snc-145-fight-rigging

Standard Golgari Fight Rigging: Smash or Pass

For our first new series, DoggertQBones is doing Smash or Pass! He takes a deck, takes it for a spin, improves it, and let's you know if it's worth your time to try!

Hello everyone!

Today I want to try out a new series that I’m calling Smash or Pass! The idea behind this series is that I take interesting decks from the internet, try them out for several matches, try to improve them, and then give it an overall rating. This is to help highlight decks that may normally not get the spotlight and where we can find some real hidden gems.

To kick off this series, we’re starting with this cool Golgari Fight Rigging deck I found in the latest MTGO Standard League 5-0 deck dumps! Let’s take a look.

Golgari Fight Rigging by 1000bc
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
15 mythic
34 rare
4 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
2
Wrenn and Seven
$25.98
Creatures (19)
4
Shakedown Heavy
$1.56
Instants (3)
2
Infernal Grasp
$1.38
1
Hagra Mauling
$1.99
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (8)
4
Fight Rigging
$3.16
60 Cards
$431.16
15 Cards
$91.31

So this looked like a reasonable deck with a cool over the top game plan. For most of the game, you’re going to function as a pretty standard Golgari Midrange deck, maybe just a slightly more aggressively slanted one by the virtue of Tainted Adversary and Shakedown Heavy. However, if you manage to land a Fight Rigging and a relatively large creature, you can turn the game on it’s head.

Fight Rigging has already seen a lot of play in Explorer (check out our dedicated deck guide) to cheat in expensive permanents and that’s our game plan as well. Between Titan of Industry and Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter (which you can cast if you put Valki, God of Lies under Fight Rigging), you can get a huge threat as early as turn 4!

Even if you don’t hit one of the big kahunas, you still have solid cards like Wrenn and Seven, Workshop Warchief, Esika's Chariot, or Binding the Old Gods, or additional Fight Rigging to get for free as well! While we can’t be as all in on our Fight Rigging as you can be in Explorer as it’s harder to get a 7 power creature, the deck has enough high power creatures to make this a tenable game plan as well as having a good enough curve that we’re not always going to be stuck with uncastable cards in our hand every game.

All that said, I had a few worries about the deck going into it. First off, although the curve is reasonable, it still seemed a bit sus as you need enough top end to make Fight Rigging worth it, but it’s going to be awkward if you ever draw multiple Titan of Industry early game. My second concern is that the deck didn’t play all that much removal so if you fall behind and don’t have a Fight Rigging, the game may spiral out of control. The last concern, which I wasn’t sure on, but I had no idea if a deck like this was even that good right now.

This didn’t necessarily seem fast or strong enough to punish the slow decks without Fight Rigging nor necessarily have enough defensive tools to not get bodied by aggro decks. Nevertheless, all of that is just conjecture until you actually play the deck yourself! So after 5 matches, let’s see where I ended up:

  • 1-2 Grixis Midrange (wasn’t Vampires, was like a weird mix of Control but with some aggressive creatures). Mulled to 5 games 1 and 3 due to low land counts or super high mana value hands
  • 2-1 Esper Angels, mulled to 5 game 2 due to low land counts and died that game
  • 2-1 Esper Midrange, punted game 2 where I miscounted their damage. Would’ve been a close game otherwise
  • 2-0 Temur Control, had great hands compared to their fine hands
  • 2-1 Mono White Aggro, got ran over game 1, sideboard made it substantially better

So we got a 4-1 overall which is definitely respectable! While the deck seemed pretty reasonable to start with, it actually performed substantially better than my expectations. The Fight Rigging game plan was a good deal more powerful than I anticipated and the rest of the deck overall performed better than I thought it would as well. You felt just like a normal deck which a random really powerful synergy that could get people out of nowhere.

In terms of issues, you could probably surmise where my head is at with the records. As a virtue of the Fight Rigging game plan, you need a good amount of top end to make it tenable. So if we’re forced to have a lot of top end, we should probably have more lands to help us enable it. I had to mulligan a good amount of hands as it only had 1-2 lands and if I ever missed land 3 or 4, it felt like the game was over right there. Standard right now is too much about the late game to miss land drops so having a few more would’ve definitely been welcome.

Less of an issue, but more of an observation, 1000bc’s build had more tools against aggro in the main deck than seemed necessary considering how little aggro seems to be on ladder. The Meathook Massacre is a great card, but we don’t necessarily need 2 main. Sarulf, Realm Eater on the other hand seemed like a strange inclusion beyond being good against aggro as it didn’t really do much against the slower decks in Standard.

With all those things in mind, I found the deck only needed a few small changes to get it to where I wanted.

Golgari FIght Rigging v2
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
13 mythic
32 rare
8 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
2
Wrenn and Seven
$25.98
Instants (4)
3
Infernal Grasp
$2.07
1
Hagra Mauling
$1.99
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (7)
4
Fight Rigging
$3.16
60 Cards
$368.34
Sideboard
3
Duress
$0.75
3
Check for Traps
$0.75
15 Cards
$123.91

I think Tangled Florahedron is a natural fit in this deck as it helps bolster the land count, can get us to our top end quicker, and is a green land to help cast Titan of Industry later in the game. Then I shaved some of the anti-aggro tools as I felt the sideboard had enough of those pieces to make aggro more than reasonable in the post board games. Otherwise, the deck really thrummed so I don’t think it needed many changes. So let’s get to the deck rating!

Deck Rating
B+ to A-

While I thought the deck would be ok, more so a middling option, it definitely outperformed my expectations record notwithstanding. It felt fast enough to pressure the slower decks, had a cool over the top game plan similar to Jeskai Hinata (not as good, but it’s the most similar analog), and great interaction when you need it. I don’t think this is going to be breaking the metagame, but it did seem very strong.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Titan of Industry Art by Lucas Staniec
Titan of Industry Art by Lucas Staniec

Jeskai Hinata

INOUT
+3 Duress-1 Tainted Adversary
+3 Check for Traps-1 Sarulf, Realm Eater
-1 Workshop Warchief
-1 The Meathook Massacre
-2 Binding the Old Gods

Although I have still yet to face this with either iteration of the deck, I would board the same way that I do in the other Izzet(x) matchups. You could board in some Ray of Enfeeblement if you want to, but I find that it’s not the most helpful unless they deploy Hinata without any protection, which in my experience, is relatively rare.

That said, I feel this matchup may be a bit rough as they can go over the top of your game plan and have a lot of interaction to stop you from running them over. If they never draw a Hinata then this is probably a fine matchup, but they’re very good at finding Hinata, and if they have a Magma Opus alongside it, it’s going to be very tough to win. Ideally you just run them over before they can start popping off and having six discard spells is going to go a long way to help you out there.

Jeskai Combo

INOUT
+3 Duress-1 Tainted Adversary
+3 Check for Traps-1 Sarulf, Realm Eater
-1 Workshop Warchief
-1 The Meathook Massacre
-2 Binding the Old Gods

You’re going to see a lot of this sideboarding, but the matchups all play out slightly differently. Rather than having a lot of interaction, Combo is pretty insular in it’s game plan so it’s going to be a race. You want to keep hands with fast curves and ideally a piece of interaction or two to kill them before they can get going.

I would recommend against keeping hands that only have a lot of interaction as that may be too slow against Combo if you can’t meaningfully pressure them, but if the interaction is mostly discard spells and you have something like a Shakedown Heavy or a Esika's Chariot, then it’s probably fine.

Temur Control

INOUT
+3 Duress-1 Tainted Adversary
+3 Check for Traps-1 Sarulf, Realm Eater
-1 Workshop Warchief
-1 The Meathook Massacre
-2 Binding the Old Gods

For the final Izzet(x) variant, I think Temur is likely the easiest to deal with of all the decks. Although their threats are scary, they aren’t any scarier than ours and their interaction, while still good, isn’t amazing against us either. You want to still be on the aggressive as you don’t want to give them an excess of time where they can start deploying threat after threat.

Esper Midrange

INOUT
+4 Ray of Enfeeblement-2 Tainted Adversary
+2 Binding the Old Gods-1 Sarulf, Realm Eater
-1 Workshop Warchief
-2 Fight Rigging

To me, Esper felt really close as they have a lot of powerful cards, but none of them as good as us landing a Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter or a Titan of Industry. That said, we need to live long enough for those to be relevant as they’re great at applying pressure between Luminarch Aspirant, Raffine, Scheming Seer, and Wedding Announcement.

Ray of Enfeeblement does a lot of work in this matchup as a means of killing off their early threats at a premium rate which is exactly what we need in this matchup. Considering they have a good amount of removal and Vanishing Verse, the Fight Rigging game plan is much less tenuous hence why I cut a couple of copies. You just want to play as a midrange deck that eventually starts casting their bombs rather than trying to cheat them in when they’re constantly looking to kill off our creatures.

Grixis Vampires

INOUT
+2 Duress-2 Tainted Adversary
+2 Binding the Old Gods-1 Sarulf, Realm Eater
-1 The Meathook Massacre

For the first time in a deck guide, I believe the matchup against Grixis is easier than the matchup against Esper! While they also have great removal, they don’t really have a way to remove a resolved Fight Rigging so every threat we have afterwards is actually an issue for them. Furthermore, their early game generally isn’t as scary as Esper barring exactly Fable of the Mirror-Breaker so we have more time to get to the mid game.

You still want to play offensively as they have a lot of ways to draw cards and work towards your Titan of Industry which will be very difficult for them to deal with.

Mono White Aggro / Boros Aggro

INOUT
+4 Ray of Enfeeblement-4 Fight Rigging
+2 The Meathook Massacre-4 Titan of Industry
+2 Binding the Old Gods

Unlike all the other matchups, you’re looking to play the control role in this matchup. We completely nix the Fight Rigging game plan as it’s much to slow and 7 drops are the exact opposite of what you want in aggressive matchups. You just want to deploy your curve, use you removal whenever possible, and defend yourself as much as you can until your mid game can take over.

We have a good enough curve and enough cheap removal that these matchups are generally good for us and The Meathook Massacre should be game over if you get to cast in later in the game.

Tips and Tricks

Tainted Adversary Art by Tuan Duong Chu
Tainted Adversary Art by Tuan Duong Chu
  • A big aspect of Fight Rigging is surprising the opponent with it (it’s not a popular deck after all). In that vein, consider sandbagging your Wrenn and Seven until turn 6 so they don’t know to play around you getting a free spell if you play it on curve normally. This won’t always make sense, but it’s something to think about.
  • Don’t put too much stock into playing Tangled Florahedron as a creature versus playing it as a land. If you have plenty of lands or a great curve, go ahead, but ramping isn’t a super high priority in this deck.
  • The pseudo kicker ability on Tainted Adversary is nice, but I’m playing it as a two drop most of the time.
  • Keep in mind that the upkeep ability on Sarulf, Realm Eater is symmetrical so you don’t want to deploy threats into it and then wipe the board.
  • Although you would typically cast the spell off Fight Rigging the second you get a 7 power creature, if the opponent passed the turn to hold open counterspells, consider holding off and just pressuring them. The opponent may not have a means to deal with the Rigging or large creature but were looking to at least counter your big spell.
  • If you have multiple Fight Rigging and the first trigger won’t give you a seven power creature but an additional one will, you’ll only be able to cast the free spell off the Rigging that gave you the seventh power so stack them correctly if you need one spell over the other.
  • I pretty much always get Ziatora's Proving Ground off of Binding the Old Gods to potentially cast a Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter in the late game.

Are there any decks you want me to try for this column? Join our Discord and let me know!

Thanks for reading!

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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
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