Bo1 Standard Golgari Festival Deck Guide: The Creature Crusher

Storm the Festival Art by Yigit Koroglu
Storm the Festival Art by Yigit Koroglu

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 Esika’s Chariots and of course four Storm the Festival. I think beyond this core of 12 spells there are plenty of options to take the Storm the Festival shell. I have tried Selesnya (Green/White) as well as Naya (Green/White/Red).  To experiment with cards like Skyclave Apparition, Brutal Cathar, Showdown of the Skalds, Legion Angel, and even some more unconventional cards such as Felidar Retreat, Druid Class, and Augur of Autumn. I am not saying these builds are wrong, and I did have some success with them too.

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.

Golgari Storm the Festival
by DoggertQBones
Standard
best of 1
5 mythic
25 rare
13 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (5)
4
Wrenn and Seven
$199.96
Creatures (19)
4
Lotus Cobra
$19.96
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (24)
9
Forest
$2.25
3
Swamp
$0.75
2
Field of Ruin
$0.50
4
Darkbore Pathway
$43.96
1
Woodland Chasm
$1.29
60 Cards
$380.58
7 Cards
$4.49

Card Choices

Old-Growth Troll Art by Jesper Ejsing
Old-Growth Troll Art by Jesper Ejsing

Creatures 

Jaspera SentinelThis 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 FlorahedronThis 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 CobraAh 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 Esika’s Chariot

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 Esika’s Chariot and Lolth, Spider Queen, we generate a lot of bodies which triggers Prosperous Innkeepers passive life gain ability.

Toski, Bearer of SecretsI 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 Esika’s Chariot and the mana ramp it provides is actually relevant in a way it rarely was in Mono Green Stompy lists. I have tried both three and four copies of this, and I think either amount has merit.

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.

Sorceries

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 Esika’s Chariot, but I will settle for a timely Binding of Old Gods or Lolth, Spider Queen as well. Heck, I have even put lands in play too. That is the one great thing about this card versus Collected Company, you will never miss getting at least two cards out of it as every card in your library is a valid target.

Planeswalkers

Wrenn and SevenI 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 Esika’s Chariot out on turn 3 or 4 and then follow up with Wrenn and Seven. When this happens, you generate a giant tree folk with Wrenn and Seven and then promptly copy that token using the Chariot’s triggered ability.

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 QueenThe 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 as they are better than the cat tokens plus another form of reach in the deck is also much appreciated. The best part is it can stick around post board wipe to help you rebuild. 

Artifacts

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.

Enchantments

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 Binding of the Old Gods as a staple that people forget about it.

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. 

Lands

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 Binding of Old Gods second saga tick as it has the forest land type.

Lessons

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

Augur of Autumn Art by Billy Christian
Augur of Autumn Art by Billy Christian

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 MasteryThis 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 Esika’s Chariot. Plus, there are lots of ways to generate tokens in this deck in general to ensure Briarbridge Tracker keeps the +2/+0 bonus. For now, Old-Growth Troll gets the nod simply for being more durable.

Augur of AutumnIn 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. 

Matchups

Esika’s Chariot Art by Raoul Vitale
Esika’s Chariot Art by Raoul Vitale

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. 

Dimir Control

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 Esika’s Chariot and Old-Growth Troll, which will help you buy time. Then your deck hits another gear and just goes over the top of them with ridiculous amounts of card advantage via Storm the Festival and Wrenn and Seven. Try to protect your mana creatures early by trading life for time until you can cast your first large threat. 

Mono-White Aggro

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. 

Simic Ramp

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 Alrund’s Epiphany and Koma, Cosmos Serpent show up and ruin your fun.

Izzet Dragons

This is another touch matchup. They tend to destroy your mana generation creatures early with their bevy of burn spells then Goldspan Dragon and Alrund’s Epiphany show up and quickly pull ahead. Binding the Old Gods is nice against Goldspan Dragon as they do not get to generate a gold token when it targets this creature. Wrenn and Seven tokens are huge against this deck unless they are running Fading Hope or Into the Roil they have no efficient way of removing a 5/5 reach tree folk as Divide by Zero cannot target tokens. I like Old-Growth Troll here too as a threat that gets around Dragon’s Fire (as long as they don’t reveal a dragon) and Frost Bite all together. Even if they do remove the Old Growth Troll, you still get value. 

Rakdos Treasures

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 Immerstrum Predator, but it will be hard for them to grow this indestructible beater faster than you grow your tree tokens.  Also, Binding the Old Gods is a great form of interaction versus both Valki, God of Lies and Goldspan Dragon which makes it even harder for them to get ahead.

Party Decks

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.

Josh

Josh has been playing Magic: the Gathering since Ice Age (that came out in 1996 for you whippersnappers out there). He was a MODO grinder and early beta tester for MTGA where his handle is Parabolian. He is no stranger to Mythic ladder and has frequently finished in the top 1200. Josh loves to brew decks but he loves to win too. Sometimes those two interests align and sometimes he goes on epic losing streaks.