Eternal Masters draft has been fun to explore. I managed to win enough in early online queues to make it affordable to draft, and it’s been a lot of fun. Neal Oliver wrote a great series of articles ranking the two-color draft archetypes. If you are getting ready to do some EMA drafts, now or deep in the future when you unearth your stashed box, study up on Neal’s lists.

You might notice that Neal ranks Dimir Reanimator ninth of the ten two-color archetypes. In other words, it sucks. That’s pretty much true. As I’ve noted earlier when discussing EMA sealed, there really aren’t enough big creatures to make it worth playing a dedicated reanimation strategy. You need to get lucky on rares to make it worthwhile. That said, cards like Animate Dead are just fine to rebuy value creatures, which black has plenty of, and to take opposing creatures after you kill them. As I learned from my round six sideboard excursion at the EMA PPTQ, Extract from Darkness can be especially good here, comboing either with removal or Memory Lapse.

Overall, the blue and black cards provide incremental value and allow you to outplay opponents. If you like that style, which is normal for Dimir, you can build a functional deck. The reanimation cards help provide extra value even without bombs. One fun trick is to Animate Dead a Gravedigger, then use the trigger to bring back Shoreline Ranger to avoid the annoying -1/-0. You’ll be looking for some finishers anyway, so hopefully you get some. If not, fliers are good enough to win longer games anyway.

All this means that the value train is a manageable backup if you start drafting blue-black but don’t get the bombs to reanimate. And in theory, if the right big stuff gets opened, at least some should circle around the table to you. That’s how this deck got started:

Ye Shall Pass Bombs To Me

Creatures (12)
Baleful Strix
Plague Witch
Phyrexian Rager
Peregrine Drake
Jetting Glasskite
Visara the Dreadful
Shoreline Ranger
Twisted Abomination
Inkwell Leviathan

Spells (11)
Tragic Slip
Innocent Blood
Animate Dead
Night’s Whisper
Memory Lapse
Extract from Darkness
Urborg Uprising
Lands (17)
Dismal Backwater

Sideboard (21)
Giant Tortoise
Tidal Wave
Cephalid Sage
Peregrine Drake
Future Sight
Dream Twist
Hymn to Tourach
Sengir Autocrat
Deadbridge Shaman
Lys Alana Scarblade
Shaman of the Pack
Faithless Looting
Reckless Charge
Emmessi Tome
Commune with the Gods

I started this draft with Nekrataal and took various good black cards for most of pack one, including two Animate Dead. Future Sight wheeled, so I took that as a signal blue was open and picked it, along with a few other blue cards to round out the pack. In pack two I got passed Entomb and Inkwell Leviathan, and pack three shipped me a third pick Visara the Dreadful for my efforts.

I crushed my draft pod with this beauty. In round two I put the hurt on a solid elves deck. After my opponent played Werebear on turn four, I activated Plague Witch to kill it, discarding Inkwell Leviathan. My opponent cast Shelter, which I Memory Lapsed. Then I untapped, played my fifth land, and extracted Inky into play, milling the stupid Shelter for good measure.

In the finals I swept a crazy esper control deck featuring Balance and Wrath of God. That one took some work, but even with my suboptimal play (“He can’t have two wraths, right??”) I didn’t drop a game. The first two rounds were much simpler.

Speaking of bad plays, in game two of the finals I extracted my opponent’s Brago, King Eternal. After attaking with it, Man-o’-War, and Baleful Strix, I forgot (of course) that blinking Brago would send it back across the table. Thankfully, I blinked my Man-o’-War (hoping to bounce and recast the strix yet again) and was able to think quickly and bounce my Nekrataal to replay and kill the returned Brago. I could have easily gone on tilt and failed to seize the opportunity to kill Brago, and potentially lost the game. Don’t let your mistakes spiral!


Notice that my deck came together despite missing out on the good blue card draw. I got Night’s Whisper, Brainstorm, and a couple cantrip creatures, but no Deep Analysis or Fact or Fiction. Both of those are amazing in the archetype and help shore up other weaknesses. The land cyclers are also key, and I was fortunate to get three of them. If you build the deck for recursive value and nab whatever big hitters you can, the archetype is viable.

In the end, I would not recommend forcing reanimator in EMA draft. But if you read the packs, and you start the draft heavy black or heavy blue, don’t be afraid to jump into Dimir if you see the right cards. Remember, the bombs are a lot harder to get than the reanimation spells. And honestly, most of the bombs are castable in this style deck anyway. I tapped nine for Inkwell Leviathan multiple times, and you can too!

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.Carrie

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