The Complete Goblin-Bidding Primer: Part Two

All the matchup information is included in part two of this comprehensive article.

[Click here to read Part One!]

The Matchups

Goblin Bidding’s only real downfall is a vulnerability to mana denial strategies above what is normal in a Goblin deck and the fact it’s actually too slow to effectively deal with Ravager Affinity. Beyond that, well, let’s admit something: If you have the ill luck to meet a normal Goblin deck, or a Goblin Bidding deck that keeps it’s Bidding strategy in the sideboard, you’re in trouble. The reason I want the three Sword of Fire and Ice in the board is so the mirror becomes a little less of a lucksacking to win.

Ravager Affinity

Let’s start with the most hyped matchup in the roster, shall we?

Ravager Affinity is a quick deck. Oh and its creatures are bigger than yours. Oh, and it has almost a strong an implementation of Skullclamping as your deck, if not better than. Oh, and it has removal and evasion to go with that card drawing.

Gee, thanks R&D!

Ravager Affinity is not a bad matchup for you in the classic sense, but it is not a good matchup either. Before boarding, your game plan is to stall out by throwing creatures in the way, and then to Bidding them back, all while working your opponent’s life total down. Your main problems are Arcbound Ravager itself, which can get too big to handle then pass it’s counters to a Blinkmoth Nexus or an Ornithopter, and Disciple of the Vault, which will consistently deal damage to you over the game.

You want a Goblin Sharpshooter and a Sparksmith early to pick off those two problems. Gempalm Incinerator can be a lot of help here too, since it acts as instant speed removal that can back up a Sparksmith activation – putting the Sparksmith damage on the stack, then incinerating an Arcbound Ravager puts your opponent in a tricky situation that favors you.

Sometimes R-Affinity will just get the busted hand while your hand will be too slow. That’s part of why the matchup isn’t in your favor, but sometimes their hand won’t have multiple Myr Enforcers and you’ll get to the Bidding, bring back two Siege-Gang Commanders and the match will go totally against them. But in this sense, you’re the control deck.

Sideboarding is tricky, because you don’t want to strip yourself of all your Biddings or all your Skullclamps or all your Goblins. Generally I would want to cut down to one or two Biddings, since the card is good, but is a mulligan in multiples. Skullclamp is powerful, of course, but it’s again not something you want to see too many of. The worst card in the deck is often Goblin Piledriver, though you will occasionally get your own nuts hand and slam your opponent upside the face, I generally don’t find that Goblin Piledriver helps unless my opponent gets a bad hand. If you think their build is slower, though, you can of course try to sideboard into a more aggressive stance, taking out your Skullclamps and Biddings entirely for a pile of removal and just go that way. However they often bring in Pyroclasm, which can turn your”aggressive stance” into nothing but cinders. Be wary of overcommitting in such circumstances unless you have Goblin Sharpshooter and a Sledder ready, at which point you can turn the Pyroclasm back on them and kill all their Enforcers and so on.

Before boarding, the matchup is in their favor. After boarding, I would say it’s fair, as while you board in many cards, they get Pyroclasm, which can push all your Goblins out of the way and cause you a great deal of hassle if timed right. On the other hand, you board in massive amounts of removal, so life is alright as well.

Mono-White Control

And now to a happier matchup!

Of all the decks in the format, Mono-White Control is most likely the one you want to sit down against. Their win conditions are slow, and even after boarding, you’re in good shape. Worse, besides Damping Matrix, they have only Oblivion Stone to shut down your Skullclamp, which means you can sit about drawing oodles of cards on your turn while they stew.

This matchup is heavily in your favor, as MWC can’t deal with Patriarch’s Bidding. Sure they can Wrath away your team over and over again, slaughter your men endlessly, burn your house down and kick your dog. I like to think of the MWC player as the Empire in Star Wars, though. They callously and unfeelingly slaughter your rebel troops (i.e., your Goblins) while you try to mount a resistance. Then, out of nowhere, Patriarch’s Bidding resolves.

Death Star explodes.

Your plan in this matchup should be to put lots of pressure on them while trying to draw lots of cards off Skullclamp. They have only one monkey wrench – Mindslaver, of course. Slaver will generally result in killing your entire team and, in some rare situations, be enough to kill you in one shot, since Goblin Sharpshooter can be turned on you quite easily. This is rare, though, and usually they don’t get to that sort of mana supply before you can go off. Two points about evading Mindslaver are to keep your handsize down to a relatively reasonable size, since they can Clamp you into a bunch of cards and then make you discard all your”good” cards and to try to keep from having too many Black sources in play. If you have three or four, they can cast multiples of your Biddings which is never a happy occurrence.

Generally, as I said, keep the pressure on, draw extra cards, resolve Bidding once or twice, and win the game. Oh, and Kill Exalted Angels before they kill you. Pardoning a ridiculous draw on their part or mana flood on yours, this matchup is generally heavily in your favor before sideboarding.

After sideboarding, in my case I bring in the two Culling Scales (which removes CoP: Red and Damping Matrix) and the last Bidding, although if your board is different you can bring in Flashfires, Sulfuric Vortex, or Oblivion Stone, to taste. I prefer Flashfires coupled with Culling Scales if I really want to bully MWC, since the pair makes their life very miserable. Artifact removal can also be a fine pick if you want to pick off Damping Matrix. Usually, unless they’re running Solemn Simulacrum, you can feel pretty safe cutting out your Sparksmiths then your Gempalm Incinerators, though usually they’re not too much of a problem unless they flip her turn 4 and you have little to no action. That’s rare.

This matchup is, as I said, heavily in your favor and then about the same after sideboarding. If you played eight rounds of MWC with Goblin Bidding, it would be odd if you didn’t go at least 6-2.

White/Blue Control

White/Blue Control is a lot like playing against MWC, except it has much greater control over your ability to resolve Patriarch’s Bidding and less control over your creatures. That means that it can actually counter Patriarch’s Bidding. It does not, however, have any real way to shut down your Skullclamping beyond Damping Matrix, and it can’t use Mindslaver to punish you for drawing too many cards.

Your game plan against UWC should be more towards aggression than combo (when compared to MWC). You should try to keep and maintain pressure on them as much as possible, to keep them from leaving too much mana open. While this is harder than the plan against MWC, the matchup is not exceedingly worse. Also, UWC has been declared”dead,” and although that doesn’t mean the deck won’t show up, it means it won’t show up as much.

I would likely board in the Culling Scales, and then some amount of artifact removal, hereabouts. And the last Patriarch’s Bidding, of course. Side out the three Sparksmiths (if you’re running them), and then some or all of the Incinerators. You don’t want to overload on artifact removal, since this matchup is much more about threats than MWC, and you can’t just reply with Bidding to win the game, but you will likely want to pick off CoP: Red to keep your threats operating at full power. Ivory Mask hasn’t been too popular as of late, so thankfully you probably won’t have to worry too much about that instead of Damping Matrix, which you can remove without adding Green. On the other hand, this one of the decks where you’d want to have Sulfuric Vortex, but this is generally the only matchup to function as such.

As long as you can draw a fair number of cards ahead of them and don’t get mana flooded, you will usually be able to win this matchup. It’s in your favor before boarding, and slightly in your favor after, since they will usually bring in way more hate for you than you arguably can for them.


Slide is a rather persistent deck, and it remains a top competitor as it has since the start of this Standard season. However, for the most part, Slide decks don’t really have a great game plan against Bidding decks, since Bidding itself tends to bring back too much that they worked so hard to kill. With the loss of maindeck Angels in a lot of netdeck versions, they don’t put you on too brutal a clock.

Maindeck Damping Matrix is indeed a pain in the ass, but if they’re dropping that, they’re usually not doing other stuff. Against Slide, if they don’t have maindeck Matrix, you can usually take a somewhat relaxed approach to the game and use up early men Skullclamping, but it’s unusual for them not to have Matrix nowadays, so just forget about all of that. Your goal should be, like with UWC, to apply pressure, lots of pressure, and not rely too heavily on the fact you can Patriarch’s Bidding, since they can go”Gilded Light, Starstorm” and hose that gameplan right down. Bidding is still a great card, it just doesn’t automatically win you the game.

Boarding in the Culling Scales is fine here. With the decrease in Astral Slides in maindecks, I am beginning to think that Sword of Fire and Ice might be rather helpful, but I have yet to test it more than once or twice. You will probably want to, again, take out the Sparksmiths, then the Incinerators, and also bring in some artifact removal. This is getting pretty predictable, eh?

White Weenie

There are several versions of White weenie floating around, and all of them are pretty wacky.

First off, because White Weenie essentially has”maindeck hate” like Silver Knight, Leonin Shikari / Lightning Greaves, and Sword of Fire and Ice, sometimes this matchup is very one sided. He goes Mox, Silver Knight, followed by a Bonesplitter and a Silver Knight, and you lose the game. It’s very hard to beat that draw, unless you get to go Prospector, Warchief, Piledriver, Sharpshooter, turn 4 Siege-Gang,”gee gee good sir,” in response. And that might go pretty poorly if he just figures out how to block while his four turn clock beats the crap out of you. A lovely image, I know.

On the other hand, sometimes he doesn’t draw his precious hate, and his deck just flat out loses to your fast draw or your Sharpshooter. The matchup is absurdly draw dependent, and most of the cards between your two decks are just silly against each other. You basically want Goblin Warchief followed by Goblin Sharpshooter and Siege-Gang Commander – you then remove a bunch of his men, swinging for a bunch, sack some guys and the game is over. That’s just how it goes.

You should be pretty happy to board in some artifact removal here, as it kills their various gadgets. Sword of Fire and Ice offers non-Red removal, but if WW is big, you’d probably want access to Smother, which I’m already waffling on in the place of Electrostatic Bolt anyway. You’d also probably want to put Tendrils of Agony in your sideboard, since it can kill Worshipful opponents, but like I said, the deck just isn’t so big right now.

Maybe it will be by the time Regionals rolls around, at which point the sideboard should obviously change a bit.


Unfortunately, unlike other archetypes where there’s a rather Standard game plan inherent to the archetype, Zombies encompasses several different types of decks. I’ve talked about it before – You can be a pure aggro, Suicide Black sort of model and then run through varying degrees all the way up to almost Mono-Black Control.

Versions of Zombies that are very aggro lose to Goblin Bidding very sheepishly. Goblin Sharpshooter is a wrecking ball against creature decks and Siege-Gang Commander just produces a lot of annoying men. Though Patriarch’s Bidding itself can be pretty weak, as long as their Withered Wretch isn’t allow to go hogwild, it will still generally do more for you than them, especially if you hold a Goblin Sharpshooter in hand. Multiple Goblin Sharpshooters, if left unattended, win the game.

As the deck becomes more controlling, the matchup becomes harder, but you are never truly at a point where their deck totally wrecks you. They can bring in Infest, which is hard to handle, but you still have better removal and a number of cards they really hate to see like Sparksmith. This matchup will almost always be either in your favor, or at worst with a ton of hate, just fair. Oh, and bear in mind Dross Harvester will usually gain the zombie deck life, so you’ll usually want to pick that one off right quickly.

I am not, however, completely sure what to suggest for sideboarding, again because there’s so many versions of the deck. I know you’ll want the final Gempalm Incinerator, but past that everything get a little hazy. If Zombies was really big, you’d have better sideboard options, but since it’s not, you don’t. Ensnaring Bridge, Scrabbling Claws, and Sword of Light and Shadow would be quite hot if you could devote some slots, as would additional Sparksmiths.

Sorry if this is a little sparse on the details. There’s not a lot to say, since there doesn’t appear to be a very successful version of anything Mono-black to attach the paragraph to.

The Mirror

There are, oddly enough, two types of mirror matches hereabouts: The normal Goblin matchup, which seems to be pretty dead these days, and then the actual Bidding mirror matchup. The normal Goblin matchup is almost always in your slight disfavor, or in your favor if for some bizarre reason they’re not running Goblin Sharpshooter. I haven’t seen a version of Goblins do well in several weeks, if not months, so I’m not going to discuss it in any detail. You win the”Goblins only mirror” by drawing better, there’s not a lot of obvious opportunities to out play your opponent. You board in Sword of Fire and Ice, and some artifact removal if you think they’re bringing in Sword. You take out Bidding and, then it depends on the version of the deck they’re running. If you see Terror or Banishing, Goblin Piledriver becomes bad.

The normal Mirror on the other hand is still pretty draw dependent. You want three cards in multiples – Goblin Sharpshooter, who wins the prize, Gempalm Incinerator, and Goblin Warchief, which makes you”faster” than the other deck. Be willing to mulligan hands if they don’t have those cards in them. This is not the time to keep the triple Siege-Gang Commander draw. The person who gets Sharpshooter first generally get to disable his opponent’s ability to both Skullclamp and win the game, until it’s removed. If you get Sharpshooter down, kill your opponent’s Goblin Warchiefs as they show up – even if it means mana burning after you sacrifice stuff to a Skirk Prospector for an untap – and obviously you never want them to get a hasted Goblin Sharpshooter down, or untap with Sharpshooter in play. Kill them. Kill them all! Siege-Gang Commander is a problem, assuming they get to untap or still have Skirk Prospector in play, which would be a bit unusual.

Board in the same things as in the normal mirror. If you want to get”fancy,” you can cut Skirk Prospector for Electrostatic Bolt and Goblin Piledriver for artifact removal, at which point you become”the control deck” and should try to play for the long game, where eventually you remove his Goblin Sharpshooters with your removal, have better access to Skullclamp, and your Sharpshooters eventually win out. That’s a bit chancy, of course, but it could be the better plan. I haven’t tested the mirror a great deal, since it seems to come down to”look I drew two Sharpshooters and you drew none, therefore I am the better player.”


Goblin Bidding has remained a steady part of the metagame since its invention almost a year ago. It’s matchups, while not often super-amazing 86% figures, are generally very solid, and the deck itself is a lot more interesting to play than say, mono-Red burn, while still having much the same”light my opponent on fire” appeal that can make those decks amusing for a while.

Even though initially it didn’t fare so well against Ravager Affinity in German Regionals, the deck still won many slots, and as players adapt to playing the matchup, the deck does better and better. It’s an appealing choice, partially because it has such solid overall matchups, and partially because none of its cards manage to break the $20 price tag a certain Arcbound man is commanding.

There are still a lot of options to building Goblin Bidding, however. The deck can presumably take on an additional color, with Read the Runes being an interesting spell to add from Blue, and Naturalize obviously being so gosh-darn amusing to run from Green. Since I haven’t seen too many of those versions doing well at various Regionals (though maybe I’m already out of date), I’ve avoided talking about them, simply because they’re harder to play and a bit less consistent overall. There’s also this whole discussion about Aether Vial in the maindeck, but I have never seen any real conclusive non-Zvi results from this alteration, so I don’t know what to make of it just yet.

Still, Goblin Bidding is a reliable, well tested, solid archetype to choose. The decklist can vary a reasonable degree, of course, but like any Combo deck, there’s a certain core of cards. And many of those cards are Goblins, which are Still ridiculous, no matter how you slice ’em.

Iain Telfer

(Next week : Decks of Steve #2)