Video Deck Tech - Golgari Control

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
5/6/2013 10:01:00 AM
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Back on April 5th, Sam Black showcased a Golgari Control deck by Kevin Florio in his daily decklist column on the mothership. The deck was almost strictly monoblack, but had just a hint of green for cards like Garruk Relentless, Abrupt Decay, and Thragtusk. It would appear from this decklist that Thragtusk gave black control decks the resilient threat they needed to push the archetype over the top.

But how did the deck do, you might ask? How do we know if the addition of green pushed monoblack over the top? Well, today that's what we're going to talk about. The following is Kevin's original decklist as it was presented by Sam Black:

Golgari Control by Kevin Florio
Main Deck
4 Desecration Demon
1 Disciple of Bolas
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Thragtusk
Creatures [13]
3 Garruk Relentless
3 Liliana of the Veil
Planeswalkers [6]
3 Abrupt Decay
3 Mutilate
4 Sign in Blood
3 Tragic Slip
1 Underworld Connections
3 Victim of Night
Spells [17]
1 Forest (270)
2 Golgari Guildgate
4 Overgrown Tomb
13 Swamp (260)
4 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]

3 Deathrite Shaman
3 Duress
3 Gloom Surgeon
1 Golgari Charm
1 Illness in the Ranks
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Mutilate
2 Pithing Needle
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

Now this wasn't simply a decklist submitted to Black by a reader. Kevin actually won a Grand Prix Trial with the deck and, while this isn't the same as winning a Pro Tour, that should be enough to catch people's attention.

Last week I was entering decks into the site as I usually do and I came across the following deck that won a Premier Event piloted by MTGO user Parasprite.

Golgari Control by Parasprite
Finished 1st Place at MTGO Standard Premier - 5352471 - 4/28/13
Main Deck
4 Desecration Demon
2 Disciple of Bolas
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Thragtusk
Creatures [14]
4 Liliana of the Veil
Planeswalkers [4]
2 Abrupt Decay
3 Cremate
1 Murder
3 Mutilate
4 Sign in Blood
3 Tragic Slip
2 Victim of Night
Spells [18]
2 Golgari Guildgate
4 Overgrown Tomb
14 Swamp (260)
4 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]

3 Appetite for Brains
1 Cremate
2 Curse of Death's Hold
4 Duress
1 Mutilate
2 Underworld Connections
2 Vraska the Unseen
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

This was actually my first encounter with the Golgari Control list we're going to go over today. I didn't know about Kevin or his list or Sam Black's showcasing of it until just a few days ago, though as you can tell they are nearly identical save for less than ten cards. Now like I said, the deck won a Premier Event, and usually that would be enough to give me pause, but in addition to this feat, on the very next day, the same exact deck, by the same exact pilot, ended up placing third in a Magic Online PTQ consisting of 299 players.

Yup. That was about all I needed to know. I couldn't wait to fire this bad boy up and get some games in.

Golgari Control vs. Favorable Tokens

Golgari Control vs. Junk Rites

Golgari Control vs. Gruul Aggro

Golgari Control vs. Gruul Aggro, Match 2

What even happened in that Favorable Tokens game?! Who even knows!

All that jazz aside, I also took the deck to FNM on Friday and went 4-1-1 before splitting in the Top 4. I beat American Midrange twice, Junk Rites, and GW Humans, while losing to Bant Control. The deck performed amazingly and I never felt like I was behind. In fact, I typically had two to three cards more than the American Midrange deck at any given time, which is no small feat. The deck just draws so many cards, especially after the post board Underworld Connections.

If you ever doubted the power of Disciple of Bolas, I Insist that you stop. The card is amazing at giving you both life against aggressive decks and cards against control decks. I have been high on this card for months, ever since I was testing it in my Junk Midrange list for the 5k, and I love that it's finally making a resurgence. In fact at one point during the night, my friend and the store's co-owner Travis picked up the card and said, “that thing gives you life too?!” Yes, it's that powerful. And in conjunction with cards like Thragtusk, Geralf's Messenger, and Desecration Demon you're either drawing a ton of cards, or you're getting a body back to keep the pressure on.

Before I sleeved the deck up, I looked over the Dragon's Maze spoiler and realized there were a handful of cards that I considered including. Let's take a look at them, and why I don't think they make the cut.

 Deadbridge Chant
Store QTY Price  
Magic Actuator 1 $1.96
Cryo Prime 2 $1.99
Play More Games 2 $2.00
MagicMonstergame 2 $2.00
HockomockHobbies 1 $2.20
Game Cafe 1 $2.33
Krazy Kidz Gaming 1 $2.40
Game Day Hobbies 1 $2.41
At Ease Games 5 $2.49
Tier Zero Gaming 2 $2.51
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Deadbridge Chant Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Deadbridge Chant - I immediately compared this to Staff of Nin: they both cost six mana, they both draw you an extra card each turn, and they both have an upside. To be honest, I think a deck like this would rather have Staff of Nin, specifically because we don't have many creatures, and we often win by dealing damage in tiny increments from things like Geralf's Messenger triggers. The Staff's ability could aid this. Furthermore, while it isn't a huge concern, the deck doesn't draw a ton of cards nor win very quickly, and having to mill ten could potentially put us in jeopardy if we're facing down another control deck.

Putrefy - This card is just amazing and most comparable to Victim of Night and Murder. Can you name a card other than a stray Staff of Nin or Runechanter's Pike that we would target with Putrefy? Me neither. So that means we're mostly going to use it for the “can't regenerate” clause. Is that worth having to have a green mana? Outside of a Lotleth Troll I don't really think so. Ultimately Murder is easier to cast, and Victim of Night falls at a much more convenient part of the curve that helps us to survive.

Gaze of Granite - Again, we live in a world with very few artifacts. If there comes a deck that utilizes a bunch of Planeswalkers, I can see this finding a home, but even against the Auras decks we want to have at least five mana before we use this, to hit all the two mana auras and what not, and ideally six mana, to hit Geist of Saint Traft, and that's...just a little too slow for that deck. This means that most of the time, Gaze is just going to act as an over costed Mutilate, with the difference being that Mutilate will often keep our own Desecration Demon alive, with Gaze of Granite will not. As I mentioned though, Gaze does get rid of Planewalkers and things like Oblivion Ring, so maybe a couple in the board could be warranted.

Rot Farm Skeleton - This was one of the most obscure inclusions that I found, but I thought he might have some merit. In a deck with only a handful of threats, the ability to Reanimate this guy turn after turn, forcing the opponent to deal with him, could prove annoying, especially for control decks that can't find their Oblivion Rings.

Despite not making any changes to the deck, or adding any new cards, the deck performed amazingly in several different outlets, both online and in real life. While I did wonder why the Garruk Relentless were cut - they're one of my favorite cards in control decks, being able to either kill a creature or make an army - I still think the deck is in the right place. Would I advocate adding a couple or three Garruk Relentless? Sure. I think I could be compelled to find a home for them. Maybe even removing one of the four Liliana of the Veil. But at this point do I think they're a necessity? Nah.

One of the other cards I was amazed with in most every matchup was Cremate. Being able to cycle them for one mana meant they were never dead, and when they were live, they were really live, ruining the day of a gamebreaking Snapcaster Mage or Unburial Rites while netting you a card in the process. Putting these in the main deck was an insane idea, and even if we're nabbing something like an undying creature, a Rancor, or a Gravecrawler, the card helps us to get ahead a few more inches.

Make no mistake, in this deck Mutilate is the black Supreme Verdict. Only it's actually slightly better most of the time. Their creatures are rarely going to be too big for it, but it also takes care of the pesky regenerators like Wolfir Avenger and Lotleth Troll, or the newly minted Varolz, the Scar-Striped,

Finally, for those concerned, I had problems finding a green mana only a single time. Since the deck only needs a single green mana to get rolling, and only includes a mere six green cards, it's often never an issue.

As far as the sideboard goes, it is simply packed with answers for control decks. And it kind of has to be, since the maindeck is entirely removal. My friend Michael Bartholomew said the deck seemed a little poorly positioned in game one, but he wasn't sure he could do much against me in game two or three. He was playing American Midrange against me both matches that I won against the deck at FNM. I would bring in ten cards against him, taking out all the conditional removal, and it was kind of ridiculous. Typically something like this…

-3 Tragic Slip
-3 Mutilate
-2 Abrupt Decay (if you don't see Oblivion Ring or Detention Sphere)
-2 Cremate (Only good against Snapcaster Mage, but dead otherwise.)

+2 Appetite for Brains (for things like Restoration Angel or AEtherling, which is a monster for us.)
+2 Vraska the Unseen
+2 Underworld Connections
+4 Duress

This deck is truly something out of left field and I'm blown away by how powerful and consistent it is. The only thing I felt like I wanted throughout my testing was an additional Abrupt Decay in the sideboard. Hats off to both Kevin Florio and Parasprite for the hard work they've done on the archetype. I certainly hope this one sticks around. While it can be a monster to play against, it's just the kind of breath of fresh air I love!

That's all I have for today, but be sure and lemme know what you guys think in the comments or what you'd like to see later this week! Thanks for reading and watching and I'll see you in a few days! Remember, there's still no Dragon's Maze on Magic Online, but next week...!

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter
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