It's Grime Time!

Posted in Reconstructed on November 27, 2012

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Welcome to the hungry earth of the Golgari! Don't let the smell of the rot farms keep you away—it can be quite a nice place when we aren't in churning season.

Of course, it's almost always churning season here. And today, we're going to look at a deck that definitely takes advantage of the season. It's time to get our hands dirty and put our minds into the gutter—with Gutter Grime, that is!

Gutter Grime | Art by Erica Yang

This unique Innistrad enchantment hasn't seen much play yet—but if anybody is going to embrace it for some interplanar love, it's going to be the Golgari. Let's take a look at Jean-François Major's unique take on a Golgari deck:

Jean-François Major's Suicide Slime

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The Battle Plan

There's certainly a lot going on here! But when you boil it down, it amounts to this: the deck has two primary prongs of attack.

The first prong is a Gutter Grime deck, using the wonky enchantment to its advantage. There are plenty of creatures that die easily in this deck, meaning it can build up counters and overtake the opponent in any kind of attrition war. But the true excitement comes with the Gutter Grime combo!

With either Heartless Summoning or Bloodflow Connoisseur on the battlefield, a Gravecrawler in your graveyard, a zombie on the battlefield, and a Gutter Grime, for just you can trigger Gutter Grime. Your opponent will quickly be overwhelmed by a mass of gigantic oozes, and there's very little they will be able to do to stop it.

Heartless Summoning
Bloodflow Connoisseur

Now, granted, it is a combo that require four pieces... but it's not as unwieldly as many other multi-piece combos. First of all, it does a pretty good job at dodging disruption since two pieces are enchantments, one of them can be in your graveyard, and the last piece can be any zombie. Second, the pieces are all reasonable in this deck on their own and they are likely to perpetually stick around (since two pieces are enchantments and one is played from your graveyard) meaning the combo is more and more likely to come up the longer of the game goes. The combo gives you a massive amount of inevitability.

The second prong of attack is just as a solid Golgari midrange deck. You have a lot of very efficient green and black creatures that are resilient and come attached with nice effects. Even if you never see a Grime, you can just beat down and attrition them out.

The key to this deck is going to be focusing it. There's a lot going on here, and while Mr. Major did a pretty good job of tightening all of the packages up, there's still some slack left to wind it up even tighter.

Mostly, I'm going to steer a little away from such a combo-focused deck and try to make it more of a Golgari midrange deck with a combo in it that a combo deck with a Golgari midrange plan B. Many of the cards a deck like this wants to play are going to be strong enough on their own that you don't need to combo every game. The combo is what gives you inevitability in the long game, and you'll get there often enough that at that point Gutter Grime will pull you out. If you have a solid core plan of attack with a combo backup, it will give this deck much more flexibility in game play.

Deck Breakdown

Let's look over each card, one by one, and see what's crucial—and what can go.


Ghoulraiser is a nice trick with two Heartless Summonings and Gutter Grime, giving you another way to pull off the combo. Additionally, it adds a bit to the attrition angle this deck can take, potentially providing you extra cards in the long game.

However, Ghoulraiser is a little slow and unwieldly overall, and doesn't do a lot until the late game. This deck doesn't have a ton of other zombies, and chaining Gravediggers isn't what I'm really looking to do in Standard right now. I'd rather play more bluntly powerful zombies if what I'm looking for is zombies to make Gravecrawler work. In the reworked build of this deck, I don't think Ghoulraiser is the card we're going to be looking for


In addition to being an integral part of this deck's combo, Gravecrawler is also just a one-drop that can get in some damage early and help give you a board presence in the long game. Jean-François only had three, which feels like the right number to me. It is admittedly terrible alongside Heartless Summoning unless you are comboing off, and since this deck has ways to flip cards into its graveyard you are likely to see one copy by the time you are able to go off.


While you can't always cast it on turn three, Splinterfright helps enable some of your graveyard based strategies and also gets plenty huge as the game goes on. I don't want to draw a ton of them in my opening hand because they're going to be weak until a build up my graveyard a little bit, but they fuel the core strategy and are strong enough on their own than I am happy to play three copies.

Deathrite Shaman

As we have seen in Modern, Legacy, and now Standard, Deathrite Shaman is incredible. Whether hitting your opponent's graveyard to disable their reanimation or Snapcaster Mage shenanigans, or "merely" using your own graveyard as a resource, this Shaman does a wide range of useful things. To top it off, the second toughness means he even survives a Heartless Summoning!

The first thing I want to check on with the shaman is making sure that there are enough ways to mill my library early so that I can hit lands to accelerate with. Splinterfright helps a little, and the addition of Grisly Salvage would go a long way in this deck—I plan to add it. With all of that in mind, I feel pretty comfortable bumping up the numbers and playing the full set of Shamans.

Gatecreeper Vine

The Vine gives you a pseudo-creature that also fetches a land, helping you hit all of your land drops and fix your colors further. The big question for me: is this going to be better than a land?

It doesn't do a lot in this deck, so I would only want to play one if I played a card like this, and over the last land I would play as sort of a pseudo land. So the first thing I would look at is the curve—and this deck's early game curve is quickly filling up. If I don't have the time to play him on turn two, I don't want to have to choose between playing him to find my land drop and playing something I actually want to cast—so the Vine gets the axe here.

The one ofs: Acidic Slime, Bloodflow Connoisseur, Dark Revenant, Geralf's Messenger, Harvester of Souls, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, and Undead Executioner

These cards were all one-of targets that Jean-François chose to use in his Jerad's Orders package. While the versatility is nice, they are also crowding out more individual holistically powerful cards I would want to put in this deck. Furthermore, as you will soon find out, Jerad's Orders is being cut with the shift away from a combo plan A. That makes most of these extraneous.

The one exception is Geralf's Messenger, which is so strong that I would actually like to play more. Cavern of Souls will help me cast it on time, and the final decklist only has four lands which can't cast a Messenger. Acidic Slime and Harvester might make excellent sideboard cards as well.

There is certainly the option to play more Connoisseurs to go more in on the combo, but my primary problem is that, aside from being weak on its own, Connoisseur doesn't play well with Heartless Summoning. Drawing one after a Summoning is on the battlefield makes it useless, which is something I really want to avoid where possible in this sort of deck. I'd rather have Summoning simply for power reasons, so the Connoisseur no longer really fits in this deck.

Jarad's Orders

As mentioned above, with the decrease of a combo specific goal, this card isn't going to work as well for us. If we draw our combo, great—otherwise it's time to beat down!

Gutter Grime

This is the key combo piece, and actually pretty strong in this deck on its own. The long game value a turn five Gutter Grime provides is hard to defeat, and in multiples it isn't redundant. My one primary concern was that it costed five, and I didn't want my early hand clunked up with five-drops—and five-drops that weren't reduced by Heartless Summoning, no less.

In the end, I decided to stick with four copies. I wanted to make sure I could still access the combo when I wanted it, and that I has plenty of game against other decks that wanted to attrition me. I could definitely see going down to three depending on how quick you want this deck to be and what your local metagame is, but I'm happy with four. (You could also play Farseeks to help hit Grime quicker, if you want to go the other route and make the deck cast Grime even more consistently.) Plus, the deck is going to be more fun this way—whee!

One thing you should know about Gutter Grime: when the enchantment is removed, all of the tokens it created go away. Be wary of cards like Detention Sphere hurting your plan when it's finally grime time. Fortunately, this deck is jam-packed of enough threats that your opponent will usually find there are plenty of other cards they will need to spend their Detention Sphere taking care of.

Treasured Find

With the combo emphasis turned down, the deck doesn't need this quite as much. While some regrowth effects are nice to have around, I especially want to trim noncreatures where I can to make my cards that count creatures (like Splinterfright) all the more powerful. This is one place I feel safe making the cut.

Heartless Summoning

Heartless Summoning is a little bit of an oddball in this deck, because while it fuels the combo, it isn't reducing the cost of anything by that much. In the revised version, I tweak it a little to add some cards (which we'll get to in a moment) that allow for Heartless Summoning to churn out some big threats on turn four and five. But still, it's not as insane as it can be in decks with Griselbrand and the like.

Originally the decklist had three, and that's where I believe the count should stay. You never want to draw more than one, and Gutter Grime still works well at being an attrition machine even without the combo in place. Normally I am a fan of playing four copies of cheap accelerators, but in this deck Summoning is an exception.

Increasing Ambition

Once again, with a lower focus on combo you don't need these kind of tutors as much. Since I am also trying to get non-creatures out of the deck, Ambition makes for an easy cut.

Churning the Soil

I listed quite a few changes—what comes on board now? Well, let's take a look at some of the new recruits for this Golgari deck.

Dreg Mangler

In any kind of Golgari midrange deck, a 3/3 haste for three mana with an effect out of the graveyard would be worth looking at. In this deck, he's particularly good. Not only are you milling yourself, but he's also a zombie! This means he can start up your Gravecrawler recursion engine when it's combo time. (Or even when it's not combo time.) I'm happy running the full four copies of the quickest plant zombie in town.


Thragtusk has been everywhere lately—and for good reason. He has a big body and two huge effects. He's even more perfect that usual here, fitting an attrition based strategy quite well. He curves perfectly with Heartless Summoning, allowing you to drop a turn three Thragtusk. If your opening hand has Summoning and a pair of Thragtusks, it's going to be quite an uphill battle for the person across the table.

Yes, he's ubiquitous—but he also belongs in this deck. Sign me up for four!

Wolfir Silverheart

In addition to Thragtusk as a card to curve into, I wanted a couple copies of another beefy creature at five mana that worked well with Summoning and was still awesome otherwise. Silverheart was just the wolf I was looking for! He's great with Splinterfright, and he can even make your Deathrite Shamans hit hard. And in combination with Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, there's a ton of damage waiting for your opponent. Oh, and speaking of Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord...

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord is excellent when you're putting cards into your graveyard and playing out big creatures—and this deck does both. You can launch everything from a huge Splinterfright, to a Wolfir Silverheart, to a big Ooze token at your opponent. A big creature that gives you plenty of punch as the game goes on is exactly what this deck would like to see. It's no coincidence this guy is the lord of the Golgari!

There's only two copies of the Lich lord, mostly because, between Grtisly Salvage and Splinterfright dumping cards into your graveyard, you are pretty likely to find one by the time you can make most use of it.

Grisly Salvage

Ghoulraiser is a nice trick with two Heartless Summonings and Gutter Grime, giving you another way to pull off the combo. Additionally, it adds a bit to the attrition angle this deck can take, potentially providing you extra cards in the long game.

I've mentioned this card a few times prior now, but it really is exactly what this deck wants to be doing. It finds you the card you want and stocks up your graveyard for all of your effects that look there. Whether you're dumping a Gravecrawler into your graveyard or finding a Wolfir Silverheart to beat down with—or both—this card is going to be excellent at practically any stage of the game. (Well, unless you only have five cards left in your library. Don't cast it then.)

With all of those changes noted, this is what my final recommended decklist looks like:

Gavin Verhey's It's Grime Time

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This deck is plenty powerful, and has a lot of strong interactions—including its combo finish. This is the most fun you'll have with gutters since watching Mike Rowe deal with them on Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs.

Death, life, undeath—this deck is oozing with the hallmarks of Golgari. If you're looking for something fun or Golgari themed, give it a try!

Honorable Mentions

What decklists lie just beneath the surface of the Golgari soil? Take a look at some of these other exciting Golgari decks for inspiration!

Mitchel Morris's Corpsejack Aggro

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David Heckman's Golgari Sligh

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Thomas Conley's Rats and 'Walkers

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Adam's Redemption Standard

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Jennifer's Golgari Ramp Standard

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Richard's Alone in the Cemetery

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Raid Alawar's Golgari Midrange

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Neron Kesar's Metagame Corpsejack

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Planeswalker (2)
2 Vraska the Unseen
Sorcery (2)
2 Treasured Find
Instant (7)
3 Murder 4 Ranger's Guile
Enchantment (7)
4 Crippling Blight 3 Rancor
60 Cards

Michael Lay's Parallel Lives

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Mickeyblooms Golgari Mill

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Benajmin Wheeler's Veilborn Golgari

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Ryan's Bouncing Golgari Standard

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Nick Brown's Demonic Rising

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Jan Beetz's Golgari Control

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