Five With Goblin Guide


Goblin Guide ∙ Act of Treason ∙ The Genius of Gabriel Nassif ∙ Dodging Baneslayer Angels with Red Decks ∙
Why People Play White Weenie Decks ∙ … And Goblin Guide

It’s not that my love affair with Cascade is over or anything, but I guess I am past the point that I was in just-pre-Zendikar when I just wanted to play the one deck all the time. This week I have played a variety of decks, obviously the Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle decks (primarily the R/W version), and now Red Deck Wins.

If you are a medium-long (not even genuinely “longtime”) reader, you know that I have for some years loved a Red Deck and like theorizing about and tweaking Red Decks. Red Decks have a kind of music that other decks — not even Blue — have, and their own kind of card economy. In a Red Deck you can win with Rage Weavers (with not a Black or Green creature in sight, mind you), and infuriate your betters with a well- (or even poorly-) placed Mogg Flunkies.

So the same Top Decks article that set me on the Goblin Assault version I wrote about a day or two ago set me on some Red Deck builds that were played around the country’s Zendikar Game Day[s].

If you read that Top Decks you know that I felt — especially in the versions with Arid Mesa and Scalding Tarn — that these decks should run Plated Geopede. Plated Geopede is just so powerful; and when the opponent is a little slow on the draw, or is forced to play a second turn Rupture Spire, you can just whack them for 25% of their starting life total. Or, if you are a miser, you can push it to close to (or even over) 50% … on turn three!

That is what makes Red Decks special. They have a kind of different card advantage we today call The Philosophy of Fire, where we can translate cards to damage to units of the opponent’s life total (typically two points to a card), rather than translating cards to more cards, as we do in the usual course of card economy. Check out the third match, below, for a hot window. Literally hot.

Okay, here’s the part you probably care most about: The Deck List…

Red Deck Wins 2k9

3 Act of Treason
4 Ball Lightning
4 Burst Lightning
4 Elemental Appeal
4 Goblin Guide
4 Goblin Ruinblaster
4 Hell’s Thunder
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Plated Geopede
1 Punishing Fire

4 Arid Mesa
12 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Teetering Peaks

1 Act of Treason
3 Dragon’s Claw
4 Goblin Assault
4 Manabarbs
3 Punishing Fire

I’ve played this deck a couple of nights (on and off); tonight’s session was pretty good [for the Red Deck]:

Card Rundown:

Act of Treason
I typically dislike three-of. However there are some cards that I play — or have historically played — as three-of across the board. Those include Cranial Extraction and most recently Ajani Vengeant; but Act of Treason (which we used to call Threaten) seems like a very good three-of. I took my inspiration for the inclusion of this card from Gabriel Nassif’s Goblins tribal deck from Pro Tour Venice. Act of Treason is a really good card in this kind of deck in this kind of a format. There are certain boundaries that hold together any format. One of the boundaries of this format is Baneslayer Angel; most decks that don’t play Baneslayer Angel will probably have a hard time with this kind of a Red Deck; those that do will whew as they hit their fifth land drop and tap out for the Angel. What can he do about this? He’s a Red Deck… I mean maybe he can spend a Bolt AND a Burst on it, but even then… ACT OF TREASON WHAT THE!?! And then… d/c.

Gabriel Nassif – Pro Tour Venice

3 Clickslither
3 Gempalm Incinerator
4 Goblin Goon
3 Goblin Grappler
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Prospector
4 Goblin Sledder
2 Menacing Ogre
2 Rorix Bladewing
4 Sparksmith
3 Threaten

2 Forest
18 Mountain
4 Wooded Foothills

3 Avarax
1 Blistering Firecat
4 Broodhatch Nantuko
1 Gempalm Incinerator
2 Gratuitous Violence
1 Nantuko Vigilante
3 Shock

Ball Lightning
It’s like a three mana Elemental Appeal! Pretty good in this deck; you may have noticed that there is a Haste sub-theme to this version… Ball Lightning is one of the classic, fundamental, Haste creatures. I wanted to add his modern inheritor, Bloodbraid Elf (the two projected to get along quite famously, maybe)… but I couldn’t get the mana to work. So straight Red we stayed, and Ball Lightning has to be “just” the Ball Lightning. In this kind of a deck it is roughly a Concentrate 🙂

Burst Lightning
I honestly didn’t realize that this card was strictly better than Shock. I just thought it was a good card. I was perfectly willing to play Seal of Fire and Tarfire in Extended; what an upgrade! It’s like the Shattering Pulse of, um, you know, Shocks. Burst Lightning represents the clean one-for-one, and on big kicks, it’s like an, I dunno… five mana Divination.

Elemental Appeal
This is the last card I added to the deck, even after I ran the Act of Treason / Punishing Fire 3/1 split. I wasn’t 100% sure it was worth it, but after a few dozen games, I have come to realize it’s basically a Blistering Firecat… Which is interesting because I never played Blistering Firecat in my Red Decks, even when everybody else did. Which is why I always won the mirror 🙂

Goblin GuideGoblin Guide
I hate attacking with Goblin Guide. I stone can’t stand it. I cringe as I wait for the opponent’s Revealed Cards window to appear. But you know what? It isn’t that bad. Usually. Sometimes it’s atrocious. But it’s not Constructed Unplayable, which was my original assessment. I actually side out the Guide quite often, but it is a fine main deck card, particularly on the play. In case you were wondering.

Goblin Ruinblaster
This is probably the card I side out the most. It is just not that good in a lot of matchups. However, being Haste-y, and being Red, it is a perfect fit! Also it is a dream killer, particularly against foes packing a Rupture Spire or some similar.

Hell’s Thunder
I have always loved this card. It’s actually better than Ball Lightning against other Red Decks (doesn’t die to an un-kicked Burst Lightning, or even a full-on Bolt). Being un-coutner-able on the blowback would make this super duper against Blue decks, if, you know, they existed.

Lightning Bolt

Plated Geopede
This card was basically the inspiration for this deck. As I said back in my original podcast pre-Zendikar previews, I see this card as very Wild Mongrel-ish. It lacks the Savage Bastard’s Black Lotus-like Cheatyface-ness, but offensively? They are quite similar. Just so-so by its lonesome, Plated Geopede can inflict massive, in a single strike. An Arid Mesa makes it a match, at least briefly, for Baneslayer Angel herself!

Punishing Fire
This card’s inclusion (and three-of sideboard compliment) was originally designed as a freebie measure agaisnt the Refuges (and Baneslayers)… But to be honest, I think I’ve re-bought one maybe once.

Dragon’s Claw ∙ Goblin Assault ∙ Manabarbs

Goblin Assault is very good, but the others have been uncastable. I brought Manabarbs in in one of my matches tonight… but not well.

Take Five…

The games went pretty much the same way; his first play was ye olde Lotus Cobra; I burned it with a Burst Lightning; he followed up with some kind of a Hydra. I had to read that jazz a couple of times before burning it (afraid it was going to wreck me &c.). Then I beat him up and burned him out.

In the second, I won by Threatening the said Hydra. And by “Threatening” I mean the new one. Act of Treason. You know!


Esper Control
I won the first game, somehow (don’t remember). I guess that’s why we have Five With Flores videos 🙂

The second game I sided in Manabarbs; which was awkward as he operated with three Borderposts for most of the game. I scooped stuck on three lands when he hit a kicked Sphinx of Lost Truths.

The third game was a good showcase of what makes Goblin Guide good, particularly on the play. I had my Guide in the Red Zone on the first turn. These are the cards he revealed before eventually killing my Guide: Path to Exile, Esper Charm, and Sharuum.

Even if the opponent draws lands, Goblin Guide can be a potent first turn attacker; for instance, do-nothing decks may be forced to discard.

White Weenie
The first game I went to six and he went to five. He stalled and I won with just THREE cards: Hell’s Thunder, Elemental Appeal, Elemental Appeal.

I lost the second to a mis-play. He exposed a turn two Kazandu Blademaster, which I could have killed with Punishing Fire… But I elected to get in Threaten-style. I guess I blanked on the fact that he was just going to destroy me with Harm’s Way. It was actually Brave the Elements.


So I never got rid of his Blademaster and it put a real crimp in my plan. I got ground out from there 😐

The third was also decided by an un-killed Blademaster. He opened on a mulligan, but my Goblin Guide sadly un-mulled him. The follow up was the aforementioned poisonous Blademaster.

I thought I could get around it with two burn spells, but he had double Brave the Elements for my Burst Lightning and Lightning Bolt… Just never got past that wicked little 2/2. My Goblin Assault was effing terrible, as it locked my original and all future Goblin Guides into suicide runs against a first striker that was quickly paired with Honor of the Pure; that is, complete and utter humiliation.

… I remember thinking, so that’s why people play White Weenie! :: Crushes Red Decks; always has, probably always will!

Warp World
Warp World is the kind of a deck is just too slow to contend with decks like Red Deck Wins. The match itself was pretty easy. In the first he was able to play Warp World, putting numerous hits threats all over. I had a rough decision the previous turn, playing an attacker instead of holding back from burn. I mostly got boned on the Warp World (he got Rampaging Baloths, Ob Nixilis, The L Word a basic cable package, about one million things happening on the stack), whereas I got only one Mountain; but it was the Mountain I needed for the last three from Lightning Bolt.


Game Two was a little sketchy because he got Grazing Gladeheart (sorry Birds of Paradise, and other Birds of Paradise), and me plum out of Lightning Bolts! Luckily, he didn’t have a huge amount of lands.

Once again I led with Goblin Guide. This time I got in revealing Maelstrom Pulse, Enlisted Wurm, and Lightning Bolt… but no lands. Like I said, I cringe every time I put the Guide into the Red Zone… But you can’t argue with its effectiveness, um, about 3/5 of the time.

The beats went Guide, Plated Geopede, and finally a turn three swing for seven thanks to Teetering Peaks! I played a fourth turn Goblin Ruinblaster to close, running around Sprouting Thrinax.

The second game was much tighter due to his hammering me with two Blightnings, but I had a nice combination of Plated Geopede, efficient lands, and burn spells; his blocks were un-possible, even with Thrinax.

So… 4-1 on the night. It’s no Naya Lightsaber, but still a fun and challenging deck to play.


Currently Watching: Monsters vs. Aliens

facebook comments:


#1 Amarsir on 11.14.09 at 4:49 pm

Popular wisdom at the moment says that red is fine but Boros is just better. Faster and more resiliant but a bit difficult to play.

#2 MTGBattlefield on 11.14.09 at 9:47 pm

Five With Goblin Guide…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#3 StaplerGuy on 11.14.09 at 11:40 pm

Why Act of Treason and not Mark of Mutiny? You always want to cast it for lethalsies, right?

#4 hudnall56 on 11.15.09 at 8:16 am

I definately have to aggree on Geopede. If you get to connect for 5 with him once, the game is pretty much yours. I’ve been running a version splashing black for discard, but I think Act of Treason solves a lot of the problems my Blightings are trying to do only better (while allowing for Teetering Peaks).

As far as the question of Act vs. Mark of Mutiny: I don’t think that the extra point matters nearly as much compared to removing a blocker and letting your team in unmolested. The counter can hurt you pretty bad if you’re in a race (especially if you’re stealing a lifelinker).

#5 nyahoi on 11.15.09 at 9:30 pm

No love for earthquake?? Maybe i’m off but i kinda feel like elemental appeal’s one to many an x/1 an far too vulnerable a four drop. With so little repeatable damage in the deck theres an awful lot of times you NEED to make contact. Im currently not running any fetch lands due to lack of funds though so obviously im not experiencing the full power of repeatably swinging monster geopedes! Also I feel like 3 threatens are too much. I’ve never been happy drawing a second so far anyway, not alongside the rest of the 3+ drops. Im also not running ruin blaster in the main as I think he’s far too inneficient without being kicked and bad in too many match ups. This is my list so far anyway –

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Burst Lightning
4 Goblin Guide
2 Punishing Fire
4 Hellspark Elemental
4 Plated Geopede
2 Act of Treason
4 Ball Lightning
4 Hell’s Thunder
4 Earthquake
4 Teetering Peaks
20 Mountain

2 Pithing Needle
2 Punishing Fire
4 Goblin Ruin Blaster
4 Chandra Naalar
3 Unstable Footing

#6 Joe on 11.20.09 at 11:52 pm

I should think Hellspark Elemental is saucy here 😀

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