Golgari Adventures Standard Deck Guide

thb-224-polukranos-unchained-art-by-chris-rahn

Hello to all of you adventurous folk!

Bannings are effective for only a couple of days but -oh boy- has the landscape changed. It finally has felt like we get to play a Standard format where more than 1-2 decks exist, and the change has been immensely popular in the player base.

I’ve been trying lots of different decks out, from Rogues to Rakdos Kroxa, but Golgari Adventures has been the archetype that impressed me the most, because I wasn’t expecting it to be this good to be honest! I actually believe that this deck is one of the strongest in the format.

I wanted to try this archetype ever since the bannings, and Nicholas Price provided me with the raw version of the deck, which I changed to my liking. Thank you, Nicholas!

I’ve farmed anyone on my way to Mythic and have a 100% win rate, even in Mythic; and I am currently sitting at sweet top 100:

Without further ado, let’s get into the guide:

Golgari Adventures by Sorquixe – #78 Mythic – Post-Omnath Ban Standard

Gameplan

This is trying to be the perfect midrange deck: cover the early game with some removal and good blockers like Foulmire Knight and Lovestruck Beast, and win later with card advantage in the form of The Great Henge and Edgewall Innkeeper. With the tools you have, you can basically out-grind every other deck. Like a classic midrange deck, you can always play the aggressive side when you need to apply pressure against controlish decks, but you’re also not so one-dimensional and can often win the value game as well.

What I like about it, compared to other midrange decks, is the fact that our game 1 is actually pretty good, whereas most midrange decks are close to 50% in any matchup in game 1. There might be a lot of cards banned in Standard, but you still play the best 1 drop in Standard, which is Edgewall Innkeeper, who is honestly better than even Llanowar Elf in the Adventure decks.

It’s important to sequence your lands properly and decide early on if you want to play Kazandu Mammoth as a land or as a spell. Other general tips can be found below. I also believe that your matchup against either R/B Kroxa or Rogues is pretty even, which is why I like this archetype a lot right now.

Card Choices: What I do play

I’ll talk about the sideboard cards later, mom! Leave me alone!

murderous-rider-art-jenn-ravenna

2 Bloodchief’s Thirst: If you’ve read my Zendikar Rising Constructed Set Review, you probably noticed that I gave Bloodchief’s Thirst 5/5 stars – I anticipated the card to be that good. And it is! Bloodchief’s Thirst is – in my opinion, you can have yours – even better than Fatal Push, and that’s saying a ton, considering how good Fatal Push is. The ability to hit a creature any size is already good, but Planeswalkers too?! Unlike Fatal Push, this will almost never be dead in any matchup. We already play 4 Murderous Riders (more on that later), so I am happy with 2 right now, but you can always play up to 4 copies if more Innkeepers, Ruin Crabs, and Lotus Cobras are played. 

4 Foulmire Knight: I’ve always found it to be a liability that our archetype needed to play this card in order to have enough Adventure cards, but -hot dang!- has this card impressed me. Since a lot of Standard’s power has shifted towards creatures again (thank god), this little 1/1 deathtouchy guy makes your opponent not attack for ages. It’s a pretty strong turn 2 play paired with Edgewall Innkeeper, and it’s a 1/1 for Lovestruck Beast. I almost never play the Adventure half of this card because it’s expensive, but sometimes you flood a bit and it’s nice to have the option.

4 Edgewall Innkeeper: As already mentioned, I think Innkeeper is stronger than Llanowar Elf in this specific archetype. There’s just something about 1-drops that snowball the game if they aren’t answered quickly enough, and Innkeeper will force a lot of people to play more Bloodchief’s Thirst, Bonecrusher Giant and Spikefield Hazard. Honestly, this card is the reason why you’re even playing this Archetype, and you should never cut one. 

3 Order of Midnight: Order is a nice followup to turn 1 Innkeeper and it helps you win in grindy late game scenarios (spoiler: there’s a lot of them right now!). This card is also a nice evasive beater, and we actually don’t have that many of those. They can be a bit clunky and they block poorly (or rather, they don’t block at all), so I’m happy with only 3. You could play 4 if you wanted to up your Adventure density. 

2 Lotus Cobra: This card doesn’t feel like it belongs here at first. It’s certainly our weakest card, but it has some absurd moments where you can get a Rankle, Polukranos, or even the Henge out pretty early. We’ve seen how good Cobra was in combination with Fabled Passage, and fast mana can never be a bad thing. Cobra is a bit weird because it doesn’t help you grind all too well and it’s a bad beater, but the upside of playing them on turn 2 has been great. The last thing that settled adding some copies of this to my deck was the fact that you can sometimes cycle them with The Great Henge out, or sacrifice/discard them to Rankle. I wouldn’t be mad if you cut them and you shouldn’t play more, but I’ve liked exactly 2 copies.

3 Scavenging Ooze: Not an Adventure card, but you don’t want to travel without one of the best 2-drops in Magic! This little slime guy is the reason why we don’t need to fear U/B Rogues or R/B Kroxa, which are the other top tier decks of the format, too much. Because of that, you always need to play these in a smart spot (I’ve passed a lot of turn 2’s without doing anything, just to not let it get killed by Bonecrusher immediately). I don’t want to play 4 because it’s usually not great to draw multiples, but I want them more often than not.

4 Murderous Rider: This kind of deck wants to play a lot of removal anyway, so having removal stapled onto an Adventure creature is a perfect match. It just fits our game plan perfectly, so don’t cut any, thank you!

4 Lovestruck Beast: I could talk ad nauseam about how good Lovestruck Beast and the Eldraine Adventure cards are in general, but Lovestruck Beast has been played a ton already, so you know how good it is. This is our perfect defense against fast decks and at the same time the perfect offense (5 power for 3 mana! Come on) when you want to pressure your opponent. That’s already good enough, but the synergy with Edgewall Innkeeper makes this an auto-include. 

4 Kazandu Mammoth: Honestly, I didn’t think I would want to keep all 4 copies, but this card has been great! Our Fabled Passages do more than just slow fixing now, and it’s another 5 power creature on turn 4 to enable Great Henge. It also allows us to play more lands without making the Henge bad, because you can always cycle them later. I think this is the perfect deck for a card like Mammoth, unless you’re playing some landfall Aggro deck perhaps.

4 Agadeem’s Awakening: Another card that got 5/5 stars when I graded it, and it has clearly shown how powerful it is in the Rogue lists already. Well, let me tell you, it’s at least as good in this deck as it is in Rogues. Having another way to get Edgewall Innkeeper back is already great, but doing that at the same time as getting Scavenging Ooze and sometimes Lovestruck Beast back is just bananas. It’s a land, people, do not forget that. We are good in the later stages of the game and this card scales absurdly well too. Sometimes it’s just a 7 mana Rankle, which is good enough for, again, a land. Play all 4; your life total can handle them, trust me.

2 Rankle, Master of Pranks: Eldraine was so strong that people didn’t look twice at Rankle at first, even though it’s ridiculously strong. All of the triggered abilities matter a lot in this deck, varying from board state to board state, and it also rewards you for reading the game state well and making the right decisions. Haste and evasion is also something that you need on your top-end, so yes, please! We don’t play more because we need to make room for our next card, which is…

2 Polukranos, Unchained: I’ve always wanted to play Polukranos in a deck and feel good about it, and it certainly does feel good! It’s a big creature that influences the board state should it live, and that’s worth some slots in this deck. It also makes Henge cost only 3 mana and it’s a nice free card should your opponent play Rogues and mill it. I’ve already mentioned that creatures are important right now, and what’s better than having a 4 mana 6/6 on the board? You really shouldn’t play too many copies of Polukranos though, as Escape has high diminishing returns. With a card like this, you should always try it out before you judge!

2 The Great Henge: This artifact is actually quite important for our game plan, so I was considering playing 3. Our deck is able to draw a lot of cards thanks to Edgewall Innkeeper, though. We are also good enough at prolonging the game that I always felt like 2 was enough. This thing synergizes well with our big creatures, but it’s also important to have a lot of cheap creatures so you can completely go off when it’s out.

4 Temple of Malady: These aren’t great, but we need some fixing. Don’t be greedy and play less.

1 Evolving Wilds: This is worse than a Triome, but it’s really good with Cobra and Kazandu Mammoth. If I’m already playing poor fixing in this Standard environment, I might as well power some creatures up. It’s also nice to get another card in the graveyard for Polukranos. 

4 Fabled Passage: All of the reasons above, except this is actually a good fixing card, because it allows Polukranos, Rankle, and sometimes Great Henge on 4. 

Card Choices: What I don’t play

Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Art by Lius Lasahido

Heartless Act: With Bloodchief’s Thirst and Murderous Rider, I don’t think you need additional removal that’s just killing things, not exiling them.

Epic Downfall: Honestly I didn’t even have this card on my radar and didn’t even want to mention it, since it’s always been a fringe card. But as we all know, Crokeyz controls the Arena meta, and recently he’s been on some Mono-Green Food with Wicked Wolf and Feasting Troll King. If you struggle against this Deck, play some copies of this, although it should still be a sideboard card.

Elspeth’s Nightmare: I think this card is actually pretty good, but I never felt like we needed it with all the tools we have already (it’s particularly good against Rakdos Kroxa, but you only have so much room).

Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate: We grind so much in this deck that it doesn’t really feel like we need a big planeswalker in the main deck. Vivien is a great card and all so it will never be horrible, but I also don’t see much reason to include a card that we don’t need to win most of the games. Great Henge is much better and our Adventure package is more than good enough to grind through games, especially alongside our other top-end. If you feel like you need more punch in the late game, go ahead and play some, but personally I always had a lot of other things to do with my mana anyway. Why not sideboard at least? Well, that’s because I think that Garruk is the much better planeswalker. Garruk snowballs incredibly quickly, much quicker than Vivien does, and even though he costs 1 more, I truly believe it’s worth it. Garruk also helps to get your army of smaller guys through (with the emblem) and can break board stalls this way. 

Elder Gargaroth: I actually don’t hate adding this, because it snowballs pretty quickly and is just a good creature overall. I couldn’t make room for it, but maybe you can..?

Questing Beast: I think you shouldn’t play Questing Beast main deck if you’re not obviously an aggressive deck right now. A lot of people play 4 Bonecrusher Giant or Lovestruck Beast, and Questing Beast doesn’t have enough text to beat these! I like Rankle and Polukranos much more as our 4-drops. The card is obviously strong though, and it’s a great sideboard addition.

Sideboard Guide

Rakdos Kroxa

InOut
+2 Bloodchief’s Thirst
+2 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
-2 Lotus Cobra
-2 Polukranos, Unchained

This matchup is exciting because it’s fairly close, but Great Henge and Garruk really shine. They can’t eat your hand with Kroxa reliably because of Edgewall Innkeeper, and should they escape Kroxa you can always hurl one of your many removal spells at it. Scavenging Ooze is also good because you can just eat all of their synergy (Synergy Ooze?), and it feels like we have the upper hand when it comes to grinding, even though they grind really well themselves.
You just want some more removal to constantly deal with their board and especially Magmatic Channeler. Lotus Cobra is bad, because the games go long and they play a lot of removal that punishes a card like this. If you haven’t played Standard, I recommend you playing one of these matchups, as they’re incredibly fun to play.

Dimir Lurrus Mill/Rogues

InOut
+4 Skyclave Shade
+2 Bloodchief’s Thirst
-2 Rankle, Master of Pranks
-2 The Great Henge
-1 Foulmire Knight
-1 Order of Midnight

Dimir Rogues without Crab has pretty much disappeared, so I will just cover the Crab version. If you don’t kill their Crab early enough then you can lose, but otherwise you should be fine with as much removal as you have. 

Since you can’t rely on grinding your opponent out (you’ll probably just mill yourself to death), you need to take the role of the aggressor. Skyclave Shade has been really good as they help you get it into the graveyard (essentially drawing you a card) and it’s insanely annoying for them to deal with. I like to keep Lotus Cobra in, because fast mana is usually good against tempo-style decks, letting you set up a lot of turns where you double spell and go under their counterspells. You want as much removal as you can get, because they rely on their creatures to win the game for them. We don’t want Chainweb Aracnir (it’s not even in our sideboard, just mentioning), because they usually don’t play as many fliers anymore, especially post-board. Even if you got that card going, it wasn’t worth the effort. 

Mono Green Stompy

InOut
+2 Bloodchief’s Thirst
+2 Wilt
+2 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
-2 Rankle, Master of Pranks
-3 Order of Midnight
-1 Scavenging Ooze

This is a matchup where Foulmire Knight will win a lot of games for you, as Mono-Green doesn’t have great ways to deal with it (except Ram Through, but then they use it on your 1-drop). The same is true for Innkeeper, as it’s another pesky 1-drop that they need to deal with somewhat. Sometimes they can overrun you if you’re not careful, but you’re playing enough removal and good creatures that it should rarely happen. We don’t need Order of Midnight because we grind better than them anyway, and playing a 2-drop that doesn’t block isn’t great here. Rankle has been a bit on the low-impact side, because they play a lot of smaller creatures that they can just sacrifice, and it gets walled by Gemrazer. We play Wilt to deal with their Great Henge and it can sometimes snag a Stonecoil Serpent. I like to keep Lotus Cobra in, because they don’t have many ways to deal with it and it can snowball some games. 

Gruul Landfall Aggro

InOut
+2 Bloodchief’s Thirst
+1 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
+2 Wilt
-2 Lotus Cobra
-3 Order of Midnight

Another aggressive deck, with the small difference that it’s a bit more aggressive and has Embercleave, which is why we are packing in Wilt again. We have a lot of removal and nice meatheads as blockers, so it’s still a good matchup. I cut Lotus Cobra here, because they play Bonecrusher Giant and it blocks horribly. Order is a liability again because it can’t block, so we’re cutting it.

Golgari Adventures (Mirror)

InOut
+2 Bloodchief’s Thirst
+2 Wilt
+2 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
-2 Polukranos, Unchained
-2 Lotus Cobra
-2 Scavenging Ooze

Scavenging Ooze is not necessary, as big beaters usually just get killed by our masses of removal, which is why we are cutting Polukranos as well. Lotus Cobra is bad because unless you’re absolutely going off, which is pretty rare, the games tend to go long and it becomes a liability. Wilt their Great Henge and carry the game with Garruk and your own Henge, but try to play him in a spot where he doesn’t die to a hasty Rankle. Try and play your Innkeeper only in a spot where you can immediately draw a card of it, although that’s more like general advice on how to play Innkeeper at this point!

Dimir Control

InOut
+3 Duress
+4 Skyclave Shade
+2 Questing Beast
+2 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
-2 Lotus Cobra
-2 Foulmire Knight
-2 Bloodchief’s Thirst
-2 The Great Henge
-2 Polukranos, Unchained
-1 Murderous Rider

This matchup might be a bit tough game 1, when they are able to get rid of your Innkeeper and can counter your big spells. Henge is horrible because they try to kill all your creatures and have a lot of counterspells. Cut your removal and clunky spells, and bring creatures that are annoying to deal with in and some discard spells. I like Garruk because he will win on his own and you don’t need a board to play him (unlike Great Henge). Otherwise the matchup should be good, if you play your cards right.

Esper Doom

InOut
+4 Skyclave Shade
+3 Duress
+2 Questing Beast
+2 Wilt
-2 Lotus Cobra
-2 Bloodchief’s Thirst
-2 Polukranos, Unchained
-2 The Great Henge
-3 Murderous Rider

I haven’t played this matchup a lot, but it shouldn’t be too bad because Innkeeper is such a powerhouse against them and you have a great clock. Post-board, it gets even better because your slots become much more effective, similar to Dimir Control. A well-timed Wilt can be back-breaking if you get to kill their turn 4 Doom Foretold at the end of their turn. Other than that, the same rules as against Dimir Control apply.

General Notes

  • Board Polukranos out against decks that can deal with it efficiently (black removal spells).
  • Board Henge out against decks that play multiple sweepers and/or counterspells.
  • Try to play Edgewall Innkeeper in spots where you immediately draw at least a card of it.
  • Just because we board Bloodchief’s Thirst in a lot doesn’t mean that we should play all 4 in the main. They get better post-board when your opponent tries to interact with you as well.
  • You can sometimes use your Polukranos’s fight ability to remove counters so that it becomes a 1/1, making it an enabler for Lovestruck Beast.
  • Bonecrusher Giant’s Stomp will take 2 counters off Polukranos and deal 2 additional damage, because it says “damage can’t be prevented”.
  • Remember that your 1/1s will become 2/2s if you have Henge out, making Lovestruck Beast the only card that can enable other Lovestruck Beasts.

End Step

This format is quite new, and I’m sure I missed some matchups. If I did, let me know in the comments and I’ll try and help!

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Twitch so you don’t miss any action!

Until next time!

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great guide, can’t wait to test it. In my currenversion I’m at 0-3 vs Yorion decks since shatter is quite devastating. I’m seriously thinking its the deck’s worst matchup.

  2. I currently 5-1 with this deck absolute powerhouse! Worst match up by far is Dimir Control. Esper doom is tricky but manageable i think.

  3. jacob_boxer jacob_boxer says:

    Loving the deck so far, thanks for the thorough guide! What would you recommend for sideboarding against mono-red?

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