Maximizing Your Deck on a Budget - Golgari (Black + Green)
Today, we’re going to continue our series on maximizing your Commander deck on a budget. We've gone through all of the mono colors, so now it's onto the Guilds! The first one we're going to talk about is Golgari. My plan is to talk about seven or so cards for each guild and briefly touch on a few commanders in the colors that I believe are the most fun you can have or allow you the most creative space when designing your deck.
Assassin’s Trophy ($10.45) - At a hair under $11 we better be getting a good card, right? For a green and black mana you get to destroy ANY permanent (at instant speed!) on the battlefield that’s giving you a headache. The only downside is the permanent’s controller searches for a basic land and puts it into play. Still a very worthy exchange in my opinion. This card fits into any and all Golgari strategies so if you are a fan of what Golgari decks typically do, you're going to want to pick up this card.
Gaze of Granite ($0.26) - For X, black, black, and a green Gaze of Granite is a sorcery that destroys all non-land permanents with converted mana cost X or less. I love this card for a number of reasons. The first is that this doesn’t just hit creatures, this card deals with any non-land permanent that’s giving you trouble. The second big reason I like Gaze of Granite is that it gets better as the game goes on. Patience is definitely your best friend when casting this card. If you wait until you can’t wait any more, you’ll be rewarded with maximum value.
Maelstrom Pulse ($2.26) - For one colorless, black, and a green Maelstrom Pulse is a sorcery that says “Destroy target nonland permanent and all other permanents with the same name as that permanent”. A couple years ago Maelstrom Pulse was a pricy card but, thanks to an Ultimate Masters reprint it’s dropped to a reasonable price where I’d be comfortable picking it up. Imagine being the only player at the table without a Sol Ring? Let’s even it out with Maelstrom Pulse, now NO ONE can have a Sol Ring! Opponent on a big token deck? Let’s take care of all those tokens, shall we? It’s definitely worth running this card.
Deathrite Shaman ($3.52) - Deathrite Shaman is a one mana creature that has so much utility you just can’t ignore this card when building your deck. For one mana (a green or black), you get a 1/2 elf shaman with three relevant abilities. The first ability is tap to exile a land from a graveyard to add one mana of any color to your mana pool. This is great for getting some additional value off those Terramorphic Expanses and Evolving Wilds. Thee second ability costs one black mana to exile an instant or sorcery card from a graveyard, each opponent loses two life. This is great when you’re up against one of those spell slinging decks that you know is running some kind of flashback effect. Wait to activate this until they target it for flashback! The final ability costs a green to activate, and it exiles a creature from a graveyard and you gain two life. Three extremely valuable graveyard hate abilities makes Deathrite Shaman an absolute must play.
Find // Finality ($0.26) - I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I love having choices when casting my spells. Find // Finality gives you two options - both of which can be relevant at various points in the game. The Find half of the card costs a combination of two mana that must be paid in green or black mana. It allows you to return two target creatures from your graveyard to your hand at sorcery speed. This can be key for rebuilding after a board-wipe, or getting back some combo pieces you’ve self-milled away as Golgari is prone to do. The Finality half of the card is where I think the card is really at it’s best. For four colorless, a green, and a black, you get to put two +1+1 counters on a creature you control, and then all creatures get -4-4 until end of turn. If you cast this at the right time, you get to keep your best creature and board wipe everyone else, even getting around indestructible! Seems good to me!
Casualties of War ($1.58) - MORE CHOICES!!! Casualties of War is a six mana sorcery (two colorless, two black, and two green) that says “Choose one or more:” Destroy target artifact, Destroy target land, Destroy target creature, Destroy target enchantment, Destroy target planeswalker. Of course, if you’ve got valid targets for all of the abilities, you should maximize your value and hit everything that you can. This is such a good card in a multiplayer setting for just under $2!
Vraska the Unseen ($0.94) - A planeswalker, for under a dollar? Don’t mind if I do. Vraska the Unseen is threat that must be dealt with as soon as possible and you’ll see why in a moment. Vraska costs five mana (three colorless, a green, and a black) and enters with five loyalty counters. Her +1 is pseudo-protection and says “Until your next turn, whenever a creature deals combat damage to Vraska the Unseen, destroy that creature”. Her -3 is is just targeted removal, as you get to destroy any nonland permanent. Her -7 is where it really gets fun though. When Vraska ultimates at -7 you create three 1/1 assassin creature tokens that say “Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, that player loses the game”.
Alright so we’ve talked about seven solid cards, at a total of $19.27 (less than $3 a card!) in the Golgari guild to get your deck building started. Let’s take a look at three Golgari commanders that I think are worth building around.
Meren of Clan Nel Toth ($5.83) - You know Meren is good when she’s retained her value over $10 since her release in 2016. Fortunately, you can grab a copy now for under $6 thanks to a Mystery Booster reprint. Meren relies on experience counters - a mechanic unique to the 2016 commander preconstructed decks. Whenever a creature you control dies, you get an experience counter. At the beginning of each end step, you get to return a creature from your graveyard to your hand. If that creatures mana cost is less than or equal to the number of experience counters you have, you can return that creature to the battlefield instead. Reanimation or recursion, every single turn. Meren is one of my all time favorite commanders and I know you’ll love her too. There’s so many fun ways to build Meren.
The Gitrog Mosnter ($3.78) - The Gitrog Monster is a 6/6 for five (three colorless, green, and a black) with deathtouch. But that’s not all. At the beginning of your upkeep you must sacrifice The Gitrog Monster unless you sacrifice a land. The upside is, the Gitrog Monster allows you to play an additional land each turn, and whenever one or more lands are put into your graveyard from anywhere, you draw a card. Obviously you’re going to want a land-centric build for this commander but trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll get maximum value running cards like Life From the Loam (or The Mending of Dominaria for a budget option) and Crucible of Worlds (or Ramunap Excavator who's a bit cheaper). It’s all about bringing those lands back to keep The Gitrog Monster fed and happy. All hail hypnotoad.
Glissa, the Traitor ($1.92) - Glissa is a 3/3 with first strike and deathtouch for a black and two green mana. Her ability says “Whenever a creature an opponent controls is is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may return target artifact from your graveyard to your hand.” Glissa is unique for Golgari in that she’s one of the few ways to build around artifacts as a card type. Obviously you can get peak value with her with cards like Oblivion Stone, Mindslaver, and Nevinyrral's Disk. I really like Glissa and she’s one I’ve wanted to build around for a while.
That’s going to do it for the blog today, don’t forget to join us in discord to discuss the Golgari Guild further, and I’d love to hear which commanders you’ve got going in those colors.
Take care and stay safe,