edge in best-of-one. The way this deck is constructed, it is extremely weak to graveyard hate. Cards like Rest in Peace are nearly impossible to get off the board for this Grixis shell. In best-of-one, though, these narrow cards that typically show up in sideboards are much less of a concern. Cards like Rest in Peace do very little in most matchups, so it’s typically not worth running them in the maindeck even if certain matchups become much tougher.

This raises the question: how do you effectively fight against this deck in best-of-one? Well, the best way is to play a deck that can counter key cards like Persist. Grixis Reanimator in its current form doesn’t have a lot of recourse if the reanimation spells don’t resolve. As such, Azorius control can use cards like No More Lies to interact in the early turns. Izzet Wizards, one of the best decks in Historic, could easily implement some copies of Spell Pierce to the maindeck.

Grixis Reanimator was clearly a great metacall in a best-of-one field filled with creature decks. I’d expect the deck to be a lot less prevalent in best-of-three and may even die down in best-of-one as more players adjust. Still, its performance this weekend was very impressive, and showcases how rewarding it can be to take an innovative approach.

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