PTQ - Yokahama, Portland, Oregon March 10, 2007
I started playing Goblins long before I played competitive Magic. My first build was during the Fallen Empires days. I played white/red with Serra Angels for finishers. I thought Goblin Flotilla was great and Goblin Grenade really made the deck work.
The build I used for Extended this year differed just a bit from that original 1995 build:
3 Gempalm Incinerator
1 Goblin King
4 Goblin Matron
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Ringleader
2 Goblin Sharpshooter
3 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Warchief
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
3 Mogg War Marshal
1 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Skirk Prospector
4 Chrome Mox
3 Rite of Flame
3 Barbarian Ring
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Wooded Foothills
4 Blood Moon
3 Pithing Needle
4 Rule of Law
I was both happy and unhappy that Goblins top-8′d in Dallas. I was hoping the deck would remain under everyone’s radar and people would keep Engineered Plague out of their sideboards as they had been. But the secret was out and Goblins were popular on Saturday.
Round 1 - David Colby - BG aggro
David started with a Birds of Paradise off a Forest so I thought he was going to play Destructive Flow. Instead he played some more Birds and a Llanowar Elves or two but didn’t do much else. I swarmed with Goblins and killed him.
For game two I boarded in Pithing Needle to stop the Sword of Fire and Ice he played (but never got the chance to equip) in game one. I took out one Rite, one Mogg War Marshal and one Sledder. He had the same start with Birds and Elves but this time added Dark Confidant. I got a Sharpshooter in play and it wiped his board, leaving him with only two lands in play. The goblins didn’t have much trouble after that.
This was the first of several rounds where my opponent didn’t do a point of damage to me. I took three damage in the first game and five in the second, all off my own land.
Round 2 - Jeremy Fuentes
Jeremy was very quiet and obviously took great pride in his deck. Almost everything was foil, including the Unhinged lands he was using. He played a Spectral Lynx on turn three and for the next few turns he kept a black mana free to regenerate him. Then he tapped out and I cycled a Gempalm Incinerator to kill the kitty. He played a Jotun Grunt soon after but forgot to pay the upkeep on his next turn. I called him on it during his draw phase and the Grunt went away. After that the goblins swarmed in for the kill.
Game two he played another Grunt and I used an attacker, a Sledder sacrifice and a Sharpshooter to kill it off. After that I just kept playing goblins.
Four games in a row and my opponent had yet to damage me. I was starting to think Goblins might work after all.
Round 3 - Josh Beck - UB Counterbalance control
Josh is a good guy who has played in at least one Pro Tour event. Unfortunately for me he’s also a good Magic player and I keep getting paired against him.
Game one I was able to play goblins quickly and he couldn’t hit with the Counterbalance, making it the fifth game in a row without taking damage from an opponent. Josh told me as I played my first goblin or two that he had a sideboard just for goblins after losing to them in the top 4 in Seattle. I figured he had Engineered Plague so I boarded in Disenchants. I got him down to two life before he was able to get the Top/Counterbalance thing working and an Engineered Plague in play and completely shut me down. I ran out of cards in hand except for a Ringleader which I wanted to force through. Then he played Meloku and I figured I was out of time. I drew a land and played the Ringleader. I had been hoping for one card: Barbarian Ring, an uncounterable source of two damage. Guess what the first card I revealed was?
Earlier in that game I had played a Kiki-Jiki all by himself, with no other goblins in play, just so I could cycle the Incinerator and kill Dark Confidant. He already had Top and Counterbalance in play and those three together is an almost certain win.
Game three was more of the same. He countered everything I tried until I ran out of gas.
So much for going undefeated.
Round 4 - Sameer ? - UG Opposition
I’ve played against Sameer before but I still didn’t catch his last name. He started with a Breeding Pool untapped for a Birds of Paradise so I wasn’t sure what he was up to. Turn two or three he cast Beacon of Creation and then I was really confused. Then he played Opposition and it became clear. He tapped me down for several turns except he always left a creature or two untapped. I guess he was waiting to see if I did any crazy Warchief tricks, which probably wasn’t a bad idea. I swung with the creatures I had and whitteled away at his token count until he had to let some of my land untap. Then I cast a Sharpshooter. He didn’t have haste but apparently Sameer didn’t have any of the new blue burn/removal or any bounce because I got to start my next turn with Sharpshooter in play. I wiped Sameer’s board and swung with goblins.
Game two I boarded in Disenchant (again). He got a turn two Trinket Mage but instead of getting Pithing Needle for Sharpshooter, as I expected, he got Seat of the Synod. Whew. I already had one Sharpshooter in hand and drew the other shortly after. The first one wiped his board again and the second one sealed the deal.
Sameer beat himself up after the game because he realized his mistake. He knew he should have gotten Pithing Needle with the Trinket Mage but he wanted to get Opposition into play as quickly as he could. He cast the enchantment but he didn’t have many creatures so I was able to get the Sharpshooter into play quickly.
This was the third round where my opponent didn’t do any damage to me. I took a total of six damage from my land, two in each game from playing one of my two Sacred Foundries untapped.
Round 5 - Kai Davis - UW Slaver Control
I wouldn’t think this deck would be fast enough to beat me but he used Cloudpost and Vesuva to get enough mana to cast and active Mindslaver, then used Ancient Ruins to recur the artifact. He must have been looking at my Tooth and Nail build.
Game one I had a slow start and he got the lock pretty quickly, a turn or two after getting a Fact or Fiction of Prismatic Angel, Condescend, two Mindslavers and an Island. Once he activated it he asked if I wanted to concede but I refused. I wanted to see what he was going to do with my turn to get an idea of how he would play. He took my turn and didn’t do much with it and I conceded the game.
Game two I boarded in Pithing Needle for the Rite of Flames. I wanted to keep the maximum number of creatures in to mount as much pressure as I could. I had him down to five before he found, played and activated a Slaver. Unfortunately he drew a Sledder. I had a Warchief and two Ringleaders in hand and four mana sources in play. He took a long time to think, so long that I was just about to call a judge. I asked him to speed up and looked at my watch, very obviously and deliberately, several times. He finally did the obvious: he played the Warchief, played the Sledder and sacrificed all my creatures to the Sledder. I scooped since I had no chance.
Earlier in the game I cast a Goblin Matron with one mana source left open. I had the Pithing Needle in hand and hoped he’d counter the Matron. He didn’t, so I cast the Needle and naturally he countered that. I hate blue players who know what threats to counter.
There’s an interesting story about Kai at the end if you’re not asleep by then.
At this point I was 3-2 and figured I was out of it. Most of my other friends were also out and a couple were on their way to Salem to play in the Standard City Championships tournament there. David Conachan was doing well though, going 4-1 with the Loam deck playing Terravore and Seismic Assault. More about David later.
I figured I’d play one more round and then drop and go take my wife out to dinner for her birthday.
Round 6 - Miles Barnes - Domain Zoo
Finally, the deck which caused me to put Blood Moon back in the sideboard.
In game one he got the fast zoo start with a twist. He played Armadillo Cloak on a Savannah Lions and started beating down with the 4-3 kitty. Then he found a Jitte and equipped that to the Lion too. I got a Sledder into play and blocked with a goblin, then sacrificed it and used the Sharpshooter to finish off the Lion. I didn’t think he’d get counters because of the sac timing that we’ve worked on earlier but we both agreed to call a judge over to be sure. Unfortunately I’d forgotten that Armadillo Cloak gives the creature trample so that damage allowed him to get counters on the Jitte. He got two counters and used one to kill my Sharpshooter. Fortunately after that I found a Goblin King and swarmed with now bigger, Mountainwalking goblins with me down to seven life.
Game two, in came the Blood Moons. I took out the War Marshal’s and a Sledder to keep in all the acceleration and try to get Blood Moon out as quickly as possible. I had to mulligan the first hand but the second was perfect: a land, a Mox and two Blood Moons (one to Mox for the other one). His first two turns were very quick: Isamaru, then Watchwolf. I cast Blood Moon and his eyes got big. One of his friends walked by and he pointed angrily to the enchantment. He beat down with the puppies until I found enough blockers and Incinerators to kill his creatures. I finally stabilized at five life. The only spell he cast after Blood Moon went out was one 1/1 Kird Ape.
I talked to David after the game and he told me the lone 5-0 had lost in round six. Now a 6-2 had a chance; it was even possible that two 6-2’s would get in. I called my wife back to tell her it would be a while longer since I still had a chance.
Round 7 - Mauricio (Mo) Zuniga - Goblins
Mo was one of the four people at the “Z” table before the tournament started. They sat us alphabetically and there were four people at the last table, all with last names starting with Z. I’d never met Mo before but he was very friendly and we both had a good laugh when we each led with turn one Prospectors. I built my board more quickly but Mo responded with a Goblin Pyromancer and killed all our creatures. I was able to rebuild more quickly though as my Ringleader revealed more goblins.
We both got slow starts in game two but he stalled on two land. I finally found a Matron and went for a Warchief. I played Warchief, Piledriver, Piledriver and attacked for about 18.
We played a third game for fun (after turning in the results slip) and Mo dispatched me fairly easily. I’m glad just the first two games counted.
Another quick call to my wife ensued. Still in it! I was going to ask her to push the dinner reservations back but she’d made them a bit later than I thought.
Round 8 - Casey Blunt - Goblins
Yes, another Mirror. Casey, like Mo, had Pyrite Spellbomb main and used it to kill my key goblins. He took me out pretty quickly; I don’t think I even got through any damage.
I didn’t board anything for game two. I briefly considered Pithing Needle but figured that could hurt me as well as him. I put Goblin King under the Chrome Mox and got a faster start than game one. I was able to keep the pressure up with new goblins and kill his key men with Incinerators. After I won he started saying to himself, “Now we have no chance” over and over. I asked him what he meant. He explained that whoever won had to go 2-0 to have a chance at top 8 (I’ve never been good at figuring out the top 8 math, I usually ask David C. to figure it out for me). Casey thought for a minute and asked me if I would be willing to sign the results slip as 2-0 regardless of who won the third match. Whoever won would officially win 2-0 even though it was really 2-1. I said “I don’t know, I’m ok with it but I’d have to ask this guy here,” motioning to Paul the judge who was standing behind us. Paul OK’d it since nobody was offering or getting anything extra for going along with the deal. He also reminded us that we didn’t have to actually do what we said we were going to do. The crowd which had gathered (we were playing at the first table) murmured their consent at our agreement with such comments as “That’s nice to see.”
Game three he started with a Prospector, then a Piledriver. I didn’t have any goblins in play and cycled Incinerator targeting Piledriver. Dumb. He sac’d the Prospector in response and the Piledriver took one. Fortunately that play mistake didn’t cost me because Casey’s deck refused to serve up any more land. He was stuck on two for a long, long time. He had a Spellbomb in play but instead of killing my Warchief he had to sac it to search for land, which he didn’t find. It got so bad he used his second land, Ghost Quarter, to blow up his first, Stomping Grounds, so he could go get a basic Mountain.
It didn’t help. I found Goblin King and this time I used it, swarming with unblockable goblins for the win. Casey was visibly upset but with his deck, not me. He took the results slip and decisively filled it out 2-0 in my favor. Classy move. I thanked him several times after the match and later.
Another call to my wife. I might be in! David and I wanted for the round to end. I had been the top rated 5-2 going into round eight but as I walked around I began to get nervous. Josh Beck lost. Kai drew into the top 8 but Jeremy and Sameer were playing each other, guaranteeing that one would lose (or they’d draw, which probably wouldn’t have been so bad for me). My breakers weren’t looking as good any more.
Finally the round ended. The head judge started reading the top 8 list and David went up to the judge’s table to sneak a peek at the standings. He walked back to me with nine fingers held up. Ninth! Arrrgh!! So close. One 6-2 did indeed make it but it wasn’t me. But there was a bright side: I was still able to make my dinner date and I did win half a box (even though they did sneak in two Coldsnap packs on me).
I agree with including Pyrite Spellbomb main. Thank goodness I never faced Silver Knight. I also think you want four Pithing Needle in the board, especially against affinity. Fortunately I never had to face that nastiness.
OK, so the story about David. David is a good player and as usual he was doing well after round five. He was 4-1 and was paired against Kai Davis, who had just beaten me. I didn’t see much of their match but I saw the end when David won game three.
A few minutes later they posted standings. There was me with the correct number of points but David was listed in the 4-2 bracket along with me. I rushed to find him so he could report the error. I found both him and Kai at the judges table, both looking confused. Apparently they had filled out the results slip wrong. They had Kai with two wins and David with one. Since they both signed the slip, those were the official results.
LESSON: always, ALWAYS check the results slip two or three times before handing it in. Whatever that slip says is what happened. Those are the official DCI rules.
Apparently that must have been the hand of fate stepping in to fill out that slip wrong since Kai went on to win the whole tournament. I can’t help thinking how David would have done in the top 8. At it was he finished 5-3 but he took it all very well.
Whew. If that sounds like a busy day, it was. I didn’t have time to get anything to eat after having lunch around 11:00. We didn’t get out until about 7:30. Lesson learned #2: next time pack snacks.