elcome to Goblin Week #2: This Time It's Personal. We decided a while back that in its eighth year it was okay for magicthegathering.com to start repeating theme weeks when the topic seemed appropriate. As goblins are among the most beloved and beused (no, not actually a word... yet) creatures in the game it only seemed fair to allow a second theme for them. Remember, the last one was in October of 2002.
While I am more than happy to write about goblins a second time (actually way more than the second time as I've used some non-goblin theme weeks to talk about them), I have one small problem. My first Goblin Week column, Mons Made Me Do It, is one of my personal favorites of all time. (I'm not going to tell you why, so go read it if somehow you haven't been reading this web site for the last seven years.) Following in the footsteps of a classic is always a daunting task, but hey, I always write on-theme, and it's Goblin Week, so I'll see what I can do.
After a little thought, I've decided to follow in the spirit of the first article. Today's column will have three qualities: it will be random, a bit silly, and goblin-themed. In short, it will be to my normal column what goblins are to normal creatures. One last serious note before I venture off into silliness—this is my last column of 2009. The next two weeks will be "Best Of 2009" (a.k.a. repeat) articles selected by the column authors. Three weeks from now I'll be back with material more appropriate for 2010. Everyone have a happy holiday! (My family holiday card is coming, but we haven't gotten it back from the printer yet.)
One last thing I'd like to say before we jump in ....
No not here, let's scroll down a little bit.
I love goblins! I really do. I think it's because it's the one part of Magic that has comedy intertwined into the core of its being. Goblins in Magic are comical and as such, they tend to venture further out into the realm of silly than any other creature type. What this means is that goblins are fun to design, because every once in a while that crazy idea that could never actually be put into the game is actually put into the game. It's like a touch of Un- in normal Magic. Oh, and by the way, don't push the button.
Big Button of Goblin Doom
Okay, so one of two things just happened. One, you pushed the button even after I told you not to, ignoring a rather large warning to boot. Or two, you're lying to me. (Okay, okay, there's a small minority of category three people who actually resisted—you can just skip by any future buttons you may see.) Why did I put the Big Button of Goblin Doom here? To teach you something about how goblins function. To goblins, just about everything potentially dangerous is a Big Button of Goblin Doom. Goblins will always push the button.
Just remember that you are a human, not a goblin. Unlike goblins, you are capable of overcoming these urges. Just because you see a giant button that says "DO NOT TOUCH" does not mean you have to touch it.
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I need you to clear your mind. Here's what's going to happen. I'm going to give you a second chance. I am going to let you prove that you are better than a goblin.
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Clearly I shouldn't have given you the benefit of the doubt. You just have a little more goblin in you than I realized. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to continue on with the column. Later on, after you've had a chance to collect yourself, I am going to bring back the button. I know you'll do the right thing. Just repeat to yourself: "I am not a goblin!"
Never Tell a Goblin
Last week I talked all about Rise of the Eldrazi. While I explained our rationale for what we're doing and spilled a bit about the challenges that had to be met, I stopped short of telling you what's going to be in the set. I got a little mail from some readers who hoped I could give at least a little information. Okay, okay. I don't want it to be said that I don't listen to my readers. What I am going to do is spend one paragraph telling you exactly what Rise of Eldrazi is up to, but I'm limiting myself to just one paragraph. Also, to keep in theme for this week's column, I am going to replace numerous words in my paragraph with the word "goblin."
Click here to see the paragraph.
I hope I haven't said too much. If you'd like to see the above paragraph without the word goblin, click here.
Hopefully, we can put this issue behind us now.
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You ready? Keep scrolling ....
So you had to push that one twice. I gave you a free out. I knew you'd have the impulse to push it, as you seem to have a lot of goblin in you, so I gave you a freebie to get it out of your system. Why did you push it a second time?
Rather than seeing this as a total and utter failure, let's think of this as a learning experience. This is what goblins do. They'll watch with their own eyes their cousin (because I'm pretty sure that all goblins are related to one another) be destroyed and then seconds later do the same exact thing. They'll click twice.
Okay, let's just forget the whole Big Button of Goblin Doom. Three strikes and you're out, right? Let's just get on with the column.
9 to 5
So what exactly is the job market for a goblin? Here's a list of some of the occupations goblins have held in Magic:
- Archeologist (In how many jobs can a love of digging pay off?)
- Assassin (How did you kill a goblin assassin? Hire him.)
- Balloon Brigade
- Bushwhacker (Goblins seem to have a number of jobs that most people haven't heard of; the dictionary tells me it's a guerilla or outlaw. I guess that's a job.)
- Chirurgeon (See my last goblin column; actually a job.)
- Digger (On a Digging Team.)
- Infantry (One could even become elite.)
- Flectomancer (What does this pay?)
- Grenade (Apparently this is a job in the goblin world.)
- Kite (Not sure if this is a job, but I believe you could get a lot of goblins to sign up for it.)
- Mason (Surprising, as brick does not really seem like a goblin staple.)
- Mime ("Okay, so I'm trapped in this box.")
- Patrol (This is just a normal patrol, by the way—as you will see, there are other kinds.)
- Piledriver (Is this a wrestler? I'm not quite sure what this job entails.)
- Pyromancer (In case the flectomancing doesn't pan out.)
- Razerunner (You know, running through razes.)
- Rimerunner (You know, running through rimes.)
- Rock Sled (For a long time, not actually for goblins.)
- S.W.A.T. Team
- Secret Agent
- Shortcutter ("You know what would take half the time?")
- Ski Patrol (I'd like to point out, not from an Un- set.)
- Sky Raider
- Spy (What's the reverse of a double agent?)
- Tutor (Thing are pretty bad when you're turning to a goblin to teach you.)
- Warchief (A lot of jobs for goblins leading other goblins—hmm, wonder why that is?)
And here are a few fun spare time activities:
- Bowling Team
- Fire Fiend
- Firestarter (A lot of opportunities with fire.)
- Psychopath (Might actually be a job in the goblin world.)
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After thinking it over, I've come to the decision that you deserve one more chance. You can do this.
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DO NOT PUSH. SERIOUSLY. YOU'RE BETTER THAN THIS.
Ten clicks! I gave you TEN clicks! Maybe you are just a goblin. Don't feel bad. Squee would reload the page and just click it ten times again. It's okay. Let's just put this Big Button stuff behind us.
The Top 10 Worst Cards for Goblins (according to Mons Johnson)
For those who have not read Mons Made Me Do It (really, it's worth reading), Mons Johnson is a longtime friend of Richard Garfield/goblin lover. When Richard designed Alpha, he was so inspired by Mons's love for goblins that he made him a leader of the goblins on this card:
I was so inspired by Mons's love for goblins that I made this card:
More on this card in a bit.
Anyway, it felt wrong to write a column for Goblin Week without involving Mons, so I asked him to submit a little subsection of the article. The topic (in case you forgot it since the header) was the Top 10 Worst Cards for Goblins. All the commentary is from Mons himself:
10. Baneslayer Angel – Flying over us and gaining life! Meany! Luckily costs a lot of mana.
9. Silver Knight – Just when goblins were ready to roll all over Onslaught block, this jerk shows up ....
8. Ravenous Baloth – Any large creature that gains life is no friend to goblins!
7. Chill – Spells costing more isn't part of a winning game plan.
6. Wrath of God – Many, many goblins have died to Wrath. : (
5. Pyroclasm – Red is supposed to help Goblins!
4. Circle of Protection: Red – Not the welcome mat that goblins want to see.
3. [CENSORED] – This card is in Worldwake. You'll know it when you see it!
2. Engineered Plague – Name "Elf" this time! Say it, say it!
1. Tivadar's Crusade – "Destroy all Goblins"?! Come on! This is just racial prejudice!
Tivadar of Thorn – Why are you such a hater, Tivadar? Don't expect a Christmas present from the Goblin Defense Fund!
Burrenton Forge-Tender – Even stops one of the goblins' favorite spells, Lightning Bolt.
Goblin Pyromancer – Fine fellow when used for the forces of goblinkind, bad when misused for evilness.
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IGNORE THIS BUTTON. DO NOT GIVE IN TO YOUR GOBLIN DESIRES. YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS BUTTON.
I don't want to talk about it. Clearly you have some button pressing issues I was unaware of. Let's just move on.
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Here are some more design stories about goblins:
Hatchet Bully (Eventide) – When a set goes from design to development some change is certain to happen. Occasionally that change is the weeding out of some element of the set that you liked (obviously—that's why you put it in the file in the first place). As you see this subtheme slipping away, you fight to save whatever portion of it you can, quite often ending up with a single card. Hatchet Bully is one such example. Shadowmoor block made use of -1/-1 counters, and as such I was trying hard to find uses for them that allowed us to do things we normally couldn't. One such idea was shrinking your own creatures as a cost. Yes, you can get this effect but one of your creatures will be forever weakened for it. My design had numerous cards in a number of colors that used this "cost." When the set got to development, it was disliked because the developers felt that players wouldn't want to shrink their own creatures. My response was that we constantly allowed them to sacrifice their own creatures as a cost. Surely, this was far better than that. I obviously didn't win this argument.
Krark-Clan Engineers (Fifth Dawn) – I've explained numerous times that designers have pet mechanics that they like to include in their sets. This card plays up one of my favorite little design touches. I love what I call entropy—that is, effects that self limit themselves because their cost is more than their effect (twice is my favorite for the aesthetics). It's hard to explain why I like it so much—it just tickles my design funny bone.
Siege-Gang Commander (Scourge) – I believe this card is the one and only Worth Wollpert / Mark Rosewater design. Worth is now the brand manager for Magic Online, but once upon a time, he worked in R&D. Worth was on the Scourge design team (along with Brian Tinsman and Bill Rose). So one day, Worth was working on some designs. Our decks were right next to each other, so Worth, stuck on a card, asked for my help. He had a goblin that created three 1/1 Goblin tokens when it came into play. He liked it, but felt it was missing some oomph, so he asked me what he could do to spice it up? My response was to add a second ability that allowed him to sacrifice Goblins to do something—being red, probably damage. Worth liked my suggestion and made the card you know today.
Goblin Mime (Unhinged) – This card came about because I knew I wanted to have a vocal component to the set and it felt like not talking would be a good drawback. Once I knew the card was a creature that kept you from talking, I knew it had to be a mime. At some point I was considering what kind of mime, when for some reason I thought of a goblin with white makeup on. Once I had that image in my head, it wouldn't leave, so it became pretty obvious what the card had to be. My favorite joke about the card, by the way, is very hard to see, as it exists only in the foil version. On it, the mime is trapped in a foil box. (Trying to cram jokes in everywhere I could, I stuck a bunch of jokes in the foil treatments.)
Mons's Goblins Waiters (Unhinged) – One of the greatest things about designing Un- sets is that the designers have a much greater ability to dictate creative elements such as name. For example, this card came about because someone in the Pit (maybe me, I simply don't remember) came up with this card name. I loved it, so I designed a card that would fit it. Obviously the card had to be for a 1/1, as that is what Mons's Goblin Raiders did. To make it an Un-card, I had to add in some element that we wouldn't do in black-bordered world. One of the themes was half as we were taking elements of the game that normally use whole numbers and adding fractions (to keep it simple, we stuck with 1/2). We had already used fractional power and toughness (on Little Girl and the Donkeyfolk—they were "half-assed") but there wasn't much using half mana (only Little Girl and City of Ass). I figured that goblin waiters would constantly set things on fire (as seen in the art), so I liked the feel of them adding half a red mana symbol.
That's all I've got for Goblin Week. I hope you had some fun and learned a thing or two.
Remember that the next two weeks are the "Best Of" weeks, where we'll be reprinting my favorite two columns of the year. I'll be back in three weeks with new content. Have a happy holidays and a happy new year.
One last thing. Scroll down ....
I try every week to leave you with some insight. Here is today's lesson. You can't fight your goblin nature. I've been having some fun at your expense, because I knew you'd push the button every time. You can't help it. Just as I know you're going to push the button one last time even after I've told you that you have no choice but to push it. Simply accept your goblin nature. See you in three weeks.
At what point did you figure out I wasn't repeating this joke again?