I played GSZ BUG at NYSE and have been messing around with it online as well. Here's the targets I've used/considered vaguely in order of usefulness:

Consistently Strong

  • Leovold - Card is amazing, GSZ for it is amazing. Since most blue decks pack ways to kill this, I always run 2x since getting one to stick is huge. It's also nice that GSZ for Leo can't get Pyroblasted, so you can at least get your card out of it.
  • Deathrite Shaman - ramps you into bigger Zeniths, helps ramp/fix for Leovold. I play 4x basically for that reason alone, and sometimes you do want to Zenith for them.
  • Tarmogoyf - having ready access to a dumb beater is great, but this card is not always good (since you only want it in situations where you need to close out a game or where creature combat is relevant). Being able to have an effective 3 with Zenith when it's good, while only needing to run 1x puts it over the edge for me. Grim Flayer is an alternative that feeds itself, but doesn't hold off Eldrazi as well.
  • Scavenging Ooze - surprisingly good as a 1x of for hating + beating, since most decks either have creatures or recursion. This is better with Zenith for similar reasons to Goyf.

Cool Options

  • Dryad Arbor - I haven't ever super wanted to have Arbor except against Shops, so I've been sticking to 1x in the board to get a leg up against mana denial decks.
  • Manglehorn - I was initially really excited for this, but found it pretty disappointing. Destroying an artifact is not insane against PO, and this dies to most things that kill Leo without quashing Outcome itself. I'd just play Reclamation Sage over this if the ETB was something I thought I needed.
  • Trygon Predator - steady flying clock, good against walkers, good to get down against Oath/Standstill/Shops/slower PO decks. I've been very impressed with 1x main.
  • Ramunap Excavator - 1x is fine, but I haven't been super impressed. In general I've felt like either Leo or Trygon is a better angle of attack, but I need more testing to have anything conclusive.

Questionable Tech

  • Caustic Caterpillar - okay, yes, I know, but hear me out. Reclamation Sage can be a great card, but is not a great silver bullet against Shops. If you're casting a 4 mana sorcery against Shops, you are probably doing just fine. If you're under pressure but have mana, Caterpillar costs exactly the same to Naturalize something (whether Zenithing or hardcasting), and you're probably chumping with the Sage anyway. This gives you a way to try and crawl out from under lockpieces and stick something more serious. I'm not yet sure it's worth the SB slot, but getting a Shops player to sigh loudly and say “Phyrexian Revoker naming your stupid little caterpillar” is really its own reward.
  • Glissa, the Traitor - owns combat completely. If I'm worried about White Eldrazi or big ground threats like Wurmcoil, 1x in the side can do some amount of work (but I will admit it's got a pretty limited scope).

Other GSZ BUG considerations if people are interested:

  • 2x GSZ seems correct so far if you're trying to build around the card. it's expensive to cast if you want to have a big impact, and you want to make sure you have a big enough density of actual threats and answers in your deck. On the other hand, you do want to consistently see the card in longer games, as it really is a powerhouse once you can tutor any creature in your deck into play.
  • Blue spell count for Force can start to be a problem. Part of the reason I like Trygon over Rec Sage or similar is that prioritizing GSZ and targets really chips away at your blue count, and I found myself choosing cards just to get more blue spells. I really would like to find some good 2 cost U/G targets to help address this.
last edited by Solemn_Storm

I took great joy in being able to provide @Solemn_Storm with an actual copy of Caustic Caterpillar for his NYSE sideboard, replacing the proxy he had made.

Brian Kelly ( @brianpk80 ) was adamant that Sylvan Caryatid be included in his GSZ Gush deck. His logic was that it was a nigh unkillable way of ramping into Dromokas, Emrakul the Promised End, and Jaces. Your results might vary.

last edited by ChubbyRain


I was going to say the same thing. What's special about Caryatid is it can only be disrupted by Revoker, which makes it unique to other mana sources in Vintage.

@desolutionist Even then, it still blocks the Revoker, making it better than most other mana sources in that situation. It really wasn't terrible, but it depends on the build of the deck. Sounds like most people are considering the Fish route.

Titania is also a pretty bombish card for a fair deck and might help closing out a game. It combos well with Wasteland.

Don't know how I feel about a toolbox approach, but with all of the great 3 drops Mana Drain + GSZ in a Deck with DRS, Managorger Hydra, Goyf, and (most importantly) Leovold seems like a Solid approach to me. DRS helps you keep drain mana up in a deck running wastelands as well, which is one of my favorite things about the card.

If I were to play Ramunap Excavator, I would play WGB and play it alongside Knight of the Reliquary, Deathrite Shaman and Tireless Tracker. I'm not sure you should be playing Green Sun's Zenith in such a build though.

last edited by Griselbrother

Just need a Horn of Greed effect on a green dude then Ramunup + Lotus Cobra + Horn of Greed dude can draw you your deck yay.

Also a way to play all the lands you draw. FASTBOND!

Andy, I am so with you on Excavator. Without making any promises about it being good, I can say that I am more excited to play this card, than just about any new card I can remember. With regards to Zenith, I'm theorycrafting myself into a tension that I hope you can offer some insight into...

It seems like Excavator wants to pair with other things that attack mana. Clearly Strip and Waste are ideal... and that leads me to thinking about cards like Thorn and then secondarily things like Ancient Tomb and Null Rod...

Now it almost feels like I'm on the verge of building a green Eldrazi deck? Or something like BGR with Deathrite and Ancient Grudge? Or do we want Thalia and go WGR? I find myself wanting to include TKS in these builds, since we are almost always running enough colorless lands to cast it, and are almost certainly running some ramp, either Noble, Deathrite, or Ancient Tomb... ok, enough Brainstorming (wait, should we splash blue for Brainstorm?... maybe not... Timewalk?) Since we are probably running taxing effects, I'm not sure how good Zenith is? Or can we just power through it with dorks / hitting every land drop via fetchland recursion?

Anyway, I'll let the group chew on that one. Happy brewing to you all.

last edited by Topical_Island


Yeah this card seems awesome. The tax idea is interesting. When I first read the card I was called in a direction halfway between legacy lands and the old turbo land decks with the role of horn of greed being played by 8 crucible + excavator and fastbond plus 4 explorations being acceleration. Maybe paired with null rod. And crop rotation for strip mine and chasm.

But you might be right where you need extra taxing to really make the mana denial enough to lock them out.

@walking.dude Yeah... I can see why a fast, combo style deck would be attractive. I'm really just not good at those types of decks, so this might just be me here, but I see this fitting into a soft locking, mid-range type deck though for the following reasons.

Firstly, the advantages it has over Crucible. (I actually suspect these to be substantial.) 1. A main drawback of Crucible is just that the second one doesn't do much. Excavator just stacks damage, so, even though the second one is just a bear, at that point you are actually hitting for 4 a turn and presumably Wasting 1 land per turn... Add a Null Rod or a taxing effect and that alone feels like game a lot of the time.

Secondly, this card is great with Thorn, and much better with Thorn than Crucible is, for obvious reasons. Considering that Thorn is pretty common right now, and pretty good right now, this card is effectively cheaper than a Crucible. Both say 3 on them, but in an environment with a lot of Thorns, from a statistical standpoint, this thing will be actual 3 much more often then Crucible. And again, in a deck with 4 Thorns and some number of Thalias... again I think you would see Wastelock with a taxing effect in play and hitting for 4 a turn is pretty hard to come back from. I think those kind of setups would produce a lot of cheep wins.

last edited by Topical_Island

You all are thinking on the exact opposite spectrum I am in regards to Ramunup. Im thinking fetches and lotus cobras and just throwing threat after threat after threat. Mana issues non existent. I love GSZ dont get me wrong but this wants me to personally try Collected Company soooooo badly in Vintage. Leovold, KoR, Ramunup, Dr. shaman, Bob, Goyf, Eternal Witness, Lotus Cobra, Scab Clan berserker, Kambal, Grand Abolisher, etc etc

@Serracollector The Kambal plan is interesting. I was tinkering around (not that kind of tinkering) with a Mono-Red deck last winter. It's win percentage wasn't great, but it kept doing this cool thing where it would get ahead and just lock out a deck via life... With Eidolon and a Scab Clan in play, we would start counting and go... well you could tutor for... oh wait well no because that's too many spells and you'd be dead... well you could draw this card and, wait no, still dead. I guess you could topdeck swords and... no wait still dead. I guess you're just dead.

I suppose that's kinda what they mean when they say red prison deck, but I could easily see this card being part of that sort of thing. I wonder what this does with Harsh Mentor for example... and Eidolon. Even just stalling them out for one more turn with those cards in play is just awful. And Ravager shops must have a simply terrible matchup against these cards right?

Yes exactly. I was running a BUG/white splash for Kambal and STP mainly (stony/priest/RIP in SB) deck that ran Leovold, Dr. Shaman, Kambal, and ManaGorger, and it did quiet well in slowing down the opp enuff to win thru sheer damage. Cast a spell, you mini tendrils yourself and grow my Hydra and fuel mu Dr. Shaman. Im just trying to figure out the numbers on creatures vs soells vs fetches so I can optimally run Collected Company. Turn 1 Cobra into turn 2 CoCo cant be a bad thing.

Wouldn't this be better in a Survival deck?

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