Grenzo, Dungeon Warden
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden belongs to the with a curved out development, ending in a tribal lord coming into play. The deck is entirely focused on optimizing board presence at the end of the first few turns, which is its main win condition. Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, acts both as a curve filler on the early game and as a card draw engine after the first four turns or so (the midgame).
Creatures in the early turns are often less powerful than aggro staples. Goblin King and the other lords played on turns three and four totally transform the power and impact of these creatures. A goblin with low strength and toughness (a low body) but with an enter the battlefield trigger will thus be turned into a real threat as soon as these key turns are reached. The deck relies heavily on the versatility of goblins as well as the strong tribal support that the goblin creature type provides.
This deck is very different from most other aggro decks in the format in terms of balance of its card choices : to optimize Grenzo, Dungeon Warden's ability, focus is on the amount of cards that fulfill the conditions of its activated ability and playing less than forty creatures creates too much variance. Experience shows that forty-seven to fifty creatures should be played to get the most out of its ability. It also affects the amount of lands to be played. So, unlike a "standard" aggro deck, it takes full advantage of every lands played, even after turn four. It only takes one turn on the battlefield for Grenzo to turn the available mana into a goblin army without using cards from your hand. Therefore, with about forty lands and fifty creatures, there is very little room left for other cards which are then hand-picked. The low density of staples is felt and must be taken into account when the deck is played.
An aggro deck?
Although the main game plan follows the , once the development phase is over, around turns four and five, the deck must adapt its tactics. Indeed, it must align itself with the game plan to be adopted in order to maximise its chances of winning according to the archetype to which the opponent's deck belongs to and according to how this phase of development has gone. The most frequent changes of game plan are the following:
- Against aggro, it is very common to be late on the board. Prioritize the tribal aspect of goblins and lords to turn a few creatures that survived from chump-blocking into a lethal turn with only two cards in hand. Cards like Judith, the Scourge Diva and Pashalik Mons are very effective in killing your opponent's creatures and taking back the lead.
- Against control, the Card Advantage war must be anticipated in two possible ways. Either the cards in your hand will be sufficient and you have to finish the game before your opponent can make Card Advantage; or the opponent's resources must be spent continuously until they break down. Constantly leaving two creatures in play forces the opponent to be on the lookout for a lord who could upset the threat balance. This tactic allows for the consumption of the opponent's resources to prevent a potential threat. The damage that can be delivered by the creatures in play is very hard to estimate, it is a good psychological asset.
- Against combo, the most aggressive hands can be enough to catch the opponent off guard. This is by default the match in which the deck has the least amount of control, and the game will often be about maximizing the direct damage that can be inflicted. Against the less interactive versions, access to the Goblin Recruiter combo or one of the targeted utility goblins can be crucial.
Specific cards to change the game plan?
Mass reanimation spells like Living Death or Card Advantage engines like Experimental Frenzy can shine when moving to the mid"game or even the late game. Indeed, these cards are very good when the deck starts to run out of steam or when the opponent needs to be exhausted.
However, playing specific and relatively high-cost cards can block your hand and slow down deck development. It is therefore necessary to consider the impact of these cards on the game from the starting hand and not when they become playable as they take the potential place of a low mana value card playable in the early turns.
Justifying the inclusion of a card in the deck because it repairs the damage it does to the deck is not a tangible argument. It forces the use of resources around it in a specific way from the start of the game, and it may simply cause to lose before it can bring the effect for which that card was added.
For example, to prepare Living Death, it is important to spend your creatures accordingly, to use them in a less conservative way. So if the spell is not resolved, the situation will be worse than if the creatures had been used in the usual way.
To a lesser extent, lands that filters the bottom of the library for Grenzo, such as Path of Ancestry will slow down the development of the deck in terms of aggressiveness and their usefulness will not be significant until late in the game. In addition to this significant slowdown, these cards will reduce both the quality of cards in hand and the quality of cards below the library. The choices induced according to the card scried has in addition an impact on the game :
- If a creature is left on top, there is no added value;
- If a creature is sent below the library, it forces the activation of Grenzo to retrieve it and thus makes the output more susceptible to opponent's answer. Moreover, the draw is likely to lose in quality;
- If a land is kept on top of the libraryn, there is no added value;
- If a land is sent below the library, the short-term use of Grenzo's ability does not make sense and goes against the use of such a tool.
Choice of lands and production of colored manas
The production of colored manas is subject to a significant number of constraints. These have been prioritized and optimized in the following order:
The colors must come out in the same order as the creatures
This is a paradigm that all aggro decks seek to achieve. The priority in this deck is to play any card as soon as the number of lands allows it; Therefore, these lands must produce the right colors in the right quantities. Since the deck is heavily 🔥-oriented, the production of 💀 is very asymmetrical to allow the deck to play 🔥🔥 cards from turn two.
Lands must produce mana as soon as they enter the battlefield
This is another one of the main constraints of an aggro deck to optimize its creature curve or direct damage spells.
Playing utility lands.
Utility lands are, at some point in the game, the equivalent of a half-spell and are very useful once the midgame is reached. In correlation with criterion 2, there are no lands like Path of Ancestry because these lands don't allow to play untapped creatures and, as seen above, adding them doesn't necessarily help the deck come out better. This leaves the 🔥 land that comes into play untapped.
Do not lose the game by using your lands
Indeed, the painlands are a family of lands that are quite useful for their ability to provide colored mana. However, the counterpart is the cost in life points. In this deck with no way to regain life points, playing a large amount of this type of lands is almost equivalent to suicide against other aggro decks. Playing no painlands or very few allows to use life points as a resource to resist the opponent's attacks. This leaves painlands like Sulfurous Springs which offer an alternative way to add mana, as opposed to Mana Confluence.
Color BalancingGoblins may come out fast, but they cost a lot of colored mana. The manabase optimisation method for this deck is as follows:
- The sequence of colored mana requirements is 🔥 then 🔥🔥 or 🔥💀 then 🔥🔥💀.
- As the 💀 requirement is quite low, the number of black-only sources should be kept to a minimum.
- The presence of Blood Moon in the format makes it difficult to use non-basic 💀 lands.
- Among the non-land cards, some are automatically excluded: cards costing 💀 as Knucklebone Witch or having a double 💀💀 symbol in their cost.
Optimizing the use of the command zone
As said above, Grenzo, Dungeon Warden's versatility is used to its fullest in this deck without adding a single specific card, like Worldgorger Dragon in more combo oriented versions. The use of Grenzo guarantees a goblin with a mana value of two every turn. It is, however, more effective as a more expensive creature that to not die on Lightning Bolt and that handles the transition to the midgame more menacingly while allowing its ability to be used more easily.
The deck naturally suffers from a lack of Card Advantage. However, this absence is offset by a high density of three-mana creatures that are difficult to play all by an aggro deck and a commander that comes in when needed during a gap between creature mana costs in your hand. The use of Grenzo keeps cards in your hand but it is not enough for long games that stretch into turns. Thus, it requires a rigorous and rational use of available resources in order to get to kill with the creatures. It is important here to identify the two ways of imposing pressure on the opponent so that one can switch between them if necessary:
- Play with the cards in your hand to use the lords effect; ;
- Play and use the ability of Grenzo, Dungeon Warden.
Indeed, once in midgame or late game, it takes time to build up threats again and goblins are not very threatening on their own. In addition, if your hand is not promizing, Grenzo allows to tempo and refuel your hand. It will be wiser to use the individual threats from your hand to force the opponent to answer them and to end the game on the continous use of the Grenzo ability. Finally, to protect a combo hand as much as possible, Grenzo allows to force the opponent to answer because once on the battlefield at the end of the game it is the promise of constant pressure.
In short, Grenzo protects your hand and your hand protects Grenzo.
Goblin recruiter, the return of the king
The arrival of Conspicuous Snoop in the format took the Goblin Recruiter from a simple draw manipulation card to a combo engine. Indeed, it is possible to build a lethal stack of goblins playable in one turn for 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥. A recruiter coming onto the battlefield is a signal sent to your opponent. He must have an answer the next turn or he will lose the game. It is important to take into consideration the deck's poor ability to protect the combo, it may be wise to use its other cards in a slightly extreme way to divert the opponent's attention.
he most efficient stack
Mogg War Marshal
Foundry Street Denizen
Mons's Goblin Raiders
Mons's Goblin Raiders
Mons's Goblin Raiders
Raiders symbolise the set of one-mana creatures in the deck that will be put in that spot in the stack. There is a full guide to stack construction here: Guide Recruiter
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden is a fast-paced, multi-faceted game which makes it very enjoyable to play and master. However, while the deck is regularly strengthened thanks to the popularity of the Goblin tribe, it remains a bit below best aggro decks due to its lack of room to maneuver which heavily punishes missplays and an explosiveness that can come a turn too late.