When Goblins Attack!: A PTQ Winner’s Report

I’ve come to the conclusion that Goblins are terrible. They must be! Almost everyone I talk to plays a deck that crushes the Little Red Men. A deck that goes no worse than 70/30 against the marauding mono-coloured menace.
In a field in which Goblins are rightly feared, it seems everyone is gunning for them. Everyone has that special build, that ultra tech… Which ensures that a quick red rush has no chance of succeeding. Right?

Crashing down hard like a nuclear blast.

I like it red and I like it fast,

Flippin’ the cards through ninety degrees,

Bringin’ control playas to their knees.

My gaze is cold, I stoke the heat,

The guys I face embrace defeat,

You want me to quit? You’re out of luck,

‘Cos I’m the guy that don’t give a-

I’d best stop that. It’s far too gimmicky.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Goblins are terrible. They must be! Almost everyone I talk to plays a deck that crushes the Little Red Men. A deck that goes no worse than 70/30 against the marauding mono-coloured menace.

In a field in which Goblins are rightly feared, it seems everyone is gunning for them. Everyone has that special build, that ultra tech… Which ensures that a quick red rush has no chance of succeeding.

I went to Harrogate, England on Saturday. I played a PTQ for New Orleans, with Goblins as my weapon of choice. Here’s how I did.

For me, and for the rest of my team (Team Leeds), a weekend jaunt to a Magic tournament is a frequent occurrence. Sometimes we pack out two cars, and sometimes we could travel on a tandem. Sometimes we journey long hours, and sometimes we play just around the corner. The PTQ in Harrogate was, thankfully, within spitting distance.

Harrogate is a small town to the north of Leeds, picturesque and countrified. The grounds of the pavilions in which we played usually house the Great Yorkshire Show, which has something to do with farming or horses or similar. As a dedicated city gent, I was out of my element. But in the sweaty confines of a conference room, housing a small two-day gaming convention, a barrage of familiar sights, sounds, and smells put me at peace. I surveyed the field.

There were nineteen players for the PTQ.

Nineteen Players! Hahahahahaha!

Out of the nineteen, there were about fifteen I could name. And out of them, I’d call about ten regulars on the tournament scene.

Other PTQs were occurring in more central parts of the country. This may explain the low turnout. The gaming convention was also heavily underpromoted, which may have been a factor. The PTQ was on a Saturday, which may also have impacted on attendance – most English PTQs are held on Sundays.

But after all is said, you can only play the people placed in front of you.

So; five rounds of Swiss, cut to Top Eight. And on we went.

Little Red Men – A Decklist

4 Goblin Sledder

4 Skirk Prospector

4 Goblin Piledriver

4 Goblin Warchief

4 Clickslither

4 Siege-Gang Commander

3 Goblin Sharpshooter

3 Gempalm Incinerator

2 Rorix Bladewing

2 Shock

2 Sulfuric Vortex

3 Goblin Burrows

21 Mountain


4 Stabilizer

3 Sparksmith

3 Threaten

2 Sulfuric Vortex

1 Gempalm Incinerator

1 Rorix Bladewing

1 Insurrection (last-minute tech)

Round 1: David Bingham – Astral Slide – 2-0

Dave sat opposite me and shook my hand with a slightly worried grin.

Craig Stevenson, internet writer*,” he said – he knows me from previous tournaments.”Are you writing a report for this?”

“Ask me later,” I replied. If I did well, maybe I would. If I was drafting after round 3, probably not.

“If you do,” he asked,”don’t make me look stupid.”

Game one, and Dave decides that he only needs five cards. I had no idea what he was playing, even though he was sure I’d seen him rushing round trying to obtain some of the cards needed before we began. He had no difficulty discerning what I was playing… My mascot is a 7th Edition foil Goblin King.

Dave, going first, lays a first-turn Secluded Steppe. So, Maher R/W, Slide, or maybe MWC if I’m lucky. Second-turn mountain, third-turn Astral Slide confirmed Dave to be wielding Bad Matchup Deck #1.

However, my start was solid enough – Sledder, Piledriver, Warchief. And starting with only five cards meant Dave couldn’t survive for long. He cast no further spells, cycled sporadically, and died in short order.

Game two, and I’ve boarded in my Stabilizers and my extra Vortexes (or should that be Vortices?). I’ve done a little testing against Slide, but not enough… Nothing at all when compared against the time spent on MWC and Maher R/W. Still, the dangers are very similar, and I keep an acceptable hand with some Piledrivers and a Stabilizer.

My early Stabilizer caused a number of problems for Dave. First, it seemed he had a surfeit of land and was hoping to cycle the excess into decent cards. There was no early Lightning Rift, no Astral Slide, and thankfully no Silver Knights.

Dave was at sixteen life. I was preparing to lay down some Piledriver beats, with two of the goblin monkeys getting ready to slap for six. I had a Stabilizer on the table. My men charged.

In combat, Dave tapped six mana.

“Cycle Decree of Justice, make three guys?”

I looked at him. There was a brief pause. I spoke.


He looked at me. He looked at the board. He looked at his mana. He looked at his cards. He spoke, dejected.

“Burn for six.”

The Piledrivers did him six more, reducing him to four. With a Shock and a Vortex in my hand, I went on to win game and match.

Dave is a fine player, albeit one who hasn’t played for a while. He freely admitted at the beginning of the match that he hadn’t Onslaught Block Constructed at all.

After the match, he shook my hand with a smile.

“I can’t believe how bad that was,” he said,”I’m going to look so stupid.”

You aren’t stupid, Dave. Just out of practice.

If we make a mistake at the kitchen table, it’s quickly forgotten. The mistake we make when it means something is the one from which we learn.

What I learnt from this match:

  • Any deck, even a really bad matchup, can fall under the vicious charge of the goblins. If a player needs to Paris, or if they are screwed in any way, Goblins can just win.

  • As an extension of the above point, Stabilizer is an excellent tool in the arsenal of the aggressive player – not to stop an opponent from cycling out an Exalted Angel, or preventing damage from Lightning Rifts, but simply to hinder their early development. So many Slide players I’ve seen keep questionable hands with multiple cycling cards, banking on cycling themselves out of trouble. A hand of, say, three cycling lands, a Lightning Rift, an Exalted Angel, an Astral Slide, and a mountain becomes pure garbage when your opponent drops a Stabilizer on turn 2. When backed up with intensive, quick beats, A turn 2 Stabilizer can win the game outright.

  • Anyone who says,”the mistake we make when it means something is the one from which we learn” sounds like a pompous arse.

Round 2 – John – U/W Trade Secrets – 2-0

I should know John’s surname; he’s a friendly guy who always has a nice word for me whenever we meet. However, while my memory is usually excellent, I have a blind spot when it comes to people’s names. I once called an ex-girlfriend of mine”Derek.” I think I would have got away with it, but when she asked why I’d called her by a man’s name, I told her I was confused by her moustache.

We weren’t together for long.

John was not pleased to be playing me. He knew I was touting the Little Red Men, and his patented U/W Brain Freeze deck had, by his own admission, not a hope in hell.

We shuffle up, draw and begin. My hand is above average, with one, two and three drops. I lay down the guys and commence the assault. John lays land after land, cast Trade Secrets, Oblates a Piledriver, and dies.

“The worst thing is,” he said,”I actually had a really good hand. My deck gets smashed by little red men.”

The second game, I brought in my spare Vortexes, and all four Stabilizers – these were a mistake, as I overestimated the amount of cycling cards John was packing. John sideboarded eleven cards against me, including Silver Knights and Wing Shards. Even so, with my Piledriver/Warchief/Clickslither/Siege-Gang draw, John’s two Chain of Vapors and an Oblation couldn’t stop the inevitable. John cast Akroma’s Vengeance, which I immediately followed with a Warchief and a Vortex. And that was that.

John, as usual, was gracious in defeat. Onslaught Block Constructed is the format where the deck you’re facing really matters. Past blocks have allowed play skill and luck to determine the outcome of even the most difficult of matchups. In this block, however, some matchups are so one-sided that it’d save time and effort to simply compare decklists at the start of the tournament, pair the first round, and work out the players in the final.

I couldn’t fault John’s logic for playing the deck he did. Yes, Goblins are perhaps the strongest deck in the field, but everyone knows this. Everyone is after them, weighting both maindeck and sideboard to the destruction of the Red Menace. As I’ve mentioned, everyone has tech to beat the fast red deck. So logically, Goblins are not the healthiest choice when it comes to playing a PTQ. And if the number of Goblin players will be small, a deck like John’s – geared for control – is a good choice.

Hell, I nearly came to the same conclusion. I was this close to running Beast Bidding.

The thing is, even if Goblins are hated out of the environment, I find that the God draw available with the Little Red Men is far more powerful than the God draw of any other deck in the field. An example:

Mike Major** and myself were practicing. I ran Goblins, Mike ran B/W control. I played first.

Me, turn 1: Mountain, Prospector, go.

Mike, turn 1: Plains, go.

Me, turn 2: Mountain, sac Prospector, Make Warchief, swing for two, go.

Mike, turn 2: Plains, Silver Knight, go.

Me, turn 3: Mountain, Piledriver, Piledriver, Piledriver, swing for twenty-three (sixteen after blocking)

Mike, turn 3: Scoop.

Mike showed me his hand – two more Silver Knights, a Swamp, a Wing Shards, and a Renewed Faith. A God hand against Goblins, to be sure – but not in the same league as the God hand that mono-red possesses.

John made a metagame call that backfired on him. With Goblin decks making up almost a quarter of the field, he was fated to meet at least one in the course of five rounds. And the lucky goblin player of choice was me.

Things I learnt from this match:

  • I confirmed my idea that innovation is sadly difficult in Onslaught Block Constructed. You build an interesting rogue deck and it gets pummelled into the ground by fast red spells.

  • The metagame is essentially redundant when playing a fast red beatdown deck. I’m going to make men quickly and attack. I don’t care what you’re doing. You’ve brought in multiple anti-red cards for games two and three? How interesting… Swing for sixteen?

Round 3 – Ted – Goblins – 0-2

The mirror match was something I felt confident I could win. My maindeck has two Rorix Bladewing, plus three Goblin Sharpshooter (the three-drop Beretta). Alongside the usual compliment of Incinerators and a few Shocks, I felt well equipped. Then along came Ted.

Ted was insane.

Actually insane.

I’m sure of it.

Every time Ted drew a card, he would laugh.

I’m not talking a”Ha ha, I’ve drawn land again” type of laugh, or a”Hee hee, what an amusing story” laugh, or even a”Hohoho, that’s an odd-shaped parsnip” laugh.

I’m talking a maniacal cackle. A witches’ high-pitched half-scream. The strangled mewling of a cat giving birth to a piano.

And he kept flicking the universal symbol for”peace,” two fingers raised high. I mean, come on! The last Englishman to do that was Winston bloody Churchill.

I’d not met Ted before. He was a young American-sounding chap with possible Oriental roots. A friend of John’s, he’d travelled to the PTQ with his fallen comrade and was out to obtain revenge. He obtained it by the bucketful.

We shuffled up, and I won the all important die roll. I started with a Sledder, and followed it with a Piledriver. Ted pulled a land off the top, then stalled on two land for about ten turns. Turn 1, he Shocked my Sledder, turn 2 he Shocked my Piledriver. I made a turn 3 Warchief… Which was also Shocked. While I drew naught but land and Prospectors, Ted made three Piledrivers, some Sledders and a Prospector. He then drew two land, played a Blistering Firecat, and screamed in for the win.

Hmm. Things weren’t proceeding as planned.

Ted had made a few mistakes in the game, giving me an extra two turns to topdeck some answers. At times, he was unsure on what he should be doing. With his clear board advantage, I think I’d have been a little more aggressive.

Game two, I make a big mistake and keep a hand I should have Parised. Going first, I had a Sledder, a Piledriver, and five mountains. This was nowhere near aggressive enough, and the lack of removal only compounded my error. Ken Krouner has recently written an informative article on the art of the Paris Mulligan, which I’d recommend to anyone who has trouble in this area. As one who traditionally struggles with this part of the game, his words were enlightening.***

The game itself was an anticlimax. The only other creature I drew was a Rorix, busted out on turn 8. I was in a hole already, but had to swing in order to apply a little pressure of my own. Ted’s troops couldn’t kill me outright, but when my Piledriver was Threatened next turn Ted swung for an unchecked twenty-six damage and that was all she wrote.

Ted was a full-on guy, the perfect pilot for a goblin beatdown machine. Some of his card choices were a little suspect, especially playing Blistering Firecats in a format full of first-striking, pro-red Silver Knights, but he did well on the day, finishing top of the Swiss before losing in the quarters to MWC.

Conclusions reached in this match:

  • Despite evidence to the contrary, my deck does not fare too well in the mirror. I feel that before boarding, things are just fine, but afterwards… I traditionally board in two cards – one Incinerator and one Rorix. I also stick Threaten in when faced with Goblin Goons. However, I now believe I need more spot removal in the board for this matchup, with maybe some small-scale board clearing spells to go with it.

  • Parising with this deck, especially in the mirror match, should be ultra-aggressive. There is no space for meekness when piloting the Red Menace.

  • Although this may sound like sour grapes, I believe that as the goblin-on-goblin match is over so quickly, it is extremely draw-dependent. If you don’t see critical spells early on, you will lose. Kudos for Ted, though: He beat me fair and square. Even if he is insane.

Round 4 – Stephano Gattolin – MWC – 2-0

My first Pro Tour appearance was Houston last year. The format was Extended, I played Red Deck Wins 2002, and I finished in the top 32. Stephano, an Italian national studying in England, was one of my roommates in Houston. It was also his first Pro Tour appearance. He played a B/G Smokestack deck, completing day one with the impressive record of 0-7.

Houston, he had a problem.

And he’s going to hate me for mentioning it. Heh.

I like Stephano. He’s a great guy and a good player, despite his Pro Tour: Houston nightmare. We all have a bad day at the office every now and then.

I went into this match in a very relaxed frame of mind. I’d done a lot of testing against MWC, and fancied my chances. Of course, I’d need to see copies of the key cards, such as Clickslither and Siege-Gang Commander, but if I did then I’d ride home to victory. Both games, however, were closer than I anticipated.

The first game saw Stephano lead with a Deftblade Elite on turn 1. This guy isn’t too bad against the Goblins, as he can take out an early Prospector (like he did in this game), and I imagine if he’s Dragon Scaled up on turn 2, he can make for very bad beats indeed. Luckily for me, Stephano saw none of his Dragon Scales throughout the match.

The game went on for a while. I seemed to be in the driving seat, with men on the board and hitting hard. Stephano then cast Decree of Justice, creating three 4/4 angels. He swung with two of them, knowing he’d kill me next turn if I didn’t draw anything too devastating.

I topdecked a Siege-Gang Commander, sacked some guys to my Clickslither, and sent in for the win.

Yes, I was lucky. However, on reflection, it seems that Stephano may have been a little hasty when attacking with two of his three angels. He was ensuring he’d win next turn, thus giving me fewer draws to find my threats, but in doing so he increased the number of cards I could draw that’d ensure me the victory. A syntactical error, maybe… But as it happens, the Siege-Gang Commander would have won me the game in either case.

And Now, A Word On Trash-Talking

Generally, I’m a quiet player. Respectful, generous and serene. Sometimes I’m a little tetchy when losing, but that’s something I’m working on.

However, if you know me well, or if you seem up for a laugh, or if you just catch me on a good day, I trash-talk.

Nothing malicious. Nothing personal. Nothing even trashy.

Just talk. Banter. Jokes, at the expense of my opponent and at the expense of myself.

It’s all in the name of fun, designed to increase the enjoyment of both players. Most of the time, it’s not directed against my opponent. It’s simply encouraging him or her to talk back and have a laugh with me.

My match with Stephano was full of such talk. Gentle ribbing about our time in Houston (and not all of it Magic-related), sarcastic comments about the strength of each other’s play, and so on. Just simple, good-humored fun.

I think it put Stephano off his game. I didn’t intend it to, but he was certainly rattled.

It’s the first time I’ve ever registered the fact that trash-talking is a distraction. All right, I may be a little slow on the uptake here, but I’ve always chatted to my opponent: Not to affect his play, but to be friendly. Now I see it can put people off… And I think that’s great.

As long as the person you’re talking to isn’t offended by what you say, and is joining in the jokes with the same spirit, then anything goes. If you gain a mental advantage through that, all’s fair.

Naturally, if they tell you to clamp shut your sordid little grief-hole of a mouth, suck it up and fall back on your play-skill. Or topdeck a Siege-Gang Commander like I did.

Game two was a little shorter. I’d added my extra Vortexes, plus the Threatens for some cheeky Angel or Elemental theft. Yes, I brought in the Insurrection. No, I didn’t draw it.

I didn’t have the explosive Prospector start, but other than that my hand was perfect. Piledriver, Warchief, Clickslither, Siege-Gang, win. With Rorix and Vortex in hand as backup. Stephano also had a strong draw, but when the Goblins go to town they paint everything red.

Again, there was much trash-talking. Stephano mistimed a Wing Shards in the lethal attack: the correct play may have saved him a turn or so, but things looked pretty grim for him either way. The hand I had would have overrun an army of Silver Knights.

Stephano seemed a little upset after losing. He’s a great player, though, and I fully expected to see him make the top eight.

Profound discoveries made during Round 4:

  • The Mono-White Control matchup is as easy as anticipated. Although they have some difficult cards, if you see any combination of Sharpshooter, Clickslither, and Siege-Gang Commander, you should win the game.

  • The Little Red Men seem to have two distinct God draws: the Prospector/Warchief/Piledrivers draw, and the Warchief/Clickslither/Siege-Gang draw. Any deck that has multiple routes to victory is ensured some success.

  • Trash-talking between consenting adults is perfectly acceptable.

Round 5 – Steve Newbury – <Censored> – Intentional Draw

Steve and I draw into the Top Eight. I play him later in the report, so I’ll introduce him then.

After the Swiss, I finish somewhere between 1st and 8th.

A Top Eight Deck Breakdown:

  • Three Goblin Decks

  • Two Mono-White Control Decks

  • Two Maher Red-White Decks

  • One <Censored> Deck

I was facing another mirror match for the Quarterfinals. Oh joy of joys.

Quarterfinal – Chris Wankling – Goblins – 2-1

I should have lost this match 2-0. Luckily, I won the second game.

I should have lost this match 2-1. Luckily, I won the third game.

This was the funniest match I’ve played for (ice) ages. Chris is a decent player, and always a blast to play. Throughout the games, the trash-talk flowed. Left, right, forward, back – a smog of insults and in-jokes tinted the air.

Game one, and Chris came out shooting. I can’t remember much of the savage battering I received. My mind tries to recall details, but all I get is a still photo of two white kittens in an old boot, accompanied by elevator music. In the interest of mental self-defense, all pertinent memory has been subconsciously shelved.

Game two was where the fun began. I come out fast, with Warchief, Prospector, and Piledriver. However, I was comprehensively outboarded by my worthy adversary, and he Starstormed my people away. I continued to make men, but Chris’s Goblin Pyromancer cleared the board again. I was on three life with an empty fist. Chris was below 10 life and had a card in hand. Luckily, I drew a Rorix and managed to pull out a victory.

The card in Chris’s hand was a Shock.

During this game, I killed an active Goblin Sharpshooter, and Chris neglected to ping me for one.

At one stage, Chris swung with an unchecked Goblin and missed the two-point pump available with his untapped Goblin Burrows.

Either of these would have won him the game and match.

As we began game three, I began to speculate on the existence of a divine, benign, presence.

By the end of game three, I was Born Again.*****

My opening hand was spectacular. Chris, with the advantage of playing first, played out some early guys and then dried up. A Starstorm cleared the first wave of my attackers, and then the perennial annoyance that is Goblin Pyromancer cleared the second. We were both staring at an empty board, and neither had any resources in hand.

My initial onslaught had wreaked havoc on Chris’s life total. He sat on the edge of his seat, with one measly point of life keeping him from falling into the chasm. I hovered on a much healthier twelve life, after Chris had swung with guys and I’d neglected to block in order to maximise my own offensive potential.

We stared at each other across the table. The jokes and jibes were still flowing, but there was a little tension in the air. All I needed was a Shock.

I drew a land. I looked down at my six land already on the table, kept my face straight and said”Go.”

Chris untapped and drew his card. His smile widened, and he physically grew in his seat. Tapping six mountains, he cast Rorix, bellowing like a pirate. I screamed. Two hits and I’m history.

I pick up my pen while Chris jabbered on.

“Rorix! How’s that for a topdeck!”

I laughed and shook my head. My next card had to be a Shock.

Chris looks at me, and says,”Go.”

That’s”Make Rorix, go.”

No attack phase.

No six to the dome.

Make a hasted beatstick, and pass the turn.

Now it could be that Chris was going on the defensive, putting up a blocker in case I drew the Warchief, but I doubted it. Chris himself admitted his mistake after the match: he was livid with himself for getting excited and missing out the obvious. I couldn’t blame him. These were frantic moments, and I’m sure I’d have done exactly the same.

So I had a brief respite to find a winning card. I drew a Gempalm Incinerator. I tapped three and laid him down, knowing that Chris couldn’t afford to swing without opening himself to a game-winning counter-strike. If Chris had made whoopie with Rorix the previous turn, he could have swung for the requisite six, and I would have been hot buttered toast.

He untapped, drew a card, shook his head and passed the turn. I untapped, drew a card, laid a land and passed the turn. He untapped, drew a card, laid a land and passed the turn. I untapped, drew, cast a Siege-Gang Commander, threw a Goblin at Chris and extended the hand.



Praise the Lord!

Observations made during this wonderful match:

  • The ability to concentrate while under pressure (be it game pressure or trash-talking) is indispensable. Chris made some killer mistakes, but he’s a good player. The howlers must be attributed to pressure or distraction.

  • I confirmed that after sideboarding, my deck suffers horrendously in the mirror match.

  • The power of Goblin Pyromancer is questionable. Yes, he can clear the board, and yes, he can boost your guys for an alpha strike, but he’s expensive, and lends himself to overly suicidal play. If your opponent can remove a few key guys in the attack, you’ve probably surrendered a healthy board position.

  • There is a God, and he plays mono-red.

Semifinals – Steve Newbury – <Censored> – 2-1

I’ve known Steve for quite a while. He’s a regular on the English tournament scene, and has attended a few Pro-Tours. He usually turns up with something rogue, and today was no exception. He has an established deckbuilding pedigree – he was one of the original creators of the Replenish deck.

Steve asked me not to print any details of his deck. I agreed for a number of reasons

He’s a nice guy who repeatedly gives me cigarettes.

He can become very angry. We’re talking”Bruce Banner” angry. Of course, it’s over in an instant, and is usually directed inwardly (if a game isn’t going his way), but even so… The next time I play him, I’ll want to leave the tournament with the same number of eyeballs as when I arrived.

His deck can seriously trouble Goblins. And as I’ll continue to play them throughout the Block season – including at Grand Prix London later this month – the fewer people who know about his deck, the better.

Unfortunately, this irritating decree of secrecy means that there’s no flash-bang follow-up to the epic tale of the quarterfinal. So instead, I’m going to invite you to enter a competition…

I’ll type up some match analysis from my semi-final clash with Steve, censoring various card names and game terms. The first person to email me with a fully correct version that includes the proper card names and terms will win ten Onslaught rares, some of which might be almost playable. Oh, and Steve – you’re not allowed to enter. In fact, neither is anyone I know personally.

Game one is a bullying. Steve lays a <Censored> on turn one, and follows with a <Censored> and a <Censored>. Although I have a quick draw, with a turn 2 Warchief, followed by a Piledriver and a Sharpshooter on turn 3, Steve <Censored> away a <Censored> to kill my Piledriver with the <Censored>, and <Censored> my Warchief.

I make some more guys, and they get <Censored> away as I swing. Steve lays up some defence with a <Censored>, so I make Rorix. He gets <Censored>.

A Vortex gets <Censored>, and Steve re-morphs the <Censored> to commence beatings. I draw nothing, and Steve lays a second <Censored>, and <Censored> things at me for the win.

As I board, I realise that Steve’s deck relies heavily on seeing an early <Censored>. In come the <Censored>. The <Censored> also make the deck, replacing the Incinerators – Steve’s deck seems almost creatureless.

Game two, and the Little Red Men start proceedings with a Sledder. He meets with a cheeky turn one <Censored> from Steve. However, Steve seems to have nothing else, And without seeing any <Censored> or a <Censored>, his solitary <Censored> can only hold me off for so long – my three Piledrivers (with miscellaneous goblin backup) take the game rather quickly.

Game three is when Steve got a little angry. I drop a turn 2 <Censored>, which nullifies Steve’s turn two <Censored>. As I establish a competent ground force, Steve bemoans the fact that he can’t <Censored> his way into some answers. He <Censored> a Clickslither, and clears the board with a <Censored>. Steve then <Censored> my <Censored>, and <Censored> with a frenzy for some more business spells.

Unfortunately for him, this means I’m safe to drop the <Censored> and a Rorix next turn. With Steve at eight life, he drops down to a precarious two. Next turn, he <Censored> Rorix in my attack step. This leaves him with a chance to <Censored>, and four cards to play with. I have nothing but the Rorix in hand.

Second main phase, I re-make the Rorix.

Steve flicks me the finger, untaps and draws.

His next card was a <Censored>.

I laugh, swing, and win.

So, if anyone can make any sense of the above ramblings, send it to the email address at the foot of the article. Hell, it’s got to be more fun that working.

Things I learned from the semi-final:

  • <Censored>

  • <Censored>

  • If you repeatedly ask Steve how many cards he’s holding, a small vein begins to throb just above his right eye. I kept asking him”How many cards in hand?” when he was shuffling up. This confused him.

  • <Censored>

Final – Stephano Gattolin – MWC – Split

Heh… Good old Stephano. I knew he’d make it.

Stephano has other commitments for the dates of Pro Tour: New Orleans, and was happy to concede the slot for a split of the cash and the boosters. Although I felt I could win the match, I felt that paying”X” pounds was a fair price to remove the possibility of manascrew. We arranged a deal, shook hands, and both went home happy.

What conclusions did I reach over the course of the day? The number one on the all-time list:

Goblins is the strongest deck in the format. By a long, long way.

If I were playing a Block PTQ tomorrow, I’d make some changes to my sideboard. Maindeck, I feel all is peachy – it has the cards to combat most of the tier one decks in the current metagame.

The worrying deficiency I found was the serious lack of mirror match technology. To rectify this, I’d consider running the following:

4 Stabilizer

2 Threaten

2 Sparksmith

2 Shock

2 Starstorm

2 Sulfuric Vortex

1 Rorix Bladewing

This configuration, though untested, should prove more powerful when facing down an opposing Goblin horde. The two extra Shock, coupled with the two Starstorm and the Rorix (and even the Threaten) should help win the removal/big creature war.

And so my thoughts turn to New Orleans…

This will be my fourth Pro Tour appearance, and my second bite at the Extended format. Most players agree that the current Extended is a wide and exciting metagame, packed with a variety of competitive decks. There’s the old favourites, such Oath, Reanimator, Tinker and TurboLand, plus new decktypes powered by strong Scourge cards, such as Brain Freeze and Mind’s Desire.

Extended is a truly open field.

There is no limit placed on the fertile imagination.

Innovation and inspiration should reap massive rewards.

I’ll be dusting off my Jackal Pups. And swinging for two.

Thanks for listening,

Craig Stevenson

[email protected]

Scouseboy on MTGO

* – Heh; listen to me! Three articles in and I’m an internet writer! My mum would be so proud.

** – A housemate, and test partner when the EverQuest servers are down.

*** – If a little late to help me at this tournament. Thanks for nothing, Ken! 🙂

**** – A few hours after the tournament, I lapsed into sin by getting fanatically drunk. I’ve long since reached the conclusion that Jesus doesn’t want me for a sunbeam.