Julian Booher and Ben Wienburg faced off in a common matchup on the weekend—Goblins vs. Counterbalance. The winner of this matchup would likely be playing in the Top 8 and the tension was high. Ben won the die roll and led with Island and Sensei's Divining Top. Julian had a similarly strong start with Auntie's Hovel and Goblin Lackey but Ben thwarted that with a Force of Will pitching Jace the Mind Sculptor. Ben passed after deploying Flooded Strand while Julian bounced back with a Bloodstaine Mire and an Aether Vial—in response to the Vial Ben Topped didn't like what he saw and used Flooded Strand to grab a Plains and Top again before Forcing pitching Jace once more.
The game suddenly slowed down as Ben passed on two cards and two lands. Julian thought over the next turn before landing a Rishadan Port and Goblin Matron. Ben allowed that to resolve and Julian fetched up a Warren Weirding. A Tropical Island and a Vedalken Shackles was a highly appropriate response from Ben blanking the removal spell on his Tarmogoyfs in a big way should he get to untap with the artifact.
Julian played a Bloodstained Mire and a Mogg War Marshal beginning to flood the field with Goblins. During the end of Ben's draw step Julian Ported the Tropical Island forcing Ben to Top in response. Ben did so and then played Misty Rainforest before passing the turn with Shackles at the ready. Julian declined to pay echo and entered combat declining to attack after Ben stole his Matron. A Wasteland and a Goblin Matron followed for Julian this time searching up Goblin Ringleader for some gas.
Julian Ported the same way on Ben's turn and Ben passed right back with no plays. Wasteland removed his Tropical Island and Julian passed turn rather than run the Ringleader out blind. Ben topped during Julian's end step and then Brainstormed in response to an upkeep Port on his only Island. Ben passed the turn after drawing his cards continuing to play very defensively.
Julian cast Warren Weirding on himself to double down on his Matron passing turn afterward with Port open for another upkeep tapdown. Ben Topped in response then drew and played Volcanic Island before passing the turn. Julian continued to build his board slowly this time deploying a Goblin Lackey. His Port struck Volcanic Island this time prompting another Brainstorm from Ben. After drawing for his turn Ben cracked a new Misty Rainforest for Tropical Island playing Counterbalance and passing the turn with a Plains and a Misty Rainforest untapped.
Gempalm Incinerator removed the defending Matron but a Swords from ben removed the Lackey when Julian turned the rest of his team sideways. Ben fell to 12 and Julian played another Matron getting it through the Counterbalance and searching up a Siege-Gang Commander. On 5 lands he could play it au naturel! Ben shrugged and played two Tarmogoyfs at 6/7 passing the turn with just an Island open.
A Siege-Gang Commander from Julian went uncontested as Ben Topped his way into a fetchland to get rid of the lands and Top on his deck. Shackles thieved the Commander away from Julian's army but the 7 tokens he had along with the Matron were still a formidable force. Ben decided to whittle away at them with a Tarmogoyf but Julian declined to block taking the damage instead. With a sneaky Volcanic Island untapped Ben passed the turn to Julian.
Goblin Ringleader for Julian found another Ringleader and a Warren Weirding and a second Incinerator removed Ben's defending Goyf from the field. He then attacked with everything getting through for 7 as Ben blocked a token and sacrificed his Commander to kill the Ringleader. Ben drew played Ponder to shuffle and still couldn't find an answer to the Goblin horde across from him.
Julian 1 Ben 0
Ben kept his opening hand as did Julian and Ben again began with Island and Top. Julian played Auntie's Hovel revealing Goblin Piledriver in order to play an Aether Vial. Force of Will took care of the Vial as a redundant Counterbalance hit the exiled zone. Ben played a copy on the following turn via Tropical Island and Julian lost his Mogg War Marshal to a randomly revealed Meddling Mage.
Ben drew the Mage and fetched up a Plains playing the 2/2 on Goblin Piledriver and passing the turn with an Island untapped. A Warren Weirding from Julian met no reveal from Ben after he Topped and the Mage hit the bin. Wasteland took out that Tropical and Julian passed the turn with four cards in his hand. Ben cracked a Flooded Strand for a Tropical Island and a Tarmogoyf getting aggressive early and emptying his hand.
Julian played a land and a Piledriver passing back to Ben after he whiffed on Counterbalance again finding more lands and a Jace. Ben attacked with his 6/7 Goyf and Julian naturally declined to block. Ben played his fourth land and once more passed with no cards in his hand. Ben Popped his Top to counter a Goblin Lackey drawing Jace. A second Piledriver for Julian ended his turn and Ben began to think.
He retrieved his Top during the draw step but found himself torn—he eventually concluded that attacking and playing Jace was the correct line and he fatesealed Julian to give him a perfectly useless Aether Vial. Julian got on the board with an attack of his own sending both Piledrivers into Jace. That made Tarmogoyf a 7/8—exactly Julian's life total. He died on the counterattack.
Julian 1 Ben 1
Julian kept his hand while Ben gave it a bit of deliberation before ultimately mulliganing. Goblin Lackey via a Mire into Badlands was a good start for Julian but Ben again had the Force of Will—this time chucking a Brainstorm. Tundra and a Pithing Needle on Wasteland for Ben on turn one but Julian had Rishadan Port to lock down the land during his upkeep. A Misty Rainforest and a Sensei's Divining Top landed next for Ben while Julian's Goblin Warchief on turn 3 was Dazed into the graveyard.
Ben replayed his Tropical after topping on upkeep while Julian's second Warchief managed to stick and chip in for 2 damage. A Flooded Strand for Ben and a Tarmogoyf reinforced his position—he was low on cards and needed to stabilize lest Julian generate too much momentum to swing back from. A Warren Weirding and a Mogg War Marshal from Julian got the beats through that minor inconvenience and Ben cracked Misty for Volcanic Island Topping during Julian's end step. He was on 11 life and his Volcanic Island was locked down by the Port during his upkeep. Ben drew and played Tarmogoyf passing the turn back to Julian.
Julian decided to pay his echo Porting the Volcanic during the draw step this time as he passed turn and waited to break open the board. A second Pithing Needle took out the Port for Ben but Julian had a new plan—Tuktuk Scrapper. Ben popped his Top for a Force of Will removing Brainstorm from the game. After Julian passed he flipped the Top back into play and sent the turn to Julian. Julian untapped for his big finish—Siege-Gang Commander. Ben had no cards in his hand and when his Top produced nothing special he found himself receiving some hasty beats—the whole team went sideways.
Ben blocked the Warchief with Goyf and popped the Top to get a Swords for that Commander falling to 3. When his Tops and Brainstorms again failed him Ben extended the hand. “I decided I was just going to lose to Goblins today” Ben said. Unfortunately that's exactly what had happened.
Julian 2 Ben 1