Hello fellow gamers, it’s release week! Crimson Vow is here. I consider this a personal holiday. I have been brewing up a storm with all the new toys that this gothic horror-themed set has provided us. Many cards show early promise and others have been well, disappointing. We are still in the evaluation stages so don’t be afraid to lose a few games in the quest for greater understanding.
The deck I am about to show you may share some similarities to others we have seen in the past and generally that is how brewing works… We take a viable shell – in this case the insane mana advantage of Jaspera Sentinel and Magda, Brazen Outlaw – and we experiment by swapping in some new elements such as Old Rutstein (more about this Legendary Peasant later) and other assorted goodies.
I present to you Jund Reanimator:
This deck works on a lot of angles. First of all, it features very fast mana. An ideal opening line is turn 1 Jaspera Sentinel, and on turn two playing one of the ten mana generating creatures this deck packs. The absolute nut hand is of course turn 1 Jaspera Sentinel into turn 2 Magda, Brazen Outlaw. This can enable a turn 3 Goldspan Dragon. Whereupon things get very ugly for your opponent in a hurry. Here is an example of a board state of just such a hand, believe it or not this is only turn 4:
Of course, we are not always going to start perfectly but this deck has a lot of backup plans. Later in the game, we have some resiliency in the form of Diregraf Rebirth. Which allows us to play some of the bigger seven mana threats that Blood on the Snow excludes (due to the six-mana restriction of that spell). This includes two new ginormous monsters from Crimson Vow: Dreadfeast Demon and Toxrill, the Corrosive. In addition, we have a few copies each of Esika's Chariot and Wrenn and Seven to provide threats that evade board wipes. Let’s dive into all the particulars.
Jaspera Sentinel – you may have noticed I tend to put this in many of my green decks. There really aren’t very many great one-drops in general in standard magic. The fact that this elf has 2 toughness and can block flying creatures is an added bonus to its primary function of generating mana.
Prosperous Innkeeper – our diminutive friend here does not shine as much as it does in other decks. Still, the life gain is always relevant and this deck tends to put a lot of small bodies in play quite quickly to cash in on that.Not to mention another treasure token is always welcome to the coffers.
Magda, Brazen Outlaw – I would even consider running four of these if it were not for that pesky legendary rule. I will talk about some great tips and tricks for this dwarf in that section of the article.
Kalain, Reclusive Painter – this lonely painter has not seen as much play lately as Rakdos decks seemed to have fallen out of favor. I can just picture Kalain running an exclusive gym for the denizens of magic. I assure you the ability to take treasure and pump-up your creatures with it is still quite relevant, especially versus creature matchups.
Goldspan Dragon – this dragon is still the boss despite new cards showing up on the scene. I think Yuuta Takahashi proved that at Worlds. Jund has a smorgasbord, a panoply, dare I say a cavalcade of treasure token generators and getting them all to produce double mana is just about the best thing since sliced bread. In short, your most degenerate lines of play will occur when Goldspan Dragon flaps over on its under-sized wings. (Seriously how do those stubby wings keep it aloft?)
Old Rutstein – good ole Rutstein, can I call you Rutty? This creepy looking peasant is one of my favorite new cards thus far out of Crimson Vow. Obvious comparisons can be drawn with this and Skullport Merchant. Shocking, I know, that is another pet card of mine. Both these cards are great on defense. Both generate immediate value with their Enter the Battlefield abilities. However, Old Rutstein continues to provide value each turn much like Luminarch Aspirant.
No matter what it turns over in the graveyard, all three modes are nice for our deck. The blood tokens can allow us to cycle a giant creature for later reanimation. The insect tokens are great chump blockers and can feed Immersturm Predator. Plus, we already know how this deck loves treasures. To top it all off it can help us passively fill up our graveyard with its self-mill ability. In short, Ole Rutty here checks a lot of boxes.
Immersturm Predator – I initially started with three copies of this main deck, but the vampire dragon seems pretty vulnerable to so many common removals these days. Indestructibility is not what it used to be, what with Meathook Massacre, Baleful Mastery, Brutal Cathar, Skyclave Apparition, not to mention the prevalence of Divide by Zero and Fading Hope. Still as one of, it feels fine, the graveyard hate seems good against Lier, Drowned Disciple and Memory Deluge. Our list lacks no shortage of small bodies to feed it either.
The next three creatures are what I affectionately refer to as the “heavies”; these are the creatures you hope to cheat into play or ramp out quickly.
Old Gnawbone – two things that make me want this card in here. One is that this dragon is targetable by Magda, Brazen Outlaw’s ability which comes up more often than you could imagine in this deck. Secondly, we already know how much this deck loves treasure and no single creature in the game generates more treasure than Old Gnawbone here. We already have Old Rustein, I think we need one more card in our deck with the “Old” moniker just to stay on theme.
Toxrill, the Corrosive – holy guacamole this giant slug creature is backbreaking against small go-wide strategies. I am looking at you Clarion Spirit! Not only is this slug a one-sided board wipe but it generates baby slug tokens to boot. Don’t fret that we are not playing blue to sacrifice this excess escargot as we have plenty of treasure lying around and even Jaspera Sentinel to assist with that. Honestly though, it rarely comes to that because Toxrill, the Corrosive usually ends games quite quickly.
Dreadfeast Demon – another card that can get out of hand very quickly. It is able to replicate itself the turn it enters play and from there it just goes bananas. Again, we have plenty of small bodies to sacrifice to this demon to keep the duplication train going. So unless they have very specific board wipes or are packing two spot removals you are sitting pretty.
Diregraf Rebirth – It’s funny Doggert had suggested this might be up and coming. I hope decks like these prove that prediction right. I think a few key things have changed to make Diregraf Rebirth playable in my eyes.
- The introduction of worthwhile seven mana targets that Blood on the Snow cannot bring back.
- The added graveyard support of cards like Wrenn and Seven and Old Rutstein.
The morbid mana discount is sometimes hard to arrange but it does happen, for instance I had a game where my 5/5 Goldspan Dragon attacked into a pack (flock?) of spirit tokens I was able to resurrect it post combat for a cool two mana.
Shatterskull Smashing – I wish this deck could support more of these but it has some very intensive color restrictions therefore just the lone copy will have to do it for now. It is a cakewalk to get 8 mana to blow up two big threats at once with this, so avoid playing it as a land if you can.
Infernal Grasp – this is our hedge against decks that run opposing Goldspan Dragons. Also, there are some other must kill threats. For example, Yasharn, Implacable Earth absolutely shuts us down by denying us access to treasure. I have considered playing four of these or maybe even a 3/1 split with Hero's Downfall. Each instant takes away from our ability to generate fast mana as usually we would have to cut a mana generator in the two-drop spot. If every other match you are facing is Izzet Dragons then you may want to make that move.
Wrenn and Seven – still a solid card, though the meta-game adjustment of main deck Fading Hope makes Wrenn and Seven not quite as crazy as when it first hit the scene. Still this card is still potent in our deck because of the mill functionality. As mentioned before, it provides a different angle of attack by dodging board wipes and the reach on the treefolks is so very important in this format chalk full of flyers.
Esika's Chariot – Cat chariot is still cat chariot. It helps stabilize. Its clones Treefolk or treasure tokens. It slices, it dices. I am hoping one day to clone a Dreadfeast Demon token as the ultimate win-more. I will cover a few tips and tricks for Esika’s Chariot as well in that section below.
I always want to take a moment to talk about the gas that makes decks go. This mana base is borderline greedy. The introduction of “slow lands” – that is, those that come in untapped when they are the third land in play are nice. It’s great that we now have access to Deathcap Glade thanks to Crimson Vow.
This is a deck that really loves to curve out with Jaspera Sentinel into mana creature on turn two so having your first or second land come in tapped can be a tough pill to swallow. All that being said, having access to three colors gives us a great set of options so it is a worthwhile tradeoff. I will say that from a color-fixing perspective this deck rarely faces issues, the treasure tokens go a long way in this regard. Just be very thoughtful about which lands you play first and why. Try to think two or three turns ahead. For instance, if you don’t have the Jaspera Sentinel in hand, play one of the slow lands tapped first as you have no other play anyway.
Notable Card Exclusions
Eyetwitch – this is a decent one-drop along with Shambling Ghast but our deck does not profit from them as much as a deck that is running Skullport Merchant, Deadly Dispute and Blood on the Snow. It is really a victim of synergy or rather lack thereof.
Duress – I have been seeing a lot more copies of main deck Duress as of late. I get it, the specter of Alrund's Epiphany still looms large. But Alrund’s can conveniently dodge this through foretelling. In addition, when you blank on this card it’s almost like your opponent cast a zero-cost discard spell on you. To me, in the best-one-of format, stick to instant speed removal to deal with Alrund’s they will be harder pressed to kill you if you can take out their Hall of Storm Giants, Goldspan Dragon or Smoldering Egg.
Olivia, Crimson Bride – I want to like this card, but I wish it had a bigger body. A 3/4 for 6 mana is pretty underwhelming despite having evasion and haste. Olivia, Crimson Bride feels like a win-more card. Plus the potential to get blown-out with a two-for-one makes this vampire more of a liability than an asset.
Valki, God of Lies – I have experimented running anywhere from 1 to 3 copies of the trickster. The matchups one would think it would be good in have not panned out. I guess without cheating this into play it just is not as impactful.
Ranger Class – I like this card and I could see maybe cutting a mana creature or Old Rutstein to support it. We certainly have enough creatures to make tier 3 a worthwhile proposition. But it’s early ability favors a more aggressive bent, and we are often more focused in setting up our board in that stage of the game.
Blood on the Snow – still think this is a great card but as mentioned it precludes us from running some of the new 7-mana baddies and also trying to make a three-color deck with snow lands is pretty much a terrible idea.
The Meathook Massacre – this is not where we want to be, we have a bunch of cheap creatures that don’t provide us value on death so this would be shooting ourselves in the foot more often than not.
Power Word Kill – You can’t kill dragons? No thanks.
Burning-Rune Demon – I actually like this card a lot as it could fetch a big threat and a Diregraf Rebirth thus putting your opponent in a worse or worser situation. I may try to experiment with him later. I could see cutting one Wrenn and Seven to make room for this demon.
Reckless Stormseeker – I feel like a lot of red decks are auto-including the Stormseeker much like how Bonecrusher Giant was an auto-include. Stormseeker is narrower in application. Bonecrusher Giant worked well in both aggro and more controlling decks whereas Reckless Stormseeker is really meant solely as an aggro card. True our deck is more midrange and can certainly play the aggro game, but Goldspan Dragon already has haste so this is not really doing much for us.
Dollhouse of Horrors – I experimented with this extensively and was somewhat disappointed. If Ravenous Chupacabra or Acidic Slime were available this card would go up quite a bit in my estimation. For now, it felt pretty underwhelming to generate a tiny Goldspan Dragon. Even though you might get some treasure out of it you are not advancing the board state much.
I think Dollhouse of Horrors is interesting and it might find play in some crazy combo deck that does not care about the size of the creature but rather the ETB ability it can produce. Diregraf Rebirth just seems to do what we want better. I do miss being able to tutor for this with Magda, Brazen Outlaw though.
This is a best-of-one guide so we will be eschewing a sideboard primer and sticking with helpful notes on the most common matchups.
I have not seen Dimir Control much lately to tell you how this plays out. But you have haste, recurrence and durable threats such as Wrenn and Seven, Esika’s Chariot and Immersturm Predator. Try to find a good balance between applying pressure and not overextending.
I think this may be one of our better matchups, we outclass and/or fly over their creatures. We have a lot of things that can jam up the board to buy us time to go over the top. Plus, a well-timed Infernal Grasp in response to Blizzard Brawl or Inscription of Abundance can be pretty hard to come back from. It’s ok to trade life to set up your board state.
This matchup is tougher than Mono-Green as they can come at you pretty fast. I have played this deck only a few times so far. In one game, I was able to land a Toxrill, the Corrosive pretty early and to devastating effect. An early Esika's Chariot and or Old Rutstein can buy you much needed time. They have precious few ways to deal with a Goldspan Dragon, though sometimes it is better to keep the dragon on defense (I know it feels bad not to get your treasure token), just assess the board state.
Pretty sure this archetype is still king. It’s definitely keeping midrange decks in check. They have 8 must kill threats in the form of Smoldering Egg and Goldspan Dragon. Hopefully you can walk that tightrope of applying pressure but not overextending into Down the House”].
This is an uphill battle though. Infernal Grasp is really important. Wrenn and Seven can be big too as long as it can avoid Fading Hope. I am not going to lie, this is the matchup that might make you want to put this deck away. Though I still see Mono-Green and Mono-White more frequently so it may be worth the gamble.
Toxrill, the Corrosive is devastating versus this deck. Overall Party lacks disruption to most of the cards you are playing, as you are mostly creature-based and thus dodge Concerted Effort nicely. Though a race situation can be tricky if they land Squad Commander, this is pretty much the key card to remove with Infernal Grasp as it makes combat impossible for you.
Tips and Tricks
- Here is a whole section devoted to Magda, Brazen Outlaw as there is so many intricacies to this card:
- When playing Turn one Jaspera, turn two Magda (first of all, do a little happy dance), do not attack with Jaspera. Leave the elf on defense and on their end step tap Magda for mana, this will generate a free treasure token. This is how you can play a turn three Goldspan Dragon.
- Remember the Esika's Chariot can tap Magda as well, sometimes you can do this on the opponent’s end step just to generate the treasure token. Likewise, Esika's Chariot can then copy that newly minted treasure token which can be the right play over a cat token depending on the board state and what is in your hand.
- I have been in situations when I am at 3 or 4 treasures with a Magda and Goldspan Dragon in play. Remember Magda’s tutoring ability is instant speed so sometimes you can send the dwarf on a suicide mission to just get that 5th treasure. I love to search up an Old Gnawbone. When Goldspan Dragon connects with Old Gnawbone in play it’s like you hit the lotto.
- Remember Magda can also find you Esika's Chariot and even your lone copy of Immersturm Predator.
- It is almost always better to play Goldspan Dragon before Wrenn and Seven as Goldspan can help you quickly accelerate your board state
- Unless you absolutely must, do not play Dreadfeast Demon without at least one sacrifice target already in play.
- With the exception of Aggro decks when Kalain, Reclusive Painter is in play, I try to avoid wasting treasure to buff my smaller mana creatures. Annoyingly the auto tapper always gives preference for treasures when the painter is in play. You must be very deliberate in tapping your mana. The idea though is to preserve your treasures to accelerate out your bigger threats. This can make the deck somewhat tricky to pilot as you have to constantly fight against the user interface.
Thanks for reading and good luck! May you always have Jaspera Sentinel and Magda in your opening hand!