by Ty Thomason

I recently finished the Swiss portion of the Romancing the Stones Fall Semester Middle School league. I went 4-2 and got 10th place on tiebreakers. I played Goblin Sligh.

Goblin Sligh

When trying to decide what to play, I first thought I would play some type of Necropotence deck. It is one of the stronger cards allowed in the format. Unfortunately, without Dark Ritual, Vampiric Tutor, or Demonic Consultation, most of the classic Necro decks don’t really work that well. Next I began scouring old tournaments for lists, thinking maybe I’d play a Ramosian Sergeant / Whipcorder build. Then the Goblin Sligh lists caught my eye.

The card that had me interested in Goblins was learning that Goblin Grenade was legal. One mana for five damage is just about the best rate possible. This incentivizes you to build a low-to-the-ground, more aggressive Goblin deck. I wanted to play a low land count, and saw some old lists with as few as 18 lands. I started tinkering and eventually came up with this list:

4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Mogg Flunkies
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Goblin Grappler
1 Sparksmith
1 Raging Goblin

4 Goblin Grenade
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Fireblast
4 Reckless Charge

1 Barbarian Ring
1 Goblin Burrows
18 Mountain

4 Sulfuric Vortex
4 Pyroblast
4 Rishadan Port
3 Flaring Pain

Having now played six matches with this, I can tell you what worked and what didn’t.

I think the core of the deck is Lackey, Piledriver, Flunkies, and Fanatics. Cadets is the most aggressive one mana Goblin for a Burn style deck. You want to play as many Goblins as possible to make Grenade reliable and to take advantage of Lackey. I think 24 was a good amount, but maybe you could play fewer. I don’t think you want to play Goblin Patrol (Echo is too rough on 20 lands) or Jackal Pup (not enough Goblins). You can maybe try 4 Jackal Pup if you have 24 other Goblins in the deck, but additional Goblins always help Piledriver.

Reckless Charge was sided out in almost every matchup. It is a reasonable card in those old Standard and Extended lists because the removal available wasn’t cheap. It is not good in a field of STP, Hydroblast, and Lightning Bolt. They should probably just be more Raging Goblins, but maybe one or two Charge is fine.

One of the last cuts I made was Seal of Fire / Firebolt / Cursed Scroll. It would be nice to have more removal, but you need that critical mass of Goblins. I went with a split of Goblin Grappler and Sparksmith to fill that need. I was really impressed with Sparksmith. I wish I had at least 2 in the main deck and maybe 2 more in the sideboard. It isn’t dead against the control decks of the format like Landstill (kills Factory) or Psychatog. Goblin Grappler was solid but nothing spectacular. It has a cool interaction with both Goblin Cadets and Reckless Charge. I got to provoke one Cadets in one match, and was able to use it to force through a bunch of Piledriver damage in a different match. I wouldn’t want more than 2, but they could be better than Raging Goblin especially if you play Goblin Burrows.

I wish I had played a Goblin King or two. I lost a game to an Engineered Plague and it is a reasonable answer. It is also something that you can abuse with Lackey while still being good enough rate for non-Lackey draws. Goblin Burrows was good, as was the Barbarian Ring. I think you need 18 mountains for Fireblast. I wanted 20 land total to help my mulligan decisions . I can see playing some number of Rishadan Port main over either land if you want to save sideboard space. I’d rather have a Burrows than a Barbarian Ring.

Every sideboard card was used, but Flaring Pain was the least useful. My two losses were to reanimation strategies and I really could have used some Tormod’s Crypt. 4 Sulfuric Vortex may have been a bit too many, since you can only afford so many non-creatures and you have to fit the Port in there somehow. Pyroblast was chosen since I assumed most combo decks would be blue and it is reasonable against blue control decks (it straight up kills Psychatog). I should have maybe had a split with it and Red Elemental Blast as I had one opponent who had both Meddling Mage and Misdirection, but I did not get punished.

I think the deck is favored against non-Oath control strategies. It’s also favored against some slower combo and midrange decks. It is weak to Oath, reanimation and faster combo decks. It also is likely to be unfavored against more traditional Sligh decks that have much more removal.

If I was to submit this deck again, I’d probably play something close to this:

4 Goblin Lackey
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Goblin Cadets
1 Goblin Grappler
3 Raging Goblin
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Mogg Flunkies
3 Sparksmith
1 Goblin King

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Fireblast
4 Goblin Grenade

2 Rishadan Port
18 Mountain

2 Rishadan Port
4 Tormod's Crypt
3 Sulfuric Vortex
4 Pyroblast
2 Flaring Pain

League Match Reports

Round 1 vs Thomas Conmy on UW Landstill

I win the die roll and play turn one Lackey, which is Force of Willed. I play a turn two Piledriver, and he plays turn two Standstill. I play two creatures, one of which he Forces off the three cards from Standstill. He then follows up with another Standstill. I have a second Piledriver and a Reckless Charge, and he doesn’t have Force so I’m able to use Fireblast to kill him.

Game two I have double Mogg Fanatic beatdown which can get through the first turn he plays Factory. I also have Sparksmith and Goblin Burrows, so I can attack unabated by Factory for 4 a turn. I draw a Port to keep him off double white and he can’t ever interact while stuck on three lands.

Record: 1-0

Round 2 vs John Russel on UB Psychatog

I win the die roll. Turn one I play Lackey which is met with Force of Will. He plays Portent and passes. I play Piledriver, but it is Smothered. I then play Lackey and Flunkies, while he plays Nightscape Familiar. I have the Bolt for the Familiar while his shields are down, and attack for 4. I Lackey in Cadets, but have no follow up. He plays a follow-up Familiar. I attack with everything and he blocks Cadets taking 4 again and going to 11 life. At this point my hand is Grenade, Fireblast, Fireblast, but I’m hesitant to go all in. His turn is draw go, but I draw a land. I decide to go ahead and Grenade to see what happens, and it resolves. He has an unused Fetchland. so I’m hoping to wait on him to use it, so that when he goes to 5 life he can’t Force a Fireblast and let the other resolve. He has a Psychatog the following turn so I can’t attack anymore. He starts attacking me with Tog and I use the opportunity to force an issue with Reckless Charge on my Raging Goblin and Lackey, but the flashback is Dazed., forcing him to give back the Cadets and kill my Lackey while he takes no damage. I draw a third Fireblast so I’m just waiting for the right time to play around Daze and Mana Leak. I’m drawing nothing and he’s cycling cantrips like AK and Shadow Rift while pinging me with Tog. Eventually he attacks and when I don’t block he casts Meditate. I use the opportunity to Fireblast him three times, and he can only counter the first one and he dies.

Game two I start strong with Lackey Cadets and Sparksmith. The Sparksmith kills his Nightscape Familiar, and I resolve a Sulfuric Vortex. He has the better trump with Engineered Plague and I’m now relying on my Vortex to get the job done. He ends up at 6 with a Psychatog while I have Barbarian Ring. Almost any non-mountain card is lethal for me, but he has Shadow Rift and Meditate to kill me before I get a chance to topdeck.

Game three is epic. I once again have early Sparksmith, this time with Fanatic. I kill his Familiar again, but he ends up killing most of my team. I’m able to resolve two Vortex this time with a Pyroblast (and a Blast to kill his Psychatog). I have two ports to try to slow him down but he casts two Meditate that puts me in a precarious spot. I try to Pyroblast one but it is countered, and we are both at 2 life when I finish all my extra turns, but he still doesn’t have an answer to Vortex and I squeak out the win.

Record: 2-0

Round 3 vs Eric Vergo on UGW Threshold

I lose the die roll. Game one he leads with Nimble Mongoose and I have Goblin Cadets. He has a Quirion Dryad follow up and I play a Goblin Piledriver. He has another Dryad and Swords to Plowshares on the Piledriver. I play a Flunkies and he attacks for 4. I try to Lightning Bolt both Dryads, but another STP and Accumulated Knowledge saves one. I try to finish it off with Fireblast, but I made a mistake and let the AK resolve so he drew a blue card for his Force of Will to save the Dryad and I am basically out of resources and dead.

I cut Cadets for Pyroblast in sideboarding. Game two he has turn two Meddling Mage on Lightning Bolt. I have two Pyroblast in hand, but immediately draw Lightning Bolt. I play some Piledrivers first but they are removed by Hydroblast and STP. I then Pyroblast the Meddling Mage, but he has another Hydroblast to save it. I Pyroblast again, which lets me use Lightning Bolt on his Quirion Dryad. I only have a Mogg Flunkies in play, and he has STP for my follow up Piledriver and then plays Mystic Enforcer. I draw Barbarian Ring but only have four cards in my graveyard. He attacks me down to 9 life, and I draw Goblin Lackey and play it. He thinks for a while then decides to Force of Will the Lackey. This gives me five cards in the graveyard so Goblin Grenade plus Barbarian Ring finish of the Enforcer before I die. I draw a Grappler and start beating for 3 with Goblin Burrows, and he can’t find another creature. Eventually I draw Lightning Bolt and Fireblast to kill him before he can grow the Dryad he finds.

Game three I lead with two Mogg Fanatics. The first is answered by STP and the second immediately kills his Quirion Dryad. He has Meddling Mage on Lightning Bolt again, stranding one in my hand. I have a Grappler and Piledriver that can attack, and when I draw Pyroblast to kill Meddling Mage and turn on my Bolt for his Enforcer, I start doing large chunks of damage. He draws another Enforcer which I Fireblast. In the meantime, I’m using Rishadan Port on his City of Brass every upkeep and he draws no more answers or creatures and I win.

Record: 3-0

Round 4 vs Brian Tweedy on Rock Reanimator Oath

Game one he mulligans to five and just plays lands until a turn five Deranged Hermit. It almost stops me completely since I’ve also flooded, but using damage on the stack I can kill his board while only losing two Mogg Fanatic. He draws more land and dies to the rest of my army.

Game two he has turn one Entomb, turn two Exhume for Phantom Nishoba. I can’t win.

Game three I start with Grappler into Piledriver, but he has turn two Oath. If I had known about Oath, I would have Ported him instead of playing my two-drop since my hand had plenty of land. He ended up being land light and I would have easily won. As it happened, he Oathed into Thunder Dragon and I couldn’t recover in time to race.

Record: 3-1

Round 5 vs Andrew Webb on Hermit Druid Combo

We have each other’s decklists, so he gets to play Therapy turn one on the play and name Mogg Fanatic, which hits. I have to Fireblast his Hermit Druid on turn two, but he has a second one and I die.

Game two he has Therapy on himself for Phantom Nishoba and then Exhume. I can’t win. I really should have played some Tormod’s Crypts in my sideboard

Record: 3-2

Round 6 vs Woodrow Bogucki on Landstill

Woodrow plays first. I keep a one lander with two Lackey, but he has Swords for both and a Standstill. I manage to get a little bit of damage in, but he blocks a Cadets and has a Conclave and Factory to block. I use Fanatic on Conclave and eventually Lightning Bolt the Factory, and he floods out.

Game two I have two Pyroblast in hand, so I don’t play a turn one Cadets to try to play around Chill which I thought he had in his sideboard. He had swapped it out for CoP: Red from last league though, and played it turn two. I try to Port and Vortex him but he has enough land to CoP everything and eventually I die to my Vortex.

Game three I have Lackey and Cadets with a Port. He uses Swords on Lackey but Cadets does some damage. I also resolve a Sparksmith to turn off his creature lands. He Tutors for CoP Red and now the Flaring Pain in my opener is going to come in handy. I attack and he taps out for CoP. I use this opportunity to Flaring Pain and Lightning Bolt, putting him to 5 life. The next turn he casts Wrath of God. I flashback Flaring Pain and Bolt plus Fireblast, but he has Force of Will to survive at 1 life. The next eight or so turns are draw-go. I’m trying to find some more red mana since I sacrificed all my Mountains to not kill him. I get to Port his Conclave / Factory for a while but he draws some Wastelands to deal with my Port. I slowly deploy some more Goblins but they can’t attack. Eventually he draws some cards with Standstill and then casts Impulse to find Exalted Angel. He is forced to Counterspell a Vortex to get Angel online and finally deploys the Angel face down. I have no better window and my hand of Flaring Pain, Fireblast, Fireblast, Goblin Grenade, Goblin Grenade was more than enough to power through his final counter magic before he could start gaining life.

Record: 4-2

Final Standing: 10th out of 40 players