Twenty cards were “downshifted” in rarity to Common with the release of Masters 25. A lot of digital ink and has (and will) be spilled discussing them all, but for our purposes today, I really want to hit the Goblins…er, highlights.
First, an honorable mention that isn’t a shift but a very important reprint: Ash Barrens.
The lack of true fetches in Pauper means multicolored decks have to do some gymnastics to hit color requirements on time. Ash Barrens provides color fixing on demand if needed, and a regular land drop if color isn’t an issue. Every Pauper player should own a set and it is easier than ever to get ahold of them right now. We’ll come back to Ash Barrens later.
Red Deck Wins
RDW is an established archetype in Pauper that has put up some decent results. Existing lists use varying mixtures of aggressive creatures (mainly Goblins, just as Richard Garfield intended) and burn spells to close out games quickly. The addition of M25 gives us two new red aggro cards that could turn up the heat on this archetype.
I have a real love/hate relationship with Goblin Heelcutter. He appears in a number of RDW/Goblins lists, but something about the way he plays doesn’t sit right with me.
Attractive stats combined with a relevant “enter the battlefield” effect make me want to like Heelcutter, but committing three mana every turn is a real cost. This is where Frenzied Goblin shines: one mana to pay for the triggered ability is a steal of a deal. Against decks relying on a few large threats, I would rather take out a blocker and hold up mana for a burn spell than commit most of my resources for the same board impact.
The addition of Hordeling Outburst to the Pauper card pool is the most exciting change as far as I am concerned. Plan A is often a turn one Foundry Street Denizen, followed by Mogg War Marshal (a similar damage curve to a blind-flipped Delver).
The good news is Outburst gives us a next step on the curve where the damage output looks something like:
- Mountain, Foundry Street Denizen
- Mountain, Mogg War Marshal, swing with Foundry Street Denizen for three
- Mountain, Hordeling Outburst; swing with Foundry Street, War Marshal and token for five, and we’re almost halfway to our goal of 20 damage. In some matches, this will be a fine sequence. A Goblin Bushwhacker and some burn should be enough to close it out.
The bad news is, once I really dug in and started testing against top tier decks, it rarely got there. I was really discouraged. How could these new Goblin tools fail me?! After grinding and tinkering for a bit, I was paired against someone in the practice room who appeared to be on a similar exploratory plan but they had a crucial missing puzzle piece:
Many of the matches I lost previously were close, but at some point, my opponent had turned the corner and I wasn’t able to get in enough early chip damage to seal the deal. Impact Tremors adds a Shock to every Mogg War Marshal and a Lightning Bolt to every Hordeling Outburst. It doesn’t turn the deck into free wins easy peasy, but it closes the gap by a significant margin and gives the Gobbos a fighting chance.
After I felt the damage gap issue had been addressed, it was on to the next issue: card advantage (or the distinct lack thereof). I am confident in saying UR Delver is the best deck in Pauper by a wide margin. Brainstorm, Gush, Preordain, Ponder…the list goes on and on. They are routinely seeing 10-15 more cards per game than other decks (ours especially), so I needed a way to get cards without overly diluting the plan.
The answer came in another recently downshifted card: Lead the Stampede. Lead first caught my eye in the hands of my favorite Pauper Twitch streamer Kendra Smith, a.k.a. The Maverick Girl. She is known for playing Elves, and after the third or fourth time she used Lead as a three-mana/draw-four, I figured it was the best option.
Ash Barrens makes the splash pretty painless, and green gives us access to removal for enchantments, which is something the mono-red version is missing. Without further ado, here’s my current test list of Pauper Gruul Goblins!
Pauper Gruulblins Test Deck
4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Mudbrawler Cohort
1 Mardu Scout
4 Lead the Stampede
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Impact Tremors
4 Ash Barrens
Twenty-five creatures is probably the low end of what you can run and expect to get average-to-above-average value out of Lead the Stampede, so it may be worth trying to find two cuts to make room for a few more creatures. I will say that the difference in how the deck performs when you have Impact Tremors versus not is very real, so I would be wary of cutting them.
In any event, Hordeling Outburst should definitely have an IMPACT on the Red Deck Wins archetype, and we haven’t started to feel the TREMORS fully, so start jamming and let me know what you come up with!
Hopefully this peek inside the Warrens inspires you to sleeve up some Goblins for your next MTGO game or even perhaps a paper Pauper party presided by The Professor! He’ll be joining us in Seattle for Mox Boarding House’s latest Rags to Riches event this Saturday, so be sure to tune in to our livestream at 12 PM PDT!
Header design: Justin Treadway
Header image: “Hordeling Outburst” by Zoltan Boros