4, Feb, 24

Powerful MTG Scam Reanimator Combo Makes Surprise Appearance in Stale Format!

Article at a Glance

It’s Modern Regional Championship season, and a lot of MTG players appear to be discouraged trying to find a deck to play. Since the banning of Fury, Modern has ironically become incredibly stale. Temur Rhinos and Yawgmoth combo appear to be the best decks, with Amulet Titan, Izzet Murktide, Rakdos Scam being other strong choices. Finally, Living End threatens to prey on a metagame that forgets about it but, for now, its time is not quite ripe. Want to play anything else? It’s probably not a good idea.

This can make engaging in bigger Modern tournaments for some players rather frustrating. If you don’t like what the top archetypes have to offer, or simply do not have the time to learn intricate strategies like Yawgmoth Combo and Amulet Titan, it can be tough to break into Modern right now. Even if you are playing the best decks in the format, there are already players who have been on these decks for months.

That’s why, at least for the time being, whenever a deck outside of the ones listed above does well, people take notice. Scam Reanimator is not a new strategy by any means, but in a ‘solved’ Modern format, any changes are worth talking about.

Rolling High

Atraxa, Grand Unifier | Phyrexia: All Wi

With the right hand, Scam Reanimator can completely roll over any opponent you may come across. This is not a new archetype, but it’s not a mainstay either. Scam Reanimator managed a top eight finish in a recent Modern Challenge in the hands of MTGO player Soulstrong.

The key synergies in this deck revolve around Ephemerate. Ephemerate allows for a neat cross-section of strategies to excel alongside each other. The Ephemerate combo that Modern players should be familiar with appears alongside the various Evoke Elementals. Play your Grief for free and discard an opponent’s card. Then, Ephemerate it before it gets sacrificed to the Evoke trigger to get an extra discard and a body. Rebound can get an extra card out of an opponent’s hand, making it even more devastating. Solitude can be Scammed in a similar way to create a powerful piece of removal.

Ephemerate also provides a ton of value alongside Goryo’s Vengeance. Both Griselbrand and Atraxa, Grand Unifier can be resurrected with this card, refilling your hand with threats and creating a massive, but temporary board presence. Ephemerate turns this board presence into a permanent one, and when working alongside Atraxa, instantly doubles the value Atraxa provides. Considering Atraxa digs deeper into your deck on impact, finding Ephemerate after resolving an Atraxa is easy. Of course, Griselbrand can do the same.

Even if you cannot Scam right away, these packages interact with one another quite well. Grief can help clear the way for a successful Goryo’s Vengeance, and Solitude can remove problematic creatures pressuring your life total or that are otherwise stopping your combo, like Dauthi Voidwalker.

A New Addition?

Preordain | Magic 2011

One potentially overlooked addition to this deck since its last emergence is Preordain. This somewhat recently unbanned MTG card is a fantastic tool to increase the consistency of a majority of combo decks that need to stitch a few key pieces together. In order for this deck to work, you need to get your Legendary creatures into your grave and reanimate them. Preordain has been around for quite some time now, but it undeniably increases the consistency of this strategy, which is its biggest weakness currently.

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If this deck is able to ‘do its thing,’ it becomes very difficult to lose. Grief Scamming is one of the strongest ways to open a game of Modern, ripping two cards out of your opponent’s hand and getting a body into play. Reanimating a gigantic creature and refilling your hand is, a lot of the time, going to pull you so far ahead that winning is trivial.

The Living End matchup, in particular, is funny. Living End struggles against decks that can advance their gameplan with the strategy’s signature spell, and letting the opponent do your job for you makes the matchup a dream. Otherwise, one dishonest interaction (namely, reanimating either Atraxa or Griselbrand) is generally all you need to pull ahead of midrange strategies. Scamming Solitude can also do a lackluster Fury impression, blowing out Yawgmoth Combo boards.

Even the cards outside of the core engine in this deck match up with the metagame quite well. Teferi, Time Raveler shuts down interaction from counterspells that can stop your plan, and puts the breaks on players trying to Cascade their way to victory.

The shock factor this deck has in a closed decklist tournament is also worth mentioning. Your main deck is primed to get your reanimator combo off and win the game, utilizing effects like Tainted Indulgence and Faithful Mending to get your Legendary Creatures into your grave while finding Goryo’s Vengeance to reanimate it. In an open decklist environment, if your opponent knows what you’re doing and has maindeck ways of stopping it, they can use it to play a lot more carefully, making your plan more difficult to pull off right out of the gate.

Fortunately, the sideboard comes packed with ways to interact with your opponent while protecting your own gameplan. Dovin’s Veto and Force of Negation allows you to attempt your gameplan at instant speed while holding up interaction. Leyline of Sanctity, while having consistency issues, is a good plan to combat opposing Grief Scams. Finally, Subtlety can temporarily stop cards like Primeval Titan when you need extra time. Additionally, it’s a good tool to prevent Endurance from resetting your grave in response to a reanimation attempt.

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Having played this deck a bit myself, it can sometimes be difficult to draw all the right pieces together. Sure, all you need to win is one good interaction, but if digging towards that interaction takes too long, your opponents have had a ton of time to find the cards to stop it. Endurance, countermagic, Dauthi Voidwalker, Leyline of the Void, and any other piece of graveyard hate stops your deck from functioning.

Additionally, while the Grief Scam start is incredibly powerful, it’s generally not enough to win the game on its own. In Rakdos Scam, you have a lot of other threats that hit the board quickly and can snowball the advantage that your attacking Grief creates. In Scam Reanimator, you win by lining up flashy plays, which means that the chip damage that your Scammed Grief creates rarely impacts the game heavily. This deck is really about having flashy starts that lead the way to bigger plays, and cannot snowball off a busted start the same way Rakdos Scam can.

When Scam Reanimator functions at peak efficiency, it’s hard to lose. The issue is how consistently that happens. If you’re drawing hot, and not expecting a lot of graveyard hate, this deck is fantastic.

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