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What cards should a good cube supporting reanimator decks contain? Which ones are crucial and what's extra.

I figure there are at least 3 types of cards:

Reanimation E.g. Animate dead, Necromancy.

Put-em-in-the-yard: E.g. Entomb, Careful study.

Targets: E.g. Akroma

What's best in each category and am I missing anything? How many cards of each type are needed in a 540 cube?

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Help me rephrase the question if you think it's too vague. I think most of you understand what I want to know. –  AndSoYouCode Dec 5 '12 at 7:19
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I suggest this article cubedrafting.com/2009/03/03/cube-draft-strategy-reanimator and considering step 1 of this one : cubedrafting.com/2009/03/20/how-to-begin-your-cube –  Michel Daviot Dec 6 '12 at 7:54
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You might want to check out this article, which is pretty much explicitly about building a more interesting reanimator cube, though it contains some controversial viewpoints: channelfireball.com/articles/the-cube-fallacy –  thesunneversets Feb 11 '13 at 16:45
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3 Answers

As this question is currently worded, it's not a good fit for the site. However, the question of "What factors should one consider when building a cube" isn't a terrible one, and it's one you need to step through in order to answer your question anyway, so that's the angle I'll approach it from.

If you're going to make a cube with a theme, you should consider adding some theme-hate. So you have three ways to get cards from the graveyard to the battlefield. Do you have ways to stop people from doing that? Cards that empty graveyards (with exile) are a great fit. They fit in nicely with your theme in that situational cards are now incredibly relevant, and allows you to have an answer for very powerful cards. Remember that one of the defining characteristics of Magic from its inception is the notion that if you're still playing, you can still win: coming back with an awesome bomb completely changes the board position. (Realistically, that isn't always true... but it is true that every element that enters a set has a counter to it. Unless development screws up and makes another Jace or something...)

As for how many cards, that is a very tricky question to answer. Let's consider the population: you have 540 cards. How many of each color are you going to have? Maybe about 100 of each and 40 colorless? If that's the case, how many blue, white, red, and green reanimator are you going to have? Are there even 500 reanimator-themed cards you'd want to play? I'm not convinced there are. I suspect you're going to need more along the lines of 15 distinct themes (that's still 30 cards per theme) in addition to some vanilla or non-theme creatures.

Bottom line is, building a good cube is not easy. Consider the difference between building a standard deck (one very focused theme, 36 spells, 10-12 unique spells) and a commander deck (one loose theme, 4 or 5 mechanics that synergize well but were originally unrelated, 60 spells, 60 unique spells). Well now you're building a 5 color, 30 theme deck with between 540 unique spells!! By my estimation, about 10 times more difficult than a good commander deck. And if you've ever played commander, you know the first time you play a commander deck, you go "What was I thinking? This card sucks in this deck!" How much complex will the playtesting be to make a good cube?

I'm not saying this to discourage you, but just to prepare you for the task at hand. Even leaning more toward one color, I still wouldn't suggest having more than 25% of the cube be a single color, and that can make "single-theming" very difficult.

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While I agree that this question may be a bit too vague for this site, I didn't see anything in it that suggested the OP wants to build a "reanimator-themed cube". Just a cube with the right cards floating around in it for a player to have a chance of assembling a powerful reanimator-type deck...? –  thesunneversets Dec 4 '12 at 16:21
    
It does appear I missed the word "supporting". I don't think it changes the relevancy of anything in the answer, though. –  corsiKa Dec 4 '12 at 16:29
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Important cards to consider (if you like the most powerful ones)

Reanimation

  • Reanimate
  • Exhume
  • Recurring Nightmare
  • Animate dead
  • Dance of the death
  • Life/Death

Put-em-in-the-yard:

  • Entomb
  • Careful study
  • Thirst for Knowledge
  • Undead Gladiator
  • Aquaomeba

Targets

  • Akroma (white > red)
  • Hellkite Overlord
  • Empyral Archangel
  • Angel of Despair
  • Verdant Force
  • Inkwell Leviathan
  • Reya Dawnbringer
  • Akroma, Angel of Fury
  • Iona, Shield of Emeria

I also like some of them to be castable in control / artifacts decks

  • Sundering Titan
  • Platinum Emperion / Platinum Angel
  • Tombstalker
  • Eternal Dragon
  • Rorix Bladewing
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don't forget frantic search –  Sam I am Jan 14 '13 at 5:51
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The first thing you need to do is decide which colors you want to support the reanimator theme in. Black is the go to answer, but there are solid reanimation options in white as well. Enablers are going to be mostly blue or green. Once you know the color options, then envision what you want a good reanimator deck to look like in your cube. Do you want it to be a Legacy styled combo deck that can have Gristlebrand on the field on turn 2, or do you want it to be a much more grindy Rec-Sur styled GB deck? You can also use cards like Debtor's Knell that give a good value BW deck an awesome late game by itself.

Balancing cards that can be used in both a dedicated reanimator strategy and other strategies is important. Cards that discard for a benefit, like Oona's Prowler and Lotleth Troll are perfect for this. Survival of the Fittest like cards are strategies to themselves, and just get better with a few reanimation cards. Draw/Discard cards such as Thirst for Knowledge fit great into reanimator decks as well.

Once you know what you want your decks to look like, and you have a list of cards you want to include, then all that's left is to find slots in the cube and playtest. Force the strategy a few times, and see if you feel like you're getting enough support. Let others draft and see how often the strategy is taken, and how often it wins. If it's too powerful, cut back cards or add dedicated GY hate*. If its too weak, then add more support cards. If it's good but under-drafted by your group, then bean them with it a few times.

*A note about dedicated GY hate - I don't recommend adding these cards to begin with. They're dead cards more often than they're used. Instead try things like Scavenging Ooze (or if you're like me have Leyline of the Void and Helm of Awakening in your cube...)

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Wasn't sure how to auto-card, so I'll go back and do that if someone can show me the syntax. –  WLPhoenix Dec 6 '12 at 17:03
    
How many reanimation spells do you run? I want it as powerful as possible and dedicate as few "pure theme cards" as possible. That's the tricky part :) –  AndSoYouCode Dec 7 '12 at 6:43
    
For 540, I have Reanimate, Animate Dead, Exhume as quick reanimation. Diabolic Servitude and Recurring Nightmare are slower, more value driven reanimation cards. Living death can double as a sweeper for black, and Karmic Guide is a good ETB creature effect. So really just 5 dedicated reanimate spells. Then again, I support Splinter Twin as well, so don't want the cube to get too combo heavy. –  WLPhoenix Dec 11 '12 at 12:38
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