Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Heads up cube deck analysis: Part 1 - Goblins

I did a gentleman's constructed heads up cube and am going to analyse both decks a little. In the constructed formats in the cube we allow all cards in the A, B and C cube to be used which for all intents and purposes is a single copy of every card ever printed. Goblins has a lot of history in my cube and has been a tier one deck since it all began. I have now cut all the major goblin deck only cards to the B cube to make drafting more fun with the A cube. I feel as if the first deck analysis should be for the goblins as so many of its cards have not been featured yet in reviews due to being in the B cube, yet it is one of the most played archetypes (historically). The first cube I ever played was Sam Gommersall's and Richard Moore's which they built after playing with some American guys cube rumoured to be one of the very first. In their cube blue accounted for nearly half the cards, almost all of which said "draw" in them. This was great fun but I wanted to be able to smash face with dorks too and so built my own cube. This was in Mirrodin block and as such the only viable aggressive archetypes were classic white weenie and red deck wins, elves, suicide black, affinity and of course goblins. Generally speaking goblins would beat all the other creature decks although both red deck wins and affinity could just out tempo them and win on occasion. Goblins was the first deck to have an aggressive theme and be able to gain card advantage from its creatures giving it another edge over the other decks.

I fondly remember an epic rotissary of the whole cube with lots of people where there were only a few cards left at the end. We had all basically finished our decks and side boards and were starting to find it hard to make useful picks. We decided to call it a day when a cheeky Welshman asked politely if anyone minded terribly if he were to just take all of the few remaining cards. No one could see anything of use to any ones decks either for or against left in the small pile and so happily let him have his way. Almost everyone was drafting some silly combo doing incredibly powerful things very quickly, I seem to recall only one person playing control. Anyway, the Welshman returned having discarded his Recurring Nightmare deck now brandishing a goblin deck salvaged from the dregs. Needless to say he promptly destroyed everyone and was suitably smug...

Here is the final list of the deck I played:


24 Spells

Lightening Bolt
Aether Vial
Mogg Raider
Skirk Prospector
Goblin Guide
Goblin Lackey
Mogg Fanatic

Warren Instigator
Goblin Recruiter
Goblin Piledriver
Tin-Street Hooligan
Ember Hauler

Chaos Warp
Goblin Warchief
Goblin Chieftain
Goblin Matron
Goblin Sharpshooter
Gempalm Incinerator

Birthing Pod
Goblin Goon
Goblin Ringleader

Kikki-Jikki Mirror Breaker
Siege-Gang Commander

16 Land

Stomping Ground
Kessig Wolf Run
Wooded Foothills
Raging Ravine
11 Mountains

Other cards considered

Extra Land
Goblin Sledder
Boggart Ram-Gang
Inferno Titan
Squee + Survival of the Fittest

In the gentleman's head up cube you tend to have a pretty strong idea about what you will be facing. Having only two decks that you need to beat makes it reasonably important to bare in mind while constructing. I was going to be facing a white control deck with a splash of black and a blue black big men control deck. I figured the blue black thing would be more aggressive than it turned out to be and ended up losing to that deck even though I was way more scared of the white wrath.dec match up.

I wanted to play Birthing Pod in the deck as it has such good synergy with the deck and is very easy to incorporate. Because of this I added some utility lands with the other green lands I was running as I was facing slower decks. Because of the Birthing Pod I felt I had to have at least two four drops and two five drops. I also quite wanted a six drop just to power up the Pod even more but ultimately felt I would end up with way to may awful draws with a curve that high. Kikki-Jikki and Goon are both cards I was playing because of the Pod, in other versions these may easily get cut.

Chaos Warp was one of the last cards to go in along with Goblin Guide. The Guide is a great card but doesn't really have much synergy with the deck beyond being a goblin. It was probably right to play the Guide over the Sledder based on my match ups but had they been more creature heavy then the Sledder would probably be better. The Chaos Warp was just a cover all out card designed to deal with horrors like Wurmcoil

Goblins is not the fastest agro deck and is vulnerable to big tempo loses early game. Goblins is a little like and elf deck in this regard as left at all unchecked they will quickly snowball out of control. You can fill goblins full of Seething Song, Mox and other burst cards as most of the time you can get the card advantage back with Ringleader or Recruiter. These builds of goblins can have god starts and act a little more like an affinity deck but I prefer to play other versions of goblins with more consistency. Even verses control goblins does not need to win quickly. With my build I am never likely to be killing them before they can Wrath/Judge/Damn the board clean of all my little green men. This means I have to play a somewhat conservative game always playing around the global removal. Pod and Vial help greatly in this regard both bypassing counter magic for the key cards and evading the mass removal themselves.

Beyond these minor meta specific and build specific aspects the core of my deck is very standard goblins. The Lackey and the Instigator for serious early threats and great mana efficiency. The Raider and the Prospector for trickery and synergy with other cards. The two goblin lords are both excellent and prime targets for removal spells, you can even squeeze in more but two seems optimal, especially as these two are notably better than the other options. A very high number of goblin cards that double up as removal spells really help you attain card advantage in a number of ways, have more consistent draws and apply more pressure generally. Matron, Recruiter and Ringleader form the basis of the goblin card advantage, combo and tutor options and make the deck even harder to play, recruiter in particular is one of the most difficult cards in magic. Finally Piledriver, the last of the core goblins who performs no specific role in the deck and instead just kills people.

Well, that's cube goblins. An easy deck to draft, a hard deck to play, even by cube standards and that says a lot. The deck does feel like you are playing goblins from any format you chose to and has great nostalgia value. It is also one of the very few decks that has been tier one since the start of my cube. I think including the goblin core cards in a cube that is primarily drafted is overall bad for the format. People fear is too much and so occasionally hate a key goblin card which screws anyone drafting it and make it an unpopular deck. The cards being so narrow tend to make them real dud cards in boosters. For beginners to a draft I always return the core goblins cards and recommend they draft them. No deck is really good for beginners in the cube but for the most part goblins is simple to draft and fun, if not easy, to play. As decks go it is also relatively safe from savage miss-play loses.

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