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Much Abrew: Gitrog Golgari (Pioneer, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing.  It's almost time to start exploring new Theros: Beyond Death cards, but as we wait for the set to be released, we're heading to Pioneer today to play a deck built around one of the sweetest cards in Magic: The Gitrog Monster! While we've named the deck after Gitrog, in reality, it's a weird hybrid of non-traditional ramp (mostly in the form of getting additional land drops each turn) and strange land synergies that not only power up The Gitrog Monster itself but also other cards like Tireless Tracker, Sylvan Advocate, and Courser of Kruphix. The end result is a deck that, while somewhat slow starting, can assemble an almost unbeatable engine of card advantage as it adds more and more pieces to the battlefield! Can The Gitrog Monster compete in Pioneer? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Gitrog Golgari

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  • Even discounting the fact that we went 5-0 in matches and 10-0 in games with Gitrog Golgari (which is obviously as good as it gets), the deck was amazing. I'm pretty sure it's the most fun deck I've played in Pioneer in the last month or two, and we've played a ton of Pioneer decks in that time frame. 
  • On paper, the deck looks a bit slow. Most ramp decks are focused on ramping on Turns 1 and 2, while our deck doesn't really start ramping until Turn 3 with cards like Wayward Swordtooth and Llanowar Scout. But in practice, we didn't have that difficult of a time keeping up with aggro, mostly because we have some decent blockers that come down on Turn 2. Then, once our engine gets running, the deck's ability to ramp is off the charts, with the combination of extra land drops and the ability to play fetch lands like Evolving Wilds and Fabled Passage from our graveyard with Ramunap Excavator and Crucible of Worlds quickly adding a ton of lands to the battlefield while also thinning bad draws from our deck. 
  • While the deck has a lot of ramp power once it gets going, mostly thanks to The Gitrog Monster and Tireless Tracker drawing us an absurd amount of cards, it is also overloaded with sweet synergies:
  • Courser of Kruphix not only gains us life but also generates virtual card advantage with the help of our eight fetch lands, by allowing us to shuffle our deck when we see a card that we don't want staring back at us. 
  • Sylvan Advocate not only quickly becomes a 4/5 but also gives our land creatures +2/+2 (which we forgot during our matches), which is surprisingly relevant thanks to the four copies of Mutavault and multiple Nissas that can turn lands into creatures. While running Sylvan Advocate out on Turn 2 is necessary against aggro, in some matches, we can hold it for the late game and almost use it like a weird Overrun to pump a bunch of creature lands and kill our opponent with one big attack. 
  • Wayward Swordtooth is questionable in a lot of decks, but it is absurd in Gitrog Golgari since both Ramunap Excavator and Crucible of Worlds allow us to play lands (most importantly, Fabled Passage and Evolving Wilds) from our graveyard. This makes Wayward Swordtooth into a very consistent source of ramp that dodges a decent chunk of removal and eventually becomes a real 5/5 for just three mana.
  • Drownyard Temple is a nice backup combo with The Gitrog Monster if we are missing a way to play lands from our graveyard. We can sacrifice it every turn to Gitrog, draw a card, and then simply return it to play. 
  • Some of the one-of lands like Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx look strange, but we see so much of our deck in the average game that we eventually find most of our one-of lands. This makes Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx into a weird finisher, where we can often close out the game by playing a ton of cards in a single turn once we find it.
  • The one Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger isn't always necessary but does give us a mostly guaranteed way to close out the game when everything goes long. Being able to sideboard up to three for games two and three is also very helpful against control (since worst case, we get the cast triggers even if it's countered) and decks with non-creature permanents that need to be destroyed (like the Enchantress deck we played).
  • So, should you play Gitrog Golgari in Pioneer? I think the answer is yes. The deck is both competitive and amazingly fun to play. If you're looking to grind out weird value or ramp in strange ways, or just like Frogs, give it a shot! I'm planning to play it some more, maybe on stream, since it's just so much fun.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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