From Right Field: Any Goblins Will Do

“So, you’re not playing Goblins right now just because they’re finally so good that people who wouldn’t normally even look at Goblins are playing them? You’re not being fair to yourself. You’ve always loved Goblins. It’s not like you’re jumping on the bandwagon. Heck, you were driving that bandwagon in the Summer of 2001 when you played that silly deck with Goblin Ringleader. Go on. Play Goblins. You know you want to.”

So, of course, I did…

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget, although even those with more money and expertise might – might – still find something useful here. As such, the decks written about in this column are, almost by necessity, rogue decks. They contain few rares, if any. When they do contain rares, those cards will either be cheap rares or staples of which new players should be trying to collect a set of four, such as Wrath of God or the Onslaught Fetch Lands for the colors they play. The decks are also tested in tournaments by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. In other words, he puts his money where his mouth is. He will never claim that a deck has a 65% winning percentage against the entire field. He will also let you know when the deck is just plain lousy.}

Last week, I told you that I was working on a (mostly) Blue deck that featured Willbender. I also told you that I didn’t run that deck at the week’s local Saturday Standard tourney because it was just shy of being able to win. The roar of the crowd was deafening.”Who cares?” they screamed.

A few savvy folks, though, asked,”What did you play that week?”

I played Goblins.

Yes, I did. Really.

Friday night, I looked around for a deck to play. Then, it hit me.”Ow,” I said. After applying Neosporin, I asked myself,”Chris, why haven’t you played Goblins in the last six months?” [Hang on there a second, haven’t you used the joke recently? I feel abused. – Knut]

“Because it’s been popular. I don’t want to be a lemming.”

“So, you’re not playing Goblins right now just because they’re finally so good that people who wouldn’t normally even look at Goblins are playing them? You’re not being fair to yourself. You’ve always loved Goblins. It’s not like you’re jumping on the bandwagon. Heck, you were driving that bandwagon in the Summer of 2001 when you played that silly deck with Goblin Ringleader. Go on. Play Goblins. You know you want to.”

I did. As you’d expect, though, there was a twist. I used no rares. That’s right. No Goblin Piledrivers. No Clickslithers. No Siege-Gang Commander. Every card was a common or uncommon. What else would you expect from me? (Keep it to yourself, there, Shania. I don’t wanna hafta slap you.)

To be fair to Goblins, I don’t think that making a budget Goblin deck is that hard right now. In fact, ever since Scourge gave us Goblin Warchief, I’ve had a theory that you could pretty much grab any twenty or so Goblins, add four Warchiefs and some burn, and have a pretty good deck. Since my (mostly) Blue deck tanked, I decided to take ten or fifteen minutes on Friday night to put together a Goblin deck that had no rares.

I started with the basics of a Goblin deck. You gotta have four each of the Warchief and the Skirk Prospector. Goblin Sledder in some amount is a must, too. Most Goblin decks run Shock. They should be running Pyrite Spellbomb, too, since it can kill Silver Knight.

That’s where I started deviating. (“You’ve been deviant for a lot longer than that!”) (Thought I’d save you the trouble there. – Chris) Obviously, I needed something to take the place of the Goblin Piledrivers and the Clickslithers. For the Piledrivers, I decided to go with Sparksmith.

Digression / Rant on Sparksmith:

Can anyone explain why people decided that Goblin decks no longer needed to run Sparky? He is reusable removal. Isn’t that”A Good Thing(TM)?” I can tell you from my experiences that day that the answer is a resounding”yes.” Okay, so he’s not Goblin Sharpshooter. In some cases, he’s actually better. Like if you need to deal more than one point of damage to a creature and don’t want to sacrifice all of your Goblins to a Sledder so that the Sharpshooter will untap.

Howdy. I’m back from my digression. Oh, no, wait. Here I go again.

I’ll Take”Magical Abilities” for $800, Alex

Quick. What are the five evasion abilities in Standard right now? There’s trample, which is what the Clickslither has. There’s flying. There’s simply being unblockable. There’s protection from a quality, usually a color. Finally, there’s landwalk.

Since I was without the Clickslither, I wanted evasion in some other form. Silliness would have dictated Goblin King. He’s a kick in the lovelies against anything playing Mountains. The problem with that is that a lot of decks that are running Mountains tend to be running Goblins, too.

[Those of you yelling,”Please God, No!” at Chris are fully supported, because I think everybody knows where he’s going with this. – Knut, appalled]

I went for a flier, instead. Goblin Sky Raider. Now, he’s . . .


Quit laughing! I’m writing an article here!

Goblin Sky Raider can be a quick flier (it only costs 1R with the Warchief on board) that gives many decks fits. I found that it works best with Goblin Burrows in the deck. Attacking for three or five through the air is nice.

The biggest problem was replacing the Siege-Gang Commander. How do you duplicate such raw power?

Studio Audience:”We don’t know. How do you duplicate such raw power?”

Thanks for following along there, Bubba. The answer is that you can’t. However, you can use Shrapnel Blast, which deals five damage a whole lot faster than the Commander can.

Do you realize how devastating Shrapnel Blast can be? You do? Then, you can skip to the next paragraph. Everyone else, read on. Shrapnel Blast is five damage at instant speed. You could potentially end the game with them as soon as turn 4. You just get a Warchief on turn 2 and another on turn 3, attacking both times. Then, after combat on turn 4, you cast two Shrapnel Blasts. To do that, though, the deck needed Great Furnace, too.

It also needed one more set of four artifacts. I am proposing a New Magic Rule of Thumb.

New Magic Rule of Thumb: Do not play Shrapnel Blast unless your deck has at least twelve artifacts.

I could bore you with the math. Truly. It would bore you to tears. You’d be likely to claw your eyes out like Oedipus Rex. Or like anyone who saw Kathy Bates naked in About Schmidt. Suffice it to say that you want twelve or more artifacts before you start thinking about playing Shrapnel Blast. (Any wisenheimers who bring up tutors like Fabricate or Diabolic Tutor will be whipped with the chain from a snow tire. And it won’t be Adriana Lima holding the chain, either.)

Four Great Furnaces plus four Pyrite Spellbombs only equals eight artifacts. You know this because you’re smart and can add single-digit numbers to come up with a second single-digit number. That meant that I needed to find – how many? – four more artifacts for the deck. Very good, children.

I spent the most time on this part. I pulled up the Oracle for Standard and looked through the artifacts. Bonesplitter would be golden with Goblins. Mask of Memory and Mindstorm Crown got a look-see. Weenies can always use card drawing. Loxodon Warhammer almost made it. Man, wouldn’t Red like gaining life? Alas, it was too expensive. (At least, I think so. After having played the deck in the tourney, I can say that many times I had enough mana to drop the Hammer and Equip a creature on the same turn. You might want to try it.)

All of those suffered from one big drawback, though. They weren’t creatures. If I added another non-creature spell, I was in danger of not having enough damage sources.

Then, I remembered that each color got a Replica. I had mostly skipped them. Admit it. You did, too. Maybe the Red one was a Goblin. I looked it up. Sure enough, Goblin Replica was indeed a Goblin, not just an artifact creature. Sure, it was a 2/2 for three mana, but that meant it would be a 2/2 with Haste for two mana if the Warchief was on board.

By the way, would you look at that ability? You can pay 3R and sac it to kill an artifact. Any artifact. That includes artifact lands. Wow. He can kill Myr Enforcers and Lightning Greaves.

That’s when another light went on in my head. Lights are just one of the many types of things that bounce around in my noggin. This light, however, said,”Shock won’t kill Myr Enforcers.” Well, duh. What one-mana Red spell will? Ding ding ding ding ding. Electrostatic Bolt.

Electrostatic Bolt

Pro: Kills Myr Enforcers for the same cost as one Shock. It would take two Shocks to do that.

Con: Can’t be aimed at your opponent.

Pro: Super-cool picture!

Con: No extra damage awarded for super-cool picture.

Since I can’t remember the last time I used a Shock on an opponent (that’s called foreshadowing, folks), the E-Bolt won.

For my sideboard, I went heavy on the artifact hate. This deck, like most weenie decks, has a big problem with Affinity. A few weeks back, I read a column by one of my heroes who plays a lot of Red (Adrian Sullivan, Seth Burn, or Jay Schneider, can’t remember which. Sorry, guys) in which he said that Red decks need to run four each of Shatter and Detonate in the sideboard because Affinity such a tough match-up. I knew I’d have to run three copies of Flashfires for the Mono-White Control, Blue-White Control, and Mono-White-Weenies I’d see. I completely scrubbed out on the other four cards. I ran Threaten.


Shoulda been Slice and Dice. Learn it. Know it. Love it. Slice and Dice cycled can kill all of those darn Decree of Justice Soldier tokens before they can attack. Cast Slice and Dice, and you can kill all of the Angels it might make.

So, I packed up the Winnebago and headed for the tourney with this deck:

The $8.95 Goblin Deck

23 Lands

4 Great Furnace

3 Goblin Burrows

16 Mountain

25 Creatures

4 Skirk Prospector

2 Goblin Sledder

3 Sparksmith

4 Goblin Warchief

4 Goblin Replica

4 Gempalm Incinerator

2 Skirk Marauder (yes, Skirk Marauder)

2 Goblin Sky Raider

12 Other Spells

4 Pyrite Spellbomb

4 Electrostatic Bolt

4 Shrapnel Blast

15 Sideboard

4 Shatter

4 Detonate

3 Flashfires

4 Threaten

Oh, yeah, one other important thing about Goblin Replica. It’s colorless damage. So is a face-down Skirk Marauder. Okay, here’s what happened at the tournament.

Round 1: Joe playing mono-Black Zombies

I won this match 2-0. He got out several Zombies including the Rotlung. I hate using two cards to kill one creature. Thanks to Sparksmith, though, I didn’t have to do that. Electrostatic Bolt took care of the real thing, while Sparky cleaned up the Zombie droppings.

Sideboarding: I had nothing. As we went to game 2, I realized that I needed Scrabbling Claws in the sideboard. Given the Goblin Replica’s ability, I should have realized that I only needed Shatter in the sideboard for Affinity. The Detonates should have been Scrabbling Claws.

MVP of Round 1: This is a tie between mana hosing and Goblin Sky Raider. In neither game did Joe get the five mana needed to play Patriarch’s Bidding. If he had, that would have been the difference. (I took his word on this, because I was completely unaware of what was in his graveyard due to the fact that there was nothing I could do about it. If he had Vengeful Dead, Carrion Feeder, and a couple more Zombies, yeah, I was dead.) Since he ran twenty-four lands, I think it was just bad luck. Of course, he ran out of answers for creatures in each game before the Sky Raider hit. When you have nothing to block fliers, three or five points of damage per turn, thanks to a Goblin Burrows, is huge.

Round 2: David playing Troll-ataal (Green-Black Jank)

I didn’t ask David where he got this deck. He probably came up with it on his own. Essentially, it’s a Black and Green deck with Nekrataal and Troll Ascetic. At first, I was worried about what I’d do if the Troll hit. That whole ridiculousness about not being able to be targeted by opponents is just as annoying as when they send your copy of Maxim or Stuff with the address label covering the really good parts of Brooke Burke. Then, I realized that he might have to block with a Troll before he had enough mana open for regeneration. Luckily, that’s just what happened in games 1 and 3. He rolled me in game 2, though.

Funny Story About Electrostatic Bolt: Remember how I said that I couldn’t remember ever using Shock to end my opponent’s game? Well, ha ha ha, funny story. In game 3, with me sitting at three life and David at one, I was holding an E-Bolt. And I kept drawing land after land after freakin’ land. If I’d had this much land back in seventeenth century England, I would have been a Duke or an Earl, and voluptuous women (with bad teeth) would have thrown themselves at me. Luckily, I did end up drawing a creature for which he had no answer. Whew.

Sideboarding: Again, nothing. What did I have to bring in? Threaten?”I’ll take your Ravenous Baloth.””In response, I’ll sac him.” Okay, maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad after all.

MVP of Round 2: Shrapnel Blast to the rescue! Ain’t no Goblins that can beat up a Ravenous Baloth. He eats Goblins for lunch. He’s ravenous, after all! Also, David had to mulligan in both games 1 and 3. Those were the two that I won.

Round 3 – Shae Owens playing the Very Expensive White Weenie deck mentioned in last week’s piece.

Shae is nine years old. He’s smart as a whip. His dad and uncle have ratings that hover around 1800 all the time. His cousin, Logan, plays, too, and she beats us as regularly as her dad and uncle do. I was not happy to find out that Shannon had”taken your White weenie deck and tweaked it.” Uh-oh. That’s like having Sting say,”I did a little work on your song.” It’s probably a whole huge bunch better now.

Sure enough, it was ugly from the get-go. A person playing a Goblin deck doesn’t want to see a Silver Knight on turn 1. Of course, Pyrite Spellbomb helps. It just doesn’t do much once Glorious Anthems hit. They did. I lost. The end.

Sideboarding: – 4 Skirk Prospectors, – 2 Goblin Sledders, – 1 Sparksmith, +3 Flashfires, +4 Detonate. My theory for taking out the Prospectors was that a turn 2 Warchief isn’t as impressive when facing a turn 2 White or Silver Knight. It was more important to hose up his mana via Flashfires and kill his Bonesplitters and Masks of Memory. Sadly, after my only Flashfires went off, he just found another land. How can you do that? There’s only fifteen lands in the entire deck! To quote my man ‘toon man, Charlie Brown,”Aaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh!”

MVP of Round 3: Silver Knight and Glorious Anthem. Ugh.

Round 4: Ben playing Red-White Slide

I had no idea how I was going to play this. Lightning Rift can pretty much eat anything in my deck. Of course, your opponent has to have a Lightning Rift to use it. Then, he has to have cycling cards and mana available. By the time he got the Rift in game 1, I just needed to wait to draw a Shrapnel Blast. His Slide had drawn the game out, but he wasn’t able to get to the beef. The one face-down creature he played in game 1 ate a Spellbomb. Game 2 was all about the Flashfires. With his mana hosed up, he needed too much time to stabilize.

Sideboarding: -4 Electrostatic Bolts, +3 Flashfires, +1 Threaten. The only thing in his deck that an E-Bolt can kill is a face-down Exalted Angel. Sparksmith does that, too. So does the Pyrite Spellbomb. It was much more important to blow up those Plains and keep him from being able to play the big, White spells. It worked.

MVP of Round 4: Flashfires, Shrapnel Blast, and Obliterate. The Obliterate was his. He cast it in game 2. I recovered first.

Round 5: Matt Owens playing Mono-White Control

Matt called this”Jank.” Truth be told, though, it was simply mono-White Control with the Urza’s Power Grid (Urza’s Power Plant, Tower, and Mine) to pump out obscene amounts of Soldier or Angel tokens. However, Matt wanted to draw. What the heck. We were both in the Top Eight. As usual, I agreed, but only if he’d play me so that I could write about the match-up.

Surprisingly, I swamped him. The cheapskate Goblins were just too fast. All of a sudden, I was upset that I had agreed to draw.

Top Eight, Quarterfinals: Matt. Again.

This is never good. You don’t do that well against a guy in the Swiss (even if it doesn’t count) and also beat him in the Top Eight. I figured I was done for.

Luckily, I wasn’t. My deck gave me opening hands in both games that included two lands, a Skirk Prospector, and a Goblin Warchief. In game 1, the only damage I took was from my Sparksmith, which I used to kill two face-down Angels. Game 2 was more of the same especially after the turn 4 Flashfires.

Sideboarding: -4 E-Bolt, +3 Flashfires, +1 Threaten

MVP of the Quarterfinals: Goblin Warchief and Flashfires. Haste is good. Preventing your opponent from having access to colored mana is better.

At this point, we all decided we’d had enough of Magic for the day. The Top Four split, and my friend Charles Dykes was declared the winner. He used his own deck to do it, too. Hey, one of my predictions came true in the very first tournament of the year.

Cross-My-Heart-&-Hope-to-Die True Story from that Tournament

In his Quarterfinals match with our friend Bill Bryant, the aforementioned Charles tried to cast Volcanic Hammer during Bill’s turn. All I could say was,”I wish that had been Pyroclasm.” (If you don’t get that, just check out the 2004 Predictions section of From Right Field: Look back in Anger.)

What I Learned That Day

I learned that coffee mugs shatter when dropped on a concrete floor. I learned that dogs will eat almost anything except for Rold Gold Cracker Barrel Sharp Cheddar pretzels. I learned that really hot women make some horrendous movies (see Rachel Hunter in Two Shades of Blue) that a lot of guys will still pay to rent.

Mostly, though, I learned the value of family, of friends, and of feeling good about yourself. It’s so very, very *ahem* important . . . to . . . *snicker*

Bwah ha ha ha ha!

Sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face with that one. My bad.

Okay, seriously, as it relates to Magic, what I learned was that, yeah, Goblins are so good right now that you can throw together pretty much twenty to twenty-four Goblins, as long as you have the Warchief and the Prospector, eight to twelve burn spells, and some land and have a pretty good deck.

Will you win a PTQ with it? Probably not. You might do well enough to earn some swag, though. In the end, coming out ahead is all that counts. Right?

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Please, stay behind the velvet rope and turn off all flash photography.

Chris Romeo

[email protected]