Standard 2022 Golgari Control Deck Guide: The Bane of Aggro Players

Culling Ritual Art by Lorenzo Mastroianni
Culling Ritual Art by Lorenzo Mastroianni

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite control decks I’ve been crushing with in 2022: Golgari Control. So for those entrenched in 2022, Black based Control decks are certainly nothing new. Generally revolving around early plays like Eyetwitch and Shambling Ghast to gum up the board for your planeswalkers and wraths later, the strategy is generally very effective.

However, I have an issue with these types of Black control decks, the other control matchups. Although these decks tend to dominate the creature matchups, you’re very sad once a Dimir player decides to come in an ruin your day. They aren’t unwinnable of course, but I like my decks to be a bit less polarizing. That’s when I found this spicy little number.

Golgari Control by Alex Mikesell 

Planeswalkers (4)
2
Lolth, Spider Queen
2
Professor Onyx
Spells (24)
2
Bloodchief's Thirst
4
Emergent Sequence
4
Flunk
3
Field Trip
2
Poison the Cup
4
Soul Shatter
2
Culling Ritual
3
Blood on the Snow
Artifacts (3)
3
Esika's Chariot
Enchantments (4)
4
Binding the Old Gods
Lands (25)
4
Faceless Haven
1
Hive of the Eye Tyrant
1
Lair of the Hydra
7
Snow-Covered Forest
8
Snow-Covered Swamp
4
Woodland Chasm
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Confront the Past
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Containment Breach
1
Pest Summoning
3
Mascot Exhibition

This deck nixes the early game creatures for more removal and mid game action, something I was a very big fan of. After extensive play, the base felt quite good, but I had a few improvements to make. After a really nice win streak in Mythic, here’s where I ended up with this list.

2022 Golgari Control v2 

Planeswalkers (4)
2
Lolth, Spider Queen
2
Professor Onyx
Creatures (8)
4
Tangled Florahedron
4
Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager
Spells (17)
2
Bloodchief's Thirst
4
Flunk
3
Field Trip
2
Soul Shatter
2
Culling Ritual
4
Blood on the Snow
Artifacts (4)
4
Esika's Chariot
Enchantments (4)
4
Binding the Old Gods
Lands (23)
4
Faceless Haven
2
Hive of the Eye Tyrant
1
Lair of the Hydra
4
Snow-Covered Forest
8
Snow-Covered Swamp
4
Woodland Chasm
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Confront the Past
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Containment Breach
1
Pest Summoning
3
Mascot Exhibition

Like most of my deck upgrades, the base stays the same and mostly some card roles are shifted. I liked what the deck was going for, I just wanted a few more threats and a few less removal spells. Why? I’ll explain.

CARD CHOICES

Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager Art by Filip Burburan
Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager Art by Filip Burburan

Lolth, Spider Queen

Lolth is such an interesting inclusion as she would be at her best in a creature deck, but we have very few creatures here. Despite that, she is still insanely powerful with her 0 drawing a card every turn for minimal cost and he minus making a really nice defensive force. Hard to argue with this efficiency.

Professor Onyx

The late game finisher. Onyx really does it well whether you’re behind, at parity, or ahead. Her plus is card advantage, her minus is removal, her ultimate wins the game, and her static can help you stabilize or win the game by itself. She’s just an insanely powerful card, albeit a little pricey.

Tangled Florahedron

I opted to go for Florahedron over Emergent Sequence for a few reasons. Florahedron can be a land when you want it, comes into play untapped so it can block immediately, and it’s a creature to get back with Blood on the Snow. Emergent Sequence does help color fix, but I’ve functionally never had color issues so that seemed to be a minuscule upside.

Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager

I’m pretty shocked I have seen functionally no Grakmaw in 2022, and I don’t know why. There’s very little exile based removal so Grakmaw is almost always going to be a 2 for 1. It’s great defensively as you get 2 3/3s to block with and great offensively as most players will have to toss a removal spell at it eventually just for you to get a functional second copy! Since this is also decent in multiples, I’m unsure if 3 or 4 is the right number.

Bloodchief's Thirst

I’ve never been a large Thirst fan, but it is very effective removal and can kill anything when kicked. Always happy to play 2, but never more than that generally speaking.

Field Trip

I’ve been on the fence about Field Trip, but I think Ramping and access to the lesson board is good enough to warrant it’s inclusion. Although we only have 2 5 drops to capitalize on the ramp, getting a Mascot Exhibition in hand and an extra land for the multitudes of mana sinks you have is just good in general.

Culling Ritual

At first I thought this was going to be way too niche to warrant it’s inclusion as it would be good against Monowhite and nothing else. While this is bad against other control decks, you’d be surprised how many permanents are 2 CMC and less!

This can pick off annoying permanents like Paladin Class or Ranger Class and recoup mana doing it! The best part about this card is that you can very often just cast this “for free” with the mana you get back on it and if you cast this against an aggro deck, it’s generally game over.

Blood on the Snow

The main snow payoff in the deck. The ability to wrath and rebuy something is extremely powerful and can easily shift the game into your favor no matter how far behind you are. We don’t have an excess of things to get back, but 7 threats you’d be happy to return and 4 emergency Florahedron is a very reasonable number.

Flunk

2022’s 2 mana removal spell of choice. This will kill most early threats early and kill most other things late.

Soul Shatter

With the decline of Goldspan Dragon this has become less important, but I still like 2 copies. This will almost always kill the thing you are most afraid of and gets around target triggers like Ward which is very nice.

Esika's Chariot

If you were wondering why play Green over White, this is mostly why. Chariot is just an insane card and good in literally every matchup. It’s a huge roadblock against aggro and immense pressure against control. Golgari is a control deck at heart, but to win games off of Florahedron into Esika’s Chariot is super satisfying. Chariot single handedly gives the deck a lot more pressure than the average 2022 control deck which I think is really important regardless of your matchup.

Binding the Old Gods

An all star that’s been noticeably missing from 2022. Binding is as simple as it comes, a universal removal spell into a ramp spell. This is a great rate and obviously excellent considering we make really good use of that mana with the creaturelands.

Faceless Haven

The second snow payoff. Although colorless lands aren’t great in this deck, having free pressure in control mirrors or a reasonable blocker against aggro decks is more than welcome.

Hive of the Eye Tyrant

I went with a 2/1 split between Hive and Lair which is funny considering I think Lair is the more powerful of the 2. Why two Hive then? The exile clause is very important in Blood on the Snow mirrors to get rid of the really threatening cards and leave them with a bad reanimation target.

Lair of the Hydra

A very solid land that can become humongous in the late game.

LESSON BOARD

Confront the Past

Great at killing opposing Walkers or reanimating your own.

Environmental Sciences

For when you really need a land.

Containment Breach

An emergency Naturalize.

Pest Summoning

If you desperately need blockers.

Mascot Exhibition

The card you’re hitting 99% of the time. You don’t actually need 3, but that is technically the ideal number since we have 3 Learn cards. It’s the best payoff in the Lesson board and this deck can easily hit 7 mana.

NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS

Burning-Rune Demon Art by Andrew Mar
Burning-Rune Demon Art by Andrew Mar

Eyetwitch

I love Eyetwitch and it could definitely be included in this deck, but I don’t think it needs it. It’s solid against the creature decks, but we have Field Trip to access our learn board and Eyetwitch only excels when it gets to trade. Very solid, but unnecessary.

Shambling Ghast

Similar to Eyetwitch, this card is amazing against aggro, but pretty meh otherwise. You could play it, but I don’t think you need to.

Feed the Swarm

I have considered Feed as a means to interact with the Class cards while not being dead otherwise, but I think the life loss is too brutal and we have Binding the Old Gods anyway.

Hunt for Specimens

Same logic as Eyetwitch.

Lithoform Blight

I have considered this as a decent answer to creaturelands and could replace something like a Bloodchief's Thirst.

Valki, God of Lies

I’ve definitely considered playing some Snow duals and Valki to get an interactive creature and Tibalt later. I think it’s a little too bad as it turns on the opponent’s removal nicely and makes the mana slightly more inconsistent, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for playing it.

Nighthawk Scavenger

I love me some Scavenger, but our deck is too controlling to want it.

Sedgemoor Witch

Witch is really strong, but I don’t think this list has enough instants or sorceries to warrant the inclusion.

Burning-Rune Demon

I don’t think the deck needs more late game, but having one copy of this seems pretty sweet and quite powerful.

Emergent Sequence

See the Tangled Florahedron section above.

Deadly Brew

This could potentially be really good if we played more creatures as a removal spell and a way to exchange a little idiot for a Planeswalker. The deck currently isn’t built to support this, but it could potentially be.

Witherbloom Command

I think we’re already good against aggro, but playing this as a 1 of would make the deck slightly better against it.

Sarulf, Realm Eater

I’ve seen other Golgari lists play this, but I’ve been unimpressed. It turns on opposing removal too well and is only great when you draw a lot of removal, but what isn’t good when you have complete control over the opponent’s board?

Nissa of Shadowed Boughs

I’ve come back to this card time and time again, but I really can’t justify playing it. Losing your land to a removal spell is really scary early on and this just isn’t that strong.

Harness Infinity

I wouldn’t play this card unless you were super cool. In all seriousness, it’s a bit slow compared to something else like another Walker or the previously mentioned Burning-Rune Demon.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Hive of the Eye Tyrant Art by Johannes Voss
Hive of the Eye Tyrant by Johannes Voss

When casting Lolth, Spider Queen, you functionally always want to -3 first no matter what the board state looks like.

Opposite of Lolth, I try to avoid -3ing with Professor Onyx unless she’s going to get killed anyway or I desperately need to kill something immediately.

You’re going to want to play Tangled Florahedron as a land way more often than a spell, even if it means passing the turn. I only cast it if I don’t think it’s going to get removed immediately, I need a blocker, or I already have a lot of lands.

Unlike other Legends, playing a Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager when you have one out is actually pretty good as it gives your current Grakmaw a counter and makes a 3/3.

Even if it’s early in the game, grabbing Mascot Exhibition of of Field Trip is usually the right play.

Esika's Chariot can copy any token, not just Cat tokens! Use this with your Hydra token from Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager or Spider from Lolth, Spider Queen.

If you want to activate a creature land but you think your opponent has a removal spell, I tend to start with Hive of the Eye Tyrant unless I think the exile will matter. If I think it will, then I activate Faceless Haven first.

Thank you for reading!

MTGAZone Discord

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

13 Responses

  1. DragonEleven says:

    I faced this deck a couple of days ago and absolutely loved the look of it, so I’m hoping to build it in paper magic for post-rotation.
    One query I have with this article though is why is there no mention of Vorinclex?
    It’s already used in a potentially lethal combination with Professor Onyx in the Yorion Control deck, slows down opposing decks that use +1/+1 counters or planeswalkers, and is a decent sized creature with both trample and haste.
    It just seems like a perfect inclusion, but doesn’t even get a mention.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      So Vorinclex isn’t a bad card at all, it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the deck. Vorinclex sees play in Standard because it works well in conjunction with Emergent Ultimatum, but even then some lists were cutting it at points. Golgari excels because it can circumvent creature combat and make their expensive removal a lot less effective and their cheap removal nearly dead. Vorinclex helps to make those spells relevant again since it can do without doing anything and it only synergizes with Onyx, another 6 drop.

      • DragonEleven says:

        I wouldn’t have thought it would work in the deck myself until I faced it, and it worked really well, which is why I thought it at least deserved a mention.
        My opponent wasn’t using it offensively as you’d expect, they were using it defensively… a body that size isn’t easy to get through once removal has gotten rid of all your big creatures, so I had no choice but to hold back until I could get rid of it.
        But even once I did, my opponent just cast Blood on the Snow, wiping my board and bringing Vorinclex back.
        Vorinclex combined with this much removal just stalled the game out until they drew Onyx, at which point I was dead to her ultimate.
        It’s definitely an inclusion that I’m going to be experimenting with in my own build of the deck (I’m guessing they dropped a Lolth to make room for it).
        It’s also worth noting that it would work nicely with Grakmaw when using the pair as blockers, seeing as both Grakmaw and the token it creates would come into play with double the +1/+1 counters on them.

        • DragonEleven says:

          Changed what I was saying about Grakmaw at the end there as I was typing, so it ended up a bit jumbled… I meant that Grakmaw and the token would be 6/6 because of Grakmaw entering with double the +1/+1 counters if Vorinclex is in play.

  2. Albel says:

    Loved the monoblack discard and Jeskai codie, but cant get behind this brew of yours, sorry.

    It just failed to convince me against other control decks, even though that should be ok according to your claim.

    Grakmaw and esika are annoying at best as lonely defenders. It feels like being stuck in the middle between actually relying on creatures or not and that is odd. Maybe DragonElevens route to go more midrange / value oriented is the way to evolve? Maybe with slight ramp into vorinclex? Looks promising to me.

    Although I admit, nice win rate vs aggro 🙂

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Sorry to hear you didn’t have the same success I did. I never felt we were relying on creatures per se as we still have really grindy elements so they’re great at gumming up the board vs creatures and threaten control opponents early. I feel that these elements are very endemic to midrange but going up the curve for more heavy hitters is a way to go about it. I don’t think that the other Control matchups are necessarily favored, but this plan has allowed me to at a minimum split games with them.

      Nevertheless, I know my decks won’t appeal to everyone so I’m glad some of my other decks have worked well for you!

      • Albel says:

        Dont sweat it! Always great trying your deck proposals. And you were right in one point: it is great against aggro.

        I’ll try to go Golgari midrange today and see how it performs in the current meta.

  3. Alex says:

    Awesome, so happy people are trying the deck out (Alex here from the original list). Really glad you enjoyed the deck and I am super excited to try your take on it! Golgari control has been doing really well for me so far. I think the deck has all the tools to compete and gets even better if we ever get a BO3 format.

  4. Bob says:

    “for hitting a land drop” duh please tell me WHY you chose it not what it does -_-

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I’d be happy to but I’m unsure what card you’re talking about. I looked through the article and couldn’t find what you’re referencing.

  5. xkfwnshql says:

    Mythic has been reached with this deck. The winning rate is 72%. Mono-green, Mono-red agro with a winning rate of 30%. Very strong on control deck and midrange deck. Thank you so much for introducing me to a good deck. It was fun.