Saturday, 4:25 p.m.: Burning Up the Draft Tables – Standard Draft Decklists

Posted in Event Coverage on August 6, 2011

By Steve Sadin

Of the 41 Draft decks that players piloted to a 3-0 finish in their first draft pod at US Nationals, 9 of them featured at least one copy of Goblin Fireslinger -- and 7 of them decks featured two or more copies of the seemingly innocuous goblin. Intrigued by the results? I know I was.

Was it possible that you could just stick a couple of Goblin Fireslingers into any deck, and peck your opponents to victory? Maybe -- but I was pretty sure that if I looked closely enough I would find a common thread between these decks that might help us better understand how to win with the little goblin that could.

Christian Valenti an up and coming Star City Games Open grinder, who is a few months removed from a Top 8 at Grand Prix Atlanta, opened up his third booster pack, flipped to the back and saw a Flameblast Dragon which he quickly added to his deck. Mere moments later regret struck Valenti.

Why would he feel bad about taking a Flameblast Dragon, one of the most powerful rares in the format, in his Mono-Red deck? Because there was also a Goblin Fireslinger in the pack, that's why!

"I took Flameblast Dragon over Goblin Fireslinger, and it nearly cost me my draft," explained Valenti, and almost every pro who looked at his deck agreed with his assertion.

With 3 Goblin Grenades, a Chandra's Phoenix, 2 Stormblood Berserkers, a Goblin Chieftain, and a half dozen other goblins, Valenti's Mono-Red Goblin deck more closely resembled a constructed deck than a draft deck. If Valenti could have added another Goblin Fireslinger to his deck, he would have had a far easier time pumping out 3/3 Stormblood Berserkers on turn two, and finding sufficient fodder for his Goblin Grenades.

Even without the extra Goblin Fireslinger, Valenti was able to cruise to victory thanks to a steady stream of Goblin Grenades.

John Kublis 3-0ed his pod with an extremely aggressive Red-White deck that featured 8(!) one mana creatures, all of which are quite good, a Blood Ogre, a Stormfront Pegasus, 3 Gorehorn Minotaurs, a Shock, and 2 Chandra's Outrages. This deck has a ton of cards that can jump the curve -- allowing it to handily dispatch opponents who have everything but the strongest of draws.

While this isn't the perfect draft deck, it's pretty close.

Haibing Hu's deck is able to make good use of its Goblin Fireslingers -- as they can help power up the deck's two Duskhunter Bats, the Blood Ogre, and the Gorehorn Minotaur -- while acting as a reusable damage source for when games go long.

Not only did Hu have 4 bloodthirst creatures, he also had 7 removal spells, and a Act of Treason to clear his opponent's side of the board and keep his offense firing on all cylinders. Even if Hu's opponents were able to lock up the board and prevent Hu from making any profitable attacks, they would have to watch helplessly as their life totals fell one point at a time to Hu's Goblin Fireslingers.

With a Stormblood Berserker, a Duskhunter Bat, a Blood Ogre, and 2 Gorehorn Minotaurs -- Postlethwait had quite a few ways to get extra mileage out of his Goblin Fireslingers. And with two Gravediggers in his deck, Postlethwait would have more than ample opportunity to recast his bloodthirst creatures late in the game (at which point he might need to have an unblockable damage source such as Goblin Fireslinger to power them up).

Brad Rutherford's deck had a heavy bloodthirst component to it, with a total of six bloodthirst creatures, and five good pieces of removal. Virtually anytime Rutherford drew a Goblin Fireslinger in his opening hand, he would be able to use it to enable something impressive (and then continue to milk an incremental edge out of it as the game progressed). 

While the bulk of the players who had success with multiple Goblin Fireslingers in their draft decks were using them to enable hyper aggressive starts, the Goblin Fireslingers in Reid Duke's deck act as a way to pump up his Gorehorn Minotaurs, and to protect himself from onslaughts from more aggressive decks.

While Reid Duke could win games by pecking his opponents to death, it was far more likely that he would collect his victories by crashing in for large chunks of damage with his Gorehorn Minotaurs, his Bonebreaker Giant, his Volcanic Dragon, and (of course) his Grave Titan.

In this deck, the Goblin Fireslingers acted as true bloodthirst enablers, and little else.

Unlike the other decks that we've looked at, Sam Black's deck doesn't have a ton of high quality bloodthirst creatures -- in fact the only bloodthirst creatures in the entire deck are a single Duskhunter Bat, and a lone Blood Ogre.

While Sam Black's deck isn't looking to supersize many creatures, it does have an abundance of cheap creatures, and removal spells. Consequently, this deck is capable of getting off to a quick start, and then clearing the path to keep the pressure on -- or to deal a good amount of early damage with its creatures before eventually closing out the game with a couple of Incinerates aimed directly at his opponent's face.

Sure you can always put one, or even two, Goblin Fireslingers in your deck if you're scrounging for playables or you need a little extra bit of reach. But if you're looking to rack up the wins with Goblin Fireslingers, your deck better have a fairly large bloodthirst component and/or a lot of removal spells to keep your offense going -- otherwise you're going to find that those pinging goblins are going to be fairly underwhelming for you. 

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