Let Loose the Sounds of War

Posted in Feature on January 9, 2003

By Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar

LLaccolith Whelp, Goblin Balloon Brigade, Enslaved Dwarf, Mountain Goat, Goblin Lackey, Dwarven Pony, Thunderscape Apprentice, Goblin Cadets, Jackal Pup . . . forget for a moment what these cards do. Focus instead on their names. Not an awe-inspiring bunch, to be sure. For one red mana, you wouldn’t expect them to hold names like Shivan Dragon or Bloodfire Colossus, but come on—Dwarven Pony? Can’t your hard-earned mountain get you something more? At least thematically, in the Magic game you usually get what you pay for.

Then along saunters in a little Goblin from the Legions set. It, too, costs only to play, but there is no “lackey,” “cadet,” or “pup” about this fellow. No, its name carries with it a hint of doom . . . Warbreak Trumpeter.

Warbreak Trumpeter

Ironically, if you play Warbreak Trumpeter on your first turn, it's the least impressive creature of the bunch—a vanilla 1/1 with no special abilities whatsoever other than being a Goblin. It can’t even block a Mountain Goat. It is the Eager Cadet of the Goblin world, albeit with a cooler name.

Played on the third turn, however, the Trumpeter is an infinitely more interesting creature than its other one-mana brethren. For one thing, it's a 2/2 that can eat into your opponent’s life. For another, as Trumpeter is a faceless lump of a creature, your opponent must sweat it out until you flip over the card. These are always the benefits of a morph creature that's power is less than 2—you get extra offense and the fun of bluffing when playing your card face down.

But it's what happens when Warbreak Trumpeter is turned face up that's so cool. You suddenly have not only one vanilla 1/1 Goblin, but as many vanilla 1/1 Goblins as you can afford.

Thus, as long as you can keep a face-down Trumpeter on the table for a while, you'll have all sorts of fun options. Maybe you turn it face up at the end of your opponent’s turn and then play Overrun (or, fittingly enough, Trumpet Blast). Or maybe you thwart an opponent’s all-out alpha strike by blocking all five of his creatures unexpectedly. Or maybe you finally have the missing piece of your Epic Struggle deck. Or maybe you mill an opponent via Altar of Dementia. Or maybe you realize the stunning implications with Onslaught cards like Cabal Slaver, Brightstone Ritual, Goblin Piledriver, Reckless One, and Skirk Fire Marshal. Whatever the case, it's easy to start rubbing your hands together maniacally when given the option to create a horde of Goblin tokens.

In fact, Warbreak Trumpeter is peculiar in that it makes almost no sense to play it on the first turn. You could, I suppose, want quick beatdown and use an ultra-quick Goblin deck. But if that’s the case, why the heck are you playing Warbreak Trumpeter? Goblin Taskmaster and Goblin Sledder—or Mogg Fanatic and Goblin Lackey, depending on whether you’re using older cards—make much better first-turn plays for a fast Goblin deck. Warbreak Trumpeter requires a deck that can reasonably expect to use its very cool "morph trigger" ability.

Assuming that you want to almost always use Warbreak Trumpeter’s morph trigger ability, then, here are some questions to consider when using the Trumpeter in a deck.

How do I get access to explosive mana?

Although very cool, Warbreak Trumpeter’s morph ability does not come at a cheap cost. For five mana, you get three 1/1 Goblins, which borders on the underwhelming. The best thing to do with the Trumpeter is to reach into very deep mana pockets and have it explode with Goblins. Imagine a deck that generates somewhere around thirteen mana reliably for either six 1/1 Goblins, eleven 1/1 temporary Cats (Firecat Blitz), a 12/12 fattie (Ivy Elemental), or 12 damage directly at an opponent’s head (Blaze).

The trick is to find access to that explosive mana for such a deck. Mana creatures like Birds of Paradise and Werebear are good. Land-thinners like Harrow and Explosive Vegetation are good. Brightstone Ritual is good if you are playing a Goblin deck, while Cabal Ritual might be good in a black-red deck. Artifact mana like Fire Diamond is useful, as are lands that produces multiple mana like Dwarven Ruins or Gaea’s Cradle. You don’t want to use all of these sources in the same deck or else you have a deck that produces mana and does nothing else. But you will need some kind of extra mana development if you want your Warbreak Trumpeter to make an impact on the game.

Why do I want so many gobbos?

As I mentioned above, there are lots of options for what to do with a bajillion Goblin tokens once you have them. But you should build your deck with a plan in mind. Whether you are building a Mana EchoesGoblin Machinist combo deck or a Kamahl, Fist of Krosa deck, Warbreak Trumpeter should be helping you do something cool—something to knock your friends’ socks off. With the extra mana acceleration, your deck is already bending to accommodate the Trumpeter so you better make sure there is a reason for wanting those little Goblins.

What other morph creatures can I use?

If Warbreak Trumpeter is the only morph creature in your deck, your opponent is going to know what that 2/2 on the table is every time and what you are planning to do with it. This extra information may not concern you, but your Trumpeter is going to survive a lot longer if your opponent holds back his or her Dark Banishing for fear of an Exalted Angel showing up. Bluffing with a morph creature works only if either (a) a question exists as to the morph creature’s true identity, or (b) you have exceptionally dim friends. Even if (b) is true, your buddy Andy might just catch on the fifth game in row that you transform your sole morph creature into Warbreak Trumpeter. Best to really make Andy’s brain hurt, I say.

Some possible combos with Warbreak Trumpeter: Goblin Piledriver, Rites of Initiation, or Mana Echoes.

Can I use Warbreak Trumpeter's morph trigger ability more than once?

Finally, it is worth considering whether you can get more than one use out of Warbreak Trumpeter’s ability. The Onslaught set gave us a little gem called Backslide, which has up until now been pretty useless except for its cheap cycling cost. With cards like Shaleskin Plower, Skinthinner, and Nantuko Vigilante, though, the ability to reuse “Morph 187” creatures is very tempting. You can bet that the Legions set contains cards to further build a deck along these lines, starting with a card Randy will preview tomorrow.

Below you’ll find a few Warbreak Trumpeter decks built on some of these ideas. As is always the case with these “preview” articles, the decks will undoubtedly benefit greatly with other Legions cards. Still, they should get you thinking about some of the many interesting ways to have fun with Goblin tokens.

A belated Happy New Year to everyone and stay tuned for more Legions info in the coming weeks!



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“A Card for doctorjay”: The Big Losers

Okay, my timing sucks. When I decided to do my little deckbuilding experiment, I didn’t know the site would take two weeks off over the holidays. I thought I had plenty of time to sneak the results to you before Legions fervor hit. I was wrong.

As a result, you get an overkill of buildup to the voting results. Today, next week, and the week after, I’ll unveil some cards that didn’t stand out as your choice for my next Magic Online deck. Once the Legions set hits the shelves, I’ll unveil some deck ideas with the winning card and start my playtesting process.

The upside of my bad timing is that the deck will include Legions cards and will arrive when lots of people will be trying out new decks. The downside is that it's a much more drawn-out experiment than I had originally planned.

Today’s update includes the cards that received the least votes. Out of almost 21,000 individual votes, each card below received 200 or less votes. Don’t expect me to be featuring these cards in an article anytime soon, because you clearly aren’t interested.

The Big Losers:
46. Gravespawn Sovereign 200
47. Maro 199
47. Test of Endurance 199
49. Elephant Guide 194
50. Reborn Hero 192
51. Greed 191
52. Nomad Mythmaker 183
53. Shivan Dragon 176
54. Yavimaya Enchantress 175
55. Seismic Assault 173
56. Earnest Fellowship 172
57. Mortivore 167
58. Epicenter 163
59. Sutured Ghoul 162
60. Nightmare 159
61. Silent Specter 157
62. Balthor the Stout 156
63. Druid's Call 155
64. Breath of Life 149
65. Phantom Nantuko 148
66. Devastating Dreams 146
67. Confiscate 142
67. Pedantic Learning 142
69. Patriarch's Bidding 137
70. Wormfang Behemoth 131
71. Reprocess 126
72. Cognivore 125
73. Llawan, Cephalid Empress 123
74. Tolarian Winds 120
75. Inferno 119
76. Auramancer 117
77. Steam Vines 111
77. Uktabi Wildcats 111
79. Nantuko Cultivator 103
80. Gorilla Titan 102
81. Serra's Embrace 98
82. Kirtar's Wrath 96
83. Possessed Aven 94
84. Volley of Boulders 90
85. Grave Consequences 87
86. Equal Treatment 86
87. Malevolent Awakening 85
88. Wall of Wonder 82
89. Nature's Revolt 81
90. Improvised Armor 76
91. Dwarven Bloodboiler 75
92. Possessed Centaur 66
93. Pulsemage Advocate 65
94. Hypochondria 50
94. Mistform Dreamer 50
96. Possessed Nomad 49
97. Pulsating Illusion 48
98. Possessed Barbarian 46
99. Revenant 45
100. Resilient Wanderer 41
Jay may be reached at houseofcards@wizards.com.

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