Goblin Assault and the Spanish Inquisition Update

So Benjamin Goodman had me on a high with Valaku, the Molten Pinnacle when I started to peruse decks from Zendikar Game Day. You may have read in Top Decks about my early affinity for the R/W Spanish Inquisition-type decks. I liked what I saw and decided to make my own.

Goblin AssaultThe first Spanish Inquisition deck was a metagame neutron bomb coming out of the US Opens and catapulting Mark Hendrickson into the Top 8. His R/W deck posted absolutely absurd numbers over multiple tournaments, stunning opponents with an offensive array including Call the Skybreaker, Ajani Vengeant, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and of course, Goblin Assault.

Mark’s deck ran Ajani Vengeant as a four-of, and–though it is rare for me–I decided to play all four main as well; in addition, I upgraded Mark’s Elspeth count to three (from two) and replaced all his Hallowed Burials with the Maximum Number of Day of Judgment. These White cards might seem obvious until you look at the mana base of my deck…

Remember up top when I talked about being hooked on Valakut thanks to @RidiculousHat? I meant it! There are only two total Plains in the deck, so in order to play Elspeth or Day of Judgment, you’ve got to have them both.

Because of that I am thinking about replacing all four copies of Elspeth with Goblin Assault… Not sure about it yet. Elspeth is objectively the stronger card when already in play, but she costs functionally twice the mana of a Goblin Assault… and only rarely uses either of her non-Goblin Assault analogous abilities.

I decided to play more streamlined than some of the lists online… I cut all the Lavaball Traps, leaving my land destruction in the sideboard only. That said, for big spells I have all four copies of Chandra Nalaar in the main, as well as a single copy of Obelisk of Alara (Mark originally played zero and two of that expensive pair).

Spanish Inquisition Update

4 Armillary Sphere
1 Expedition Map
1 Obelisk of Alara

4 Ajani Vengeant

4 Burst Lightning
4 Chandra Nalaar
1 Goblin Assault
4 Lightning Bolt

4 Day of Judgment
3 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Path to Exile

4 Arid Mesa
12 Mountain
4 Naya Panorama
2 Plains
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

4 Celestial Purge
3 Goblin Assault
4 Goblin Ruinblaster
4 Pyroclasm

So far, this deck has been playing super well.

I have beaten a wide variety of decks (msostly creatures, but also Jund or whatever) and these are my conclusions…

I lost to a PT Junk colors deck, where he drew three Duress very early (maybe even his opener) and I dropped the third to double Duress (obviously got the first one in dramatic fashion); that might not seem so insurmountable but this deck is not very threat dense and the only card drawing gets you lands. I didn’t get blown out, but both were games where I needed a Pyroclasm that he took, for instance, and lost, not to a bunch of little guys, but more to the fact that they hit me once. I am fine with that kind of matchup, though; long run anyway. The only other deck I’ve lost to is the Hedron Crab “Dredge” deck. Without devoting signficant slots to Relic of Progenitus and Ravenoous Trap, I don’t see how you can beat that deck easily. Maybe it’s not a real deck? Very poor matchup.

First of all, every single card in the main and side has been producing. If anything my least favorite cards are Path to Exile and Elspeth, Knight-Errant… but you know the caliber of those cards. That said, my favorite cards to play so far have been Goblin Assault and Obelisk of Alara. No one has conceded to a Goblin Assault, but many players have sent Duress or Celestial Purge before the first Goblin came online. Also no one has conceded to Obelisk of Alara, but many have commented that they can’t beat it… three or four turns before actually losing.

I won a mirror last night (yay). We had very divergent strategies. I sided in Celestial Purge and he sided out all of his Ajanis and Chandras and so on 🙂 I won in three.

The second game I lost from a fair amount of life when I tapped down 6/7 mana for Obelisk of Alara and got hit by a kicked Elementa Appeal (WHAT?). The problems with his strategy were: 1) Ajani and Chandra were still really good for me, as was Goblin Assault, so the fact that he had Celestial Purge didn’t change the fact that he used 1.5-2 cards per Red permanent to stay even, and 2) he still had Red permanents for my Purges to hit.

I think this is the deck I am going to play for a while on MTGO, despite the fact that it has neither Baneslayer Angel nor Bloodbraid Elf 🙂

Comments are available, below. Use them! (Make them?)


Currently Reading: The Book of Lies

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#1 Joey Pasco on 11.12.09 at 5:25 am

A friend of mine tried the RG version of the Valakut deck that you posted the other day, and he seemed to have a lot of mana trouble. Also, we found that the deck seemed really vulnerable until Valakut was online. His draws seemed like lands&lands&lands&waystogetland and without Valakut he just didn’t seem to be *doing* anything. This list looks much more resilient (although admittedly the dearth of white sources makes me a bit wary).

Coincidentally, I’d been thinking a lot recently about Goblin Assault. It was overshadowed for so long by Bitterblossom that people seem to have forgotten about it. Good to see it getting a chance to shine here. 🙂

@AffinityForBlue on Twitter

#2 Joey Pasco on 11.12.09 at 5:27 am

Oh, I’d also be curious to hear your opinions on The Book of Lies. (I was a bit disappointed myself.)

#3 admin on 11.12.09 at 6:23 am

I thought Ben’s G/R Valakut deck was good. I think it is less good than Naya Lightsaber in terms of potential EV but I liked it still. This deck is… different. It’s not a “Valakut” deck; it’s a R/W board control deck that has a long game Valakut sub-theme, but a compelling one.

I like Book of Lies 🙂 (Meltzer, not Crowley) 🙂

#4 Joey Pasco on 11.12.09 at 7:04 am

I like the idea of using Valakut as an alternate route to victory, rather than going “All-In.” There’s also a possibility that it was just pilot error; it was his first night playing the deck, so there’s always that adjustment period. 🙂

Yes, I was referring to the Meltzer version. It wasn’t bad; I can’t say I actively disliked it, I just didn’t like it as much as I thought I was going to (from the description, and from what I expected out of Meltzer after reading & loving Identity Crisis).

#5 RidiculousHat on 11.12.09 at 8:25 am

valakut is a strange deck to play– it reminded me a lot of the first time playing CAL. you have to think about your land drops far more than you’re actually used to.

the only real concern i have with this deck is the name– valakut seems pretty russian both in name and effect. why not “the bolshevik revolution” or something similar?

#6 Klytel on 11.12.09 at 9:46 am

Commenting re: Hedron Crab deck.
From my experience, it is becoming increasingly huge in MTGO.
The extremely low cost and wildly fun combo nature of the deck is encouraging a lot of people to run it.
It has the capacity to easily kill on turn 4 if it hits the crab first turn, fetches second turn, drops the agadeem third turn, and has enough in graveyard. Fatestitcher + leviathan + rats + corpse conniseur.. its synergy is startling.
The deck is not only immune to blightning, it BENEFITS from being discarded.

Currently, in my 5C cascade, my board is 2 Identity Crisis and 4 jund charms for this deck.
However, it is sometimes not enough!! Identity crisis can land, at its earliest, well after this deck usually combos out.

As insane as this sounds.. I know i cannot do this.. due to the nature of cascade but people who are running green might want to consider Fog as a sideboard card.

Fog that huge unearth.. or Fog that ridiculous 1 turn blowout boros attack.

#7 admin on 11.12.09 at 12:13 pm

Well for the R-g version I like “Ridiculous Red” 🙂

For the R/W version, I think we honor the name Spanish Inquisition

#8 Alfrebaut on 11.12.09 at 1:29 pm

At a glance, it seems pretty solid, though I still feel like you need a couple more Plains to support the 2WW cards. You can beat dredge with dedicated sideboard slots like Ravenous Trap for sure, even if you don’t really do much most of the time, unless they never “go off” and just try to Consume you out or something. You can also just use land destruction to strictly kill their Crypts, but that leaves them the option of just leaving the Crypt in their hand until they bin a Fatestitcher.

#9 Klytel on 11.12.09 at 2:06 pm

@ Alfrebaut and on the topic of the Agadeem.

Going after Agadeem with land destruction will not work unless you are able to finish quickly after destroying the land.
The deck maindecks 4x Grim Discovery which allows a land + creature from GY to hand.
Also, as Alfrebaut properly put it – they can hold Agadeem in hand and just resurrect a Fatestitcher for U.
The only way to deal with this deck is with Graveyard Removal OR to somehow get lucky and watch them mill themselves ineffectively. (Or disrupt their millling somehow.)

#10 JoJa15 on 11.12.09 at 5:51 pm

Hi Mike, I was the one running the PT Junk Colors deck as you called it. It is a G/W/b deck that has done quite well in the standard daily’s (several 4-0 finishes) piloted by MonkeyWrenched85. I have found the deck particularly strong late game with all its planeswalkers. Once I sideboard in the Duress’s, Identity Crisis, extra Marshal Coups, and the Celestial Purges the match-up gets even better. I did get lucky that one game starting with two Duress’s and then drawing into a third one around turn 4-6. The other game seemed like a pretty straight game though and is why I put in the Duress’s for a matchup with a deck like yours. I do agree with your comment about the Obelisk. If that would have got down I would have lost to it. Beyond the Duress and the Identity Crisis I don’t have anything to deal with the Obelisk. The Goblin Assault would have probably given me problems too but I had Celestial Purges for it. It was a fun match and a tough fight.

#11 Joe on 11.12.09 at 7:25 pm

Have you played this deck vs. Eldrazi yet? I’d be sure to play that matchup since winning a 5k carries so much weight for a deck, and not only did it win, it even had 2 more copies make it into top 8.

#12 MTGBattlefield on 11.13.09 at 5:42 am

Goblin Assault and the Spanish Inquisition Update…

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

#13 i-never-smile on 11.13.09 at 8:30 am

I’m the creator of that R/w deck. If you go to http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=186734 you will find a thread over a month old discussing this deck in great detail, and the evolution of some of its tools. I don’t think it’s accurate to call it an update to Spanish Inquisition because the only thing that deck inspired in Valakut Control is the Armillary Spheres. Ajani Vengeant, Lightning Bolt, and Path to Exile saw play in tons of other decks and they are included because of obvious power level, not because some guy top 8ed Nationals with them. If you want to compare this to an older deck, compare it to Skred Red. At least that deck was centered on 4 Chandra and powerful lands (storage lands/Scrying Sheets).

I don’t understand why you decided to sideboard 4 Pyroclasm instead of 3-4 Volcanic Fallout. Pyroclasm is terrible in this metagame, and the only reason why people board Fallout at all is because it shuts down a Bushwhacker turn to negate Ranger of Eos’ card advantage without taking a massive amount of damage from Boros. Trust me, as a man who has clocked in over 1300 games with this deck and is still playing it, you do not want to run Pyroclasm in your 75 at all. It’s a waste of space.

The Eldrazi match-up is very favorable if you have access to Oblivion Rings and/or Pithing Needles after sideboarding. Martial Coup isn’t bad there, either. It takes some practice, though–it’s a bizarre match-up.

#14 RTor on 11.13.09 at 5:58 pm

I believe the best direction to go with spanish inquistion is to drop valakut to go with Wrb getting stuff like sorin markov, bit. blast, identity crisis in the board. Also opening the power B mode of obelisk.

#15 KainXavier on 11.18.09 at 7:02 am

I love comments like “I am the creator of this deck”. I get a real kick out of them – as if people think anyone else cares. And then there’s the gall to call out Mike on what he calls the deck as if it matters? “Obvious power levels” are exactly that – obvious. Why wouldn’t they be included? And as such that Mark used many of the same cards when he top 8’d, it’s more than fair to say this is a “Spanish Inquisition” update. The fact that the user is from mtgsalvation, the most over-moderated forum I’ve ever visited, is simply icing on the cake. In words you’d never be able to use there: don’t be gay. That, and give Mike some respect.

#16 i-never-smile on 11.20.09 at 7:56 am

First of all, I actually created the deck. I didn’t call out Mike on the title of the deck, I just pointed out that the deck is actually very different from Spanish Inquisition, and it probably shouldn’t be called SI since it plays very differently and has different goals in mind.

Second, the guy who placed in his Game Day (which isn’t really a competitive event by any standards, but is where the list came from) had a list that was straight off the thread on the forum, the week preceding Game Day. I don’t remember if it was a guy who posted on the forum or not, but the list distinctly came from MTGSalvation around the time of Game Day, down to each sideboard slot. I find it hard to believe that someone would create an exact replica of this deck and tune it to the same place the thread had it tuned, at the same point in time.

Third, I have no idea what sexual orientation has to do with discussion about this deck or an internet forum. I would assume if you’re using that as an insult, you probably screwed up and should have played the virgin card, which is theoretically more accurate towards the MTG/internet nerd demographic. But more to the point: if you’re going to try to tell someone that their arguments are frivolous and vain, you probably should make sure it doesn’t make you look like a hypocrite.

And lastly, I wouldn’t have posted on Mike Flores’ blog if I didn’t respect him. Why would I care? I’m too lazy to bash people on the internet. I simply read that he was enjoying the deck on MTGO, and decided to say a few things about the deck from experience. That wasn’t an ego trip, it was just pointing out some existing information about a relatively unknown control deck.

#17 Five With Flores » The Sunday Sideboarding Guide on 04.15.10 at 6:12 pm

[…] 2 Ajani Vengeant 4 Great Sable Stag 4 Goblin Assault 2 Celestial Purge 3 Day of […]

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