Thursday, February 13, 2014

Finding the Divine with Goblins

I guess we can call this my first strategy post. I don't think the others really count. I've talked about ideas for strategies, but I think this might be the first time I've ever analyzed a deck and written about it.
So, here it is.
Divine Goblins by Carl O'Brien
Gempalm Incinterator3
Goblin Chieftan1
Goblin Lackey4
Goblin Matron4
Goblin Ringleader4
Goblin Warchief4
Krenko, Mob Boss2
Mogg War Marshall4
Purphoros, God of the Forge3
Tuktuk Scrapper1
Arid Mesa4
Cavern of Souls4
Rishidan Port4
Scalding Tarn1
Aether Vial4

Perhaps the first thing you'll notice is one of the big guys from Theros; Purphoros, God of the Forge! He made a somewhat less spectacular entry into Standard than his fellow gods. Not many top-tier decks run this guy, and I think I understand why. He's a burning god. Every creature that hits the field does two damage to the opponent. While this seems fine, his mana cost means he's not coming down until turn four, at the earliest, when you've hopefully got a swarm already and are just looking to win. In this case, I guess he's just a win-more card. And in the typical burn deck, you've got a few creatures and a lot of spells. Purphoros does not help RDW and Burn decks. 
In Legacy, he's terrible. Legacy aficionados scoff at any creature under three CC that can't be cheated in (ala Stoneforge Mystic into Batterskull. Yuck!) But, here's the crazy thing. In Goblins, your strongest play is ticking up your Aether Vial to three, dropping Goblin Matron to fetch Goblin Ringleader on their turn, and then ticking up on your upkeep to drop the Ringleader, getting you a ton of goblins that you can now cast with all your open mana. And guess what! Aether Vial can do the same with Purphoros!
So, before I get to far into my song of praises towards Purphoros, let me explain the deck.

The Mana Base

Ideally, I'd like one more fetchland to filter out the lands a bit more so that Ringerleader has a higher chance of hitting goblins. Wasteland and Rishidan are for denying your opponent access to all their mana while you're dropping your little creatures in preparation for the swarm. Tarfire is there to kill opposing Deathrite Shamans (Modern decks are so lucky!) and the occassional Dryad Arbor.
As a side note, imagine killing their Dryad Arbor and Wasteland-ing their dual. It just tickles my inner sadist.
Cavern of Souls is a nah-du'h. Naming "goblins" as the land comes into play is the first in a long series of nails being hammered into Blue's coffin.

The Toolbox

Goblins seems like it's strongest pre-sideboard, especially when it's going first. The opponent will keep a hand they think is pretty strong, generally speaking. But, when you resolve Lackey and they have no answers for it, Goblins can get out of hand pretty quickly. With three Goblin Matrons, you can go get whatever you need for a specific threat. If there's a Deathrite Shaman or an x/2 blocker, it can get Tarfire. If you have enough Goblins, there's almost nothing Gempalm Incinerator can't kill. If they drop a Batterskull or Umezawa's Jitte, it can go get Tuktuk Scrapper. If you want to just bury your opponent in card advantage, Ringleader is the card of choice. Finally, if you feel like you're ready to win the game, Matron can get Krenko, Mob Boss for the HOLY-CRAP-THERE'S-SO-MANY-OF-THEM win.
So, on to why I'm so excited playing Purphoros, God of the Forge. 
Goblins is a swarm deck. That means it wants to generate tons of creatures and then just swing. But Batterskull, with Vigilance and Lifelink, is a real bummer. Jitte is also a thing. And Engineered Plague is just... it's just... horrible. I was once playing a guy who resolved Engineered Plague, killing everything off but my Warchief. And then, just because, he resolved a second one. Suddenly, the only creature that would stick is Krenko. That's not fun.
But all of that changes with Purphoros.
"Enter the battlefield" is such a great phrase. That means that as soon as the creature enters the battlefield, before anything else can happen, Purphoros' ability triggers. Engineered Plague may kill the goblin, but Purphoros will still get those two points of damage in. Mogg War Marshall is especially nice with Purphoros. For two mana you get two 1/1s and your opponent takes four damage. On your upkeep, or if he blocks (MWAHAHAHAH!) he takes two more from Mogg War Marshall dying and leaving a token behind! That's a total of six damage and two creatures for two mana!
To further drive home this point, I was once playing against a "Sneak and Show" deck. He was sitting at a decent ten life when I put Purphoros down next to Goblin Warchief and a three other goblins. Next turn, Krenko came down and I turned him sideways. Instantly, he went from a two-turn clock to dead.
I could go on. I could write about the joys of Aether Vial-ing in Purphoros and then hard casting Krenko. Or, having Purphoros already out and Vial-ing in Mogg War Marshall to do some very profitable chump blocking.  The scenarios go on and on.
But, as the heading of this section suggests, this deck is still a toolbox. Purphoros is not the end-all-be-all win-con of the deck. Krenko can still generate five or more tokens easily. And with Goblin Chieftan on the board, that could represent ten points of damage. The point is, Purphoros is the perfect compliment to a swarm strategy like Goblins, especially when the little guys can't attack for whatever reason.


Ashen Rider3
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben3
Tormod's Crypt2
Wear / Tear2

I hate sideboarding. I really do. When I first started Legacy, I thought sideboarding was just taking out a number of cards equal to the number you're putting in so that your deck is stronger against your opponent. But, it's so much more complicated! You can't dilute your deck too much by taking out cards you need for cards you want. You have to know which card is good against which deck, the number you need to play, and when to mulligan down to it.
By the way, mulliganing is something else I have problems with.
Anyway, sideboarding is complicated and my least favorite part of a match. But, they are a necessity, so this deck has one.
Ashen Rider is there for the "Show and Tell" decks out there. Although, I have essentially five copies of Stingscourger (One Stingscourger and four Matrons), it doesn't hit things like Omni-tell and Dream Halls, and it doesn't hurt to have a hefty back up against "Sneak and Show."
Pyroblast is for playing against blue decks like the above and for killing Jaces outright. Pyrokinesis is also for killing, but usually in creature heavy match-ups. Thalia is for Storm decks, the ones that love to play tiny little spells and then kill you with them. Tormod's Crypt is for decks that do nasty things with the graveyard. The Wear side of Wear / Tear kills Batterskulls, Jittes, and all of the Swords, with the Tear side used to answer the aforementioned Engineered Plague and other pesky enchantments.
Gosh, I hate sideboarding. Just writing that section soured my mood.

Where to Go From Here

To tournaments, of course! This Sunday (February 16th, 2014), I'm going to a team tournament with my friend Mike and a new friend we call Wappo. I've been practicing a lot with this deck and am feeling more confident than usual. Last time Mike and I went to a team tournament, we came in third place and I was playing a brew! So, I'm excited to see what happens when I have an actual deck and am experienced with it!
I'm terrible at tournament reports, but I'll try my best. I'll be trying hard to sideboard correctly and mulliganing to good hands instead of the usual "Ehhh... I guess I'll keep it."
So, until then!

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