So, last time out I played the (almost) mono White devotion deck, which was great fun, and I split in the finals. I used the winnings there to pick up the last few cards I needed for Kibler’s Golgari deck, which is what I played. I’ve seen two versions of his list, one revised fairly recently. I didn’t have the 4 Polukranos I needed for that version, so I kind of split the difference between the two versions and came up with this list:
Kibler Golgari Aggro
I’m never really sure whether to call this an aggro deck or a midrange deck. Is it on the aggro side of midrange, or the midrange side of aggro? Not sure, and I’m even more sure it doesn’t matter very much.
Note the GP Dallas-Fort Worth is this weekend, and what surprised me was how many of the regulars were there among the people I expected to be headed up to Dallas. So, 5 rounds of Swiss cutting to top 8.
Round 1: John, playing Sin City (that’s WBR) Midrange
Or maybe this is control; again, it’s a bit of a gray area. I kind of like this deck in principle, but the one time I’ve played it this season it was a disaster, and the one time I played against it earlier this season, I won handily because my opponent had mana issues. John, who I’ve played several times in the past and know to be a good player, did not have mana issues. Neither of these games was particularly interesting. He had the answer in hand for everything I put on the table game 1, and game 2 I kept an opener with 2 Abrupt Decays, which I probably should have sided out anyway, and drew a third, and just did not have enough action to get anywhere. Not an auspicious start.
0-1 matches, 0-2 games
Round 2: Jeremy, playing Monoblack Devotion
I’ve played Jeremy several times this season and knew what was coming. Game 1 I drew 9 land and 4 spells and just didn’t make much out of it. I boarded in the Betrayls, the Charms, the Ultimate Prices, and the Downfall—tons of removal. He Thoughtseized me 3 times early and took removal each time, but I slipped a couple creatures out onto the table and drew the removal I needed to keep his serious threats off and won. Game 3 he had removal for my early creatures and I got a Bow, gaining six life off that and then I got a Lotleth Troll that I could rengerate through his removal and just kept putting counters on it, getting it up to a 6/5 that he never killed, and a second Troll and a Reaper joined the party. You know you’re in trouble when you’re chumping with Desecration Demons.
1-1 matches, 2-3 games
Round 3: Mason, playing Gruul
It was a hydra-heavy mostly green ramp/devotion deck. Game 1 we traded a few things back and forth but I drew a couple Thoughtseizes and most of my removal and that got me there. Game 2 he got a turn 4 Kalonian Hydra and me with no removal spell, and when he got a turn 5 followup Kalonian Hydra, that was it for me. Game 3 I got a turn 2 Dreg Mangler off a Mystic, and when I swung with it the third time he didn’t block and I flashed a Boon Satyr onto it to bring him down to 7. My lead at that point was just a little too big for him to overcome.
2-1 matches, 5-4 games
Round 3: Marcus, playing Monoblack Devotion
Wow, not too much of this in the meta, is there? I don’t really remember Game 1 very well—I think it was Troll into Dreg Mangler into a lot of removal from him and some Demons that I could’t quite keep pace with. Game 2 I had two early Trolls that he kept blocking with Pack Rat tokens, which kept most of them small. I got a Reaper and kept the pressure on, and he did finally get an Erebos and then got devotion with an Underworld Connections. I scry’d when something went to the ‘yard and kept a Boon Satyr on top with him at 2. Next turn I swung out, he blocked the two Trolls with two 3/3 Rats (only 3/3 because he activated a Mutavault, but he had to tap that to do it) and I flashed the Boon Satyr to trample over for the win. Game 3 involved me opening with a really fast hand (I think turn 2 and 3 Manglers) and then drawing just enough removal to keep the path clear, despite him drawing two Gray Merchants (each for only 2).
3-1 matches, 7-5 games
Round 4: ID
3-1-1 was good enough for top 8, so we drew in. We played for fun anyway, him on RDW, and the RDW matchup isn’t great. They’re just faster, and while it’s winnable (Bow is amazing here), I usually felt behind.
3-1-1 matches, 7-5 games
Quarterfinals: Kevin, playing Monoblue Devotion
Game 1 I kept a hand I probably should not have kept, as it was a 1-lander but with two Mystics. Unfortunately, it took me a few turns to draw a black source (and I had one of the Mystics tapped down on turn 2 by a Tidebinder). When I finally drew a black source, it was of course a Guildgate. Great. Too far behind, I got blown out here. I sided in a whole bunch of cards: The Mistcutters, the Doom Blade, the Charms, the Prices, the Downfall, and the Gifts—11 cards in all. Game 2 went much better. I had a fast draw, he kept a one-lander, and I rolled him, doing the last bit of damage by making Polukranos monstrous to kill his last blocker and swing for lethal. Game 3 was much more interesting. He got a turn 3 Specter that I never killed because there was always a more important target, like a Master of Waves. He hit me many times with that Specter. However, on turn 4 I did get out a Mistcutter for 4 (had a Mystic) and had a 4/4 Ooze as well. The first swing by the Hydra took out a Mutavault, and next turn I put a Gift of Orzhova on the Hydra and got the life total going back north, up from 5 to 10 and hitting him down to 3. He had exactly one out: he had to hit me with his Specter (and he also swung with his 2/3 Cloudfin) and then flip either a Doom Blade or an Ultimate Price to kill the Hydra—not good odds. The flip was… a Swamp.
4-1-1 matches, 9-6 games
While my game win rate wasn’t all that great, the matches ended up OK, and not a bad night at all.
One of the guys in the top 4 really wanted to leave since he was driving up to Dallas for the GP and we all took pity on him and agreed to the split. I picked up a couple more Polukranos, two Curse of the Swine (for Reid Duke’s Bant deck), a Nightveil Specter (#4), and a Xenagos.
Overall the deck is clearly solid. It’s not especially fun to play, though it’s not un-fun. It’s pretty straightforward, though the creatures are nicely resilient and/or have value in the graveyard, which does lead to some interesting interactions. Still less fun than either of the two decks I’ve played the last two weeks (BUG Midrange and Wb Devotion).
It plays well vs. both Monoblack and Monoblue, especially after boarding. Against most creature-based decks, it felt a little too heavy on creatures of its own and a little light on removal, so I’d consider moving some creatures out for more main deck removal. The sideboard, however, was great. Golgari Charm is terrific vs. many decks.
Comments on specific cards:
- Varolz underperformed; I would run only 2 or maybe even 1 next time out.
- I was very happy splitting 2 and 2 for Witchstalker / Boon Satyr. Boon Satyr is good but hexproof is also really good.
- Bow of Nylea I didn’t draw very often, but was thrilled with when I did. Very strong card in this deck, might play 2.
- Kibler cut the Reapers entirely for other cards. Reaper was actually very good, but I could easily see going down to 2. Mostly he’s very strong vs. Monoblack, and you don’t cast him until turn 6 when you can make him hexproof. But he’s a house after that, and he’s even better when you actually remember your scry triggers, which I actually did this time.
Not sure if I will play this one again before Born of the Gods comes out. There are a couple new ones I want to play first, and there are a couple other decks ahead of this in line for being played again, but I might come back to it.