From Right Field: There’s a Moon Out Tonight

Two weeks ago, as part of my mailbag piece, I threw out a Standard Goblin decklist with which I’d been having loads of fun in the Casual Decks room on Magic: The Gathering Online. By loads of fun, I mean winning more than losing and doing it with a really cheap deck. Today, I revisit this archetype, and crank out some surprisingly solid results.

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget or players who don’t want to play netdecks. The decks are designed to let the budget-conscious player be competitive in local, Saturday tournaments. They are not decks that will qualify a player for The Pro Tour. As such, the decks written about in this column are, almost by necessity, rogue decks. They contain, at most, eight to twelve rares. 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 Wildfire, Llanowar Wastes, or Birds of Paradise. The decks are also tested by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. His playtest partners, however, are excellent. He will never claim that a deck has an 85% winning percentage against the entire field. He will also let you know when the decks are just plain lousy. Readers should never consider these decks “set in stone” or “done.” If you think you can change some cards to make them better, well, you probably can, and the author encourages you to do so.}


Before I get into what this piece is really about this week, I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects: me. It turns out that there are two slots for Fan Favorites on the Magic Invitational Ballot. I want one of those slots. Don’t ask why. Don’t ask why this year and not other years. I don’t know why. I just know I want this. I want it so bad I can taste it, and it’s yummy. So, I’m stumping for you, the voting public, to vote me into one of those two slots. I’ll keep reminding you. Until the vote closes, I’ll make a campaign promise every week.

Campaign Promise #1: More Cheesecake — If I’m elected to the 2006 Magic Invitational, I promise more cheesecake than ever before in From Right Field. The fans have spoken, and they love cheese, they love cake, and they especially love cheesecake. Who am I to say they’re wrong?

Vote for Romeo!

Now, back to our show.

Two weeks ago, as part of my mailbag piece, I threw out a Standard Goblin decklist with which I’d been having loads of fun in the Casual Decks room on Magic: The Gathering Online. By loads of fun, I mean winning more than losing and doing it with a really cheap deck. It looked like this:

There was a universal hue and cry, like a million voices yelling out at once who were suddenly silenced. These voice said three things. (Four things if you count the ones that said “Goblins Suck!”) First, I are a eejit for using Boros Recruit over Frenzied Goblin. I didn’t think that was very fair given the deck’s record to that point. The Recruit is a first-turn, First Striking Goblin who gets silly with multiple Goblin Kings.

Then, I tried Frenzied Goblin.

You were right. I was wrong. See? I’m a big man. I can admit mistakes I make. I’m also very humble.

I severely underestimated the power of the Frenzied Goblin’s triggered ability. I can’t count how many times — okay, seven — that there was only one guy on board to block my boys. In those cases, Frenzied Goblin reads:

Swing with your whole gang, R: Smash face

Frenzied Goblin really turned the tide in matchups where the Genju was sitting on the sidelines because Sakura-Tribe Elder or Suntail Hawk was on the other side waiting to take him out. Who wants to lose a 6/1 to a dork like that, even if it is just a Mountain? I’d rather get six damage through. So, I’ve converted.

The second stream of vitriol said that Zo-Zu, the Punisher, who just happens to be a Goblin (as well as a Warrior), is way, way better than Goblin Chariot. Okay, folks, I’m not giving in too easily here. I know that Zo-Zu is heads and tails above the Chariot. Sure, the Chariot has Haste, and I can have more than one in play at a time, but Zo-Zu, well, punishes people for dropping lotsa lands into play. In today’s Standard, people are playing lands at times when then really shouldn’t be. Like with damage on the stack, they sacrifice a Sakura-Tribe Elder. Silliness like that.

The reason I didn’t have Zo-Zu in there was the cost, money-wise, not mana-wise. Last summer, that guy was a ten- or twelve-dollar card.

Then, I realized that this ain’t last summer.

Checking StarCityGames.com (Our Motto: “You Buy Your Cards Someplace Else, Maybe?”), Zo-Zu’s only two-fitty now. Okay, I give. I’ll use Zo-Zu since he’s only gonna add seven-fitty to the deck’s cost.


That’s right. I’m only going to use three. You see, he is still a Legend. Besides, I need a bit of room for the third suggestion: Patron of the Akki.

I was surprised at how often this guy came in handy. Before making this change, it never crossed my mind to track how much mana I might have had available when any particular Goblin died, but the Patron almost always got used when I got him hand.

Sadly, that’s where this has to end because, even though we’re talking about some pretty cheap rares (all can be had from this here site for between a buck and two-fifty), we’ve hit the From Right Field maximum of twelve. Specifically:

Four Blood Moon;
Four Goblin King;
Three Zo-Zu;
Two Turtle Doves;
And a Patron of the Akki.

That makes our new Standard-Legal Goblin deck look like this:

Still, people picked on the maindeck inclusion of Blood Moon. “You are an idiot,” wrote my Mom. “Blood Moon is, at best, a sideboard card.” Sorry, Mom. Just like when you said I could become president or an astronaut, you’re just wrong. Blood Moon is indeed a maindeck card. It can completely hose up some decks, does a good job against most Standard decks, and grants unblockability to your guys when the King is in the building. Let’s take a look at some recent, successful decks.

Critical Mass Update: 23 total lands, 11 nonbasic lands = 48% nonbasics
Greater Good: 26 total lands, 20 nonbasic lands = 77% nonbasics
R/W/G Control: 23 total lands, 16 nonbasic lands = 70 % nonbasics
Adrian Sullivan Eminent Domain deck: 23 total lands, 20 nonbasic lands = 87% nonbasics
Kuroda’s U/r/b Control deck: 23 total lands, 20 nonbasic lands = 87% nonbasics
White Weenie: 21 total lands, 1 nonbasic land = 4.8% nonbasics

So, White Weenie is the odd man out, as usual. The point is that some of these decks can’t even function with Blood Moon out. That’s good enough for me.

Holy Jitte! Or What Equip is Going on Here?

The biggest problem that I’ve found with this deck is the lack of maindeck artifact removal. Umezawa’s Jitte is still a major player for beatdown decks. Before sideboarding, Moon Out Tonight can only deal with the Jitte in two ways, neither of which kills the Jitte itself. First, constantly kill the creature out from underneath the Jitte. That isn’t too hard for this deck. Usually, if it gets to the point that the creature’s toughness is too much for the burn or you’re out of it, the game’s probably gone on too long anyway.

The second way is just to make sure that the Jitte-wearing critter doesn’t deal combat damage. That’s a bit trickier. Of course, Frostling can sac himself to deal one damage to himself. Yes, the ability is countered for lack of legal targets, but blocking with him and doing that trick prevents the Jitte from gaining counters. I’ve also spent a few Shocks to kill my own guys before Jitte-damage is dealt.

Of course, we could change the deck very easily. Just drop the Goblin Raiders for Hearth Kamis, and be done with it. The only problem with that is the reduction in the percentage of Goblins in the deck. There are only fifteen to start with. Taking out Goblin Raiders drops that number to, um, eleven? (Craig, please, double-check my math. — Thanks, Chris) That makes Goblin King less useful and makes it less likely that we’ll be able to do Patron tricks when we draw the Patron. For now, then, while Jitte is not ubiquitous on the tournament scene, I’ll leave the artifact kill in the sideboard.

I’ll Believe It When I See It

I knew you’d want proof of this deck’s abilities. You know what I did, right? I picked up the few Zo-Zu’s I needed, made a sideboard, and headed into the Magic Online Tournament Practice room. My sideboard was:

4 Glacial Ray
4 Hearth Kami
4 Junktroller
3 Reroute

Hearth Kami: Do you really have to ask why I put this in here?

Glacial Ray: I needed more removal for weenie decks, and Pyroclasm would have been stupid. It’s true that, normally, in this deck, Glacial Ray is two damage for two mana and a card. Once in a while, often enough to be useful, anyway, you’ll have two of them and you can get a total of six damage for six mana and two cards. I’ll take it.

Junktroller: I don’t like dropping creature cards for non-creature cards if I can get an effect that’s similar from a card with power and toughness. I needed a way to hose graveyards, and this guy works. He also feeds Fiery Conclusion, which Reito Lantern doesn’t.

Reroute: Changing the target of certain abilities is huge. It also draws a card. Also, I have said many times that I need help with my sideboarding.

Match One: Have you played against the Warp World deck yet? If not, bring a good book. Or at least bring a comic book. Watchmen is one of my favorites [I endorse this message. — Craig] Man, I wish Terry Gilliam would get back in the race to make that thing. He could do it, too. Brazil. Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The man has vision… So, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, playing against a Warp World deck. You have to fight through it or know when to give up. I think the Zen philosopher Kenneth Rogers would say that you have to know when to hold them, know when to fold then, know when to walk away, and know when to run. Against this one, I had a golden hand: two Mountains; Frenzied Goblin; Goblin Raider; Goblin King; Zo-Zu; and Shock. Game one was over before he could really do anything thanks to Blood Moon. Goblin King on turn 3. Blood Moon on turn 4. No blocking for Sakura-Tribe Elders.

Game 2 wasn’t as good. I brought in Junktrollers for the Patrons and two of the Fiery Conclusions. Guess what? You can’t pull the Warp Worlds out of the ‘yard with the ‘Troller because the ‘Troller isn’t there after Warp World resolves. In addition, I had to mulligan to six. When I did, there wasn’t much there. I let him do his thing so he could practice.

I returned the Junktrollers for Glacial Rays in game 3. We both had to mulligan, but I got a better start. Not only did the creatures hit hard, I got Zo-Zu out on turn 3. He did four damage to himself just by playing lands. Then, while at six, he cast Warp World. Now, I know that’s the key card in the deck, but I think I would have looked for another way to win. The Warp World gave me a Zo-Zu, him several lands, and me the win.


Match Two: This was the match I was most worried about: White Weenie with Jitte. A quick Glorious Anthem can put the creatures out of my burn range. Of course, Jitte can do that, too, while at the same time wiping out my guys. In game 1, we simply traded damage for a few turns. When he went to cast Glorious Anthem, I wiped out his side with a sacrificed Frostling and two Shocks. On my turn, I cast Goblin King, making my two Goblin Raiders into 3/3’s. He finally got a blocker and a Jitte, but it was too late. I cast a Genju, activated it, and swung for the win.

Dropping the Blood Moons for game 2 was an easy choice, since I had seen no nonbasic lands. In came the Hearth Kamis for the Jitte kill. He played it more conservative this time, but it didn’t matter. Frenzied Goblin meant that only his smallest creatures could block. When I got a Genju active while burning out two of his three blockers, Frenzied Goblin made sure that everyone got through.


Match Three: This was a deck I hadn’t seen before. It was Green, Black, and Blue. Kind of a B/U/G Good Stuff deck. The best from each color. Putrefy, Birds of Paradise, Hypnotic Specter, Dark Confidant, Meloku, and Jitte. The good news was that Blood Moon really color-hosed him. The bad news was that I couldn’t draw burn to save my life. He got a Specter out, and that was that.

For the second game, I decided to bring in as much burn as possible. In came the four Glacial Rays, and out went the Patrons, a Frostling, and a Goblin Raider. I promptly mulliganed to five, keeping a three-land, one Fiery Conclusion, one Goblin King hand. The end.


Match Four: Have you seen this new Blue/Red Wildfire Control deck? I have. This was it. Game 1, I overran him with the wonderful turn 1 Frenzied Goblin/turn 2 Goblin Raider/turn 3 Goblin King (countered)/turn 4 Goblin King (not countered) play. He was so low on life that I was able to draw his counters with burn spells before swinging. That meant that he was tapped out and couldn’t Shock my boys during combat. He did get Wildfire off, but I had held a Mountain. I dropped it, Shocked him, and said “GG.”

For game 2, the switch was easy. Out went the Fiery Conclusions, and in came the Glacial Rays. Since his deck had no creatures, Fiery Conclusion was useless. Glacial Ray, however, wasn’t. I had much the same start as game 1. Actually, it was identical. Frenzied Goblin was followed by Raider Goblin was followed by King Goblin One (Hindered) and King Goblin Two (hit!). The difference this time was that he had Pyroclasm but no Wildfire. I held lands and creatures in anticipation of Pyroclasm and Wildfire because I’m such a great player. So, after he wiped out my side, I was able to follow up with not one but two creatures (Zo-Zu and Frostling). Since he wanted to play lands, that was that, and he conceded.


Match Five: Here’s something I didn’t think I’d see in the Tournament Practice room: the (mostly) mirror match. I don’t think he had Fiery Conclusion. He actually had maindeck Glacial Rays, which is not a bad idea at all. His biggest problem was maindeck Lava Spike. Any burn that can’t be pointed at a creature in Moon Out Tonight is a piece of burn that leaves you vulnerable. He killed as many creatures as he could, but it wasn’t enough. I dropped the Blood Moons for game 2 since he didn’t look to have any nonbasic lands. In their place, I brought in Hearth Kamis for even more beatdown. Fiery Conclusion also seemed to be overkill for creatures whose toughness would max out at around three. So, those sat out game two for the Glacial Rays. The changes must have been good ones because I got going so fast and had him using so much burn on my boys that he conceded when I dropped a fourth-turn Zo-Zu.


Match Six: Let’s just say that a deck that runs as few lands as Moon Out Tonight runs does not want to meet up against a Land Destruction deck that gets its signature spells off on turns three, four, and five in both games, mmmmmmkay?


Match Seven: This was yet another “mirror” match, a R/w deck. This opponent also had Genju of the Spires. He also had Glacial Rays maindeck. Both games 1 and 2 came down to who could keep a creature on board. In game 1, that was me; in game 2, it was the other guy. Game 3 was essentially about who blinked first. He did, by activating a Genju when the only other two lands he had were a Mountain and a Plains. I shocked the Genju-Mountain. He recast it on the only other Mountain and didn’t play another land. Bad news for Becky. On my turn, I was able to activate my Genju and swing for six leaving a Mountain up for Shock mana. On his turn, he dropped a Sacred Foundry into play, leaving it tapped. I figured he had either Glacial Ray or Lightning Helix. Either way, he was on the defensive, probably hoping that I’d activate my Genju. Instead, on my turn, I dropped a Goblin Raider and a Goblin King. Sure enough, he Helixed the King. On his turn, I found out why he didn’t want to pay the life to bring the Foundry into play untapped. He cast Orcish Artillery. That was going to be enough life loss as it was.

With him tapped out, I activated the Genju on my turn and swung with both the Genju and the Goblin. If he blocked the Goblin, I had Glacial Ray, which had come in for Fiery Conclusion, to finish the Artillery off. If he blocked the Genju, I could save the Glacial Ray for later. He fooled me by doing neither. That allowed me to use the Glacial Ray on him at the end of his turn, after he dropped a Frenzied Goblin. With him at three life, he couldn’t use the Artillery. That allowed me to drop Goblin King on my turn and swing with the Raider and the Genju. If the card he had was burn, I’d lose both of my guys to blocking after he burned out the King, but he’d still have the Artillery. If it wasn’t burn, my Goblin Raider was getting through unblocked for the final three damage.

It wasn’t burn.


Match Eight: Remember when I said that I didn’t expect to see the mirror match? Well, I really didn’t expect to see this. It was a version of JMS’s Blue-Red Ebony Owl-Howling Mine deck. The thing is, you really don’t want to be giving Moon more cards. It was over in two quick games.


Match Nine: You know that Ghazi-Glare deck? The one that runs twenty-three lands but only five of them are basic lands? It hates Blood Moon, fast creatures, and burn. Two to nothing, Moon Out Tonight. [Everybody look at the Moon! — Craig, and if you get that reference, I applaud you]


Match Ten: He was playing G/B. Moon Out Tonight was way, way too fast. I killed two Birds of Paradise in the first two turns in game 1. By the time he got an Ink-Eyes in play, I had Frenzied Goblin and a Genju. I swung unhindered for the last seven, and he couldn’t do anything about it. Game 2 was very much the same. Since I saw not artifacts, there wasn’t a need to bring in Hearth Kami. There were no abilities to Reroute, and he had plenty of critters on which to use Fiery Conclusion. In short, there was no sideboarding. Again, Moon won handily.


Hey, Romeo! Have You Heard About Guildpact?

Yes, indeed, I have. In fact, I wrote a review of it last week. Thanks for checking it out, by the way. For this deck, though, Guildpact seems to add nothing, at least from the perspective of a budget deck builder. The Scorched Rusalka isn’t a Goblin. Besides, we have plenty of one-mana stuff already. Pyromatics takes too much mana to be useful in this deck. Everything else is too expensive.

What if I Had an Extra Hundred Bucks?

Now we’re cookin’ with gas, boy-ee. If I had an extra C-note and wanted to play a version of this deck in a tourney after February 20th, I’d buy four Stomping Grounds and four Karplusan Forests. I’d take out nine Mountains for those eight rare lands and a Pinecrest Ridge. Then, if I had any money left over, I’d buy four Chars and get rid of Fiery Conclusion.

With the ability for the deck to make Green mana, the Goblin Raiders would be taken out of the running so quickly you’d think I’d nominated Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. In its place, I’d put in the Tin Street Hooligan. This tiny (not tinny) change lets you have a maindeck answer for Jittes. All you have to do is cast the Hooligan for GR. You get a 2/1 (or 3/2 or 4/3) Goblin and a dead Jitte.

Oh, yeah, we’d also have to drop Blood Moon since it would hose us almost as badly as it would hose the other guy.

Or would we? It’s true that the Blood Moon ruins everything that would allow us to use the Tin Street Hooligan to its utmost, thus rendering the Guildpact guy a mere 2/1 Goblin for two mana. That’s not much different from where the deck is now, though. With Blood Moon in play and Tin Street Hooligan in the Goblin Raider’s slot, instead of having a 2/2 for two that can’t block, we’d have a 2/1 for two that can block. I’ll take that trade for the chance to have maindeck Jitte kill that’s also a Goblin, while being able to color hose the other decks out there.

Am I wrong on that? Probably. It’s not like I invented an Ichorid deck that tore up the Extended season this year or anything. I’m just a lowly, 1610-rated guy who writes for this here site.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Keep that British Babes cheesecake comin’, folks!

Chris Romeo

P.S. Two weeks ago, when writing about the Wizards versus Rancored_Elf lawsuit, I slipped up and wrote that Magic cards are real property. That was just a typo, but a very big one. While Magic cards are real and they are property, they aren’t real property. They’re personal property. Real property is land. Thanks to the hundreds of lawyers and law students who pointed out my mistake. I had no clue that there were so many of you playing Magic.

P.P.S. Craig did a fantastic job of finding Brit Babes for my last piece. I really did drop the ball on Kate Beckinsale. Heck, I must have seen the Underworld 2 trailer fourteen times while writing that piece, and I salivated over her in that vinyl suit all fourteen times. (Keira Knightley I just left off because I think I’ve mined all of the cheese of her that there is.) The others, though, I had no clue. Of course, we don’t have Page 3 Girls in the U.S. You know, what with us having such higher morals and all.