Bo1 Standard Golgari Festival Deck Guide: The Creature Crusher
Hello fellow gamers, Midnight Hunt is upon us. As it often goes with these things, many folks stick to the tried-and-true archetype that saw them through to victory in the past. They may swap out a couple cards here or there in their meta decks or they may stay the course with the reasoning of: if ain’t broke don’t fix it. Personally, I think this is a great approach early in the meta. You’re helping the deck brewers by seeing if their ideas have any merit and you’re helping yourself by playing a proven entity. However, a daring few go all out and try to build what has not been built before.
To that end, I have seen Gerry Thompson and others playing around with the idea of Storm the Festival. To be honest my first reaction to this card was: oh, this is like an awkwardly expensive Collected Company (CoCo as the cool kids call it). I should have known better. Collected Company has been a format warping card and a staple in most green decks in Historic and I suspect that Storm the Festival will also find its place at least in Standard.
Storm the Festival is like a mash-up between CoCo and Emergent Ultimatum. It forces you to build your deck within certain constraints, namely you want to avoid having anything in your deck with a converted mana cost greater than 6 (other than Storm itself). Furthermore, you want to avoid playing instants and sorceries as much as possible so that you are more likely to hit on two juicy targets when you cast Storm the Festival.
I am convinced until more cards are added to the pool that any Storm the Festival deck should be running four Wrenn and Sevens and four
However, I think Golgari has proven the most consistent for me thus far. I have posted an 11-5 record in the BO1 ranked Mythic ladder with a current number rank of #412. In short, this deck can certainly run with the best of them. You might notice one glaring thing in this win breakdown below; against blue opponents, Storm of the Festival really struggles. The deck I am going to show you offers no instant speed interaction and cards like Saw It Coming and Test of Talents can be back breaking for it. I have considered a Simic (green/blue) shell for this deck just to attempt to counteract this with a splash of instant speed interaction (a fight fire with fire approach). However, realistically the crux of Bo1 is going to be comprised of creature strategies, so if the deck smashes all of those and struggles against Blue, that’s certainly not a bad place to be.
Ok with that out of the way let’s take a look at the list.
Jaspera Sentinel – This elf is the only spell available to you to cast on turn 1. Thus it’s great to see it in your opening hand. They surely miss their compatriot Magda, Brazen Outlaw, but if you attempt to go to a Naya or Gruul shell with Storm the Festival I highly suggest including this dwarf. Jaspera Sentinel is also great for blocking Elite Spellbinder and Clarion Spirit tokens. Of course, their main function is to ramp you into your larger threats.
Tangled Florahedron – This weird angular plant creature is here mainly to make sure you never miss a land drop and on occasion, to become a creature and help you ramp faster. If you are short on lands, I recommend not gambling by casting this card as a creature as it is much safer from removal in his land form.
Lotus Cobra – Ah yes, the cobra was quite scary in the days of cards like Misty Rainforest (Fabled Passage may be the one card I miss from Eldraine). Without these extra landfall triggers Lotus Cobra is a little bit more pedestrian. That being said, it is often quickly targeted by removal; it does have a reputation after all. You might be noticing a theme in the creature selection so far, they are all here to help you ramp towards Storm the Festival, or barring that, an early
Prosperous Innkeeper – This humble halfing was an afterthought in my original 60, yet in testing I found I may like it as much or more than Lotus Cobra. First, even if it is targeted by removal, the Prosperous Innkeeper has already done its job by delivering you a shiny Treasure token. Secondly, against aggro decks if this card does linger around it can gain you a lot of life, and I mean a lot of life. Between
Toski, Bearer of Secrets – I consider the squirrel a flex card. Originally my list ran two Lolth, Spider Queens but I thought this card might give me an edge against blue control decks. Feel free to experiment on your own. It has come up big sometimes letting you draw a bushel of cards all while dodging board wipes and counterspells. Other times, it dies to a Shambling Ghast -1/-1 trigger and you feel silly for even playing him.
Old-Growth Troll – Old Growth was a late addition in my testing as well, but it has earned his keep, it is pretty much the only creature that can provide defense while you establish your board. As a nice plus, the 4/4 trample token it leaves behind is a great target for
You may be asking yourself, is it really a good idea to run a card with three green pips in a multi-color deck? To which I would respond, you are not 100 percent wrong, but this deck is heavily green as you can see from the land distribution. Also there are a lot of color fixers between Lotus Cobra triggers, Jaspera Sentinel, and Prosperous Innkeeper tokens. In short, I haven’t had much issue with being able to cast Old-Growth Troll.
Storm the Festival – This is the focal point of the deck, casting this card spells doom for most opponents. I have in longer, more grindy games flashed this spell back too. Ideally, the best two targets to find are Wrenn and Seven and
Wrenn and Seven – I would like to report that this card is very good with the only negative being three loyalty ability. A giant tree folk with reach is well positioned in the current meta. It blocks Goldspan Dragon, Elite Spellbinder, and all the other creatures flying around right now. The absolute dream, and this dream has come true many times in my testing, is to have
I can be honest here that I have yet to use Wrenn’s zero ability. If you have a couple Lotus Cobras in play it does seem intriguing to generate all those landfall triggers, but during play testing Wren and Seven often does not live past creating that first tree token. As an added bonus, this planeswalker’s plus one ability does sometimes mill a Storm the Festival for flashback use too. Mainly, I am hoping to get my next needed land and reload for generating another tree token. It is almost always right to use Wren and Sevens’ tree folk loyalty ability the first turn he hits the board. Because of this, I have not used his ultimate, which is fine the deck does not need this to win.
Lolth, Spider Queen – The spider queen acts as another target for Storm the Festival. Furthermore, it is nice to be able to copy the spider tokens with
Esika’s Chariot – This is the third part of the trinity that makes up the core of this deck. Much has already been said about the cat chariot, so I won’t go into too many more details. I will note that sometimes its great to copy Prosperous Innkeeper’s treasure tokens to get a little mana boost, especially versus control decks where you suspect a board wipe is imminent.
Binding the Old Gods – I suppose this is one of the main draws to playing Golgari as opposed to other colors with Storm the Festival. It is pretty much your lone piece of interaction with your opponent and it’s fine to find one of these with Storm the Festival. Secondly, it also serves as another piece of ramp with the second chapter.
Finally, this deck can actually make good use of its third Saga tick, as deathtouch on Toski, Bearer of Secrets, Old-Growth Troll, and Lolth, Spider Queen tokens is quite good. I have even had a few opponents caught off guard by deathtouch making unwise double blocks on menace, deathtouch spider tokens. I guess it was so rarely relevant in Emergent Ultimatum where we saw
I also notice that some players are not aware how trample from a card like Old-Growth Troll and deathtouch work in combat. Deathtouch only needs a single point of damage to destroy a creature so if Old-Growth Troll with deathtouch is blocked by say a 4/4 Creature, 3 of that damage will trample over to the opponent as only one is used to kill the blocking creature.
Only a few callouts to make here as this deck’s lands are pretty typical. We of course have a healthy smattering of creature-lands. On that note, you may have noticed Field of Ruin. If your mana base can support It, I would strongly suggest you start playing a handful of these as creature-lands are just about in every deck. Fun fact, Field of Ruin can also take out Ashaya, Soul of the Wild as it is considered a non-basic land. As an added bonus Field of Ruin can trigger Lotus Cobra’s landfall ability which leads to a slight discount on its activation ability.
P.S. The lone Woodland Chasm may look awkward here but it can both help you use Necroblossom Snarl’s reveal ability and is targetable by
I have included lessons in this deck even though it currently has no way to access them. I was experimenting with a couple of Eyetwitch, but found that they were not impactful enough. In the Naya shell I also experimented with Professor of Symbology as well. If you decide to go that route, I have included some potential lesson choices for your convenience.
Notable Card Exclusions
Eyetwitch – I think this card has some merit as a target for Jaspera Sentinel’s mana ability early. You may have also noticed that I love having access to lessons in BO1. But there are only so many slots a deck can have, and I made room for Old-Growth Troll by cutting this card.
Check for Traps/Duress – Part of me wants to play some hand discard to avoid counter spells, but then I remember how effectively Saw It Coming dodges this. Cards like these are victims of being too narrow, when we should be favoring flexibility in BO1.
Infernal Grasp/Flunk/Baleful Mastery – This deck certainly could benefit from some instant speed interaction against Izzet Dragons and other control type decks, and it may come to that if these decks grow more prevalent. As you can see from the matchup breakdown, I faced blue based decks 5 out of 16 games. Mono-Green and Mono-White are still the most prevalent and this deck plays well against them.
Briarbridge Tracker – There is a lot to like about this card, it attacks and defends well, you can copy the Clue token with
Augur of Autumn – In the Naya deck that had more of a landfall subtheme, this card played pretty well, but again it’s vulnerable to removal. It can have an instant impact on the board by letting you play land (or a creature if you have coven active) off the top the moment the spell resolves so that it can offer a slight card advantage that grows the longer she is allowed to linger. However, it came down to what card are you happier to see in more situations and for Golgari the answer was Old-Growth Troll.
Skeletal Swarming – This card can be fine since it is difficult for many decks to remove, but it also relies on you having a stable board state. I think Skeletal Swarming likes decks that have board wipes more because, unlike Lolth, Spider Queen, Skeletal Swarming only offers offense and no defense.
This is a best of one guide so we will be eschewing a sideboard primer and sticking with helpful notes on the most common matchups.
As noted in other articles, Dimir Control has really fallen off in prevalence. Still if you do face this deck, it’s a pretty tough matchup. Your best card here is probably Old-Growth Troll as it provides early aggression and durability. Ideally, if you can resolve Storm the Festivals, you have a much better shot of winning, but Dimir is the kind of deck that makes doing so difficult. By applying early pressure, you can force them to tap out for a board wipe at which point you can hopefully jam through a Storm the Festival. Make sure to use Field of Ruin on their Hall of the Storm Giants early and often (preferably when they don’t have mana to activate it in response and gain the ward ability) as this card will likely be how they end you.
Mono Green Stompy
This is a great matchup for you simply because you have a lot of the same cards that they do between
This one can be a little bit trickier than Mono-Green because Elite Spellbinder can really put a damper on your plans. Likewise, Reidane, God of the Worthy can be a huge bummer as it significantly slows down the top half of your deck. Luckily you have plenty of creatures to stall the board and help you ramp through these delaying tactics. Don’t be afraid to trade your Jaspera Sentinels for their Elite Spellbinders as this on a whole is a good value. Do your best to survive until the late game and you should be fine. Overall the deck has performed well against the mono-white menace going 3-0.
To be honest I have not played against this deck much lately. I imagine it will be a tough win as Cyclone Summoner is actually pretty brutal against all your tokens and you really have no way to deal with a Koma, Cosmos Serpent other than an overwhelming board presence. Try to apply pressure early and often and just overwhelm them before
This is another touch matchup. They tend to destroy your mana generation creatures early with their bevy of burn spells then Goldspan Dragon and
I have not seen much of this deck lately either. Any deck which contains no counterspells feels like a good matchup since they have no way of stopping you from casting Storm the Festival. Yes, they have
I have faced party decks twice and was soundly defeated both times. Squad Commander gives them a huge leg up against you and Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate can protect it from your very limited removal. Your best hope is to attempt to kill them fast, as surprisingly this is one of the few decks who’s late game feels better than your late game. Be wary of Concerted Effort as well, this is an efficient counter spell that can really throw a wrench in your plans. In theory, you should have faster and more consistent mana than them, but it has not seemed to play out that way in practice. Again this is a small sample size and perhaps they just got killer draws versus me? Time will tell.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy this deck. Personally it has been a breath of fresh air to play a new archetype.