Introduction and Resources

Here I provide an uncompromising, highly-tuned Animar list designed to compete in any meta up to full-powered cEDH.

The key factor to bear in mind when reviewing this list is that Animar is not a "big-creatures" deck nor a "big-mana" deck. It's a creature-based storm deck designed with the aim of casting one or more cheap creatures as many times as possible for as little mana as possible, with Animar himself acting as a vastly more powerful Helm of Awakening effect.

For more detailed info and a great discussion, the official primer can be found here: The cEDH Ancestral Animar Primer.

You can also have a look at the Discord server if you want more real-time info.

Wincons

Animar primarily relies on Ancestral Statue to win games, but we actually have access to several other powerful combos worth considering, some of which have a long history with the deck. The list below is ordered roughly by how likely I would be to include them in my build. Note that the "Premium" combos are typically ones that can be accessed starting from a single card like Imperial Recruiter and which don't force the deck to include mediocre cards.

Premium Combos

Viable Combos

Nonviable Combos

  • Animar + Cloudstone Curio + any two nonartifact colorless or Morph creatures = infinite ETBs and infinite Animar counters. This combo will win games with many of the same outlets as the Statue line, but has a few drawbacks. Cloudstone itself is difficult to tutor and expensive to cast, and having two colorless creatures available is often more work than simply tutoring Ancestral Statue .

  • Earthcraft + Man-o'-War / Dream Stalker / Shrieking Drake + a basic Island = infinite ETBs. This combo can actually win a game without Animar on board as long as you use the Drake and any outlet other than Walking Ballista . It suffers from the same drawbacks as the Cloudstone combo, however, in that Earthcraft itself is inaccessible to most of our tutors, and the combo requires 3+ pieces not counting an outlet. The creatures themselves are solid inclusions for the deck and Earthcraft can be used to generate mana on its own, so the only real restriction on deckbuilding is that the combo requires you to run a few more basics than would be ideal.

  • Aluren + Man-o'-War / Dream Stalker / Shrieking Drake = infinite ETBs. This combo works without Animar as well, but can also be used to make infinite Animar counters and win by combat. As with so many Animar wincons though, Aluren itself doesn't work well with the deck's suite of tutors, and at 4CMC, can be awkward to cast.

  • Animar + Palinchron = infinite ETBs and sometimes infinite mana. Once Animar reaches 4 counters Palinchron has the ability to bounce and recast himself, winning the game with most of the same outlets as the Statue combo. Problematically, this combo requires at least 6 lands on board for Palinchon to be mana-neutral, or 7 to generate infinite mana. The deck plays as few lands as possible, however, making this line only viable late in the game.

Conclusion

Animar is a great deck to play. As with any good cEDH deck, it consistently rewards research, practice, tight play and a little creativity.

Please use this space to discuss all aspects the deck. I always learn a lot by chatting with other talented pilots on here!

Changelog

Cut:

Earthcraft

Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Yavimaya Coast

Shivan Reef

Karplusan Forest

Forest

Island

Added:

Green Sun's Zenith

Sylvan Safekeeper

Tarnished Citadel

Exotic Orchard

Thran Quarry

Dryad Arbor

Grove of the Burnwillows

Reasoning:

The best line in almost every game is to tutor Ancestral Statue as soon as Animar reaches 2-4 counters. Earthcraft is a viable secondary wincon in some games, but it's very hard to tutor up and requires more combo pieces to go infinite. To keep this line viable, we have to include a few too many basic lands for my liking, so the more streamlined the deck became, the less I found Earthcraft to be worth the slot and the mediocre landbase. I took this opportunity to shave the painlands and replace them with some solid Gold lands, further smoothing our early game out. Feels much better!

Cut:

Lotus Cobra

Added:

Mox Amber

Reasoning:

There are two fundamental kinds of ramp in this deck: pre-Animar ramp that helps you cast him on turn 2, and post-Animar ramp that is only useful thereafter. The first kind is essential to making this deck work, but the second kind is almost always overkill. When your creature casts all accelerate further creature casts, high-priced ramp cards are often irrelevant. I still find Wood Elves and Beastcaller Savant useful as free storm-like cards, Lotus Cobra has always been a bit more conditional, especially as the landbase becomes more refined. While Mox Amber isn't technically pre-Animar ramp, it's effectively concurrent with Animar, allowing the occasional cast of a 1-drop on turn 2 with Animar, or a faster turn 3 right after. Even mediocre games with this card are noticeably quicker.

Cut:

Peregrine Drake

Added:

Spellseeker

Reasoning:

Holy shit, I did not anticipate getting such a great card in what felt like an intro-level expansion. This tutors up Pact of Negation , Mental Misstep , Worldly Tutor , Sylvan Tutor , personal favorite Gamble , and even Glimpse of Nature sometimes. Testing has been very successful so far!

Cut:

Cloudstone Curio

Scavenging Ooze

Siren Stormtamer

Added:

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

Pestermite

Deceiver Exarch

Reasoning:

The updated discussion of wincons above covers why I like Kiki over other options like Cloudstone and Earthcraft. ScOoze and Stormtamer were cut for being relatively niche hate (in my meta, at least) and requiring subsequent mana investments to be useful. This was definitely a meta-pick, though, and you still may want to play them.

Cut:

Phyrexian Metamorph

Ainok Survivalist

Added:

Dark-Dweller Oracle

Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

Reasoning:

Much like Skullclamp , Dark-Dweller allows us to turn a stalled board full of spent ETB creatures into gas. He seems a little expensive, but the cost is the same as Clamp and we can feed him a wider variety of creatures. This guy will never be quite as good as Clamp because you don't technically draw the cards and you get fewer of them, but being an easily-tutorable creature is a big plus.

Vig has historically been considered too slow for the deck, but a lot has changed since I cut it a few years back.

  • The deck is way smoother overall. Creatures are cheaper, draw and tutor support are more efficient and our answers are more potent. Vig has a lot more to work with, and gets a lot better as a result.
  • Our topdeck manipulation is a lot better. Vizier and Oracle turn topdeck tutors into Demonic Tutors, and our improved draw suite makes it a lot easier to get a quick draw.
  • Mox Amber makes Legendary creatures a little more relevant. This one is very fringe, but definitely fun.

Overall, Core 2019 added a lot of speed to the deck!

Cut:

Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

Added:

Scavenging Ooze

Reasoning:

I liked Vig a lot, but adding ScOoze back in was a necessary meta call. I just needed a way to interact with the yard. Similarly, after a good bit of testing, Loyal Drake turned out to have some great games, but ended up being a bit situational. Both he and Vig are solid choices for the deck, just not my preference.

Cut:

Primordial Sage

Soul of the Harvest

Added:

Beast Whisperer

Goblin Cratermaker

Reasoning:

I had been running both of the "Enchantress" creatures as a preference pick because I liked the redundancy, but the new Beast Whisperer is so much more accessible it hardly seems necessary to run either of the 6CMC options anymore. Cutting them will make room for Goblin Cratermaker as well, who represents an amazing bit of utility for us. He can murder most hatebears AND most of the best wincons in the format. This set is shaping up to be fantastic!!

Following some great discussions with experienced Animar pilots and cEDH experts on the Discord server, I've made the first major revision to the deck in years. a lot of cards that were products of my own inbred meta or were simply taken for granted have been cut, and a ton new tech has been introduced. Rather than make a card-by-card changelog, I'll simply overview the major updates and post an archive of the old deck here: Ancestral Animar: Kiki Jiki Build.

  • Kiki replaced by Kiri: See the wincons list above, but the major benefit is access to an easy one-card wincon via recruiter.
  • Removal of Empath and The Eldrazi: Taking out the Empath package allowed us to make room for smaller, more efficient alternatives.
  • More interaction: Despite my longstanding opposition to the idea, we added a few more uncounterable options plus some cheap counterspells. The increase in Blue lands and a greater focus on Spellseeker plays makes this a bit less finnicky, and it makes the deck better suited to competitive multiplayer settings.
  • Land Swap: More Blue lands have been added, with an emphasis on ways to make mana painlessly when looping Drake.

I'm still tinkering with the list, but I think the major elements are in place. I'll keep this space up to date with any other changes I make!

Cut:

Siren Stormtamer

Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Added:

Neoform

Fblthp, the Lost

Reasoning:

WAR gave us two things I've been wanting for a while: a new Elvish Visionary -style cantrip creature and a new cheap, effective tutor. I'm starting to finalize the Blue-heavy Kiri build and really liking the result, so stay tuned for more updates as always!

Cut:

Kiri-Onna

Peregrine Drake

Dark-Dweller Oracle

Exotic Orchard

Reflecting Pool

Hinterland Harbor

Botanical Sanctum

Flooded Grove

Added:

Siren Stormtamer

Green Sun's Zenith

Scavenging Ooze

Collector Ouphe

Trinket Mage

Waterlogged Grove

Fiery Islet

Dryad Arbor

Reasoning:

Modern Horizons and the shift to the London Mulligan rule have brought about two substantive changes to the deck, both of which work together in some pretty exciting ways.

First, starting in July, EDH will shift to a new mulligan which is more forgiving to low-land combo decks like ours. Simultaneously, in MH1, we gained access to a new cycle of untapped duals with card-draw built in. In combination, these changes allow us to shave several mediocre lands and tighten up our manabase a lot.

Second, my testing and that of several other talented pilots suggests that Neoform enables a new one-card line all on its own, and that this line is actually more accessible than the Kiri-Onna line, without forcing us to run either Kiri herself or extra dual lands. As of now, I consider this the new go-to line for the deck, alongside Weird Harvest and simply tutoring Ancestral Statue + Walking Ballista individually.

These two big changes work together surprisingly well. By cutting Kiri we free up our manabase a little (no need for mediocre painless duals like Hinterland Harbor , Botanical Sanctum or Flooded Grove ) and make room for the excellent new lands from MH1. Furthermore, we can now run Dryad Arbor and Green Sun's Zenith without worrying about Kiri-incompatible lands, which gives us better access to the spicy new Collector Ouphe and our other green interactive creatures. I've made an effort here to increase the variety and accessibility of good interactive cards in the deck as a way of combating increasingly efficient combo decks, an issue that will only be exacerbated by the new mulligan rule.

In summary, I expect opposing combo decks to only get more efficient, so I've removed our most unreliable combo and used the free slots, plus those gained by shaving a few lands, to improve our interactive tools. The deck is even faster and more consistent than ever!

Cut:

Gamble

Trinket Mage

Added:

Painter's Servant

Shared Summons

Reasoning:

The EDH Rules Committee gave Animar a big present this month in the form of Painter's Servant . Painter protects Animar from targeted threats by turning them Black or White, eliminating some of out biggest problems (Chain, Rift, Beast Within, etc.). Better yet, as a 2CMC colorless creature, Painter is incredibly easy for us to cast, and can even give us free ramp on a winning turn. If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Painter is very reminiscent of Skite, an old favorite for the deck, but with some really spicy new upsides like making Animar unblockable, or letting us GSZ into Statue/Recruiter/Seeker. I can't wait to get some games in with this guy! Cutting Gamble is a little disappointing, since it's a great old card, but as the quality of tutors in the deck keeps improving (Eldritch Evo, Neoform, Seeker), shaving one of the weaker ones became inevitable. Gamble is a terrible topdeck when you're hellbent, and often requires you to hold cards you'd rather cast in order to be fully effective, so it seems like a safe cut.

Core set 2020 was relatively uneventful by comparison, but Shared Summons is a quality card for the deck. It serves the same function as one of the deck's new trademark cards, Weird Harvest , but at instant speed and without giving your opponents free value. The downside is that it can't be tutored with Spellseeker and costs one more mana, so risk of getting blown out for 5 mana is nontrivial. Still, the card does a lot of work for Animar, and is an amazing topdeck any time after the first couple turns.

Cut:

Coiling Oracle

Green Sun's Zenith

Dryad Arbor

Added:

Kiri-Onna

Dockside Extortionist

Reflecting Pool

Reasoning:

Dockside Extortionist single-handedly makes the Kiri line A LOT easier to use by eliminating the land restriction and the need to play Drake. He's also just plain good on his own, consistently enabling some really explosive plays by generating tons of mana on ETB. I'm eager to get more games in with these edits, and I expect great things from the deck going forward!

No changes!

Reasoning:

Eldraine introduced some cool new cards for more casual EDH and maybe a niche cEDH piece here or there (Emry!) but ultimately Animar didn't get anything too spicy. Overwhelmed Apprentice serves as a decent alternate Kiri combo outlet, but that's a pretty niche role, and Kiri herself is under scrutiny lately as Barrin, Master Wizard and Temur Sabretooth both seem like better combo pieces alongside new all-star Dockside Extortionist . Personally, I think Barrin is a fantastic addition to the deck relative to Kiri, and once I get a chance to test further I'll probably add him to my list. Stay tuned here and on Discord!

All that said, I haven't had too much time to play competitively lately after having moved across the country and lost my primary cEDH group, so my Animar advice may be a little outdated relative to the great discussions on Discord these days. I'll still be on here to chat, but I'm enjoying taking less of a hands-on approach. This list will stay updated though, and I hope it remains a good resource alongside Shapers and BunBunFriedRice's.

Cut:

Kiri-Onna

Added:

Barrin, Master Wizard

Reasoning:

The combo of Barrin, Master Wizard with Dockside Extortionist is an ingenious new way to generate infinite casts without using Ancestral Statue . Like several other pilots, I've chosen to slot Barrin in over Kiri simply because the new combo's on-board requirements are fewer and Barrin himself is (slightly) less of an awkward card to draw into outside the combo. Notably, Barrin is also a Recruiter target, meaning that for a steep mana investment, it's actually possible to chain Recruiter into Barrin, use Barrin to bounce the Recruiter, then re-cast Recruiter and tutor for Dockside, thus assembling the new combo with only a single tutor. I've been loving the new tech in testing, and look forward to a lot more games where my opponents have to stop and read Barrin then ask why the Hell I'm playing it!

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Top Ranked
Date added 3 years
Last updated a few seconds
Exclude colors WB
Splash colors R
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.04
Rarity (main - side)

7 - 0 Mythic Rares

59 - 0 Rares

13 - 0 Uncommons

17 - 0 Commons

Tokens None Treasure, 1/1 Spirit, 2/2 Morph, 1/1 Bird
Folders Interesting Brews, Others' Commanders, best of edh, animar, cutthroat canon, Animar EDH, Animar, Soul of Elements, Animar EDH, T1 Competitive, JMCraig's Decks, See all 99
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