Because Bolas’s Citadel offers such a ridiculously powerful effect, we were keen to sneak out an Arena Boys video with it before it was cool. We’re very much at the bleeding edge of the ever-developing Standard format. Already, you can see how popular Mono-Green Bolas has become at the top tables.
We experimented with various shells for the card, but kept coming back to the rather boring explore build. Nothing else could guarantee the life gain you need in order to really go bonkers with the Citadel. As LSV mentioned in his Set Review, Dovin’s Acuity might be another option, but that didn’t have the means to create sensational board states that the green cards offer.
A breakthrough came when I got paired against another Bolas’s Citadel deck, and promptly got one-shotted by a Samut, Tyrant Smasher. All of a sudden, we had the Arena Boys spice you all so desperately crave, thanks to an anonymous ladder grinder out there on MTGA. You’re the real MVP.
After adding a few more silly one-ofs, we were ready to go, and got underway with a thoroughly suboptimal take on the Golgari Midrange deck of yesteryear.
10 Forest 4 Swamp 4 Woodland Cemetery 4 Overgrown Tomb 2 Memorial to Folly 4 Wayward Swordtooth 4 Jadelight Ranger 4 Merfolk Branchwalker 4 Wildgrowth Walker 1 Ravenous Chupacabra 4 Llanowar Elves 1 God-Eternal Rhonas 1 Golgari Findbroker 1 Samut, Tyrant Smasher 3 Find/Finality 3 Path of Discovery 3 Bolas's Citadel 1 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 2 Gaea's Blessing
The explore package of Wildgrowth Walker, Merfolk Branchwalker, and Jadelight Ranger is the perfect way to harness the power of the Citadel. Not only do these cards buffer your life total significantly, they also help to burn through useless lands that would otherwise be roadblocks once the Citadel is online. With that in mind, Path of Discovery is another way to both gain life and keep the cards flowing.
In a similar vein, and taking cues from our previous Wayward Frenzy deck, we decided to include Wayward Swordtooth. Not only are we attempting to resolve big 6-drops (so all the extra land drops are extremely useful), blasting through clumps of lands in your deck is critical in ensuring you don’t whiff once the Citadel is online. Wayward Swordtooth is a great fit.
Some other Golgari all-stars make an appearance: Llanowar Elves for extra mana, recursive cards like Golgari Findbroker and Memorial to Folly, and Find // Finality offers both recursion and interaction along with Ravenous Chupacabra. Bolas’s Citadel, of course, is the marquee card for the deck.
Gaea’s Blessing proved unnecessary. In certain fringe cases it might be useful to prevent decking, but it should have just been extra action—because of the explosive finishes of this deck, you don’t need to keep churning (or is it chumming?) through your library. Additionally, while Nissa, Who Shakes the World is quickly becoming an Arena Boys favorite, she’s probably not the ideal card for this deck, as she doesn’t meaningfully advance the game plan.
Finally, both Samut and Rhonas are one-ofs that allow you to one-shot your opponent. You blast through your library once the explore plus Citadel combo is enabled, and eventually you’ll assemble enough hasty power to kill them in one shot. No need to muck around with sacrificing permanents to Bolas’s Citadel!
If you’ve played a midrange deck before, you’ll know what you should be doing here. Play to the board, leverage the (minimal) interaction to best effect, and grind out value with your high-quality creatures. The power level of this deck is quite high, and it doesn’t immediately fold to aggro (thanks to Wildgrowth Walker) or control (thanks to cards like Find).
While Bolas’s Citadel is the hard-hitting heavyweight in this list, the most important card in the deck is actually Wildgrowth Walker. It is the glue that holds the whole thing together. You need to set up a situation where you’re gaining more life than you lose once the Citadel comes down, and the only real way to do that is Wildgrowth Walker.
But you don’t need to go all-in on defending them. Between Find // Finality, Memorial to Folly, and Golgari Findbroker, it’s very easy to bring back a vanquished Wildgrowth Walker, so even if they die toward the start of a game, all is not lost. Just remember, however, that nine times out of ten they’re going to be essential to you going off with Citadel.
The video demonstrated all the different ways it’s possible to chase down a win. While going off with a Citadel is obviously the sweetest way to win, it’s possible to curve out with efficient creatures and just beat down. Overall, this is definitely one of the most competitive decks we’ve ever played on Arena Boys, and combines high card quality with a super-sweet “I win” button.
While much of the core of this deck is more or less set in stone, there’s a little bit of wriggle room with some of the cards. The one-of flex slots offer the chance for real customization, while if you’re looking to get very competitive with things, you can cut the fat and trim down on the silly cards.
10 Forest 4 Swamp 4 Woodland Cemetery 4 Overgrown Tomb 2 Memorial to Folly 4 Wayward Swordtooth 4 Jadelight Ranger 4 Merfolk Branchwalker 2 Seekers' Squire 4 Wildgrowth Walker 1 Golgari Findbroker 4 Llanowar Elves 3 Ravenous Chupacabra 1 Samut, Tyrant Smasher 3 Path of Discovery 3 Find/Finality 3 Bolas's Citadel
Perennial benchwarmer Seekers’ Squire comes in to replace the unnecessary Gaea’s Blessing, while Nissa gets the chop for more effective 4-drops, along with Rhonas. Rhonas’s ability to double the power of your creatures is ultimately not needed, given that you can flood the board with a hundred power even without his trigger.
But I’m not cutting Samut. If you really want to, you can, and instead fiddle around with Citadel activations, but I like that she can add extra aggressive pressure, scry through your deck, and provide a huge OTK potential. She’s slow and clunky, sure, but she ticks enough boxes for me to give her the nod.
More interaction in the form of extra Chupacabras is very welcome, while Golgari Findbroker sticks around for more recursion. I think these cards are the most flexible, and you could move into noncreature cards like Vraska’s Contempt or Moment of Craving if need be. But don’t dilute your copies of Path of Discovery by including too many noncreatures!
We’ve got a really special one lined up for next week—War of the Spark has given us an unending list of supremely sweet rares and mythics to build around, and next week’s deck has repeatedly been requested by viewers. See you then for some nonsense with gold cards and a certain Dragon avatar!