The Adventures Of The Bug And Super Skrull: Dave’s PTQ Report

When playing in the mirror, we found that the more streamlined Goblin build would generally beat the”beefier” build. So I went for the quicker approach, adjusting the sideboard so I could downshift as needed, depending upon the matchup. Goblin Pyromancer replaced Starstorm, which was our own little bit of tech. There are definitely times where Starstorm is the better card… And there are times where giving all your Goblins +3/+0 for an alpha strike and/or serving as a Tivadar’s Crusade works, too. My results with the card were mixed….

It’s been two months since my playtesting group and I started ramping up for this PTQ. What decks didn’t we test? I started with Goblins, then tried Beasts, MWC, B/W Control, R/W Control, both flavors of Zombie Bidding – just about every viable archetype. I do want to thank Jarrod Bright and Eric Froehlich for their answers to my questions regarding B/G Cemetery and U/W Control; however, I didn’t have much luck when playing those decks – B/G does shred U/W, for sure, but even with all the main deck hate, I had real problems beating Goblins. And in my testing, U/W had real problems with R/W. Again, these are complicated control decks, and I didn’t feel comfortable playing a deck unless I knew it inside out.

And, as the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, play Goblins. So that’s what I did.

Gobbo Wobbo

4 Skirk Prospector

4 Goblin Sledder

4 Goblin Piledriver

4 Goblin Warchief

4 Gempalm Incinerator

4 Goblin Sharpshooter

4 Clickslither

4 Siege-Gang Commander

4 Goblin Goon

2 Rorix Bladewing

21 Mountain

3 Goblin Burrows


3 Shock

3 Stabilizer

3 Sulfuric Vortex

1 Rorix Bladewing

2 Menacing Ogre

1 Mountain

2 Goblin Pyromancer

Thanks go to local player and fellow well-educated pro rasslin’ fan Chris Fox for the fine-tuning. We found when playing in the mirror (I was starting with Kai’s build) that the more streamlined Goblin build would generally beat the”beefier” build. So I went for the quicker approach, adjusting the sideboard so I could downshift as needed, depending upon the matchup. Goblin Pyromancer replaced Starstorm, which was our own little bit of tech. There are definitely times where Starstorm is the better card… And there are times where giving all your Goblins +3/+0 for an alpha strike and/or serving as a Tivadar’s Crusade works, too. My results with the card were mixed, as discussed below.

I have to say, a road trip with three other individuals of similar age and world-view is much better than a road trip with three teenagers with ADD. We leave Bend at around seven, make the trip to P-town in two and a half hours and have plenty of time to register decks and prepare. The turnout was small, only ninety-eight people, twelve of us from Bend – the fact that there was another qualifier up in Seattle on the same day probably kept the numbers down. I must give credit to the Free Your Mind organizers, as the tournament went very quickly and very smoothly – we finished seven rounds in just over seven hours. We figured someone from Bend would make the top eight (ninety-eight divided by twelve equals eight, and someone from Bend did…but as for who, you’ll have to read on to find out).

To assist me, I brought several good luck talismans – lucky Oregon State hat, lucky St. Andrew’s Cross cloisonné pin (Dave’s part Scots, you know), any and everything I can think of as bringing good fortune, and, of course, Mini-Me – a mini-Mini-me, actually, my 3″ high replica (with pinkie-chewing action!).

I didn’t have enough Goblin token cards, so I grabbed a bunch of HeroClix Skrull figures to be my Goblin army. I guess that makes the Siege-Gang Commander the”Super Skrull.”

Hey, that’s kind of catchy. Wonder if it’ll catch on. If it does, I want royalties.

Once at the event, brief scouting reveals there to be a lot of U/W and MWC – Portland, it has been said, is a”control town,” and this kind of showing reinforces that. Goblins are out in force, though, and there’s a surprising amount of Zombie Bidding – a good choice against a field of control decks, but I think there are too many Goblin decks for it to be successful.

Round 1: Shawn Siegler (U/W)

In the testing we did against U/W, we found the match up was pretty much 50/50, but if you could get the Siege-Gang/Sharpshooter engine going, you’d usually win. If the game was still going after turn 6, that didn’t bode well for the little green men. Shawn’s a nice enough fellow around my age – we were practically a Senior Tour unto ourselves.

Game one, Shawn wins the roll (curses!), opens with a plains and a Flooded Strand to drop a Silver Knight. I do get a good start, however, with a turn 2 Warchief, followed by two Piledrivers that come across and get Shawn down to eight life in a hurry. Not enough of a hurry, however, as he powers up to a fast turn 5 Akroma’s Vengeance, and being as my Goblins apparently made her angry, Akroma, Angel of Wrath decided to make an appearance herself. And that was pretty much all she wrote for game one.

Game two, in comes three Sulfuric Vortexes, out go three random Goblins. And I get a Vortex in my opening draw! Huzzah! Unfortunately, Shawn answers with a Silver Knight (damn their eyes!) on turn 2 and 3, following up with a hard-cast Exalted Angel on turn five. I’m playing Goblins a-plenty, and my turn 4 Clickslither (a.k.a.”The Bug”) followed by the Super Skrull forces Shawn to chump with everything. I sacrifice the tokens to The Bug to eliminate the Angel. The next turn, with me at twenty life, and Shawn now down to thirteen, I drop the Vortex.

Chris Fox:”Never drop the Vortex unless you are at least eight ahead on life.” Well, I thought seven was close enough.

Shawn, unfortunately, drops an Eternal Dragon next turn, then follows with Akroma, Queen of the Bitch Slap, and all of the sudden my life totals are going in a direction I do not want them to go. Shawn makes one error, not alpha striking for the win, leaving me at one life, himself at five. I have a Clickslither, Super Skrull and another Goblin in play; if the Clickslither was a Goblin, I could have sacrificed all three Goblins once the Vortex went on the stack. But it isn’t. I could take Shawn down to one, and then I’d die. Which I do.

Not the start I was hoping for.

Round 2: Charles Grentdon (Beast-Control)

I don’t figure this out at first, but he’s playing a variant of the Beast-Control deck that finished second at Pro Tour: London a few weeks back. Game one, he starts off slow – which is, of course, not a good idea against Goblins. I drop Piledrivers on turn 2 and turn 3, while Charles is stalled on mana, dropping a turn 3 Temple of the False God. Less than optimal. The turn 4 Clickslither forces Charles to enter the scoop phase.

At this point, I’m not sure what the heck Charles is playing – all I saw was three lands. I decide to bring in Shock, thinking I might see Wirewood Elves. I open with a mulligan, but like my six cards much better. I have an opening Skirk Prospector burned out by a Gempalm Incinerator, then Charles drops a Lightning Rift, and now it hits me what I’m up against. I’ve got a Goblin Goon who comes out to lay down the beats, but a combination of cycled Incinerators and Rift damage takes him down, and you know the rest of my deck is not fond of the Rift. A Ravenous Baloth and Krosan Tusker do the rest of the damage.

I sideboard accordingly, taking out my Incinerators for Stabilizers and Vortexes. I get a good if not stellar start, with a Sledder and Piledriver, while Charles seems a bit short of mana, managing only a Wall of Mulch – hey, it blocks. The Goblin deck, however, is well-known for being a topdecking machine, and I drop two consecutive Warchiefs to put this baby to bed. Not even a turn 4 Baloth can staunch the beats.

Round 3: Ross Freeman (Goblins)

Ah, the mirror. And the last time I played Ross, he beat me at another PTQ – and I’m something like 8-1 in”revenge” rematches.

Game one, Ross wins the die roll – which often determines who wins this match up. I mulligan into a good hand, dropping a turn 3 Sharpshooter, who meets an Incinerator when I drop a Warchief the next turn. I get a few beats in, but Ross’s hand is better, with a Warchief and Sharpshooter of his own, followed by The Bug.

I take out the Goons and Piledrivers and a couple of other random Goblins in the mirror match, bring in an extra Mountain, Shocks, Ogres, Pyromancers and my third Rorix. Game two is short and brutal, as these matches often are; we start with dueling Prospectors, and I burn his away with a cycled Incinerator. I get an active Sharpshooter and maintain board control, as Ross never draws an answer for my pinger that can kill all his troops. I do have both Pyromancers when I die, and I’m starting to think I’d rather have those Starstorms after all.

The final game is summed up by the biggest boneheaded move I think I have ever, ever, ever made in my nine years of playing this game. On turn 5, I have five lands and a Skirk Prospector in play. I have one card in hand-Rorix. Ross has two cards, five lands, and no creatures in play. I draw a Menacing Ogre.

It’s quiz time, boys and girls:

What is the obviously correct play? (Hint: Not Ogre)

What did Dave”King of Vapor Lock” do? (Hint: Not Rorix)

What did Ross play on his turn? (Hint: Not Ogre)

Call Alex Shvartsman – we have a winner for the Bad Play of the Year. My misplay cost me that match and any chance of breaking the Top Eight.

Fortunately, I’ve got about half an hour to vent, scream, and beg for passers-by to pound a railroad spike into my thick skull. By the time round four rolls around, I’m still ticked at myself, but I’m a bit more composed. With prizes going to the Top 32, I decide to play on.

Round 4: Levi Mann (Goblin Bidding)

I know Levi from Bend, mostly for having his pants down around his knees. For the love of God, man, pull up your pants!

I should learn to listen to my little voices. When Levi drops a Skirk Prospector, I assume it’s the mirror. Then comes the Bloodstained Mire. A little voice in the back of my skull tells me to watch out for Shock, but I play the turn two Warchief anyway, and my little voice says,”told you so.” From there, Levi has complete board control and he smashes me with his little green men.

Game two, I open with two Prospectors, which power me into a turn 3 Clickslither. Gotta love The Bug. Levi can’t get rid of it, and with his running mate the Super Skrull, I win on turn 5.

The rubber match is apparently a bit of karmic justice. Levi and I throw the early haymakers, and by turn 4, I’m at eleven, he’s at thirteen, and I’m facing down a Warchief and two Piledrivers with a Clickslither and a Sledder. I drop a fifth land, and decide to go for the gusto, dropping the Commander, and serving with The Bug. I can’t deal lethal damage, but I can take out a blocker – unless Levi decides to not block.

“No blocks.”

“No blocks?” I ask.

“No blocks.”

Okay, take thirteen.

Now, it’s Levi’s turn to feel like an idiot. Sorry, Levi. He shows off a hand of Sharpshooter and Clickslither – I was dead next turn.

Better lucky than good, I like to say. Better lucky and good, actually – but in lieu of both, take lucky.

Round 5: Philip Spurgeon (MWC)

You would think a deck with Silver Knights, Dawn Elementals, and Exalted Angels would be a nightmare matchup for Goblins. This match demonstrates why the opposite is true.

I win the die roll, and drop a Skirk Prospector. I get one hit in, then Philip drops a Silver Knight. Then another. Oh, bother. Not round one again! Still, I get a turn 3 Warchief, then a Sharpshooter and Super Skrull, while Philip’s Knights do their Wall impressions, unwilling to trade four damage for lord knows what else he’d get. He settles for dropping a morph (wow, wonder what that could be…).

I cycle an Incinerator to deal with the Angel, then start playing Siege-Gang and Sharpshooter games until Philip falls to the barrage of tiny green men. The neat part was when I cycled an Incinerator to deal seven damage to a face-up Angel.

Game two, Philip gets a turn 2 Knight – no biggie – but then follows with a Dragon Scales, and Houston, we have a problem.

It could be worse. I get a big swing in with a Clickslither, then get a Siege-Gang Commander going. I’m still taking three a turn, but Philip has no answer for the two-plus damage he’s taking each turn from the Commander. He does get an Angel into play on turn 6, with me at five life, but I have the Sharpshooter to enable me to ping him out.

Round 6: Saoud Alfares (Goblins)

Hey, a fellow Oregon Stater, as Saoud’s baseball cap testifies. Makes him okay in my book.

Y’know, I try to keep good notes for these things – but I swear, when the matches last only four turns, it’s kind of pointless. We trade hits early, but he has The Bug and the Incinerators to take game one. Game two, however, sees my”secret tech” carry the day. I go first but am stuck on two land for a while, and when I do get a Warchief out, he gets killed. As does my second. But my third Warchief does get into play, with a lone Sledder for company. I’m at a miserable five life, facing down The Bug and Super Skrull (soon to have their own Marvel comic, if I’m not mistaken), which fortunately are tapped. I get my third land (about bloody time), drop the Pyromancer, and do some quick math – that’s fourteen damage, and Saoud’s at thirteen.

Maybe I don’t need those Starstorms after all.

Game three – what can I say? It all comes down to Mini-Me. I get a turn 3 Clickslither, then force Saoud to pay four life to keep a Menacing Ogre not so menacing, and he’s forced to Starstorm them away. He’s not hurting for mana; in fact, he’s a bit flooded. He’s still throwing down threats, however, and has me down to three life, facing down a lone Warchief with a Goblin Burrows to back him up.

I, meanwhile, am holding one card – everyone’s favorite Dragon – with five lands in play. I need that sixth land!”Mini-Me,” I say,”It’s time you came through for me! Get back into my good graces.” I tap him on the deck, draw the card and reveal…


Down comes Rorix, Sauod Shocks me for the heck of it, and I pull out that squeaker.

Come, Mini-Me!

Round 7: Johann Smetana (Goblins)

Win, and I’m well up in the prizes. Lose, and I may be in”hearty handshake” territory.

I lose the toss (never a good sign), but open with a Prospector – sadly, Gabby Hayes falls to a cycled Incinerator, retarding my otherwise decent draw. I wanted to be able to drop a turn 3 Goon – but that’s what Johann does instead.

This is not optimal. I drop a Clickslither to even up the sides, but another Incinerator forces me to sac a couple of Goblins to keep him alive. Every time I manage to even up the sides to negate the Goon, Johann would draw an answer-like every Incinerator in his deck. My Goon watches helplessly as I get run over.

Game two is much, much better and much, much shorter. I remember to use the Prospector to bring out Rorix on turn 5 and the big guy makes very short work of the game.

Game three is interesting. Now, I take out the Piledrivers in the mirror in favor of more burn – to take out, for example, the three Piledrivers that Johann plays on consecutive turns. Piledrivers are great, don’t get me wrong, but in the mirror, they aren’t your best Goblin. Johann plays defensively (never do that with Goblins; it’s against their nature), unwilling to trade – but I drop a Warchief and Sharpshooter which, combined with a Sledder, enables me to pick off his forces. Then Rorix makes his scheduled appearance, and that’s all she wrote.

After that third round debacle, finishing in 14th place at 5-2 feels pretty good. I guess I’m not a complete idiot after all.

The top eight was:

3 Goblins (one of which was local player Steve Glubetich, Topdecking Fool, as Nathan Saunders will attest – Chris and I thought the maindecked Shocks were a mistake, but we didn’t make Top 8, now, did we?)


1 MWC w/green for Fierce Empath – a quite interesting idea

1 U/W

1 B/R Control

The hordes of Zombie Bidding fell to the many Goblin decks, but I was surprised by the general absence of both W/R and poor showing of U/W, considering how many U/W decks I saw. And MWC – not the showing I would have expected. I considered that to be falling to Tier II status.

And Steve, much to my amazement and dismay, made it to the finals, where he conceded to Richard Olesak playing U/W, since he doesn’t play much Extended.

Great. Now we’ll never get him to shut up.