Before this tournament I was uncertain of what deck I was going to play. The default choice was Threshold, either five-color or Black Threshold, possibly with some new cards. My other consideration was Goblins, since I expected there to be many decks playing Counterbalance, and even slower cards that beat Counterbalance. I knew that I would be playing Black for Warren Weirding and possibly some Black Goblins, and certainly Thoughtseize in the sideboard.
My teammates were testing maindeck Thoughtseize, one Goblin Piledriver, and only three Warren Weirding. I thought Warren Weirding was amazing and it wasn’t that hard to argue for the fourth copy. I was skeptical about maindeck Thoughtseize simply because it cost one and it wasn’t a Goblin, but after a little testing I realized it brought many of the same advantages it did to Threshold, and I agreed that it was very good in the deck, even though the Ringleaders are the weakest they have ever been in this version. The last change, cutting three Piledrivers, I didn’t agree with but in the end they had more testing than I did, so I ran the deck that way.
After staying up very late working out the sideboard, here is what we played:
- 4 Goblin Matron
- 4 Goblin Lackey
- 4 Goblin Warchief
- 1 Goblin Piledriver
- 1 Gempalm Incinerator
- 4 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Goblin Ringleader
- 2 Wort, Boggart Auntie
Round 1: Berserk Stompy, Nick Artese, 1-2
Nick wins the die roll and opens with Savannah, go. I play Badlands, Thoughtseize, and see three Berserks, Swords to Plowshares, and two creatures that cost two. I don’t have a Warren Weirding and I think my only chance of winning is to remove his creatures until I can get my engine going. I think I took a Tarmogoyf here and pass the turn. He another land, Jotun Grunt, and passes the turn. My turn two play was not a Warren Weirding. He attacks, casts Invigorate, Berserk, and another Berserk.
In game 2 I have a slower hand but it is good so I have to keep it. I think I open with an Aether Vial. He plays Dryad Arbor and says go, presumably as protection against Warren Weirding. I develop my board slowly and he begins to attack me with his undercosted creatures, but he doesn’t have the combo in the early turns and I resolve a Perish.
In game 3 he opens with several creatures. I cast a Warren Weirding and it takes a Jotun Grunt, but he ends up casting two Tarmogoyfs. The first one hits me for five. When he attacks with both, I can only block one, and he has the Berserk for the last ten points.
Round 2: Survival, Colin Chilbert, 2-0
These games went very fast.
I win the die roll and play an Aether Vial. Colin plays land, Birds of Paradise, and passes the turn. I played a land and passed. Colin misses his second land drop, and I don’t think he ever gets up to three mana.
In the second game, he plays land, Birds of Paradise. I play land and say go. He doesn’t have the second land, but he plays a Tarmogoyf. I have Warren Weirding. He finds more lands after this, and hardcasts Squee as a blocker. I draw Wasteland and Mogg Fanatic and I am able to keep his mana low enough to kill him before he plays better spells.
Round 3: 43 Lands, Justin Wynn, 1-2
I’m surprised to see this deck, and disappointed as I’m probably out of contention. I win the die roll and play Badlands, Aether Vial. He opens with Exploration, Wasteland on my Badlands, go. I play another land and pass the turn. At this point he plays his third land, Life from the Loam, and puts two more lands into play. Barbarian Ring and the rest of the cards end the game pretty fast.
In the second game I mulligan to six and keep a hand of Thoughtseize, Cabal Therapy, three lands, and a Goblin. I open with Thoughtseize and see Manabond, Gamble, and four lands. I take Manabond. He plays the Gamble, unaware that I have Cabal Therapy in hand, but it doesn’t matter as I randomly take the Exploration he tutored for. The land engine never comes online and I am able to get up to five or six lands and end the game with Siege-Gang Commander.
Game 3 is similar to game 1. He opens with Manabond, puts four more lands into play, and passes the turn. I play my first Aether Vial and pass the turn. He doesn’t start Wastelanding me right away but does play Mulch and eventually a Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale. I play a second Aether Vial and start to fetch Mountains that he can’t destroy. I have Goblin Warchief and Siege-Gang Commander in my hand. I am able to attack for a few points of damage every turn, and he has to lose a Mishra’s Factory or Wasteland once in a while, and he is discarding all spells at end of turn, so he isn’t totally in control of the board. My best plan is to draw a Wasteland, destroy the Tabernabcle, Vial in Warchief and Siege-Gang Commander, and do enough damage between attacking and sacrificing to kill him. We went to time, and this plan almost worked, but by the time I drew the Wasteland he found enough barbarian rings to kill all my guys easily. In turns he dredged the additional Mishra’s Factories he needed to kill me.
Round 4: It’s the Fear, David Gearhart 2-1
I don’t remember this match very well, but I do remember that I lost the game when David cast Vedalken Shackles:
I think I win the die roll and play a Goblin Lackey, which I think gets Forced. David has fetchlands and Sensei’s Divining top which he starts to use. A Goblin Warchief gets hit with Swords to Plowshares and eventually he plays Vedalken Shackles on turn three. He doesn’t have a red mana source in his deck but he is able to take control of my Siege-Gang Commanders and recur Engineered Explosives and destroy all the tokens before I am able to untap and use them. Eventually he plays Tarmogoyf and is able to win with it since I can’t mount an effective offense.
I think in the other two games I drew land destruction and Warren Weirdings for his Tarmogoyfs. I also remember in game 3 I had two Rishadan Ports and two Aether Vials going for a while, which allowed me to tap his Green mana and still make creatures every turn.
Round 5: 5C Threshold, Dominic Lodivicelli 2-1
This should have been my feature match. It was very well played and the games were interesting. 5C Threshold is one of the two decks I was strongly considering playing for this tournament. I know the deck very well, and Dominic and I had been talking about our decks and sideboards the previous day and the morning before the tournament.
I win the die roll, and Dominic has to mulligan to five. This is the best possible scenario for Goblins since I know he doesn’t have hate game one and I have the best chance of killing him with my Aggro plan. My hand is Badlands, Mountain, Goblin Lackey, Aether Vial, Warren Weirding, Goblin Warchief, and Siege-Gang Commander. I am not aware of this, but his hand is City of Brass, Swords to Plowshares, Force of Will, Daze, and Sensei’s Divining Top, which is arguably the best five cards he could have drawn in this scenario. I open with Badlands, Goblin Lackey. He draws a Tarmogoyf (which I don’t know yet) and plays Swords to Plowshares on my Goblin Lackey. I play Mountain, Aether Vial, and he plays Force of Will. I think he plays Sensei’s Divining Top and his second land. I don’t draw a third land, and pass the turn. He starts using the Top and plays a Tarmogoyf. I play my Warren Weirding, but this just makes his subsequent Tarmogoyfs bigger. I draw about eighteen cards this match and never see my third land, and he has plenty of time to kill me.
In game 2 I have several lands, and I am able to play a Goblin Warchief and a Siege-Gang Commander pretty early. At one point he is at low life but has two threshed Nimble Mongeese on defense. I have a full hand of goblins from an earlier Goblin Ringleader, so I am not worried about him blocking, but I want to kill him now so I Perish the two Mongeese and he doesn’t find a Pyroclasm on the next turn.
In game 3 I have an Aether Vial for most of the game. I remember I cast a Siege-Gang Commander with a Goblin Warchief and attacked for several points in the mid-game. He Pyroclasmed my creatures on the next turn, but I made more with Aether Vial at end of turn. Eventually the combination of City of Brass damage and attacking Goblins put him at very low life, and I killed him with Rishadan Port on City of Brass.
Round 6: Epic Storm, Bryant Cook 2-1
Bryant is a great opponent and I am pleased to be paired with him this late in the tournament. I win the die roll and I draw a hand of Goblin Lackey, Siege-Gang Commander, Thoughtseize, and four cards including a least two lands. I play Goblin Lackey, and he plays City of Brass, Ponder. I play Thoughtseize, and see two Infernal Tutor, two Ad Nauseam, Burning Wish, Cabal Ritual, and Rite of Flame. I take Rite of Flame and pass. He doesn’t draw the mana he needs and passes. I attack for six and add another goblin. On his turn he draws either a land or a Chrome Mox but it’s not enough for him to go off. He does the math and scoops.
In game 2 he has turn 1 Ill-Gotten Gains into Tendrils for twenty.
In game 3 I mulligan to five, and I have Cabal Therapy, Goblin Matron, and three lands. I play Cabal Therapy and name I think Infernal Tutor. His hand is two Chrome Mox, Lion’s Eye Diamond, City of Brass, Brainstorm, Dark Ritual, and Duress. He takes his turn and plays City of Brass, Brainstorm. I play a land, and I think pass the turn. He plays a Chrome Mox and may have cast a draw spell. I play Goblin Matron, getting probably Goblin Warchief, and then flashback Cabal Therapy naming Lion’s Eye Diamond. He has drawn a second and I take both of them. He draws and passes. I play Pyrostatic Pillar soon after this, and then a Goblin Matron into Goblin Piledriver and attack for eight. He defends by comboing into an Empty the Warrens for 12, taking him to two life. I have Rishadan Port and he has City of Brass, and I kill him with that.
Round 7: Dreadtill, Nick DiTizio 2-0
I don’t remember these games very clearly. They both played out very similarly.
I win the die roll and keep a hand with a Goblin Lackey. I play it on turn one and it gets Force of Willed. We both develop our boards, him playing a lot of lands and Wastelanding a couple of mine. I don’t think he draws a Dreadnought this game, and his Tarmogoyfs die to Warren Weirding. Eventually I resolve a Siege-Gang Commander, which attacks and shoots for exactly enough damage.
I open with turn one Goblin Lackey which gets Force of Willed again. This game Nick played three Standstills, which I broke right away every time. The first one was for Cabal Therapy, where I named Force of Will, and saw Firespout, Tarmogoyf, two Engineered Explosives, Brainstorm, Mishra’s Factory, Tropical Island, and Polluted Delta. I flashed it back later and took the Firespout. I think I had an Aether Vial this game which allowed me to get Wort into play, which recurred Warren Weirding for the Dreadnoughts and Tarmogoyfs he played. Eventually I just attack with goblins for enough damage.
I finish 23rd in the standings and get to watch the Top 8. One match that I watched closely was the Armageddon Stax versus Dreadtill in top eight. I thought that this match could have gone the other way if the Stax player had played a little differently, but I was impressed with the deck being in the Top 8.
After this tournament, I am still unsure of the role of Goblin Piledriver. I still want to run more than one copy, but more testing is necessary to figure out what appropriate cards are to cut for it.