My opponent, The_Mercenary_, is one of a few who are playing tribal in the tournament practice area. Now that there are some tribal Premiere Events the interest in tribal is picking up. He has watched some of my other tribal matches and seems to be one of the more frequent players of the format.
I got back into playing Magic during the Onslaught block and I had a Goblin deck way back in the days of The Dark and Fallen Empires so naturally I had to build a Goblin deck now that they were actually good. I did well with it during the 2004 Extended season but this year the deck ran into big roadblocks with everyone else gunning for it in their sideboards. I actually had to bring myself to play Tog.
But in tribal I contend that Goblins still rule. Elves are good but not as good without Skullclamp. Clerics can also be good—I like the black/white version better than the mono white and I saw a promising red/white build too. I even saw an old fashioned mono blue Merfolk deck with Reef Shaman which can give you Islands for the Merfolk to walk on and serve as mana denial if you’re short on land.
There is also a crazy Elemental deck which came out of PT-LA that involves using Madness-enablers such as Mental Note to fill the graveyard with huge Elementals, like Thorn Elemental, Tornado Elemental and Plasma Elemental. The key play for the deck is to get Flame-Kin Zealot into the graveyard and then bring them all back with Patriarch’s Bidding and swinging in a huge alpha strike. Even though your opponent also gets their creatures back the fact that many of the elementals can redirect damage to the player if they are blocked generally guarantees a quick end to the game.
Unless you’re playing against Goblins.
Here’s the situation: I was at 20 since my opponent hadn’t played any creatures, instead filling his graveyard and, if I recall correctly, occasionally bouncing one of my little red men. My opponent was at 4 after being beaten about the head and shoulders with said little red men.
I had a Goblin Piledriver, a Warchief and a Frenzied Goblin, all tapped after attacking and putting him down to 4, and an untapped Goblin Sharpshooter. I was tapped out and so I passed the turn after attacking (who needs a second main phase with hasty Goblins?).
He drew, played Patriarch’s Bidding and returned two Thorn Elementals, a Tornado Elemental, a Plasma Elemental, at least one other elemental, and a Flame-Kin Zealot. He typed Good Game. I responded with gg and I didn’t think he knew that it was his game which was over.
I only had one Goblin in my yard: a Skirk Prospector. The guy which lets me sac a goblin for R. So I had four Goblins in play, not counting the Sharpshooter.
Before the combat phase started I hit my opoonent with the Sharpshooter, then sacrificed the Frenzied Goblin to the Prospector, thus untapping the Sharpshooter. The Sharpshooter hit my opponent again, then I sacrificed the Warchief, untapping the Sharpshooter.
At this point he types WOW in capital letters and concedes. He then politely asked if he could concede the match. That might be the only problem with Goblins: it might be hard to find players for practice matches online. I had another player concede when I cast a Jitte on turn four after hitting him for 11 even without the broken equipment.
I’m looking forward to taking my little red men to a tribal PE. In my limited online testing I haven’t lost a match, even when I blew game one against red/white Clerics when I didn’t sac the goblin which my opponent targeted with a three point Brightflame. I just allowed it to resolve which, of course, killed all my guys and cost me the game. But I rolled him in games two and three.
Below is my version. The extra Goblin Goon has really made a difference. In one game against Elementals I was able to fend off a hardcast Tornado Elemental (my opponent chained three Cabal Rituals to get him into play, then I played the Goon to hold it off). I’m playing the Shatters main because there is no sideboard in tribal decks. I might splash white or green for Naturalize or, if and when I can afford them, I might just add a couple of Pithing Needles main. Those would also help against COP: Red and Story Circle but the Needles are going for $25-30 each online. If money is no object I’d definitely go with Pithing Needle over Shatter or Naturalize.
I’m pretty much playing this as I built it during the Onslaught days. The only recent tweaks have been adding the Frenzied Goblins, which are great to get around a huge opposing Elemental, and the recently acquired Ringleaders (thanks cardhoarder!). Being able to refill your hand plus getting a 2/2 hasted guy for 2R (assuming Warchief is already in play) is still amazing.
This deck list is before I realized Aether Vial is still legal in Tribal. Those will be going in shortly
2 Bloodstained Mire (I only have two)
1 Goblin Burrows
2 Frenzied Goblin
4 Gempalm Incinerator
2 Goblin Goon
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Ringleader
2 Goblin Sharpshooter
2 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Warchief
2 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Skirk Prospector
2 Pyrite Spellbomb (kills pesky pro-red creatures)
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Shatter (might be replaced by Goblin Replica)