Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the charismatic wrestler, is not only Hollywood’s best paid actor. Now he is also Standard’s best deck after the latest results from Magic Online’s PTQ last weekend. Six decks of the top eight were Golgari, which should impact the metagame in a big way. Lets look at the winning deck:

Tixis's PTQ-winning Golgari

Creatures (28)
District Guide
Doom Whisperer
Golgari Findbroker
Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
Jadelight Ranger
Llanowar Elves
Merfolk Branchwalker
Ravenous Chupacabra
Seekers’ Squire
Wildgrowth Walker

Spells (9)
Vraska, Golgari Queen
Vraska, Relic Seeker
Assassin’s Trophy
Find // Finality
Lands (23)
Overgrown Tomb
Woodland Cemetery

Sideboard (15)
Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
Wildgrowth Walker
Find // Finality
Arguel’s Blood Fast
Moment of Craving
The Eldest Reborn
Vivien Reid
Vraska’s Contempt

If we compare this compared to what the other five Golgari players brought to the field, they share the shell of Seeker’s Squire, Jadelight Ranger, Golgari Findbroker, Vraska, Relic Seeker, and Ravenous Chupacabra. While the other decks have their own nuances, I want to talk about what made Tixis’s deck stand out from the others: Doom Whisperer.

Initially billed as one of my losers from the first week of Standard, the power level of Doom Whisperer was never in doubt. We didn’t know if the correct shell could be found for it. Initial Dimir shells looked underwhelming and certainly did not put up many results, possibly due to tunnelling down on the Surveil synergies. What it actually does for the deck is break the mirror. Golgari decks are not evasive, and with cards such as Izoni, Thousand Eyes making an army of tokens, board stalls can be quite common. A five-mana 6/6 flier very quickly closes out games, even without the activated ability. With the number of Golgari Findbroker, Find // Finality, and The Eldest Reborn in the sideboard, Doom Whisperer never truly stays dead.

The diversity of card choices is a big advantage for Golgari midrange decks at the moment. Each of the Golgari decks in the top eight are different in their own way, which makes it a lot more difficult for opponents to play around. This is similar to the RB decks of previous Standard—if they led with a Mountain and Soul-Scar Mage, they could be three versions of the deck. The number of variations of the deck will go down as lists become more refined, but in the meantime we are stuck between The Rock and a hard place.

How do we face this deck?

To take inspiration on how to beat the Golgari deck, we should look at the other successful decks from the PTQ. In the Top 8 there was a Mono White aggro deck alongside a Jeskai control deck, with zero Boros Angels decks appearing in the top 32. While I am not surprised that Jeskai control did well, considering that Control decks are usually very favoured against midrange decks, I am surprised at the effectiveness of the Mono white deck. As the aggressive strategy is heavily creature focused with only a smattering of removal, it would have been expected that the deck to fall behind against the two for one nature of Golgari but Knight of Grace backed by the evasion of Remorseful Cleric (giving the extra bonus of shutting down the Molderhulk / Memorial to Folly loops) may show a weakness of the deck.

The simplest way to beat the deck trying to get two for ones with creatures is to simply not play creatures. Playing alternate win cons such as Thousand Year Storm or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria relegates cards like Ravenous Chupacabra to being over-costed bears. Alternatively, we can start to either play some low cost fliers backed up with protection or play some oversized creatures that can brute force their way through the army of chump blockers.

There are some hate cards currently though for the deck, with one that caught me off guard when looking at the Mono White Aggro list: Tocatli Honor Guard. A card that as for as long as I can remember has never been used in standard, it’s Torpor Orb-esque effect is powerful enough that I can see this being a main deck in White Weenie going forward. Not only does it shut down Ravenous Chupacabra, one of the best cards against you in Golgari, but it also shuts down their value engine of the explore creatures and even Golgari Findbroker.

With this in mind, lets look at some other cards in Standard we could use to take on Golgari:

Nexus of Fate is spoken in hushed tones as the bad boy of Standard, but it could be as ready as ever to take infinite turns again alongside Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. What better way could there be of not losing to Golgari? By not letting them have another turn of course! I’m not sure why Nexus of Fate has been forgotten about in this current Standard. The deck was relatively rotation-proof, with like for like cards able to be swapped in. The common hate cards for the old Bant Nexus decks rotated out, and there are fewer red aggressive decks punish you. Bant Nexus seems ready to make a grand comeback to the forefront of Standard.

Regisaur Alpha is the big dog? If midrange is king, then it could be time to ramp out into some dinosaurs. Ghalta, Primal Hunger and friends are more than ready to oblige. Playing an early Carnage Tyrant, Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, or even Zacama, Primal Calamity would be a struggle for Golgari to deal with. Regisaur Alpha’s guaranteed value with its token could be what pushes the deck over the edge.

The Immortal Sun has appeared in sideboards previously for the exact reason that I am recommending it here—the card advantage it provides in any grindy mirror is exceptional, and shutting down planeswalkers is the cherry on top. With the Golgari midrange decks playing anywhere from one to four different planeswalkers and no way of dealing with The Immortal Sun outside of some copies of Assassin’s Trophy, it could be time for this sun to shine bright.

We’re undoubtedly living in a midrange world right now in Standard. Embrace it! With an ever-shifting metagame, there is one thing that’s clear: the Golgari Swarm will persevere.

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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