After a two hour drive, I walked through the doors at Good Games Gold Coast for their first competitive 7 Point event and was greeted with a mural on the back wall of the words “Greatness at any cost” – an adage I would have to take to heart in this event. This was written from my brief notes and memory, I might mix up Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors or which of my lords I had, if anyone notices any errors please let me know.
I have been playing around with UW Stax (Blue Dune) and Temur Tempo (Miracle Grow) recently at home in Toowoomba, but I felt like neither of those decks were tuned enough so I decided to play Jund Goblins. This strategy has a lot of flexibility as it can be very aggressive with its Rabblemaster effects and lords, very grindy with card advantage like Goblin Ringleader and Conspicuous Snoop and has multiple combo finishes. The weakness of the deck is it runs very little interaction and has trouble against the true glass cannon combo decks of the format. It also has issues against anything that can race you and interact with you, so anything running a Jitte and a Questing Beast is a real problem. In addition, the sideboard was a little shaky and I hadn’t looked at Kaldheim cards at all.
Traditionally, Goblins has been a six point deck, other pilots often choose Lutri as their seventh because it’s very free, but I have been using Survival of the Fittest in my list as it adds even more flexibility. I think Survival is an underplayed card in Highlander, turning any creature in your hand into a Green Sun’s Zenith that can tutor any colour of creature is extremely powerful.
We had 24 players, which meant 5 rounds and a cut to top 8.
Round 1 vs Luke on Jeskai Control (W 2-1, 1-0 Overall)
Luke was on a dedicated control deck, something that I feel is a very good matchup due to my ability to apply a lot of pressure very quickly while using cards like Goblin Ringleader and Matron to keep filling up with gas. The twist was he had a Time Walk, which, combined with a couple of recursion effects and some bolts, could easily take me from 15 life to zero in a flash.
Game 1 Luke had any early Time Walk into a Ethereal Forager and took chips at me whenever he could. I was in a good position as my Goblin Chirugeon protected my Krenko Tin Street Kingpin while it amassed a difficult to remove army, however after drawing a Kiki Jiki off my Skullclamp, I flew too close to the sun. I fetched and bolted myself with an untapped Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass to cast it, taking me from ten to six, at which point he transmuted a Muddle the Mixture for a Lightning Helix and got me with the classic Bolt Snap Bolt.
Game 2 Sideboard: Take out the fragile combo pieces and bring in ways to fight blue decks, graveyards and greedy mana bases. I expected a Mystic Sanctuary, meaning despite having 3 basics in game 1 I thought Blood Moon would be good.
OUT: Mogg Raider, Goblin Cratermaker, Metallic Mimic, Grumgully the Generous, Boggart Harbinger, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
IN: Cling to Dust, Tormod’s Crypt, Klothys, God of Destiny, Magus of the Moon, Pyroblast, Red Elemental Blast
I landed a Klothys very early and replayed it many times after Luke was forced to spend a lot of time bouncing with Petty Theft and Cryptic Command. I did manage to snag the Time Walk from his yard, which was incredibly important as that is the main card I was scared of. The grindy part of my deck came through when my Snoop let me cast a Ringleader off the top, finding a Sling-Gang Lieutenant. With a lord following, my army of 1/1’s and 2/2’s quickly finished it.
Game 3 I deployed a Survival of the Fittest and had a fairly aggressive start, Luke tried to stabilize with a Timely Reinforcements bringing him from 9 to 15 life and zero to three blockers, but I tutored up a Goblin King, took him to five under his blockers and finished the game the next turn.
Round 1 wrap up: Overall I think any kind of hard control is a good matchup. It never came up, but Blood Moon would have been very strong. If my opponent had drawn more board wipes the game would have been harder. This is the kind of matchup I envisioned wanting Experimental Frenzy, Oversold Cemetery and Squee, Goblin Nabob, but I didn’t think i needed them nor could I really find room. This is where my untuned sideboard started to worry me.
Round 2 vs Ryan on Sultai Midrange (won 2-0, 2-0 overall)
Another blue deck, generally I am happier to face blue midrange than non-blue midrange as the blue decks always spend time and mana cantripping, meaning that a fast start is harder for them to stop. In addition, if I get early pressure, all their counterspells are awful topdecks.
Game 1 My opponent was on the play, I landed a t1 Lackey that went unanswered, it put a Rabblemaster into play and I cast a Skirk Prospector on t2. Ryan landed an Etherial Forager with with only a Brainstorm under it, just to use as a blocker on his third turn, effectively stonewalling my Lackey and threatening to trade with my Rabblemaster. With “greatness at any cost” in my mind, I decided to make some sacrifices on my third turn. I turned my Lackey into mana with Prospector, played a Matron and tutored up a Munitions Expert, sacrificed my Matron to make another mana and played my Munitions Expert off a Cavern of Souls to kill the Whale. My Rabblemaster went unanswered and a Lord finished the game the turn after.
Game 2 Sideboard: Trim the fragile combos, bring in blue hate and midrange hate.
OUT: Mogg Raider, Goblin Cratermaker, Metallic Mimic, Grumgully the Generous, Boggart Harbinger, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
IN: Cling to Dust, Stingscourger, Experimental Frenzy, Magus of the Moon, Pyroblast, Red Elemental Blast
My opponent kept a hand with only two lands and didn’t find a third soon enough. Ryan played an early Hexdrinker, I chipped in damage to get him to 13, while he cast a couple of removal spells and levelled up his Hexdrinker. With a City of Traitors , a Mox Ruby and a Mana Crypt, I quickly found myself on 8 mana, leading to the blowout play of Stingscourger to bounce the 4/4 Hexdrinker, Goblin Recruiter to stack my deck and Collected Company to pull out a Rabblemaster and a Goblin Chieftain, swinging for 16.
Round 2 wrap up: My opponent was light on mana both games. My rationale for bringing in Experimental Frenzy and not Klothys was I didn’t care about my life total. I really like Stingscourger against decks that have delve creatures, Hexdrinker and other big blockers.
Round 3 vs John on Jeskai Control Breach (W 2-1, 3-0 overall)
This event had a lot of players on different flavours of Slush Puppy, a compact Underworld Breach/Brain Freeze combo package that slots into many different jeskai shells. This was the first of three times I would face this combo, all three of which would be on camera. I understood the deck well but had never played against it. I knew my opponent was on this deck before we sat down as I had watched him play it last round. I felt more comfortable fighting the control variant as if he didn’t find his combo this was a good matchup.
Game 1 I open a hand with a Mana Crypt, but only have a 1 drop on turn 1, planning to play a four drop on turn 2. I drew a Rabblemaster and decided that was a better turn 2 play. The Rabblemaster got a hit in but was quickly exiled when John tapped out for a Council’s Judgment. This expensive removal spell meant he had no counter magic up so I kept the pressure on with a Legion Warboss. With my opponent on nine, I bolted them on their end step so my Warboss and three existing tokens were a lethal threat. I thought about casting my Kiki-Jiki to help guarantee it or holding it to hide the fact I was on a combo deck, but decided since I was probably boarding my Kiki out I should try to ensure the win. My opponent removed my Warboss with Kiki on the stack so my Kiki just got into the red zone, taking them to 1, which they could not come back from.
Game 2 Sideboard: Trim the fragile combo again, bring in the blue hate again, bring in graveyard hate. This time I felt like my opponents manabase was ready for a Moon so I took my mainboard moon out.
OUT: Mogg Raider, Metallic Mimic, Putrid Goblin, Grumgully the Generous, Boggart Harbinger, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Blood Moon
IN: Red Elemental Blast, Pyroblast, Cling to Dust, Klothys, God of Destiny, Tormod’s Crypt, Leyline of the Void, Oversold Cemetery
I got out a Chirurgeon to protect my t2 Snoop, leading into casting a Mogg War Marshall off the top and clamping it with an ancient tomb, with four creatures on turn 3 I felt like I was in a very good position. My opponent then landed a Monastery Mentor and played a Purphory Nodes and started pumping out an army. I decided I could race this with my Goblin King, swinging for nine unblockable damage the turn it came down, taking John to nine life. I decided to bluff Lightning Bolt and not play the Deathrite Shaman he knew I had in my hand, however this cost me the game when my opponent got down to two life and had enough monks to kill me over two turns while leaving up blockers after killing my King.
Game 3 Sideboard: I realised that Grumgully and Mimic would be good in my game plan of “be the aggro deck”. OUT Oversold Cemetary, Cling to Dust IN Grumgully the Generous, Metallic Mimic
I opened a Leyline of the Void. I don’t think this card should have been in my sideboard at all but this being the one and only time I saw it all day, it was game winning. My opener had the strong play of Lackey on t1, Goblin Recruiter on t2, with a Ancient Tomb to play a Collected Company on t3. My Lackey got Blue Blasted, and I decided against the t2 Recruiter as I didn’t think I had the mana to support never drawing any lands after that from the Recruiter, but in hindsight I should have just stacked 12 goblins on top, a Chieftain and a Rabblemaster for the CoCo, the four worst in my deck to put on the bottom with CoCo (probably one drops), a Ringleader and a Matron which I would draw, four more for my Ringleader to hit and gotten natural draws after that. Instead, I decided to wait until I had more mana, resulting in me not having a play on the second turn, and a disastrous turn 3 CoCo hitting a single five drop and no other creatures. Luckily for me, the Leyline really held my opponent down with them playing an untapped Mystic Sanctuary, a Mission Briefing and a Snapcaster Mage in that game, so the pure gas I eventually got from my Recruiter pulled me through. Earwig Squad took a couple of my opponents best draws from their deck and their Brain Freeze, just in case, then beat down as a 5/3 very effectively.
Round 3 wrap up: This matchup is scary as they can just kill you from nowhere, but in general I think Goblins preys on heavy blue decks. I threw away game 2, I think the Leyline was the only thing that won me game 3, but with better graveyard hate in my sideboard and tighter play I still could have won the third game. This was also the first match where I lost a Mana Crypt flip, out of 4 or 5 flips.
Round 4 vs Brandon on 5c Midrange Breach (L 1-2, 3-1 overall)
After a fantastic start I was worried to sit down across from Brandon. Turns out we were both in a position to just ID the next two rounds and make top 8, but we didn’t do the math and wanted to play. I knew he was on Breach going into our match. The weakness of his deck is he runs five triomes and is very weak to Blood Moon.
Game 1 I led on Survival of the Fittest and Followed it up with a Grumgully, as my other threat got Thoughtseized. My Grumgully got bounced with a Teferi, Time Raveller, so I pitched it to Survival getting a Rabblemaster to take down the Teferi. Brandon followed up with a Wrenn and Six and a Baleful Strix to protect it, but my Survival found me a Goblin King to swing under the Strix, killing the Wrenn and ending the game quickly, with Honourary Goblin Deathrite Shaman doing the final two damage.
Game 2 Sideboard: Trim the fragile combo again, bring in the blue hate again, bring in graveyard hate again.
OUT: Mogg Raider, Mogg War Marshall, Putrid Goblin, Boggart Harbinger, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, two more cards
IN: Klothys, God of Destiny, Red Elemental Blast, Pyroblast, Leyline of the Void, Magus of the Moon, Cling to Dust, Tormod’s Crypt
I had a strong Mana Crypt start, leading t1 Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin into t2 Sling-Gang Lieutenant I found myself in a strong position when Brandon showed the true strength of his deck. He played an Underworld Breach and a Lion’s Eye Diamond just so he could replay a few cards and gain some value, but drew an Intuition off his Thought Scour which he had the resources to cast a second time after I Red Blasted it. He didn’t have enough cards in yard to kill me that turn but built an Intuition pile that gave him the win if he drew a land, which he did the turn after.
Game 3 I had a decent start with a Mox Ruby giving me a turn 1 Cratermaker, missing my turn 2 play but hitting a turn 3 Ringleader. On turn 5 Brandon played an Underworld Breach and used it to escape his Uro the turn before I could exile it with Klothys. Since I brought out my combo and didn’t find any Red Blasts, I was not able to find a line to get around the Uro as my Goblin King got exiled by a Swords to Plowshares. My opponent finished me off by using his Wishclaw Talisman while using an Opposition Agent to stop me from using it.
Round 4 wrap up: Brandon is one of the best pilots out there, playing one of the best decks at the moment so he’s a tough opponent. I definitely underestimated his midrange plan and I believe my graveyard hate wasn’t ideal. I think I have been overboarding for these Breach matches, it’s possible I have taken too many Goblins out. My Ringleader found a single Goblin and saw a Tormod’s Crypt.
Round 5 vs ??? (ID, 3-1-1 overall)
Luckily for me, ten points still guarantees top 8, so me and my opponent ID’d.
Quarterfinals vs Paul on RG Channel (W 2-1, 4-1-1 overall)
Paul is on one of my favourite decks at the moment. This deck features a lot of ramp, payoffs ranging from Karn, the Great Creator to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to Combustible Gearhulk, and can play many of them on the first turn due to Channel. This list won the last competitive event in Toowoomba. My opponent has next to no interaction, my plan is to just go as fast as possible, Paul can win the game in a second. I think this kind of glass cannon combo is a poor matchup for goblins.
Game 1 Unfortunately, my opponent mulliganed to four in the first game. I led on a Mogg Raider and a Sol Land got me a t2 Earwig Squad, which exiled a Sol Ring, a Mana Crypt and a Channel as I felt those were the three cards that could get him back into the game. This meant I was swinging for six damage on turn 3 and the game ended swiftly.
Game 2 Sideboard: My board is not ready for this match. I want to bring in things that disrupt him and anything that makes me faster, and remove anything that is grindy or protects me.
OUT: Blood Moon, Goblin Chirurgeon
IN: Stingscourger, Goblin Trashmaster
This was the most straightforward game of the day. My opponent played a forest and passed, I played a free Once Upon a Time hunting for my third land, I saw the Stingscourger that I brought in but needed the land more. I played a Skirk Prospector. My opponent untapped, played a Forest and Channeled into a Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, destroying my land. If I had taken the Stingscourger, since my Skirk Prospector could make a mana, I would have been able to play it on the second turn to bounce the Ulamog and have a chance in the match. As it was, that was game over.
Game 3 I led on a Goblin Cratermaker and was surprised when it got 1 for 1’d by a Pyroclasm. I followed up with a Grumgully, into a Deathrite and a Warboss while my opponent started to ramp with Explosive Vegetation. I landed a Goblin King leaving my board unblockable to sneak under my opponent’s Combustible Gearhulk and quickly finished the game before he got to anything too crazy. He showed me that he had a Kozilek’s Return in his hand, which explains why he was so happy to trade early for the Cratermaker, but because my lord was Grumgully, all of my creatures (even Deathrite Shaman) had at least three toughness. Any other lord and that game may have gone quickly in the other direction.
Quarterfinal wrap up: Paul’s hand in game two showed that I definitely got lucky in the other games that I was able to kill him fast enough. My sideboard was not ready for this match, but my opponent mulling to four and Grumgully getting around his Kozileks Return was good enough to get there.
Semifinals vs Tim on Jeskai Breach (L 0-2, 4-1-2 overall)
At this point, all three other people in the semi’s are on some flavour of Breach. Tim’s deck seemed like it was a controlling variant, but it seemed weaker to Blood Moon than my round 3 opponent and ran more ways to churn through his deck, like Fact or Fiction. I could be wrong about that.
Game 1 I mulled to six and kept a hand with three lands, a Deathrite Shaman, a Blood Moon and two goblins. I decided to bottom one of my Goblins in case my Deathrite died and I got stuck on two lands. My Deathrite is swiftly shot down with a Swords to Plowshares, leaving me with no plays on turn 2. Tim had a Force of Will for my turn three Blood Moon, and a Path to Exile for my lonely Goblin Warchief. Through the entire game, the only cards I drew were a Lightning Bolt that took down a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, a Mana Crypt and lands, so I was not able to kill Tim before he cast his Gifts Ungiven and I die to the combo.
Game 2 Sideboard: Trim the fragile combo again, bring in the blue hate again, bring in graveyard hate again. After facing Brandon, I expected Tim to be bringing in a lot of removal and not focusing on his combo as much plus I was worried about cutting too many goblins, so I didn’t bring in all of my graveyard hate and settled in for a long game.
OUT: Goblin Sledder, Mogg War Marshall, Boggart Harbinger, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Goblin Cratermaker
IN: Klothys, God of Destiny, Red Elemental Blast, Pyroblast, Magus of the Moon, Cling to Dust
In game two I made my biggest mistake of the day. I played a Once Upon a Time on turn one and found a Magus of the Moon. Knowing I had an Ancient Tomb in my hand, I knew I could play this on turn two. Unfortunately, I had a brain fart and played my Cavern of Souls as my first land, thinking that it could cast any creature in my deck. Tim, with no fetches or basics in play, pointed this out to me when I tried to cast it on turn two, so I cast a Goblin Matron to get a Ringleader instead, playing towards that card advantage that would win the longer game. He held two mana up so I decided the magus was likely to get countered. So I went for the Ringleader and started building a large board. By the next turn he had found a blue fetch so the Magus was too late as the Breach decks really only need one blue mana to function. That said, a Goblin Chieftain joined my ever growing board and the Red Blast in my hand made me feel like I was in a dominating position. I took him down to three life by turn five, he tapped out for a Fact or Fiction in my end step and I Lightning Bolted him, but he had a Mental Misstep to stop it. His desperate FOF resolved, and found him Lion’s Eye Diamond and Underworld Breach, with the Intuition in his yard, I just died. Once again, the strength of the Breach package really showed.
Semifinals wrap up: After the match we spoke about it and he went the complete opposite direction while sideboarding to Brandon, his goal was to combo out as soon as possible. Knowing this, I should have brought in ALL my graveyard hate and if he was going to be spending time casting durdly cards like Fact or Fiction, I should have possibly even kept in my Kiki Jiki and Boggart Harbinger to go for a faster combo finish. A turn 2 Magus of the Moon would have likely won the game, a turn 3 Magus of the Moon would have too, but we live and learn. One day I hope to learn how to read my own cards.
Overall wrap up: Overall I am really happy with my result. I don’t get to play in many competitive events because I am usually judging them, but it appears that Goblins was a good meta choice overall. I faced five blue decks with lots of interaction, which is something Goblins generally preys on, but fell a bit short due to three of those decks having infinite combos, something that Goblins generally has trouble with. I feel like with some tighter play, better sideboarding and bit of a better sideboard, I could have taken down the entire event. I definitely got lucky during the one match I faced the RG channel deck, as that is a very scary matchup.
Thanks to GGGC for running the event, thanks to John Tong for judging, thanks to the stream team for keeping the world aware and thanks to Allan for waiting for me to scrub out of the top 8.
Thoughts on the deck:
The combo: I sideboarded my Kiki-Jiki, Boggart Harbinger and other combo pieces out against all the blue decks because I was playing for the longer game. The Snoop combo is the most fragile and it’s pieces are the worst when not comboing (other than Snoop itself), but even though it never came up, that Snoop combo is one of the most important parts of the deck, especially in game 1. In fact, I never comboed anyone out during the entire day. Perhaps the threat of Breach kills mean I should have kept more combo pieces in, but every time my Snoop got bolted I was happy that I didn’t have a Harbinger on the stack.
The underperformers: Usually Munitions Expert does a lot of work for me, but due to the low creature Breach lists, I only tutored it once and it was never exciting when I drew it. Cratermaker was another card that was often boarded out simply because it kills less stuff than the Expert and the blue decks weren’t running any artifacts it could meaningfully interact with. Cratermaker had potential to be really good against the RG Channel deck, but it did not come up. Sling-Gang Lieutenant is the absolute best card for racing, but in this meta it seemed like my life total didn’t matter, Sling-Gang was never amazing but there were several times where if I had drawn it it would have just been game over. Lastly, I looked at twelve cards with Collected Company and didn’t put anything into play, but that’s just variance, misplays and possibly me overboarding.
The overperformers: The cards that overperformed during the day were Goblin Chirurgeon and Goblin King, Chirurgeon is easily the second best one mana goblin in the deck after Lackey, and it might even be better than Deathrite Shaman. Since five of my opponents were playing mountains, I tutored Goblin King multiple times and it snuck my team in when my opponents weren’t expecting, every time I drew it it was fantastic. Earwig Squad had a huge potential to completely mess up the Breach players, but the first time I cast it I had a Leyline of the Void locking a Breach out, and the second time was against the RG Channel deck. Both times it was a fantastic 3 mana 5/3. Survival of the Fittest did a lot of work, there was a game or two where I had it in my hand or on the field and it didn’t accomplish much, but when it was good it turned all my creatures into Green Sun’s Zeniths, and that’s fantastic. The flexibility of the card is enough for me to keep playing it as my seventh point.
The sideboard: The main Moon/side Magus split felt pretty ok thought the day, but on second thoughts I think I should have Magus in the main, and Moon in the side because Magus can be gotten from Once Upon a Time, Collected Company and Survival of the Fittest. It’s also possible they should both be in the main. Null Rod should probably be Collector Ouphe for the same reasons. I should rework my graveyard hate, Leyline of the Void has too much variance and is so much worse to draw than most other spells, while keeping up mana for Cling to Dust is difficult in such a mana hungry deck. I think these should be Soulguide Lantern and Faerie Macabre. Oversold Cemetery, Squee, Goblin Nabob and Experimental Frenzy are there for the control matchup that I’m already good in, and I think they should be cut. Realmwalker and Sylvan Library could be better cards, but even they might be trying to push an already favoured matchup too far and my slots might be better used on something else to shore up the other combo or tempo matchup.
|Player’s Standing||Player’s Name||Player’s Deck List Link|
|Finalist||Tim Goh||UWR Breach Combo Control|
|Finalist||Anthony Vanderkop||4c Breach Combo Control|
|Semi Finalist||Jacob Richards||UWR Breach Combo Control|
|Semi Finalist||Tyrone Phillips||Jund Goblins|
|5th – 8th||Brandon Rashad||5c Breach Midrange|
|5th – 8th||Jesse McDonald||Gixis Tempo|
|5th – 8th||Jonathon Williams||UWR Breach Combo Control|
|5th – 8th||Paul Long||RG Channel Monsters|
*** Top 8 placing was a little strange due to a split in the finals – Here are the final placings.