The Best Growth-Chamber Guardian Decks For SCG Indianapolis

Join Abraham Stein for a look at his favorite creature in the format! The combo decks can think they’re safe, but creature decks like these don’t give them a chance! Good luck this weekend!

A couple weeks ago,
Andrew Elenbogen made the bold claim
that Growth-Chamber Guardian was going to be a key part of winning in our
new Standard format.

This week, I want to tell you that it looks like he’s dead on the money
about that.

With Ravnica Allegiance hitting Magic Online and Magic Arena over
the weekend, we’ve started to get our first look at what the decks to beat
will be going into SCG Indianapolis. I personally have logged more than 50
matches online myself, and perhaps the biggest thing I’ve taken away from
it all has been that Growth-Chamber Guardian isn’t just a good card; it’s
going to be a format-defining one.

Simply put, Growth-Chamber Guardian has proved itself to be more than just
a totally complete Magic card. What I mean by that is that it plays exactly
as designed, which is great, but with very little work it can be much, much more than meets the eye.

Simic really knows their stuff when it comes to splicing!

The first time I was left without an answer for an Adapting Growth-Chamber
Guardian, I knew I was in trouble. For starters, coming fresh from a format
where decks often died to a couple of straggling explore creatures weighing
in at a respectable 2/1 and 3/2 stat-line, we should know a 4/4 is primed
to dominate the battlefield, with or without help from its backup.
Fortunately, you always get the help from your backup and if they couldn’t
deal with the first one adapting, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to stop the
army you’ve invited to the party.

Unchecked, Growth-Chamber Guardian is incredible because it singlehandedly
defines a stage of the game in some matchups where the battlefield is
getting developed. Just one Growth-Chamber Guardian gets to do the work of
Midnight Reaper and Merfolk Branchwalker on its own by generating card
advantage, pressuring planeswalkers, and holding down the fort as needed.
You get all this without the help of any synergy or tough decisions in
deckbuilding; all you need to do is put four copies into your deck and
sometimes you make a lot of 4/4s and take over the game. Simple as that.

This is only where the fun begins though. The first set of 5-0 decklists
from Magic Online that were posted on Monday showcase a lot of the cool
incidental synergies our Elf Crab Warrior has to benefit from across a wide
variety of archetypes.

This deck’s main objective is to employ a simple yet elegant strategy of
playing some of the pound-for-pound best threats in Standard and use them
to dominate the battlefield. Of course, Growth-Chamber Guardian is good at
that, but that’s only the beginning.

While this list has elected to allocate the powerful callback to Fires of
Yavimaya to the sideboard, the synergy between Growth-Chamber Guardian and
Rhythm of the Wild is undeniable. Ben Friedman outlined it in his article
earlier this month, but a stream of 3/3s that automatically replace
themselves or 4/4s with haste that replace themselves is an especially
difficult storm to weather.

This wasn’t the only deck using a powerful enchantment to get counters onto
Growth-Chamber Guardian and put the pressure on the opponent though. A more
popular option was Hadana’s Climb.

Where the Naya deck with Rhythm of the Wild is trying to stir up a
hurricane of wind that over time topples even the sturdiest buildings,
these decks using Hadana’s Climb are more geared towards one big gust that
takes out the old oak in your backyard.

On the front side, placing a counter onto a Growth-Chamber Guardian or
Incubation Druid creates a sizable advantage in the early game, both of
which speed up the development of pressure and help these decks build to
their knockout punch. Personally, I prefer Genmatsu’s take on this style of
deck, as it has better mana to support cards like Frilled Mystic that I
think are extremely powerful. However, I felt it was important to also
highlight OafMcNamara for being the first person to have their cake and eat
it too when it comes to Wildgrowth Walker and Growth-Chamber Guardian.

A lot of the time we talk about if something is better than another thing
we already have when we evaluate cards for Constructed, but it can be
important to remember that it can also just be good in addition to the
first thing. Sometimes you don’t have to pick between two good things – you
can just play both!

Speaking of “Just play both,” CoffeeHouseRyan settled a bit of a debate I
was having here by saying you don’t need to pick between Emmara, Soul of
the Accord and Growth-Chamber Guardian by going ahead and slotting them
both in! This addition is almost natural as Ajani is extremely good at
enabling Guardian and returning a few who had been caught in the line of

Another awesome thing about the tokens shell is that Venerated Loxodon
serves as yet another way to cheat on finding more Growth-Chamber Guardians
while also capitalizing on the additional bodies it can bring with it. The
only downside of an enabler like Loxodon is that you’re often forfeiting
the option to have a 4/4 creature over a 3/3 creature. This may seem minor
but in a world of Deafening Clarions and Goblin Chainwhirlers, four can
feel like a lot more than three, so be careful.

It seems pretty clear to me that we’re going to see a lot of Growth-Chamber
Guardian at SCG Indianapolis, so what does that mean for the bigger picture
of Standard? How can we adapt to fight through what’s moving its way
towards the forefront of the format?

One big thing I expect is to see a shift away from cleaner sorcery-speed
answers to creatures, like Lava Coil, towards more copies of instant-speed
answers that can punish paying an adapt cost. If you’re going to beat a
Growth-Chamber Guardian, you have to be prepared to nip it in the bud or
answer it completely.

Cards that efficiently and profitably trade with Growth-Chamber Guardian
early are great, but mass removal in general is another way to keep up
stride for stride with such a potent multiplying threat. I think all of
these are things that will prove to be winners as the format continues to
develop past week one.

To adapt threat-wise is a little trickier. Growth-Chamber Guardian is
absolutely capable of putting up a wall against Mono-Red Aggro as a 4/4,
and there isn’t much that can change that. One card I think might be a flop
if you play it this weekend will be Gruul Spellbreaker on behalf of being a
3/3. When Spellbreaker was previewed I was excited because it’s the exact
kind of card I love to play with, but if a two mana 4/4 is what it’s going
to be up against, I’ll probably have to wait for the Modern Cube to come
back online before I get any meaningful play out of it.

On the sunny side of things, Ripjaw Raptor is the perfect kind of card to
stand up to Growth-Chamber Guardian, sporting five toughness and replacing
itself most of the time, it’s a promising sleeper from Ixalan
that’s been waiting to shine if you ask me.

From what I’ve seen so far, Growth-Chamber Guardian is certainly the real
deal, and I’m excited to see how Standard shapes up this weekend as the SCG
Tour stops in Indianapolis. I’m still not exactly set on what I’ll be
playing myself, but I’m not going to get caught offguard, and you shouldn’t

Standard doesn’t get more open than week one, but that doesn’t mean there’s
nothing to expect and you can’t think ahead. I’m sure Growth-Chamber
Guardian is only one of many things in Ravnica Allegiance that
will prove to change the landscape of Standard so stay on your toes, learn
what you can, and when the time comes: adapt.