If you are like me, then the TCGplayer State Tournaments hold a special place in your heart. Something about them is just special. The ability to say “I'm a top player in my state” is such a great feeling. If you are reading this then that means I've been lucky enough to have my second article posted to TCGplayer in the last few years. I've now finished in 2nd place and 3rd place at a TCGplayer State Tournament. I just can't seem to win the big one. I did however have a lot of fun playing a deck that I was surprised to find out is pretty well positioned in the Standard Metagame right now. Frank Lepore wrote about Golgari Control a little while back and I was both impressed and intrigued. If you are looking to beat the boogeyman of the format (Junk Rites), and play something out of left field, this could be the deck for you.
Here's what I jammed for the TCGplayer 2013 Spring State Championship:
I had little trouble with any decks I faced before the Top 8. Like any tournament, you need a little luck on your side, but this deck seemed to have good matchups against most decks. The main thing I was worried about was control and I found I actually drew as much or maybe even more cards than them. (This was also my observation. -Frank) The only games I lost were to drawing a non-Swamp which I'll talk more about later. Overall, I never felt out of a game and was in control most of the time. Don't get me wrong, I did have some close games and I was lucky enough to win some die rolls, but the deck just kills all the creatures and casts awesome threats. What's not to love right?
Now I know I stated that the deck beats Junk Rites, but I did lose to it in the semi-finals. I know what you are thinking. “Liar!” However, I did beat Junk Rites in the first round of Top 8, but that guy wasn't playing Sorin, Lord of Innistrad in his sideboard. My opponent in the semi-finals was and all I could think as my opponent used Sorin's ultimate ability was, “Why in the World did I listen to Joe Price and not play Appetite for Brains!!!” I should preface that statement by saying that Joe Price was the pilot of the very deck I lost to! He is also a good friend of mine and played me like a fool by telling me not to play it before the tournament. He next leveled me. Good job, Joe. Even with that said, the match went to 3 games and every game was very long. I never felt out of the match and even felt like I had inevitability. Until I realized I couldn't deal with Sorin unless I drew Vraska the Unseen. Deep into the last game I cast Mutilate and followed it up with a Desecration Demon and a Thragtusk, only to have him EOT a Restoration Angel. He followed that up by making another guy with Sorin on his turn (to tap my Demon) and cast another Arbor Elf. From that point I blanked on a Disciple of Bolas and drew next to nothing. He eventually used Sorin to steal my Demon and a Geralf's Messenger to swing for lethal.
The deck that won our tournament and a deck that I think most decks struggle to deal with right now is Bant Auras or Bant Hexproof. There are just very few ways most decks can interact with them. Golgari Control has a decent matchup against this deck and it's very good when you are on the play. If you are on the draw however, Voice of Resurgence, aka Stagtusk, can be a bit of a pain because they can keep you from using Liliana of the Veil to sack their Geist of Saint Taft or Invisible Stalkers. We also have Mutilate which is very good against them, but gets worse if we can't kill all their guys by turn four.
Changes I would Make:
I would absolutely take out that dreaded Forest. I can't tell you how many times I drew that instead of a Swamp and couldn't Mutilate all of my opponents creatures. It seemed like I often had a forest, and a Golgari Guildgate or Woodland Cemetery and two swamps on turn four and my opponent just had some 3/3s or a Thragtusk out. Don't get me wrong, you definitely need a green source, but that was never an issue.
I crammed the deck together sort of last moment and debated over the sideboard quite a bit. In hindsight I definitely didn't choose the right cards. I did use every card in my sideboard at some point during the day but the card I really wanted to have was Appetite for Brains. I kept saying I really want this card, but my friends didn't think it was necessary. It was.
I think I already beat the brains off the dead horse on the appetite thing, so I won't go into that further other than to say that there were some control decks playing AEtherling and Appetite is obviously good against them. I will say that one of the decks that Frank wrote about had Pithing Needle which I would consider as an answer to Planeswalkers and AEtherling.
Originally I thought Gloom Surgeon would be nice vs. the aggro decks, but it simply underperformed. It was okay but not great. I think the deck already has so much great removal that you don't need them.
The Deadbridge Chant was just cute. I had a sweet foil and thought it would be good against Jund Midrange. I never found out because as soon as I tapped out for it, my opponent cast an Acidic Slime. I then won without it, but just wasted a turn doing nothing.
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Vraska the Unseen. Man she was amazing! I could have dealt with that stupid Sorin if I'd ever drawn her. The games I did draw her, she just did exactly what I wanted. And what is cooler than killing your opponent with assassins? Nothing, my friends, nothing. I may even Tinker around and find a way to add one or two to the main deck.
I was pleasantly surprised with Golgari Charm. There are a ton of one toughness dorks out there right now. Junk Rites plays a million, red deck wins plays a million, and even Bant Auras plays them. Plus the ability to get pesky enchantments was nice.
The Putrefy was nice to have when my Victim of Nights were no good, but that wasn't as often as you might think. If there is a way to make room for a second one the main, I'd considerate it.
I think with some minor tweaking to the mana base and the sideboard, this deck can be very good. I had a lot of fun killing all of my opponent's bears and then casting Garruk Relentless, Desecration Demon or Thragtusk and riding them to victory. Even with my loss to Joe in the semi's I still felt the deck had a lot of range and with a little tweaking, could prove to be a legitimate Tier 1 deck. This deck draws a million cards, has great removal spells, lots of threats and has decent to good matchups vs. the top decks.
My friends know that I'm a pretty competitive person and I've been trying to get back to the Top 8 since I placed 2nd in 2009. Getting back to the Top 8 made me feel like all my hard work paid off and that it wasn't a fluke that I got 2nd before. I even placed 10th place twice with some very bad luck. Sure I've won some decent sized tournaments, but the TCGplayer States is my most coveted tournament. It's the diamond in the rough. It's the bragging rights. It's the apple of my eye. It's the bee's knees. It's…you get it. I have two good friends in Brian King and Steven Tyler that have both won it twice! Not to mention one of the best players ever, Neil Reeves, owns a shop that I play at regularly and we know he has plenty of bragging rights of his own. I just wanted to be able to say I'm good enough to be a top player again. While I didn't win the tournament, I still had a blast and got a sweet playmat and nice prizes so I have to thank Frank Lepore for writing about this brew. If you're looking for something a little different and sort of like the Monoblack control decks of old, give Golgari a shot. You won't be let down. I sure wasn't. Thanks for reading.
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