If you’ve been following my Twitter, you’ll have seen an Obosh, the Preypiercer Golgari Fight Rigging deck that I found and started working on for best-of-one in early June. While I enjoy best-of-three when playing in the higher parts of the ladder, my favorite part of Magic Arena is getting to fire off some best of one when I only have a little time to play between other things in my life.
With that in mind, I needed a fun best of one Explorer deck and Fight Rigging quickly won my heart as a free enabler that has a strong back up plan as a Golgari Stompy deck. This deck has led me to getting plenty of packs, gems, and Play-In Points via the best of one Explorer Events on Magic Arena.
So, what does this deck bring to the boxing ring and why is it my new favorite best of one deck? Let’s dive right in!
He may not have originated it, but the first time I heard ‘If it’s free, it’s for me,’ was from Arena Decklists Podcast host Bryan Gottlieb and Fight Rigging falls neatly into that saying. With Hideaway 5, you’re able to see a reasonable number of cards deep looking for a payoff to potentially play for free.
Paired with various three and five-drop creatures that immediately trigger the condition to cast your free card, you can cheat out seven or nine-drop spells for free on turn three, burying your opponent in tempo and demanding they answer multiple large threats.
If you venture away from Obosh, the Preypiercer, as most have, you can start leveraging the benefit of Fight Rigging casting the card hidden under it with cards like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, which evokes Aetherworks Marvel flashbacks.
To enable your Fight Rigging, you want to accelerate into both the three-mana enchantment and the creatures that have six or more base power. To facilitate that, we play four Llanowar Elves alongside four Elvish Mystic.
Starting with eight dorks is a big reason this deck can outpace other aggressive decks and helps to ensure you have a viable backup plan for games where you don’t start with a Fight Rigging by accelerating into your three and five-drop creatures.
To ensure that Fight Rigging is always primed to get us a free spell, we need to lean on three-drop creatures with six or seven base power. For this, we are using a pair of black three-drops in Shakedown Heavy and Rotting Regisaur. These creatures both have downsides in exchange for having such high base power, but we mitigate those downsides through the benefit of pairing these cards with Fight Rigging.
While their main role is to enable Fight Rigging, both Shakedown Heavy and Rotting Regisaur can act as solid attackers that come down on turn two and make it difficult for aggressive decks to pressure your life total before you can set up for your larger spells.
While not as clean an enabler as Shakedown Heavy or Rotting Regisaur, Rhonas the Indomitable only takes one extra turn to get to seven power and can give your larger creatures some extra power and trample, forcing through damage against smaller creature decks that want to chump block, such as Rakdos Sacrifice.
We’re playing these various creatures to enable Fight Rigging and get it triggering as soon as possible, what’s our end game? We start with some value five-drop creatures that can each trigger Fight Rigging by themselves in case your three-drop gets removed and have some value to give against various decks.
Elder Gargaroth is a brickhouse against various creature strategies and once the board gets locked down, can generate extra card advantage. One of the major benefits of Elder Gargaroth is giving you a creature with reach that can help shut down flying decks like Spirits or Angels that otherwise can try to fly over your impressive ground game.
Getting a Titan of Industry down on turn three feels like you’re playing a different format.
Next up is Verdurous Gearhulk, which was a nice addition to this deck. An 8/8 trampler is massive in Explorer and being able to spread out counters in case you are facing a removal heavy opponent is excellent. I can’t tell you how many times my opponent thinks they’ve stabilized only for me to put four counters on a creature and still have a 4/4 trampler left over and threatening to kill. Trample is an important aspect of the deck to ensure you can’t get chumped out of the game and Verdurous Gearhulk is a one-card army that demands an immediate answer.
The way cards like Fight Rigging and Bring to Light are worded, Valki, God of Lies is an excellent “you may cast this card without paying its mana cost” target, as you may (and likely should) elect to cast Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter (the backside of the card) for free. In more aggressive creature matchups, a turn-two Valki stealing their best threat is a fine option as well.
Finally, we have the bigger cards of the deck in Titan of Industry, Turntimber Symbiosis, and The Great Henge. Titan of Industry is the latest in a long line of larger green creatures that are impressive in stats, abilities, and value, but are tough to cast. Luckily for us, we can cast it on the cheap or even free!
Getting a Titan of Industry down on turn three feels like you’re playing a different format as your opponent stares down a large three-drop and now a seven-drop that can protect itself from wraths, can add additional power or life depending on what you’re facing, or answer problematic artifacts or enchantments. Adding on Trample and Reach gives you one big threat that most decks have difficulty beating, even later into the game.
While less of a threat on its own, Turntimber Symbiosis manages to give you a redraw at the top seven cards if your Fight Rigging Hideaway is less than impressive. Enabling turn one mana creatures while serving as a mid to late game set of extra Fight Riggings gives this deck additional staying power where otherwise you might start to feel like your top end is a little light. I’ve been impressed with Turntimber Symbiosis and might even increase the amount of copies moving forward.
Finally, we have The Great Henge. If you’ve ever been playing a nice fair midrange deck and your opponent drops an early The Great Henge, you know exactly how unbeatable this card can feel. Helping to gain life against aggressive decks while piling on card advantage to ensure you never run out of steam, there are few cards I am happier to see under Fight Rigging in the whole format. Especially on turns where you can play Fight Rigging with one mana left over, cast The Great Henge, and then drop an additional three-drop to immediately get extra value, your board becomes neigh unbeatable in an instant.
This deck is especially powerful in best-of-one since it gets to play out like an Aetherworks Marvel deck, where your opponent just dies to your combo of ramping out large creatures ahead of curve. While there are more cards that can answer your creatures or enchantments at cost in sideboards, game one there are few decks that can handle your plan A or plan B.
Especially in best of one, be sure to mulligan aggressively as most decks will be working to execute their game plan and you can’t afford overly slow starts. Also, creatures with reach are at a premium in best of one since Greasefang and Angels are both heavily played and an Elder Gargaroth or Titan of Industry can stop both decks in their tracks.
Part of the reason for no main deck interaction – either Thoughtseize or Fatal Push, stems from the fact this is such a strong game one deck that you want to maximize your game plan and ignore your opponent’s general strategy when possible. You can adjust your maindeck numbers if you start running into more control matchups and want discard main again.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
This is a matchup where your only goal is to resolve large creatures and Planeswalkers one after another. Given their heavy early removal, I like cutting Elvish Mystic since they are very likely to kill it and you’d much rather draw towards hard-to-answer enchantments, artifacts, Planeswalkers, and threats to pressure their removal.
Cling to Dust gives you a reasonable plan of attack at slowing down their Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger game plan and can also allow you to draw a few extra cards in the midgame since you don’t use your graveyard meaningfully and plenty of cards will exchange in the early turns.
This is a matchup where you want to be as quick as possible at getting onto the board, especially with your larger creatures since they have little interaction against large creatures with trample. Elder Gargaroth, Verdurous Gearhulk, Titan of Industry, and Rhonas the Indomitable are your best cards in this matchup alongside The Great Henge. If you can apply massive pressure before they get their engines online, you are able to easily take over the game.
This is a matchup where I try to ensure we find The Great Henge as early as possible to mitigate the incidental damage from Oni-Cult Anvil and Cauldron Familiar before taking over the game with the trample creatures.
Mono Red Aggro
Your Elves are more of a liability than a factor in this matchup and all your bigger creatures absolutely shut the opponent’s creatures down. All you want to do is remove their one or two-drop creature and then slam a three-drop and this matchup is very easy.
While you can fall behind if you have too high-costed of an opening hand, be sure to look for one to two three-drop creatures and you should be off to the races.
|+4 Fatal Push||-2 Rhonas the Indomitable|
|+1 Shifting Ceratops||-1 Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider|
|-1 Verdurous Gearhulk|
|-1 Valki, God of Lies|
Spirits is about an even matchup in game one, depending on your ability to resolve an Elder Gargaroth or Titan of Industry or slam through damage with Rotting Regisaur faster than they can tap it down with Shacklegeist. Post-board, we gain access to a full playset of Fatal Push and an uncounterable reach creature with protection from Blue in Shifting Ceratops.
We cut the payoffs that aren’t creatures with reach in Vorinclex, Tibalt and Gearhulk, and Rhonas being indestructible means little against spirits.
This is a tough matchup, but you’re able to transform into a midrange deck that can clear the path for some Planeswalkers post board. You also can play one creature at a time and still have enormous pressure, so you don’t ever need to over commit into wraths. The Great Henge is excellent in this matchup and while it can be tough to cast, if you manage to draw a handful of extra cards, you can overpower the opponent pretty easily.
Taking out all your mana dorks might seem odd, but the game will extend into the mid to late game and drawing one drops late is terrible versus this style of deck. You’d rather have better draws that are always effective even later into the game.
You are happy to rush out your large creatures in this matchup, and especially your reach creatures that can contain Parhelion II. Having access to some graveyard hate is nice to ensure you don’t get run over too early, but overall, this is a close matchup that relies on you prioritizing your reach creatures and The Great Henge to stay above lethal range from the Angels that come with Parhelion II.
Try to block the Angels and let the Parhelion II go back to hand when possible so you have an easier time attacking back as well.
Tips and Tricks
- Mulligan aggressively! While you don’t want to limit your overall resources, a five-card hand of two lands, a dork, a three-drop, and a Fight Rigging will win you more games than a slow seven card hand.
- While you play eight mana-dorks, consider that much of the format has one-mana answers to them, so try not to keep hands that require your dorks live to function.
- Especially if you have Rotting Regisaur in play, don’t hold excess cards in hand. Deploy what you can and set up a turn where you can play out your full hand if possible. Often, I will get to no cards in hand and just play whatever I draw until I have eight mana to put Obosh, the Preypiercer into my hand and into play on the same turn.
- Ensure you stack the triggers on Fight Rigging properly if you have two Riggings and a creature that will reach seven power from the second trigger. Make sure you are getting the free spell you want by putting that trigger on the stack first, so it resolves second.
- Given you have 16 creatures for five or less mana that trigger Fight Rigging instantly, it is more important to keep hands that have access to Fight Rigging than hands that have access to creatures that trigger Fight Rigging. I will keep hands that have lands, dorks, and Fight Rigging on the basis that I will find any three or five-mana threat in a reasonable amount of draw steps.
- When choosing Titan of Industry triggers, remember which ones target and which do not. The shield counter doesn’t target, so even if they kill the creature you wanted to put the counter on, you will still get to put the counter onto another creature.
- You can use Castle Garenbrig to pay for the Rhonas the Indomitable ability.
- If you have the choice to lead on Shakedown Heavy or Rotting Regisaur, choose based on if you need to close the game quickly or if you want it to go longer. Against control and midrange, Rotting Regisaur can pressure better than Shakedown Heavy since they will just give you the card instead.
While Golgari Fight Rigging evokes memories of Aetherworks Marvel (especially in best of one), it feels more like a modern Greasefang deck. You can win on turn three with a huge tempo advantage of cheating in high-cost permanents and burying fair decks while having a solid backup plan. This is just a more aggressive shell that forgoes a midrange plan to lean into a more traditional Golgari Stompy role. When in doubt with this deck, get in the red zone and be sure to strap on your gloves; this is a fighting deck. Especially when you know the fight is rigged in your favor!