“Judith’s got me excited for Rakdos in Ravnica Allegiance,” Gaby Spartz wrote when she showed her preview card, and I share her excitement. Judith is far stronger than she might look at first glance, and I expect she’ll become a Standard staple.
Let’s go over the variety of benefits offered by Judith.
- She enables spectacle. Even if your opponent has a wall of blockers, you can send a single volunteer into the red zone. If it connects, then the spectacle is on. And if they block, then your attacker dies, which means that Judith can get the cruel fun started. Either way, Rix Maadi Reveler will draw three cards.
- She allows your 1/1s to trade with 3/3s in combat. Judith boosts 1/1s into 2/1s, and if they die, then you get to ping another damage. This allows Goblins to dance with Dinosaurs in deadly combat.
- She provides value against a sweeper. When you’re curving out with a 1-drop and a 2-drop against control, it kind of sucks to drop Goblin Chainwhirler on turn 3. After all, if they have Deafening Clarion, then you only get 1 damage out of your 3-drop. With Judith, she would still have contributed 5 damage in that situation: 2 extra power, plus three death triggers. What’s more, the opponent no longer gets to set up Deafening Clarion with Crackling Drake as a one-sided sweep and life swing, as Judith would take the Drake along with her.
- She thrives off of Aristocrats. Back in 2013, Tom Martell won Pro Tour Gatecrash with a deck named “The Aristocrats.” It used Falkenrath Aristocrat and Cartel Aristocrat to sacrifice creatures at will and exploit various death triggers. With the right sacrifice outlets, Judith can fill a similar role. Perhaps an even better one, since Zulaport Cutthroat could never ping creatures.
- The second copy isn’t useless. Drawing multiples of a legend usually feels really bad. For Judith, this downside is mitigated, as you can play the second copy to effectively get a Forked Bolt.
So, how to maximize Judith? In the context of Standard, I can think of two cards that synergize exceptionally well with her.
Pinging 1 damage to any target doesn’t add up quickly. Pinging 3 damage per creature allows you to rapidly drown your enemies in blood. The Flame of Keld requires an aggressive, low-curve deck focused on red spells, but that seems like a natural home for Judith anyway.
With Judith’s ability to ping creatures, she immediately reminded me of Goblin Sharpshooter. Back in Onslaught block, many games were ended by a flurry of alternating Goblin Sharpshooter and Skirk Prospector activations. Siege-Gang Commander was usually in the mix as well. Even though Judith doesn’t trigger when tokens or opposing creatures die, she can still do a reasonable Goblin Sharpshooter impersonation when paired with Skirk Prospector.
Skirk Prospector is actually one of the best sacrifice outlets in Standard because its sacrifice ability doesn’t require a mana cost activation. What’s more, there’s the possibility of an infinite damage combo!
It’s quite the show. You have two Elementals continually pumping out steam, while a seemingly immortal Goblin keeps dying and returning to the stage. Meanwhile, as Squee-colored blood gets splattered all over, Judith is repeatedly whipping the audience.
“But that’s a five-card combo,” you might protest. Well, sure, but if you use Rix Maadi Reveler, Dark-Dweller Oracle, and The Flame of Keld, then you can rapidly sift through your deck to find all the pieces. And if your opponent kills some of your creatures along the way, then you can always bring them back.
Back in Onslaught block, we were bringing back Goblins with Patriarch’s Bidding. In the current Standard, we might resurrect nearly the entire combo or just create a ton of value with Gruesome Menagerie.
Here’s how I would put it together:
When building the mana base, I didn’t treat Goblin Chainwhirler as an RRR spell—it’s more of a 1RRR spell that still happens to work with Gruesome Menagerie. That said, you can easily use Skirk Prospector to ramp into a turn-2 Goblin Chainwhirler if need be, and Rix Maadi Reveler helps fix your mana as well. If you draw Goblin Chainwhirler on the turn the third chapter of The Flame of Keld goes off, then all is well.
There are various other ways to build this deck. You could make a more combo-oriented build by cutting two Shock, two Goblin Chainwhirler, and one Siege-Gang Commander and add one Judith, one Squee, two Goblin Warchief, and one Gruesome Menagerie. This would make for a better combo deck, but a worse The Flame of Keld deck. Alternatively, you could use several Overgrown Tombs and Rootbound Crags to splash Status // Statue. The Status side can turn Goblin Chainwhirler or Judith into a Plague Wind, and you gain a main-deck answer to problematic enchantments or artifacts for free. Options aplenty.
Judith is throwing a party at the blood crypt, and you’re invited!