Since the release of Magic: The Gathering Guilds of Ravnica, Golgari Midrange has been one of the most consistent top 8 decks. The combination of both black and green archetypes allows Golgari access to many of the best standard cards in Magic, opening avenues for a host of removal, recursion, and game-winning plays. One of the most powerful tools Golgari has at its disposal, however, is the ability to adapt to the meta. Without a central combo or necessary card list, Golgari decks are free to include virtually any on-color card, in any number, to react to new decks or archetypes that suddenly become more popular. Thus, although Golgari is certainly one of the best decks in MTG standard at the moment, it can be difficult to pin down an exact deck list to analyze, so instead of focusing on the deck as a whole this article will address the most powerful and multi-purposed cards that enable this malleable midrange deck to be so destructive. Not only will this give a more accurate picture of the host of idiosyncrasies present in the green-black archetype, but it will also serve as a better guide for preparing your midrange deck for standard after the release of Ravnica Allegiance.
First released in Ixalan, this monstrous dino was once relegated to the sideboard and only brought in against control decks as a way of dodging both counter magic and removal. However, with the introduction of devastating, cost-effective removal such as Lava Coil and Assassin’s Trophy, and the need for a creature that can break board stalls, Carnage Tyrant has become extremely well situated as a main deck choice. Additionally, because Golgari plays plenty of ramp, the relatively high converted mana cost of six is not only manageable to hit on curve, but also a spell you can reasonably resolve by turn four or five. When building a standard deck for Ravnica Allegiance, Carnage Tyrant can certainly fulfill a similar role in any deck that runs green, which may still be Golgari, but could also be Gruul or Simic with the (re)introduction of the respective shocklands.
This devastating Planeswalker from Core Set 2019 is a multi-functional threat that some Green Stompy decks made use of in standard before the rotation. With five loyalty counters for the same CMC, Vivien Reid is a fairly costed Planeswalker that gives you card advantage the turn she gets played. Her real threat, however, rests in her second ability, allowing you to destroy target artifact, enchantment, or creature with flying for only three loyalty. The utility of this ability is astounding, as it removes everything from Treasure Map to Doom Whisperer to Seal Away from the battlefield, depending on what has the highest priority. The numbers work out perfectly so that you can use her minus ability immediately to buy time, plus her the next turn for card advantage, and then minus her again if need be. Additionally, her ult is game-ending, especially in a deck that goes wide. Combined, these abilities make her one of the best planeswalkers in MTG standard, and a great option for Ravnica Allegiance standard decks.
A recent addition to standard from Guilds of Ravnica, Assassin’s Trophy is an answer to virtually any threat your opponent brings to the battlefield. This multi-faceted tool can hit powerful creatures, combo pieces, and even utility lands, all at instant speed. Thus, because Assassin’s Trophy can target any permanent, it’s overall power level equally matches that of new cards; if Allegiance introduces a ridiculous new Planeswalker, or a new combo deck springs from a global enchantment, Assassin’s Trophy will be there to answer it. Additionally, at 2 CMC the card is ridiculously cheap, allowing you plenty of mana to both play spells on your turn and keep resources open to cast Assassin’s Trophy on theirs. Looking towards the next rotation, one possible opportunity for this card in a new Allegiance MTG standard deck lies in the green-black-white guild of Abzan, where Assassin’s Trophy can be paired with other powerful removal such as Profane Procession and Settle the Wreckage to create frighteningly effective board control.
At the moment, there are a number of other staples that Golgari decks utilize, such as Wildgrowth Walker and Merfolk Branchwalker, which are currently very powerful and synergistic; if you're wondering how to win in standard MTG currently, the pros seem to agree these cards are required. Individually, however, these cards seem to lack the power and versatility the cards above possess. Additionally, the cards singled out are not only great in Golgari, but also contenders for some of the strongest MTG standard cards in the format, and will likely continue to see play after the new set. If you have some spicy brews for Allegiance standard, post your ideas below in the comments!