Why play Animar?
Animar is an extraordinarily powerful card outright, capable of producing silly amounts of mana and becoming arbitrarily enormous. You have a lot of flexibility with Animar as general, as he opens a myriad array of combo and aggro strategies, with the common theme being creatures. Being blue gives you some awesome durdly creatures as well as some combo monsters. Red gives you dragons and haste, core of an honest aggro deck. Green is Animar’s primary colour and gives you the best monsters, the best mana producers, and some of the best removal in EDH. Animar has protection from his two enemy colours, which often means you can get in free hits and dodge removal. Dodging removal is critically important for a general like Animar, since you will draw an extortionate amount of hate. Animar’s focus on creatures is great, but does severely limit the number of spells you can play. Lacking white and black means losing arguably the best colours for removal in EDH as well as some awesome creatures and tutors.
Double protection, from arguably the best removal in EDH
A free +1/+1 counter on your commander for every creature cast means some awesome combat steps
Reducing your creatures’ cost exponentially for each one cast is a good thing
3cmc means you can cast Animar early and replay him if needed
Animar is blue, which is also a good thing
Green is probably the best colour in EDH for a number of reasons
Animar draws a lot of hate. I mean A LOT of hate.
All creatures errey day means fewer slots for spells
No white means less of the good cheap removal and board wipes
No black means less tutors and removal
Why to play this deck:
You like combos that involve casting things
You like incremental advantage commanders with lots of inevitability
You like aggro and being able to randomly win with a free swing
You like being able to win multiplayer games on turn 4 or 5
You like creatures
Why to not play this deck:
You don’t like creatures
You don’t like infinite combos
You would rather play under the radar
You like to keep your friends
You don’t like attacking
I have been playing Animar pretty much since he came out in the first Commander set. Animar is fantastically fun and somewhat of a bogeyman in my group. There are several different ways to build and play the deck, and I’ve built the deck to be scary. I’ve experimented with other builds and will post them as I finalize lists. As can be seen in the changelog for the main list, I have changed my attitude towards various abilities and effects a lot over time.
Animar Scary (Standard Breakdown):
I follow a strict hierarchal system when organizing my decks which takes into account card type, converted mana cost, colour, and relative strength, in that order. All of my decks follow this organization pattern and I find it a highly effective tool for gauging the relative mana curve of my deck while also being easy to read. It also makes finding a particular card in the list easy, while at the same time showing similar cards to either side.
Card Type: I use the traditional split between Creatures, Spells, and Lands. Typically this comes out to about a third each way. If my deck were in a stack, sorted, I would have all the creatures organized on top of all the lands, on top of all the spells. I find this is a very easy way to show the deck and gauge relative creature/land/spell count.
Converted Mana Cost: Next to card type, cost is probably the most important part of a card. While organizing by actual cost would be a lesson in anal retentiveness, cmc is perfectly fine.
Colour: Colour is the third obvious sorting method and combined with cmc and true cost can tell us a lot about how the deck will play and how to structure the mana base. I strictly respect Wizards’ organization of the colour pie (including the Khans realignment of wedges, meaning Animar is GUR), placing multi-coloured first (M, in no particular internal colour order) and colourless (artifacts and such, A) last.
Actual Card Type: This is more of a substep of Colour, but I do organize Spells by their actual type. Planeswalkers, Artifacts, Enchantments, Instants, Sorceries is my general set up, with Creatures falling in between Planeswalkers and Artifacts and Lands behind Sorceries if I skip step 1). Cards with two or more types use their highest priority type, so an Enchantment Creature would be classed with Creatures.
Relative Strength: This is a fairly subjective area, requiring an understanding of the way the deck plays and what cards will be more useful when. This area is most definitely subject to change as my thinking and understanding of the deck change. Note that this area is relative strength within the deck, not in a complete vacuum. In this deck I would rank Bloom Tender over Fauna Shaman, even though in most constructed formats Fauna Shaman is certainly better.
Combo: Cards which work with Animar to reach infinity, which is surprisingly easy. Like most of the deck, these are all creatures.
Threats: Cards which don’t necessarily produce a Combo, but almost always work with a Combo and are just powerful cards in their own right. These are all creatures.
Answers: Cards which stop our opponents’ from winning. These are most of the instants and sorceries, plus a large number of creatures. Note that answers are meta specific and may not be applicable to all version of the deck.
Advantage: Cards which generate gradual or instantaneous advantage, but don’t create a Combo or Threat and aren’t answers. All card types.
Utility: Lands whose primary purpose or advantage is not how much or what colours of mana they tap for.
Mana: Lands whose primary purpose or advantage is how much or what colours of mana they tap for.
Whenever I say "+land" I am referring to an additional permanent mana (ie. a land), not an additional mana for that turn. "+mana" refers to additional mana then and there (ie. a ritual). "+card" refers to having an additional card in hand. Note that all spells are inherently -1 card, requiring a cantrip to break even. I will also refer to a resource called "complexity", which basically amounts to the total number of options available to a player. The higher the complexity, the easier it is to make a poor decision. Thus we want our complexity to be as low as possible while our opponents to be as high as possible. This can be achieved by selectively using removal to only destroy threats which can actually cause us permanent damage, while using as few of our resources a turn as possible (or alternatively replacing those resources at end of turn).
Animar, Soul of Elements is a fairly straightforward general. You play him turn 3 (turn 2 off a turn 1 mana dork) then chain increasingly cheap creatures together for fun and profit. Now doing this has a number of challenges, most notably our opponent's ability to remove or counter Animar or other key cards. The best way to defeat our opponent's removal and counterspells is to out race them, dropping more threats than they can deal with in a small enough window. The second best way would be to play around their removal, either defeating it directly with counter magic of our own or preempting it with abilities such as hexproof or protection. Efficient ETB triggers are very much necessary as they accelerate our game plan and allow us to make use of Animars additional mana. Playing while our opponent is low on resources (ie. during their end step, in response to their spells, or during our first main phase) is the best way to get our spells through. With this mindset flash is the most important evergreen keyword we want access to consistently, haste being a close second. Once we can get past our opponents' limited amount of removal and counter spells we run into our second hurdle, running out of gas. This happens more often than you would think, especially if high efficiency cards such as Mulldrifter or Animar himself get removed. Mana dorks provide us with much needed acceleration, as well as soaking up removal before it can be used on more viable threats. Creatures which fetch lands or just straight draw cards are incredibly important here as they often dodge removal (by nullifying the card disadvantage) forcing our opponents to use their counter spells. With a basic understanding of these two primary challenges we can now analyze cards to see how best they fit our goals:
1) A card should be immune to some form of removal or counter, unless it has a good enough ability to justify its inclusion otherwise.
2) A card should provide resources (mana, cards, or complexity), unless it has a good enough ability to justify its inclusion otherwise.
We have our first two criteria, but you might ask what is a good enough ability that isn't protection or draw a card? Shouldn't every card in the deck provide +mana, +cards, or be uncountable? While we've been obsessing with our opponent's removal, they have no doubt been obsessing with ours. As such it is vitally important we have the capability to deal with threats, while at the same time having enough to get through our opponents' defensive cards. We don't need to always have an answer in hand (this is multiplayer EDH after all), but we should be able to deal with major roadblocks and big threats (it is always advisable to hold back a piece of removal which protects you specifically). We've also got to consider the utility of messing with our opponent's resources. Since we aren't in black, this comes down to destroying resources they have on board (such as artifacts or lands) and countering cards before they have a chance to generate resources for our opponents.
3) If a card doesn't follow 1) or 2), it should act as removal or be a counter spell.
4) If a card doesn't follow 1) or 2), it should destroy our opponents' on board resources.
Now that we have secured our own resources and disrupted our opponents, we now have to win. This is generally the easiest part of the game, considering we have access to some of the best creatures in the game P/T wise, not to mention a continuously growing Animar. Here we can also start to look at the various combos, infinite or otherwise, having Animar as a general enables.
5) If a card doesn't follow 1) through 4), it should be powerful enough to win the game by itself or with little support if uncontested.
6) If a card doesn't follow 1) through 4), it should combo off in such a way as to guarantee victory.
With our six criteria for cards in Animar, we can now perform a card by card breakdown.
1 Birds of Paradise - This provides us +1 mana, as well as enabling a turn 2 Animar. Rule 2)
1 Arbor Elf - Turn 2 Animar is really, really good. Rule 2)
1 Coiling Oracle - This either gives us a free land (which can be +1 or +2 mana with karoos) or draws us a card. Rule 2)
1 Phantasmal Image - Another cheap clone, not much really needs to be said about the value of this card. Rules 2), 3), 4) and 5)
1 Willbender - A viable control card which allows us to divert our opponents' removal, while at the same time increasing complexity in a morphed state. Morph also works with Cloudstone Curio to allow us to create a massive Animar. Rules 1) and 6)
1 Fauna Shaman - This allows us to convert any creature card in hand into any other creature card, guaranteeing an eventual victory. Rule 6)
1 Bloom Tender - This is +3 mana with Animar on the field. Very few cards can compete with that kind of efficiency; this card alone justifies the inclusion of Twiddle effects (ie Pestermite). Rule 2)
1 Lotus Cobra - This gives us +1 mana every time we play a land, adding up pretty quickly when we consider fetches and other cards which put lands directly into play. Rule 2)
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder - This fetches us a land for G with Animar on the field. Rule 2)
1 Shardless Agent - This nets us a free spell which is guaranteed to be 2-cmc or less. Looking at the rest of our cheap spells, this is +1 mana, +1 card, or destroys an artifact. Rule 2), and by extension rule 4)
1 Trygon Predator - There are a lot of artifacts and enchantments in EDH, thus repeatable destruction always has high value. This guy offers that on an efficient body with evasion. Rule 4)
1 Pestermite - As mentioned earlier, the interaction with Bloom Tender alone makes this card worthwhile. Plus additional multi-mana producers or powerful tap effects (Karoos, Fauna Shaman, Phyrexian Metamorph) this card has a lot of options. Worst case it is the best combat screwer-upper under rare. Rule 2) (complexity) and 6) (with powerful tappers)
1 Eternal Witness - This gets us back something from the graveyard, netting us +0 cards but allowing us to reset combos and restore threats. Rule 6)
1 Wood Elves - This fetches Forests untapped, netting +1 mana when immediately cast. With Animar out this is effectively free. Rule 2)
1 Farhaven Elf - This is similar to Wood Elves, but fetches Mountains or Islands for us instead. Less useful since it can't be 'free'. Rule 2)
1 Fierce Empath - We don't have access to black's quality of tutoring, but we do have access to some strong alternatives. This can get us most abilities we might need, set up later blowout turns, or keep the combo going. Rule 2) and 6)
1 Sylvok Replica - This destroys an artifact or an enchantment for just G with Animar out. Its cheap cost is offset by being easy to counter or remove. Rule 4)
1 Master Biomancer - This combos nicely with creature cards, something we have a lot of in the deck. Rules 5) and 6)
1 Bloodbraid Elf - This is one of the most resource efficient creatures ever printed, netting 3 hasty power and another card for free. Looking at what we have access to that will probably be additional mana or cards, but could also be some form of removal. Rule 2) and by extension 3) and 4)
1 Mystic Snake - Counterspells are critically important to blue decks, we want as many good ones as possible. However we can't really afford to run a bunch of spells, hence creature based counters. Rule 3)
1 Fathom Mage - This sits there and grows, drawing us cards provided we play our deck. Rule 2) and Rule 5)
1 Glen Elendra Archmage - This is an incredibly efficient counter spell considering it only costs U to get on the board. With Master Biomancer on the field only creature spells resolve. Rule 3)
1 Venser, Shaper Savant - A third creature based counter that also doubles as a combo breaker. Rule 3)
1 Phyrexian Metamorph - In a format like EDH this will always have good targets. It can be removal, a sword, or a signet depending on what you need. Rules 2), 3), 4) and 5)
1 Voidmage Husher - Stifle on a stick plus it resets itself. Rule 3)
1 Flametongue Kavu - Efficiently sized creature with a relevant ability. 4 damage is often as good as Murder, even in EDH. Rule 3)
1 Oracle of Mul Daya - This generates huge amounts of mana if left unanswered. Rule 2)
1 Yeva, Nature's Herald - Flash is incredibly valuable for getting our spells through when our opponents least expect them. While Yeva only grants flash to green creatures, that is most of the deck. She is also quite cheap for her size and has flash herself. Rule 1)
1 Solemn Simulacrum - This is one of the best creatures in EDH, generating mana and a card often for free. Rule 2)
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir - Only 7 nonlands aren't creatures, and of those only 4 don't already have flash. The triple U cost hurts, but is more than made up for by the flash ability plus the total lockdown of our opponents' flash game. Rule 1) and 5)
1 Body Double - This is a great clone which can make use of heavily used graveyard resources. Rules 2), 3), 4) and 5)
1 Peregrine Drake - One of the super efficient Urza manacyclers. Most of the time this should net you +2 mana, if not more. Plus Cloudstone Curio you can swing for infinite on turn 4. Rule 2)
1 Mulldrifter - Evoke is great with Animar as it makes already cheap spells even cheaper. Mulldrifter himself is one of the best, netting +1 cards. Rule 2)
1 Urabrask the Hidden - It gives creatures haste, our most important creature ability. Rule 5)
1 Zealous Conscripts - This allows you to make use of your opponent's resources, as well as being part of a number of infinite combos. Rule 6)
1 Wolfir Silverheart - Perhaps the most power efficient creature ever printed. Nuff said. Rule 5)
1 Acidic Slime - One of the best pieces of resource destroyers in the market. Rule 4)
-Note that any card that costs 6 or more in EDH should be able to win you the game if not answered within a turn or two. Very rarely are cards that cost this much not immediate threats worth killing.-
1 Prime Speaker Zegana - It depends on the quality of your opponent's removal, but this can easily draw 4 or 5 cards when it hits. Rule 2) and 5)
1 Etherium-Horn Sorcerer - Given time and mana, this will win games. Rule 5)
1 Ruric Thar, The Unbowed - Take 6. Take 6. Take 6. This guy will earn value no matter what. Rule 5)
1 Consecrated Sphinx - Easily the best multiplayer creature ever printed. It's a big Sphinx too. Needs the presence of Reliquary Tower though for true abusement. Rule 2) and 5)
1 Deadeye Navigator - A combo maker which works well with any creature with any ETB effect ever. Rule 6)
1 Soul of the Harvest - This draws lots of cards, turning every creature into net +0 cards. Its got a big body too. Rules 2) and 5)
1 Duplicant - Super high quality ETB removal. Rule 3)
1 Palinchron - A two card infinite combo with Animar. Rule 6)
1 Great Whale - Another Urza manacycler on the scale of Palinchron. Rule 6)
1 Sphinx of Uthuun - Fact or Fiction Sphinx is best Sphinx. Only Consecrated can contend with this bad boy, and then only in multiplayer. Rule 2) and 5)
1 Garruk's Horde - This nets you a lot of cards and is even more efficient than Soul of the Harvest. Plus its a big beater. Rule 2) and 5)
1 Sylvan Primordial - Hailed by some as the new Primeval Titan, this is truly one of the best things to cast in EDH. Rule 2), 4) and 5)
1 Maelstrom Wanderer - As I said earlier, haste is the most important ability in the deck. Plus this nets you two free spells and has a nice body. Rule 5)
1 Bogardan Hellkite - Big flyer with a big ability. Rules 3) and 5)
1 Craterhoof Behemoth - This wins games. Rule 5)
1 Woodfall Primus - A quite big creature with deals with everything but critters, plus it comes back from the dead for free. Rule 4) and 5)
1 Artisan of Kozilek - Here we get an ability normally only found in white or black, plus its an Eldrazi with annihilator. Rule 5)
Cards that have since been removed. I'll provide the original logic, plus an explanation for it's removal:
1 Gyre Sage - This grows as we cast creatures, providing mana if needed or acting as a cheap beater. Rules 2) and 5) <- This is a great card, but it requires set up. I'm really on the fence with this one as I took it out in favour of combo machine Equilibrium. Depending on how my curve works moving forward, this may make a reappearance.
1 Man-o'-War - This can be used to remove a threat in the short term or to reactivate ETB abilities in the long term. Rules 3) and 6) <- While this is a strong card, it's effect is often irrelevant in mana heavy EDH games. Tempo removal needs to be very strong to be relevant in EDH, en masse or at instant speed. While this is one of the friendlier cards with the combo, it is a pretty safe cut.
1 Imperial Recruiter - This fetches pretty much a third of the deck. Plus it combos with Cloudstone Curio amazingly. Rule 2) <- This card is brutally unfair, and thus was removed on group request as opposed to gameplay concerns.
1 Heartwood Storyteller - This works like Consecrated Sphinx, but costs 3. Rule 2) <- While this card does a lot of work for a 3-cmc dude, drawing a bunch of cards, you only see a handful of those cards. Helping your opponents is never good, especially if they play Niv.
1 Forgotten Ancient - This generates +1/+1 counters for free, which can then be used to improve Animar's mana generation or just for making a big threat. Rules 5) and 6) <- This was removed for being too slow.
1 Ondu Giant - A slightly more expensive, but much more P/T efficient Farhaven Elf. Rule 2) <- This was removed for being one of the weaker ETB creatures. I already have three other cards that have the exact same ETB ability, meaning that removing this doesn't hurt the combos too much. Plus ramp at 4-cmc isn't too good.
1 Indrik Stomphowler - Cheaper than Acidic Slime, almost as good destruction, better P/T. Rule 4) <- With the addition of two more creature based counterspells, this suddenly became a much weaker card. As such it hit the short list in favour of Mystic Snake.
1 Diluvian Primordial - Making use of your opponent's resources is always good, especially in EDH. Rule 2) and 5) <- Don't get me wrong I really like this card. However it does cost 7 and can sometimes (too often usually) have not very many good targets.
1 Gruul Ragebeast - Almost as good as Duplicant, as it turns most every creature into removal. Rule 3) <- Looking to make my deck better at this point means some tough decisions, and this is one of them. I've been a rapid fan of this card since it came out as it effectively turns every creature you play into removal. In a deck like Animar that means no one else gets creatures. Of course that can bite you in the ass (try replaying Animar with this on the table), plus this costs 7. Like Consecrated Sphinx, this was cut primarily to make space and to better fit the curve.
1 Phyrexian Ingester - A second, mono-blue Duplicant. Rule 3) <- I often find this sits as a dead card, it simply costs too much in most games.
1 Darksteel Colossus - The original big bad and colorless. Rule 5) <- That's the same issue with this big daddy, it's too damn expensive.
3 Izzet, Simic, Gruul Signet - Animar likes coloured mana, these are some of the best filters ever printed. Rule 2) <- I really like the Signets, but with the improved mana base and higher number of mana dorks this deck doesn't need them any more.
1 Equilibrium - This and Cloudstone Curio and auto-combo machines, turning the deck into an almost instant win. Rule 6) <- The deck doesn't really need more than one of these effects; Crystal Shard does basically the same thing while also reactively bouncing your opponents' stuff.
1 Beast Within - The best piece of removal in green. Rule 3) <- Probably will go back into the deck to deal with Torpor Orb and the like, initially removed to decrease spell count.
1 Krosan Grip - Best Naturalize is best. Rule 4) <- While good, it is a spell.
1 Fires of Yavimaya - Haste and a one-time use power pump which can be used to kill creatures or players. Rule 5) <- People have questioned me running this card for a while, and I provided my reasoning above. However looking back at the deck in recent playtests has shown that combo is so much stronger than Aggro (I could build Aggro Animar, but that would involve other serious changes). As such this ability on a slightly more expensive creature (Urabrask) seemed like a much safer choice.
1 Creeping Corrosion - Of all the artifacts in the deck, only the Signets don't like this. Rule 4) <- This is a very strong spell, typically getting four or five cards. However you usually want to play it on turn 4 or 5 preempting your opponent's use of their artifact mana. Animar wants to start chaining creatures together at that point, lowering this card's usefulness. A safe cut in exchange for a powerful creature.
1 Word of Seizing - You play this when you can win instantly, which is often. As it's an instant with Split Second, it can also be used to disrupt combos. Rule 5) <- A very good spell, but it costs a lot and isn't a creature.
1 Warstorm Surge - This wins games, asking only that you play your deck. Rule 5) <- An expensive enchantment doesn't really have much place in Animar, unless it is critical to the build.
Cards I'm looking to get for the deck or just to try out:
You have quite a lot lands that comes in the play tapped, how much they hurt your tempo? I think I would personally up the basic land count a bit and change the mana rocks in to land fetching creatures.
You have quite a lot lands that comes in the play tapped, how much they hurt your tempo? I think I would personally up the basic land count a bit and change the mana rocks in to land fetching creatures.
This is a good idea. Also where are you going in the "making it better" department. Are you trying to play agressive agro, controol, tempo, combo? Knowing that and some discussion of your metta would be helpful
I see Palincron is on your list so I am going to assume combo. Cloudstone Curio and Crystal Shard get pretty nutts with an online animar and legendary Eldrazi I also see no ways to cheat Animar our turn 2 options that promote that should be considered
For a casual deck, this looks like a pretty solid list. It looks like you're pretty heavy on ramp, with over a dozen critters, rocks, and spells. I think you could safely cut the signets to make room for other things, given that they don't help Animar grow and they're a fairly fragile form of ramp. Also, I think trading Pathrazer of Ulamog for Artisan of Kozilek is a good idea. Artisan is cheaper, and being able to reanimate a creature is almost always extremely relevant for this deck in the late game.
If you want some more ideas from streamlined builds, check out gelf's Animar multiplayer primer or my build in my sig.
Could it be that you have a particular problem with artifacts in your meta? That would explain the crazy amount of hate you run. Instead of the non creature options and also instead of batterhorn (because it only hits artifacts and you already have Indrik Stomphowler and Acidic Slime at 5cmc) I would recommend:
I also notice that you have very little tutoring. With more tutors you can cut some of the more redundant functions (like artifact hate) and add more versatility and answers to more specific threats. Options are:
About the landbase: Animar is usually very greedy for colored mana so I only run three lands that only produce 1 and those provide huge and very specific advantages. With all the fetchlands you use plus the ramp 7 basic lands seems to be extremely low. I would cut the panoramas and some of the colorless producing lands for basic lands.
I would also include Sylvan Ranger and Gatcreeper Vine (cut Harabaz Druid and Quirion Elves).
They are great because they not only fix your mana, but they are also cheap creatures to bump Animar and replace themselves in your hand, so you have less card disadvantage when they get hit by a sweeper.
Another ramp creature I miss is Farhaven Elf (I would cut Quirion Ranger).
Word of Seizing (Molten Primordial is a creature and thus cheaper with Animar and you get a big beater)
I hope thats not to much critiscism in one post and hope it helps you ;). I spent much time tweaking my own Animar list which is very near to perfect now (except for a few missing cards) in my eyes. If you want more ideas, check it out (it's linked in my sig), I would also love to hear your input!
I see you have Peregrine Drake and Metamorph. I went a step further with the drakes big brother Great Whale and Palinchron. Pali gives you the combo out if you ever want to take it, or simply acts like another Great Whale. I also added Sakashima's Student for more land untapping and Clone.
@ psilocybianth: Yes I suppose I do. I don't usually see my tap lands hurting my tempo too much. Most of the players I play with also use a lot of tap lands, plus I most often find myself wanting the additional colours the tap lands provide. I find mana rocks to be much better than mana creatures most of the time as they can be chained together all in one turn. They also force my opponents to split their removal between artifacts and creatures, strengthening my success in the meta.
@ moxmadness: "Better" generally means "win more", but your question is indeed relevant. I often find myself having a hard time putting enough pressure on my opponents to knock them out. I've lost more games than I'd care to admit with my last opponents at 5 or less life. As such combo or even more efficient ramp would be best I think for making my deck "better".
@ Bismuth von Pherson: I really like Signets for the above stated reason that it forces my opponents to use more artifact hate to slow me down. Animar also has an annoying tendency to get answered within a turn or two (best I've hit recently was 10 counters, but that was off 14 lands on board). As such I find having the extra mana which survives Wraths quite useful once Animar becomes useless.
Thank you for pointing out your list, there are several ideas there I might steal. Also I'd like to note that Artisan of Kozilek is already in the deck, although I agree Pathrazer could be better.
@ Volango: Wow, thank you for all the input. Artifacts aren't a particular problem, I just see that most players run lots of them. Ancient Grudge is one of the best cards in the deck for its ability to stall and later mess up combos. I agree Batterhorn is a pretty weak pick currently, your suggestion of Sylvok Replica seems a lot better. Wickerbough Elder is honestly too mana intensive; GG I find to be too much with Animar online. Admittedly it is much better than Batterhorn, but I think Sylvok Replica is better still. Terastadon is stellar, totally a card to consider. However I've mentioned before that Animar is often answered, forcing me to play Terastadon for its prohibitive full cost.
All of your mentioned tutor cards are on my shortlist, I posted this list late last night so they were simply overlooked. Thanks for the point though, I would've missed Wild Pair.
On the landbase, I agree with your point about having so few basics. I hadn't really realized I had so few until I wrote up the list last night. I'm probably going to cut Mikokoro and Novijen for sure, although I may cut more going forward.
Suggested Cuts: Forgotten Ancient - I really like this big guy, he combos nicely with Animar, Gyre Sage, and basically any creature ever. Wolfir Silverheart - This guy is perhaps the most P/T to mana efficient creature ever printed. He's extremely good with basically every creature, and can win games paired with Animar. Rubblehulk - Admittedly pretty weak. Will probably get cut. Oni of the Wild Places - This card fuels Animar, combos with cascade, and is on extremely good body to boot. Whats not to like? Hamletback Goliath - This is basically a huge hydra, plus it gives every creature I play pseudo-haste as their power is dumped on him. Its just a great feeling to drop this guy for R then play ten more creatures. However I do agree that there may be better cards for the deck. Farseek - Super effective ramp is super effective. Prophetic Prism - Admittedly pretty weak, most likely will cut. Word of Seizing - Sometimes you just need to steal Niv during their upkeep so they don't win with Top. Or sometimes you can steal Tamiyo's ultimate. Really this card just does too many good things against every EDH deck ever to cut.
I know the problem of Animar not being accesable due to being killed for the fifth time or being tucked. Thats why included backup engines that make the deck work great even without the general. Those are Birthing Pod and Wild Pair which are already on your shortlist for also beeing great tutor options but also Lurking Predators. As soon as I pick one up I'm also going to test Omniscience as backup plan (and since my list is all permanents I can also have Primal Surge).
Personally I like Magus of the Future better than Garruks Horde. The UUU can be hard sometimes, but on the other hand you can also play the lands that come up with Magus. This gets especially great if you have Oracle of Mul-Daya or Azusa, Lost but Seeking.
I have updated my list with suggested cards and cards I was already considering.
@ ParadoxGate: Ramp is good, and Farseek is pretty much the best. I like the double utility of Crystal Shard, but it can be pretty taxing on my blue. I'd also rather run something that has a more immediate effect on the board state. Phantasmal Image is awesome and 20$. I added Greaves to help deal with locks. I can play around Wraths, but more support against them would be nice. What do you suggest?
@ Volango: As you can see, I re-added Zegana despite the mana cost. A big part of this move was the acquisition of Master Biomancer. With him on the field, Zegana becomes so much more efficient. I also disagree on how many cards Zegana typically draws. Clearly you don't play against as competitive opponents because Zegana rarely ever draws me more than 3, often sitting in my hand as a dead card.
How do lands get hit by wraths? Last time I checked theres no Akroma's Vengance + lands legal in EDH. Sylvan Ranger and Gatecreeper are certainly fine cards, but they don't provide any acceleration. Honestly I'd rather drop a Signet or a second tap land on turn 2. If I had Azusa in the deck and a massive land-hand engine (such as Life from the Loam) then maybe they'd be worth running, but I'd still probably rather have ramp instead of tempo.
Animar is unplayable if he dies more than once. By that point you should be able to hard cast anything or a series of anythings without the extra mana Animar provides.
I think you got me wrong there, I meant exactly that: Lands usually don't get hit by wraths. So you don't get the tempo advantage of e.g. Birds of Paradise but your ressources are much more stable. Also how do your landdrops come? I run 35 lands and somtimes that seems too few, so if you have problem hitting your landdrops cards like Sylvan Ranger and Gatcreeper Vine make even more sense. Investing in a stable amount of lands on the board seems one of the best inssurances against creature wipes for this deck.
Zegana usually gets it's power of Animar which thankfully is immune to most spot removal in response to Zegana but also without Animar there is almost always something that gives her 5+ counters.
How is Master Biomancer apart from Zegana and evolvers? I dismissed him because he gives neither card advantage, nor immediate board pressence.
Wild Pair is not only some tutorpower, but also acts as a backup engine when Animar isn't available. Lurking Predators is definitely up for discussion.
Ten mana sure is steep but in a typical EDH match you usually easily reach that amount and since Primal Surge and Omniscience basically win you the game when they resolve, they're well worth it.
Okay I get your point on Sylvan Ranger and Gatecreeper, sorry if I came off a bit confrontational. I generally don't have problems with mana at all, a big part of which is using all the Signets, Karoos, and Rites of Flourishing. The Signets and the Karoos are safe plays early on in the game which can result in a turn 3 Animar immediately followed by a 2-cmc mana dork. My friend and I play a lot of artifact and destruction primarily to deal with the huge advantage those cards provide. Rites of Flourishing provides an enormous long-term advantage. However it is a pretty high risk inclusion (acceleration Niv-Mizzet's mana is just stupid), so I understand why you don't run it. Generally I find myself missing one or two land drops here and there, but more often than not I'm on 6 or 7 mana turn 5. Oddly enough board wipes tend to work in my favour as I have several haste granters or creatures with haste which can quickly wreck someone. My best style kill involved untapping with Gyre Sage and Forgotten Ancient, then dropping a Primordial Hydra with 12 +1/+1 counters and Fires of Yavimaya, all while holding back a Bogardan Hellkite. I find the best counter to board wipes is holding back some huge threat that just wins if you can untap with it.
I think you're underestimating the effectiveness of blue removal. One of my friends favourite plays is a gawd-damn bounce creature or spell in response to Animar. Rapid Hybridization is another card which just wrecks Animar. Previously I found Zegana to be only good, never excellent, and honestly terrible when comboing off. I think with Master Biomancer, Lightning Greaves, and a lower curve she'll be a lot better.
On Master Biomancer, I think he's my second favourite Simic card after Fathom Mage. He's never bad and with something like Forgotten Ancient he's nutty. He also makes killing Animar much less punishing, as you immediately recover two +1/+1 counters. I'd absolutely trade for him if you can.
Wild Pair is very good, but often times I can see myself rather having something with immediate board presence, that doesn't require the investment of another card to even do anything. In fact that's my biggest problem with Momir Vig, he does nothing the turn he hits. I really only include him because he combos so nicely with every search effect ever. Having him and Oracle of Mul Daya out basically gives you two free cards every time you draw a card. Lurking Predators is probably better than Wild Pair as it allows you a lot more reactivity, but it still fails to do anything by itself. Really the only reason I include Warstorm Surge is because it allows me to kill players with strong boards.
Omniscience is really greedy in a deck that can't cheat it out. Combo Animar running a bunch of artifact creatures and Krark-Clan Ironworks would be pretty cool, but it isn't really what I want my deck to be. Primal Surge would fit nicely in that deck, but really doesn't make sense in mine.
Primal Surge really wouldn't fit too well but what you might want to try is Genesis Wave since you still run mostly permanents.
Two other cards that are really great in my list are Dream Stalker and Kederekt Leviathan. The former can bounce himself and pump Animar for U, while doing so it will also trigger evolve (and often since it has 5 toughness) and cards like Sould of the Harvest or he can just bounce somthing to reuse the ETB effect.
The latter can swing games around you wouldn't win otherwise. You can also use a clone to bounce the board back every turn, thus giving you time to draw into answers or build up your mana.
I got a Master Biomancer now and since you are vouching so much for him (I also really like the art).
How is Apokalypse Hydra? Is it just a massive creature? How usefull is the ping ability?
-1 Rubblehulk - This card is great, I really like it especially in land heaven EDH. However it is best when paired with a more aggressive, general-based aggro strategy. It simply wasn't doing enough.
-1 AEthersnipe - This was a recent addition and a recent cut. It is a very good card and a must have for any starting Animar deck. However it is quite expensive at 6-cmc and double-U Evoke.
-1 Oni of Wild Places - This card has very attractive stats, but it has the same issue as AEthersnipe in that it is quite expensive at 6. The ability is also not very relevant considering how few red etb creatures I have.
-1 Joiner Adept - While this is a perfectly fine creature, it doesn't accelerate. With my enhanced mana base, this was an easy cut.
-1 Farseek - Farseek is amazing, about as good as you can do for a 2-cmc green common. However Fauna Shaman is another 2-cmc green spell which does a whole lot more.
-1 Harabaz Druid - Bloom Tender is better.
-1 Rites of Flourishing - I'll confess I really like this card. A lot. However it was proven to me the other day the dangers of accelerating a faster deck, leading me to question Rite's inclusion. I think in most match ups it's stellar, but the speed boost it gives to generals like Kaalia or Rafiq is too much for my deck to handle.
-1 Primordial Hydra - This is another card I quite like, despite generally lackluster reviews. This card can often be a game ender all by itself, requiring little skill other than untapping and attacking for 30ish. However my play group has grown wise to this card, killing or countering it before I can get it on the table. With a stronger mana base I might consider readding this, but until then its out.
-1 Avatar of Slaughter - This was a tough decision. I really like the Avatar as he basically guarantees the game will end in the next round of play, usually in my favour. However he is expensive and so without Animar it often ends up being a dead card. Darksteel Colossus is in a similar position, but I felt the big Golem does more good work for the deck.
-1 Wrecking Ogre - I feel comfortable in saying this is the best Bloodrush card currently printed (we'll have to wait another week before I can say that with more finality). It often results in very favourable combats and can turn even a lowly 2/2 into a backbreaking 10 damage to the face. If I wasn't looking to add more control this would stay in, but as of now Draining Whelk is simply a better card.
-1 Apocalypse Hydra - The weaker of the two Hydras, this was an obvious cut.
-1 Exotic Orchard - While fine in multiplayer, this can often sit on just one or two relevant colours. One of several lands cut to improve the mana base.
-1 Copperline Gorge - This is a weird cut, that will most likely get revised. I needed to cut something that wasn't a basic and I don't like to break cycles.
-1 Brutalizer Exarch - Some of you will no doubt question this cut, but I will simply point out how many lands I was looking to add. Something had to go to make space.
-1 Reliquary Tower - The same need for space was the reason for this cut.
-1 Mormir Vig - And this one. While I like Mormir in principle, he often doesn't do that much. The higher percentage of blue creatures may change this, so he's still on my shortlist for readding.
-1 Jund, Naya, Bant Panorama - I really do like the Panoramas, and in most decks their fine. However in faster decks they simply waste time.
+1 Birds of Paradise - Speed is everything in Magic, and this is the one card I have which will reliably cause a turn 2 Animar.
+1 Fauna Shaman - This thing is sweet. Need I say more?
+1 Bloom Tender - After resolving Animar this turns into +3 mana. Pretty good methinks.
+1 Farhaven Elf - A second Wood Elves will never go amiss.
+1 Glen Elendra Archmage - This round of additions includes a number of control cards, this being the premier one of the bunch. With something like Forgotten Ancient on the board, you get numerous 'free' counters and a delicious amount of time in which to play big fatties and deal big damage.
+1 Mulldrifter - The ability to draw cards on etb is fantastic, practically an EDH staple. Plus it flies.
+1 Draining Whelk - Technically 'better' than Glen Elendra because it can counter anything (and gets big in the process). Plus it flies.
+1 Palinchron - C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!
+1 Scalding Tarn - Better mana base. This logic covers the remainder of the cards.
@ Volango: Genesis Wave is really expensive, realistically as much (if not more) than Primal Surge. Not really the right fit for my deck.
I have seen Dream Stalker in a number of lists and I might try him out at some point. However I don't see his ability being relevant enough, which is why I haven't added him yet. I think with this current update to the list, he's inclusion is looking a lot more likely. Kederekt Leviathan is an odd choice for an Animar deck. Why would you ever cast this off Animar, as it resets all your hard work?
As you can see, I cut my Hydras. While I like them in principle, they don't have haste and so have little relevance to the board state when they arrive. Some sort of Fireball + Hydra (or Hydra with haste) would be perfect, if you write to Wizards so shall I.
I have t admit I haven't played many multiplayer games recently (there were never enough EDH players at my LGS :() but a card that was amazing so far in my list is Erayo, Soratami Ascendant. She's usually suprisingly easy to flip (no wonder with all the carddrawing and cascading :D) and she hinders your opponent(s) a lot. They'll usually need two cards to remove her and most of their mana even if they can deal with her right away.
Another card I'm currently testing is Myojin of Life's Web and it does quite well. Especially in the mid to lategame I'm often stuck with a hand full of awsome fatties but only at 8-10 mana which is only enough to cast one at a time and Animar costing too much mana that it would be of any help. That's when this is just the thing you need. You can also cast it for cheap when Animar is still around. Then it is an 8/8 indestructible beater that can survive most sweeps and help you rebuild afterwards (you can put your whole hand on the battlefield EOT, untap and attack).
@ Volango: Erayo seems pretty cool, however I play in quite a competitive, removal-heavy meta. She would never stick, not to mention one of my primary opponent's runs a Karador deck which just laughs at Erayo. While I think it is a great EDH card, you need to have the control suite already in place to protect and then abuse a flipped Erayo.
Myojin is triple-G. That's really my biggest concern. It seems like a completely awesome card that would fit in most Animar builds, but more often than not I'd be down to choosing to cast that or two other things, two other things usually being better. I'd rather just come out faster.
I will confess I hate the Eldrazi titans. They're an example of tacking way too much on to a card, making them the best thing you can ever do at that point on the curve (Emrakul is banned for a reason). As such I don't see myself ever running them.
I am actually considering cutting Darksteel Colossus considering how much it costs to hardcast. Without haste he just gets exiled, countered, or forces a board wipe. It is true that when he comes out and connects he often wins me games, I'd rather at this point have something cheaper with a more immediate board effect.
@ Gelf: Unless you go all the way, I really don't see '+1/+1 counters matter' as a viable build. And by all the way I mean a perfect Evolve curve giving you infinite Oozes off of Ooze Flux or some other similar degenerate combo. +1/+1 counters are a very vulnerable resource as they require you to have creatures stick, often for more than a turn. Without the graveyard support of Ghave colours, I really don't see the deck being that viable.
The Hydras are great, and they seem obviously awesome in Animar. However I typically find this to be the opposite of true. Hydras want as many +1/+1 counters as quickly as possible, which usually entails tapping out even with Animar on board. This leaves you very vulnerable to spot removal. As I said in my explanations post, a Hydra really needs to have haste or some kind of etb damage effect to really be worth it. Perhaps once they print an indestructible Hydra I will run that, but till then I'd stick to more mana efficient creatures.
What's so nice about the Myojin is that it is a good play if Animar is out (albeit a bit mana intensive) but is even more awesome if Animar isn't available anymore because it's abiltiy acts as kind of an Animar substitute. My experience is that I need backup plans to keep the deck running smoothly and that's one of the most potent options I've found so far. I mean it lets you slap your entire hand on the table at instant speed!
I agree that adding a +1/+1 counters matter theme would probably make the deck much weaker.
There are three cards I can think of that draw cards by removing +1/+1 counters: Zameck Guildmage: I tried him in the early stages of my deck. His abilities are just too mana intensive with open GU you almost always want to do somthing better than draw a card or buff your incoming creatures. Novijen Sages: Could be usefull but at cmc6 there are much stronger options. Sage of Fables: This is the only one I can see myself trying since I run about ten wizards, some of which would even profit from the additional powerbuff (Fathom Mage, Master Biomancer, Zegana) and you can play colorless mana for his ability.
Thank you about the deck theory, I'm thinking I will expand it to include other relevant cards not in the deck. I posted recently on your page about the potential for a Super Artifact Animar deck. I'm thinking I will develop that deck and post the alternate list here.
I really like the deck theory section, good job on explaining every single card choice made in the deck.
A few suggestions,
Chord of Calling - Besides GSZ, this is by far one of the best and most versatile tutor card to run in Animar. Most of our spells and abilities are focused solely on ETB creatures, hence this instant can bring out whatever ability we want as long as we keep GGG and some creatures untapped during opponent's turn.
Heartwood Storyteller - Easily my best card in my Animar deck, and by far the one card my playgroup really hate/love/whatever. Animar decks usually run a very high count of creatures (45+), hence the card doesn't really affect Animar players. However, it makes all opponents hesitant to cast any of their artifacts/enchantments/spells/planeswalkers. In a group game it can easily net you 5-6 cards per round in a 4player game.
Nantuko Vigilante - I would love to suggest this card to replace Indrik Stomphowler. It is a meta-call though, but it will be nice if we can prepare for all kinds of situations. Recently cards like Torpor Orb and Linvala, Keeper of Silence have made appearances in my playgroup, which severely hoses many of Animar's options to kill off these pesky cards. The triggered ability from the vigilante is extremely hard to stop and yes it goes through those Sharuum players who think they can combo off running a Grand Abolisher on their turn. For the vigilante it costs 1G to get the 'naturalize' ability if Animar is in the field with 3+ counters.
@ nekorin: Chord of Calling looks sweet, basically an instant speed Wargate. I'll have to put that on the short list for the next update. I didn't realize Loaming Shaman was a card, it seems pretty good against the numerous dredge strategies. It can also be used to reset myself in long games. Heartwood Storyteller is a card just recently brought to my attention, definitely going in with the next update. Nantuko Vigilante seems better if I add Cloudstone Curio as well, it being morph. I think the base of the deck is strong enough at this point to add more combo. The Harbingers are cool, but don't fetch enough to really justify a whole slot. They are certainly worth considering, but I'd have to change some cards to optimize their performance.