Hooves of Glory

So the unthinkable has happened. I took apart my tokens deck. Call it rage quitting if you want. I went 0-4 on Sunday against GW aggro, Bant hexproof, and two bant control decks, and I was tired of making tiny tweaks for minimal improvement in my record. Sure I had some 2-1 2nd place finishes at Friday Night Magic this month and last already, but where I really want to do better is at those big tournaments where the prize package is MUCH bigger than a free booster pack and a promo card. With less than a month until the start of the Gatecrash metagame, I didn’t want to go out and buy tons of cards for a new deck. I wanted to use what I had, which meant staying in the colors I was using before for my token deck: Black, White, and Green.

What I came up with was this . . .

Craterhoof Behemoth

Craterhoof Behemoth

Hooves of Glory

(by Ryan Schwenk, Standard, 1/15/13, test deck)

Land: 23

  • 3 Forest
  • 4 Temple Garden
  • 4 Overgrown Tomb
  • 4 Woodland Cemetery
  • 4 Sunpetal Grove
  • 2 Gavony Township
  • 1 Shimmering Grotto
  • 1 Cavern of Souls

Creatures: 19

  • 4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
  • 4 Mayor of Avabruck
  • 3 Somberwald Sage
  • 3 Arbor Elf
  • 3 Craterhoof Behemoth
  • 1 Angel of Glory’s Rise
  • 1 Angel of Serenity

Spells: 18

  • 4 Mulch
  • 4 Grisly Salvage
  • 4 Lingering Souls
  • 3 Tracker’s Instincts
  • 3 Unburial Rites

With the colors I had at my disposal and the power I wanted, reanimator seemed like the best deck to use at the moment. The current metagame has switched to fast aggro decks such as bant hexproof, GW aggro, and rakdos aggro, so graveyard hate such as Rest in Peace isn’t seen as much (though I’m sure half of the white decks have Rest in Peace in their sideboards still). Although GBW Craterhoof Reanimator is the main theme of this deck, I went one step farther and added in a humans sub-theme to give me a stronger presence early on and an alternate win condition. In reality, this is both a “Hoof there it is!” and a Human reanimator deck.

The spell package is pretty much the same as GBW reanimator, except that I’m going with only 3 Unburial Rites and 3 Tracker’s instincts at the moment. I’m hedging my bets that this will be enough self mill and that I won’t need them because I will be killing my opponent by turn 4. To do that we need to look up above at the creature package.

Craterhoof Behemoth is a must, and luckily I found some good deals on them (bought one for 100 yen when it was cheap back when Avacyn came out, and found another for 280 at a store in Hamamatsu, Japan that didn’t know what they had). The main goal of this deck is to get him out as fast as possible, and there are two ways of doing that. One is by milling him into the graveyard along with an Unburial Rites before turn 4, then flashing him back on the table with a couple creatures and ending the game with 20+ damage before your opponent can even set up their board. In order to do this, you’ll need to keep a hand that has some sort of milling effect in it. The other way to get it out quickly is to ramp into him using mana dorks. Turn 1 Elf or Pilgrim + land, Turn 2 Somberwald Sage  + land, and when you set your 3rd land on turn 3 you’ll be able to hard cast the Behemoth as an 8/8 trampler with haste. If you wait a turn later, he could possibly be a 9/9 or bigger attacking with a bunch of 5/5 creatures or higher. 

But for the moment, lets say you get some bad hands or you’re getting swarmed by tiny creatures. This is where your humans save the day. There are usually 8 human types in this type of deck, but I decided to add in a playset of Mayor of Avabruck to shake things up a little bit. For starters, he puts pressure on your opponent on turn two immediately, forcing them to cast a spell or to let him flip into a 3/3 wolf token generator for your 3rd turn. He also boosts up your Somberwald Sages and Avacyn’s Pilgrims, saving them from a quickly cast Bonfire of the Damned and becoming threats themselves later on in the game once their usefulness is gone. Gavony Township is also another useful card in this to turn your weenies into beasts rather quickly. But what if you end milling a lot of them away? Not to fear! That’s where the human reanimator sub-theme comes into play!

Angel of Glory's Rise

Angel of Glory’s Rise

Reanimating (or hard casting an Angel of Glory’s Rise from your hand) is almost as bad for your opponent as a Craterhoof Behemoth. Let’s say you milled 3 Mayor’s into your graveyard and blocked with your pilgrims and Sages earlier. When the Angel enters the battlefield, so do they. Your Mayors as 3/3s and all the other humans automatically become a 4/4 (the sage becoming a 3/4). With one use of Gavony they’d be out of Mizzium Mortar range and ready to stomp your opponent. Sure you can just get board wiped again with a Supreme Verdict, but that’s what’s great about reanimator – it’s the deck that keeps on giving. You can use an Unburial Rites next turn to bring back the Angel and repeat the process again. Another reason I decided on this human sub-type is because of my sideboard.

Sideboard:

  • 1 Angel of Glory’s Rise
  • 2 Angel of Serenity
  • 3 Ray of Revelation
  • 1 Elderscale Wurm
  • 2 Sever the Bloodline
  • 4 Thragtusk
  • 2 Increasing Devotion

As you can see, I added in another Angel of Glory’s Rise in the sideboard to improve my chances of seeing it in either in my graveyard or in my hand. One strategy of this deck is to use it as a Human Reanimator deck, siding in Increasing Devotion to double or triple the number of humans on the battlefield under the protection of their leader, Mayor of Avabruck. With overwhelming numbers at your disposal, the Craterhoof Behemoth will be the least of your opponent’s worries. Other problems I forsee could come from extremely fast decks (such as bant hexproof), and no amount of life can save you from that Invisible Stalker onslaught. You could be at 20 life and die in one turn to an Invisible Stalker beefed up with Ethereal Armors, Rancors, and soulbounded to a Silverblade Paladin (that’s what happened to me this last week). You can side in all the Ray or Revelations you want (which would also come in against control decks using Rest in Peace), but what would really keep you alive until you can overwhelm your opponent is Elderscale Wurm.

The Wurm is very under-appreciated and underused in this format. It could be due to his heavy cost and susceptibility to Selesnya Charm and Ultimate Price, but if you can cast him on turn 3 with mana acceleration against a red deck or bant hexproof, you can buy yourself some time until your opponent draws the removal they need or until you gain enough life through Thragtusks. Usually you’d see Restoration Angels in the sideboard, but I decided not to use them in favor of my human sub-theme.

Hoofin it . . .

Learning a new deck type so close to the new metagame is risky, but what do I have to lose? I’m sure I’ll hit some speed bumps in the next few weeks before Gatecrash, but I also think that by learning a new type of deck I can get a better understanding of the metagame and develop some strategies when I play against it in the future. Play testing this deck has been fun so far. It can top deck a Craterhoof Behemoth out of nowhere and totally destroy a tapped out opponent, and believe me nothing is funnier than seeing their face as defeat stomps its way across the table. If you have any other tips or advice for a new reanimator player such as myself I’d like to hear it. Thanks for reading!

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