Thursday, October 10, 2019

Making Making in the Arena - Golgari Midrange

A set has been unveiled: Throne of Eldraine had finally made it's way into the Arena. And with these new cards come new decks, and new strategies.

We're back in the Arena. This time, I have a deck built around two of the most obviously powerful cards that exist in Eldraine. A slight modification of an existing deck on MTGGoldfish, moving several sideboard cards in the main board to better survive the best-of-one queue.

This is Golgari Midrange.

The two obvious stars of the deck are The Great Henge, and Questing Beast. At first glance, the idea that a card with a CMC of 9 being Standard playable, let alone a key card, seems ludicrous. The key comes from it's first line of text, which gives it a discount equal to the greatest power among creatures we control. This means we're likely to actually cast it for 4 or 5 mana. Best case, it gets played for GG.

And if it even resolves, than it'll give us almost everything we could ever hope for in a mono-green artifact. By tapping it, we get extra mana to bring out our army of beaters and valuable life to start stabilizing against aggressive decks. On top of that, all of our creatures gain extra power when we summon them with this in play, while simultaneously drawing cards so that we can either catch up or boost our lead. Because it does so much, getting to it is a major goal of the deck.

Like the Henge, Questing Beast is a powerhouse of a card. Just to start with, it's a 4/4 for 2GG, with Deathtouch, Haste, and Vigilance. Just this, by itself, would have players breaking their backs to try to hit it into their decks because it gets to safely attack at almost no risk, usually taking out either one big bodies or a ton of smaller ones on it's way out. But it doesn't end there, because creatures with power 2 or less cannot block it. If an opponent wants to take it out, a 1/1 with Deathtouch isn't going to cut it. They'll need to commit their stronger creatures to the fight. And since combat damage it and other creatures you can't be prevented, protection is almost completely nullified for blockers.

Even that wasn't enough though, because its last bit of text ups the power level even more. Whenever it successfully connect to an opponent during combat, it scratches a Planeswalker they control for that much damage. Not only does this function as valuable removal for Planeswalkers in a post War of the Spark world, but it also negates one of their best features. In high-level play, a Planeswalker's loyalty can be thought of an "extra life", because the opponent needs to deal with them before they can effectively swing in for the kill. With Questing Beast, this is no longer true, because it can effectively attack a player and a Planeswalker they control at the same time.

The rest of the deck is hopes to either enable or take advantage of these two cards in some way. Rotting Regisaur is this deck for basically one reason: Its power of 7. This, coincidentally, is the exact power necessary to get the full discount for The Great Henge. Since it only costs 2B, this means we can possibly play it on turn 3 to get the Henge on turn 4. On top of that, the opponent will eventually need to deal with the large body swinging in every single turn. Even if we're discarding each turn to this, we'll be drawing more than enough off The Great Henge to offset that.

Knight of the Ebon Legion and Growth-Chamber Guardian are also some of the best 1 and 2-drop creatures this deck could hope for. Knight of the Ebon Legion's stats are excellent for a 1-drop, and if we miss our turn 3 or 4 drops, we can still sink that mana into his for an effective attacker or blocker as the situation warrants, potentially making it even stronger if it connects. A similar, but less trick comes attached to Growth-Chamber Guardian, but it's permanent and allows us to fetch another copy from our deck. Should The Great Henge already be in play, its a good late game draw too. It'll come out, get a counter, and trigger so we can fetch another while drawing us an additional card.

Once Upon a Time is another extremely valuable card, which will likely see play in green decks in other formats long after Eldraine rotates out. It more or less allows us to keep other sketchy hands by letting us dig 5 cards deep for a land or creature we need. There are few cards in this deck that don't fit that condition that our odds of failing to find something are almost 0%. Even late game, this is an excellent draw that can help us get to whatever we need to solve the problem at hand.

Rankle, Master of Prankles and Spawn of Mayhem serve as additional powerful bodies that can close out a game. Rankle's abilities allow us to strategically choose which of them will be most effective in the current board state, and the fact that he's a 3/3 with Flying and Haste makes it very likely he'll be able to connect the turn he comes out. Spawn of Mayhem may be slower, but a 4/4 with Flying and Trample that pings every turn is a large that must be dealt with.

The only noteworthy addition to our mana base is Castle Locthwain, and it exists purely to give us another potential card draw outlet/mana sink if things so south. The opportunity cost for doing so is low because we're only in a 2 colors.

And lastly, 3 Assassin's Trophies and 4 Murderous Riders should give us all of the removal we need to deal with powerful threats our opponents lay against us. The flexibility of Assassin's Trophy lets us deal with basically any troublesome permanent, even Enchantments and Artifacts, even if it ramps our adversary. Murderous Rider gives us valuable Planeswalker removal that can be fetched with Once Upon A Time.

Overall, the performance shows with this deck, because our run with it was phenomenally successful. I look forward to seeing what else rears it's head during Eldraine standard.

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