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Golgari Ė ďShell GameĒ


A Ravnica block deck by John Mason.

1 July 2006


I donít know if Dr Chunk is a real doctor, nor if he starred in the Goonies, but heís given clear instructions for this deck building challenge:


1. No rare lands.

2. Keep the overall cost down.

3. Try to be original.


Stick to two mana colours, with guild cards as much as possible.


With all that in mind I look at the options open to me, starting with dredge, the unique Golgari keyword. I say unique, but all green decks can use Moldervine Cloak which may be the best uncommon in the set. In fact of the twelve dredge cards only two are multicoloured, which draws me to them. Since Iíve chosen Grave-Shell Scarab and Shambling Shell already it seems Iíve decided to go down the beatdown route.


I want removal spells, and itís at this point I discover I can blow up the world with Plague Boiler. I know itís an artefact, but notice how apart from signets there are no good artefacts in this block, therefore no real incentive for maindeck removal. Happily in guild wars format I get a monopoly on Putrefy. Backup removal for untargetables comes in the form of Savra, Queen of the Golgari, which again is a fully Golgari card. I also need a supply of creatures to sacrifice to Savra, particularly since it enables me to dodge the pesky life-gain of cards like Faithís Fetters, Pillory of the Sleepless and Lightning Helix that I expect to see. Plagued Rusalka supplies both removal and the sacrifice ability.


I also add Bloodbond March. The symmetry worries me, but if I dredge a full graveyard I should be ahead. Lastly I want card drawing to enable dredge, and thereís not much choice. Cremate looked like a situational fit with Bloodbond March, but Carven Caryatid also gives me fat at 3 mana and an additional Thug target.


The mana requirement is low, peaking at three, and only four cards cost more than four, so Iím happy with mostly basic Forests and Swamps, slight bias for black activations. The Rot Farms tend to slow decks down, but the improvement in colour fixing is indispensable. I think Svogthos, the Restless Tomb is significantly weaker than other guild lands, but Iím not averse to using Ghost Quarter to disrupt the opposition.


CASUAL WATCH (Approximate deck price £45 using a leading supplier)

The Deck Ė Shell Game (60 cards)

Land (24)

2 Ghost Quarter

3 Golgari Rot Farm

9 Swamp

10 Forest


Creatures (26)

4 Plagued Rusalka

4 Elves of Deep Shadow

4 Golgari Thug

4 Shambling Shell

3 Carven Caryatid

3 Savra, Queen of the Golgari

4 Grave-Shell Scarab


Other spells (10)

4 Putrefy

4 Plague Boiler

2 Bloodbond March



4 Indrik Stomphowler

4 Sundering Vitae

4 Moldervine Cloak

3 Stinkweed Imp



Most guild decks will use creatures, so you can see that the game plan is to stall for time, play out my creatures and fill up the graveyard by dredging until I have a Plague Boiler in hand. Itís possible it will go off on the second upkeep, and if I have elves to float mana I may also get a march out that turn. From there on I should be getting out more creatures than the opponent.


The sideboard contains two answers to serious enchantment woes and some help against aerial superiority. I can also transform entirely and go for pure beatdown with Cloaks.

So how did I do?

No rare lands, check. Over to www.ebay.co.uk to price up playsets of Scarab @ £5.40 and Savra @ £2.16 (provided you donít mind buying from the USA). A Plague Boiler set is around £2 and the Marches just £1 so Iím just over £10 in rares; low cost, check. Two colour and in guild Ė check. Originality, weíll see.

Notable omissions

You might have expected to see Dark Confidant here, but surprisingly thereís no synergy with dredge, while Vinelasher Kudzu, the obvious beatdown creature, misses out being rare and easily removed. All the other multicolour Golgari creatures lack synergy or cost too much in this deck (Mortipede, Woodwraith Strangler, Golgari Rotwurm, Vulturous Zombie, Drooling Groodion, Woodwraith Corrupter and Sisters of Stone Death). Drekavac was tempting, but is inherent card disadvantage. Weenies donít get any benefit from Vigor Mortis. The lack of Guildmages stands out, but Golgari Guildmage costs a lot to activate, and the more playable Orzov and Selesnya Guildmages lose me style points. Given access to white Iíd sooner run Mortify maindeck than Putrefy since enchantments are the bigger threat, but then Iím into Selesnya. Golgari Germination seems like win more. I liked everything about Entropic Eidolon apart from the high cost. I donít expect serious counter magic, so no sideboard Leyline of Lifeforce.

Adding money to the deck

Overgrown Tomb.


Azorius Ė Obviously Windreaver, but also weenie flyers like Pride of the Clouds and Azorius Firstwing, counter magic and tapping effects to deal with. I hope they favour Fetters which Iím prepared for, and even Spell Snare is not too bad, so there is some hope.


Boros Ė Iím set to avoid the controlling influence of Fetters, Helix, and Sunforger (the one likely artifact outside signets), but vulnerable to flying weenie rush and combat tricks. Better hope the removal is good enough.


Dimir Ė Phear teh d3ck1ng! Not. Could suffer from counter magic if I donít beat down early.


Gruul Ė I read somewhere these guys only work with every rare going, lands, Chars, Rumbling Slum, Burning-Tree Shaman, Giant Solifuge. Letís hope they stick to a budget and guild. I quite fancy this if I survive the first few turns, again a good curve is essential.


Izzet Ė Likely to be an aggro-control deck? Hopefully my creatures are tougher, and I can conserve my life long enough to prevail.


Orzhov Ė I expect life drain to be the issue here. I also expect to lose creatures to Orzhov Pontiff. I think if I deny haunt targets and come out fighting this can be won. They donít get Promise of Bunrei or the Shoals after all.

Rakdos Ė A beatdown race. I expect pingers and Pit Dragons.


Selesnya Ė No doubt this is a tough challenge. Vitu-Ghazi and Selesnya Guildmage are auto-includes, they have access to protection, cheap flyers, Hierarchs, and the dreaded Glare of Subdual. Side in Stomphowlers and Vitaes.


Simic Ė Graft tricks will make for combat losses, but my removal is good. I wonít hang around for Simic Sky Swallower to turn up.


Nephilim Ė Probably a heavy green build with Farseek? Should be easy enough to disrupt their colour base with my various removal (famous last words).


Disclaimer: this deck comes with no playtesting.