Hello everyone, and welcome back for another guild review. This is perhaps the most anticipated guild review by many of my readers, and when I started playing Magic beyond the kitchen table this was a color combination I gravitated towards. So let’s not waste any time, and get right to it.
The Golgari Swarm
The largest guild on Ravnica, the Golgari Swarm is host to many necromancers as well as undead. However the guild is not solely focused on such things. They also tend to the land itself as they embrace both life and death as one continuous natural cycle. Hosting members of many tribes (including Trolls, Gorgons, and even Oozes) (Editors Note: In the story, creatures that aren’t Elvish are referred to as Teratogens!) a large part of their population are either Devkarin (a race of Elves) or Human(ish). Recently the guild has a new leader in Vraska who recently returned from Ixalan in addition to an increased presence by the Kraul (a race of hive mind-like insects), and will play a pivotal role in the upcoming story.
In Guilds of Ravnica Undergrowth is the new mechanic. Not as powerful as Dredge, but a lot better than Scavenge (the two previous mechanics respectfully), Undergrowth allows for effects to happen depending on how many creatures are in your graveyard. For a guild based on the enemy colors of black and green mana it might seem this mechanic would work at cross purposes with the colors involved, but you may be surprised with what tricks this guild has up its collective sleeve.
Lotleth Troll is a perfect example of a big payoff using Undergrowth. A 6/5 creature with no abilities seems a little weak, but it would be hard to efficiently trade with this creature if it’s attacking with others so it does have some advantage beyond just the card itself. Decks that utilize the graveyard, most namely Dredge, will often have several creatures in the graveyard to deal damage to the opponent. This card will be a lot of fun to play with, but we need a way to resurrect it from the graveyard instead of paying full retail for it. I will try to make room for this in my Meren of Clan Nel Toth EDH deck.
Another card for my Meren EDH deck will be Plaguecrafter. A better version of Fleshbag Marauder this card is sweet! While a 3/2 is nothing to sneeze at one thing that’s missed on this card is it’s subtype: Human. I expect a non-zero number of copies of this card to appear in sideboards of Humans Modern decks as against Azorius Control is can cause the opponent to sacrifice their Gideon Jura allowing the Humans to swing in freely.
My sleeper pick for the guild is Pilfering Imp. Placed along with the discard spells already in Standard this card can help keep your opponent off tempo by sacrificing itself allowing you to utilize cards with the keyword Undergrowth while interacting with your opponent. Having this come down on your first turn it can be useful to use its ability when your opponent has a flying blocker, or the turn after you have already seen their hand but lack a discard spell.
What’s better than fueling Undergrowth though? Bringing your creatures back of course! Gruesome Menagerie does exactly that. Allowing you to get back the top two cards I mentioned to use again allows you to use your graveyard as an extension of your hand, and provides additional bodies to block if needed. I can see this card somewhere in the Abzan Company deck, affectionately called “Faux Pod” since the banning of Birthing Pod years ago. Also another addition to my Meren EDH deck this card will have it’s uses.
This is the card I want to build with the most. Mausoleum Secrets is an instant speed TUTOR!!! Holy cow! It allows you to get anything from your library based on how many creatures are in your graveyard. I want you to take a moment and look at Collective Brutality. Come back here when you’re done.
Done? Okay go back and re-read it.
Done? Sweet. These two cards pair so well together it’s absurd. Granted in Standard this will be used with the Surveil mechanic that I talked about yesterday, but I feel it’s use may be primarily to go get our next card out of Standard decks.
Yes. We have finally reached the point where we talk about the card that many have asked me about. Assassin’s Trophy has taken over nearly all conversation about Guilds of Ravnica, and rightfully so. An instant speed version of a cheaper Vindicate this allows Jund to have a weapon against Tron decks during game one. It takes care of anything (Yes. ANYTHING!), but unlike Abrupt Decay it can be countered by many cards in the format so you have to pick your targets wisely. While the deckbuilding restrictions of needing to be in a deck with black and green does limit it some I would not be surprised to see this as THE removal spell in Standard, and one of the strongest cards in Modern. However with all of that said I would not start with more than three in your Modern Jund decks. Doing this still provides you game against problematic decks, but versus decks where it’s only “ok” against having three gives you space to make appropriate changes going to game two. You will still want four Lightning Bolts as that’s often times better removal against early creatures, and Assassin’s Trophy even makes Fatal Push better. It will be played against you, and trigger Revolt off of Fatal Push allowing you to remove one of your opponent’s creatures during that same turn (so not necessarily immediately). I would also run a pair of Swamps and Forests, and make adjustments from there depending on how many of these are showing up against you.
The Queen has taken her throne. After making a deal with Nicol Bolas, Vraska has become the master of the Golgari Swarm. This powerful Gorgon is on full display on the card Vraska, Golgari Queen, and this card is quite solid. While not able to get to full loyalty with the help of Doubling Season on the turn you cast her the abilities she possesses are quite good. Her first ability should be targeting cards who either only have a use when the come into play so you can get them back later, or target a card like Stitcher Supplier from Core Set 2019. You could also target a land of yours if you need to cast another spell on your main phase, and have a replacement land in hand.
Her second ability can remove smaller permanents on the board that may be in the way of your attackers. This can also remove any other permanent that’s not a creature as well so keep an eye out on what your opponent plays.
Her third ability is pretty sweet. If you have a creature that will go unblocked (one with flying or trample) you win the game. While I don’t expect this to happen often in Standard it can help get around potential board stalls so make sure to prepare properly when using her abilities.
Wow, what a lot of powerful cards! Grave-Shell Scarab was one of the first Golgari cards I ever played, and we have come a long way since those days. Are there any Golgari cards I missed that you think will be great? (Editors Note: Hint hint Necrotic Wound) Share your thoughts below, and make sure to follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter.
Until Tomorrow when we blow up the Izzet League (Editors Note: Niv might not be too happy about that)…
TAP MORE MANA!!!
Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.