Guilds Of Ravnica Standard: Week 2!

The SCG Tour is taking a breather this weekend, but there are tons of events around the world! If you need a place to get your footing on the new Standard season, our writers have some recommendations for you!

Welcome to What We’d Play! With week two of
Guilds of Ravnica

Standard making its debut, many are unsure what they’d play in their
weekend events That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play
this weekend and why we’d play it. Hopefully this last-minute advice
aids in your decision making! Be sure to vote for who you agree with in
the poll at the end!

Jadine Klomparens – Golgari Midrange

Last week was a bit of an aberration for me, deck-wise, but I’m back to my
roots this week with Golgari Midrange. I’ve been playing a ton of
this deck on Magic Online and loving every second of it. It’s the perfect
midrange deck; no matchup is unwinnable and every game has plenty of play
to it.

The problem with Golgari decks in Standard is figuring out what your top
end is supposed to look like. Brad Nelson wrote an
yesterday detailing the different paths you can go down, and I’m firmly in
the Golgari Planeswalker camp. Izoni, Thousand-Eyed and Gruesome Menagerie
are just too synergy dependent for me; I want my top-end haymakers to do
the same thing every time no matter how the game plays out and to not
require me to register cards in my deck that I wouldn’t want to play on
their own merits.

Once you decide to load up on Vivien Reid and Vraska, Relic Seeker, you
start realizing something strange: you can beat everything. Weak
to fliers like Doom Whisperer and Niv-Mizzet, Parun? Vivien and Vraska have
you covered. Losing to Experimental Frenzy, Arguel’s Blood Fast, and Search
for Azcanta? Ditto. Black-based midrange decks are typically weak to
non-creature permanents, but between these two amazing planeswalkers and
Assassin’s Trophy, this deck has no such weakness.

Todd Anderson – Jeskai Control

Expansion has been a standout cards from Guilds of Ravnica. While
I initially dismissed it as too expensive on the back half and too clunky
on the front half, the play patterns with it surprised me. The first time I
saw it cast, it dealt four damage and drew four cards. The second time it
was cast, it was in my deck and copying a Chemister’s Insight from my
opponent. Honestly, Expansion just does it all.

For those of you who’ve played Teferi, Hero of Dominaria decks and are
worried that you can’t actually win the game quickly, fear no more. “Ral’s
Revelation” is quite a potent finisher, as a large Explosion will often
yield more copies of Explosion off the top of the deck. I chose Jeskai in
particular because Izzet has been a strong control color combination in the
first few weeks, and splashing Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a piece of

I’ve also been impressed by Justice Strike, which functions similarly to
Terminate in a lot of situations. Though there are some annoying creatures
with more toughness than power, Justice Strike will be a fine answer for
most creatures in the format. And when you need two removal spells in a
pinch, make sure to use Expansion to double up removal on the fourth turn!

To make the mana a little bit easier, I’ve chosen Ionize over Sinister
Sabotage as the three-drop counterspell of choice. And while the small
points of chip damage might not seem to matter early on, they will end up
helping Explosion seal the deal.

Ari Lax – Golgari Midrange

The classic Golgari cards I own, only I don’t own these cards just yet.

There are only a few decks at this point that feel like real Standard
midrange decks. They have tools to mitigate flood and screw and cards that
additively take over a game. Those decks are Golgari Midrange, Esper
Control, Mono-Red Aggro with Experimental Frenzy, and Selesnya Tokens. Of
these, people have found effective ways to attack the linear control and
aggro options, but more midrange decks prove a little more resilient.

So, narrowed down to two options, my tiebreaker ended up being that I just
like the Golgari cards better. I took the Magic Online PTQ list and trimmed
the cards I didn’t like for Find in the maindeck and Wildgrowth Walker in
the sideboard.

Super easy, deck is great, see you next week then it wins a trophy.

Emma Handy – Golgari Midrange

How many different builds of Golgari Midrange can exist before one
acknowledges that there’s some real power there? I don’t have an exact
number, but we’ve surely crossed the threshold by now.

I’ve been alternating between this deck and the Izzet Spells archetype all
week, before eventually settling on the pile of two-for-ones as my weapon
of choice. This early in a format, playing something that’s as much of a
metagame call as the spells deck can end up yielding fine results, but as
boring as it is, the Golgari deck is absolutely fine in every single
matchup – and that has real value.

This list uses Isareth the Awakener to lean into the idea that the
recurring card advantage engines in the deck tend to be must answers.
That’s to say, if their controller ever gets to untap with them, it’s
likely going to result in the deck snowballing such an advantage that it
isn’t possible to catch up. All the recursion really pushes the explore
creatures over the top, but if control is a real concern, replacing one of
the explore creatures with Burglar Rat is something worth exploring.

Bennie Smith – Golgari Menagerie

Wow has Standard shaped up to be an awesomely diverse format! Hopefully
things won’t get solved too quickly, but in the meantime, it looks like you
can play something that you find fun. For me, that’s Golgari! The problem
of course is that green and black have a ton of high-quality options, so
which way should we go?

I’m still high on my deck from last week that runs Doom Whisperer and
Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar, but I’ve been intrigued by new Golgari decks
built around Gruesome Menagerie. I overlooked the card initially because I
wasn’t sure what sort of good one-mana creatures to play outside of
Stitcher’s Supplier since I was lukewarm on Llanowar Elves. I was excited
to see Pelt Collector from Kozoukun’s 5-0 list from

this week’s Magic Online decklists

, which sounds like an amazing choice! The list is cleaner with a bunch of
fours, but I think there’s room to diversify a bit more given the selection
that’s available, so I took that list as a base and made some tweaks.

If you love a big pile of value creatures to grind out your opponent, give
this a try!

Shaheen Soorani – Jeskai Control

MTGO PTQs are one of the most accessible ways for players to get to the Pro
Tour. From the convenience of your own home, you can spend a few bucks on a
sweet control deck and stamp your ticket to the biggest stage the game has
to offer! The MTGO metagame is typically much different from the live one.
Speed is the name of the game and the most popular decks from a few days
ago may be in the distant minority of players’ hands now. I started off
facing red decks for the first few days of new Standard until the Golgari
Swarm arrived.

Due to the current midrange hype, I would confidently battle with Jeskai
Control this weekend. This deck has all the tools to handle Golgari
Midrange and Selesnya Tokens. Mono-Red Aggro isn’t a breeze, but the
matchup isn’t petrifying either. I did feel much more confident with
multiple kill spells that gained life, but the white-based removal has a
wider value net. The spells that Jeskai Control gains makes the switch from
Esper Control a wash, but the mana is much better. I’ve made a few changes
to the Jeskai Control deck that crushed the MTGO PTQ last week, so be sure
to read my article today for the reasoning behind the differences!

Cedric Phillips – Gruul Aggro

As the lovely Online Content Coordinator of this here website, I try to
spot trends in what’s going on in Magic from different angles. For example,
during this week the majority of my team has been shifting their focus from
whatever brews they’ve been working on to focusing heavily on what the best
iteration of Golgari is given the results of the Magic Online PTQ. That
certainly makes some sense to me, given how many different options there
are in Golgari and how well-positioned midrange decks appear to be.

Then there’s others like Todd Anderson, Gerry Thompson, and Shaheen Soorani
who are diving into decks based around Steam Vents and Expansion//Explosion
to get their edge. Those three gentleman love to draw cards and blow things
up, so this makes total sense to me.

What doesn’t make sense to me? Why more people aren’t talking about
Llanowar Elves, the best one-drop in the format by a sizeable margin.

Ben Friedman presented Mono-Green Aggro at the beginning of the format, but
that deck has very few decisions and is far too linear to be a game changer
at this stage of the format. This Gruul Aggro deck, however, has basically
everything that I want from an aggro deck – a good early game, a good
mid-game, and an absurd lategame, all with card advantage built in. Not
only can this deck play a turn 2 Steel Leaf Champion to get things started
but it also plays four copies of arguably the most powerful card from Guilds of Ravnica in Experimental Frenzy. And while most people
are combining Experimental Frenzy with Runaway Steam-Kin and Fight with
Fire, I much prefer this approach of a ton of deck manipulation, the full
amount of Banefires within the 75, and some huge hexproof green animals to
give decks with removal huge headaches.

This deck might look weird, but it didn’t go 5-0 on Magic Online on
accident, and this is the best use I’ve seen of Llanowar Elves and
Experimental Frenzy yet.