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Selesnya Cycling Reanimator


With new sets come new brews, and Modern Horizons 2 is no different! After recently drafting a box with some friends, I mulled through the more unique bulk options we pulled, immediately taking note of Scour the Desert. Typically, a mass of 1/1 fliers is more difficult to deal with than a singular threat, and I knew that it wouldn't be hard to hatch insane amounts of birds once I found the right cards to make it happen.

Cost: $15 at the time of publication

The Core

Scour the Desert
Scour the Desert and Late to Dinner are the Modern Horizons 2 all-stars for this list. Much like classic reanimation lists, we want to bury the biggest baddies we can find so that we can either plop them into play at a premium, or use their corpse to fuel Alfred Hitchock levels of nightmare fowl.

Once I started looking for simple ways to get large creatures into the graveyard, my first thought was to do it through cycling, and that led me to Titanoth Rex. In what could be seen as a strange play on the evolution of dinosaurs into birds, the mammoth eleven toughness of this dino daddy is enough to fuel just as many killer vultures. An 11/11 Trampler is also a great dinner guest. For four mana, I don't care how late he is.

Because of his built-in cycling, we don't need to play any weird discard enablers to send him six feet under. For just two mana, he does it for us, while also drawing us a nifty extra card.

The Backup

Fierce Empath gives that oh-so-important consistency by searching up not only Rex, but any other tool in our mana-intensive toolbox. Artifacts or enchantments getting you down? Let Angel of the Ruins be your guardian angel. Similar to her dinosaur coworker, Plainscycling makes getting her into the ground a trivial matter. Though uncommon, we can also tutor her up for some mana fixing, should we ever find ourselves in the unfortunate situation of being stuck with only Green mana.

Paying Evoke costs is another effective method of getting large creatures into the graveyard for our vultures, and Empath can find any of our singleton Evoke creatures. Cloudthresher kills off pesky fliers (though it is a sort of "nonbo" with Scour the Desert's birds) and both Soul of Migration and Walker of the Grove produce tokens to threaten or block.

All three pair well with the deck's only instant: Ephemerate. Simply evoke your creature of choice, and then blink them out of existence before they die to their own ability. You get to keep your fatty for a fraction of their normal cost, while also triggering their abilities as many as three times! This Pauper all-star can also be used as a protection spell, blanking removal on a reanimated Rex or Angel, much to the dismay of your opponent.

Sylvan Ranger ensures land drops and mana fixing. Both are important in a budget multicolored deck that wants to cast four and five-cost spells as early as possible. Wall of Blossoms draws us cards, getting us closer to our combo pieces, while also keeping threats away from our life total.

Llanowar Elves and Avacyn's Pilgrim act as turn one plays, as the deck would be severely lacking such plays otherwise. The mana ramp provided is relevant in a combo deck that wants to cast four and five-cost spells as early as possible. The classic Pacifism as pseudo removal ensures that even with slower opening hands we can survive long enough to call on the flock. Really, this could be any removal spell of your choice; I just went with the aura because I had them handy.

(Side note: according to Wikipedia, "A group of vultures in flight is called a 'kettle', while the term 'committee' refers to a group of vultures resting on the ground or in trees. A group of vultures that are feeding is termed a wake.'" So, it could be argued that one would need to change their terminology based on the game state. If we're winning, for example, and our birds are "feeding" on our opponent and their creatures, then we have a wake on our hands!)

Playing the Deck

Titanoth Rex
This is a combo deck first and foremost, so finding and playing out the combo as soon as possible is the name of the game. Play your mana dorks early, then draw or search out whatever you need with Wall of Blossoms, Fierce Empath, and Titan cycles. If all goes according to plan, your opponent should be fighting off eleven power on board by turn four or five.

Ephemerate wasn't just included for Evoke tricks. The White instant works wonders with our non-fatty creature choices as well. Both Sylvan Ranger and Wall of Blossoms are viable blink targets for early game shenanigans, drawing or searching out three extra cards respectively should they survive until Ephemerate's rebound.

During slower games, where you may find yourself low on options, the four toughness of Wall of Blossoms makes it a not-too-terrible target for Scour the Desert, too. Just don't expect your birds to be happy with a meal that basically amounts to a cheap salad.

Additional Options

Pale Recluse, Krosan Tusker, Scion of Darkness, Eternal Dragon, Orchard Strider, Landscaper Colos, and Greater Sandwurm are all additional large-creature-that-also-cycles options. Recluse, Dragon, and Tusker help with mana fixing, and are on-color, should we ever have enough lands in play to just hard-cast them. While he doesn't have any extra effect tied to his cycle, Greater Sandwurm's 7/7 body combos with our core sorceries just fine. I can't really ever see myself wanting Strider or Colos over anything else, but they have their own unique abilities, and someone might find a use for them against the right playgroup.

Gatecreeper Vine is an alternative Sylvan Ranger, and Elvish Visionary could replace Wall of Blossoms if you don't care about the difference in toughness. Merfolk Branchwalker is interesting because it can drop reanimation targets into the graveyard for you, circumventing the need to cycle them. All three have great synergy with Ephemerate, too.

Paleoloth is probably a "win more" card. It can't bury itself, and doesn't do much with Scour. Herald of the Forgotten runs into the same problems, but could be hilarious if you find a way to actually cast him. I was very tempted to include him in the main list just because of the wow factor. Honestly, it puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

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