Top 10 Graveyard Revivals in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on March 12, 2019
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy casts spells in-between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Reviving Creatures From Graveyards in Magic

Death isn't necessarily the end of a monster in Magic; many spells retrieve creatures from the graveyard. Some simply add them back to your hand, letting you recast them, but today we'll examine powerful abilities that directly return them to the field, quickly priming you for battle.

With black's dealings in death and rebirth, it contains most revivals, and we've encountered dozens of powerful resurrection spells throughout the years. But which reanimations reign supreme? These are the ten best creature-reviving cards in Magic: The Gathering!

Twilight's Call
Twilight's Call

10. Twilight's Call

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 6

Call requires a hefty sum of six mana, but it returns each and every creature from the graveyard to the field, skillfully rejuvenating your entire graveyard. Use black's self-milling cards to quickly stock your graveyard with plenty of fodder to recover.

You can even cast Call at instant speed by spending two additional mana, catching opponents by surprise. Either way, you're also handing opponents their defeated creatures; avoid this penalty by exiling their graveyards with cards like "Bojuka Bog".

Life // Death
Life // Death

9. Life // Death

CMC: 1/2

Here's a rare split spell, letting you cast either half as you see fit. And few are as cheap as this green/black duo; Life needs one mana and turns your lands into 1/1 creatures for the turn, letting you temporarily use them for offense instead of resources.

Better yet, Death returns a creature from your graveyard to the field, though you lose life equal to its CMC. Still, considering the increased life totals in EDH, that's a small price for such a cheap revival, especially one with such versatility.

All Hallow's Eve
All Hallow's Eve

8. All Hallow's Eve

CMC: 4

Here's a powerful mass revival with only a moderate fee—but there's a delay. All Hallow's Eve exiles itself with two scream counters, and you remove one during your upkeep. When it runs out, you cast it to recover all creatures from all graveyards, just like Twilight's Call.

Again, be sure to employ graveyard-banishment abilities to minimize the benefits your opponents receive while using self-mills to maximize your own.

Victimize
Victimize

7. Victimize

CMC: 3

While it doesn't need a huge stream of mana, Victimize's effect requires you to sacrifice a creature. But when you do, you return two other creatures from your graveyard to the field.

Thus, forfeit a weak one-cost unit or throwaway zombie token to revive ace monsters you milled or discarded into your cemetery, accessing titans without having to pay their costs.

Body Snatcher
Body Snatcher

6. Body Snatcher

CMC: 4

When Body Snatcher arrives, you exile him unless you discard a creature. While this weakens your hand, it places champions into your graveyard for revivals. Speaking of which, when Snatcher dies, you exile him and revive any creature from your graveyard!

You can but don't have to choose the creature you discarded, and Snatcher's 2/2 stats make him easily killed when you're ready for the effect. Unlike today's sorceries, you can also set him up ahead of time, ensuring your mana is unrestricted on future turns.

Recurring Nightmare
Recurring Nightmare

5. Recurring Nightmare

CMC: 3

This enchantment only needs three mana and stays fielded until you're ready for its effect: during a main phase, you can sacrifice a creature and return Nightmare to your hand to move a creature from your graveyard to the field.

Again, this offers a cheap recovery that works well when employing fodder tokens, you can prepare it in advance, and since it bounces to your hand when used, you can easily recast it.

Dread Return
Dread Return

4. Dread Return

CMC: 4

Simple yet effective, Return's a prime force in any theme. For a moderate price of four mana, you simply revive a creature from your graveyard, no strings attached.

Then, once in your discard pile, you can cast Return into exile with its flashback trait. Instead of spending mana, this requires you sacrifice three creatures, an excellent way to convert weak tokens into a formidable resurrection.

Dance of the Dead
Dance of the Dead

3. Dance of the Dead

CMC: 2

This wordy text essentially states that Dead revives a creature from any graveyard under your control, meaning you can even borrow from opponents. Then, it attaches to the unit and grants it +1/+1, but it doesn't untap at your upkeep. However, you can spend two mana each turn to refresh them, minimizing the disadvantage.

Additionally, if Dead leaves the field, you have to sacrifice the creature, but these are small prices for a revival that accesses any graveyard, only costs two mana, and gives its recipient +1/+1.

Unearth
Unearth

2. Unearth

CMC: 1

A single swamp's mana accesses this cheap sorcery, moving any creature with a CMC or three or less from your graveyard to your field. You're essentially attaining something that costs three mana for just one, and as a bonus, Unearth offers a cycling effect that lets you discard it for two mana to draw a new card.

Honestly, this one's so tempting you'll rarely want to toss it, but it's a nice alternative for situations where you're hunting a specific spell. Unearth's incredible efficiency makes it a frequent member of my own black commander decks, especially since it's much cheaper than most of today's cards, costing less than a single dollar!

Animate Dead
Animate Dead

1. Animate Dead

CMC: 2

Similar to Dance of the Dead, this two-cost aura reanimates a creature from any graveyard, expanding your revival options. Again, you have to sacrifice the unit if Animate leaves the field, but that's a negligible trade-off for such an affordable spell.

The only other downside is a minor stat reduction of -1/-0, but unlike its counterpart, your unit untaps normally during your upkeep, ensuring they're consistently ready for battle. Inexpensive and versatile, Animate Dead remains the best creature revival in Magic.

Which card do you prefer?

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Other Creature Revivals in Magic

Today we focused on generic revivals that can recover any creature, but be sure to access specific supports your subtypes employ; for instance, "Bladewing the Risen" excels at recovering dragons.

Black revivals pair especially well with creature-focused green or white decks, letting you easily recover their big monsters, but they're useful for any graveyard-filling theme. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of creature-recovering spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

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    © 2019 Jeremy Gill

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