Hello beloved readers,
Today I decided to shelf my Esper mill list for logical reasons.
- Drakes decks are a very bad match-up and is near unwinnable unless you draw all your removal and they don’t draw their Dive Down.
- Jeskai control variants run Drakes.
- Mono Red and Mono Blue are very painful without efficient life gain effects available.
I played roughly 70 games in MTGA and my win rate is 27%. The games that I win were dominating but the games I lost in were embarrassing. Therefore it’s time to move until we see Azorious and Orzhov cards in standard.
Vraska commands one my favorite color combinations in Magic ever since I started playing competitively. Back in Onslaught days, I ran Ravenous Baloth, Oversold Cemetery, Deathcloud and Troll Ascetics to good finishes. Though my skills were mediocre at best, I was beating people purely because the cards I played were so synergistic which made the deck forgiving to mistakes.
I read a bunch of threads online, watch countless of streams in YouTube both from professional players, MoDo streamers, deck techs from Dev, gameplays from Seth and pulled together what I liked about Golgari and made this list which I am dedicated to stick by for the next two weeks until I post my results after Gold Rush.
While studying different builds, I noticed there are three way to build a BG deck.
First, the Planeswalker build:
Decks that powered to the mid game and take off into the late game had Walkers central to their game plan. Vivien Reid was an $8 Planeswalker when M19 was launched, grew to $11.99 and is now sitting at a hefty $28.99 price tag. Why? Because she is a great top end that offers gas with her plus ability, destroys pesky Ixalan’s Binding and Conclave Tribunals, and snipes Drakes from the sky. I saw decks that ran Karn as an alternative Planeswalker to Vivien because it also offered the same card advantage for a cheaper price. Lastly, we have the Golgari queen herself, Vraska who is another way to get card advantage, destroys cheap permanents like History, and has a game winning emblem to boot. With a bunch of value creatures that offers decent pressur in the beginning whilst offering a defensive wall to keep the Planeswalkers alive, the strategy was to go on the offensive, trade up, capitalize, then turn the corner with large creatures and Planeswalkers.
The second build is Midrange:
These decks play very decent offensive creatures early in the game like Merfolk Branchwalkers, Ravenous Chupacabra and Thrashing Brontodon but the power level of the deck immediately spikes when it hits turn 4 by dropping Doom Whisper or a turn 5 Carnage Tyrant thanks to Llanowar Elves. I think this is Reid Duke’s preferred build and I know why… because it’s damn strong and very potent if the opponent is not ready with the right removal.
But even if they did, the Black Green Midrange deck remains resilient thanks to Find. Recovering two creatures that were already difficult to get rid of like Carnage Tyrant or a Jadelight Ranger is a pain in the ass! Not to mention it also has Vivien Reid somewhere in the 60 and The Eldest Reborn in the side, the deck truly is well rounded both pre and post sideboard.
The third build is the Explore variant:
What started to be a draft theme in Ixalan block ended up as one of standard’s best framework which combines life gain advantage and combat advantage. The unseemingly 1/3 for two mana holds back almost everything white weenies and Boros aggro in their tracks. Then all of a sudden a third turn Jadelight Ranger turns it into a 3/5 attacker that puts you 6 life points ahead. Crazy synergy. As the opponent tries to catch up and out value your board presence, you begin to drop bigger hitters like Carnage Tyrants, or blow up the field with Finality. I am surprised how well this deck has been performing across platforms and I am excited to see what variations pro players will do to the build.
My take on Golgari is a low to the ground, value town, aggressive deck that dumps a lot of creatures into the graveyard for a huge Izoni trigger or a timely “collected company” ala Gruesome Menagerie.
Let’s takee a look at the shell of the deck and allow me to discuss my card choices as well.
Curves one through 3 are packed with a lot of self-mill effects. Stitcher’s Supplier can dump cards really fast for 1 measly mana. Glowspore Shaman does the same thing with some upside of fixing our mana. Then we will play some quantities of DLZ for the incidental card draw which in fact interacts well with the explore triggers which we have in the deck or Glowspore triggers to draw the land.
Speaking of explore, by incorporating an explore package into the deck makes it more resilient against white weenies, mono red, boros aggro and izzet drakes. This is a great way of extending the versatility of your deck without breaking the build and ruining the synergy. This has won me many games against mono red, white aggro and izzet drakes in Arena.
Apart from library manipulation we also need some utility creatures that will allow us to gain an advantage. Pelt Collector looks weak in this shell but you will be surprised how fast it grows into a 3/3. Together with Plaguecrafter, it can go from a 1/1 to a 3/3 when Plaguecrafter hits and leaves the table thanks to its ETB ability with an added plus of take down one of their creatures . Isareth is a one-off in the deck mainly for the incremental value she offers with all the creatures we have in the yard. A 3/3 body with Deathtoutch has kept a Carnage Tyrant at bay in testing.
At the top end of the curve we have Doom Whisperer which in testing was phenomenal. The excess life we get from Walker funnels cleverly into the surveil mechanic, which in turn dumps even more cards and puts the card we need on top. Izoni is one of these perfect cards which curves really well. After a lot of attacks and trades the graveyard would be chock full of creatures and once you cast Izoni, you should oftentimes win the next turn if if we’re not up against a Clarion/Settle/Nova deck. Izoni also offers card draw which is good for those 1/1 insects that get blocked. My highest insect count was 21 and it felt really sweet.
The deck is very simple. 22 lands, 4 spells, 34 creatures in the mainboard and the sideboard is still a bit creature heavy with some utility cards that help us fight the uphill battle against UW and Jeskai control which I think is the worst match-up for the deck.
I have played this iteration in Arena for 40+ games now in competitive constructed events and have found the deck to be very strong, capable of definitive wins against the today’s gauntlet decks. I will admit that my match-up against Jeskai control in game 1 is at 20% but post board the deck can go up to 60-65% on a decent hand and balanced draws.
Against Izzet Drakes which is I think the most common tiered deck in Arena (15-17 of my games out of 40+ are Izzet drakes of a form of it). Kraul Harpooner is an all start in the deck which snipes those drakes down like butterflies. Necrotic Wound is like a Swords to Plowshares in our deck because we typically have 5-7 creatures already in yard by the time the drakes become relevant. It’s also a clean answer to Arclight and Rekindling Phoenix as it exiles them forever.
Against control, all 4 copies of Duress comes in to ensure we snipe their Teferi or Clarion early. Arguel’s Blood Fast if dropped on turn 2 gives us so much card advantage allowing us to out-draw the control player and keep pressure on the board.
Midnight Reaper is our flex sideboard card which comes in against both control and midrange/aggro match-ups. He alone allows us to draw cards continuously after attacking and blocking, giving us the gas to keep on going.
As the flavor text said, “Still the correct maneuver is usually to deploy the giant, implacable death lizard”. Against control and midrange decks, a Carnage Tyrant on 5 following up a turn 4 Doom Whisperer is game most of the time unless the opponent have the exact answers they need to stay above water.
Deadeye Tracker has its uses but it remains one of my flex spots in the sideboard. Currently its an added answer to Rekindling, Arclight, Jump-start cards and as a way to counter opposing Memorial to Folly activation. What I am currently testing in this slot is Journey to Eternity which on paper looks like a power house if it connects.
Last slot in the sideboard is Thrashing Brontodon which helps get rid of Ixalan’s Binding, History of Benalia, Experimental Frenzy and the likes. With Menagerie online, we can reuse one copy twice if needed which I think is all we need really to win. If we need more than that I think we’re pretty far behind anyway for it to matter.
I am running something like this for the Gold Rush next week and I am hoping that the deck puts up a good performance. I am eager to play many fun, interactive games over the course of 8-9 rounds in day 1 and hopefully the jank will propel me into day 2.
Some cards I tested which didn’t make the cut.
I tried Find/Finality as copies 5-6 of Menagerie but felt it was counter productive most of the time. I find myself having it on my hand with good targets in the yard then after retrieving them I end up drawing Menagerie which reduces the creatures I can reanimate. The Finality half is also something I don’t see myself casting because it wipes everything I own except for Doom Whisperer and Izoni (but the insects die). Therefore I decided to skip this.
I skipped Planeswalkers entirely because they end up in the graveyard 80% of the time with all the milling and explore triggers that the deck does. Once they hit the bin, they remain there for the rest of the game which are dead cards to Menagerie.
Ravenous Chupacabra was in my earlier iterations but felt it was a bad Vraska’s Contempt or Cast Down. If I needed that spot removal I would rather play the aforementioned instants because both the Chupacabra and the spells are one time use. Usually my turn 4 is spent double casting 2-drops or cashing in a Menagerie with an elf in play. I am still debating if it is worth a slot in the side but for now, I have not won any games in Arena because I had the Chups.
Why only 1 Pelt Collector you ask? We play 22 lands and our curve goes all the way up to 6 so the 3 Llanowar Elves help tie our mana together. However I felt drawing a dork late or Menagerie-ing up one felt lame. So I swapped out one Llanowar for a Pelt Collector for a possible 4/4 trampling elf post Menagerie (Pelt+Kraul+Plaguegrafter = Pelt enters as a 1/1, goes to 2/2 from Kraul, then 3/3 to Plague, then we fight Kraul, it gets bigger than 3 power, dies to whatever it fights, Pelt becomes a 4/4). If we’re not fighting Drakes/Nivs, Pelt is usually a 3/3 unless a 4/3 Jadelight or Doom Whisperer dies, hence just the 1 copy.
The deck is totally fringe and it’s my self expression to use Golgari’s wackier cards like Izoni and Gruesome Menagerie. I would not compare this to the BG midrange deck because their strategies are very different, so I won’t call this a bad BG-Golgari. I also don’t want to compare this to WG Tokens. Izoni is the only token generator in the deck so I wouldn’t say either that the deck revolves around him. The deck at its core is a value-driven deck that has the ability to get all the value back, drowing the opponent with what appears to be a constant stream of threats.
That’s it for now and I hope to see you in the Gold Rush. Don’t be shy to say ‘hi’, let’s talk about your deck ideas between rounds!