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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Nov 12 2007 1:44pm
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Welcome back to the continuance of my previous article discussing aggro in Classic. Last time I covered some of the basics for Classic aggro decks, and laid out examples of two of the simpler and cheaper archetypes that see play in the format. Those decks are fine if you want to get into classic at a beginner level, but today we’ll go into more expensive and slightly more powerful decks that you will encounter in Classic play.
Goblin Piledriver
Goblins has been competitive in various formats since Onslaught began vomiting little red men all over the Magic landscape. Previous to that there were powerful Goblin cards, such as Goblin Matron, Goblin Ringleader, and Mogg Fanatic, but never a high density in any one block or really even in one format. Onslaught block brought such hits as Goblin Piledriver, Gempalm Incinerator, Goblin Warchief, and Goblin Sharpshooter.
The reason to play Goblins is much the same as affinity. You’re playing a pile of cards that work alright alone, and very well together. The advantages of Gobs is their resistance to hate, as you can have no creatures on-board, no cards in hand, and a top-decked Goblin Ringleader can give you another hand full of gas, and the fact that the best hate for Goblins, widely acknowledged to be Engineered Plague, is pretty crappy in 90% of other matchups, 
Classic Gobs can be tweaked in various ways. Core cards are more or less the same in every build, but the final product can be a combo/creature controlling deck that only attacks after comboing out for the kill, or can be a straight beatdown deck, utilizing burn as a followup. I will present two lists for your enjoyment, the first being mostly vanilla Goblins, the second being a more burn-based build that is almost RDW in philosophy. 
4 x Duress
With this build, the deck is an interesting study on Mike Flores’ “Who’s the Beatdown”, playing an aggressive role when opposed by a control deck or combo deck, utilizing AEther Vial to get past Counterspell, and its variants, sorcery speed removal like Wrath of God and Damnation, and then casting and flashing back Cabal Therapy naming any relevant spells that control may still be able to cast. After sideboard, Duress can come in for the Mogg War Marshal and give you even more discard to hate them out. When playing against combo, the Leyline of the Void are usually necessary, and you can bring them in for any of the more expensive gobs.
When brawling with other beatdown decks, you end up in a slightly more controlling stance, using Gempalm Incinerator to remove their creatures without losing a card yourself, and mostly just stalling while you build your mana-base or counter on Aether Vial, eventually dropping some combination of Goblin Warchief, Goblin Piledriver, and other goblins bashing through in one to two turns for a big finish.
As mentioned in the last article, RDW has been drawing attention due to being cheap and being able to bash on Threshold, aka the generally accepted “Best Deck”. One abomination (in a good way though!) of a deck that you’ll see relatively frequently is a mash-up of RDW and Goblins. It runs goblins for cheap efficient creatures that can be turned into cards with Skullclamp, and a bunch of cheap or free burn spells that involve sacrificing permanents to achieve their desired result. I present to you:
Red Vomit
2 x (Sensei’s Divining Top)
Shrapnel Blast
Be afraid if you see your opponent setting this card up…
This one is simple, almost like a super-simple combo deck due to the many synergies. I’ll provide a goldfish, and a walkthrough.
Goldfished hand:
2 Mountains
Nice Hand, has two of our “combos” in hand, always nice. Turn one we’ll Spike his face (17) and pass the turn. Turn two, draw a Skullclamp, we’ll play the Marshal, and pass the turn. Turn three we’ll decline upkeep on our Marshall, and end up with two tokens. Draw another Lava Spike. Attack with the token from last turn to 16. Play Skullclamp and equip to the attacking token, drawing two cards. We draw mountain and Shrapnel Blast, playing the Mountain. Lava Spike them down to 13, and pass the turn. At this point, the deck seems horribly slow. Turn four… Draw a card, it’s a Magma Jet. Attack with our token, to 12, equip the Skullclamp and draw two. Draw a Mountain and another Fireblast. Tap all four mana, cast Incinerate, Shrapnel Blast (saccing the ‘clamp), and double Fireblast them to -4 life.
This deck tends to play explosions of cards like that.
We’ll do a game against a mono-black deck next.

We’ll be on the play, opening with 1 Mountain, 1 Great Furnace, 2 Goblin Grenades, 1 Mogg Fanatic, 1 Fireblast and 1 Lava Spike. Lay mountain and play the fanatic. Pass the turn. Opponent opens with swamp and duresses us. They take the fireblast, and pass the turn. Draw, and it is a Top, how exciting. Play the furnace, play the top, and burn them with the spike (17). Attack them to 16, and pass the turn. They play a second swamp and a Dark Confidant. At this point, we have a decision to make regarding the Confidant. We either kill him with our goblin on our turn after our mogg attacks and stacks damage on them, or we let them HAVE all those extra cards (likely 2-3 minimum) and hope he hits 4-5 dmg worth of cards. I actually like gambling on him hurting them some games, but not this game. Ok, so back to our turn. On upkeep, we’ll active top, and see Mountain, Mogg War Marshal, and Lightning Bolt. We need the mountain, so it will be last. First will be the Bolt, a “mere” 3 damage spell. Next, the War Marshall, last the mountain. We draw the mountain, and play it. We attack with our fanatic, and they take all that thinking we did earlier and throw it out the window by blocking our fanatic. Well, that’s fine, stack dmg on the Confidant, which will kill him, then sac the mogg to hit our opponent (15). Now’s the tricky part. We have 2 mana open, and in hand, Fireblast, 2 Goblin Grenade. So, we’ll flip the top to grab the Mogg War Marshal off our library. Cast him, and pass the turn. The opponent casts another Duress, a rough play, hitting one Grenade. They follow with another Dark Confidant. Our turn, we’ll pay the upkeep on the War Marshall, draw our top, and play it. Attack with the War Marshall and token to 13, as they decline to block.  Pass the turn. Opponent shows Black Knight for his Bob, sitting on three mana, plays a Hypnotic Specter and passes back. On upkeep, we top, and see Lightning Bolt, Fireblast, and Mogg Fanatic. Hmm, that’s kind’ve rough. We still have 2 mana open, so we’ll put back the fireblast on bottom, then the Bolt, then the Fanatic. We’ll draw our card, the Fanatic, but hold onto him for a moment. Attack with both Goblins in play. Opponent blocks the token. Dmg resolves him down to 12. We’ll Goblin Grenade our War Marshal, dropping him to 7. The end is in sight. We get a token from our War Marshal’s valiant sacrifice, then play the Fanatic, sac him to deal the 2nd point of damage to the Hippie, killing it. Pass the turn with 1 token in play, 2 Mountains and 1 Artifact land, along with 1 Top in play, and no hand. Opponent will draw, reveal a swamp, play another swamp, and drop a Black Knight and a Dark Confidant. On our turn, we remember the order of our cards from the last top, with Lightning Bolt as our top card, and Fireblast under than. We’ll draw the bolt, and bolt the opponent. Then we’ll flip the top to the top of our library, and use the drawn fireblast for the win. This was a rather slow game for us, although the Black player never it a Dark Ritual turn 1-2 play, so both players didn’t have their best possible start. Turn 6 is still a decent kill, especially with him hitting our hand early and often, and him blocking our attacks.
Finally, I’ll show 2-3 examples of multi-colored aggro, generally accepted as the best aggro decks. These are still slightly sneered at by some players, as they, along with Affinity, are “Extended+” decks, taking existing Extended decks, and adding cards as necessary. These multi-colored decks usually receive the catch-all name “Zoo”, although some exclusively Red/White flavors bear the title “Boros Deck Wins”. They’re called such because much of the low cost, high power/toughness creatures that are played in such decks are animals; Kird Ape, Savannah Lions, Isamaru, Hound of Konda, etc. The power of Zoo is the ability to drop the most lethal 1 and 2 drop from any color, then either clear their way with burn spells, bounce, whatever is necessary.   The color-flexibility is maintained by an unhealthy mix of fetchs lands from Onslaught and  As with the other decks we’ve seen, some disruption of SOME sort, even if it’s only in the sideboard, is desirable. 

A current, relatively streamlined version for your comsumption:
2 x Umezawa's Jitte
Yes, he’s great in this format too. Just buy him now while you can.
4 x (Orims Chant)
Yep, the deck is expensive. It’s also pretty lethal. Again, this is just a sample, you could go more burn-heavy, dropping some of the creatures, or go more creature-heavy, or put in Black or Blue, or even run the domain build with Tribal Flames and (Gaea’s Might), which is a very fun, slightly volatile build.
Alright, let’s show it off with another walkthrough. We draw our hand, again going first. Wooded Foothills, Mountain, Rift Bolt, Savannah Lions, Kird Ape, Tarmogoyf, and Lightning Helix. We’ll play the Foothills, crack it for a Temple Garden, and play the Garden untapped. We go to 17. Then we play the Savannah Lions, and pass the turn. Opponent draws and plays a Great Furnace, and drops an Arcbound Worker and a (Tormod’s Crypt). We draw a Seal of Fire. We attack with the Savannah Lions and they take, down to 18. Drop Mountain into play, then pass the turn wanting to have removal up with the Helix. They draw, play a Darksteel Citadel, play a Frogmite… With the Frogmite on the stack, we’ll Helix the worker so he can’t get a free counter from the worker. He drops a second Frogmite and then a Cranial Plating and passes the turn. We draw a Stomping Ground and play it untapped, going down to 15. Attack with the Lions and he takes to 16.   We'll play Seal of Fire, with puts him slightly on the defensive, due to being able to blow up whatever Frogmite he equips after attackers are declared.  Then we'll drop our Kird Ape into play.  We pass back the turn.  He drops a Blinkmoth Nexus into play, plays an Arcbound Ravager, equips the Cranial Plating to a Frogmite and attacks with both Frogmites.  We crack Seal of Fire to blow up the one with the Plating, which he sacrifices to his Ravager, making it a 2/2.  We take two and drop to 13.  On our turn we draw a Lightning Helix.  We'll attack with the Kird Ape and the Savannah Lions.  Apparently planning to "combo" out, he takes, dropping to 12.  With Lightning Helix, Rift Bolt, and Tarmogoyf in hand, we're going to play our the 'Goyf, and suspend the Rift Bolt, giving ourselves a bigger Mr. T next turn... if we can keep him around that long.  They draw, and drop another Crypt.  The Cranial Plating gives +6/+0 right now.  They'll equip it to an animated Blinkmoth Nexus, and swing across for seven with him, and keep the other's back.  We'll attempt to Lightning Helix, and they sacrifice it to the Ravager, now a 3/3.  They pass the turn on the defensive. 
Our Bolt will unsuspend, and we have some thinking.  The best plan is to just blow up the Frogmite with it, and that's what we'll do.  He saccs the Frog to the Ravager, now a 4/4.  We draw into Fireblast.  Our Goyf is a 6/7 right now, but he has a Crypt... we'll hold back a turn, since he can eat our graveyard and shrink the Goyf if we attack, then swing back for lethal.  We pass the turn.  He draws and drops a Tree of Tales and a Skullclamp.  He equips the Clamp the Ravager along with the Plating, and passes the turn back.  We draw and see a Lightning Bolt.  Our opponent is sitting on 12 life still, and the end is near.  If we attack with the team, he still can block and counter-attack for lethal, so we'll bide our time.  He currently is still in an awful position, where he can't really attack without more blockers to hold back our horde.  We pass the turn.  He draws, and plays an Arcbound Worker, equips the Skullclamp, and draws two cards, putting the 1/1 counter on his Ravager, which is now a 5/5 getting +8/0 from the Plating.  He drops an Ornithopter into play, which is bad for us, since it can swing over with flying, plays a Disciple of the Vault, even worse, and passes the turn back.  We draw, and see another Lightning Bolt.  Now we're talking.  We can burn him down to 2 at this point, but we need to defend against his attack still, since he could block all 3 of our creatures and still swing back with an angry Ravager.  Pass the turn.  Opponent draws, and plays a second Skullclamp.  He attempts to equip one to his 'thopter, and we Lightning Bolt it.  He sacs onto his Ravager, a 6/6 now, and we lose 1 life (12) and he pauses, then equips the Plating to his Disciple, and attempts to attack with both creatures.  We'll Bolt his disciple, and throw the Savannah Lions under the bus that is his Ravager.  Sweet.   On our turn we draw and see a Mogg Fanatic.  We attack him with both creatures, he takes eight, dropping to four, and we play the Fanatic, then Fireblast him out.  This game went on forever, and as you can see, due to the instant-speed removal and early beats, this deck has the horses to fight off Affinity.  This is a matchup that is something like 50/50 pre-board, and could be worse if they're packing Tarmogoyf, as some teched-out lists have been recently, but after board, you can bring in the Affinity dominators, namely Ancient Grudge and Krosan Grip.
This concludes this week's article... it went on WAYYY too long, and I appoligize.  Next week I'm either going to look at the place that mid-range decks have in Classic, or the overall Classic meta, and key cards for Classic.  What do you guys want to see?


Replies by Walkerdog (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 11/17/2007 - 14:00
Walkerdog (Unregistered)'s picture

Apologies for not answering sooner, I've been on vacation, but I wanted to stop in and look at feedback.  I appreciate the feedback, and I'm glad that people are appreciating aggro's power.  I don't write these to force aggro down everyone's throat, just highlight the reasons to play it.  Also, regarding gobs, I agree that classic gobs plays somewhat different than gobs in ext.  I don't play gobs very much, and I usually try to get someone else to play as them in testing, but I do agree with your observation.

Goblins by zahori (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:49
zahori (Unregistered)'s picture

I think you should have talked a bit about how to abuse Goblin Recruiter.  While most goblin players can probably play a Goblin deck ok, the recruiter is a different quirk when compared to the extended goblin decks.

by largebrandon at Tue, 11/13/2007 - 06:56
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Nice article.  I think that your premier goal of showing how sick aggro is has been met. I'd personally tweak some of the decks, but you seem to have gotten your point across.  Bon Travail!

Cheers by The Pink Floyd (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 11/13/2007 - 06:02
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Thanks for this article, hanging around in puremtgo room online, People are more eager to play this format than I am.

I refrain because I have no deck knowledge, nor the budget to get into it, but the Red Vom deck is available to my price range, though, with the amount of creatures, I don't expect the Skullclamps to be much use... but I'll give the build a go, because let's face it,... what do I know.

Anyway, thanks for your insight.



by Javasci at Mon, 11/12/2007 - 19:15
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Expect a rebuttal article coming soon.

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