Limited Lessons – Goblins in Lorwyn

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Lorwyn is here, and drafting decks that adhere to strict tribal guidelines is obviously the key to success. But in a format awash with tribal options, which tribe is the correct way to go? While early wisdom suggests Merfolk or Faeries as the Lorwyn powerhouses, it’s clear that the Goblin tribe has a lot to offer. Removal, efficient guys, evasion, finishers… it’s all here! Let Nick show us how it’s done…

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In the past week I’ve played a few more drafts, and as a result increased my overall understanding of Lorwyn Draft by a significant amount. This week I want to start outlining tribal archetypes in the new format. My gut instinct told me to write about Merfolk since that is the tribe I’ve drafted most, but after thinking more on the issue I realized that I talked a lot about Merfolk in last week’s article and I wanted to give you guys a change of pace. My next two choices were Elves and Goblins, and I decided to write about Goblins because I’ve drafted it more and feel confident in my understanding of the inner workings of the archetype.

Important Commons
Generally when we think of Goblins we think of Red. Lorwyn is trying to challenge this notion by sticking the tribe primarily in Black and forcing us to run two colors. If you end up being the Goblin player you can almost certainly expect to be B/R, though I have seen a couple of U/B or U/R iterations.

I want to focus in on commons that are specifically potent in the Goblin archetype and possibly unplayable elsewhere. We all know how great Nameless Inversion, Lash Out, and Eyeblight’s Ending are by now, and I doubt you need me repeating this fact in detail.

When I said I was going to focus on Goblin-oriented cards I forgot to mention that this card gains a lot of value in this particular deck. The card is obviously a high pick in any deck with Mountains, but the Goblin archetype provides some additional interactions. Since the card is tribal it can be returned with Bogart Birth Rite and searched up with Boggart Harbinger for additional flexibility.

Boggart Birth Rite
This card is amazing and goes around very late since this archetype tends to be underdrafted. This returns Tarfire, Nameless Inversion, Mudbutton Torchrunner, Hornet Harasser, or whatever other amazing card you want to cast a second time.

The key here is that this can get back Changelings as well as Goblin cards, and will come back very late and almost always make your deck. It’s a shame this isn’t an Instant or you could “go off” with two Rites and a Dreamspoiler Witch.

If there’s one thing Goblins do in Lorwyn it’s provide bonuses when they die. Facevaulter is an outlet for those Torchrunners and Harassers, and also becomes lethal very quickly if you’ve cornered the market on Goblins. I am more than happy to play multiples of this guy in my focused Goblin builds.

Boggart Loggers
My first impression of this card was that it was marginal since it only really hurts Green players and is unimpressive as a 2/1 for three. After playing more with it though, the truth is that big Green men are the real enemy of the Goblin deck and the Loggers is the best answer imaginable. If you’re racing he will finish the job with Forestwalk and if you’re behind he will kill some pretty big guys.

Is your opponent stuck on three lands? Blow up that Forest!

If you’ve been following so far you know that Goblins come back from the graveyard a lot in this set, and it’s easy to get some recursion going with this guy for repeated Dark Banishings.

Mudbutton Torchrunner/Hornet Harasser
No Goblin deck is complete without some of these guys. Your game plan should be to get these guys out, sacrifice them or block with them, and then get them back to do it again. These are great against Green or other decks that plan to attack on the ground because they give you time to set up if your initial draw wasn’t fast.

If that doesn’t work then there’s always…

Caterwauling Boggart
Anyone that was planning on blocking will get a wakeup call when you play this guy on turn 4. It’s a shame that there aren’t any Goblins that do something when they attack and are unblocked because this guy would make them near unstoppable. The fact that this guy is common makes the archetype much stronger than it would be in his absence. Even though your creatures are much worse than your opponents it won’t matter much if he dies before his get to become effective.

Nath’s Buffoon
This would be unplayable in a different format, but Lorwyn features the Changeling mechanic. I still wouldn’t maindeck this in a non-Goblin deck, but it counts as a Goblin and can help you fend off opposing Elves or Changelings which isn’t such a bad deal. The main reason I mention this is that I saw someone leave it in their sideboard in a heavy Goblin build, and it would’ve been better than some of the other cards he played maindeck. This card is more useful than it seems on the surface, and if nothing else it’s a great sideboard option.

Lowland Giant
True, it’s not a Goblin. It is, however, amazing in this archetype for all of the reasons I stated when I featured it in last week’s article. It is another sacrifice outlet, it lets Goblins block fliers, and it allows you to fly through for the final few attacks needed to win. On top of that it’s a solid man for its cost… what more could you ask?

Warren Pilferers
Just because this is far down on the list doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely amazing. The best Goblin decks have multiples of these along with one or two Birth Rites, which adds a lot of power to the archetype’s long-game. The one thing that sucks about this card is that everyone else is going to be taking it high and the special ability related to Goblins isn’t that great anyway. If it only returned Goblin creatures then maybe we’d really have something here, as nobody else would be drafting it.

As it stands, this is a very high pick when you can get it.

Footbottom Feast
I almost always want one of these in my Goblin builds unless I already have a bunch of recursion. This card doesn’t really get picked or played much in the drafts I’ve been in, so you should generally get one without even trying. The reason I like this card so much is that it is synergistic with the overall Goblin plan of blowing things up and getting them back to do it again, and it has additional synergy with Warren Pilferers and Facevaulter. Try this out for yourself and I think you’ll like it in the archetype.

As for the rest of the commons, they are filler and not too exciting. Quill-Slinger Boggart can be excellent against White just as the Loggers is against Green, but I’ve found White to usually be a pretty easy matchup (broad generalization of course). Adder-Staff Boggart has been very solid for me, especially when you happen to win the clash. Exiled Boggart is unplayable, so don’t get any ideas.

One card that deserves particular mention is the Boggart Sprite-Chaser, as it will either be strong or unplayable depending on the rest of your deck. Skeletal Changeling, Firebelly Changeling, and Dreamspoiler Witches help a lot here, as do some other Black fairies. I’d guess you need at least 3-4 to play this guy.

Uncommons and Rares
One thing is for sure, the Goblin tribe certainly has some bombs at its disposal. Any of these are a good reason to try to get into the archetype if signals look favorable.

Fodder Launch
I watched someone sacrifice Mudbutton Torchrunner to this on turn 5 and kill two creatures, and it was one of the sickest things I’ve ever seen. Even if you don’t sacrifice a guy with a leaves play ability, the Launch should win you a lot of games. This is one of my favorite cards in the set because of the explosive impact it has on games.

Wort, Boggart Auntie
Fits the recursion theme and is also a big guy with evasion. This is probably the best card you can open for the Goblin archetype, though I could be wrong.

Boggart Mob
This is absurdly good and feeds on itself. If that wasn’t enough it has additional synergy with Warren Pilferers to create a nigh unstoppable Mob. Another excellent reason to get into this archetype early in a draft.

Mad Auntie
Lords are good, duh.

Seriously though, what else can I say here? I have to mention this but it’s extremely obvious what it does. I guess I’ll just leave it at that.

Tar Pitcher
Combolicious with all of the recursion elements and also yet another sacrifice outlet. I thought this would be much better than it actually is in practice, but it’s still a great card. The only real problem I have here is that it’s slow to get online and only amazing if you have some early drops. If nothing else, this finishes the opponent off or deals with annoying evasion guys.

Squeaking Pie Sneak
Somehow this has Fear for two mana and nobody else can take it. Severed Legion only wishes it was as good as the Pie Sneak is in the Goblin deck. Fear is very good in this format as there aren’t Artifact men to get in the way.

Ghostly Changeling
Everyone and their brother will be picking this highly but it’s still excellent for the Goblin player when you can manage to get your hands on it. One thing you are usually lacking in this deck is a big creature, and this Changeling fills that hole.

Boggart Shenanigans & Knucklebone Witch
These have similar abilities and both are superb in this deck. If I had to choose between the two in a solid Goblin deck I’d rather have the Shenanigans as it gets the job done more reliably, but the Witch is perfectly playable. A friend of mine drafted a deck with two Shenanigans and all Goblins and combo killed numerous opponents with Facevaulter much earlier than is normal for a draft deck. Another thing here is that these are cards that nobody else is taking so the Goblin player can reap the rewards of his later picks.

One word: Changelings. In combination with a sacrifice outlet this is similar to Grab the Reins and it’s just fine on its own to take a guy and attack them with your whole side.

There are plenty of other Black and Red uncommons and rares I could mention here, but none are specific to this archetype. Chances are if you end up Black and Red you will go Goblins a significant portion of the time and knowing these cards will help. Again I don’t feel the need to go into detail why Shriekmaw is a bomb. Instead here’s a sample deck that I drafted.

2 Facevaulter
Adder-Staff Boggart
2 Mudbutton Torchrunner
Boggart Loggers
Caterwauling Boggart
Footbottom Feast
Mad Auntie
Lowland Oaf
Hornet Harasser
Warren Pilferers
Consuming Bonfire
Eyeblight’s Ending
Boggart Birth Rite
Boggart Harbinger
Quill-Slinger Boggart
Spiderwig Boggart
Boggart Shenanigans
Marsh Flitter
Final Revels
Nath’s Buffoon
9 Swamp
8 Mountain

Let me know if you guys liked this tribal strategy guide and I may do another for next week. I could also try to do a walkthrough but they are always difficult when the set isn’t online yet and I have to record all of the packs.

Nick Eisel
Soooooo on MTGO
[email protected]

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