Over the past month, we have gotten to see just how powerful The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is as a set. With Wilds of Eldraine producing absurd cards like Agatha’s Soul Cauldron and even banworthy inclusions like Up the Beanstalk, it seemed hard-pressed for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan to have a similar effect on Constructed play. As it turns out, the set was wildly impactful once again.
The Discover mechanic was so strong and easily abusable that Geological Appraiser ended up getting banned in Pioneer. Even simple cards like Bitter Triumph were game changers for various archetypes. At this point, it’s clear that The Lost Caverns of Ixalan was quite a powerful set.
Interestingly, though, there are also powerful Constructed cards from beyond the main set. One card from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander decks is powerful enough to see a decent chunk of play in Legacy. It’s not always typical for cards from the Commander decks to see Constructed play, given their legality being restricted to Eternal formats. However, one card from the Pirate-themed Commander deck is making its way into a typal Legacy shell, and it’s one of the strongest cards in the deck to boot! This archetype made top four of a recent Magic Online Legacy Challenge, showcasing its prowess.
The Role of Broadside Bombardiers
In the past, Goblin decks in Legacy relied pretty heavily on a couple specific cards to get their engines going. Goblin Lackey led to the most explosive draws when it could connect in combat, allowing you to cheat massive Creatures into play. Otherwise, Aether Vial provided another way to build out your battlefield in short order. Strangely enough, neither of these cards show up in the newer builds of Legacy Goblins.
The goal of the new version of the deck is to use mana acceleration to play some high-end Goblins ahead of schedule. The biggest, baddest Goblin to put into play is definitely Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Muxus can sometimes even end the game on the spot alongside a Haste enabler, such as Goblin Warchief or Battle Cry Goblin if you have the mana.
The thing is, not every draw is going to allow you to accelerate out Muxus in short order, so you have to be prepared to win the game in other ways. This is where Broadside Bombardiers comes into play. Broadside Bombardiers is an elite three-drop that allows you to deal a bunch of damage to any target by sacrificing an Artifact or Creature when it attacks. If your opponent can’t kill it, they may be in a lot of trouble.
Between Goblin Matron and Goblin Ringleader, you will have plenty of sacrifice fodder to make use of. Thanks to Menace and Haste, Bombardiers can be very difficult to block. Once you attack, you can sacrifice Creatures with weak board presence like Goblin Matron to either kill opposing blockers or deal a ton of damage to the opponent.
Bombardiers even works great with Muxus, as if you hit Bombardiers off Muxus, you can immediately attack, then sacrifice Muxus to deal eight damage to the opponent! As long as you have a flow of Creatures on the way, Bombardiers can end the game rather quickly.
Mana Acceleration is Key
In a deck with the majority of its Creatures costing three or more mana, it’s quite important to have ways to push those Creatures out ahead of schedule. While a card like Aether Vial would be too slow given this deck’s curve, there are a multitude of ways to get your Creatures out fast in this deck.
First and foremost, in the manabase, cards like Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors can tap for multiple mana at a time, making it easy to play your three-drops early on.
From there, both Chrome Mox and Simian Spirit Guide provide mana bursts with no mana investment required. Chrome Mox is especially strong because it can be utilized over multiple turns and can even be sacrificed to Bombardiers later in the game if mana is no longer a concern.
All of these cards make it easier to get to your three-drops ahead of the curve, but perhaps the best three-drop to play early is yet another mana accelerant in the form of “Name Sticker” Goblin. This powerful Goblin from Unfinity reliably acts as a “Ritual” attached to a 2/2 body. If you’re lucky enough to get five or even six mana from the Goblin’s enters-the-battlefield ability, it’s easy to play Muxus rather quickly or simply build out your board. “Name Sticker” Goblin happens to work excellently with Bombardiers as a mana boost that can be sacrificed to deal five damage to any target.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The way the Goblins deck has been revolutionized has definitely made it more competitive. Against slower decks, such as the various Up the Beanstalk control decks, resolving a copy of Muxus can win the game on its own right away. Thanks to Cavern of Souls, counter magic in the form of Force of Will and Daze may be rendered useless.
Against decks like Boros Initiative or mono-red prison, hate pieces like Chalice of the Void and Blood Moon do very little against this strategy. Against any of the fair decks, Goblins has a reasonable shot. Delver of Secrets strategies are certainly a bit tougher given the mixture of pressure and Wasteland in conjunction with counter magic, but are still winnable, regardless.
Where things get much harder is against opposing combo decks. Sure, Leyline of the Void can be strong against Reanimator out of the sideboard, but there are plenty of other combo decks to worry about. Dark Depths combo and Painter’s Servant combo, for instance, can be tough to race.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of interaction available for the Goblins deck, especially in game one. Still, given how popular prison-style decks and Force of Will decks are in Legacy, Goblins is a perfectly reasonable choice. Not to mention, this deck is capable of killing quite quickly with a turn one “Name-Sticker” Goblin involved. If you’re a fan of typal strategies, this could be right up your alley.