From the Brim to the Trim - Sneaky Budgets and Conspiring Opponents

Wort, the Raidmother
(Wort, the Raidmother | Art by Dave Allsop)

An Offer You Can't Refuse...

Grrrrrrrrrreetings and Saaaaaaaalutations wonderful brewers of the world, from a country in a heap of trouble at this moment. I'm Arnaud, and I'm immensely happy to guide you through this journey of messy shenanigans, Goblin trickeries and sheer Gruul power.

It's been a while, hasn't it? With all the reviews for Modern Horizons III and then Assassin's Creed, we had to postpone this column by a week. I'm dreading the moment when there'll be so much new stuff published every week we won't have the room for our bimonthly dates. Oh, the nightmare...

Anyway, a while back, I left you with our now traditional poll. It's been funny watching the evolution of your votes as days went by. There were a couple of uncertainties, but in the end, the logic was respected. Lonis, Cryptozoologist came dead last with 55 votes (26%). Rigo, Streetwise Mentor fared a little better with 70 votes (33%). In the end though, Wort, the Raidmother was the hands-out winner, with 90 votes (42%). I'll have to check former polls, but it's not often we've seen a commander pass the 40% threshold.

So, let's talk about Big Gobbo Mama for a second. 3/3 for six mana is quite a bad rate, even when coming with a couple of friends. However, the ability to conspire any instant or sorcery (barring the few colorless you could technically run in the deck) is grounds for some really fun stuff. Basically, cast the spell, tap a couple of creatures sharing a color with said spell, copy spell. I haven't yet looked in detail to the list, but I'm looking forward to seeing what silly things we can achieve.

As it stands, the full list, compiling both normal and cheap budget options, stands at 326 cards. Let's hope there aren't' too many expensive trinkets!

First Trim - The Cardboard Chainsaw Massacre

I feel like repeating this mantra is becoming more a matter of habit, if not a downright tradition. So let's go over this once more. In this series, we're all about the cheap and unusual stuff. Therefore, no cards worth more than $1 will be retained (aside from maybe a couple of critical spells worth up to $1.10. You never know, they may slide below!).

After axing everything above $2, and before delving deeper into deck construction proper, let's have a look at some noteworthy cards between $1 and $2.

  • Slime Against Humanity and Thrumming Stone: These two cards are obviously meant to go together like bread and butter. Slime is listed at $1.02, and while I could probably go for a full Slimy deck, which certainly sounds fun, I feel they would slightly defeat the general purpose of this column. That said, our commander sounds like a really good home for this funny spell. I might give it some personal thought after we're done here.
  • Krenko, Mob Boss: At $1.22, Krenko barely misses the mark. An extremely solid inclusion in any Goblin deck, and a threat to be immediately dealt with else you suffer fatal consequences soon after.
  • Emerald Medallion: I like that Modern Horizons 3 brought the cycle back. This means that these great outlets become more and more affordable.
  • Wrenn's Resolve and Reckless Impulse: Some of the most versatile impulse card draw spells out there.
  • Dragonlair Spider: Granted, the 6 mana cost is steep, but this silky smooth breeder will spew a significant amount of tokens for you to conspire with.
  • Storm King's Thunder: A convoluted way to somewhat give Storm (sort of) to a big spell. It sounds stupidly fun though.
  • City on Fire: You know what works well with an army of tokens? Convoke.

Of the remaining cards just shy of our threshold, I'll keep the following three:

  • Mana Geyser: This usually already nets a downright obscene amount of mana when cast alone, so if you Conspire it... Plus, at $1.02 I feel safe adding it to our outlets.
  • Khalni Garden: A free token? Don't mind if I do.
  • Siege-Gang Lieutenant: A new inclusion from MH3. Fairly cheap, and spews a couple of Goblins every turn, provided Momma is here. Worth a try.

Nice and easy, just the way I like it. We're down to 220 cards, and there is still a very long way to go, but this already looks very promising.

Second Trim - Cardward Scissorhands

Before moving on to the fun part, we need to do our homework. Our commander may well give us some great value, but it means nothing if we don't have either the gas in hand or the mana to cast her.

As she costs a hefty 6, and since we want to start our shenanigans as soon as possible, I feel like we need a decent ramp package, probably in the 15 spells range. Draw is no joke either, as our strategy is bound to be card-hungry.

As it stands, this is what we have to tinker with:

chart showing values for: draw- 23, ramp- 54, removal-25, wipes-3

We're in Gruul land, so I'm not that surprised about that monstrous ramp package. The rest is fairly on par with what we're used to. Onwards then, this is what we're cutting. I'll try to favour slightly creature-based ramp to help with our commander later on, but focus will primarily be on cheap and/or mana-effective spells. Draw will logically be mostly instant/sorcery based.

Draw Ramp Removal Wipes

Commune with Lava Arbor Elf Abrade Burn Down the House
Electric Revelation Arcane Signet Acidic Slime
Faithless Looting Beanstalk Giant Clan Defiance
Inspired Tinkering Brass's Bounty Collective Resistance
Return of the Wildspeaker Commander's Sphere Decimate
Seize the Spoils Crop Rotation Destructive Revelry
Valakut Exploration Cultivate Devil's Play
Magmatic Insight Desperate Ritual Fireball
Early Harvest Hell to Pay
Entish Restoration Hull Breach
Explore Krosan Grip
Explosive Vegetation Naturalize
Farseek Nature's Claim
Goblin Warchief Reclamation Sage
Grow from the Ashes Return to Nature
Gruul Locket Volcanic Vision
Gruul Signet Worldsoul's Rage
Hit the Mother Lode
Jaya Ballard
Kodama's Reach
Leafkin Druid
Locket of Yesterdays
Migration Path
Mind Stone
Moss Diamond
Open the Way
Orcish Lumberjack
Rampant Growth
Roiling Regrowth
Search for Tomorrow
Skirk Prospector
Talisman of Impulse
Vastwood Surge
Wild Growth
Wood Elves
Xenagos, the Reveler
Zhur-Taa Druid
Wood Elves
Xenagos, the Reveler
Zhur-Taa Druid


This feels refreshing. After dealing with the mana base, keeping a healthy amount of basics for the sake of a few of our ramp spells, we're down to a much more manageable 156 cards. Now for the fun part.

Third Trim - Cutting Off the Rough Edges

So, let's talk. We have already ruled out going for a Slime Against Humanity build, if only to keep our options open and have some variety. This leaves us with a few solid options.

There is a hint of Landfall strategy, with Omnath, Locus of Rage, Phylath, World Sculptor and the classic Rampaging Baloths. These look like juicy inclusions, but with only three significant outlets, I'm not 100% certain they will be reliable enough, even more so given their hefty mana cost.

Then, there is the burn-your-face-to-ashes strategy, with several direct damage spells left. I already removed several of these from the Removal section (consistency, yay), but I feel like the ones we have could either be used to deal with a major threat or downright attempt to kill players.

Also, there's a definite suite of spell-copy outlets, so not to rely only on our commander. Why not.

And finally there's the go-wide strategy, making tokens to make more tokens to turn them in yet more tokens. I quite like the idea here, all the more since there is a decent amount of pingers in the list.

Alas, with 58 cards yet to cut, we have to make some decisions.

Most of the spell copy outlets will go, as will the landfalling beasties. Then we'll trim the tokens, and see if we really need ALL of the burn outlets. And maybe trim down the recursion and Protection package a bit. So then:

Spell copies Landfall Token makers Burn Misc.
Double Vision Omnath, Locus of Rage Chatter of the Squirrel Fall of the Titans Backdraft Hellkite
Dual Casting Phylath, World Sculptor Gelatinous Genesis Electrostatic Field Charmbreaker Devils
Dualcaster Mage Rampaging Baloths Goblin Instigator Erebor Flamesmith Fungal Rebirth
Harness the Storm Verdant Command Goblin Bombardment Goblin Dark-Dwellers
Increasing Vengeance Goblinslide Thermo-Alchemist Goblin Matron
Mirari Pashalik Mons Grumgully, the Generous
Pyromancer Ascension Curious Herd Invoke Calamity
Spellweaver Helix Goblin War Party Once and Future
Twinferno Goblin Wizardry Past in Flames
Spore Swarm Regrowth
Siege-Gang Commander Return the Past
Hunting Pack Snakeskin Veil
Swiftfoot Boots
Verdant Rebirth
Wild Ricochet


This is so frustrating. Every. Single. Time. So many cards you want to give a chance, so many ideas that just feel right. And yet here we are. 113 cards and counting, and we're back to familiar grounds of Pain.

Final Trim - Heart-Wrenching Choices

I don't really feel like dilly-dallying too much, so let's get right down to it. As usual, bear in mind that no cards here are bad per se, these are all subjective and personal decisions:

The most savvy among you might have noticed I got rid of one card too many. This is because I'm adding something back in. This wouldn't be a proper Trim without a personal touch!

The card I'm including is Song of Freyalise. I feel like this Saga is too often overlooked in token strategies. Granted, it does nothing on an empty board, but if timed right, this could net you a huge amount of mana.

And with that, we have our 100, with a decent curve to boot!

This curve shows the mana value distribution, with most spells at the 2 and 3 range an average standing at 3.25

Wort, the Raidmother - Final Trim

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Removal (6)
Finisher (2)
Copy (4)
Tokens (18)
Land (33)
Ramp (15)
Draw (14)
Recursion (3)
Wipes (2)
Burn (2)

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View this decklist on Archidekt

Post-Trim - Last Words

This was a fun journey. You know, one of the quirks of writing these columns is that I often feel the urge to actually build the decks after I'm done here. If the idea of playing the list seems appealing, I feel like it's off to a good start.

So, thoughts, concerns, ideas, gems? You know the drill, now you have the comments to fill!

See you in two weeks.

Arnaud Gompertz has been playing Magic since 4th Edition, back in 1995. He's been an assiduous EDH enthusiast since 2012, with a soft spot for unusual and casual Commanders. He'll always favour spectacular plays against a boring path to victory. Aside from mistreating cardboard, he's a dedicated board games player, loves a challenging video game and occasionally tries to sing with his choir.

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