Standard is back in full swing since the release of Zendikar Rising, and the decks of the format are beginning to solidify themselves. 4-color Omnath, Dimir Rogues, Temur Clover, Gruul Aggro, Dimir Control, and Red Aggro make up most of the standard metagame. Of all these decks, 4-color Omnath seems to be the most powerful, and the current leader in the format. However, I believe that there is still plenty of room to explore while being competitive, but it is important to account for 4-Color Omnath while building new decks.
How to beat Omnath
The first thing to account for is Lotus Cobra; Lotus Cobra is a powerful ramp creature that can quickly give opponents a mana advantage that is unsustainable. Luckily, Lotus Cobra has a fragile 2/1 body that can easily be destroyed. There are many cards in standard that can handle this task; a few of the best options are Bloodchief’s Thirst, Spikefield Hazard, Heartless Act, Shock, and Eliminate. Of these, the two that I like the best are Heartless Act and Bloodchief’s Thirst. Unlike Shock and Spikefield Hazard, Heartless Act and Bloodchief’s Thirst are useful for killing larger creatures.
The next area of concern is Omnath, Locus of Creation. On the surface, Omnath’s Landfall abilities look difficult to trigger consistently. Unfortunately there are many enablers in the format, cards like Escape to the Wilds, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, and Dryad of the Illysian Grove make having extra land drops simple. In order to properly deal with Omnath, it is important to have instant speed interaction to respond to the draw trigger of Omnath. Heartless Act also fits this role perfectly, making it a great removal spell against 4-Color Omnath. Bloodchief’s Thirst is also decent against Omnath, but the sorcery speed of the spell prevents immediate interaction, which can lead to a loss in many cases. While continuing to look at black interaction, the spell side of Murderous Rider, Swift End, makes a great spell against Omnath due to it being a removal spell and a threat. While the threat side isn’t very threatening, Murderous Rider allows for more removal while still providing a high density of threats. Which leads to the last way to fight Omnath, threats are important to end the game after the interaction. If you kill Omanth or Lotus Cobra there is always a threat of other copies, it is important to end the game quickly after interacting.
With all these conditions in account, I believe Golgari Adventures is the best combination of aggression and interaction in Standard.
This deck is nothing new, but it got a couple new toys from Zendikar Rising. Like most decks in standard, the Golgari Adventures deck gained new modal lands. Agadeem's Awakening, Turntimber Symbiosis, Bala Ged Recovery work to make the most of your land spots by being spells in addition to lands. None of these are super synergic to the Adventures game plan, but they are mostly free and can be relevant in certain scenarios. Another addition to the deck is Skyclave Shade. Skyclave Shade is a recursive threat that can be kicked in the late game to create an even larger threat. In this deck, Skyclave Shade is generally used as an early 3/1 body that can come back against the grindy decks in the format, Dimir Control.
The additions from Zendikar are great, but the true core of the deck is the Adventure package. Edgewall Innkeeper is one of the most powerful card advantage engines in the format. It allows you to draw cards from doing things that you wanted to do already, casting creatures. Gruul Adventures has had some traction in standard so far, but in Gruul you are forced to play Rimrock Knight. Rimrock Knight is a fine aggressive card; However, it is important to be able to flip the switch in aggro mirrors. Our replacement for Rimrock Knight in Golgari is Foulmire Knight. Foulmire Knight is a great road block against other aggressive decks, while being a source of card advantage later in the game. Overall, I prefer Foulmire Knight over Rimrock Knight, and I believe this makes the Black Adventure package better than the Red version.
The biggest sacrifice when playing Black is the inability to play Embercleave. Embercleave is a powerful game-ending equipment that is welcomed in any aggressive plan. The Great Henge is used as a replacement for Embercleave in the deck. While The Great Henge doesn't end the game immediately, it creates card advantage that can quickly put your opponent too far behind. The Great Henge can be play as soon as the fourth turn if a Lovestruck Beast is in play, and usually if you untap with The Great Henge, you win.
The last reason I decided to play Golgari Adventures over Gruul Adventures is the interaction that is available in Black. As mentioned before, Heartless Act and Bloodchief's Thirst line up great with the current king of the format, Omnath. In Red, Bonecrusher Giant makes great removal for Lotus Cobra, but the removal for Omnath is lacking. The best option is Thundering Rebuke, which is a sorcery.
The last cards that round out the Golgari Adventure deck are Questing Beast and Scavenging Ooze. Scavenging Ooze is a staple in any format that it is legal, and standard is not an exception. Scavenging Ooze matches up perfectly against Uro, preventing it from making a return in the late game. Questing Beast is simply the best attacker in standard. It is a planeswalker assassin, and it can end the game quickly with its 4/4 body. These two cards are always inclusions in aggressive Green strategies.
In the end, I believe that Golgari Adventures is a great deck to take on this ramp dominated format. It has the interaction for Lotus Cobra and Omnath, and it has the aggression to reduce the opponent's life total rapidly. Secondly, The Great Henge is a blast to cast, so go cast it!
As always, thanks for reading! Message me on Twitter for any questions about this deck, or questions about the standard format!