To those who kept visiting the page but couldn’t see any new content, I apologize. It’s been quite busy at work since we’re approaching the end of the year. However I stumbled upon a brew that looks exciting and interesting. This brew was triggered by my friend borrowing my Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Abrades so I’m force to brew without red.
I have always been a fan of Black-Green or Golgari decks. I honestly think this combination of colors opens up every single angle of competitive Magic since I can remember.
Black gives us extremely cheap creatures that hit really hard, gives us access to some card advantage in exchange for some life points, and the best removal spells in Magic.
Green on the other hand gives us huge creatures, access to life gain, and among the best pump and protection spells in Magic.
If I were to choose a third color that goes well with BG is White. Access to sweepers and powerful enchantment is always good to have. White also supplements our capability to exile permanents and not just creatures which Black is already capable of doing.
I was pretty excited when Golgari became a Tier 1 deck in standard featuring the Winding Constrictor and Rishkar Synergy. Together with Walking Ballista, and other energy cards like Longtusk Cub and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner – the deck was a powerhouse.
It’s sad that this straight-forward deck, though very linear, was reduced to Tier 2 because of Energy’s dominance. With Abrade printed, it has hosed the go-tall strategy offered by Verdurous Gearhulk and also reduced the survivability of Winding Constrictor.
Today I will try to push this strategy to the next level and see how we can bring this deck back and there are quite a lot of good creatures that still work well with this synergy.
Many Magic Pros say that the Winding Constrictor + Rishkar combo works extremely well if you pull it off on curve and the opponent didn’t keep a hand with removal.
What if you can trigger Winding Constrictors ability to majority of your deck? Ixalan’s explore mechanic actually works great in theory with Snake on the battlefield. A 2-mana 4/3 or 3/4 on a nonland exploration trigger is absurdly powerful for the mana investment. How about a 5/4 flying, lifelink, vigilance angel that makes everything else bigger?
Since we are also playing white, let’s add Ixalan’s Binding because we just need to remove some pesky permanents like Gods and Planeswalkers. But surprisingly, another good way to remove Gods cleanly off the battlefield is a neglected Planeswalker.
Ajani Unyielding is a very powerful but underutilized Planeswalker that actually has good abilities.
In our deck where we don’t play actually have any mainboard nonpermanent spells, Ajani’s +2 ability is often a draw 2 or 3 cards. His -2 ability is the best God killer on a stick we can find and his -9 ability also synergizes with Winding Constrictor or Walking Ballista. But I think giving everyone 6 +1/+1 counters c/o the Snake as opposed to just 5 from Ajani alone is negligible, but still worth noting.
We are running a LOT of creatures and the plan is to block profitably and make our opponent run out of gas. The GB Snake deck also had the same difficulty of getting back on board after a Fumigate gets them so my ‘next level’ approach is to mix the “Snek” archetype with…
Yup. God-Pharaoh’s Gift.
The explore mechanic helps us put creatures in the yard much like Minister of Inquiries does for the UW build but much slower. What we give up in speed-milling we gain back from powerful defense/offense. 3/2s and 2/3s are much better against aggressive decks than a 1/2 miller.
The addition of the GPG package also allows us to go for long games and literally start over the game. The difference is that the second time around, our creatures come in the form of 4/4 zombies that explore, give more tokens, ETB at 5/5s. Verdurous Gearhulks not become Abrade-proof as zombies.
The other card I added which might be off is Regal Caracal. I wanted another top-end threat that can help clutter the board to maximize Verdurous Gearulk’s ETB effect. Together with Winding Constrictors, the 1/1 cats become 3/3 lifelinkers which is super relevant in the damage race.
So here’s my Abzan GPS (God Pharaoh’s Snake)
2 Walking Ballista
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Seeker’s Squire
4 Winding Constrictor
2 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
3 Verdurous Gearhulk
2 Regal Caracal
4 Angel of Invention
4 Gate to the Afterlife
2 God-Pharaoh’s Gift
4 Ixalan’s Binding
2 Ajani Unyielding
4 Blooming Marsh
2 Concealed Courtyard
2 Scattered Groves
3 Sunpetal Grove
4 Kitesail Freebooter
3 Deathgorge Scavanger
2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
3 Thopter Arrest
3 Vraska’s Contempt
We are running 23 lands instead of 25 because the explore-creatures will allow us to get our lands.
As for the sideboard, I tried to make it permanent heavy as well so our explore creatures and Gate-GPG synergy don’t get compromised post-board.
Vraska’s Contempt is a most debatable card in the deck because of its BB cost and quite little gain as compared to playing Cast Out instead but I’m still testing it out because the lifegain might be relevant.
Kitesail Freebooter is our Duress against UW and UB control decks. I saw it do heavy lifting in UB GPG decks so I chose to run it too.
Lifegain can sometimes save your games against Ramunap Red or Mono Black aggro but Deathgorge Scavenger is actually good against the Mirror or who ever runs a Scarab God. Coming back as a 4/4 that can hit for 5 is also a decent clock late game.
Gonti is our non-blue Hostage Taker. Taking the opponent’s best card from the top of his library does add 1 card to our hand technically – and a 2/3 deathtouch can trade well with Bristling Hydras. But a 4/4 Gonti is nuts.
Lastly is Thopter Arrest. This can probably be Cast Out instead but the 1-mana discount can sometimes be more important that Flash. Exiling a Hazoret on the draw is extremely relevant. You can also exile opposing GPGs and Scarab Gods. With so few enchantment hate – Thopter Arrest resembles an almost clean-answer to things.
That’s it for now – I hope you enjoy this deck and I am really interested to know what you would change. I would like to think this would be my pet deck and leave my Sunbird Invocation brews for later!