[Primer] Gifts Reanimator

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Post by trixster87 » 8 months ago

Gifts Reanimator

Table of Contents


Gifts Ungiven is one of the most powerful and flexible tutors printed in Magic. It allows you to force cards in your graveyard at instant speed or fuel the graveyard while getting a needed card or effect in your hand. Early printings necessitated the knowledge of rule 7041.14b to maximize its power but newer printings state, "Up to 4 cards" clarifying that point of confusion for those unfamiliar with the deck.

The deck in general is a reactive control deck with a combo finisher. It aims to use discard and removal to control the board and create an opening where you can cast Gifts at your opponent's end step. Depending on the build you can cast Gifts as early as turn 3 and most versions of the deck aim to cheat in an Elesh Norn or an Iona to lock the opposing player long enough to close out the game. But as you'll see later there are plenty of combos and locks that can be assembled off of Gifts (no wonder it is banned in Commander).

Gifts is one of the more skill intensive decks in the format. It requires the pilot to know the meta, what piles work for each match up, and quickly identify the opposing deck so the right pile can be deployed. The deck also requires the pilot to be fast and be aware of the time for rounds as many match ups will go to Game 3 and the deck rarely losses or wins quickly.

The best match ups for this deck are low threat density decks, small creatures and decks that rely heavily on a single color. Small Creatures and decks that rely primarily on a single color will lose to Iona and Elesh Norn reanimation tactic while low threat density decks will have a hard time keeping their threat out for more than a turn.

The worst match up for Gifts is any variant of Tron. The removal suite is geared towards dealing with creatures, and the unburial targets don't line up with Tron's threats.

General Deck Construction

As Gifts has a Unique name requirement our deck is best looked at as the number of an effect rather than a list of specific cards.
  • 23 Lands
  • 6 Discard
  • 6 Removal
  • 4 Gifts
  • 3 Wraths
  • Reanimation Combo Pieces

Our main deck building constriction is in the Name of the card. While most decks naturally want to run 4 of their main cards to maximize the odds of seeing their cards every game, we must look at the effect of the card and try to find cards that are very similar in effect if not an exact functional reprint. An example of this would be a split of Detention Sphere and Maelstrom Pulse these are both 3 cmc sorcery speed removal that removes the target and all other of the same name. Another way this deck building restriction shows itself is that most lists running more than one basic of a given type will use a snow covered basic of that type as that is considered a different name even though it is the same basic. A normal characteristic of cards in Gift decks are recursive abilities like Dredge, Retrace, Jumpstart and Flashback.

Known Piles

When evaluating any Gifts based combo you need to look at the total mana cost, as at max you'll have 5 mana available to you after casting Gifts at your opponent's end step and untapping (provided you are casting Gifts as soon as you have the mana for it.). The most powerful combos are ones that any of their 6 combinations can be completed for 4 mana or less as this provides the least amount of time for the opponent to interact with your pile of choice.

Unburial Combo

Unburial Rites + Fatty (Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite | Iona, Shield Of Emeria))
You use rule:

701.14b If a player is searching a hidden zone for cards with a stated quality, such as a card with a certain card type or color, that player isn't required to find some or all of those cards even if they're present in that zone.
This is our primary combo in the deck and is always in the mainboard.

High Value Target

Snapcaster Mage + Noxious Revival + Value Card + High Value Card

Snapcaster Mage and Noxious Revival means any one card can be accessed. As they either give you the card outright or you make it your next draw by putting the card on top with a Noxious Revival or Snapcaster plus Noxious on your upkeep.

Crumble to Dust

Snapcaster Mage + Noxious Revival + Ghost Quarter | Field of Ruin + Extirpate | Surgical Extraction

Allows you to destroy a nonbasic land and get rid of all copies of it not in play, just like Crumble to Dust. Helpful for Valukut and Tron based decks.

Loam/Crime Package

Raven's Crime + Life from the Loam + Ghost Quarter + Value Card

From the board you can bring in Loam and Crime to combat control by stripping their hand so they can't counter your removal. You can also grab Bojuka Bog to arrange a grave lockout by playing Bojuka Bog every other turn as you must Ghost Quarter your own bog and use loam to get it back.

Wrath Package

Day of Judgment + Wrath of God|Damnation +Supreme Verdict + High Value Card

Any effect can be tutored up at will following this recipe (3 of the effects and a value card most commonly Lingering Souls) This is most commonly seen when Gifting for a set of wraths.

Loam Academy

Academy Ruins + Life from the Loam + Sword of the Meek + Thopter Foundry

Sets up the Thopter Sword combo allowing you to gain life and token thopters equal to your available mana. The sword and foundry can be replaced with any 2 artifacts for numerous possible combos anything from recurring Wurmcoil Engine or Engineered Explosives to locking out your opponent's graveyard with Nihil Spellbomb

Card Choice Discussion

Many of the cards listed below can fit into more than one category. Choice and Flexibility are hallmarks of good cards in our deck design. The category they are listed are the most common reason to consider them.

Discard/Hand Control

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Raven's Crime
Recursive discard spell part of a combo with Life from the Loam can also be used to dump a prematurely drawn Gifts piece.

Budget builds use it in place of premier discard but also sees play in the sideboard of some lists

Inquisition of Kozilek
The key piece of discard for our deck. We can lock opponents out by turn 4 so 99% of the time the CMC requirement is not a concern

Some lists run a split with IoK but due to the life loss our mana base requires it is usually sideboard.

Esper Charm
Instant speed mind rot with other options if they don't have cards to discard and can also be used to dump a prematurely drawn Gifts piece.. The wbu is hard for most builds.

Liliana of the Veil
Our deck is already good at discarding as many cards are recursive or we actively want to have them in the grave. Some lists have run her to great affect others have not ran her for various reasons including her double black CMC.

Collective Brutality
Another example of a card that is useful for causing discard while giving our deck the option to discard unwanted cards or set get more value from a recursive card.

Spot Removal

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Assassin's Trophy
In many ways this is the best removal available. Able to get any permanent lands included helps our matchup against Tron.

Abrupt Decay
Second only to Assassin's Trophy in some matchups the uncounterable clause will be amazing.

Maelstrom Pulse
A singleton inclusion in any green list being able to clean up a board of tokens or deal with any permanent is great. Unlike Detention Sphere there is nothing left behind for them to get their card back.

Anguished Unmaking
Exile removal on any nonland is nice but the life loss can be an issue in some builds and matchups. Avoid having this and Thoughtseize in the same deck as the combined life loss and the mana base may very well strand them in your hand.

Detention Sphere
Like Maelstrom Pulse but exiles and leaves a way for the opponent to get the card back. It does have nice synergy with Sun Titan

Path to Exile
Pure exile-based removal of any creature most decks run multiple copies.
*TIP* Remember that you can use these on your own creatures (tokens and Snapcaster Mage) if necessary, for mana fixing and ramp.

Fatal Push
Our mana base is generally full of fetches to turning on Revolt is trivial for most lists.

Mass Removal

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Damnation/Wrath of God
Color shifted 4CMC wraths that prevent regeneration one or both is usually main to allow for wrath-based Gift Piles.

Languish/ Yahenni's Expertise
Budget option to Damnation, but also useful for making one-sided Wraths. While it is a mass removal some boards may not die to a simple -4/-4 or -3/-3.

Flaying Tendrils/Cry of the Carnarium
Great for dealing with fast decks full of small threats the exile clause is great for cards like bloodghast.

CRIME // PUNISHMENT (Punishment Half)
Our legal version of Pernicious Deed useful if using Jace, Vryn's Prodigy since he has 0 CMC when flipped.

Engineered Explosives
Works great in versions built around Academy Ruins.
*Tip* when casting this against a control deck you can use colorless mana or mana of the same color already being used to keep the CMC off of 2 (Spell Snare/Chalice of the Void).

Supreme Verdict
The mana cost will generally make this a sideboard card as WWU is hard to guarantee without leaning heavy on white.

Day of Judgment
Generally a one of to complete the trifecta of wraths.

Settle the Wreckage
Exile based wrath but only for attackers. We normally hold up mana on turn 4 so many opponents won't see it coming the first time and will be more hesitant to attack in future games.

Filters and Draw Spells

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Search for Azcanta
Lets you filter your draws and will sometimes act as a pseudo howling mine when you bin a Lingering Souls late game can flip and allow you to dig for Gifts Ungiven

Champion of Wits
Allows you to sculpt your hand on Turn 3 and refills your hand in the late game. At best he's a one of due to his sorcery speed restriction.

Vendilion Clique
One of the best blue creatures ever. If you're heavy on blue mana sources, you could theoretically support this card. It can be great at dumping a Gifts piece you draw prematurely

Radical Idea/Chemister's Insight
Jumpstart is a great way to get unwanted draws out of our hands, no showings as of yet with these cards though.

Serum Visions
Becoming a format staple for blue decks. Cheap and sets up your next few draws.

Opt, Anticipate or Telling Time
Instant speed dig that allows you to dodge growing cards you would rather tutor for with Gifts.

Compulsive Research
The rare ability to create raw card advantage could be useful, but we rarely want to discard lands in this deck. Thirst for Knowledge is another option.

Bring to Light
An instant all-star in a 4+ color builds since you can search up just about anything in your list, particularly Gifts Ungiven. Could be useful for getting key sideboard cards in some matchups.

Alternative Reanimation Targets

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If used it is in the sideboard and for dealing with Tron exclusively.

Ashen Rider
Could see play as a non green version of Terastodon. Exile is a great clause and not giving the opponent creatures is nice.

Empyrial Archangel
Sometimes used in place of Iona, Shield of Emeria as a reanimation target. A little more versatile and certainly more durable. Impossible for burn to deal with.

Blazing Archon
Impossible for creature decks to deal with outside of removal.

Sphinx of the Steel Wind
Impossible for Jund to deal with outside of an opposing Liliana of the Veil.

Inkwell Leviathan
Fast clock that can't be targeted. No results as of yet.

Obzedat, Ghost Council
Sometimes seen in decks built around Goryo's Vengeance once on the field it effectively hits for 7 and can't be removed outside of instant speed interactions.


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Noxious Revival
Can be paired with Snapcaster Mage to get any card from your deck. Can be used in Esper builds due to its Phyrexian mana cost.
*Tip* It says any graveyard so this can be used to stop opposing reanimation decks or to guarantee the opponent does not draw an out for a turn.

Snapcaster Mage
Nearly as important as Gifts itself. He is your second copy of any spell tutored or previously cast.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang
A shining star of Rock, BUG, and Grix decks as of late. But insight from Ben Vrbo suggests that delving and activating him are both awkward in this particular deck.

Eternal Witness
Pseudo Snapcaster Mage - only for green heavy lists. Can get back Unburial Rites so you can cast it twice. Can pair with Sun titan and Rites to guarantee any card you want in the late game.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
Jace VP for short. He's not quite as good as Snapcaster or Briefing being that he has to flip to buy back a spell. But he can filter your hand which is great, and some lists run him with Goryo's Vengeance to mitigate the lack of haste.

Sun Titan
Brings back your Lily, Eternal Witness, or even a land if need be. Recursion is the name of our game and Sun Titan fits the bill. Create a soft-lock against control/combo with Fulminator Mage.

Mission Briefing
No results yet but this could be used as a budget Snapcaster Mage and the way its worded the opponent must respond prior to the spell resolving to keep you from casting the card and even if they exile the graveyard you get to potentially bin 2 cards to fuel it.

Creatures of General Note

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Birds of Paradise and Sylvan Caryatid
Most commonly seen in 4 color variants as the extra color requires a little more fixing. BoP has synergy with Gavony Township but dies to any removal. Caryatid is a turn slower but can block some creatures and is generally impossible to remove without your consent (wraths, edicts or chump blocking)

Grim Flayer
2 mana beat stick that can fuel our graveyard/ dig through our deck. Most lists won't have too hard of a time turning delirium on for him to be a 4/4.

Standard beat stick in green based decks

Knight of the Reliquary
Useful if taking advantage of a Loam/Crime package, can be used to find utility lands like Ghost Quarter or Bojuka Bog and can ramp if needed provided you have lands to get.
*Tip* If KoR is little you can tutor for a fetchland and use that fetchland to get a land you need effectively growing her from a 2/2 to a 5/5 on a single activation.

Grave Titan
Standard fatty that can win games on his own. Leaves a board impact if removed immediately (basically a necessity for any fatty you consider).

Lifegain Options

These cards are mostly for side boarded, but some are used main deck.
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Kitchen Finks
Guaranteed 2 life and barring exile based removal it gains us 4 life and a trade or chump block.

Baneslayer Angel/Lyra Dawnbringer
The first strike helps to hold off attackers the 5-point lifegain allows you to swing out and force a race. A one of or 1/1 split is right to prevent Lyra's legendary typing to be an issue. The protection provided by Baneslayer is rarely if ever relevant while the lord effect from Lyra can pair with Iona meaning if only one is used Lyra should be your choice.

Great for decks running Academy Ruins is naturally a recursive threat. Though this card took a hit from the printing of Kolaghan's Command

Timely Reinforcements
More often than not we will be at the lower life total and behind on board allowing for Timely to make 3 1/1's and give us 6 life which buys a lot of time to truly stabilize.

Strong body and a huge life swing that leaves a decent body if removed. This is a strong card for many lists running green but it's high CMC generally means only one is used.

Wurmcoil Engine
Like Batterskull great in decks with Academy Ruins and like Thragtusk leaves bodies behind if removed. But the 6cmc casting cost is hard for many builds to reliably cast.

Specific Hate Cards

All of these cards are mostly seen in the sideboard if at all.
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Fracturing Gust and Cleansing Nova
Affinity, Bogles and Whir based Decks. Though getting to 5 mana is scary against these decks. Most would opt for Engineered Explosives + Academy Ruins.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Great for shutting down Scavenging Ooze and barring removal prevents Counters Company or Vannifar Pod based decks from comboing.

Thrun, the Last Troll
Uncounterable and Hexproof makes this a nightmare for the control matches. Regenerate means it can block for days if needed.

Blood Baron of Vizkopa
This card hoses Abzan and Death's Shadow based decks. With the premier removal of the format being Path to Exile and Fatal Push he effectively has Hexproof. Very powerful but dead in some match-ups so sideboard is probably his home. Its nearly impossible to turn on the second part of him so evaluate him only as a 4/4 lifelink with protection.

Nihil Spellbomb
Maindeckable in the right meta. At worst it cycles for 1b. Can always be cracked even with no mana open.

Surgical Extraction or Extirpate
Great graveyard removal that also hurt combo and low threat density decks.

Kaya's Guile
New kid on the block. Early reports are this is maindeckable due to its versatility.

Stony Silence
Great for Affinity, Tron and Whir based decks that rely on artifact ability.

Pithing Needle/Sorcerous Spyglass
Allows you to stop anything with an activated ability. From Fetchlands to Planeswalkers. Spyglass costs more but you get the information on what's in their hand.

Metas with high rates of bogles or infect should look to this allstar. Stealing their pump spells and enchantments is amazing.

Runed Halo
This is a great way to stick it to low threat density decks or Valakut based decks.

Unmoored Ego
We finally got a version of slaughter games and its at 3 mana which is great as on the play you can name a Tron land. Also is great for dealing with any combo based decks.

Damping Sphere
Storm and Tron hate great to have 1 or 2 in the board.

Knight of Autumn
This creature does so much so well I couldn't decide which category to put her in. She can blow up artifacts and enchantments, gain life and apply pressure as needed. If you find yourself needing a card or two to fill up the sideboard you can't do better than KoA.


Click to Expand this Category
Most lists run some number of them with the most common being, Celestial Colonnade, Stirring Wildwood and Creeping Tar Pit

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Great for versions running a heavier black casting cost (Damnation, Liliana of the Veil). Also works with Loam/Crime allowing your lands to tap for black so you can Retrace Raven's Crime.

Ghost Quarter,Tectonic Edge and Field of Ruin
Generally great for dealing with opposing man lands and helps with Tron and Valukut based decks. Limit it to 2 in the main deck as the colorless mana they produce can cause issues with casting double color spells.

Vault of the Archangel
Turns Spirit tokens from Lingering Souls, and Snapcaster Mage, into deathtouch blockers. Like most lands, only 1 is needed.

Gavony Township
Generally seen in the more midrange type builds that run small creatures up to Siege Rhino. Has nice synergy with Kitchen Finks allowing you to keep the finks gaining you life and blocking.

Bojuka Bog
Gravehate on a land. Can be grabbed with Gifts as part of the Loam/Crime package to keep an opposing graveyard under control and is nice as it can't be countered. Is a great inclusion with Knight of the Reliquary as it can be tutored into play at instant speed.


The deck in general has been floating around since Modern's inception. Variations of the list have been streamed by many of the MTG Content Creators and piloted with strong finishes in many tournaments.

Historical Lists

Credits & Thanks

This primer is made possible largely in part to the 4c Gifts Primer by FuneralofGod located at:
https://www.mtgsalvation.com/forums/the ... 0-4c-gifts

Change Log

  • 7/20/2019 Original Primer version posted

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Post by NerdSoda » 8 months ago

Despite not really giving the deck a long run in the past, Gifts remains one of my favorite deck ideas, so thanks for migrating the primer to the new site.

So, here is a list that I am trying to put together/attempt: https://archidekt.com/decks/148666#4C_Gifts_"Singleton"

It is a take on trixster87's list, but taken in a more singleton direction. Since this would just be for casual FNMs and MF side events, and because I am largely a Commander and Canadian Highlander player with a singleton collection, it just makes more sense for me to build in this type of direction. The duplicates are cards that I already own multiple copies of. I would love to get some feedback and some possible alternatives for the less powerful choices I made.

Sideboard is still a work in progress since I need to get a mainboard to play before a sideboard. XD

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Post by trixster87 » 8 months ago

It's showing as an empty deck - make sure it's not marked as private in the settings of the deck.

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Post by NerdSoda » 8 months ago

Fixed .

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Post by technowhiz34 » 2 months ago

Does Search for Azcanta not belong in a deck with 4 opts and 4 astrolabes, as well as 25 lands? Seems like a lot of air or chance to miss.

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Post by The Fluff » 2 months ago

sphinx and archon are really good against certain decks. Used to play reanimator in legacy, which is why I like these two cards.
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