I may be overly excited by Vesperlark. I don’t get this excited about a new card very often, but something in my brain latched onto this scaled-down Reveillark and won’t let go. The gears in my head began turning right away; I started working on a decklist almost as soon as I saw it. The last time I was this obsessed with a card was when I first saw the spoiler for Blood Artist all those years ago.

There has to be a way to break this card.

Vesperlark Reanimator

Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

Unlike a lot of the cheap reanimation spells in Modern, Vesperlark looks at a creature’s power, not its converted mana cost. This means if we can find a creature whose printed power is 1 or less but, say, enters with several +1/+1 counters, we can reanimate it as soon as turn 2 by evoking a Vesperlark. With a turn 1 Faithless Looting or Insolent Neonate to set it up, this could be a powerful play. Eladamri’s Call helps with consistency by finding the pieces we’re missing, while Alesha, Who Smiles At Death is a good backup for Vesperlark, though she is much slower.

When I began looking for possible reanimation targets, Sekki, Seasons’ Guide was one of the first creatures to pop up. A 0/0 with eight +1/+1 counters seems decent on turn 2, but without any form of evasion it’s probably not that great for Modern. Also, while Sekki makes tokens when it takes damage, it gains no such benefit when bounced, destroyed, or exiled. This makes Sekki a scary looking, but easily answered threat. I could probably do better.

The next candidate I found to reanimate was Kalonian Hydra, another 0/0 that enters with +1/+1 counters. Compared to Sekki it’s a modest 4/4 when it enters the battlefield, but it doubles in size with each attack. It also has trample. It’s better, but it still crumbles to a single Path to Exile, which is a bit of a liability. That said, if I was aiming for a single big threat, the Hydra would fit the bill nicely.

Modern has a lot of good removal, so what’s something more resilient that could be reanimated instead? Vesperlark is still limited by the low power of the creature, so traditional targets like Griselbrand and Progenitus are obviously out. Perhaps a token producer, then? A card like Maul Splicer puts almost as much power on the battlefield as Sekki, but spreads it out over several creatures. This makes it harder to deal with everything, while still presenting a massive threat on turn 2. With that in mind, if Maul Splicer is good, then Trostani’s Summoner must be even better.

A 1/1 that enters play with a 2/2, a 3/3 and a 4/4 token seems decent for 7 mana, but for only 2 mana it’s a steal. It’s funny to think, but reanimating the Summoner is actually quite tame by Modern standards; it “only” puts 10 power worth of creatures into play, but because it doesn’t win outright it would be considered “fair” for the format! Throw up a few blockers, or a couple of removal spells, and you can probably take care of the tokens pretty easily. A Force of Despair or Supreme Verdict will deal with this nonsense in no time, too, but that’s true of basically any reanimation plan.

It’s worth noting that unlike Kalonian Hydra, Trostani’s Summoner can also put blink effects to good use, like Ephemerate. Depending on how the rest of the deck is structured, it would he possible to go all-in on a “blink” plan, with Flickerwisps and Restoration Angels to top out the curve. This is an especially intriguing plan, considering it would also work well with Vesperlark‘s “leaves the battlefield” trigger. An earlier version of my deck included Flickerwisp, but it didn’t quite fit with what I was doing. Plus the double-white cost was proving to be awkward alongside the double-red of Seasoned Pyromancer. This was unfortunate, especially because those cards work nicely together.

I did keep Ephemerate in the deck, though; it’s actually really great with the vast majority of the deck, and can even make a good impression of Ancestral Recall when targeting a Pyromancer or Zegana.

Generally speaking, Naya (white, red and green) is not the combination of colours you traditionally see for a Reanimator deck. This may be one of the big reasons I’m so tickled by this list. At first the deck seemed like a bit of a hodgepodge, but I’ve been pleased with how well it fits together. While I technically only needed white and green mana for my reanimation plan, I decided that green would be a good addition, and it was mostly so that I could cast Eladamri’s Call, though the upside is that I can also cast a Trostani’s Summoner in the late game if needed.

Eladamri’s Call is not only useful for finding missing combo pieces, making a turn 3 Trostani’s Summoner very reliable, but the Call also lets me include a number of one-off creatures in both the main deck and the sideboard that are only useful in certain matchups. Fairgrounds Warden, Faerie Macabre and Knight of Autumn aren’t always what I’m looking for, but having a way to find them when I need them is great. It also means I can afford to run fewer copies of these nieche cards while still having a lot of ways to find them, and I can even include some of them in the main deck.

My backup reanimation targets are the same way. While I’ll almost always want to get a Trostani’s Summoner if I don’t have one, sometimes it just won’t cut it. Triskelion is sometimes just a 4/4 when it comes into play, but when I need that extra interaction to destroy a creature or planeswalker it’s quite strong. Prime Speaker Zegana, the only completely uncastable creature in the deck, is just an expensive Elvish Visionary when I don’t have any other creatures, but with at least one other body in play, especially a creature like Alesha, reanimating her can give me a massive boost of card advantage.

While it doesn’t get reanimiated, the one copy of Genesis is also a great card to search for with Eladamri’s Call if I expect the game to be a long one. The goal of this deck is to set up a massive board presense quickly and then end the game in only a few turns, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned playing Magic is that your deck don’t always get to do the cool things that it does, so it’s important to have a plan for the late game; Genesis is a big part of this deck’s plan, along with the single copy of Eternal Witness. Between the two of them the deck can really grind out a lot of value, constantly bringing back old threats. Also, Eternal Witness plays really well with the aforementioned Ephemerate, so that’s a plus.

I’m clearly very excited about this new deck, and honestly, I think it has potential. In a meta where players are running graveyard hate in the main deck, like Scavenging Ooze, it’s probably poorly positioned. That said, if things start to shift away from graveyard strategies in Modern then Vesperlark Reanimator could really shine. It has the potential for an extremely explosive early game, but it can still grind out a late game value if necessary. It’s flexible, and actually quite a lot of fun to play.

Of course, I’m adjusting things as I go, especially with the sideboard. I’ve already done a lot of tinkering to get to this list, and I’m sure I’ve got a long way to go before I’m done, if my other Modern deck is any indication.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments. And while you’re there, tell me what you think of the deck! Is it too clunky? Should I have opted to reanimate Kalonian Hydra instead? Your thoughts are always appreciated.

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