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Glissa Sunslayer Art by Krhartsx

Standard Golgari Midrange Deck and Sideboard Guide

Learn how to play the Golgari Midrange deck for Standard in this strategy guide, with card options, best of one version, including all the popular matchups and sideboard guide!

Just weeks after the rotation, Golgari Midrange emerged as one of the highest-potential decks of the new Standard. A fan favourite since the early days of Magic, the Rock, as Golgari Midrange is often dubbed by its players, allows you to win against any deck when piloted properly. And with powerful black cards, old and new, it’s as strong as ever.

Golgari Midrange has access to all things necessary to win Magic games – powerful threats, card advantage, and efficient removal. These elements, when paired with planeswalkers and creature lands, make a force to be reckoned with.

Golgari Midrange
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $468.72
Standard
best of 3
11 mythic
31 rare
6 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (6)
2
Cut Down
$1.58
Sorceries (2)
2
Duress
$0.70
Enchantments (4)
Lands (26)
5
Forest
$1.75
5
Swamp
$1.75
4
Llanowar Wastes
$7.96
4
Deathcap Glade
$43.96
60 Cards
$588.42
Sideboard
2
Cut Down
$1.58
2
Tear Asunder
$4.58
3
The End
$10.47
2
Duress
$0.70
3
Phyrexian Arena
$8.97
15 Cards
$48.27

Deck Tech

Creatures

A 3/2 Trampler for two mana is not a bad threat. On the contrary, it’s already decent. Throw in the adventure part and you always get a 2 for 1. However, the card gets really interesting with its on-death trigger.

If you are able to take advantage of the Dreadknight’s ability just once, it already is a 4 for 1. These are levels of value that you don’t get easily in Golgari.

However, Mosswood Dreadknight’s real power comes from its versatility. In need of an early blocker? It acts as a creature that often trades up due to its high power. Looking to find the one card that saves you from losing? Draw a card with Dread Whispers. The list goes on, it’s a great inclusion in any Midrange deck.

Another replayable 3/2 creature for two mana. And one that also draws you cards. These cards are specifically what midrange decks need – multifunctional creatures that generate value.

You can play the Underdog as an early threat or blocker, and it does exactly what you need in both of these contexts. Similar to Mosswood Dreadknight, it trades up when left to defend, and it hits hard when attacking. What makes Underdog more flexible than its counterpart is the fact that you don’t need to play it immediately – you can have it sit around in the yard if you find yourself having better things to do and use it when you need it most.

Underdog’s Blitz ability also lets you push more damage through since it gains haste when cast this way.

A staple threat with built-in protection and graveyard hate. Its ability to drain opponents often matters more than you may think, especially when it adds up over the course of multiple turns.

Graveyard Trespasser is a card that’s good both early in the game, as a difficult-to-remove three drop, and later on, when each player is out of cards. 

This werewolf is one of the cards that utilises night the best as it can push 6 damage easily, closing the game in a few swings.

It is also another way the deck can generate value since killing Trespasser with a removal spell will mean our opponent is using 2 cards to deal with just 1.

Glissa Sunslayer offers yet another fantastic way of generating card advantage. As opposed to Graveyard Trespasser, however, it shines the best not when facing a removal spell but in combat instead.

Glissa’s powerful combo of first strike and deathtouch means that it will kill almost any blocker (or attacker!) before she herself can be dealt damage. This means we will strike with her very often and will face a choice. This will often result in drawing deeper into the deck, but when the other options come into play, they are extremely powerful.

Sunslayer is also another strong blocker in the deck as her mere presence on the battlefield will often mean our opponents will be forced to pass the turn without attacking. If they choose otherwise, we simply kill their best creature for free.

Lord Skitter makes for a great impression of Goblin Rabblemaster. Some would even say it’s better than the goblin as the tokens aren’t forced to immediately attack into a facing blocker.

However, Sewer King is not all fun and games as it’s one of our poorest blockers. It’s effectively a 3 mana 3/3 without any abilities in defensive scenarios, especially so since the tokens created can’t block.

Where Lord Skitter shines, though, is when we are on the offensive. Effectively, it’s a kill-on-sight as the rats add up quickly. It alone wins any board stalls as you can just sit back and generate enough tokens to kill your opponent in a single swing.

The big baddie of the format. You want to play as many copies as you can despite it being legendary.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse breaks board stalls even better than Lord Skitter, punishing your opponents for simply playing the game while rewarding you for doing the same. When combined, it makes the deck overall super good at breaking any symmetrical parity on the board.

If being one of the top cards of the format on her own wasn’t enough, Sheoldred also significantly buffs our other cards. Dread Whispers (Mosswood Dreadknight’s adventure half) and Glissa Sunslayer draw not only pains us no more, but even generates life, and Tenacious Underdog’s Blitz ability virtually costs us nothing more than mana.

Interaction

One of the best planeswalkers ever printed is as strong in current Standard as ever. Liliana plays best when our opponent has one or no creatures. In these scenarios, we can either minus two her to remove their worst threat (this ability is especially good when we face a single creature) or start plusing her.

Normally, Lili’s first ability punishes both players symmetrically. However, as we draw a lot and have several 2-for-1s, we will often ditch unnecessary lands or cards that we won’t find use for anyways.

This makes Liliana of the Veil a great threat to play turn 3 that needs immediate reaction from the opponent, or else she steals games.

You can’t get more efficient than Cut Down since it removes the widest array of threats, and all that for just one mana.

It shines in Golgari Midrange since it does what you need it to do both on defense and offense.

There’s barely any creature that doesn’t get hit by Go for the Throat. It kills opposing Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Serra’s Paragon, Goodric, Cloaked Reveler and much, much more.

It’s a two-mana instant that will often be both tempo and mana efficient, killing a 4 drop for half your turn. I cannot imagine a black deck in this format that does not play this card.

In the current Standard format, you need to be able to interact with the opponent’s hand. It’s going to be especially useful when playing against control decks or other midrange decks, when it will trade for their best threat or piece of interaction for a mere one mana.

We don’t want to play too many, however, since it will barely ever hit against aggressive strategies.

I would play it even without the front half, and often will. Locthwain Scorn is an efficient removal spell that will kill any small creature while gaining you life, making it a great pick against any aggressive deck.

When the game goes long enough, you can play Virtue itself, which will slowly overwhelm your opponents with threats.

Virtue of Persistence is one of the best cards of the cycle and one I will be happy to see in my opening hands.


Best of One

Golgari Midrange Best of One
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $435.83
Standard
best of 3
11 mythic
31 rare
8 uncommon
10 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (8)
4
Cut Down
$3.16
Enchantments (4)
Lands (26)
5
Forest
$1.75
5
Swamp
$1.75
4
Llanowar Wastes
$7.96
4
Deathcap Glade
$43.96
60 Cards
$589.1

Since Best of One is leaning heavily towards aggressive strategies, I’ve opted for swapping Duress for more pieces of efficient removal.


Budget

Every single threat we play is either a rare or a mythic and is impossible to replace. Due to the sheer count of these cards, the deck is unfortunately not budget friendly.


Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Five-Color Ramp

InOut
+2 Tear Asunder-2 Cut Down
+3 The End-4 Virtue of Persistence
+2 Breach the Multiverse-3 Liliana of the Veil
+2 Duress

Liliana of the Veil is too slow and doesn’t let us control what spell they discard, meaning they will often have the choice to retain one or two of their biggest spells. They also play really well off the top of the deck and Liliana doesn’t help with that.

Breach the Multiverse will very often put two creatures they cannot handle onto the board, which should dominate the game. I will happily take their Etali, Primal Storm or Atraxa, Grand Unifier.

Play a lot of early threats to put them under constant pressure – have them fight back against your aggression and this should slow them down significantly.

Dimir Midrange

InOut
+1 Liliana of the Veil-2 Duress
+3 Phyrexian Arena-2 Virtue of Persistence

Whenever two midrange decks go face to face, we have to ask ourselves what makes each of them unique and whether they attack on the same axis.

In this case, we’ve got similar removal and Planeswalkers, the creature base overlaps at Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and the rest of the threats is different. They play blue flash creatures, we play Mosswood Dreadknight and Glissa Sunslayer.

They also play or at least have access to countermagic.

It means that they will be playing more of a tempo/flash game and in this particular matchup we will be the control deck – the bigger deck. And so, I want to treat it as such.

I want to draw cards, trade everything and be the last person standing thanks to the sheer amount of card advantage available.

I don’t play Breach the Multiverse here so as not to get hit by a counterspell, thwarting my super expensive plan.

Golgari Midrange Mirror

InOut
+3 Phyrexian Arena-2 Duress
+3 The End-2 Cut Down
-2 Liliana of the Veil

In this mirror match, I’d proritise exile interaction to stop any Underdog/Dreadknight loops and card advantage to be able to keep trading.

Either player may assume a different plan depending on the sideboard. Our board is ready to go bigger but some may enable the deck to become more aggressive.

Look at the opponent’s exact configuration and adjust if necessary for game 3.

All in all, our end-game is going to be hardcasting Virtue of Persistence very often so aim for that and be on the lookout for opposing enchantment removal like Tear Asunder If you want to be extra safe, you can bring a few copies of your own for opposing Virtues.

Dimir Faeries

InOut
+1 Liliana of the Veil-2 Duress
+3 Phyrexian Arena-2 Mosswood Dreadknight

Very similar to Dimir Midrange with a small difference in how I board. I leave Cut Down in since I expect more small creatures and trim Knight, since I doubt I’ll have time to keep looping.

Here we are certainly the bigger deck, so they will try to kill us and we will try our best to stay alive.

Esper Legends

InOut
+1 Liliana of the Veil-2 Duress
+3 The End-2 Mosswood Dreadknight
+2 Cut Down-2 Lord Skitter, Sewer King

Another matchup where we assume a control role. We’re playing against a largely god-honest creature deck which is going to put pressure on us.

We won’t be looping Mosswood Dreadknights or Tenacious Underdogs too much but I highly encourage you to take any profitable blocks possible.

In the end, we will grind them out but you don’t want to lose with cards in hand.

Tips and Tricks

  • Keep track of your Tenacious Underdogs – Blitz gives haste and casting it from the graveyard allows you to squeeze in unexpected damage
  • You can cast Tenacious Underdogusing Blitz from your hand – don’t forget about that! Remember to take that into account when calculating if you have lethal.
  • It’s very difficult to block Glissa in combat effectively – make use of it. It usually takes at least four creatures to take down Glissa with combat damage. If your opponents block Sunslayer with four creatures, assign one damage amongst three creatures each. This will take them down before they can strike back and may let your Glissa survive if the remaining creature has less than 3 power.
  • It works similarly with removal – assign damage first and then kill the remaining creature.
  • If the opponent has no blocker and controls one planeswalker, you can use Glissa to attack face and then remove loyalty counters from said planeswalkers, making Glissa into your own Questing Beast.

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Skura
Skura

Also known as Skura or IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, Filip started his career upon the release of Gatecrash and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches and creates written and video content, mainly centered around the control archetype. He is passionate about Magic game theory and countering spells. Outside of Magic, he is a fan of snooker/pool, chess and Project Management.

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