It’s important to be able to find inspiration from weird places.  At CubeCon, I drafted a couple different cubes with a Premodern focus, and one card I drafted highly, as I usually do, was Goblin Bombardment.  Then I realized I’d never played Goblin Bombardment in Premodern, even though I think it’s one of the stronger legal cards in the format, so I thought about where I might be able to use it.

The options to make creature tokens are pretty limited compared to modern design, but they do exist.  My first thought was that Elves could sideboard Goblin Bombardment.  I’d been hearing that Elves is very strong deck, except that it has a very bad matchup against Goblins, which is the most popular deck in Premodern.  Elves players have been looking for a solution to the matchup, but haven’t found much that works, as far as I know, so I wondered if Goblin Bombardment could be the answer there–it cleanly trumps Goblin Sharpshooter, but there are some issues.  Goblins will likely have access to enchantment removal anyway to answer Survival of the Fittest, and it’s not clear that Elves can make more creatures than Goblins given Goblin Matron, Goblin Ringleader, and Siege-Gang Commander.  However, if Elves can get Genesis in the graveyard or keep a Wirewood Symbiote with a Deranged Hermit, Goblin Bombardment should lock up the game.  I doubt it’d be enough to flip the matchup, but it seems like a tool that’s worth testing for Elves, given that they want a Mountain for Anger anyway.

What I was more interested in was whether I could make a new deck that used Goblin Bombardment better that Elves or Goblins would.

I don’t know if I succeeded or not, but I did make something that’s unlike other decks I’ve seen and I think it’s pretty interesting.

Before I get into the exact card choices, I should note the context I’m imagining for this deck.  After Land Tax was banned from Premodern, the way I understand the format to have developed is like this: The good decks continued being good–Goblins, Elves, Burn, and Dreadnought, but without a really broken card advantage engine for a near creatureless deck, it became easier to expect your opponent to play a creature strategy.  This meant that even though the most popular Oath of Druids shell was no longer an option, Oath of Druids as a card likely rose in popularity.  Also, land destruction and mana denial strategies became a lot more popular because Mox Diamond is worse and there isn’t a single card, Land Tax, that trumps the entire strategy.

These two factors lead to Terravore with or without Oath of Druids becoming a lot more popular than it had been.  Incidentally, white becoming weaker by having one of its best cards banned meant that there were probably slightly fewer [mtg_acard]Swords to Plowshares[/mtg_card] around, which is also good news for Terravore.  Also, without Land Tax to fuel Zuran Orb and Ivory Tower, the format got quite a bit better for Burn.

In the context of trying to play Goblin Bombardment, this means that things are promising because of decks like Elves and Goblins, but I need to have a good plan for huge creatures with trample like Phyrexian Dreadnought and Terravore, because tokens and Goblin Bombardment are useless against those cards.

Two solutions came to mind.  The first is to play Swords to Plowshares, of course.  I love Swords to Plowshares.  The second was OppositionOpposition was another highlight from CubeCon for me, as it was pivotal to decks I drafted in both a “Premodern Plus” cube and an “Old Border Foil” cube.  If I’m making a bunch of tokens for Goblin Bombardment, I can also use those for Opposition, and an opposing Oath of Druids is much less threatening if I can just tap down whatever my opponent gets from it (Note: this is a bad strategy against Shard Phoenix).

Now, you might note that playing the spells I’ve listed together in Premodern is somewhat ambitious–Premodern is notable for having very weak options available for fixing, and while I’ve made some ambitious manabases work before, Undiscovered Paradise isn’t a great solution for the spells I want to cast.  Fortunately, I still have a trick up my sleeve in another card I drafted very highly in these cubes: Grand Coliseum.

City of Brass is too painful for all but the fastest combo decks in Premodern, but Grand Coliseum typically deals considerably less damage while offering comparable improvement to a deck’s ability to cast its spells.  I think this card is somewhat overlooked in the format as a whole.

Another great card I’ve been looking for a home for in Premodern is Battle ScreechBattle Screech is a really strong card on its own, but it suffers from the fact that there aren’t that many white creatures I really want to play, but when combined with Goblin Bombardment and Opposition, it’s strong enough that I’m willing to do some work to make it happen, and I think the supporting white creatures I’ve come up with are pretty good.

Mother of Runes, Meddling Mage, Goblin Legionnaire, Decree of Justice

Mother of Runes is the easy one–if you’re playing Battle Screech it’s the best one mana white creature by a lot.  The next best option, which I didn’t include but I think should definitely be kept in mind is Weathered Wayfarer.  Weathered Wayfarer actually improves the mana by letting you find a land that gives you a color you’re missing, but would also allow you to find a Gaea’s Cradle, which I’m not currently playing, but possibly should be even without Weathered Wayfarer and definitely would play with Weathered Wayfarer–it makes Decree of Justice much stronger.

Meddling Mage is another easy choice, as it’s a cheap white creature that’s also one of the best and most popular creatures in Premodern, and it plays very well with Mother of Runes.

Goblin Legionnaire is the less obvious choice, as there aren’t many decks that are looking for a creature that costs RW.  The utility offered by Goblin Legionnaire is pretty good, but it’s possible Weathered Wayfarer would be better.

Anyway, twelve cheap white creatures plus Decree of Justice is plenty of support for Battle Screech.

The other necessary inclusion is Siege-Gang Commander, another independently good card that makes Opposition much better and plays decently with Goblin Bombardment, even if there’s a little redundancy there.

One other card that overperformed in my drafts at CubeCon is Mobilization.  I probably wouldn’t have considered it otherwise and I don’t think I’d want to play multiple because drawing more than one is horrible, but if you can slow the opponent down with Opposition or Goblin Bombardment, Mobilization easily takes over the game.

An alternative to Mobilization would be Goblin Trenches, which would play really well with Weathered Wayfarer and Gaea’s Cradle–in fact, I think I’ve talked myself into this package, and now I’m splitting Goblin Legionnaire and Weathered Wayfarer with two of each, and playing one Gaea’s Cradle, one Mobilization, and one Goblin Trenches.

So the list in its entirety:

4 Battle Screech
3 Battlefield Forge
2 Coastal Tower
3 Decree of Justice
4 Flooded Strand
1 Gaea’s Cradle
3 Goblin Bombardment
2 Goblin Legionnaire
1 Goblin Trenches
4 Grand Coliseum
2 Island
4 Meddling Mage
1 Mobilization
4 Mother of Runes
3 Mountain
3 Opposition
3 Plains
1 Reflecting Pool
3 Shivan Reef
3 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Weathered Wayfarer

4 Annul
3 Exalted Angel
2 Fire/Ice
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Ray of Revelation

Exalted Angel out of the sideboard plays well against decks like The Rock and Burn where your normal plan is too slow and easily trumped.  Annul and Ray of Revelation come in against Oath of Druids and combo decks, and Lightning Bolt and Fire/Ice give you extra removal against creature decks.  It’s possible that Fire/Ice should be replaced with something like Mana Leak, or maybe even Armageddon.

I haven’t had a chance to test this to know how good it really is, but if this doesn’t work out, I think the shell’s pretty interesting.  For example, it would be possible to drop red, play more Weathered Wayfarers to lean further into the Decree of Justice/Gaea’s Cradle synergy and play four Oppositions with maindeck Exalted Angels.  Removing red would likely hurt against Elves and Goblins, but there are options that could help with that like Parallax Wave, Cursed Totem, or maybe even Silver Knight.

Further, if nothing else, maybe it helps to remind people that Grand Coliseum and Reflecting Pool are pretty good options for three color decks that are looking to cast spells that cost two of the same mana symbol in two of their colors.

Sam Black (any) is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam is also a Commander Cube enthusiast, and you can find Sam’s cube list here. For anything else, find Sam on Twitter: @SamuelHBlack.

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