Sandro is on vacation, so this week we revisit his back catalogue.

Hi everyone. Today I want to talk about a card that is near and dear to my heart: Earwig Squad. I first started playing with Earwig Squad in Legacy Goblins sometime before the Scandinavian Open Stockholm in which I finished second, back in February, 2014. The idea back then was to use it as a way to preemptively remove my Miracles opponents’ Entreat the Angels, thereby significantly improving the matchup. The plan worked splendidly and I’ve been rocking at least one copy of Earwig Squad ever since.

In the three years that have passed since then, other players have picked up on the card, and I like to think I played a part in popularizing it. I’ve learned a lot about Earwig Squad these last few years, and I hope that this article will do the card justice. It’s time talk about the boggart with a Jester’s Cap, and what it can do for you in Legacy.

Earwig Squad does a lot of things. Having a converted mana cost of five means it’s immune to both Fatal Push and Abrupt Decay, and being a 5/3 lets it attack through Engineered Plague or trade with Gurmag Angler. While those things and many other aspects of the card are useful to know, the point of this article is to convey the power of the Jester’s Cap ability. Let’s see what we can do with it.

What Earwig Squad can do:

Take away their win conditions.

While few decks other than Storm have so few ways to win as to be literally unable to win if you remove three of them, there are several decks with only a small number of dedicated win conditions. Taking these away makes them unable to pressure you as they normally would be able to, giving you a lot more time. Miracles can definitely still win without Monastery Mentor or Entreat the Angels, but if their plan of killing you hinges on beating down with Snapcaster Mage or ultimating Jace, the Mind Sculptor you should be more than capable of grinding them out with Goblin Ringleader and Goblin Matron before they ever get that far.

Take away their lands.

Because fetchlands don’t actually produce mana, many decks in Legacy play a surprisingly small number of sources for their various colors. Exiling three lands is often enough to cut your opponent off of an entire color, leaving them unable to cast many of their spells. Why go after their Tarmogoyfs when you can simply Earwig Squad away all of their Tropical Islands instead?

Take away their tutor targets.

There are quite a few commonly played tutor effects in the format. By ridding your opponent’s deck of their tutor targets you weaken the power of their tutors substantially, in addition to removing three of their best cards. Stoneforge Mystic decks can sometimes be a problem for Goblins if you can’t deal with their equipment, but take the equipment out of the picture and suddenly the once powerful Kor Artificer is demoted to a measly Squire.

Take away their answers.

Sometimes, rather than going after their threats you want to stop their answers. If you can run them out of answers to a specific card you can play the game much differently, and will often have inevitability due to their inability to answer that card. Before the printing of Fatal Push, one of the ways in which Goblins beat Shardless BUG was to use Earwig Squad to get rid of any and all answers they might have to Krenko, Mob Boss. Then you could simply play your Krenko without having to worry about potential removal spells, and your late game would outclass theirs. When playing against RG Lands I will usually go after their Krosan Grips if I have Blood Moon. Why choose between stopping their combo cards or their prison cards when you can do both?

Deduce info about their hand.

If you know what is in an opponent’s library you should be able to make an educated guess about the contents of their hand as well. This is easier to do on Magic Online than in real life because of time restrictions—counting how many copies they have left of all their cards is not an easy task to accomplish in a timely fashion—but if you focus on the most relevant cards they could have you will be done within a reasonable timeframe.

Gather info on your opponent’s deck list.

It’s always fascinating when a card can improve your chances not only in the current game but in the ones to come as well. Seeing almost the entirety of your opponent’s maindeck can be of immense value when it comes to sideboarding. Knowing things such as whether or not they’re sensitive to graveyard hate or whether they have any basic lands negates much of the need for guesswork during sideboarding, and also helps inform your decisions in game. I’ve even gone so far as to not play the cards in my hand in an attempt to make the game seem less unwinnable to my opponent, thus incentivizing them to keep on playing rather than conceding in response to my Earwig Squad. The value of information is not to be underestimated.

Understanding the relative value of Earwig Squad’s ability.

As a general rule, Earwig Squad is good against Combo and Control, but bad against Aggro.

Games versus control decks tend to go longer, meaning both players get to see more cards. The more cards you see, the higher the impact of the reduced quality of your opponent’s deck. Combo decks are often much more dependent on a single card. Their whole deck is built around it, and they might not be able to win at all without it.

Aggro decks on the other hand tend to be more linear, and you rarely have time to mess around with Earwig Squad in these matchups. You are also almost always the one who has inevitability in these matchups already—that is, the one who is more and more of a favorite to win the longer the game goes. Your focus should be on stabilizing the game. If you succeed in this, winning should be pretty academic.

What to remove with Earwig Squad in specific matchups.


Ah, the reason we started playing with Earwig Squad in the first place. Your number one priority in this matchup is to stop them from winning out of nowhere with Entreat the Angels. If they’re on a build without Entreat the Angels I usually go after their Monastery Mentors, as it plays a similar role.

If they have powerful sideboard cards such as Moat or Izzet Staticaster, it’s usually a good idea to get rid of those. On rare occasions I will take away their Terminus or their white mana sources. Taking their Terminus means that I think I can end the game before I need to worry about any of their other stuff, and just need them not to clear the board. I’ll go after their lands only if I believe I can stop Entreat the Angels that way, like this past Wednesday when my opponent had three Tundra and two Plains as their only white sources, and I had a Wasteland in hand.


One of the matchups in which Earwig Squad shines the most. They have a lot of juicy targets for it, and you have to adapt your plans depending on which version they are on and what the current game state looks like. You can exile their three Dark Depths if you’re worried about a fast combo kill. Otherwise you can go after their utility lands. Without The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Glacial Chasm, and Maze of Ith it’s a lot easier for you to get damage through. If you have a Blood Moon in hand, taking away their Krosan Grips is a valid strategy, as long as you don’t have reason to believe they have another one in hand.

Ad Nauseam Tendrils

Take Tendrils of Agony, followed by Empty the Warrens if they have that too. Without these cards, they cannot win. If they managed to have the Tendrils in hand when you Earwig Squad them, the default is to go after their engine cards (i.e. Past in Flames and Ad Nauseam), although if you’re a competent Storm player yourself and you’re playing online you should be able to figure out the exact contents of their hand and what cards they need to win. After sideboarding Tendrils of Agony is still your preferred target, although I advise you to be careful as experienced Storm players will sometimes bring in additional copies. If you have Chalice of the Void you can protect it by taking either their Abrupt Decays or their green-producing lands. Going after their lands is generally only advisable if you have Chalice set on zero, as otherwise they can cast Abrupt Decay off of a Lotus Petal.

Death & Taxes

Taking away their equipment is a good idea. I usually side out Earwig Squad in this matchup.

Czech Pile

If they have any particularly devastating cards that you cannot otherwise deal with (i.e. True-Name Nemesis, Engineered Plague etc.), take those. If not, Earwig Squad can usually cut them off of an entire color by taking all of their red- or green-producing lands. Beware of Deathrite Shaman if this is your plan.


Craterhoof Behemoth.


While Earwig Squad is generally underwhelming versus aggressive decks, I still keep it in against Burn because it puts on a fast clock and usually soaks up one of their burn spells. Take whatever card deals the most damage, or Smash to Smithereens if you have Chalice. When deciding between multiple four-damage spells, consider which of them if any you might be able to play around. Fireblast tends to be worse in multiples for example, and you can protect yourself from Price of Progress with a Wasteland. There are a lot of factors to consider, but it all comes down to doing the math.


Taking away Parasitic Strix stops the combo. There are some other considerations, such as removing their basic lands if you plan on playing a Blood Moon, but the strix should be the default option.

Wrap up

Earwig Squad is a tricky card to play both with and against. If you gain anything from this article I hope it’s an understanding of and appreciation for just how much the dynamics of a matchup can change when you take away your opponent’s best angle of attack. You can play the game a lot differently with just one less thing to worry about.

Sandro is a Magic player from Stockholm, Sweden. He’s been playing Goblins in Legacy for years. Follow him on Twitter @SandroRajalin

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