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Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Historic Ghalta Zoo Deck Guide

Hello everyone, today I will present you a new historic brew featuring one of my favorite Magic cards of all time, a card that qualified me for my first Pro Tour, the mighty Ghalta!

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The idea behind the deck is that, if we untap with Ghalta alive, we probably win and Selfless Savior seems like the perfect card for enabling that. Since we are playing a green creature deck, we need to play Llanowar Elves, and having this many 1/1s makes Lovestruck Beast the best 3 drop available. Pelt Collector is just perfect with Ghalta, as it is a 1 drop that will add a lot of power to the board, and with this many 1 drops, Venerated Loxodon is a must. Playing Selesnya gives us access to some really great 2 drops, so the deck’s remaining slots are easily filled in:


[sd_deck deck=”ZEpqGnnZ7″]

The gameplan is pretty straightforward: we want to play as many creatures as we can to enable a fast Loxodon or Ghalta, and then attack for a huge amount of damage. With this in mind, we should keep any hand that has a good curve, while mulliganning all clunky hands. We are not playing planeswalkers or other card advantage spells, so curving out is paramount to all of our games. Our creatures are bigger than Gruul ones, so we should be able to beat them, while Selfless Savior and Thalia will keep mass removals in check against control decks. Scavenging Ooze will stop our opponent from abusing the graveyard and, with Gemrazer in the sideboard, we should have reliable interaction against everything else.

Tips and Tricks

  • Remember that creatures that just entered the battlefield can convoke, so we can play any amount of one drops before casting a Venerated Loxodon without spending any extra mana.
  • The same concept is true for Ghalta: if we can cast it, we can first cast another cheap creature that will effectively be free or can even save us some mana! Just remember that Ghalta’s coloured mana cost isn’t reduced; she will never cost less than GG.
  • Ancient Ziggurat can’t cast Heart’s Desire, can’t be used for activated abilities, and can’t grab Umori from the sideboard. Keep these things in mind when choosing which land to play first.
  • The game lets us cast Stonecoil Serpent for 0 if we want to. That means that on turn 1 after we play a 1 drop, the game will not automatically pass the turn. An expert player will be able to understand that we have the Serpent in hand if we don’t pass immediately after our play.
  • Gemrazer has great synergy with Stonecoil Serpent, as all the counters will be remain on top of the 4/4 body. The same is true for Pelt Collector and Scavenging Ooze.
  • We are playing only creatures, but Thalia still affects us a little – Heart’s desire will be taxed! Keep it in mind when deciding how to sequence your spells. Same goes for Chop Down in the sideboard.
  • Deciding when to cast Stonecoil Serpent can be game changing. Usually a small serpent is the correct choice, as it brings us closer to casting a Loxodon or a Ghalta. This is not always the case, since against some matchups, like Gruul, the body can be super relevant. For example a 3/3 Serpent will not die to Stomp, and a 4/4 can block and kill a Gruul Spellbreaker. If our opponent is going too fast, a 2/2 is enough to stop the Burning-Tree Emissaries from attacking, so we will really need to choose wisely when to cast it, depending on the matchup and on the shape of the game!

Sideboard Guide

vs. Gruul/Big Aggro Decks

+4 Giant Killer-3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
-1 Selfless Savior

Giant Killer is a great card and with these decks not playing any removal that can actually kill Ghalta, Selfless Savior becomes a little bit worse.

vs. Control Decks

+4 Adanto Vanguard
+1 Plains
+2 Questing Beast
-3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
-4 Lovestruck Beast

Also, if they have artifact/enchantments and no relevant graveyard stuff:

+3 Gemrazer-3 Scavenging Ooze

With this plan, we will be able to play around most wrath effects. Things that destroy creatures or deal damage will be almost useless against us, but we should still be very careful not to play into Extinction Event or Cry of the Carnarium, if we fear our opponents have access to those cards.

vs. Simic Nexus

+1 Plains
+2 Questing Beast
+3 Gemrazer
-3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
-1 Venerated Loxodon
-2 Selfless Savior

vs. any deck that plays Goblin Chainwhirler

+1 Plains
+2 Questing Beast
-3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Other General Sideboard Tips

  • Adanto Vanguard doesn’t combo well with Ghalta, as it is a 2 drop with only 1 power, so whenever we sideboard it in, I recommend we swap Ghalta out.
  • Gemrazer synergizes well with non-humans and especially with Stonecoil Serpent, so we should not remove it when we side.

Possible Metagame Changes

The sideboard is designed for an open metagame, but depending on how it evolves, we may need more graveyard hate in the form of a 4th Ooze or a few Containment Priests, or we may need more artifact/enchantment removal. In that case I suggest the 4th Gemrazer and if we need even more, some Knights of Autumn.

If Field of the Dead becomes very popular, I could see Ghost Quarter in the sideboard, or changing up the main deck with Steel Leaf Champion and more copies of Questing Beast. If we need more tools against aggressive decks, Elder Gargaroth or Baneslayer Angel/Lyra may be our best choices. Voracious Hydra will be great against Goblins or Elves, to have removal against small but powerful creatures. Kraul Harpooner is an incredibly powerful card if decks like monoU tempo of UW fliers become more popular. Shifting Ceratop is a powerful card but I don’t believe it fits well in this deck as it is quite expensive and we are not really expecting counterspells post sideboard.

Possible Jumpstart Inclusions

  • Isamaru is a great aggressive 1 drop that does not die to Goblin Chainwhirler, so I think playing 2 of them could be reasonable.
  • Selvala looks like an interesting card in a Ghalta deck, tapping for a colossal 11 mana with Ghalta out, but would probably need a different and slower build that can make better use of the mana provided.
  • Thragtusk could be a great sideboard card against aggressive decks, but I am not sure that it will be better than Elder Gargaroth or Voracious Hydra. Still worth trying, since it does resist removal better than those cards.

Thanks for reading! I hope that you all end up loving the deck as much as I do. If you want to see some gameplay, you can follow me on Twitch, and be sure to check out my Twitter too!

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