Archetype Spotlight: GB Graveyard

 Welcome in to Archetype Spotlight. This series of post is focused on my approach to building archetypes. Each post will explore the game plan of the archetype, what type of cards will enable, special notes, and how it overlaps with other archetypes. 

Grist, the Hunger Tide, return his slab or suffer his curse


Game Plan: Taking advantage of your graveyard to outvalue your opponent and take the game
Key Cards: Grist, the Hunger Tide, Grapple with the Past, Cryptbreaker, Deathrite Shaman
Sub-Archetype: Aristocrats, Self Mill, Delirium
Spicy Inclusions: Reanimator
Overlaps: Discard
EDH translation: Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Grist, the Hunger Tide


Much like our previous archetype article, Green Black has a ton of variety in how you choose to include it in your cube. Golgari is often seen as the midrange options for any given format thanks to the general card quality. There is a lot of overlap betweens the ideas and design of BW and GB decks. The decks can be just as grindy as eachother, however access to Green will lend itself to more explosive plays compared to BW. This is mainly due to the prevalence of mana ramp. GB has a lot of high quality cards and efficient cards. The decks can simply win by outvaluing and overpowering your opponents. You will be playing with resilient/ overstatted creatures like Polukranos, World Eater or Thrun, the Last Troll and backing them up with strong noncreature spells like Thoughtseize and Dismember. This often makes Golgari the go to deck to play in an unfamiliar environment alongside red based aggro decks. The deck is able to handle other fair decks easily, however unfairs decks are another story. Much like BW decks, the premium cards for this deck are going to be pricey.

GB/x decks have had a long history in eternal formats especially modern because of their efficiency. Jund and Abzan for a brief time were a huge part of the modern metagame for years. They relied on cards like Liliana of the Veil, Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf, and Abrupt Decay just being really strong to take over and win games. Of the four cards just mentioned, only Tarmogoyf struggles in cube. This makes translating the deck into cube effortless. 

My Golgari section is an amalgamation of strong midrange cards and all graveyard style decks from the past 10 years. The main goal is to play value cards, while filling up the graveyard through sacrificing your creatures or self milling. The deck scales well throughout the game and has a "combo" component as well to steal games very early. The graveplay is suppose to scale well into late game as you start running out of cards to play, you start looking towards your graveyard for card advantage. You will be interacting with your graveyard in a variety of ways whether you start returning cards to your hand or better yet just playing them from the grave. This normally is a huge source of card advantage since you are getting a second use out of your cards. Additionally, you might be playing cards that keep track of your graveyard for stats/ effects that become more potent as your graveyard gets bigger. There are numerous ways to fill out the graveyard, which is a key component for this deck to exist as a graveyard deck. For this post, I'm going to be focused more on the graveyard aspect. I will still incorporate the typical midrange stuff but it's not the focus.

Key Components

Graveyard Fillers
For the enablers, you are looking to fill up a graveyard, typically yours. There's a variety of methods available for doing so such as sacrificing your cards, discarding them, or milling yourself. All of these methods can coexist and normally synergize with each other. These cards exist in other colors, but we are looking only at black or green options.

Discard Outlets
Discard Outlets allow you to put cards into the graveyard from your hand. This is great since you will have more autonomy over what you are discarding, however you are bound only to cards in your hand. This will create an inherent card disadvantage. The best way to offset this is with card draw. 

Cryptbreaker is one of the best options for a discard outlet and in my opinion cube as a whole. The card has multiple roles both as an enabler and as a payoff. The discard ability generates a 2/2 Zombie that enters untapped and can be activated at instant speed. If you have any 3 zombies, which are just two activations of the ability, you can start drawing cards with its second ability meaning this card can offset/ support its own discard ability. The main downside to the card is that it is a little slow, but when properly supported it can take over a gain on its own. 

Mind Rake is an interesting option. At face value, this is just Mind Rot (not a good card for unrestricted cubes) with an overload option that makes the card cheaper to cast. The overload is where I am seeing the value of the card and this seems to be the baseline. When overloaded, it functions as both a hand hate spell against your opponent, while serving as a discard outlet for yourself. In situations where you want to keep your hand, you can always play it as a Mind Rot. If you run out of cards, you can always cast it for the overload to save mana as well. The card suffers from not having more application and performs poorly late game much like other hand hate cards.

Oona's Prowler is a classic option that still holds up well, though it can be a 2 edge sword depending on your match up. The card at a baseline is an overstatted beatstick since 3/1 fliers are typically 3 mana card with the 2 mana ones being 2/1 fliers with some weird downside. The downside to the card is that anyone can lower its power by discarding a card. The ability has no restrictions on activation other than needing to discard a card. This is great when you need to dump multiple cards for a grand play like Living Death. Do be warned that your opponent can use the ability as well to fuel their own graveyard strategies.

Noose Constrictor functions similar to the Prowler, but it only works for you. The baseline for the card is a bear, however the activated ability can be used right away. The card is a solid midrange creature as you can use the pump effect to push more damage or grow the creature to block bigger creatures or fliers. You can activate the ability as long as you have cards to discard. 

Fauna Shaman is a good card in this build that can become an insane card depending on how you want to use it. The card lets you tutor for any creature in exchange for discarding a creature. This is insane for setting up creature based graveyard plays. In reanimator and fatty cheat decks, this is where this card shines since you can tutor up threat after threat every turn provided you maintain discard fodder. The reanimator builds are able to take full advantage of activated ability. In the worse case scenarios, this card is able to function as an okay beater being a 2/2. Without a graveyard based deck available in green, this card can easily be dismissed and thus not every cube wants to be playing this card.

Smuggler's Copter is one of the most powerful options when you need a discard effect. It can trigger it by either opting to attack or block. The card has a small crew cost of 1, which means almost anything can crew it in your deck be it a mana dork or a token you just spawned. The card is a respectable creature and threat, great for board stalls and digging for answers in dire situations. The is great at almost any point in the game and many decks will want to play with it aside from this one.

Liliana of the Veil is a monster of a card that is well tuned to this deck. This is a great hand hate/discard outlet. She is able to deal with creatures both in the hand and on the board with her +1 and -2 ability. Overtime, both of her abilities will cripple your opponent and lead the way for you to win the game. In a graveyard deck, Liliana is able to use recursive creatures and reanimation spells to break the parity of the game. Lastly, she can be a sacrifice outlet for you as well when you need it.

There are a ton of one shot discard effects that are playable in the deck. Heir of Falkenrath and Borderland Explorer that make great midrange creatures but also fill this role. Heir is able to transform into a Flying 3/2 by discarding a card making the card a serious threat in any deck. The explorer allows both players to discard a card to tutor a basic land to hand. This is good for ensuring you get your land drop/ correct colors.

Sacrifice Outlets
Sacrifice Outlets allow you to put cards from the field into the graveyard. Similar to discard you will have a ton of autonomy over what gets sent to your graveyard. You can always opt to sacrifice your creatures in response to your opponent's removal. This option is typically the most mana intensive and rarely used to fill the graveyard unless you're playing an aristrocrat strategy or plan to reanimate the sacrificed creature/s. There's a large variety of options for sacrifice outlets, so choose the best choices for your cube.

Viscera Seer and  Carrion Feeder are the cheapest and simple option. They do not have a limit on how much you can activate the effect, which is great for infinite combos and sacrifice loops. The Seer scries per sacrifice and will allow you to filter the top of your deck. Once you want to keep the card on top, the scries do become worse. Carrion Feeder will grow itself as it sacrifices other creatures, this will turn it into a threat that needs to be dealt with. The scry is better but the counters are never bad. It never hurts to run both if you have or want to either. 

Skullclamp is probably the most broken card mentioned since it allows you to essentially sacrifice your x/1s for more cards, this would include cards like Satyr Wayfinder and Stitcher's Supplier which are covered in the next section. This also makes the card play really well with other sacrifice outlets and will often be the card to break parity in board stalls as it helps you dig for answers. There will often be occasions as well where the card makes combat choices difficult since your opponents do not want you to draw 2 cards. This isn't even mentioning that the card is easy to cast and equip and will virtually go into almost every creature based deck available in your cube. This makes the card hard to recommend at lower level, grindy cubes because this card can easily warp your format around drawing it.

Woe Strider is a bigger version of Viscera Seer that comes with a token. The card does cost 3 mana vs 1 mana, but it generates 0/1 token to feed the activation. Unfortunately, the ability does want you to sacrifice another creature, so it cannot sacrifice itself, which Viscera Seer can. The big upside is that later in the game it can escape the graveyard as a bigger threat making it a decent payoff as well.

Phyrexian Tower is a solid value sacrifice outlet that works once per turn. The tower will accelerate your game plan since it generates two black mana when you sacrifice a creature. It enables fast mana plays and you can shove down your big plays faster and earlier. Depending on your environment this might be too strong.

Fleshbag Marauder and kin are another classic choice when it comes to needing a sacrifice outlet. They are a one time effect, however they force your opponent to sacrifice a creature of theirs as well making them great as an option for removal. The creature can always sacrifice themselves if there is no other target, which went built around properly will give you access to a repeatable sacrifice outlet.

Braids, Arisen Nightmare, Braids, Cabal Minion, and Smokestacks are all solid sacrifice outlets that function similar to one another. They each ask you to sacrifice a permanent at either the upkeep or end step of your turn and they force your opponents to do similar much like Fleshbag and friends. These can also be considered stax pieces since you can build around them to debilitate your opponents, but at minimum they are strong sacrifice outlets that only function once a turn. Braids, Arisen Nightmare is sweet because she can net you cards if your opponent refuses or can't sacrifice cards. Smokestacks can grow and force your opponents to sacrifice multiple permanents. Ultimately, you are playing these cards because they are a consistent sacrifice outlet every turn.

Self Mill
Self Mill cards mill your library into the graveyard. The number of cards milled will vary across different cards. This method is the fastest way to fill up the graveyard, however you don't have control over what gets sent to your graveyard like the previous two methods.

Stitcher's Supplier is one of the best cards in this category for 1 mana, you get both a creature and 3 cards in the yard. You can mill another 3 if the card dies, making this a solid target to sacrifice or to use as a blocker. Unlike the other cards that will be mentioned, this will be the only card to mill without any other value associated with it. There's a ton of value in this card with the right synergies.

Satyr Wayfinder is an option that I like a lot. The card lets you mill 4 cards and possibly let you draw a land among them. This is solid for trying to hit your next land drop if you're concerned about lands. It makes for a chump blocker and sacrifice fodder. Outside of this, the card is relatively low impact outside the early parts of the game and a bad top deck but it is still one of the best mill creatures available.

Grapple With The Past is one of my favorite options for self milling. The milling effect is weaker when compared to the other 2 mana options as you only mill 3 cards vs milling 4. Unlike some of the other options on this list, the card is first an instant and you are able to recur any land or creature in your graveyard, this includes stuff you didn't mill with it. The makes it an excellent topdeck to buy back any threats or to hit the land drops you need. The main downside is the mill 3 on it.

Winding Way is what I would consider the sorcery form of Satyr Wayfinder. Unlike wayfinder, you do not get a creature. Instead, you can potentially draw up to a maximum of 4 creatures or land cards. Even if you miss you will still mill 4 cards, which your deck can take advantage of. The card is great as an early play, but the late game aspect of the card is not good unless you can use your graveyard than the card becomes insane.

Ransack the Lab and Discerning Taste are cards I like to include, but always ends up getting the axe. They function similar to the other self mill cards but they allow you to select any card from among them. The problem I have with these cards is that they are one fix away from being playable. I'm thinking if they cost one mana less or if they were instant speed, they'd be pretty strong to possibly too strong.

With your graveyard filled up, now to reap your rewards. There are variations on how you go about it from a generic graveyard payoff, reanimator, and delirium.

General Graveyard Reward cards are cards that are influenced by the number of cards in your graveyard. The effect of these cards vary from card to card so you have options.

Grist, The Hunger Tide is a great enabler and reward for playing this deck. The card feels like a Golgari Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast and is the epitome of everything this deck wants to be doing. The card has multiple methods of filling the graveyard either by milling yourself or sacrificing your own creature. The third ability (-5) deals damage to your opponent based on your graveyard. This gives the extra reach that may end the game, especially as time goes on. The first ability gives you a token that can protect Grist as well as add to your board state, but you can also use it to sacrifice for his 2nd ability. One of the more important things to note is that Grist is a 1/1 creature when he's not in play including in the graveyard. This leads to having the same interactions as creatures would such as counting towards his own 1st and 3rd ability. You are even able to target this with Unearth and Green Sun's Zenith. For commander cubes, this card is a viable commander choice because it is a legendary creature in the Command Zone. The layers of interaction this card has makes it a powerful option for most cubes.

Deathrite Shaman is a classic multiformat icon for graveyard decks. The card allows you to turn anyone's graveyard into burn spells, life gain, or mana ramp each time. In midrange builds this card is stellar as it accelerates your game plan, stabilize your life total, and gives the extra reach that you need. Though it may not seem like as much initially, each activation of this card will add up over time and quietly take over a time. The shaman also double functions as a source of gravehate since you can target stuff in your opponent's graveyard as well. The hybrid mana cost of this card makes it viable in non Golgari decks, though it will have slightly less utility in these decks. The card lends itself to being playable at any point in the game. Even outside of dedicated graveyard decks, the card is still powerful as over the course of the game cards are naturally going into the graveyard from just playing. Solid option for all cubes in my opinion, though weaker in a limited environment. 

Scavenging Ooze (Scooze) is similar to Deathrite Shaman and was once a staple in Modern. It is still a powerful inclusion in cube. The card is a scaling threat, which is always great since you can draw the card early or later and have it still maintain its relevancy. Scooze is able to give itself +1/+1 counters and gain life. As it grows, it becomes a faster clock against your opponent and a better blocker. Much like shaman, you are able to use targets in both graveyards, thus making it a solid option for gravehate as well. 

Grim Flayer can be seen as a creature variant of Grist. Much like Grist, it can enable and reward itself. The card is able to surveil 3 each time it connects with your opponent. The trample makes it easier to deal combat damage. As time goes on, the delirium of the card will turn on and now you have a 2 drop 4/4 with trample. With the larger body, it is able to attack through more cards and trigger the surveil more often. Great engine for a graveyard focused deck.

Nighthowler and Bonehoard are solid budget options for this deck though they are narrow in application. They both have scaling power and toughness based on the number of creatures in all graveyards. In addition, you are able to attach these cards to other creatures to pump them up. This makes these cards great as the game goes on, but it makes them awful to play on curve. Because of these factors, I would play them in slower environments. 

Splinterfright is similar to the above cards as it does scale with the number of creatures in your graveyard. Unlike the other two, it is unable to attach itself to other creatures. Instead, the card has trample and will mill 2 cards every turn, making it a better late game threat and engine. The problem is that the card will often not be played on curve because it needs a creature in your graveyard, which is unlikely in cube. 

Recursion cards 
These are a great part of the deck and might be the extra edge your deck needs to win games. They allow you to return cards from your graveyard to your hand ready to use again. This is often back breaking for your opponent since you will give yourself access to your cards that you already used up or milled to the graveyard. The shift in card advantage is often enough to shift the game in your favor or push it harder into your direction.

Regrowth is the classic example that still holds up depending on your choice of approach. For a low cost, you are able to return a single card from your graveyard. As a sorcery, the graveyard decks have a better alternative to choose, but it still has applications in the deck. If you support an expansive spells matter archetype, I would run this as it cross pollinates into that deck as well. If not, you have better choices.

Eternal Witness is the reason why you would not play Regrowth. The card cost a little more than Regrowth, however the ability is on a creature and now has creature interactions. There's just a lot more utility. You are now able to flick this card, sacrifice it, use it for combat.This makes it more desirable in graveyard decks. The card is playable in a ton of formats outside of cube and is even more powerful in the format. 

Seasons Past is a card that I adore ever since I saw the value combo that existed with it and Dark Petition in standard. The card is expensive but it is a powered up Regrowth. One cast of this card will normally recur 2-5 cards depending on the duration of this game with longer games making this card significantly better. The card is a game breaker in board stalls and just feels good every time I play it. The card is clunky to play and is not always playable when available since you are dependent on your graveyard. The synergies with various archetypes makes it a card I run in a cube when I can.

Recursive Creatures
Creatures that can recur themselves are solid payoffs. They are awesome value creatures because you can always play them from the graveyard. They invalidate destroy removal because of their recursion and trading against these creatures feels awful. They are similar to the recursion cards but the ability is tied to the creature and they can only bring themselves back. They make great fodder for sacrifice abilities and are the type of creatures you want to be milling since milling them is like drawing them.

Bloodsoaked Champion, Cult Conscript, and friends are a solid addition to this deck. They are aggressively statted creatures that are great in aggro decks as well. They have a cheap recursion cost making them great in a variety of graveyard decks.

Bloodghast is better than the above cards because it is able to recur itself for free if you trigger its landfall ability. This sets up some insane interactions like fetchlands and land ramp spells being able to bring this card back multiple times. It also doesn't matter when you trigger landfall , so you can have it comeback on your opponent's turn. Additionally, should your opponent ever be 10 life or under it gains haste. The main appeal of this card is the free recursion with everything else being extra upside.

Skyclave Shade is a balanced version of Bloodghast. The card is easier to cast and has more power, however the recursion requires that you do pay the 2 mana and you can only do so at sorcery speed limiting the application of this card. One big benefit is that the card has a kicker cost that makes it a 5/3. Overall, the card is worse when you compare it to Bloodghast, however this doesn't make it any less playable. The larger body adds more damage and pressure against your opponent. Also if budget is a concern, this is significantly cheaper than Bloodghast.

Tenacious Underdog is a card I have become more bullish in recent times. The card is an above statted aggressive creature with blitz. The blitz mechanic allows you to choose between playing it from your hand or graveyard. This makes it the most expensive recursion with the cost being at 4 mana and 2 life, however you get a hasted creature that draws you a card when it dies. You have to sacrifice the creature each time you blitz it meaning it can't be used defensively. You still can use the card to push through damage or as sacrifice fodder. The card makes for an excellent mana sink since it can net you cards at worst, however do be aware that you are paying 2 life each turn to activate it. The main downside I see is that the card can be a little clunky to play, but everytime I see it in action in midrange builds the card is doing work. 

Though this can be its own category and archetype discussion, reanimator spells are a solid payoff for graveyards deck in much the same fashion as recursive creatures. You're typically recurring your large threats directly to the field and often at a discount of their original cost. As with all the other recursion cards, this is normally game ending if they cannot deal with it or prevent it from happening.

Reanimate is the namesake cards of these decks. It is able to recur cards at 1 mana, which is insane value. This card enables early game ending plays like turn 1 Griselbrand. You do lose life when you play this spell, which makes it less effective as the game goes on. The card has little utility outside of reanimating creatures, but makes up for it thanks to its power.

Exhume is another powerful reanimator card. It has a low cost, which makes it suitable to cheating down turn 1-3 game enders. Unlike Reanimate you do not pay life to play the card, however this card does give your opponent a chance to reanimate a creature in their own graveyard. This makes the card great early game since when you properly prepare for the card, your opponent won't be able to take advantage of it. Late game this card can be an issue because of its symmetrical nature. Another thing to note about this card is that it does not target cards in the graveyard, so unless your opponent removes all viable cards from the graveyard, you are guaranteed to put something into play.

Dread Return is an awesome card in this deck thanks to its flashback. The flashback on the card not only allows you to play the card twice, but you are able to play the card even if you mill it, making it a perfect fit for the deck. The requirements to play this card are kinda clunky, but when built correctly this card is a nasty surprise. The flashback cost assists the play style of the deck as it demands that you sacrifice 3 creatures to pay for it. Since there is no downside to casting this card, this card becomes a solid option to play during the midgame and you get 2 uses out of the card. Solid option for all cubes and is as broken as your cube is.

Meren of Clan Nel Toth is a big payoff card for this deck that should be able to close out games based sheerly on it outvaluing your opponents over the course of a couple turns. Each turn the card is triggered to either return a creature to hand or to the battlefield if you have enough experience counters. Earning experience counters is not difficult as you just need your creatures to die. In an aristocrat build, this is just like breathing air to that deck. The card's triggered ability is activated the turn it enters, which prevents your opponents from denying its value to you. Meren can be a little slow since she cost 4 mana, but if left unanswered you should be winning the game in no time. This card might be too strong in midrange environments, but other than that it's a fine addition to most cubes.

Liliana, Death's Majesty is the whole archetype in one card. She functions as both a mill engine as well as a reanimation spell. When viewing each of her abilities, she does not seem all too impressive on their own, however in unison there's a lot going on. The most important function of her first ability is to mill two cards, this will overshadow that you also generate a 2/2 zombie token. This makes it so that she is able to push damage or protect herself, while you are filling up your graveyard to find the right target. The second ability is nothing special. When it comes to reanimation, 5 mana is the average cost for modern card design. The card cannot target your opponent's graveyard, but normally your own targets are better. The creatures also return as zombies, solid with Her last ability allows her to destroy all non-Zombie creatures, which should become a one sided boardwipe as everything she does makes zombies. I personally have never played this ability as the game ends before it is even an option. I like running this card as it is fair enough and almost never feels bad to play or activate during any point in the game. Solid option for any cube.

Living Death has its own archetype based around casting this card. The card functions as both a board wipe and a mass reanimation spells. In proper application, the card will put the game entirely in your favor because you will have a larger  graveyard than your opponent. The card plays extremely well with sacrifice outlets since you can use them to sacrifice your board in preparation for playing Living Death. If you do that, you essentially get to keep your creatures, while your opponent should have a less impressive board state. You do need to be care about what is in their graveyard because your opponent having Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Massacre Wurm is just a bad time for you. 

Reanimation Targets
With reanimation as a gameplan, you definitely want some powerful cards to bring back. The cards mentioned on here will not all be Golgari because you are not playing the creature. The cards mentioned will be of varying budget and quality, but they will all have the same impact in the game.

Eldrazis, any of the big ones are strong choices.  I'm won't write a small section for each eldrazi since the game patterns will be the same in reanimator builds. The large body combined with Annihilator is a massive threat that your opponents can't leave alone and need to deal with ASAP. Even at common, Ulamog's Crusher is wrecking havoc in pauper reanimator. You have a lot of freedom in how fast you want the games with what eldrazi you pick. The power scale from weakest to strongest starts with Ulamog's Crusher and ends at Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.  Pick the one that best fits your budget and cube and you don't have to pick just one either. Be aware that some of the eldrazis do shuffle your graveyard into your deck ruining your entire strategy.

Griselbrand is one of the classic targets that shows up alongside reanimator in every format you can play it in (take that commander players). The demon is a giant lifelink flying 8/8 beater, which on its own is already a nightmare to contend with. What pushes him over the top is his ability to draw 7 cards by paying 7 life. There's no limit on the number of activations other than your life. The draw ability is important because most combo decks will over extend their hands to combo out. Since Griselbrand is vulnerable to removal for a turn cycle typically, being able to draw 7 allows you to find protection to keep him on board or find an alternative gameplan. This makes his presence a game ender already, even should your opponent be able to answer him, you can draw 7 in response. If he is allowed to swing even once, it's time to shake hands. A powerful reanimation target that will overtake games easily, I'd be careful about running in low level environments if you want dynamic gameplay.

Terastodon is a card that seems everywhere regardless of power level and for good reason. I know some people have cut it a long time ago, but my boomerness still recommends it in cube. It has a huge 9/9 body that is hard to beat in combat,though it lacks trample to push through damage. Instead you are able to blow up any player's noncreature permanents and give them a 3/3 elephant token in exchange. Since lands are not creatures, you can blow up your opponent's lands to stop them from developing their board, which is pretty much GG. The tokens are where this card not having trample is a problem. If you blow up 3 permanents from your opponent, they will have enough to trade against Terastodon, which is why you can stop at 2. You can also use the effect on your own cards to get the tokens yourself. The card isn't overbearing to deal with and plays the role of game ender well. In addition, this card is often reprinted, so the cost of the card is kept really low. Thus outside of rarity restrictions, I see no reason for most cubes not to consider Terastodon.

Grave Titan is a sweet option thanks to its ETB and attack triggers. This makes the card essentially 10 power over 3 bodies and growing, which is just insane. The card seems somewhat manageable at a surface level, however the card never stops generating token as long as it can continue attacking. Unless your opponent can boardwipe, the card will win the game. The card is great at almost any point in the game with it being terrifying early and game warping later. I think this card fits into any cube that can run it, though the price of it is somewhat restrictive.

Overseer of the Damned is a card I like a lot, though I feel it is easily outclassed easily, once you start upgrading your choices. The card is expensive for a baseline of a clunky 7 drop, however its ETB ability is where the card shines. The ability can shift the board state immediately because not only does it remove a creature, but it will trigger its own second ability as well. In gameplay, your opponent will lose a creature, while you gain a flying 5/5 and a 2/2 token. What makes this better is that as long as your opponent's creatures are dying, you will keep generating zombies, a solid ability to have in grindy matchups. What makes this card worse when compared to its peers is you need your opponent to have creatures, thus this is a very lackluster options when trying to go for busted early plays. In fair, low power environments, this card is an easy slam dunk for me.

Simic Skyswallower and Inkwell Leviathan both giant beat stick that may have been overpassed already in terms of power, but none the less they still are powerful and nothing to scoff at. Both these cards are giant bodies with trample and shroud, making them ideal for ending games. The trample allows them to have evasion to push through damage and ignore chump blockers, which was missing from Terastodon and what kept it back. The shroud provides them with protection from single target spells damaging your opponent's chances to stop them. You are still able to boardwipe to get rid of them. They are still beatable by having a larger creature as well, but other then two mentioned things, these cards still have what it takes to win. Sagu Mauler and Colossal Skyturtle are solid variation of these cards as well.

Sphinx of the Steelwind is a card I like less and less the more I look and play with it. This is another classic card, but I don't have any fond memories of it. At a baseline, the card is a wicked control finisher that will stabilize your life total and push damage, however that is all it is. The application of this card is really limited to just being a reanimator target in most cases due the difficulty of it casting cost. If you can support this card outside reanimator, I think this would be solid, but I'd avoid it otherwise.

Angel of Serenity is pretty sweet as a target for reanimating. The card sports a large flying body. The body is nothing too impressive, but when it enters you are able to exile up to 3 creatures from the battlefield or the graveyard and when this card leaves the battlefield they return to the hand. 
There's a lot of cool interaction that can happen with this card thanks to its abilities. The typical line of play is to remove three creatures on board, which is normally more than enough to push in winning damage. You can also use it as gravehate since you can target creatures in the graveyard and better yet use it as recursion for your own creatures thanks to the leaves the battlefield effect. The wording on the ability will also allow you to permanently exile cards if you manage to trigger the leave the battlefield effect before the enter the battlefield effect. It has similar problems to Overseer of the Damned in that its good when there's a board state from your opponent. It's a fair card with a strong impact, but nothing overtly powerful.

Myr Battlesphere is a solid reanimation target and presents the fastest clock on this list. The card creates a whole army of myrs on your board, perfect for quickly developing your board. In addition, it can potentially deals 12 damage per swing, which is one of the fastest clocks to ending a game. Even should your opponent be able to block the battlesphere, the card will still deal 4 damage due to its ability to pump and burn your opponent. Easy card to run in any cube.

Lastly, these are cards that do not support the archetype directly, but are included because they are necessary for your decks function.

Assassin's Trophy, Abrupt Decay, Maelstrom Pulse, and other Golgari removal spells are the peak of removal that is available in the game. What is great about them is they are able to almost answer anything on the board from creatures to enchantments. Some of them do have conditions as a downside to their efficacy, but it is generally negligible since though cards had dramatically lower mana cost. The cards come in at different mana values and budget, so pick the one that best suits you and your cube. 

Elder Gargaroth is an aggro decks nightmare and a card I absolutely hate to play against. The moment this card is played, it needs to be answered as it can warp a game into its player's favor. In play the card is a wall and a titan to overcome. Its three keywords combined with an overstatted body make it perfect for pushing through damage and protecting the player from attackers on ground and in the air. The trigger ability is what really makes this card. When it attacks or blocks, you are able to gain 3 life, make a 3/3 token, or draw a card. Since this card has vigilance and reach, you can block almost anything to trigger this. Against aggro, the card will normally blow them out as the body is hard to overcome and each activation pushes the game further and further away from them. The card is great at almost any point in the game since its triggered ability can meet any situation and the body is hard to outclass. This makes for a great target to reanimate, but being 5 mana makes it very reasonable to hard cast as well. This card is game warping and I'd avoid it in lower power environments.

Mana dorks like Birds of Paradise and ramp spells like Rampant Growth are a huge part of green's identity and will play a significant role in your game plan. They allow you to play cards earlier than intended and ensure you have mana, when you miss land drops. Sakura Tribe Elder fits really well since it can sacrifice itself to ramp you. 

Cross Pollination

This section will cover what decks overlap with this deck. I will avoid mentioning universal staples as those cards are just good everywhere. Overlap is part of a good drafting experience since it means that players won't end up with unplayable cards. 

Golgari always has the option to just lean into their more powerful general cards making all the cards playable in any decks, but if you do lean into the graveyard aspect you will still be surprised with how applicable the cards are. Much like BW midrange, a lot of the cards from this deck are playable outside of this deck. The graveyard filler cards are greatly appreciated in a ton of other decks. All flashback cards are great because they can be played from the graveyard. By extension, depending on what color your storm decks are, these cards are a great inclusion with the deck since they synergize well with Yawgmoth's Will, Underworld Breach, and Past in Flames. Welder and artifact decks function extremely similar to reanimator and aristrocrats as there has been a trend in 2022's sets that included more black cards that could sacrifice both creatures and artifacts. As an addition to this, reanimator is a deck that can be played in any color as long as you have the black reanimation spells, thus just having those cards opens up any player to the possibility of playing that deck. So though these cards seem parasitic, there are a number of different archetypes that like having these cards because  they add on extra value to the graveyard. Many of the cards are also playable on their own already and get significantly better with synergies, thus there's less concern about them being a dead card. 

Translated to EDHcube

This deck is an easy translation into EDH cube. Typically the power of different archetypes is weakened when translating it into a commander cube, however there are cards that scale up with the number of players allowing this deck to thrive at the same level or higher in multiplayer environments. Cards like Bonehoard and Nighthowler are based on the number of cards in all graveyards making them huge monsters late game especially with their potential to equip/enchant another creature. Other cards like Mind Rake hit all players with the same effect. The enablers do lose some of their functionality due to the size of the decks, however the cards are still effective. Reanimation spells change depending on the text of the card. There are reanimation spells that allow you to choose a target from any graveyard. You have more options to choose from to better fit your situation, however the impact is generally worse because of the multiplayer environment.

When looking for commanders to include Grist, the Hunger Tide and Meren of Clan Nel Toth are probably the best choices. As mentioned, Grist is already an engine on his own and building around him is easy since he is his own payoff, which can be accessed easily since he's a commander. Meren is a huge payoff card for filling up your graveyard if left unanswered. For those of us in commander, she used to be a nightmare in commander because of the value she gave and will probably do the same in a limited format since gravehate is much more limited. 

Sample Decks

Final Thoughts
This one was a tough one to write. I believe Golgari and Orzhov midrange should be the baseline for the power level of your cube since they are fair decks that play heavily into the fundamentals, however I'm primarily a Boros based player and green is probably my least favorite color to play nowadays. Thus I try to avoid playing the color when I can. What also made this hard was how generically good Golgari is; this made it hard to talk about the specifics of the cards. I did make up for this by focusing on the graveyard aspect, which I found to be way more versatile than what I had originally perceived. Hopefully, there's looking to be a slowdown in releasing product and I can focus more on posts like these, but we'll see.

Other than that, thanks for taking the time to read. If you appreciate my work, just leave a comment to let me know you appreciate my work or think I'm utter trash. If you have questions or corrections you can use the contact form or leave a comment on Reddit. If you want to stay up to date with my stuff, feel free to join my email list at the bottom of the post or click here for the link to join. If you are interested in buying any of the cards mentioned in this post, you can support me by shopping at TCGplayer (Click Here).


  1. Great article! This is an archetype I already have in my cube, but the article helped me refine it.


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