Graveyard Decks and How They Work

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(NOTE: This thread is for part casual, part legacy graveyard decks. Only the two most popular will be discussed in the initial post.)


In MTG, Graveyard decks are decks that win by utilizing the graveyard, like having no library and the library is in the grave and getting a card to two strategically placed in the grave, saved for a certain time.



The two most played in all formats are Reanimator and Dredge.




DREDGE

I have a soft spot for Dredge, for it is my deck of choice, over Reanimator. The price of Dredge decks range from about $160-$400.


Dredge decks have one goal: Fill the grave with nasty stuff, and bring it all back, tilt sideways and win!! But Dredge can easily be set off course. Any graveyard removal (ex. Leyline of the Void) and single card removal (ex. Surgical Extraction) can stop Dredge dead in the water. 


The most common way for Dredge to win is to fill the grave using the Dredge mechanic (ex. Golgari Thug) and when Narcomoeba hits the grave from your library, it goes straight to the field. Sac three creatures (usually Narcomoeba) to flash back Dread Return, and as a trigger to sacrificing the creatures, Bridge from Below triggers, giving you one Zombie token for each creature sacrificed (to win, you need at least two bridges in your graveyard.) and with the flash back of Dread Return, you bring back Flame-kin Zealot, declare battle and swing for at least 21.


To assist with the combo above, newer Dredge decks run the combo of Faithless Looting and Lion's Eye Diamond. You use a single produced by something of a Gemstone Mine City of Brass caliber. Cast the looting, and then sacrifice the LED (Lion's Eye Diamond) for , discarding you hand in the process, and flash back the looting to start dredging. 


All (or most) Dredge decks contain:

Bridge from Below
Careful Study
Breakthrough
Dread Return
Flame-kin Zealot
City of Brass
Gemstone Mine
Cephalid Coliseum
Cabal Therapy


There are different variations of Dredge as well. One version runs at least 1x Flayer of the Hatebound. Some run Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and some run Craterhoof Behemoth. There is even a version with Bloodghast!


Now, for the Dredge sideboard. The sideboard runs bounce (return to the hand), artifact destruction, enchantment destruction and conditional spells (like Darkblast) Use the sideboard to hinder the other player[s] from ruining you strategy.


My Dredge Decklist:


Creature (24)



Enchantment (4)



Sorcery (17)



Land (12)



Artifact (3)



Sideboard (15)






REANIMATOR


Reanimator decks are very precise and to the point. Reanimator decks usually cost around $150-$500 to build.


The goal of reanimator is simple: Get big creatures faster than your opponent that do better things than your opponent's creatures. Reanimator, like Dredge, can be set down the wrong track. But Reanimator can deal with the hate a lot easier like with counterspells, which Dredge lacks. 


Reanimator is much simpler to explain than Dredge. Simpily put, discard, reanimate and win!! How you do that is by either discarding (Careful Study) a good creature (Iona, Shield of Emeria) or two (Griselbrand), or just bluntly ripping it from your library (Buried Alive, Entomb) and then afterwards bringing it back with "reanimation" (Exhume, Reanimate and Animate Dead). A turn 2 Griselbrand is game for most decks.


A simple counterspell can disrupt the Reanimator win-condition. So to help, a lot of Reanimator decks run the all powerful (and all expensive) Force of Will!!!!! To nip problems in the bud, Reanimator runs Cabal Therapy. The "Classic Reanimator" deck is not a deck anymore due to the release of Griselbrand. Since Griselbrand, Reanimator has been about drawing seven, discarding new, big creatures and bringing them back with newly drawn reanimate spells.


All (or most) Reanimator Decks Run:

Force of Will
Entomb
Exhume
Buried Alive
Animate Dead
Careful Study
Griselbrand
Iona, Shield of Emeria


There is a Reanimator variation that uses Recurring Nightmare and Angel of Despair to blow up permanents. Another popular card run in Reanimator is Blazing Archon. Makes you un-attackable. The best start for a Reanimator deck is the Premium Deck Series: Graveborn. You get a lot of key components for the deck, all in 'FOIL'.


The Reanimator sideboard runs graveyard hate, but not the typical hate. It runs things like Surgical Extraction to get rid of, 'ahem', Dredge things. Also, the sideboard runs bounce as well.

Here is an example of a reanimator deck, by edge2522 on tappedout.net. It does not run Griselbrand.



Land (17)



Instant (15)




Creature (8)



Sorcery (17)



Enchantment (3)




Sideboard (15)




I hope this helped for some questions you had about popular graveyard decks. If I missed something, or I said something wrong, please, tell me, so I can fix that for the future. I hope you enjoy!!



Any graveyard removal (ex. Leyline of the Void) and single card removal (ex. Surgical Extraction) can stop Dredge dead in the water. 



I run a manaless Dredge deck, the cheapest build AFAIK.
 
Whilst it will still suffer from the same probs as Traditional LED dredge lists, because it's so full of threats it suffers a lot less from extraction, to the point where extraction doesn't really slow us down much at all if we have more than one dredger in the 'yard.
Flayer of the Hatebound is an all-star in Manaless, due to a Dread Returned Golgari Grave-Troll being a massive 20/20 a lot of the time..... 
Yea, for my deck, the flayer is a beast in most games. I never return the troll though, never needed to.