Goblins strike again, this time finishing in the Top4 on the national WMCQ in Modern, where 42 eager players fought for the spot in the national selection. The day started off great, but eventually I lost in the semi finals against the guy who ended up wining it all. Since No Lords Goblins worked well for me on PPTQ and a few local FNMs, I choose to stick with it, only expanding it to Jund to include one of my favorites in modern goblins, Spike Jester.
As always, here is the deck I piloted this time:
WMCQ Slovenia - Modern (Črna Luknja, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 5th of September 2015) - Top 4 out of 42
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
1 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Guide
4 Legion Loyalist
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Mogg War Marshal
4 Spike Jester
4 Atarka’s Command
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Goblin Grenade
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Stomping Ground
1 Blood Crypt
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Copperline Gorge
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Bloodstained Mire
1 Goblin Piledriver
3 Destructive Revelry
1 Tin Street Hooligan
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Molten Rain
1 Rending Volley
Sadly, my play-to-play memory isn’t really the best, so I’ll have to go with a rough presentation of how the games went. But before we start, there is one more thing I would like to point out, and that’s the 1-of Goblin Piledriver. I’m still undecided on the right number of Piledrivers in No Lords Goblins, but as of now, I would like to try without it altogether. He helped in one or two games, but otherwise was unspectacular and I rarely found a reason to side in the other copy. On the other hand, I would like to test a list with a 4-of just as well. Needless to say, Piledriver is great when it works “as intended”, yet his downside of doing nothing and dying to random removal or sweeper is not negligible.
Round one is always important, and I wasn’t particularly happy when I found out I was playing against BW Tokens, as I usually don’t fare well against them, but opponents’ weak draws were enough to win me game 1, while I started off match number two with a Guide and never looked back, sealing the deal with a final score of 2 to 0. My opponent didn’t hit enough removal cards so Goblins were too much, and after spirit tokens finally took control of the board, he was at four life. When I untapped, Mogg Fanatic and Lightning Bolt made the first win of the day official.
Similarly to the match-up in round 1, I was in a slump against GR Tron, so finding out my next opponent played just that didn’t help my confidence, yet winning against tokens gave me a boost of morale. Believing in the deck matters, I guess, since that and some marginal misplays from the tron player left me a chance to grab the 2 to 1 win, and I did just that. It came down to Lightning Bolt vs Spellskite and an opponent with 4 life left, and instead of leaving some cantrip-filter-artifacts there for Spellskite redirection cost, he had to pay 2 life and went down to 2. Either way, I topdecked an Atarka’s Command which game me the victory.
I started off 2 and 0, that’s not bad, I thought.
In Round 3, I faced off against Grixis Delver, piloted by a competent and relatively successful local player, and after two close games, I ended up losing both with opponent on 2 and 3 life. In a fast match-up, Grixis Delver came out on top this time, as my goblins either faced removal or simply ran out of gas. Needless to say, I was outpaced and outplayed after scooping early in game 1 when I could cast a chump blocker, hope it sticks and maybe force another draw phase, but he told me later that he had counters up and ready. Anyhow, it was as it was, and the guy went 4 – 0 and ID’ed into the top8 later on.
So, at 2 – 1, I was looking for at least two more wins that were needed for me to have a chance at sneaking into the Top8, and winning round 4 was quite important in reaching the goal. I ended up playing against Grixis Control, which is usually a better match-up for me than its relative Grixis Delver, and to some extent, Grixis Twin. Either way, I won in a rather convincing manner with 2 to 0, not dropping below 13 life in neither games by going with the usual plan of early beatdown, backed up by reach in form of the dreaded Goblin Grenades, Lightning Bolts and Atarka’s Commands. It worked well, I guess.
With a score of 3 wins and a single loss, the pressure started to build up. Round 5 turned out to be the most important and interesting round of the tournament for me, as it brought me a spot in the Top8, and I managed to close out game 3 with a really interesting finish. My opponent played a nowdays forgotten UWRb Control, and in game 1, my pace was too much for his removal to handle. The key to the match-up, in my humble opinion, is/was to play a good balance of linear aggression and a waiting game, paying echo for Mogg War Marshal, for example. Start as fast as possible, try to avoid Spell Snares in turns 2 to 4, and try to sneak in as much damage when opponent is tapped out. Go on to out-value his out-valuing removal with the likes of Mogg War Marshal and Mogg Fanatic. Second game was up and running with me chipping at his life total, but he had enough answers to neutralize my early threads and followed that by some Snapcaster action. He went off to finish me with a manland and a couple of Snappies. So it came down to game three once again, and being on the play was obviously in my favor. All went down in the usual style, and I managed to get my opponent to 4 life with two Mogg Fanatics in the play. He plays Engineered Explosives on one and passes, I draw Foundry and pass right back. After attacking with some Spirit tokens and casting some more, he passes. I was down to 15, but I knew if I was going to win this game, it probably won’t be by attacking (I had more outs in burn spells than the number of Legion Loyalist left to bypass the spirit tokens, and there was also Engineered Explosives, so yea). You guessed it, I was right. Topdeck Molten Rain, hope that there are no counters, cast and go for a random shockland, resolve, he activates explosives, I go to the face with both fanatics, I win. I happy.
The top 6 players on standings could just ID into the top8, which we all did, so I skipped a best-of-three, but I was paired against Soul Sisters, so there was not much motivation for me to play either way. Getting into another Top8 with No Lords Goblins, albeit a different kind, made me think and believe that this deck could really be a legit tier-2 deck.
Ahh, so, the playoffs ..
Top8. Where previous record in the tournament matters only if it lets you play first, which was not the case in the quarter-finals, where I faced a successful and respected player who piloted Jund instead of his usual something with the blue (i.e. Twin, delver, etc). My prediction was that it was going to be a hard-fought battle, and I was right, despite the fact that my opponent got mana screwed. Especially in game 2 where he went down to 5 starting cards after I overwhelmed the board and grabbed a relatively easy victory in game 1 with him seeing three Dark Confidants that we know aren’t really at its best in this match-up. Needless to say, second game ended up in the similar fashion due to him mulliganing, which does take some fun out of Magic, and he was even on 1 land for a turn or two. However, he got back into the game and managed to get me down to 8 life with manland and goyf, but it was to no avail, since I got my opponent in Grenade range the round before and went on to seal the deal when mana was up (and no discard spell which would delay the win, or even cost me the game). There is nothing more to say here, I did however keep sketchy and/or risky hands with no green source and two Atarka’s Commands in my hand in the first game, while keeping a one-lander in the second.
Winning the quarters got me into the Top4 and I got paired with another Jund player who just got off of a win against a friend of mine who piloted RUG Twin, or TarmoTwin as I like to call it, joking it’s all about the goyf. Anyhow, game one I mulliganed to 5 and kept a one-lander (I was on the play, ta-da!), and you can guess that it didn’t do well against a 7-cards Attrition deck. He started off with an Inquisition and took my Spike Jester, but I failed to hit a second land drop for a few turns. However, with my opponent shocking and paining himself with lands, he went down all the way to 8 with some help from my goblins, but he cleared the way for his beaters to end the game in his favor. Second game I kept a 7-card one-lander, to hell with it, and it may have costed me the series. He went on to remove my early threads and flooded the board with various Kitchen Finks (I think he saw three copies), a Tasigur and Goyf. He had a lethal attack, with me having a sole Goblin Guide on the board, but didn’t block and just Dismembered his Tasigur so that I had outs for the win (he was at 8 life) if he didn’t have removal, which he had and just straight up closed the game right there with a bolt.
All in all, Top4 is more than I expected when entering the tournament. Funny enough, I almost overslept the start, and only a message from a buddy of mine (thanks!) asking where am I and if I’m coming woke me up so I could submit the decklist online and grab a cab to the venue. Somehow, you can imagine I didn’t manage to overdo my sideboard before going to the event, but that’s on me! While I certainly left my options open for a chance of a surprising hot streak that could carry me to the heights, I came to have fun and prepare for the upcoming tournaments after having a few weeks off of Magic due to work. WMCQ was a blast, all the players were great, the rain was meh but who cares about the weather anyway. Big props to tournament organizers, LGS Črna Luknja, Judges and players for making the event good all around.
A few more words on cards, and for starters, Stingscourger was something I was testing and not sure about, but had no time removing. It ended up being so-so to ok; it’s great for bouncing a buffed up Ooze, flipped Delver, black Delve monsters and tokens, acting as a fodder when casting a Grenade, or followed by a Goblin Bushwhacker, yet sometimes there are just no targets and is more or less a clunky lackluster goblin with an expensive echo cost that you NEVER pay for, instead of some thread to put some more pressure on opponents life. Spike Jester did well, and while it is weak to Electrolyze, that spell is seeing less playing time than ever before, and Jester attacks for 3 immediately after landing, in contrast to Piledriver and tokens that are waiting for action for another turn. Mogg Fanatic is still one of the best utility goblins ever printed, so he will stay here until proven useless (however, I have to start boarding out the whole playset in some match-ups, not just one or two copies of it). Also, I might think about changing a few lands for 5th or even 6th fetchland to keep mana consistency up. Oh, and Goblin Grenade is good, like really good.
Regarding some sideboard cards, Goblin Piledriver was the least used card from the side, similar to Destructive Revelry and Grafdigger’s Cage, but those have narrow(er) purpose so there was no reason to play them in the match-ups I had. I boarded in Tin Street Hooligan quite a bit for the likes of Spellskite and managed to catch a Dragon’s Claw with it once. Even if opponent ends up playing/drawing no artifacts, it’s still a 2/1 goblin body while Revelry stinks in your hand doing nothing. Discard was my anti-tron weapon, but I didn’t saw much of it even when I sided them in on rare occasions. Molten Rain is another tron hate that hits other multicolor (and) control decks while dealing damage and setting the opponent back. Relic of Progenitus actually helped me dig thru my deck to close a game against Grixis Control, so it’s still my go-to graveyard hate in modern goblins.
Well, it seems this is all for tonight. Let me close this wall of text with saying that I like the state of current Modern metagame and really hope that anti-goblin hate remains as low as it is. May the Guide guide you to victories, and don’t forget, throw enough goblins at any problem and it should go away. At the very least, there’ll be fewer goblins.
Disclaimer: this deck just might not be a fluke, but in fact a decent competitive deck.