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Golgari Revisited


My favorite card in Standard has been Corpsejack Menace for quite some time now. So naturally, whenever Standard changes, I’m on the lookout for where my buddy the Menace will fit in. My most recent Corpsejack deck was built around Predator Ooze and Increasing Savagery:

Since all of these cards are still in Standard, I feel this is a good place to start. So, my next question is: What’s new that might help make the deck better? The big card that stands out for me is Kalonian Hydra. The possibilities are delicious. Let’s consider some scenarios:

Kalonian Hydra

  • You play it with a Corpsejack Menace in play, and it comes into play as an 8/8.
  • If it attacks with a Corpsejack Menace in play, it becomes a 12/12 or a 24/24 if the Menace was in play when you played the Hydra. That’s the first time it attacks. Did I mention it has trample?
  • If you play an Increasing Savagery on it before you attack, it becomes an 18/18 (with trample!) when it attacks.
  • If you scavenge a Dreg Mangler onto it before you attack, it becomes a 14/14 when it attacks.
  • In addition to becoming an 8/8 the first time it attacks, it doubles the counters on your Experiment Ones, Lotleth Trolls, Predator Oozes, and the like.

All of this doesn’t even consider combinations of the above. What if you play a Hydra with a Menace in play and play a Savagery on it before you attack? Is attacking with a 39/39 trampler on turn five or six good enough?

The other new card I want to add to the main deck is Elvish Mystic, which is the tiniest of an upgrade over Arbor Elf and which also allows me to have more than four 1-drop mana creatures that produce g. Here is the new build:

Much of what makes this deck exciting is discussed in my original article on the previous version of this deck back in March. I have a couple more mana creatures in this version because I have a slightly higher mana curve and I want to put a Hydra into play quickly for the grossest possible draws. I could play with more mana creatures, obviously, but that would lead to too many weak draws full of just mana dudes.

Corpsejack Menace
Constructed Magic is about the beauty of obnoxiously powerful things. When you design a deck, you have two choices: try to address the metagame or try to make them address you. Put simpler, your deck should either be the answer or the problem. When possible, I like to make my deck the latter. That’s when it’s critical to make your deck do such obnoxiously powerful things that your deck is a greater problem to deal with than your opponent’s deck is.

That’s exactly what this deck is trying to do: obnoxiously powerful things.

  • Make Experiment Ones and Lotleth Trolls into gigantic regenerators that are really hard to deal with.
  • Make Oozes into gigantic indestructible creatures that are nigh-impossible to deal with.
  • Make Trolls and Hydras into gigantic tramplers that can’t be effectively blocked.
  • Use the combination of mana creatures and cheap haste creatures to put a lot of pressure on very quickly.
  • Use Corpsejack Menaces, Kalonian Hydras, and Increasing Savagerys to increase the pressure to the breaking point.

This philosophy of being the problem rather than addressing the problems in the metagame speaks directly to a major concern brought up by some of my loyal readers when I last wrote about Golgari Menace: The deck doesn’t have any removal before sideboarding. Several readers expressed discomfort with the idea of being unable to remove things in Game 1.

This entire deck is designed to remove something: your opponent. This deck relies on incredibly massive offensive firepower to win since it lacks card advantage for the most part, at least in the traditional sense. The way this deck creates card advantage is by creating creatures that need to be chump-blocked every turn. If I water down the deck with removal—which may or may not be useful right away—it’s in place of cards that could be ramping up the pressure on my opponent, and that means I’m often giving my opponent the time he or she needs to start taking over the game with card advantage. Then, he or she might be more likely to crawl out of the dreadful predicament I’m trying to place him or her in.

Scavenging Ooze
Another new card I’m excited about for this deck is Scavenging Ooze. At the moment, I consider it a sideboard card, but depending on the metagame, that could even find its way into the main deck. Before the addition of Magic 2014 Core Set, one of the best decks in Standard was Reanimator. Like Reanimator, this deck is about quickly creating massive threats, but not only is the deck immune to graveyard hate, it has access to amazing graveyard hate in the form of Scavenging Ooze. Not only is Scavenging Ooze just a solid creature and great against graveyard decks and very strong against burn decks, it has great synergy with what the deck is trying to do. Scavenging Ooze is annoying enough to play against already without it also benefitting from cards such as Corpsejack Menace and Kalonian Hydra.

Scavenging Ooze is a big upgrade from Deathrite Shaman in the sideboard, both as a card to bring in against Reanimator and as a card to bring in against aggressive decks. Not only does it serve the same functions that the Shaman does for the most part, it can represent a big threat by itself, unlike the Shaman; plus, it has the whole +1/+1 counter synergy with the deck. After replacing the Shamans with Oozes in the sideboard, I still think the play is to have the rest of the sideboard be removal.

As much as I love to be the problem rather than the answer, there will be games in which you can definitely improve the matchup by bringing in the correct type of removal. Of course, there’s a lot of removal worth consideration in black and green:

Abrupt Decay
Tragic Slip Are 1-toughness creatures prevalent in your metagame? If so, it would be nice to have some amount of 1-mana removal in your sideboard.

Doom Blade Are most of the creatures you’re worried about in your metagame nonblack?

Ultimate Price Are most of the creatures you’re worried about in your metagame mono-colored?

Abrupt Decay How relevant is the fact that it can’t be countered? How about the fact that you can destroy cheap artifacts? What about the fact that it doesn’t destroy expensive creatures?

Putrefy This is more versatile than the four above, but when can you spare 3 mana for something besides a creature?

Tribute to Hunger Life-gain is nice, and being able to deal with untargetable or indestructible things is nice, but the fact that it costs 3 and you can’t pick the target might too big of a deal.

Sever the Bloodline Sure, it’s a sorcery and costs 4 (a lot!), but between exiling and the ability to kill multiple things multiple times, perhaps it’s worth it.

Gaze of Granite Sure, you’re playing with cheap creatures and it’s expensive, but if your metagame happens to include token decks, well . . . 

You’re probably going to want three or four Scavenging Oozes in your sideboard, which limits you to eleven or twelve spots for removal, so you’re going to have some tough choices from the list above. The best choices depend on your metagame, but most likely, you will want at least a couple Sever the Bloodlines, at least a couple copies of Putrefy, and several of whichever cheaper spell or spells are best suited to your metagame.

Just make sure not to over-sideboard. After all, the point of the deck is to create the problem. Every answer you bring in means one fewer problem for your opponent. Your creatures are much better than any of the instants or sorceries in your sideboard for removing the most important target: your opponent.