Ten months ago, I wrote The Ultimate Guide to G/W Company to help people get into playing my favorite deck in Modern. Since then, the format has completely changed, from the introduction of Five-Color Humans, B/R Hollow One, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to the unbanning of Bloodbraid Elf and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I've also continued to pilot G/W Company and have learned much more about the deck and its place in the overall Modern metagame.
I've written little else about G/W Company since then, as I like to focus on bigger-picture items that many people will be interested in. However, the most common thing people ask me about is a new primer for G/W Company, so I think this is the perfect time to write a large, two-part guide on everything you need to know about G/W Company leading up into #SCGCON and #GPVEGAS. Part 1 of the guide will be all about the maindeck, with Part 2 covering everything you need to know about the sideboard and different options.
What Is G/W Company?
Even though I'm tweaking the decklist each weekend to keep up with the expected metagame, this decklist is my most current of G/W Company and the one I'd register for the #SCGINVI if it started today (which it does!).
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 2 Ramunap Excavator
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 3 Tireless Tracker
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 1 Archangel Avacyn
- 1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Why Play G/W Company?
G/W Company is an incredibly misunderstood deck. A popular opinion is that it's too fair and underpowered to compete in Modern, a format where an incredible number of different linear decks exist. I don't believe this is true in the slightest, as the power that G/W Company has isn't evident on the surface and may be difficult to understand, but is certainly present for a few different reasons:
1. Controlling Your Own Draw Step.
This is G/W Company's biggest hidden strength. The deck is almost entirely defensively oriented and wants the game to last as long as possible. This is because the knowledge of the top card of your library thanks to Courser of Kruphix, in addition to numerous ways to shuffle your library, ensures the quality of your own draw step will be much higher than that of your opponent's draw step over time.
While your opponent draws three lands out of five cards in the late-game, G/W Company will be able to not only play lands off the top of the library with the help of Courser of Kruphix but also be able to shuffle their library over and over to look for specific cards. It's not quite casting a free Vampiric Tutor every turn, but it's not as far off as players may think. This is an advantage that no other deck in the format can use, and therefore many players will not understand the power of it at first glance.
Anyone who has played a fifteen-round Modern tournament knows that throughout it there are plenty of games where one deck has failed to put up much of a fight. This may be from troubles with the colors in the manabase, not drawing any of a certain key type of card, or mulliganing down to oblivion because of poor opening hands. G/W Company is filled with mana creatures and fairly interchangeable two- and three-drops, and therefore the fail rate of the deck is incredibly low for Modern standards.
Many players only think about the ceiling of decks when they talk about how good the deck is, which is understandable because the ceiling of a deck is fun to dream about. But no one likes to talk about the floor of a deck, the hands that you don't want to have but must keep. This is where G/W Company shines throughout a fifteen-round tournament, as the floor of hands you'll have is much higher than the average Modern deck.
It's more fun to think about how "This deck's best openers are busted!" than "This deck's poor openers can still be very competitive against an opponent's average opener." But the win column only shows who wins. Margins don't matter.
3. An Amazing Sideboard.
The sideboard is another part of a deck that is often overlooked when decks are talked about, but most games played in Magic are with your sideboard. This oversight is completely understandable, as judging a deck by its maindeck is certainly a much easier proposition than determining what the deck will look like in sideboard matches against a field that's as vast as Modern.
With most decks that you'll face in Modern being some variation of a linear deck, G/W Company can modify its gameplan to shut down what the opponent is trying to do after sideboarding. I'll be writing all about sideboarding in Part 2 next week, including why I build the sideboard the way I do as well as what's important in each matchup.
The power behind G/W Company is not as easy to realize right away compared to other Modern decks, which means players underestimate its true strength. This, again, is completely understandable as it's not flashy and is doing something completely different from any other deck in the format. Hopefully you understand the power behind the deck a little better now, though, and to further help explain it, I'll talk about every part of the maindeck.
I have played the exact same manabase in G/W Company for over a year now, but that doesn't mean I haven't been experimenting in Leagues on Magic Online with other options. I still keep coming back to this same manabase, though, and am completely comfortable with it. Let's talk about some of the specifics.