Die and Be Reborn

Posted in Feature on September 25, 2002

By Ben Bleiweiss

Rotlung Reanimator
Rotlung Reanimator is a strange little creature. On the surface it appears to be nothing more than Headless Horseman or Scathe Zombies. Maybe it reiterates Penumbra Bobcat a tad. And just a minute, didn't Sarcomancy also put a 2/2 zombie token into play? Who am I kidding, folks? This guy doesn't resemble any particular creature ever seen before in Magic history.

The nexus between undead and priest, Magic's premiere zombie cleric takes those of faith who have fallen and converts them to the cause of the living dead. It doesn't just take your clerics and turn them into 2/2 bodies—it itself returns from the dead, along with your opponent's creatures of the appropriate type. In a set dedicated to tribal creatures, this ability is far from negligible.

Replacement Predecessors

There exist other cards in the Magic bureau that pay dividends in creatures once they hit the graveyard. The first was Rukh Egg, a fairly impotent creature from Arabian Nights which transformed into a gigantic flyer upon death. Other notable creatures of this type were Liege of Hollows (the first to put multiple creatures into play), Pattern of Rebirth/Gamekeeper (searching the library for replacements), Haunted Angel (giving your opponent a creature as a drawback) and the three Penumbra creatures from Apocalypse (Penumbra Bobcat, Penumbra Kavu and Penumbra Wurm).

The closest creature analogous to the Reanimator is Penumbra Bobcat. In the simplest terms possible, they both die and leave ability-less replicas of themselves. Rotlung already takes the nod in this category, since it has an additional point of toughness for no additional mana. The similarities end there. The Bobcat doesn't benefit from any other creatures on the board dying, whereas the "zombic" (or should I refer to Rotlung Reanimator as a "clerbie?") keeps on chugging out zombie after zombie from the corpses of Samite Healers, Selfless Exorcists, and Dedicated Martyrs.

His Clerical Companions

Wait, those are the not-so-great clerics currently in Type 2. Let's try this again: the zombic keeps on chugging out zombie after zombie from the corpses of Benevolent Bodyguard (who pulls the double duty of protecting Rotlung Reanimator plus turning into a 2/2), Pilgrims of Justice and Virtue (damage prevention plus creature recursion) and Beloved Chaplain (even if your opponents thinks they can kill him, they can't kill him).

I smell a decklist coming on.

Zombic Clerbies

Download Arena Decklist

I realize there's a ton of cards that you may not know just yet, but all will be clear after the prerelease this Saturday. Basically, this deck packs a ton of good utility Clerics (all of the creatures in this deck except Braids are Clerics), sacrifice them with Rotlung Reanimator in play using Starlit Sanctum, Braids, and Cabal Archon, or just Wrath away to leave you with a horde of Zombies in play to your opponent's empty board. Braids enables each of your Clerics to work double duty, since they'll be sacrificed twice a piece to the dementia mage.

It's not often I get to walk in the shoes of our resident deck building genius Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar (who will also be tackling Clerics tomorrow), so I'll take advantage of this opportunity while I can. I figure it can't hurt to throw another self-made deck into the fray after my results last time.

Rolling back the time machine to the Extended format, we find so many top-notch clerics that you couldn't fit them all into a deck even if you wanted to. Extended rotates in November of 2002 (the same time Onslaught becomes tournament legal), meaning that Ice Age block, Mirage block and Fifth Edition are going to be gone. Since you'll be playing with Onslaught, we'll assume deck building will be confined to November Extended rules.

Wrath of Zombic Clerbie Death

Download Arena Decklist

Mother of Runes, Soltari Monk, and Soltari Priest all belong to the genus Cleric. Pretty convenient for Rotlung Reanimator, since it can take advantage of three of the best white weenies ever printed. This deck works as a threat during all portions of the game: it can beat down pretty heavily with shadow creatures backed by Benevolent Bodyguard and Mother of Runes early in the game, drop Rotlung Reanimator and cast Wrath of God/Living Death in the midgame to leave you with a tremendous creature advantage, and play “which way are the creatures going” with Living Death, Volrath's Stronghold, Recurring Nightmare, and Starlit Sanctum in the late game.

All of this is possible because of the Scathe Zombies who finally made good.

All hail Rotlung Reanimator, the chief Zombic Clerbie.

Next Week: Staples

Ben may be reached at bleiweiss1@cox.net.

Latest Feature Articles


January 18, 2022

The Shattered States Era by, Grace Fong

The artisans of Kamigawa pride themselves on their ability to infuse storytelling into their craft. They felt the hilt of a masterwork sword would be the most appropriate place to immorta...

Learn More


January 17, 2022

The Dragon-Kami Reborn by, Emily Teng

The dragons of Kamigawa are some of the most powerful and enduring kami around. However, not even they are free from pain and death. The Dragon-Kami Reborn | Art by: Alix Branwyn Many ...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All