I kicked off January with an aggressive run to Mythic using one of my all-time favorite archetypes: Goblins! "But Bill," I hear you say, "there AREN'T any Goblins in Standard!" That's not true, but also I wasn't playing Standard to make mythic in January.
Here's the Alchemy decklist:
4 Goblin Trapfinder (HBG) 56
23 Mountain (BRO) 275
4 Battle Cry Goblin (AFR) 132
4 Goblin Morale Sergeant (Y23) 14
4 Rundvelt Hordemaster (DMU) 142
3 Squee, Dubious Monarch (DMU) 146
4 Goblin Influx Array (Y23) 13
4 Coalition Construct (Y23) 30
4 Melt Through (Y23) 10
1 Goblin Trashmaster (ANB) 72
4 Molten Impact (Y22) 22
1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance (NEO) 276
- I don't like burning wild cards on things that may do something entirely different (and less interesting to me) some day
- I've got enough formats to solve, adding an additional one from whose knowledge I can't apply to in-person events isn't a great use of time
- The mental load of memorizing so many additional cards when I don't need to isn't worth it
There is, however, a lever Wizards can pull that WILL motivate me to play the format: making it a qualifier obligation for monthly premier play on Arena. The Arena team is nothing if not shrewd, so of course Alchemy is in their rotation. Not having the time to figure out the format in too great a depth I leaned on old reliable: aggro red.
The Alchemy Cards
It's important to note the cards that are made possible in this deck only because of Alchemy. They are:
- Goblin Influx Array. This card is your card advantage engine that lets you go long, and leads to some powerful interactions with cards you otherwise wouldn't have access to. Getting extra Goblin Trashmasters against the BR artifact/sacrifice deck is powerful, and there are many aggressive creatures that let you win within the few turns after you play it. And then sometimes you get Goblin Arsonist.
- Goblin Trapfinder. This isn't an all star, and a 1/1 for one would under perform. However, drawing a card and granting haste to something is powerful enough to enable it to make the cut.
- Melt Through. It's better than Shock, obviously, but it's close to Play With Fire. I started with Play With Fire, switched to Melt Through, and stuck with it. Gun to my head I couldn't say that's correct with 100% certainty, so feel free to experiment.
- Goblin Morale Sergeant. This card is "ok," and is at its best when it's just stacking the top of your library with Lords that make your draw steps much less likely to brick on lands. I don't think this card makes the cut in a regular red deck, but having the creature type "Goblin" pushes it over the edge here.
- Molten Impact. This card is such a blow out AGAINST red decks that I had to utilize it myself. You don't maximize it as well in this deck as you only have 8 instants/sorceries between Impact and Melt Through, but it's so frequently a two-for-one. M.I. is secretly one of the most powerful cards in the Alchemy format.
- Coalition Construct. I didn't have this in the original list, but after seeing some Soldier players use it I decided to give it a shot. It's a great example of what a format like Alchemy can do that you can't do in paper. Typically players aggressively target your "lords" in a deck like Goblins because they make your entire team better. That instinct is still strong among your opponents on Arena even though Construct is pretty much worthless AFTER you've played it because it does its thing when it ETBs. Call it a bank error in your favor.
How You Win
This deck has a "looks are deceiving" game plan. You're basically setting up a big turn to take advantage of Battle Cry Goblin. In almost all circumstances that card is a 4-drop: you wait until you have 2RR so you can cast it and immediately activate it. The big pump effect gives your team haste and should send in such a force that your opponent can't afford to effectively block without taking lethal.
As a backup plan you out-attrition your opponent by trading cards that turn into new creatures (Goblin Trapfinder, Rundvelt Hordemaster), keeping Squee coming back to regenerate an army, or "drawing" extra Goblins each turn with Goblin Influx Array. You have exactly 4 burn spells that go face, so creatures are your reach and you're trying to out-swarm the opponent as quickly as you can.
Listen, I wanted one more lord and being able to sacrifice Goblins to blow up Oni-Cult Anvil was the boost that put it far enough over the top to include. You can experiment with this slot, but I was pretty happy with it.
I tinkered with decks for two weeks in January, went back to this Goblin deck which I had experimented with previously, updated it, and made Mythic in a bit less than a week on January 19th. That was all trying to find a way to prep for the qualifiers happening throughout the month. Making Mythic doesn't mean a deck is perfect, just that it's competent enough to do okay in Ranked play. The qualifiers are a different caliber of player and the Goblins deck wasn't good enough. Rusko decks that can stall the ground before going off, or anything that can reliably cast Tasha, the Witch Queen are brutal matchups. I broke even in an event or two, but was never close to qualifying. I knew that was a risk with how Ranked was set up, but I wasn't willing to dive deeper into Alchemy because of the value prop of spending that time versus the reward for doing so. It was a calculated risk, and I got the negative side of the EV this go round.
That actually leads to an interesting conversation I had with some of the local Seattle grinders on the tournament player Discord channel. The de facto question prompt was, "Are players who make Mythic good?" That's as ripe a topic as any for a Magic site literally called "Making Mythic"! My personal feeling as someone who was a producer on both Arena and Magic Online and did game design for paper Magic after playing Magic professionally: making Mythic puts you in "great FNM" thresholds of play. Consistently playing in the top 500ish of Arena makes you a highly competent qualifier player, and certainly capable of qualifying for the Pro Tour.
However, ranked play is not an effective tool for testing a tournament deck for competitive play, and that includes playing in the Top 500. Some of the on demand events give you a better feel for that, though the variance in those events regarding opponent's play skill is pretty wild. I've seen 100-card decks that time out thinking through plays one match and PT champions the next, and I'm not sure what the draw is trying to grind gems for the former.
In reality if you're prepping for the top levels of play you want to work with a highly skilled team in person or play Magic Online. The competition level on MTGO is just orders of magnitude higher with the exception of high profile cash events and qualifiers on Arena. (That's not a knock against either tool; I've got two kids and a busy career, so Arena works well for me because I can jam games in the 15 minute chunks of time I get to myself throughout the day, I'm just realistic about what it means in the context of the larger world of competitive Magic play.)
What do you think? Does Making Mythic make you a great Magic player?