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February 24, 2011


Duel Decks- Elves vs Goblins: Goblins Deck Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

Sam’s sat a few reviews out in favour of Jimi, whose been most enthused about testing the decks we’ve reviewed, but even that enthusiasm couldn’t hold Sam back when she had the opportunity to helm the elves to victory. Sam’s love of Green rivals that of Ken Nagle’s, and like many a Green mage the evlen tribe is near and dear to her heart.

For my part, I was more than happy to slide behind the goblins, RDW being one of my favourite archetypes. With a fistful of burn, what could go wrong?

Here are the notes from our three matches.

Game One

Sam’s on the play, and unsurprisingly fires right out of the gate with a Llanowar Elves. I’m haning in right there beside her with a Raging Goblin, and I swing and connect for 1. Next turn, Sam drops an Elvish Warrior after evening the score with the Llanowar. I can’t profitably swing into the Warrior, so the Raging Goblin stays at home. I have some company for him, at least- the Skirk Drill Sergeant.

The summonings come one right after the other. Sam’s turn 3 features a Lys Alana Huntmaster, a very strong early play. The Warrior’s already swung in, and I’m at 17. Still, I look to equalise with a Mudbutton Torchrunner and pass. Next turn Sam adds to her forces with a Wellwisher and second Llanowar Elves, allowing her to put a pair of 1/1 elf tokens into play beside them thanks to the Huntmaster. Things are quickly getting out of hand, as they can for elves. For my part, I untap and blast the Wellwisher with Tarfire before it can come on-line.

Now turn 5, Sam keeps the hits a’coming with an Elvish Warrior, adding a third elf token beside it. Playing a wait-and-swarm game, she passes. I play a Goblin Matron, using it to go fetch a Siege-Gang Commander. Sensing danger, that moves Sam’s hand and she attacks the turn following with both Warriors and the Huntmaster. I block one of the Warriors with the Torchrunner, directing the three damage it generates upon popping at the Huntmaster. Sam burns a Giant Growth to keep it alive, and the added power reduces me to 9 life. She then plays an Elvish Eulogist and passes. I tap out and play the Siege-Gang Commander, desperately hoping to stabilise.

Sam drops a replacement Wellwisher on turn 7, then swings in with both her Warriors. Needing to staunch the bleeding, I offer up the Skirk Drill Sergeant and a 1/1 goblin token from the Commander in trade for one of the Warriors, letting the other hit me for 2. Over to me, I deploy the mighty Goblin Warchief, then use the Commander to pop a goblin token to kill the Wellwisher. Sam doesn’t let up, though, sending the remaining Warrior and three elf tokens at me the next turn. I use the Commander and Warchief to absorb two of the tokens, but the Warrior and remaining token get in. I’m at 4 life. Sam follws up with a Wren’s Run Vanquisher then ends I play a Skirk Shaman and pass.

Sam crosses into the red zone again on turn 9, sending in the Vanquisher, Warrior, and two tokens. Again the Commander and Warchief kill off tokens, then I trigger the Commander twice to kill the Vanquisher, popping a goblin token and the Goblin Matron. Clinging to life at 2, I play a Skirk Drill Sergeant. The back and forth goes on for another couple of turns, but when Sam lands her Ambush Commander the shrub gives out and off the cliff I go.

Game Two

While I play a Mountain and pass, Sam starts off with the Llanowar Elves again. I’m not far behind, though, managing a turn 2 Skirk Drill Sergeant. Sam lays down a Moonglove Extract and passes.

Next turn, I set the table with Boggart Shenanigans, opting to delay my assault for a turn to get that supporting piece in place. Swinging in for 2 with the Sergeant, I draw first blood and put Sam at 18. She plays a Tranquil Thicket, which comes into play tapped, then casts a second Moonglove Extract. It appears I have some feinting to do to get the best out of my hand, but what to sacrifice- the Goblin Warchief or Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician? Sam makes things a touch easier for me when she kills the Sergeant end of turn with one of the Extracts, so I only have one remaining to contend with. Back to me for turn 4, I decide to offer up Ib as the sacrifice, and tap out to play him. Back to Sam, she trots out the Ambush Commander and passes.

I set the wheels in motion on turn 5, first playing a Skirk Prospector. I then swing in with Ib Halfheart, drawing the Moonglove Extract as expected. In response I pop Ib to the Prospector, using the mana it generates to fuel a Tarfire which kills the Ambush Commander. The loss of Ib also triggers the Shenanigans, pinging Sam for a point. She’s now at 16 life. I play the Goblin Warchief and end my turn. Back to her, she deploys an Elvish Eulogist and Llanowar Elves, then passes. Next turn I play an Emberwilde Augur, Sam’s turn is a blank.

I move into my endgame on turn 7 with the Siege-Gang Commander. Since the Warchief grants them haste, I send two of the Commander’s three goblin tokens into the red zone, dropping Sam to 14. She plays an Elvish Harbinger, fetching an Imperious Perfect to the top of her library. She never gets a chance to use it. Next turn I pop the Augur at upkeep, putting Sam at 10 life (3 from the Augur and 1 from the Shenanigans). I then drop and trigger the Skirk Fire Marshal, blowing up the board and snaring a win.

Game Three

Those miserable Llanowar Elves start the game off a third time in succession, while all I have is a Mountain. Next turn Sam’s in for an early 1 before playing a Wellwisher. Me? A second Mountain- not a good start.

An Elvish Eulogist follows on turn 3 after a 2-point attack, but I finally land a body in the form of the Goblin Warchief. I immediately send him in for 2, and it’s 18-17. Sam hits paydirt on turn 4 though, summoning a Sylvan Messenger. The four-card reveal shows a Forest and three elves, refilling her hand. I play Ib Halfheart and the Skirk Prospector, sending the latter in for 1.

Not to be outdone, Sam drops more elves on turn 5- a second Llanowar, and an Elvish Harbinger (fetching an Imperious Perfect). She swings for 2 with the Messenger, and I’m at 15 life. I look to clog the field up with a Mudbutton Torchrunner and Flamewave Invoker, swinging in with the Invoker and Propsector for 3. Next turn, Sam drops the Perfect and a Timberwatch Elf. The Perfect-buffed Sylvan Messenger rumbles in for 3 more. I block with the tripwire Torchrunner, aiming the resultant 3 damage at the Perfect. Obviously caught off-guard, Sam grimaces as the disposes of the body. Over to me, I attack with Ib and the Invoker, throwing in some extra damage with the Goblin Burrows. I catch Sam in a second misplay when I smite the Timberwatch Elf with a Spitting Earth. Sam’s mind catches for a moment and I fear she’s caught me, but instead she’s just looking to trigger the Wellwisher for the extra point of life while the Timberwatch is still onboard. I diplomatically point out that she could have used the Elf’s ability to save itself only after it’s safely and securely in the graveyard.

In the end, it hardly matters. Sam lands an Elvish Promenade, adding another half-dozen elves to the battlefield. I just don’t have the forces to block, and the turn after she alpha strikes, getting there on the back of a Giant Growth for the final three points of damage.

Thoughts & Analysis

While the handful of games we played are no full measure, early indications show the decks to be rather well balanced, with each winning two (counting the pre-match ‘friendly/warm-up’ we always do). The swarm-n-burn strategy of the Goblins is spledidly realised here, though a little more spot removal would have been wlecome. There are certain elf cards that are a nightmare once they resolve, and having better answers to them would have helped- even a simple Fireball to give the deck some hope of hitting the strongest elves.

Still, it’s hard to complain with the amount of creature-based curn that’s present here, and overall the deck does a solid job of presenting the tribe in all its chaotic glory. To its credit there’s plenty of variety within the theme represented here, even if the gameplay itself is somewhat reduced in complexity. Beyond burn and beats, there really isn’t much here. But what else, the Red mage might ask, does one need in life?

Not an unfair point.

It’s hard to say whether or not the decks are good enough to justify their collector’s pricetag (typically around $75). Were they worth the MSRP? I’d say definitely so. If you love either or both of these tribes and money is no serious obstacle, you could do a lot worse.

Hits: Fantastic tribal theme; very solid burn suite represented in the deck; some very strong and flavourful card choices (Siege-Gang Commander as the foil rare, Ib Halfheart, Goblin Warchief, etc)

Misses: Creature-based spot removal not always consistent, and few noncreature burn spells

Final Grade: 4.25/5.00

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Icehawk
    Feb 24 2011

    MSRP: I’d buy a pair of these in a heart beat. They really seem fun and well balanced.
    Current market value: No way.

  2. web8970
    Feb 24 2011

    Fantasy as iconic as it can get!

    However, I’m very much looking forward to the re-re-match i.e. the second version of the duels via the Lorwyn theme decks … 🙂

  3. Brad Wojceshonek
    Feb 26 2011

    This is one of only duel decks I’ve played with, and I didn’t enjoy it. I found that each deck had a few trump cards that simply won the game if unchecked. Siege-Gang Commander was a big one, and the Elf deck just crumbled when I played it. Wellwisher was similar, although Goblins has a few ways to clear it off the board.

    Basically, it seemed as though the back-and-forth game play in the early turns was largely irrelevant, as by turn five or six, one of us would have a card that immediately won the game. It’s like Quidditch: the entirety of the game is made pointless as soon as someone gets lucky and catches the snitch.


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