(Author’s note: I started writing this article several weeks ago, but then felt more like writing other, more catchy pieces. Because one of my associates wrote about White Weenie last week and the Decks of Steve #2 is delayed by a week, I’m going to run this one. It’s very much a beginner’s article, so don’t get too caught up in it – There’s no tech here, only solid, tested results to learn from if you’re trying to pick up the deck.
I didn’t scrap it because it was long by the time two back-to-back Bidding articles went up on SCG and also Knutson has promised me ritual seppuku if I hand it in to be published.)
[My guts are spilling onto the floor as you read this. – Knut]
I am writing an article about Goblin Bidding!
You are reading an article about Goblin Bidding.
If you’ve been playing Goblin Bidding for a while or are familiar with it, you will probably not get too much out of this article. I’m only writing this for people like me: People who, for a long time, only played against Bidding or ignored it, only to pick it up more recently for its extremely solid game plan against Mono-White control and the other control decks that had seemingly been the top of the format for a while. So, if you’ve just picked it up recently, or were thinking about picking it up, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve been playing Goblin Bidding on and off for about the last month and a half, so I’ve picked up a fair amount of tricks and traps within the deck. Goblin Bidding is one of the rare breed of deck known as Aggro-Combo, so it can be a very interactive and interesting deck to play.
Aggro-Combo is a termed used to denote decks which combine an aggressive stance, such as swinging with hasted Piledrivers, with a hard to repress game-ending combo that swings the game in your favor in one decisive turn. This combo power is accomplished primarily through the deck’s namesake, Patriarch’s Bidding. However, that isn’t to say that nowadays the only interaction that makes the deck combo-like is Bidding out a big pile of Goblins. There’s more to it than that.
Forward movement and Combo movement
There are two primary situations that Goblin Bidding is in, in a given game of Magic. The first is forward or aggressive moment. In games where you’re moving as an aggro deck, you are attempting the simple plan: Attacking for a lot of damage to kill your opponent before his game plan stabilized.
The second is setting up the Combo. This is a more complicated process than you would think. However, this is done how you would naturally think you would: Drawing Goblins, getting them into the graveyard, Skullclamping other Goblins, and generally digging through your deck.
The combo basically works like this – you are going to cast Patriarch’s Bidding. After Bidding resolves, you will hope to have a combination that grants you a Goblin Sharpshooter that doesn’t have summoning sickness, a Goblin Warchief if the Goblin Sharpshooter needs haste, a way to sacrifice your Goblins (thus triggering Sharpshooter’s untap ability), and then enough Goblins to mathematically kill your opponent. This combo on paper sounds rather thin and weak, but it’s backed up by both the power of your sacrifice elements and the ability to produce goblins ad nauseum through a recurring Siege-Gang Commander.
The difference between Forward movement and Combo movement is an important part of playing the deck. Borrowing on the words of Mike Flores, it’s not only important to understand Who’s the Beatdown, it’s important to understand when you need to attack to win, and when you’re going to have to combo to win.
This would be my current version of the deck:
Goblin Bidding v2.4
4 Skirk Prospector
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Warchief
4 Goblin Sharpshooter
3 Gempalm Incinerator
4 Siege-Gang Commander
3 Patriarch’s Bidding
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 City of Brass
This version of the deck was played by someone on Australia day and passed onto me by Jarrod Bright. The only changes I made were the addition for four Skullclamps. I don’t have the player’s name, but perhaps Jarrod will point it out if he reads this. The Sparksmiths were added later on, though they were in the other deck posted. I know it’s a very well known deck and so on, I’m just trying to say where I worked my version from.
I’m going to talk about card choices now. Yes, I know card choices are very, very boring and put people to sleep. I’m sorry, it just feels very weird to write a detailed article about a deck and then not talk about the cards in the deck. Forgive me.
This is one of your primary combo dorks. In non-combo situations he usually manages to do something dismally boring, like churning out an earlier Goblin Warchief or Clickslither. When used in the combo, you will find he adds a large amount of extra damage by sacrifice Siege-Gang Commander’s goblin tokens for extra mana, or providing the mana to actually throw stuff using Siege-Gang Commander. His interaction with the other cards in the deck makes him a lot stronger than you’d honestly ever expect a one-mana dork to be.
Disappointingly, Sledder actually lives up to the Skirk Prospector, but he’s generally on the opposite end of the coin. This is one of your combat related cards; when an opponent blocks one of your men with a creature that would kill it, you can sack the Sledder to keep it around. Doesn’t that sound good? It is, actually. The Sledder also allows you to sacrifice men to keep things on the board in response to damage removal, or generally just throw off spells like chastise or echoing decay that would allow your opponent to gain a bonus for resolving the spell.
Sledder is also a good way to sacrifice Goblins to feed Goblin Sharpshooter’s effect, but that is admittedly something you only do in a clutch situation. Generally you’ll want to feed the Sharpshooter through Clickslither or Prospector/Siege-Gang Commander.
This is likely the worst card in your deck in many matchups. But then it’s the best in other matchups, so we forgive him. Goblin Piledriver leads to some of the most nuts draws imaginable, but on his own, he’s a pretty tame little card. He has no real combo weight, so I’ll shut up now.
Next to Goblin Sharpshooter and Siege-Gang Commander, this is the third most important part of the combo. It’s also a very strong card in relation to your aggressive movement. Actually scratch that, this card always was and always will be the bomb. It’s probably the single most useful card in your deck, and drawing four of them in a row would do nothing but make me ecstatically happy. The Goblin Warchief’s relation to your combo is nothing but accelerating out your Siege-Gang Commanders and Goblin Sharpshooters, as well as giving your men haste post resolving a Bidding. Goblin Warchief is the card you want to see in every hand of seven you draw.
This one is important for it’s combo powers, but also for it’s ability to lock down creature decks. Make no mistake; Goblin Sharpshooter is your best card against White Weenie, Elves and all sorts of creature decks. If there’s one card I wish I could be tutoring for with Goblin Matron, it’s this one. I’m going to talk a lot about Sharpshooter later on, so I’ll cut this part short.
I’ve cut one of these out, but it’s important to maintain at least some Incinerators in your deck. Generally the cycle averages at either dealing one or two points of damage, or something ridiculous like”able to kill Leveler.” In a lot of matchups you should cycle the Gempalm as soon as possible, just to push towards the combo elements of the deck. The reason it stays in the deck is, it’s absolutely, bar none, incredibly important to maintain at least some additional ways to remove Disciple of the Vault from the board. Plus targeted removal is never really that bad when it cycles. You’ll find me siding them out a lot in the matchup information, but seriously, it’s only getting sided out for better cards. It’s universally decent in almost every matchup.
Already said a lot about this card, and I’m sure almost everyone is intimately familiar with the mighty SGC anyway. It goes in lots of decks. It’s very good. It hates when you Starstorm it for two.
Clickslither, which is no longer in the deck, is one of my favorite cards for the mirror match or when playing against random aggro. He’s a card I used to think was poop, but then realized was good while watching people mash into mirror match after mirror match in Onslaught block.
The problem is that while he’s quite hot against the mirror, you’re no longer quite as worried about that. You’re worried about Ravager Affinity, which is where my good friend Sparksmith has taken a turn for the playable.
If Ravager Affinity gets hated out or reduced in numbers, I’d probably roll a Clickslither or two back into the maindeck.
You want this card turn 2 or 3 against Ravager Affinity, and you want it to start picking off thopters, Nexi, Frogmites and anything else. You want to be tapping him in response to stuff being Clamped and so forth. He’s a bag of wet noodles against White Control decks, and often either amazing or garbage in the mirror, but he’s something you want every time against Ravager Affinity.
You can also run Shatter or Detonate in this slot, which can be helpful, but generally testing has shown Sparksmith is a little better than maindeck artifact removal, simply because he kills Disciple of the Vault, who is a giant pain in the ass. He’s like Sharpshooter numbers five through seven in this deck.
Your ability to implement Skullclamp is actually rather poor in this deck. It’s worse than White Weenie’s or Elf-Clamp, but that’s okay. You’re usually drawing better cards, and while they’re just drawing more men, you’re working to implement a combo. More cards result in you winning the game. Skullclamp is an obvious gimme in this deck, though don’t be surprised if it doesn’t seem quite as ridiculous as it is in other decks. I’ll talk about Skullclamp more later on when discussing getting the combo to go off.
This is the combo card, in the flesh. (errr… cardboard) You might be surprised to see that I’m running only three copies, but this has primarily to do with the fact that the card is generally poor in many aggro matchups, especially against Ravager style Affinity. I usually stick a fourth copy of this card in the sideboard, which comes in against control decks. Since this card is almost the focus of the article, I’m sure I’ll discuss it lots more.
Hoboy. Talking about lands. Just wanted to point out that you have three Swamps and three Cities for real Black sources, so if you have a Mire on the table and you’re looking for the second Black for a Patriarch’s Bidding, ease off on using the Mire until you have to. Normally fetching won’t reduce your chance of drawing a respective land too much, but going from three Swamps, three cities and three bloodstained mires left in the deck to two Swamps, etc etc, does drop the number of sources a little. It’s not something that you should allow to effect you, should you need to play something with the mana, but if you don’t, don’t go fetch. It’s not worth it until you’ve got the double Black.
This was my sideboard up until Ravager Affinity got hot locally.
Nothing too complex here. Ensnaring Bridge was great until every deck in the format boarded in artifact removal, Blastminer, Goblin Charbelcher and the last Bidding are for various control matchups. Goblin Charbelcher is a lot of fun, and was a lot more fun when Damping Matrix wasn’t in people’s maindecks. (Blimey!)
Don’t run that sideboard.
If I were going to Regionals tomorrow with Bidding, I’d run this:
This card removes Circle of Protection: Red from the board, as well as Astral Slide, Lightning Rift, Damping Matrix, Silver Knight, and just about everything in Ravager Affinity. The problem in my head is mostly that it’s slow, and it doesn’t really move you towards winning the game.
If you’re uncertain of the metagame you’re going into, this a great card to have in your sideboard. If, however, you have a good idea of what you’ll be facing, this one can be set aside for more decisive but less flexible options.
As I said – were I going to Regionals, I’d run it in my board. Were I going to say, play a metagame I knew, I wouldn’t bother with it.
A very useful card if you don’t feel like using Electrostatic Bolt, my problem with Dark Banishing is that while it is a more generally useful card than many other pieces of Black or Red removal, it still doesn’t kill Disciple of the Vault. Now as odd as it may seem, if I’m going to run a three-mana removal spell in my sideboard, I really do hope it can kill Disciple of the Vault. It’s perfectly solid against a large score of decks and if you feel non-Ravager Affinity decks are on the upswing, you can surely run it over Electrostatic Bolt. Just keep in mind the fact a spell can kill an Exalted Angel for three mana doesn’t exactly make it hot.
An excellent piece of artifact removal that has the added perk of very rarely dealing damage. I really do like the card, but I have the following problems with it.
First, the damage is Red, so it can be CoP’d if you bring it in versus White decks when you go to blow up their Damping Matrix. Granted, the damage is there, which is an added perk against White decks. We all like damage, don’t we?
Second, a Ravager Affinity player will probably realize you’re capable of blowing up his turn 1 land, and therefore, may or may not play slightly differently to prevent him from being nailed by it quite as painfully.
Okay, so that being said, it’s a personal choice. I’ve had bad results with Detonate, but I know people have brought them in versus Affinity and had a ton of good look. If you feel the need to run more anti-Affinity cards, cut the two Scales and the Gempalm Incinerator from the sideboard version I discussed and put in three Detonates.
Or run four. Your choice. This article is totally about you building your own Goblin Bidding deck, not looking at mine and going”Iain Tefler ur a giant bag.”
This guy was really good when MWC was more common, but as people realize the power of Skullclamp, I seem to be seeing less and less of that deck, for the moment. If people are still playing a lot of MWC or Slide in your area, feel free to keep Blastminers on board. There’s nothing like repeatedly blowing up Urza lands to piss off a MWC player. Problem is, Blastminer doesn’t do anything about Damping Matrix and is vulnerable to it, so he’s probably better off avoided at this stage.
Echoing Decay allows you to remove Frogmite, Ornithopter, soldier tokens (lol Sharpshooter lol), every Goblin in the mirror match, stuff in White Weenie, and so on. You might even manage to remove Arcbound Ravager in some freaky games that you should win anyway. Smother does the same except it can’t remove Frogmite and can kill Arcbound Ravager consistently.
Electrostatic Bolt is better than either, really, but you should expect to see some people bring these out of their Goblin sideboards. Remember that a sacrifice denies the echoing ability and well, Smother still sucks.
Echoing Ruin vs. Shatter
You need artifact removal in your sideboard – that’s a given. Echoing Ruin is stronger against Ravager Affinity and weaker against the mirror than Shatter. Shatter can be used as a combat trick to weaken or disable creatures pumped up by Ravager or Skullclamp, but generally you’ll prefer to have Electrostatic Bolt for that roll, since it’s cheaper.
I prefer the Echoing Ruins right now, but that may change if I see more White Weenie running around and less Ravager Affinity. Remember when targeting with Echoing Ruin that the target must be there when the spell resolves to blow up copies with the same name also in play; A Ravager deck can sack the targeted one to fizzle the Ruin effect.
Because none of your cards have power above two without wearing Skullclamp, Ensnaring Bridge can generally shut down the larger creatures of White Weenie, Affinity and I suppose Beasts, if anyone wants to play that. This gives your deck, which has a powerful game-ending combo, time to set its combo up and prepare for beating the opponent down. I always like having Ensnaring Bridge in my sideboard, since the deck works so well while under the Bridge, and Skullclamp can allow you to very finely control the number of cards you have in hand in the late game.
Will Brinkman likes to talk about this card when we chat about decks. He babbles about how people are on the”Electrostatic Bolt bandwagon.” Reasonably speaking, people have been on that bandwagon since last year on Magic Online, so let’s not get too worked up about this tech. I have yet to shout back at him”Welcome to two thousand and threeeee,” but I will eventually.
You know by now to bring this in against Affinity decks. Well duh. Just bear in mind that removal of any sort of is often excellent in the mirror, allowing you to quick zap an early Warchief or Goblin Sharpshooter, which can tip the match in your favor.
A really good answer to Pulse of the Fields, however, for the most part I haven’t had much actual, uh, problem beating Pulse of the Fields. Not only does the deck tend to hurt itself a little with City and Bloodstained Mire, you can usually burn yourself down the end step before casting a Bidding, and then make their pansy White spell useless.
If U/WC resurges in value, then Flashfires in turn becomes more valuable to run. If not, well, I’ve yet to cast the spell against MWC, and I swear to you that matchup is in your favor.
Bring this in against Ravager Affinity to kill Disciples of the Vault (or other stuff) and bring it in against the Mirror. I always want the fourth one in the sideboard, since it’s so saucy good against creature matchups. It’s just kinda bad against control decks, unless they’re running Solemn Simulacrum, at which point you and the other player do a little draw-a-card high-fives, hence why there is only three in the deck.
You could also run Sparksmith in that slot, but I prefer Incinerator since, well, Gempalm comes out of nowhere!
I used to run this in the board to make the matchup against UWC and Slide better, since you could put it down and force them to Akroma’s Vengeance away their own Circle of Protection: Red. I’d also have a twelve-year-old kid go”Yu Gi Oh!” every time I activated Charbelcher, for no reason other than the fact this card has about as much”skill” in its use as the card game of the same name.
I’ve been phasing out use of the Charbelcher nowadays since people are running Damping Matrix and artifact removal, which makes the card a fair bit worse. I still adore the card and want to kiss it every time it deals ten damage to an opponent in one stroke, but it’s not exactly worth having.
This is a well-known sideboard card for many decks looking to deal with enchantments and artifacts. Because a Mono-White player or other control deck can presumably bring in enough cards to completely shut you down, you will end up looking for ways to get rid of them. That combination of cards is generally Circle of Protection: Red – Thunderstaff – Ivory Mask / Damping Matrix, which turns off your combo and makes it almost impossible to actually overwhelm them with creatures, since only your two-power men deal any damage and the Circle deals with them.
Because Mono-White control is generally getting phased out in favor of decks that don’t lose to Ravager Affinity and Goblin Bidding, it’s not quite as useful. Oh and Damping Matrix shuts it down, which is highly useful information that completely justifies you reading this article.
Sorry. The sarcasm leaks out sometimes.
Generally if you’re not running the fourth Bidding in the deck, you’ll desire it in the sideboard. As long as you’re smart about using it, a resolved Bidding is generally game against most decks, unless you’re horribly manaflooded and have ten lands on the table and five in your hand. I’m having trouble winning those games and I’m not sure why. Oh yeah. Because mana doesn’t do much of anything after you make your eighth land drop. Oh how I adore thee, manaflood.
A very solid card if Slide is popular in your area, my personal feeling towards this card is that it’s unnecessary given an already favorable matchup against Slide decks coupled with the fact Culling Scales generally does the same thing – Stabilizer makes Rift and Slide suck, then gets Shattered or Vengeanced. Culling Scales kills Rift and Slide, then kills itself.
If your local metagame has a lot of Martyrdom, this card is saucy good. If not, don’t run this card in your sideboard, as frankly it’s pretty terrible right now. I’ve dropped it turn 3 against White/Green control only to have my opponent turn over an Angel and outrace me. The three mana is a lot for a symmetrical effect that kills you, even if he’s not gaining life.
I just wanted to mention I’d tested it against WGC and found it lacking. Pulse of the Fields is cool and groovy, but doesn’t justify running a card in your sideboard when you already beat the deck Pulse is in.
Sword of Fire and Ice
I believe this”tech” was originally written about by Yann Hamon, at least, that’s the first time I’d seen it discussed for the mirror in an official, credible fashion. Credit to him. The card is better than I thought, though don’t get to hyped up about it – People still remove it.
When playing it in the Mirror, do not drop it turn 3. Drop it when your opponent is tapped out and you can be sure to get at least one hit in with it. I know it’s such a cool card, and you want it on the table so bad, but please, don’t make that mistake. God, I hate when I make that mistake.
Keep in mind that the targeted Shock is necessary in order to draw the card. If your opponent has no creatures and Ivory Mask down, you must Shock the creature equipped or yourself to get the card. If you target a creature and it’s removed before the effect resolves, the entire effect is countered upon resolution, meaning you don’t draw a card.
You want this card in your sideboard in big tournaments, since you know you’ll face a mirror match. It’s also pretty decent against Ponza, but it doesn’t last long. Usually the card is an extra four damage and a card for five mana, then it gets Shattered.
I admit Brad yelled at me until I put this in my sideboard. I didn’t want to. I’d use an emote here, but those are banned.
Useful to bring when facing the Mirror match, against White Weenie and White/Green Control. Since the previous two worry me less than very little, as that’s how much play they’re seeing, I’m not running Terror in the sideboard. However that’s not to say it isn’t good, just to say that it’s a bit outmoded currently. It would be great against Slide if they actually put unprotected Angels down and let you kill them, but usually they’re not quite that dumb.
Tendrils of Agony
This is the last one we need to discuss – It exists almost purely as a way to sorta do a mini-bad Bidding (I guess?) or to kill a player who has locked you up with Worship. This can be a lot of fun, but right now White Weenie and decks running Troll Ascetic are not all that big, so there’s no real reason to sideboard the Tendrils. Should Worship become bigger, you’ll want this in your board. Or Flamebreak. It is of course very, very good against White Weenie, though.
Anyway, that’s most of the Sideboard cards that can be discussed. There are also Flamebreak and Pyroclasm, which are primarily around for usage against the mirror or other weenie decks, but I don’t think you really need me to discuss them.
Playing and Playing Against the Combo
It is unlikely you will get something out of this section if you have already played the deck to a reasonable amount of experience. If not, well, here I’m going to go over the basic concepts of the deck’s combo.
Combo Point Number One:
The math behind the combo depends on a number of factors. First, each Goblin Sharpshooter is worth X damage, where X+1 is the number of Goblins you bring back minus the Goblin Sharpshooter itself and Goblin Warchief, if the Sharpshooter involved does not have haste.
It’s X+1 minus one for the Sharpshooter itself because you can bring back multiple Sharpshooters. Just trust me, it makes the math a little easier. You then need a way to sacrifice the Goblins in order to make the Sharpshooter on top. Your options for the this are Sledder, Prospector, and Clickslither. Siege-Gang Commander obviously also works, but it’s not a pure sacrifice element – you really do need a Prospector for it to work as well as advertised.
At the very base you would bring back one Skirk Prospector, one Siege-Gang Commander, one Sharpshooter and one Goblin Warchief. That results in five Goblins to sacrifice to the Prospector for mana, which is six damage total and leaves you with a tapped Goblin Sharpshooter. This is pretty basic stuff, but it points out the basic concept of how the combo is applied in a real game. In addition, the Siege-Gang Commander could sacrifice some of it’s tokens for mana and some of it’s tokens for damage. So you would likely form the chain like this:
Sacrifice Siege-Gang Commander to deal two more damage, then deal another with Goblin Sharpshooter. You have one Red mana floating, Goblin Sharpshooter is tapped, and your opponent has taken seven damage to the face.
Why did I just discuss that? Well first of all, I want to make a basic point about playing Bidding. Plan out your damage and then go through with it. Don’t put anything into the graveyard until you’ve worked it out in your head – I can’t tell you’re the number of times I’ve screwed up my Bidding and done less damage than I should have. Don’t rush through it.
Combo Point Number Two:
Goblin Warchief is often the crux of the combo actually working. Because Goblin Sharpshooter is just a 1/1 creature, it’s pretty tough for him to live too long on the board, so he relies on Goblin Warchief to give him haste. Now, this is important for two reasons.
First, try to bring back Goblin Sharpshooter and Goblin Warchief together if you can, or play the Sharpshooter before you Bidding. If you’re given the option of casting Bidding and then casting the Sharpshooter or vice versa, keep in mind it’s usually best to do the Sharpshooter first. In a situation where you cast the Sharpshooter is cast afterwards, your opponent is going to get an opportunity to hit the Goblin Warchief before you can”go off” before Goblin Sharpshooter resolves. This doesn’t always come up and it’s not a big deal, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re about to Bidding. I’ve made this mistake against Slide decks, and it sometimes let’s them screw up the Bidding enough to win the game.
Second, if the Goblin Warchief dies during combat, you do not get a chance to ping for each creature that dies. I bring this up because you’ll often use Bidding right after a White control player make seven million angel tokens and try to use the Bidding fueled Goblin madness to bring down all the Angels. If you send the Goblin Warchief in and it dies, Goblin Sharpshooter loses haste and your life sucks! This is also relevant because when you play against the deck, keep in mind your opponent can’t use the Sharpshooter after combat should his Warchief die.
Have I seen Goblin Bidding players try to use Sharpshooter after it loses haste? Yes, I have. It’s often an innocent mistake, but it can be the different between a game loss and a game win. Bear it in mind.
Combo Point Number Three:
The last point about using the combo is relative timing based on using Bidding in a more pro-active fashion. Resolving a Patriarch’s Bidding is hard in only one major matchup, that being against White/Blue control. However, Patriarch’s Bidding does not have to win you the game that turn to be worth resolving. Some additional points can be made about it.
First, Bidding can be seen as removal spell. Let’s say your opponent has removed many of your Goblins, not enough to kill him or her, but enough that the Exalted Angel they’re beating you down with could be killed through some quirky Sharpshooter interactions. If the Exalted Angel is going to kill you, keep in mind that you can often bring back men, fling them at her until she dies, and buy yourself enough time to Clamp into other Goblins and win the game.
Second, Bidding itself can interact with Skirk Prospector to actually generate more mana, like some sort of weird Goblin mana harvest. This is a weird part of the Bidding to implement, but keep in mind that it only take a single Skirk Prospector and Siege-Gang Commander in your graveyard to”break even” on the Patriarch’s Bidding. Sometimes, even while lacking a Goblin Sharpshooter or a Goblin Warchief, it is possible to generate enough mana through Patriarch’s Bidding to just fling four or five Goblins at your opponent’s head through Siege-Gang Commander and win just like that.
This comes up a lot more now that Skullclamp is around. In a situation where you have multiple Patriarch’s Biddings in hand and have drawn a lot of Goblins, sometimes using”Ritual of Bidding” to generate a massive pile of mana can let you dump out all the Goblins in your hand.
Another example of this is a situation where I had seven land on the table and four Black sources. In this situation (which I botched and lost the game, by the way) I had the chance to cast on Patriarch’s Bidding, sack all of my Goblins for mana and then resolve a second Patriarch’s Bidding in a row. I completely forgot about the fact I could harvest Goblins for mana in this situation and ended up losing on the following turn a few damage short on my end.
Combo Point Number Four:
Here’s where I talk about Skullclamp.
Skullclamp is a very strange card in any aggro deck. The ability to”fuel” your hand by triggering once or twice is by and by completely worthless in most decks. I know I’m going against common accepted theory by making that statement, but ignore it. Goblin Bidding isn’t most decks. Skullclamp does give you a little added punch when swinging in with Goblin Piledriver or Warchief, but here it exists to fuel the combo.
Using it right can be really tricky.
What I spoke about earlier was the two phases in the Goblin Bidding game – Forward, or Aggressive movement and Combo movement. Here’s an example of a Forward movement.
Turn 1, Skirk Prospector
Turn 2, sack Prospector for mana, play Goblin Warchief, attack for two.
Turn 3, play Goblin Sharpshooter and Piledriver. Attack for seven damage.
Sacking the Prospector there gives you a tempo boost towards attacking. If there was a Skullclamp in your hand, you were given the option of instead doing this.
Turn 1, Skirk Prospector
Turn 2, play Skullclamp. Attack for 1 damage with Prospector, then”clamp him” to draw two cards.
Turn three, play Goblin Warchief. Attack for two damage.
That would be the combo movement. Drawing cards instead of attacking with the Goblin Warchief on turn 2, or playing a turn 2 Piledriver, moves you towards winning the game with the Combo instead of winning through attacking. Usually – and I’m serious here – attacking is a harder route to victory, but it’s faster and tends to be more surefire. Not giving your opponent time to set up his defenses is often the better strategy.
Why would you want to go with Combo movement so early in the game? There are a number of situations where that one is relevant. For example, if your opponent drops a turn 2 Circle of Protection: Red, is it really worth dealing a single extra point of damage when you’re going to be shut down on the following turn, rather than drawing two cards? That of course depends. But because of Pulse of the Fields, early aggro movements often end up just being forgotten in their race to regain life!
The other major one is where you keep a land light hand and don’t draw into land. It’s better to draw out of mana screw and give up your board position, given the fact you can often Bidding back into that very same board position. There’s some other stuff, like your opponent dropping turn 2 Lightning Rift or Silver Knight, that can make you just retreat to Clamping all your men away rapidly. Against other aggro decks that give you some time, you often want to search out Sharpshooter, and Clamping can be the best way to find your bomb.
Now, for two obvious points, keep in mind the following two tricks when you have Skullclamp available.
1) you can chain through sacrificing creatures via Skirk Prospector and two-toughness men. You don’t have a lot, but you can attach the Clamp to a two-toughness guy, then sacrifice the man to Prospector to replace the mana lost when Clamping. You can’t do this with one-toughness guy, though you can in a pinch if you sacrifice two for each clamping – One to the Prospector, one to the Clamp. That’s a pretty good way to eat through a Siege-Gang Commander if really do need cards immediately.
2) One of the problems with Bidding can literally be getting all the Goblins into your graveyard lickity split. Skullclamp doesn’t really help with this except by making you draw enough land to never miss a land drop. However, you should keep in mind after a productive Clamping, you may go over seven cards in hand. Remember back how you’d madness out a Rootwalla with eight cards in hand? Bidding can offer much the same opportunity, if a slightly riskier one. Against decks that can not stop you from resolving a Bidding, throwing men into the yard when you go over seven can be a good way of speeding up the process.
Both of those are relatively simple tricks, but I thought I’d point them out in case you hadn’t considered them. This is especially true of people who haven’t played the deck, which is this article’s target audience.