Piledriving Pointers

Posted in Reconstructed on August 18, 2015

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Welcome to a Modern episode of ReConstructed!

I asked for all of you to submit decklists for post-Magic Origins Modern decks—and you certainly delivered! A variety of Modern delicacies, from the simple and brutal to the wacky and devious, arrived in my inbox. (And while this article only focuses on one of them, don't miss McArtor's Mentions at the end where you can see many of these fine decks on display!)

After combing through all of them and making some hard decisions, it was some old friends that pulled me back into the fray—one of the original tribes, the rambunctious red creatures themselves: Goblins!

The reprint of Goblin Piledriver has me leaping back into the Goblin realm. So, what decklist will we be starting with today? Well, none other than this one sent in by longtime reader Qoarl! Let's take a look:

Qoarl's Goblins

Download Arena Decklist

The Battle Plan

Do what Goblins do best: Attack!

Your goal with this deck is to quickly and brutally reduce your opponent's life from 20 to 0. Simple enough. But there are a couple key differences between this deck and some normal beatdown decks that you should keep in mind.

First of all, this deck is faster than some other Goblins decks you may have seen in the past. For example, if you're used to Legacy Goblins, this is a very different kind of deck. In Legacy, Goblins almost plays like a midrange deck with lots of card advantage, featuring Æther Vial to go higher on the curve and cards such as Goblin Ringleader, Goblin Matron, and Siege-Gang Commander to play a longer game.

This version is much more explosive, aiming to kill the opponent in short order. No, really, explosive—it uses cards like Goblin Grenade to push through as much damage as possible.

And that brings me to my second point: This deck is okay trading off creatures for damage, provided the damage output is high enough. Unlike a lot of aggressive decks, which aim to preserve their creatures until you can clear a path, inside this deck lies a Goblin that feeds on indecision. Here you often want to keep on swinging in. Many of your creatures are expendable. Often, it's worth trading a creature—even a particularly good one like a Goblin Piledriver or Goblin Chieftain—to get 5 damage in.

Why? Because of the high chunks of burn this deck has!

Between Lightning Bolt and Goblin Grenade, it's pretty easy to deal 8 to 10 points of burn damage to your opponent. You just have to get them that low—and it's not like you get bonus points for winning the game with creatures on the table. Your creatures here are a resource.

Speaking of resources, it's time to survey ours!

Deck Breakdown

Which cards deserve a spot, and which are gobbling up too much space? Let's go through the deck card by card and find out!

The Guide is one of the best aggressive red one-drops ever printed—and fortunately for us, it has Goblin status!

I once called Goblin Guide "one mana for a 2/2 with haste and the upside of built-in Telepathy"—and while that's a bit of an exaggeration, the drawback is relatively minor here. If the Guide goes badly, they get a couple lands; and if the guide goes well, it'll be beneficial and inform you about all your opponent's draws.

In any case, there's not a lot of convincing to be done in order to play a full set of these. I certainly wouldn't play fewer.

When I was working on Gatecrash, I don't think we really had Foundry Street Denizen pegged as Modern playable—and yet, here we are. I certainly want all four! This is at least going to be a 2/1 Goblin most of the time, but what makes it stronger than something like Tattermunge Maniac (aside from not being forced to attack) is that it's pretty easy to make a 3/1 or even a 4/1 sometimes. Thanks to cards such as Mogg War Marshal, the Denizen tends to hit plenty hard.

Raging Goblin has never looked so good!

While you are okay trading off your creatures in this deck (as previously mentioned), it's even better if you don't have to—and the Loyalist helps out with that. With all the ways to pump up power in this deck, this little guy helps your Goblins keep hitting hard with first strike.

But the real thing that sells me on the Loyalist is actually the trample in conjunction with Goblin Piledriver. The problem with Goblin Piledriver is that it's so easy to block and kill, preventing all of that damage from coming through. With Legion Loyalist on your team, Piledriver is likely to survive—and your opponent is much less likely to survive thanks to all that trample damage.

I want to move up to three copies here. Four is a little much since they are redundant in multiples, but I want to find one often enough that three works great.

The Bushwhacker costs a single red mana—but I seldom read it as such, instead thinking of it as a RR creature because that's how you're going to cast it around 85% of the time. (That statistic is entirely made up—we'll call it Goblin math)

How good is a RR 1/1 haste that pumps your team for the turn? It's all right—but I'd rather have the permanence of something like Goblin Wardriver in exchange for the haste most of the time. The one place where Bushwhacker does shine is granting all of your creatures haste.

However, I don't see that happening very often. This deck only has 20 lands, and it has Mutavaults it wants to activate. The games where you have four mana to land a Piledriver and then kick a Bushwhacker are nice—but most of the time, I'd rather have the consistency of other cards.

So, I'd like to move down to a single copy. If you draw the singleton in your opening hand it's still plenty passable, and you can craft a plan around it. If you draw it later on, it can help set up a big turn. And in a pinch it can be a twelfth one-drop to help you have a first turn play.

This is the reprint that made me want to pick up this deck again. Piledriver has always been one of the, well . . . driving forces behind the deck, ever since the card showed up in Onslaught block. The damage output off an unblocked Piledriver is huge! And in conjunction with cards such as Legion Loyalist, it's more battle-ready than ever. I'm keeping all four.

Something important to tribal decks traditionally has been "lords"—creatures that pump up all of your creatures of a certain type. And while the Wardriver isn't picky when it comes to creature types, it serves a similar role here. It's essentially a slow-action lord, waiting until it attacks next turn to boost your team. And for two mana, it's a great fit. It can push through a lot of damage, and if it dies in the process that's okay. I want to keep these.

This deck thrives by going wide on the battlefield and creating a lot of creatures with which to push through damage. The War Marshal helps accomplish that exquisitely. While it looks a little puny on the surface, the amount of synergy it has is remarkable. Pumping Foundry Street Denizen and Goblin Piledriver? Check! Creating tokens to get pumped up by Goblin Wardriver and Goblin Chieftain? Check! Being an easy sacrifice to Goblin Grenade? Double check! These kind of token-makers are actually a large part of what makes the deck tick. I want to move up to four copies.

In addition, because this effect is so important, I don't want to end there. A similar card is Krenko's Command, and I'm going to add a couple of those to help get enough of this effect into the deck.

This lord has the two of the effects I am looking for most in this strategy: providing my Goblins with haste, and pumping them up further. When you have a small-power army, you're always looking for ways to upgrade that into a larger-power army, and this is a fantastic way to do it. The deck only has room for so many lords (foreshadowing!) but this is one I certainly want all of.

Goblin Rabblemaster is a powerful card, and as long as it makes it to the first combat step, you're going to end up with a creature token. However, part of the strength of this deck is speed—and there are only so many slots for three-drops that do little right away. While the Rabblemaster's power gets pumped up to combo with Legion Loyalist, it's certainly no Goblin Piledriver on that front.

Instead of the Rabblemaster, I'd rather have a card that hits the board and immediately makes a huge damage impact. The card I'm looking at is a little-known card named Shared Animosity.

This is likely to provide around +2/+0 or more to your entire team—and since it's an enchantment, it is hard to get rid of!

Now, Animosity does have its drawbacks: It isn't a creature and is only good if you already have a board presence, so you don't want to draw a ton of them. Moreover, back to the original point, there is only so much room for three-drops in this deck. But I'll happily take two copies of this one.

If every other deck was guaranteed to have Mountains, I'd consider it—but that doesn't happen to be the case. This could certainly be a fine sideboard card, but the +1/+1 on its own isn't enough to justify this three-drop.

No, it's not a Goblin. Yes, it is the most efficient burn spell ever printed. A format staple, you would have to give me a really good reason for a red aggressive deck to not feature Lightning Bolt. It both goes to the face and clears out the way—and both are excellent here.

Normally, this is the kind of card I would want to trim down to three copies, because it's card disadvantage and you don't want to have too many in your hand early. However, none of that really matters if your opponent is dead. Game advantage, after all, is more important than card advantage.

Doing 5 damage is just so powerful. If you have two of these in your opening hand, your opponent is functionally already at 10 life. 10 life! This card is part of what makes the deck work. I'll keep all four.

With all of those changes made, that brings this deck to:

Gavin Verhey's Piledriving Goblins

Download Arena Decklist

Ah, good 'ol Goblins.

Attack. Play more goblins. Attack again. Goblin Grenade your opponent. Feel happy. That's a pattern I can get behind.

While not particularly subtle, this deck packs a punch and has what it takes to be a real Modern contender. Have fun with it!

McArtor's Mentions

There were a bevy of great and creative Modern decks sent in this week. Take a look!

Jaymic Schliesman's FullMiller Alchemist

Download Arena Decklist

Tibalt Adson's Enduring Walker

Download Arena Decklist

Matthew Robinson's Avaricious Bridge

Download Arena Decklist

Yuu Taniguchi's Enchantress's Glare

Download Arena Decklist

Kento Hatao's Animist's Maze

Download Arena Decklist

Takahiro Machida's Zuberion

Download Arena Decklist

Toyoharu Sonohara's Tainted Remedy Burn

Download Arena Decklist

Stuart Flint's Life From The Jund

Download Arena Decklist

Kii Takurou's Dragon Bridge

Download Arena Decklist

Frogue's Esper Demonic Pact

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Michael Ashby's Abzan Company

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Jacob Johnson's Dimir Deal

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Michael Martinez's Boxing Day

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Mo Holmes's Ghirapur Breakfast

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Enter the Vorthos

I hope you enjoyed this week's take on competitive Modern! Two weeks from now, I'm going to look at something a little different than what we normally do on ReConstructed. What exactly? Well, it's up to your decklists to help influence that!

Format: Any! (No restrictions)

Restrictions: Your deck must be flavorful, embracing any part of the story or flavor of Magic in some way.

Deadline: Monday, August 24th, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Submit all decklists by emailing me at reconstructeddecks@gmail.com.

Decklists should be submitted with YOURNAME's DECKNAME at the top. Underneath should be one card per line, with just a leading number. For example:

12 Mountain

4 Firedrinker Satyr

3 Ash Zealot

4 Lightning Bolt

. . .and so on. Please don't use anything but a space to separate the card numbers and names—don't write "4x Lightning Bolt," for example. Well-formatted decklists have a much better chance of being read and making it into the column. Poorly formatted decklists are more likely to be ignored. If I can't read your decklist, I certainly can't talk about it!

Yes, you read that right! The format can be anything—and I mean literally anything. Modern? Of course! Commander? Sure! Star Magic? Absolutely! Two-Headed Giant Archenemy where everybody starts with an Oversized Garruk the Slayer? Why not! Just send in your most flavorful Magic concoction and you'll see what happens next!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this week's take on Goblins! If you have any thoughts or feedback, please send it my way—you can always send me a tweet or catch me on Tumblr by asking me a question.

I'll be back next week when I take a gander at budget Standard. Talk with you then!




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