GRN Draft #2 – Golgari (7-2)
This deck is actually from the tail end of the last time Guilds was in ranked draft, but luckily I took a screenshot of the deck for some reason (I used to post 7-x screenshots in my discord channel but hardly ever took a screenshot of the actual deck). I want to go over this one to show how Golgari can be built successfully even though it is somewhat weaker than the other archetypes.
Golgari plays similarly to Selesnya in a lot of ways. Your early creatures help enable your high curve creatures that go on to (hopefully) win you the game. While Selesnya uses these early drops to convoke and then stick around, Golgari sends them out to die. Ideally they are able to make an impact in the process. It is important to understand both archetypes conceptually in order to make good choices while drafting them.
The MVP in this deck is Charnel Troll. He has a somewhat low rating on some people’s lists and I do not understand it… he is an absolute monster. You often can (and should) play him on third turn, just make sure you set a stop on your upkeep so that you can pay the troll toll. Since early removal is somewhat scarce in this format he can win the game by himself. Even if he eats a luminous bonds you are probably down 1 card but still did 5 damage with your worst creature (that you discarded). His ability has negative synergy with Undergrowth though, so you need to be smart about when to play him. Usually he is a great opener or closer, but playing him before Lurcher is generally a mistake. Rhizome Lurcher is the primary payoff for this deck, and you really need at least 3 (kind of like the Selesnya Centaur). This deck does feature two additional bomb rares (Beast Whisperer and Find // Finality), which definitely helped it achieve 7 wins. Beast Whisperer should not be overlooked as he is a bomb in either Golgari or Selesnya, which each should be running at least 17 creatures. Golgari Findbroker is a great deal and clearly good, while Glowspore Shaman I feel is underrated. Even without the great interaction of her curving into Charnel Troll in this deck, I believe she is good in any Golgari deck. Remember that her ability is optional. I accidentally clicked a land once when I didn’t need it and smacked myself in the head. The ability does enable you to keep good 2-land hands and feel okay about it though, so it is relevant at times.
The Supporting Cast
Burglar Rat and Generous Stray are your two best ‘cantrip’ options for Golgari. Each of them are cast without losing card advantage, and go on to hopefully trade with an opposing creature either by blocking or Severed Strands. Cards like Undercity Necrolisk, Erstwhile Trooper, Lotleth Giant, and Moodmark Painter are all just okay. They have obvious synergy with each other but can all be clunky at times. I think if you have a lot of cantrip creatures the Undercity Necrolisk is probably the best one, since it insures they get in your graveyard while still providing some value. Lotleth Giant is risky to play at a whopping 7 mana, but I had a couple games where he came in as a Banefire finisher. Finally, Whisper Agent and Deadly Visit are good examples of Surveil cards that can be cast without splashing blue. Surveil is great in general, but in this deck it has nice synergy with Undergrowth.
Golgari is a really interesting archetype and one of the most fun to play in my opinion. Unfortunately, it can get really clunky and difficult to enable some games. Like Selesnya, if you Find a couple great rares to support the deck, it can be very competitive. I would not suggest drafting this archetype without them though. This is digressing into a bit of general drafting strategy, but I firmly believe it is a good idea to keep your options open going into pack 2. It might be tempting to force Boros and Dimir because they can be strong without any rares, but if you shut out Golgari/Selesnya/Izzet completely and open a bomb rare in pack 2, you should be kicking yourself for forcing an average deck instead of crafting a strong one. Remember, a strong Tier 2 deck is almost always better than an average Tier 1 deck in limited.