Beginners Guide to Drafting: Return to Ravnica Golgari with Chris Boyle
Today I’m going to talk about one of the ‘less drafted’ guilds in the set. Now I say ‘less drafted’ because I seriously believe this guild is not given the respect it is due. The Korzoda Guildmage is the only Guildmage I have ever seen swing the table… for reasons that baffle me. I can only assume that people don’t play this guild because of the mechanic ‘Scavenge’ which, well, it’s not great.
If the creature is cheap then scavenge is expensive, if scavenge is cheap, then you need to re-mortgage your mana to cast the creature.
Despite the awkwardness of the mechanic, this is still one of my favourite guilds to play. It has access to all of black’s removal and green’s big creatures (not to mention combat tricks). It can (and probably should) run cards like Gatecreeper Vine and Axebane Guardian which means it can pretty comfortably splash anything (though I do like to splash red in a Golgari build If I have the choice).
Although it lacks the speed of Rakdos, or the control of Azorius it is a fantastic mid-range deck that drafted correctly, has an answer to everything.
So let’s get into some cards!
Korzoda Guildmage – This is a straight up, stone cold, first pick. I love this card. Being able to pump up your guys at will is obscene, gaining intimidate as well! That’s just a bonus. I’ll be honest, I’ve never used the saproling ability, but with access to Chorus of Might the potential for the game to be ended quickly is definitely there.
Rites of Reaping – Not first pick material. Everything about the card is just counter to what I want to do. Firstly it’s 6 mana to cast. Secondly it’s a sorcery which means it’s telegraphed before I attack. Thirdly it can’t be guaranteed as a removal spell, that late in the game the chances are the guy you want to kill had more toughness than four.
Dreg Mangler – Wow, a well costed efficient creature with CHEAP scavenge. Powerful card, and well worth my first pick.
Treasured Find – This card is either going to be amazing or terrible. Depending on what spells and creatures you draft will decide whether or not this goes into your deck. That being the case it’s not a first pick, that doesn’t mean it’s not a pick.
Golgari Charm – All of these are pretty strong abilities, in the right situation – which makes this one of my less liked charm’s. It’s very situational.
Slitherhead – It may be the theme of the Golgari guild, but it’s not that good, I tend to pick these up if I already know I am going to be playing something I want to pump permanently (Fencing Ace etc).
The first thing I noticed about this guild was that the multicolour uncommons aren’t as good as some of the ones available to the other guilds, but we’ll talk about that when it comes to the pick order.
Thrill Kill Assassin– As I’ve said before, I like the versatility of this card. He can be a suicide bomber in that he swings every turn and takes someone down with him regardless of how big they are. Or he can be a well placed defensive weapon that slows down the pace of your opponents attack. First Pickable, yes.
Ultimate Price – Nothing wrong with a bit of removal. The restriction in my opinion puts this card into the category where I check what else is available before I pick it. But more often than not it’s a valid pick.
Slum Reaper– Now, remember how I harped on about how bad a card this guy was in the Rakdos article? Well that hasn’t changed… not entirely. It has changed slightly though. In the Golgari guild, killing off a creature isn’t always bad for us. If we lose a scavenger then his power and toughness is potentially coming back on the board next turn. If we have to lose a creature without scavenge Treasured Find can bring it back. I’m not saying this guy has gone up in my estimations, but he is an enabler in some situations.
Zanikev Locust – Wow, look how cheap that scavenge cost is! Do I first pick this? Give me a minute til I phone my mana manager…
It’s the same group of suspects we rounded up in the Rakdos article with the addition of one card, the locust. Unfortunately the locust doesn’t change how I feel about black uncommons, the only one I snap first pick is the Thrill kill assassin. The Locust is a nice cheap scavenge, and I have run decks with him in it, but he wasn’t first pick… more like… 8th?
Brushstrider – I don’t know why but this card has more of a Selesnya feel to it. That being said he fits into an aggressive curve pretty nicely. He is almost always guaranteed to trade up and if my opponent has no blockers on my turn three I’m happy to swing in for ‘free’ damage (Hahahaha, get it? Free = Three… *chuckle*… never mind, I’ll get on with writing now…)
Gobbling Ooze – Pretty steep for a 3/3, and his ability isn’t that great. It can be clever if you draft a lot of cheap scavenge guys and fill your graveyard with options but it’s not first pickable in my opinion.
Golgari Decoy – He wins games. It’s that easy. I can, do and will first pick a Decoy.
Oakstreet Innkeeper – I want this to be a good card, I really do. But it’s not. It stops sorcery speed removal if (and that’s a big IF) your creatures are tapped, which means you swung in with them or used an ability in your turn. I’ve never played this card, and hope I never have to.
Slime Molding – This card is ‘X’ rated (man… the jokes are soooo bad tonight…). He is never a dead draw, he does something early middle and late – a very versatile card. I can pick this first if the pack offers nothing better.
Savage Surge – It pumps, it untaps, and it happens at instant speed. It does everything I want my combat tricks to do.
And that’s it for the uncommons, the pick order?
2) Dreg Mangler
…and that’s it. Pretty slim pickings huh? Well that is the other thing that makes Golgari such a strong choice! The strength of the guild isn’t in the Uncommons, it’s in the commons!
Let’s take a look at them:
Golgari Longlegs – A vanilla 5/4 for five. Not much to say about him other than it does what it says on the tin.
Sluiceway Scorpion – One of the most well costed cards in the set. A 2/2 creature that doubles as removal due to the deathtouch ability AND it flashed back on to another creature for cheap. I like this card a lot.
Trestle Troll – Another Golgari common all star. He successfully stands in front of most things in the format and lives to tell the tale – if he doesn’t, regenerate him! The fact he can block fliers is also pretty solid and to top it off, he’s a defender which helps to boost the mana ramp for your Axebane Guardians!
Grisly Salvage – For me this card is hit or miss. If I am splashing multiple colours or I have a bomb creature I want to dig for then yeah, I’ll run this card. If not it stays in the sideboard and I resent having had to pick it in the first place.
Axebane Guardian – Golgari likes this card. He has the potential to ramp us up the mana curve at a ridiculous speed which allows us to either play out our bigger guys or scavenge our expensive guys.
Drudge Beetle – Nowhere near all star status but a nice filler to help you curve out on the creature curve and he can provide that extra bit of ‘oomph’ if you need it later on.
Korzoda Monitor – There are a few cards you want to be specifically aiming your scavenge targets at. This is one of them.
Rubbleback Rhino – This is another one. Pumping up a creature your opponent can do nothing about permanently is a thing of true beauty.
Stonefare Crocodile – This is another one you could aim your scavenge at but I’m less inclined to do it as in order to make use of the life gain it requires a mana investment every turn.
Towering Indrik – Another guy that intercepts fliers, good in my book.
Chorus of Might – This is an interesting combat trick – and it has swung more than a few games in my favour. It tends to be bigger in Selesnya builds but works equally well in Golgari if you build your curve right.
Giant Growth – Ahhh, how I missed you.
I’ve already spoken about the black commons in my Rakdos article but a few of not that weren’t mentioned are:
Daggerdrome Imp – Another guy I’m happy to throw scavenge at. I really dislike this card initially but it literally won me games in my PTQ Dundee experience and has climbed the ranks in my estimations.
Sewer Shambler – If you’re against someone playing black, scavenge onto him – if you’re not, scavenge him onto something else.
Mind Rot – We’ve seen it before, it hasn’t changed – but it’s still underrated. Be honest with yourself, how annoyed are you when someone casts this against you on turn 3? It messes up all the plans you had for the near future. What about turn 5 when you’re holding onto Isperia, or Collective Blessing? I am more than happy to run one of these in any black deck.
And that is pretty much it!
Now there is nothing there that absolutely blows me away – other than the consistency of the guild. It just grinds out creature after creature after creature and beats away at your opponent until he is dead. With access to blacks removal and greens combat tricks it is one of the more versatile guilds to play with. It can deal with fliers and is big on the ground to top it off the creature base curves out consistently!
Give it a go! And have fun!
Thanks for reading,