FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – THE TOP SOLDIERS OF – GOLGARI

Greetings, readers! This week I continue on with my Top Soldiers Of series, which focuses on my picks as the top legends and non-legends alike in (most) color combinations. I write this series with the hope that I’ve given you, the reader, some ideas in evaluating cards to help get ideas for either cards to add to your decks, or new ideas for generals to build.

Before I continue, though, it’s that time of the season once again; prerelease time! Around the prerelease season, I tend to lend aid to my benefactors, the CG Realm, by not only promoting the upcoming prerelease events, but the weekly EDH league we have as well!

On Wednesdays at 6 PM, come join us for some EDH fun! Entry is $2, and forget what you’ve heard; the days of Counterspelling everything are long behind us. These days, we’re too busy turning things sideways to care about counterspells! We’ve got a nice little playgroup going, but I still feel we could use some new faces. So if you’ve ever thought about the place to take your EDH deck for a spin, let it be at the CG Realm.

Secondly, the prerelease. This weekend, Born of the Gods prerelease events will be happening worldwide, so come join me at the CG Realm at 3147 Tecumseh Road East to get some Sealed in. Times are as follows:

Friday January 31 – 11:59 pm we start at midnight Sat.-$25 *
Saturday February 1 – 3:00 am -$25
Saturday February 1 – 2:00 pm -$25
Saturday February 1 – 6:00 pm -$25 **
Sunday February 2 – 1:00 pm -$25
Sunday February 2 – 5:00 pm $20

* – guaranteed 2 booster boxes for 1st place
** – guaranteed 1 booster box for 1st place

Both events with at least a booster box in prize also have a raffle. When you enter the event you get 1 ticket. Every $10 you spend you receive another entry into the raffle. There will be random door prizes during these events with hundreds of dollars of random door prizes to be won.
The raffle at the Friday night event will be for a box of Korean Theros
The raffle at the 6:00 Saturday night event will be for a box of Korean m14

I hope to see all of you there.

Now that we’ve returned to our regularly scheduled programming, this week’s article focuses on the combination of black and green that is Golgari.

Golgari has had a tumultuous and perilous run through a number of formats; originating the Rock archetype in Standard, but more importantly, bringing Dredge to Legacy with Bridge from Below. Overall, it lends itself to recursive creatures that are equal parts powerful and expensive mana-wise, interesting graveyard mechanics, and most recently, +1/+1 counters.

What I’ve found while constructing this list, though, is that Golgari’s hearth of removal is not to be underestimated. Orzhov and Rakdos have had some wicked kill spells shown in previous articles, but really, the combination of black and green really just has a boatload of removal to work with, and arguably, some of the best spells at doing it in the format. Without further ado, let’s get right into the list:

#10 – Golgari Charm

Golgari Charm

It’s funny that the last image posted was that of Golgari Charm, because unlike some of the charms printed in the Return to Ravnica block, which are mostly Standard fodder, charm is actually one of the better ones in EDH. Shrivel at instant speed is nothing to laugh at, and can actually screw over token matchups really hard. If you’re a midrange deck like Karador, Ghost Chieftain and getting the snot kicked out of you by matchups like Krenko, Mob Boss, Darien, King of Kjeldor or Rhys the Redeemed, you may want to consider Golgari Charm to help ease that matchup, but that’s not all it does.

Strategies in EDH far and wide can rely on their bomby 6+-CMC enchantments to win them the game. Vicious Shadows, Debtors’ Knell, Collective Blessing; Golgari Charm can be a useful tool in dismantling each of those strategies.

Lastly, regenerating each creature you control is a great play if your deck relies on specific key creatures (or even just your general) to get you there. Blanking sweepers can sometimes be a control deck’s worst nightmare.

Overall, there’s a lot of utility in Golgari Charm for EDH, and while it’s not flashy or insanely powerful on its own, it’s definitely a card worth considering if you need coverage in your spells.

#9 – Abrupt Decay

Abrupt Decay

Abrupt Decay is simple, powerful, and arguably quite flexible. Being instant-speed and having the versatility to destroy any nonland permanent is huge game, and being uncounterable means it’s one of the biggest nemeses for Rhystic Study.

Despite that, the restriction of converted mana cost 3 or less can be all too real in a format like EDH, where spot removal spells are best wastes on cards your opponent will use to run people over, often times meaning they cost 6 or more mana. Regardless, this thing can get anything from Counterbalance to Ghostly Prison to Sword of Fire and Ice, making it quite the useful anti-utility spell.

#8 – Worm Harvest

Worm Harvest

It’s no surprise to anyone that the Retrace mechanic is one of my favorites in Magic. Many of its cards are quite powerful, but my absolute favorite has to be the one-man wrecking crew that is Worm Harvest. On its own, it enables a Lands deck to have a way to get there with aggro, and it is arguably the spell that benefits from Retrace the most, as the more you cast it, the more Worms you’ll generate.

Obviously, being 1/1′s aren’t that special, but Skullclamp is quite powerful with this card, as well as Creakwood Liege, Coat of Arms, Craterhoof Behemoth or any other mass pump spell. I have a soft spot for it from an old Damia, Sage of Stone Lands shell I ran back in the day, but the banning of Griselbrand has sadly crushed my dreams at making the deck a reality. (Well, that and its price tag; I’m not particularly excited about pursuing Crucible of Worlds and Wasteland.)

#7 – Putrefy

Putrefy

Despite being in Standard, I’m a little disappointed that Putrefy isn’t seeing play. Obviously, its colors are the problem, but Putrefy has always been and will always be a fantastic piece of removal. Being able to bury a creature without restrictions is quite powerful on its own, but Putrefy gets the added flexibility of being able to remove artifacts from the equation as well. Whether sniping Winter Orb, Tangle Wire, or whatever other ridiculous shenanigans your opponents employ against you, the flexibility of being able to choose is what makes Putrefy a solid choice for a spot removal spell.

#6 – Corpsejack Menace

Corpsejack Menace

Can we just take a minute and question how this art ever got approved? Really, now, that’s just a little too suggestive, don’t you think…? (“Here I want you to depict the fears of gay men worldwide. We’ll mask it under the premise that it’s another half-functional Doubling Season variant, so players will love it.”)

Commentary and nightmarish visions aside, Corpsejack Menace is proof that even a quarter of Doubling Season‘s power is still incredible. Mind you, this is largely due to the fact that you’re getting a 4/4 for 4 here, which is excellent in combat, but still, being able to exponentially increase the bulk of your army is pretty great game so long as it’s on the table. Clearly designed in tandem with Scavenge to be the body you put the counters on, Corpsejack Menace is a pretty powerful threat on its own and a great enabler in a number of strategies inside Golgari itself as well as branching out into other colors.

#5 – Maelstrom Pulse

Maelstrom Pulse

Arguably one of the format’s premier spot removal spells, Maelstrom Pulse is not only absolutely fantastic at killing whatever you need it to (because in almost all matchups, the card may as well be Vindicate), but if multiples of whatever you need to die exist at once, the value of this spell just shoots through the stratosphere. Whether this thing fries tokens or ends the Clone wars, there really isn’t much to cover when it comes to Maelstrom Pulse; it’s equal parts insanely powerful and insanely efficient.

#4 – Vraska the Unseen

Vraska the Unseen

Vraska, like many Planeswalkers, suffers from the argument that Planeswalkers are inherently terrible in EDH. Vraska however, is a rather stark exception.

Vraska’s very clearly geared to be that Planeswalker for EDH. By ticking her up by 1, you force your opponents to either accept that stripping you of this resource will not come without repercussion (unlike the concept of killing most planeswalkers), or they simply leave it alone, letting it tick up and eventually create mini-Phage the Untouchables that will seriously threaten to kill you if you’re not careful. Such an effect is referred to as the “rattlesnake”, and Vraska by far embodies that effect quite well.

That’s not to say she isn’t just about creating a rather polarizing presence on board. If your opponents enjoy having troubling permanents your sweepers won’t remove, Vraska can cure what ails you. Just be advised when using Vraska that you leave her incredibly vulnerable by using her as a Vindicate.

Regardless, Vraska is by far one of the most survivable Planeswalkers of the format. Underestimate her at your peril.

#3 – Lord of Extinction

Lord of Extinction

When it comes to power and toughness by raw number, pound-for-pound the best creature to work with is the Lord of Extinction. Whether Varolz, the Scar-Striped is scavenging him or Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord or Kresh, the Bloodbraided are sacrificing him, if you’re in the colors and you have any sort of power-matters theme going on, you won’t find any better creature than Lord of Extinction.

Obviously, there are other similar creatures that fill a power matters role quite nicely, between Serra Avatar, Strumgeist, Hamletback Goliath and Consuming Aberration, but at the late stages of the game, if you give this thing trample or any sort of evasion, expect heads to roll.

#2 – Deadbridge Chant

Deadbridge Chant

I mentioned in my Hits & Misses of Dragon’s Maze article some time ago that this card has a lot of value in reanimator decks for being an unrestricted, repeatable Regrowth. While I’m really glad they printed an effect like this, even I underestimated just how good this card is. It just has a lot of value, period.

Sure, the random clause really does hurt its best-case/worst-case, something I’m notoriously picky about, but overall, if you’re a goodstuff deck, there’s really no reason not to be running a card like this. Every deck that will play this will either play another Regrowth effect or a card that they want in their graveyard. Simply put, the more value your creatures have, the better this gets. It also helps if your creature army is high on the curve, as returning something like Kokusho, the Evening Star is insanely powerful.

#1 – Pernicious Deed

Pernicious Deed

In news that surprises no one, the #1 Golgari card is a rattlesnake, a sweeper, and an enchantment all at once. Who knew?

Really, though, Deed has always been one of the format’s absolute best cards overall, much less board wipes. For one, it removes creatures and enchantments at the same time, which in and of itself is worth mentioning, because few sweepers do that. Second of all, it only removes what you want it to remove, meaning if you have a high-CMC bomb such as Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Sheoldred, Whispering One or Sylvan Primordial on the board that you don’t want to lose, you can just tick the Deed up to 6 and swing to your heart’s content.

Another thing about the Deed that makes it so powerful is that it fails to destroy Planeswalkers in addition. While this can be a frustrating limitation against Elspeth, Knight-Errant and other high-pressure Planeswalkers, it also doesn’t destroy your own, making ‘Walkers a great pair with this otherwise universal sweeper.

Overall, Deed is one of the pillars of the format, and if you’re running Golgari colors, you should invest in one despite the $16 price tag; it’s well worth the price. Regrowthing this thing just feels disgusting, and is backbreaking to play against (and I speak from experience with that.)

Golgari’s legendary creatures are all relatively powerful, but I’ve made the cuts to the top three I believe are the most popular and have the most variance. We begin with:

#3 – Glissa, the Traitor

Glissa, the Traitor

Glissa on her own is a pretty incredible creature in combat, having the near-exclusive combination of first strike and deathtouch, meaning that unless you also have first or double strike, you’re probably dying if you block or become blocked by her. Tack those abilities onto a 3/3 for 3 and you have all the makings of a Voltron general. Such a build is possible, but it’s not entirely necessary; you can just pack your deck with a Cranial Plating and be done with it.

That being said, it’s unwise to discount her second ability. From Wayfarer’s Bauble and Executioner’s Bauble to Contagion Engine and Birthing Pod, there are a hearth of artifacts to abuse with her, making her quite a powerful value creature.

#2 – Varolz, the Scar-Striped

Varolz, the Scar-Striped

Speaking of good Voltron generals, we come across Varolz, who’s tailor-made to be that 21 general damage general. Sure, he lacks hexproof, which is usually the standard when it comes to being a good Voltron general, but like Omnath, Locus of Mana, it has an ability that foregoes hexproof because of the insane amount of firepower you can get from it so fast.

Obviously, Phyrexian Dreadnought and Death’s Shadow are Varolz’s BFF, letting you do absolutely insane plays by threatening general damage kills very early. That being said, over the months since the release of Dragon’s Maze, I’ve also realized Scavenging these creatures onto a Glistener Elf or Inkmoth Nexus, while not very fun (because some people just do not like Infect), can sometimes just get you there.

Overall, there are a vast number of plays you can make with Varolz, and he’s rather easy to make stick around if you pack your deck with recursive creatures to feed him.

#1 – Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

There really can only be one. Jarad on his own is a fantastic legendary Lhurgoyf variant, and can punch through for sizeable amounts of damage later in the game. I have seen some Dredge-style Jarad builds that get there by self-mill and making Jarad gigantic so you can punch through for a bunch of damage.

However, Jarad’s chief skill is his ability to drain your opponent’s life total by sacrificing a creature. Clearly, Lord of Extinction is your ideal sacrifice, as more often than not, that will just end the game, but one creature I’ve found myself sacrificing to Jarad more often than not is Kokusho, the Evening Star. Being able to donk your opponents for 10 each and then gaining 15 life seems like a pretty good deal for only 9 mana.

Hardly ever will you find yourself needing the third ability, especially if you run him as your general, but in my Karador, Ghost Chieftain deck, where he serves as its best sac outlet, the ability pairs pretty well with Knight of the Reliquary. Overall, Jarad is by far one of the format’s most powerful sac outlets, making sweepers a dangerous prospect for your opponents if you’re sitting on a ton of mana. Jarad has a lot of value whether or not you commit to him, which in and of itself gives him the #1 spot.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

And there you have it, my top picks for Golgari! I’ll be taking a break from this series to discuss Born of the Gods, which I haven’t yet done, so look forward to that. Until then!
~L

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2539

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586

M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691

Let’s Talk M14:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228

Let’s Talk Theros:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2362
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2378

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

The Slippery Slope:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2440

The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710 
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

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