Magic Origins is upon us, and with its arrival people are scrambling to integrate the best cards into existing decks. There are many cards that will be exciting for Standard and talking about all of them would take quite a bit of time, so we’re going to narrow it down to something more digestible and focus on everyone’s favorite tribe: Goblins!
One of the most exciting “new” cards is Goblin Piledriver, even if it isn’t originally from Origins. It’s no secret that Goblin Piledriver will usually be fairly solid in a deck with a horde of Goblins, but what exactly does that deck look like and how does it play out? Previous versions of Goblins were able to play controlling games thanks to the help of Gempalm Incinerator, Goblin Matron, Goblin Ringleader, and Siege-Gang Commander, but unfortunately the tools available in Standard now just aren’t as flexible any more even though the power-level of creatures has jumped an order of magnitude compared to ten years ago, and as such, the little red men of today are left to do what they do best: beat down!
A good starting point for a Goblin deck looks something like this and can be customized based on your metagame:
The point of the deck is to flood the battlefield with a tide of angry goblins and run the opponent over with the help of Obelisk of Urd, Goblin Piledriver, and Goblin Rabblemaster while using Stoke the Flames and Titan’s Strength to clear their path. As you’ll notice, Obelisk of Urd is the big payoff spell for playing almost exclusively one creature type.
Goldfishing with the deck can be quite fun and powerful, and not many decks will be able to survive a good Goblin draw. Imagine playing Frenzied Goblin on turn 1, Dragon Fodder on turn 2, and Hordeling Outburst plus Obelisk of Urd on turn 3. That’s a lot of damage on turn 4. However, your opponent will likely play spells and try to stop you from killing them, and as it turns out, being able to deal with problematic cards is important. The most common strategies used against Goblin decks are to overload on removal, play life-gain effects and efficient creatures. Some of the most common cards you’ll face include:
Obelisk of Urd helps against the majority of cards you’ll run up against, but it’s still important to have other cards to answer problematic situations. For example, Archangel of Tithes is particularly good against a deck with lots of small creatures and very few lands, and there aren’t many answers to it in the deck. However, with a few copies of Fated Conflagration, Harness by Force, Fiery Conclusion, Plummet, or Chained to the Rocks, those situations become more manageable. It’s important not to overload with these niche cards because it will dilute the overall efficiency of the deck, and you don’t want to get stuck with non-threatening card in your opening hand. You generally don’t want to draw a sideboard card until it’s needed.
Lots of spot removal to trade 1-for-1 is another way to survive against red decks long enough to start casting good, more expensive spells, and employing this strategy will work against a slow draw. However, cards like Dragon Fodder and Hordeling Outburst are particularly good against most non-Bile Blight methods. Additionally, much of the removal costs more mana than the creatures being destroyed, and eventually the creature decks will overrun the other side.
The effectiveness of sorcery-based removal can be reduced by the inclusion of dash creatures like Goblin Heelcutter, Lightning Berserker, and Zurgo Bellstriker. Not all of these options are Goblins, which makes Goblin Piledriver and Obelisk of Urd less effective, but there wouldn’t be many of those cards included, so it wouldn’t be as much of a concern.
Life-gain strategies using cards like Courser of Kruphix, Nylea’s Disciple, and other efficient creatures is another way to combat red decks. Afterwards, most other decks will be able to outclass the red creatures and win as long as they can maintain a safe life total. It’s easier to defeat these strategies with permanent sources of damage compared to just burn spells, however, it’s necessary to still have a balance of both so that it’s possible to remove the problematic creatures that will be included into the mix. Roast is particularly efficient in this case because it deals with Courser of Kruphix, Siege Rhino, and Polukranos, World Eater.
More cards that the Goblins deck can use include:
Many of the cards above will have similar effects on the game while differing slightly based on what you expect to face. For example, Scouring Sands is one mana cheaper than Barrage of Boulders, and that can mean the difference in a moderate amount of life if you’re on the draw against another aggressive deck. Barrage of Boulders is more effective in a board stall if there are multiple Obelisk of Urd/Hall of Triumph on the battlefield pumping your team. Fiery Conclusion and Roast both deal 5 damage to a creature, but Fiery Conclusion can hit a flyer like Archangel of Tithes while Roast doesn’t require you to sacrifice a creature but is slower and can’t hit creatures with flying.
Regardless of which cards you choose, Goblins has new interesting tools to fight against the competition, and at the very least, let you revisit a classic archetype from your past.