I’ve been posting positive records in the Dailies with UR Delver over the past week, but I’ve also been noticing some recurring problems with the deck. Namely, the aggressive matchups seem to be worse for this deck than MUC. This is due to the fact that it usually takes a couple turns to produce red mana, and even at that sometimes you only have access to one red mana per turn. The slowness makes you weak to Goblin Cohort/Nettle Sentinel and the shortage makes you weak to Vines of the Vastwood. The general lack of bounce spells also makes Atog rather problematic, as he’s pretty immune to damage-based removal.
Oddly enough, I’ve found that the inclusion of red has greatly benefitted the more grindy matchups. Having access to some reach allows you to use your counterspells against their proactive spells rather than needing to protect threats, and then when the time is right you can just kill them out of nowhere.
At any rate, that’s not the deck I want to talk about this week. I want to talk about Pauper Goblins. It’s not generally the type of deck you would find me playing, but after losing to it at 3-0 in round four of a Daily I started pondering the deck’s position in the metagame. At first thought it seemed like Goblins was probably fast enough to beat Fissure Post… which has basically been my criteria for what I want to do in Pauper right now. If that’s true, I feel the rest is easy to figure out.
After playing a handful of Dailies with Goblins the deck paid for itself three times over. This led me to an interesting idea. For the foreseeable future, I’ll be dedicating my column to breaking down Pauper decks- decklists, how they play- and what they cost to build. Then I will document a few Daily Events with each deck and come to a conclusion about whether the deck is worth the investment. For the most part my writing on Pauper has been about decks specifically catered to my style of play, but if my goal is to enlighten the community at large on the format and to spark interest in archetypes befitting any manner of player, then this will be a pretty awesome project. Seeing as Pauper is the cheapest format to get into when it comes to MTGO, doing well with Pauper is really the best way to go about “going infinite”- that is, playing online for “free”.
This week will be a bit unusual as from the get-go I already have a list that is a few cards different from “stock”, which I will go over below the list:
This deck is somewhat straightforward- try to play guys every turn, attack, play burn spells. That said, the synergies are not to be understated. Goblin Sledder and Mogg War Marshal play exceptionally well together, and Foundry Street Denizen makes for even more explosive Goblin Bushwhacker turns.
The playstyle of Goblins caters to players who love attacking, are good at managing on-board tricks and enjoy playing aggressive decks with a reasonable amount of reach. Naturally, the deck will not attract many stereotypical control players.
As I said, my list varies somewhat from what is stock, so let’s go over what I’ve changed:
Sparksmith and Fireblast were tested as far too high of liabilities. Sparksmith was not only slow, but in matchups where I wanted to be able to activate more than once it basically killed me. It’s really strong against decks with very low creature counts and absolutely zero reach, but that’s a very, very small percentage of the metagame. It can steal games against Stompy, but you really need it and Sylvok Lifestaff for it to really matter. Your odds just aren’t very good.
Fireblast just didn’t feel good at all. It’s a burn spell that most of the time can’t be used to remove blockers in a deck chock full of creatures. I tried anywhere between one and three and was underwhelmed at all times by it. It’s especially bad against blue decks, as Dispel is fairly popular.
I haven’t tested Arboreal Grazer extensively, but it leads to an inconsistency in the deck’s gameplan against Cloudpost and Esper Fissure. The idea behind Raze is that you can hinder these decks before they get off the ground but Arboreal Grazer has some pretty awkward implications. For starters, Goblins doesn’t play many lands, and having a spare one for Arboreal Grazer can sometimes slow you down enough so that you can’t kill them before they stabilize on lands again. Additionally, it’s only good at all if you draw it VERY early in the game, and it’s your only card that interacts on the resource-denial front. It seems to be in the vast majority of 3-1 or better lists, so maybe I’m just wrong, but I’m not sold on the card.
The cards that I’m playing that don’t show up terribly often are Goblin Matron, Tarfire and Kruin Striker, as well as Flame Slash on the sideboard.
Goblin Matron gets the honor of being the best and worst card in the deck. On the one hand, it provides at least two turns of attacking with Mogg Conscripts if it resolves and also functions as additional copies of basically every spell in the deck. On the other hand, it’s very mana-intensive in a 17 land deck. I’ve mostly seen zero or three in decklists, and more zeroes than threes, but I’ve been happy with two. An important aspect of playing Matron is that it tends to be a lot more on the “worst card” side of things against blue decks, and siding it out when it can get countered seems like the right play to me.
I haven’t really seen Tarfire in any other decklists, which is strange considering that the deck has a lot of slots for burn spells. Your first burn spell almost always is aimed at a creature, and Tarfire kills most of the ones that bother you. Goblin Matron. Mise.
Kruin Striker has the weakness of dying to literally everything, but when he’s on, he’s on. Having a Striker and a Goblin Sledder in play when you play a Mogg War Marshall leads to very profitable combat steps. The only reason that I don’t play more than two is because this deck has to keep a lot of one-land hands.
Cost of the Deck
If you were to purchase my list as is, it would cost approximately 35 tickets. The bulk of this, 20 tickets, comes from the Pryoblasts. These aren’t in every list, and are often not included in favor of Arboreal Grazer. Buying Arboreal Grazer over Pyro will save you 8-10 tickets, but will be less useful in terms of building other Pauper decks (Arboreal Grazer is only in Goblins, whereas Pryoblast is in a number of other Red decks) and has more narrow applications in practice with the Goblins deck itself. Arboreal Grazer basically only comes in against the Temporal Fissure decks, and even there they often have access to Fade Away and they always have access to Ghostly Flicker- both of which Pyroblast matches up much better against. There is also a non-zero chance that Temporal Fissure, or some component of the deck, is banned in the near-future. Just some food for thought.
Other than that, Goblin Matron, Smash to Smithereens, Chain Lightning, Mogg Conscripts, and Mogg Raider are the only cards that cost more than .1 ticket, all ranging from .5-1.5 tickets. Of these, Chain Lightning and maybe Smash to Smithereens are the only cards that are likely to end up in a different deck, but the cost of all of these combined is pretty low.
Next time I’ll do a brief play by play of a few dailies and talk about the specific matches and matchups that I play. I anticipate doing at least three dailies for every deck, as this will showcase a good amount of games as well as the fact that cashing one out of three dailies is generally the minimum you’ll need to do to stay positive on entry fees.
Thanks for reading.
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