Commanding Respect: Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician
With most of the Commander 2017 tribes being spoiled, I was extremely disappointed they did not have one of the best tribes ever, Goblins! What is better after a mentally taxing game, than using a deck that just turns cards sideways and goes for the face? Best color for both of these is red. Often being considered to be the worst color for EDH, and that is going to change. We are going to lead our army of clumsy hedonists and show everyone that all their plans are useless! Who better to lead our army than Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician? At least he might stay alive longer than the rest of them. Ib shows us we need a few things: a lot of goblins, ways to get through, mana, and extra attack steps. So let's start off by building our goblin horde.
While we are always going for originality, we do need some help from names people will recognize from time to time. We are going to call on Krenko, Mob Boss to help us in our quest to over run our opponents. Goblin Chieftain gives our Goblins haste and buffs. To continue with our attack first think never strategy we are going to pick Goblin Assault. We get a goblin to hurl at our enemies every turn. The “downside” is our goblins must attack each turn. This doesn’t affect us at all, because that’s exactly what we are going to do.
Chancellor of the Forge is the biggest guy we’ve got. For seven mana, we are going to double the amount of goblins we have in play. There are not many creatures that create lots of goblins quickly. Our backup is going to have to be some sorceries like Dragon Fodder, and Empty the Warrens. Goblin Warrens doesn’t seem like much; for three mana we basically put one goblin into play. Those triple enter the battlefield effects will help us later.
A huge army of 1/1’s is awesome, and Ib discourages blocks. We don't want to sacrifice our goblins for nothing though. Dictating how opponent's block is important. Green is the big color on forcing opponents to block creatures, but we do have some cards on our side of the color pie. Invasion plans make all creatures block, and the attacking player gets to decide how they block. Here is the kicker for this, we can have a bunch of creatures block one goblin, and that goblin will deal four damage to each of them. Suddenly our 1/1’s are a huge threat, especially to utility creatures. We are not planning on caring about defense, so our enemies arranging blocks on us is unlikely.
Nemesis Mask gets one creature blocked by our opponent's entire team, while the rest gets through. Late game, we may not want to kill our opponents creatures, but just get through for damage. Goblin War Drums gives all our goblins menace! Having to add one creature to block never sounds that bad, but it really stacks up fast. Especially when it means each creature is taking four damage, not one.
We have our army, and our invasion plans, now we have to keep our guys alive. While Ib is helping us deter blocking, or we are arranging how our opponents block. We need our goblins to not die from board wipes or removal; or have the opportunity to get them back when they do. Feldon of the Third can rebuild our goblins, instead of his artifact wife. Since the creatures he tosses out have haste, if we lose someone important it just costs us three mana to bring them back whenever we need them. While not a true goblin, Charmbreaker Devils will get us back all our sweet goblin sorceries.
Even though our goblins are expendable, we want some of our creatures to not die. Eldrazi Monument makes our goblins indestructible, and gives them jetpacks! We have to pay the low cost of sacrificing a goblin at our upkeep, but we should have plenty to spare. We are bound to have casualties with goblins anyway. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser serves double duty. We can goad our opponents creatures to attack people that aren't us, or exile cards that we can cast. That goad ability will save us a lot of pain, as our opponents can't attack us with those creatures at all!
One of Ib’s strengths is also a weakness; we sacrifice our goblins to blocks. If we’ve lost our menace and can't determine how our opponents block, we are in trouble. That is where Assault Suit comes in handy. Not only do we get a bartering chip, but it has on there something everyone forgets about. “This creature can't be sacrificed.” So no one can chump block one of our important goblins and we lose them. Once more, giving it to an opponent is a MAY ability. We can be selfish if we want to! Last card in our protection package is Archetype of Aggression. This guy isn't here for us, as much as our opponents. Big trample creatures are scary, till they are can be stopped by a 1/1 token.
While we are playing mostly four drops and lower, mana is still going to be an issue for us. We are going to be running the standard array of mana rocks, but there are few cards that will help us a great deal. Our primary goal is to have an army of goblins, so Brightstone Ritual is the perfect card for us. One red gives us all the mana we could need. Battle Hymn does a great imitation of Blightsone as it generates red mana for each creature we control.
Goblin Warchief helps us conserve that mana by cutting our goblins costs down by one, and is another haste enabler. Skirk Prospector also helps in that we can sacrifice a goblin to generate one red mana. Pyromancer's Goggles, while being a hefty five mana for mana rock, lets us copy an instant or sorcery we use it on. This will be a great help to us later with our damage spells, and our goblin generators. Lastly Hazoret’s Monument decreases our creature spells by one, and loot whenever we cast one.
Our massive army is out, protected, and we are generating the mana we need. We have got to finish everyone off. We could not ask for a better answer than Goblin War Strike! For just one red we deal damage to a player equal to all our goblins. Boggart Shenanigans is amazing. One more way for us to discourage blockers when we want to get through; is by having each token deal four to a blocker plus one damage to the face. While our tokens don't stay in the graveyard, they still get out there before they fade into nothingness. If you remember Goblin Warrens let's us kill two and generate three more. That is two damage at someone and with Impact Tremors we get additional three more.
If Boggart Shenanigans and Impact tremors are out at the same time our dreamland card is Mogg Infestation. We kill all our goblins, let's say we have ten. Then make two for each one that died. Thirty damage to someone's face sounds pretty nice. I had also mentioned extra combat steps. Savage Beating is exactly what we are hoping to give our opponents. It's a whopper at five mana, where we can get double strike or an extra combat step, but for seven we can do both! Relentless Assault is our strategy already, so why not have the actual card.
Hellrider paired with these two, or even on his own, can do some lasting damage. As the hope is to be attacking with a slew of goblins every turn. He will basically have our 1/1 double their damage. Lastly, is a very underrated card from Amonkhet, Throne of the God-Pharoah. Our creatures are going to be tapped at the end of our turn, and hopefully it's a lot of them. Draining EACH opponent for each of our creatures that attacked this turn.
Ib Halfheart is very underestimated; having goblins deal four damage to a blocker becomes very powerful at almost any stage in the game. Very few commanders boast a higher toughness rating that blocking a token wouldn't destroy them outright. Ib easily kills powerful commanders like Narset, Atraxa, Meren, etc. Especially when we force blocks. Where our opponents may want to negate that early damage; it will be at the cost of their utility creatures. Most of our force will be expendable tokens, often granting us card advantage over our opponent.