Meren Reanimator Toolbox

Hello, and welcome to my Golgari on-board Control deck. This deck started from the pre-constructed deck and eventually became my pet project. As it stands, the goal of the deck is to win via Bitter Ordeal and answer almost any threat along the way. This will be a basic primer detailing how the deck functions and discussing almost each individual card choice. This list isn't hyper competitive or super casual, but it's honestly my favorite deck to play so I thought I'd spend some time writing a primer.

Foil Count: 93/93 All cards are in the printing shown and in foil or signed if marked as such.

Why Golgari?

Golgari is one of the most powerful color schemes in Magic. It contains two of the best colors, lacking only Blue, and can quite literally answer almost anything your opponents throw at you. Black can deal with creatures, and Green can deal with pretty much anything else. Also, the lore behind the Ravnican guild is quite cool.

Why Meren?

This deck started from the pre-constructed Commander 2015 deck, so it started with Meren at the helm. I have considered changing the commander several times, most namely to Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, but realized I would be taking the deck in a different direction than I wanted. Meren is such a powerful recursion engine that if you’re looking for raw value based on dumping cards into your graveyard and sacrificing creatures, there is no other commander that can compete with her, at least not in these colors. She comes down early and is high-impact even with few experience counters. Meren in no way helps me combo, but she is the conductor on the value train from your first draw all the way to victory.

The card draw section may seem a little lacking, but the deck makes up for it with plenty of tutors and recursion. Also, Underrealm Lich is disgustingly good card advantage/selection.
  • Doom Whisperer - this card is nuts; it essentially allows me to dump my graveyard into my library or just set up my draw step while not being terrible like Hermit Druid
  • Grim Haruspex - on theme and very efficient card draw
  • Harvester of Souls - just a valuable draw engine that can profit from other people's creatures dying
  • Midnight Reaper - see above, except this one can draw from itself dying
  • Smothering Abomination - this is sort of conditional draw, but it's really powerful
  • Underrealm Lich - this card is all kinds of value and let me tell you why; you cannot draw yourself out with this card, it’s essentially a Dredge 3 on every draw, it’s card selection versus just raw card draw, and it can protect itself with its activated ability
Tutors are not hard to explain. They find what you need when you need them, and in G/B, there are tutors galore. If you can't draw what you need, just go get it straight out of the deck.
  • Buried Alive - our graveyard is kind of like our second hand in this deck, so why not get any three creatures we need right there for easy access at the end of turn with Meren or at instant speed with Demon of Dark Schemes
  • Chord of Calling - instant speed to the battlefield creature tutor that has convoke
  • Demonic Tutor - arguably the best card in the game; becomes any card in your deck for a small price of two mana; we're in black, there's no reason not to run this
  • Diabolic Intent - sacrifice a creature, oh no, what a downside; see Demonic Tutor
  • Entomb - basically an instant speed demonic tutor for one mana
  • Fauna Shaman - it's Survival of the Fittest on a creature; discarding creatures really isn't a downside for us, and it helps us find the answers we need
  • Final Parting - Diabolic Tutor and Entomb stapled together; I couldn’t really justify Entomb by itself in the list, but now that I get to do two things for one spell, it’s worth having the effect
  • Grim Tutor - just another solid tutor effect
  • Protean Hulk - when this dies, you tutor for six mana's worth of creatures directly into play; so happy they unbanned this beauty
  • Razaketh, the Foulblooded - for the small cost of sacrificing a creature and paying two life, we get to find any card out of our deck at instant speed; this card is bonkers and you generally win if it hits the field
  • Sidisi, Undead Vizier - this card doesn't seem great at first, but Diabolic Intent attached to a body, even at a higher mana cost, is always good value for us
  • Vampiric Tutor - a classic black tutor that can come down early and is still relevant late game
We're in green, so we're ramping. More mana means more fun for us.
  • Deathrite Shaman - mana dork
  • Cabal Coffers - early game this card isn't an allstar, but late game this card alone can essentially give you an extra turn's worth of mana; with Urborg, this gets stupid
  • Sakura-Tribe Elder - the second best card in the entire deck, second only to Spore Frog; seriously though, this card gets out of control really fast and takes you miles ahead of the rest of the table
  • World Shaper - seems like the card I’ve been looking for to slam all those dredged lands in my graveyard into play; now part of the win condition
Now for this section I decided to lump together all of my spot removal, board wipes, and all the random cards that are in here to answer specific situations or strategies. This was the most exciting part about upgrading this deck for me personally, because I found that I could answer almost anything in the game (literally).
  • Abrupt Decay - can’t be countered and hits a surprisingly large amount of targets in this format; instant speed makes this a must have
  • Agent of Erebos - this is simply in here for hating other graveyard decks with more force than Faerie Macabre
  • Assassin's Trophy - possibly the best piece of spot removal ever printed in these colors, maybe ever; if I weren’t playing this I would slap myself
  • Bane of Progress - this is just for wiping artifacts and enchantments; doesn’t hurt me because the only one in the entire deck is Pernicious Deed
  • Bitter Ordeal - this card is my favorite card in the deck for several reasons: it is the only card ever printed with gravestorm, it's the win condition, it's hilarious, unexpected, and in a pinch it's Extract with storm. This is just an excellent card in my opinion.
  • Black Sun's Zenith - a board wipe that doesn't say destroy, works great when you've got a lot of mana and a lot of creatures to kill
  • Brutalizer Exarch - removes problem non-land permanents from the board without destroying them
  • Caustic Caterpillar - Naturalize on a stick; absolutely perfect for this deck
  • Damnation - black Wrath of God; if you're playing black, you're playing Damnation
  • Deathrite Shaman - aside from being a mana dork, can also function as targeted graveyard hate
  • Destructor Dragon - a slightly worse Woodfall Primus, but it is a death trigger and not an ETB; plus it’s two mana less
  • Dross Harvester - this gains two life when ANY creature dies, including itself; invaluable when paired with Doom Whisperer or against very aggressive decks
  • Fleshbag Marauder - this card is good for stopping creature-lite decks that are commander focused or Voltron strategies/hexproof threats
  • Glacial Chasm - for stopping aggro strategies or anything under the sun that deals damage; can be sacrificed on upkeep and played from the yard with Ramunap Excavator or you can reset the counters each turn by recurring Vampire Hexmage
  • Homeward Path - for dealing with Mind Control effects or other aggravating ways people try to steal our creatures
  • Karn Liberated - Karn is just straight value; he exiles permanents, disrupts people’s hands, and his ultimate can remove planeswalker emblems and also verbatim reads, “-14: All your opponents will now scoop.”
  • Kraul Foragers - this card allows me to replenish my life total repeatedly
  • Maelstrom Pulse - probably the best spot removal in these colors; deals with tokens, gets around Gaddock Teeg, and will hit any non-land permanent
  • Mindslicer - great for causing opponents to go into top-deck mode; makes you discard your own hand as well, but honestly this is not necessarily always a bad thing
  • Pernicious Deed - this is an all around board clear; isn’t an ETB trigger and can be used at instant speed whenever you need it
  • Phyrexian Plaguelord - functions as a sacrifice outlet and a form of targeted removal against indestructible creatures at instant speed; a very good card
  • Plaguecrafter - hello this card is like Fleshbag Marauder but on some very prohibited steroids and it is all kinds of value against more than just creature decks; this is the kind of card that can just lock anyone out of the game
  • Prowling Serpopard - for when you're worried about your creatures being countered; we have a heavy lean towards creatures, so this makes a good chunk the deck unable to be countered
  • Ravenous Chupacabra - I found that Shriekmaw was too narrow too much of the time and that it was a dead card in my hand, so I found something more all-encompassing
  • Reclamation Sage - every green deck plays this spell, and it's not hard to see why; we can abuse this by recurring it, which makes it even better
  • Repopulate - for people who try to exile my graveyard; it doesn't save all of it, but it saves the important part
  • Riftsweeper - for shuffling exiled cards back into the library; as long as this is not exiled, you can always recover from a Rest in Peace
  • Savra, Queen of the Golgari - this is a card with dual functionality; it can gain life and it can also act as a pseudo edict effect
  • Scavenging Ooze - just some more targeted graveyard hate and life gain
  • Spore Frog - the best card in the deck; this card is extremely difficult to remove and protects you against all combat strategies for at least a turn and can also be used politically to stop the threat of the table from killing anyone else
  • Sylvan Safekeeper - helps protect key creatures at a small cost and also part of the win condition
  • Thief of Blood - this is a Vampire Hexmage on steroids, really good card
  • Thrashing Brontodon - just another way to blow up artifacts and enchantments that is not and enter the battlefield trigger
  • Toxic Deluge - very similar to BSZ, except it costs life instead of mana; I've always had this in, but later decided to put BSZ in because of situations where you have a lot of mana but not a lot of life and need to wipe the board
  • Vampire Hexmage - this wrecks planeswalkers and the most annoying card in magic history or other creatures that use level up; hoses +1/+1 counter strategies and can sometimes do other neat things like reset someone's As Foretold
  • Windgrace's Judgment - value town removal
  • Woodfall Primus - destroys a non-creature permanent with persist; two shots of destruction for one card
This section is going to be all the cards I felt warranted explaining but didn't fit into any of the other categories.
  • Bitter Ordeal - this card is my favorite card in the deck for several reasons: it is the only card ever printed with gravestorm, it's the win condition, it's hilarious and unexpected, and in a pinch it's Extract with storm. This is just an excellent card in my opinion.
  • Carrion Feeder, Phyrexian Plaguelord, Viscera Seer, Razaketh, the Foulblooded, Yahenni, Undying Partisan - sacrifice outlets; these let your things die at instant speed
  • Chainer, Dementia Master - reanimate out of any graveyard at instant speed; part of the win condition
  • Izoni, Thousand-Eyed - this card I am testing to see how valuable making insane amounts of tokens is as blockers or as sacrifice bait for Deathgreeter or Demon of Dark Schemes
  • Mikaeus, the Unhallowed - this card works wonders with both a reanimator deck in general and with a deck including only seven humans
  • Necromancy - instant speed animate dead; testing it out
  • Necrotic Ooze - becomes any creature with an activated ability in the yard; works wonders with Buried Alive
  • Svogthos, the Restless Tomb - okay, I saw this card originally and just jammed it in; it's honestly not that good, but killing someone with a 36/36 land is both hilarious and extremely satisfying. Update: Svogthos returns to crush the souls of mortals.
  • Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth - I've mentioned this card a lot so far, and this is just an auto include in most B/Bx decks; it helps with color fixing and synergizes extremely well with Cabal Coffers

Actually Winning

Now that we've gone over all the individual cards, let's talk about actually winning the game and how convoluted the way I manage to do this is.

Things you need on the board:

Reanimation Combo Pieces

A shit ton of mana (optional, but helpful)

And the win condition in your hand:

The deck wins by the following process:
  1. Have all your lands either in play or in your graveyard; basically none are in your deck (ideally). Have Sylvan Safekeeper, Chainer, and Worldshaper on board.
  2. Tap all your lands for mana, floating as much Black mana as you possibly can.
  3. Sacrifice all your lands with Sylvan Safekeeper and begin counting Gravestorm.
  4. Sacrifice World Shaper. This returns all of your lands to play tapped.
  5. Use Chainer’s ability to put World Shaper back into play.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until your gravestorm count is enough to wipe everyone's libraries.
  7. Cast Bitter Ordeal
  8. Laugh as your opponents read this card they’ve never seen before and win.

Note: This does not go infinite. It easily could, but I don't want it to for several reasons. I’m not a fan of piloting infinite combo decks and my deck gets around any house rules about infinite combos.

Despite not going infinite, you should be able to generate a gravestorm count able to kill a table with a little bit of effort.

Thanks for stopping by and reading this. Any feedback is always welcome, and if you liked the list, please upvote!


Updates Add

Nothing interesting from M19, but some pretty major upgrades AND we’re going back to Ravnica.


Guilds of Ravnica Additions:


  • Arbor Elf - I’m sad to see him go, but he isn’t guaranteed to color fix and he is terrible to top deck late game
  • Birds of Paradise - I’m moving away from mana dorks because they are so terrible late game
  • Butcher of Malakir - It's very useful as a psuedo Damnation, but it's very slow and is terrible immediately after a board wipe and it doesn't function strictly as a board wipe on it's own for seven mana
  • Deathgreeter - this was replaced with a strictly better card
  • Demon of Dark Schemes - Chainer is way easier to use
  • Elves of Deep Shadow - see above
  • Faerie Macabre - this was mostly in the deck to fight Gitrog combo in my meta: it has its uses, but generally isn’t that good
  • Forbidden Orchard - I have grown to hate this land so rather than replace it with another land I’m just cutting it; honestly though I feel safe cutting a land and this one needs to go
  • Golgari Grave-Troll, Golgari Thug, Stinkweed Imp, Life from the Loam - dredge is completely replaced by Underrealm Lich
  • Imperial Sealfoil icon - its very slow and fits better in my Yuriko deck anyways
  • Ouphe Vandals - it’s just too hard to keep in play 100% of the time, and doesn’t stop everything
  • Pawn of Ulamog - I’m changing the combo up a bit so I don’t need this anymore
  • Putrid Imp - without the dredge cards, he just isn't as useful anymore
  • Ramunap Excavator - it doesn’t do enough honestly; it’s cute, but has to go
  • Sadistic Hypnotist - the sorcery speed really kills it for me, and Mindslicer is just better hand disruption
  • Skullclamp - this card is quite good, but it can sometimes be less useful
  • 2xSnow-Covered Forest and 2xSnow-Covered Swamp - cutting basics to make room for the onslaught cycle lands, one utility land and one dual land; even after these cuts I stll have 14 basics so I'm unaffected by blood moon and Steve still has 14 targets
  • Terastodon - this card is a bit slow despite being high impact, but the 3/3 bodies my opponent’s get often end up outweighing the positive
  • Wood Elves - again, cute but doesn’t have a real purpose; dead after there are no forests left in the deck
  • World Breaker - the only thing this really does is remove indestructible artifacts and enchantments through Torpor Orb; I've probably already lost if an indestructible Orb hits the field, and it being a cast trigger kills it for me



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-1 Deathrite Shaman main
+1 NecromancyJA main
+1 Deathrite Shaman main
-1 Demon of Dark Schemes main
-1 Pawn of Ulamog main
+1 Chainer, Dementia Master main