How To Fight Golos And Field Of The Dead In Throne Of Eldraine Standard

Surrender to Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and a Zombie horde? No way, says Tom Ross! He shows you how to fight back against Week 1’s dominant deck and bring new ideas to Throne of Eldraine Standard!

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead dominated the Standard portion of SCG Philadelphia last weekend. It won the tournament in the hands of Jonathan Rosum and put a total of seven various copies into the Top 8. People are still experimenting as to which shell is best for Golos, Tireless Pilgrim.

Midrange is generally a good decision early in the life cycle of Standard. Just play the powerful cards and let the wins come to you while other players are fiddling with their own untuned brews. Control decks have a tough time early, especially Week 1, without knowing what threats they need to be controlling. Hyper-aggression tends to do decently Week 1, but people in Philadelphia were ready. Plus, it’s easier to know what you need to go under after a metagame is established.

I’ve heard some clamoring against taking action against various Standard cards like Field of the Dead, Fires of Invention, or Oko, Thief of Crowns. Many people are in the “if ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em” camp.

I don’t like playing the best deck. I like knowing that a definitive best deck exists and I count on my opponents to play it. Every deck has flaws to be exploited.

In my mind, there are three ways to attack the Golos decks:

  • Heavy countermagic backed by either a fast enough clock or a way to deal with Field of Ruin.
  • Flying or other evasion in large chunks.
  • Hyper-aggression to go underneath them before an enormous battlefield is established.

Sometimes you want to blend these elements.


The Golos decks have some pretty expensive cards. Fires of Invention, Circuitous Route, and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim are all integral to the functionality of Golos-based ramp decks. With their high land counts, it’s not uncommon to face only a couple of spells in the first four or five turns of the game.

In the typical historic Rock-Paper-Scissors of Magic, control beats midrange given equal levels of power. Does control have the tools to beat the Golos decks?

If memory serves, WatoO is Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. Hall of Famer, Pro Tour winner, and master of Azorius Control. It’s no surprise to see him doing well with whatever counterspells are available in Standard.

Of all the color pairs, Azorius is the one that appreciates the lifegain of Tranquil Cove the most. The friendly guilds are short a multicolor land, as the enemy ones got Temples in Core Set 2020. Aziorus would love a Temple of its own but is making do with some incidental lifegain. WaToO decided that a full playset of Absorb isn’t necessary.

Not Mana Leak but doesn’t have to be. The average converted mana cost in Standard is fairly high right now and people are hungry to curve out. Turn 2 and Turn 3 planeswalkers are commonplace and you need an answer to them.

It’s nice to bounce Gadwick, the Wizened with Time Wipe, but that’s not really the point. You want to destroy all creatures, including opposing Bonecrusher Giants, Beanstalk Giants, or opposing Realm-Cloaked Giants.

Gadwick hasn’t seen much play yet, probably from being overshadowed by Hydroid Krasis. It’s a solid body and a better rate for drawing raw cards than Hydroid Krasis if cards are solely what you’re in the market for. Gaddwick’s triggered ability to tap down some creatures is nice to induce the opponent to overcommit into your sweeper.

Ionize is nice in a tempo-oriented deck featuring a lot of burn spells that can go upstairs. Mystical Dispute seems like an odd addition to the maindeck, but really the two-drops are slotted out to Brineborn Cutthroat or an Adventure. This deck looks like it’d have trouble against Oko, Thief of Crowns and Mystical Dispute is likely the best card against Oko. In a pinch you can Petty Theft to bounce a planeswalker or other problematic permanent and then counter it on the way back down.

This deck doesn’t have to play on its own turn at all until it lands a Chandra, Awakened Inferno. She’ll sweep up a pile of Zombie tokens or nuke down a planeswalker in most instances. Then she’ll close out the game with a few emblems.

It might be suspicious to Adventure a Bonecrusher Giant and then pass the turn with three or more open mana, but realistically your opponent knows your deck is a mound of reactive instants, so it’s really no surprise.


Hyper-aggression might sound like a simple concept, but it needs to fall correctly on the metagame spectrum to work. If there are efficient 1/2s or 1/3 everywhere, a flood of 1/1s won’t work out very well. If the format is Arboreal Grazer, Paradise Druid, and Leaf-Kin Druid, you want to make as many attackers as you can. Golos decks are just slow enough and clunky enough to take advantage of by dumping your hand early.

I’ve messed with Mono-White quite a lot in this new Throne of Eldraine Standard. With the smaller card pool after rotation, it’s hard to find the power level in card quality to compete. Dumping out a bunch of Faerie Guidemothers and Giant Killers wasn’t doing the trick.

The Knight payoffs give the boost in strength that the white-based aggro decks need. Tournament Grounds comes in clutch as a mana fixer that conveniently casts everything in the deck.

You need a lord like Inspiring Veteran to mess up the opponent’s combat math while killing them faster. Venerated Loxodon is a decent lord, but you really also want a replacement for Benalish Marshal.

Worthy Knight is nice for going wide in your all-Knight deck. I really wished it cost a little bit more (like 2W for a 2/4) and made 1/2 Squire tokens instead. Every Knight should have a Squire, right?

Slightly surprised at a bunch of Embercleave but no The Circle of Loyalty. Looks like we’re getting ’em dead as opposed to trying to play any grindy game. Remember, Fervent Knight has another line of text that makes equipping cheaper.

We’ve seen Cavalcade of Calamity decks running around before rotation. The problem was, as is typical of decks built around a four-of enchantment, not drawing Cavalcade of Calamity and trying to win games with a pile of 1/1s. Torbran, Thane of Red Fell is the redundant piece the deck needed while also being synergistic with Cavalcade.

Get those Scorch Spitters and Tin Street Dodgers in there. Three damage is a lot more damage than one, last I checked.


Of all the lists to come from tournament results thus far, this Azorius deck is the most intriguing.

All That Glitters is likely to one-shot somebody when placed on anything evasive, like a Gingerbrute. Stonecoil Serpent can also be a huge trampling monster.

Forge[/author]“]Mystic [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] looks to be a card advantage powerhouse. It casts every spell in the deck except Gideon Blackblade and All That Glitters. Part of the intrigue here is how aggressively the deck starts, yet it can pivot into card generation and explosiveness. Forge[/author]“]Mystic [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] in this shell reminds me a lot of Experimental Frenzy.

Steel Overseer is one of the best lords possible and many people don’t even know it’s in Standard. Steel Overseer is good enough for Vintage, so it has to be good in Standard, right? Putting +1/+1 counters of each of your creatures is huge for ground stalls and inevitability. This is your primary target for Gods Willing and will often be a Turn 3 play.

Some of the creatures are a bit mopey to say the least. Not every card in the deck is a banger. However, to maximize Forge[/author]“]Mystic [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] and Steel Overseer, we gotta push on synergy over individual card power.

[author name="Harlan Firer"]Harlan Firer[/author], is that you?

This deck wins by triggering cards that pay you after you draw your second card in a turn. You’re making a ton of 1/1 flying Faeries with Improbable Alliance or Lightning Bolting stuff with Irencrag Pyromancer. A swarm of flyers is good against a wave of 2/2 Zombies from Field of the Dead that can’t block them.

The Royal Scions rummages to turn on your draw-two engines. The real spice is Dreadhorde Arcanist along with The Royal Scions to boost its power and start flashing back bigger spells like Lava Coil and Thrill of Possibility. Still, without any extra power, casting a Shock or Opt is pretty decent.

Cavalier of Gales is mostly a huge/huge that triggers your draw-twos of course. I’m a bit surprised to not see Fabled Passage in the list. Who doesn’t like a good Brainstorm into a fetchland?


I wouldn’t take the results of SCG Philadelphia as proof that the sky is falling. The SCG Tour’s top teams brought good Golos-based decks for the first week and it paid off. If a Mythic Championship or any other live tournament happened last weekend and had a bunch of the field’s top players collaborating on a deck, I’d expect that deck to put a lot of copies into the Top 8.

I’m glad there’s a clear deck to beat in Standard right now. There’s a lot of customization possible within the Golos shells, but a good chunk of it is set is stone and is on the slow side.

Don’t join ’em. Beat ’em.