Inside the Metagame: Goblin Bidding

If anyone is interested in playing Goblins – first off, I hate you. Yeah that’s right, I hate you. Why? No, it isn’t because I’m some sort of nutty rogue deckbuilding elitist. It is not because you are a netdecker and netdecking is the devil. Those are all filthy lies distributed by the press. No, I hate because you are going to smash my face in. Over and over.

If anyone is interested in playing Goblins – first off, I hate you.

Yeah that’s right, I hate you. Why? No, it isn’t because I’m some sort of nutty rogue deckbuilding elitist. It is not because you are a netdecker and netdecking is the devil. Those are all filthy lies distributed by the press.

No, I hate because you are going to smash my face in. Over and over. I accept this fact with little grace.

No matter what the format, you will usually find me playing some sort of deck that has trouble with Goblins. Even if I play a deck that should beat Goblins, I usually fail at my primary goal. The reason why is simple: Goblins just wins sometimes.

Any Red weenie deck will win sometimes – maybe they get lucky, or maybe there are just too many to fend off, but Red decks win, just like the name says. Why does this happen? Read some of the articles that Mike Flores linked to in his article The Magic University – Schools of Magic. The article itself isn’t very special, but after you wade through the links to the links to the links, well, there is gold to be had.

I remember the first time I read those articles. Hell, I used to edit a website that re-posted just about all of them. (By the way Mike, you suck for not dragging your computer out of the closet to give me the old content on the hard drive… blah blah, making comics books blah – that was important stuff that I had to find the hard way!).

Alas, the point is that Red decks use crazy concepts like mana curves, tempo, and all sorts of magic theory goodness. Red always won in the same way…

Until now.

Once again, I will do a little ranting dance about Skullclamp.

Okay, I won’t, but if you are really hankering for one, just read my past few articles.

Skullclamp has an interesting interaction on the Goblin deck, especially the Goblin Bidding variant. Many people chose to play Goblin Bidding over the regular version of Goblins because it has better lasting power against decks running eight Wrath of Gods/Akroma’s Vengeances. Call it the Anti-Wrath, if you will, but with the aid of Siege-Gang Commander, Skirk Prospector, Goblin Warchief, and Goblin Sharpshooter, Patriarch’s Bidding can easily turn into game over… that turn.

Skullclamp lets you put the Bidding to good effect, even if you are not doing anything particularly special with it. In some sense, Skullclamp goes against the entire tide of the deck, but the bargain is so good that it is hard not to accept. Think about it, Goblins generally spends its time and cards to get lots of critters into play fast. Sacrificing a Skirk Prospector to play a Warchief on turn 2 is one of the better draws the deck can get. Skullclamp goes exactly against that grain, taking away creatures to put more cards in your hand.

What this creates is a flow of beatdown. Now I don’t want to start a whole Magic Theory argument about some concept that I am coming up with called beatdown flow, but Skullclamp makes this effect rather apparent. You attack with what you have, you sacrifice it all to Skullclamp, and you reset your board with a few extra cards in your hand for your trouble. Basically you have sacrifices a turn of tempo (by not building your board position) to draw a few cards, setting you up for a better long-game.

Sacrificing tempo for cards is not exactly what Goblins hopes to do, so in a way, I would say that Skullclamp is very counterproductive to what the deck is doing… that is, if it were not so darn good. However, even by drawing several extra cards a turn, the Goblin deck will just draw more Goblins and have to spend time playing them out, only wanting to sacrifice them again. If this is repeated too much, you will find yourself with a lot of lands and creatures in your graveyard, but not wholly better off than you started. In essence, your beatdown flow has stopped. The trick is to know when to stop cashing in and just go for the dome.

Note that this is a big problem for regular Goblin decks, but Goblin Bidding just laughs it off. Goblin Bidding wants lots of guys in the graveyard and to draw lots of cards to find said Bidding. Goblin Bidding will win the game every time this happens. Because of this, I strongly recommend playing Goblin Bidding over regular Goblins.

Take this as advice for any Skullclamp based beatdown deck: you probably want some sort of big finisher. My Zombie deck from a few weeks ago used Bidding as well. Perhaps Bidding is just an awesome card to use with Skullclamp in general; the world may never know.

As an”added” finisher, I have decided to include four Shrapnel Blasts. There are more than enough Artifacts with Mox, Great Furnace, and Skullclamps. If you wanted to up the burn count, you could use Pyrite Spellbombs, but I am not seeing as much Silver Knight action around as there used to be. At least the Blast kills an Angel if need be. With the absurd amount of Skullclamping going on with this deck, I wouldn’t be surprised to Shrapnel Blast someone out from ten life. That really puts a lot less pressure on your creatures and lets you do what you really want to do: Trade Goblin Sledder in for two cards.

4 Great Furnace

5 Mountain

4 City of Brass

2 Swamp

4 Bloodstained Mire

4 Skullclamp

4 Chrome Mox

2 Goblin Sharpshooter

4 Shrapnel Blast

4 Raging Goblin

3 Patriarch’s Bidding

4 Siege-Gang Commander

4 Goblin Piledriver

4 Goblin Sledder

4 Skirk Prospector

4 Goblin Warchief

I bet you were wondering when I was going to show you the list. Maybe I hesitated a bit longer because I feared that more people will play this deck. That is, if everyone is not already playing it. Within the past two weeks, I have heard increasing musings from several people about it. Everything is pretty standard except maybe the Raging Goblins, but I’m a sucker for Clamp fodder. Many people might scoff at the Moxen, but I really like them in this deck… especially with the Clamps.

Onto the matchups:

Vs. U/W

Blue/White and Mono-White are, for once, very different in the matchup scheme of things. Frankly, both decks are quaking in their boots when they see Mountain/Prospector on the other side of the table, but Blue/White has a much higher chance of winning. Both decks play an absurd amount of Wraths, with a spattering of Renewed Faiths and Gilded Lights just to make your burn fizzle, but Blue actually has answers to your big win – counterspells for the Bidding.

The thing that they don’t have a great answer to is Skullclamp. Sure, Akroma’s Vengeance, but that only answers the problem after it has already done most of its damage. Cashing in your creatures for cards is an extra good deal against decks that want to just Wrath them away anyhow.

Sulfuric Vortex is a great card to sideboard in here. It negates life gain and forces a Vengeance, generally putting the game in your favor. You probably will not have much else to sideboard in unless you want to bring in Stabilizers; not a terrible idea considering the amount of cyclers abundant in the White decks.

Vs. Mono-White

Similar to Blue/White except that you absolutely crush them unless they are prepared to hate you out (and they might). They will do a good job of combating your initial attack, but they will find themselves helpless when you play a Bidding or a Skullclamp and draw lots of cards all in one turn. I would just be wary of Exalted Angels… Blue/White is much less likely to have them, where Mono-White is almost guaranteed to play them. The Shrapnel Blasts will come in handy here.

You can sideboard in Vortexes and Stabilizers, same as U/W, but you can also board in Flashfires if you have them. Traditionally Flashfires would be a shoe-in versus MWC, but times have changed, and few of their lands will actually be plains. They could be replaced by the Urzatron, Cloudposts, Temples of the False God, Secluded Steppe, and maybe even Ancient Dens. Whatever you do, just make sure you kill that Weathered Wayfarer if at all possible. If it is not possible, try not to let them use it. If you have Terrors in your sideboard, this might be the appropriate time to use them, seeing as there will certainly be four Angels and probably four Silver Knights after sideboard. An Oblivion Stone or two might be good just in case you find yourself staring down a COP: Red, then again, the Vortex does the job just fine.

Vs. Slide

Clamp is your best friend here. This matchup is generally tough to win, and you may need the instant Bidding win to achieve victory. Four Starstorms piled on top of a heap of Wraths makes life difficult. Not to mention the Sliding and Rifting ways of the deck, combined with possible lifegain. Still, you are Goblins, and you will reap the rewards of the free win tax. It just happens, so be happy about it.

Stabilizers are almost a must have here. You can sideboard in any other mount of junk, but four Stabilizers are really the only think that is going to make any large difference in this matchup. I have seen people sideboard in Goblin Charbelchers in against this deck and other control decks, but that seems like a rather weak and slow plan against a deck this powerful. Still, it forces a Vengeance, which has some value.

Vs. Zombies

The Black Versus Red matchup was historically good for Red. This remains true for the”popular” version of Zombies, which is chock full of cards that deal damage to themselves. Just watch out for the naming of Zombies on the Bidding and the return of the Twisted Abomination… very nasty that. My alternate version that I posted a bit ago has a nasty habit of crushing Goblins, especially the Bidding variety, through the use of Noxious Ghoul. Still, I wouldn’t be too worried about facing a Nate Heiss special in round four of Regionals, unless you are playing against me, of course. Then anything is possible. Last year, I won with Hurricanes; go figure.

Boarding in any sort of burn is always great here – if you have Pyrite Spellbombs in your sideboard for the Silver Knights, they are probably more appropriate than the Raging Goblins here. The Vortexes are good, and more Sharpshooters if you have them.

Vs. R/G

Unless they draw three Ravenous Baloths, I seriously doubt Red/Green can win this matchup. They are designed in too diverse a way, with landkill against the control decks and mid-range creatures to combat Goblins. They will find themselves with too many dead cards to mount any sort of real offensive. Just don’t take too long in finishing them off: you never know when the next Baloth will arrive.

Vs. Affinity

This matchup is rather interesting and can go either way, depending on how both decks are built. The lack of Clickslithers in this build hurts it a bit against Affinity, however, if they do not have Pyrite Spellbombs (and many Affinity builds will not) you are in good shape. Basically, they need to remove your Warchiefs in order to buy enough time to set up an attack for twenty with Broodstars or some other impressive feat of combat. You will be held off by an army of Skullclamped Myr Enforcers and Frogmites much of the time. Your best bet is to burn them out or Bidding them to death.

Sideboarding in Echoing Ruins or Shatters will certainly improve your odds, but by no means clinch anything. Writing that last statement felt something akin to saying that the article you are reading is written in English. It is very unnecessary to state, yet it is indeed the truth.

Vs. Goblins/RDW Mirror

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a mirror match, seeing as how they could be playing regular Goblins or Firewalker RDW. Even so, it is mirror enough from the Goblin side to call it thus. Your Biddings will be a lot more useless here – sideboard them out for Terrors, more Sharpshooters, or pretty much anything, if possible. Pyrite Spellbombs will also help here, especially in response to the Clamping of things. In retrospect, it might be better to have the Spellbombs in the main over the Raging Goblins, but at the same time, you will find yourself running out of creatures and having hands full of artifacts. [That’s because Nate is completely insane and doesn’t run four Sharpshooters in the main. – Knut] Just try to retain the upper hand in the Clamp battle; attack with your Clamped creatures into their non-clamped creatures and whatnot. Forcing through damage is a lot harder than it looks here. Goblin Sharpshooter would probably win MVP right behind Clamp, since it can kill most Clamp targets in response (or just kill them altogether at any point to be more accurate).


That is about all for Goblin Bidding. It is a very strong choice for Regionals, even though I am going to hate you for beating me with it. Maybe I will just have to play something very hateful… yes… full of hate I am.

Until next time, get inside the Metagame.

Nate Heiss

Team CMU

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