Fan Favorite Friday #13: The Golgari Swarm

Happy Friday, my fellow denizens of the deep! This week, in preparation for the upcoming Guilds of Ravnica set, we had two of my all-time favorite guilds facing off against each other: Selesnya and Golgari. I was secretly rooting for the Selesnya Conclave because I happen to jive with their mojo, but you all spoke with your votes, and the Golgari Swarm was the clear winner!

Honestly, I'm not that upset - those of you who have played Magic with me over the years know that I've been known to represent the Golgari on many an occasion. Black and Green are two potent colors when it comes to Magic, and when you mix them, the results can be pretty darn excellent.

This week, instead of giving away just one card, I'll be giving away an entire "Golgari Care Package." Check it out:

All you have to do to enter yourself in the contest is:

  • like the ABU Games Facebook Page
  • like the post announcing the giveaway
  • comment on said post telling us what you love most about The Golgari Swarm

Speaking of winners - we still need to announce the winner of the Subjective Reality deck! Clint Bounds - you've won yourself the copy of Subjective Reality we opened in the release video!

Now, let's dig into our morbid Golgari friends! I'm going to talk a little bit about the guild, some of my favorite Golgari themed cards, and highlight some of what I think are the coolest Golgari decks that I've seen on the battlefield!


The Golgari were introduced to Magic players everywhere with the release of Ravnica: City of Guilds, released on October 7th, 2005. Admittedly, I wasn't around in the scene during this release (much to my eternal disappointment), but I've done a fair bit of study on the set since my Magic debut.

The set took place (like almost all of the sets back then) on a brand new plane, which of course this time around was Ravnica. The plane of Ravnica is populated by an impressively diverse group of species, characters, and ne'er-do-wells. Up until the time of the release of the set, Ravnica had been divided up into __ guilds; all kept in line by a magically enforced Guildpact. However, during the set's storyline, the Guildpact was threatened, broken apart, and chaos reigned supreme. If you're looking for some awesome Magic novels, I highly recommend the trilogy that came out in conjunction with the set. Not only are they good for Magic novels, but I also hold that they're good fantasy novels that could stand alone.

We got to see our Golgari friends alongside all of the other guilds again with the release of Return to Ravnica on October 5th, 2012 (one of my first big expansion sets as a player.) Again, the guilds are in chaos, and the main man Jace shows up to start mucking around with things. He tries to get the Guildpact restored, fights with Niv Mizzet, and ends up becoming a living version of the Guildpact. It was nuts - I recommend reading the novelization of this stuff as well because it was a trip! The Golgari were knee deep in this storyline as well!

The Golgari are all about the idea that "death matters." They don't see death as the endpoint that everyone else does; it's just a new beginning for them! As a guild, they operate underground, facilitating the recycling of corpses and other nasty things for the other guilds. Without them, the plane of Ravnica would actually be a pretty gross, trash-ridden place.

The Golgari Guild is comprised of all sorts of nasty creatures, like rats, gorgons, snakes, and plenty of zombies! They're all about reanimating corpses, stealing body parts, and coming back from the grave. It's not all goth sadness though. They view their recycling as a noble act - which I think is pretty neat. Culturally speaking, who doesn't want something to come after death?

What Makes These Cards So Cool?

If you want to play around with your graveyard, then Golgari has the cards for you. Golgari has had two main mechanics in its lifetime, one in the original Ravnica block and one during Return to Ravnica.

First, one that many of you Modern and Legacy are familiar with: Dredge

Dredge is a super cool mechanic that lets you draw a card (any time you'd draw, whether it's your draw step or some other draw action) with the Dredge keyword from your graveyard in exchange for milling a certain number of cards from the top of your library. I'll highlight some Dredge decks in the next section, but here I want to take a look at my favorite dredge card: Stinkweed Imp

Stinkweed Imp is cool for several reasons, but honestly, my favorite thing about him is how our local dredge player refers to him as "One Stinky Boy" in a hilarious voice every time he casts one.

For real though, this Stinky Boy is actually a pretty great card. He's a flyer who destroys other creatures any time he does combat damage to them. That alone is pretty rad, but he also has Dredge 5 which lets you get him back to your hand when you would draw AND fill your graveyard with goodies. By now, we all know that Golgari love playing with graveyards.

I didn't find Scavenge quite as slick as Dredge, but I thought it was a pretty neat ability to make use of in limited. Scavenge lets you exile a creature card from your graveyard for a certain amount of mana and put a number of +1/+1 counters on target creature equal to the exiled creature's power.

My favorite card to play with Scavenge back in the RTR days was definitely Dreg Mangler.

A three cost, Golgari colored, 3/3 with haste was great any time I drafted Golgari colors, and the scavenge ability always seemed to come in handy when we made it to the late game.

What Formats are These Cards Played In?

The dredge mechanic has resulted in Dredge decks in both Modern and Legacy.

Here is a rad Dredge list that took 2nd at SCG Modern IQ Pensacola 2018 featuring our favorite Stinky Boy. This deck looks to get a bunch of recursive creatures on the battlefield quickly and overwhelm your opponent!

In Legacy, Dredge has two variations. One manaless, and one with mana.

Here is a rad mana version of dredge that 5-0ed a Legacy league recently.

Here is a sweet (outdated due to Gitaxian Probe's inclusion) manaless Dredge list from a Star City IQ that can give you an idea on how to put together a sweet no-mana version of the Dredge list. 


In Conclusion:

In conclusion, I love the Golgari guild! I'm so stoked I get a chance to play with them again coming up with Guilds of Ravnica set. 

How about you? Are you excited for some more Golgari goodness? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter! 

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Joe Davidson is the Content Production Manager at ABU Games. When he's not playing Modern, Legacy, or following around Team ABU with a camera he's pursuing a BFA in Fiction at Boise State University. He loves Goblins, casting burn spells, and writing about Magic. You can find him on Twitter @MTGJoeD.