Why Should You Add Goblin Welder To A Bazaar Deck? A Look At An Emerging New Archetype
If there ever was a topic near and dear to my heart, it is how fun it is to abuse Bazaar of Baghdad with Goblin Welder.* What I am going to do in this article is list every possible reason I have come across in the past couple of years as to why a competitive T1 player should be playing a Welder combo deck - and all the arguments as to why they probably shouldn't.
There are several well-known power cards in Vintage that remain unrestricted:
If any deck in Vintage doesn't have a full playset of at least one of these cards, there's a pretty good chance that deck sucks. Individually, these cards are a force in Type 1 to be reckoned with - and the fact that there is synergy even within this short a list is almost scary in its implications. And of the best unrestricted cards in Vintage, Bazaar and Welder are the ones that just flat-out love each other the most.
(At the other end of the extreme, though, it would be interesting - and perhaps horrifying - to see somebody try to fit sixteen or twenty of these cards in a deck and have it be playable.**)
Enter the Dragon
The chief obstacles for any new deck are established decks.*** This can be summed up by the two questions every good deckbuilder needs to ask themselves before presenting an idea to the community:
- "Does this list beat any of the current Tier 1 decks?"
- "Why is this pile better than existing decks that use the same engine?"
Answering these questions is by no means a simple undertaking, but is absolutely necessary in order to ensure viability and win over the dubious masses. That said, here is the requisite proof of Welder combo's successful performance against the current field:
And the decklist:
1st Place: David Lawrence (Eastman) with Cerebral Assassin
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Black Lotus
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Sulfurous Springs
3 Gemstone Mine
4 City of Brass
2 Shivan Reef
1 Underground River
But is "proving" a deck as simple as winning a tournament or two with it? Not necessarily. That's where I come in - to address the second burning question: Why play Welder when Worldgorger Dragon exists as an established Bazaar-based combo deck?
The reasons are multifarious, sort of like chiggers on a junkyard dog:
A Swords to Plowshares/Blue Elemental Blast targeting your Welder doesn't nuke your board like when Dragon goes farming. Losing Sundering Titan (which is the main reason to play Welder combo) isn't necessarily a bad thing either, since your opponent's mana base still bites the big one.
You trade an ability to just win by resolving an animate spell for much more flexibility and utility, as Welder is also insurance against opposing artifacts and artifact destruction.
Welder often turns discard - including that discard imposed by your opponent via Duress and the like - into added impetus to your deck's strategy. This is also true of Dragon, but many players will attest that they are much more hesitant to throw discard at a Welder deck than any other archetype.
Another added bonus of Welder combo over Dragon combo is that there are less suboptimal cards, if you count the Dragon combo pieces - Dragon, Ambassador Laquatus, and Compulsion. Dragon usually requires a Bazaar/Compulsion in play and an Animate Dead spell in hand in order to win, whereas all you usually need for Welder combo is to get Welder to stick to the table.
Of course it doesn't help this argument much that in the second link, Eastman is playing a Dragon transformational sideboard (sweet irony), but it is also notable that in the first (and more recent) list, the transformational sideboard was eschewed for a standard hate/utility toolbox.
Now for the meat of the debate: What follows is a condensed list of the pros and cons for each side of the issue, which delves into synergies between the two cards (plus occasional cameos by the irrepressible Squee, Goblin Nabob), as well as their individual merits and weaknesses.
10) Welder combo with Bazaar - it's just plain fun!
Who doesn't enjoy drawing cards, bouncing Squee around like a lucksack, and cheating exorbitantly-overcosted cards into play?
7) Bazaar and Welder in conjunction allow you to manipulate many zones of the game, which lends to a lot of flexibility and tactical advantage during play.
(Okay, so I was really stretching to flesh out ten advantages.)
6) Having Bazaar as a target often takes Wasteland pressure off of your other nonbasics.
This can be strategically important if you need to keep mana available to cast spells, so you can psych your opponent into thinking Bazaar is the key threat when you have other aces up your sleeve. This is something I have noticed is very important in lists that also run Workshop - but it's probably not as crucial in builds without it.
5) Bazaar is also synergistic with other cards that are good with Welder, such as Sundering Titan and Crucible of Worlds.
Don't see it yet? Bazaar is a nonbasic, thus avoids being hit by Titan. Crucible of Worlds turns discarded land into actual land drops, making it a functionally equivalent Squee. It also has the benefit of turning the seldom-seen Wasteland trick - draw two cards with Bazaar, Waste it, replay it, draw two more cards.
4) Bazaar lends increased consistency to your deck.
You see more of your deck thanks to Bazaar's card drawing, which helps you to set up mini-combos faster.
3) Ye olde Bazaar provides hand optimization, somewhat like to Brainstorm.
Often Bazaar will draw you into artifact mana, too, which can negate the incurred loss of a land drop.
2) Free Uncounterable Draw/Discard (FUDD).
"Free" beats the tar out of actually "paying mana" when it comes to drawing and discarding like Careful Study and Compulsion. Like food, FUDD is yummy and satisfying, and it's what makes Bazaar fun in a lot of decks, such as Dragon, Reanimator, Welder, Madness, and any combination thereof.
1) Welder = Good. Bazaar = DoublePlusGood. Welder + Bazaar = Two-card sexstacy.
Draw 2 cards, discard some overcosted artifact goodness, weld it into play, win t3h prize.
10) Bazaar subtly hurts one's ability to make educated mulligan decisions.
A hand with Bazaar and very little else in terms of mana can often lend a false sense of security, much like Brainstorm in a one-blue opening hand. The results can often be devastating, as the Welder combo player will drop a first-turn Bazaar, hoping to dig into other mana, and a timely Wasteland by the opponent will usually decide the game even if a source or two eventually crops up.
9) Bazaar + Welder is not very proxy-friendly.
To assemble a Welder combo deck requires the power 8 (Timetwister is generally regarded as suboptimal), plus four Bazaars for a minimum of twelve proxies.
8) Welder combo plays a lot of expensive artifacts that can often end up without a way to get into the graveyard or into play, yielding virtual card advantage for your opponent.
As much as many people hate to admit it, the potential exists for any one of the cards on the short list above to see restriction, and to state otherwise is unrealistic.***** Why invest time and money in something only to see the DCI rip its guts out?
6) Bazaar rolls to nonbasic hate such as Wasteland******, Blood Moon, and Back to Basics.
But that's not all! As an added bonus, Bazaar also dies horribly to draw/discard hate such as Chains of Mephistopheles, and possibly things such as Mind's Eye, Possessed Portal, Underworld Dreams, and the almighty Megrim!
5) The Bazaar + Squee engine dies to many forms of hate, as do Welder-based strategies.
Not that graveyard removal can hinder and/or neuter both tactics.
4) Bazaar digging is inherent card disadvantage, and requires Squee active over the course of several turns in order to recoup cards.
This is sort of the flip side of the next point...
3) Squee is dead weight without Bazaar.
Nothing is as terrible as taking auto-mulligans - and the only thing Squee is good for is negating Bazaar's hand decimation. Thus, he is utterly useless without an active Bazaar - and it should be noted that siding out Squee is an acceptable tactic when "winning the card advantage war" is not as crucial as "tempo" in a particular match.
Which matchups are those? Well, it depends on who's the beatdown - and it's rare to find a match where Welder combo isn't the more aggressive deck. Workshop Aggro stands out, though (such as 5/3 or The Man Show), as well as Madness.
2) Playing Bazaar eats a land drop.
That can be a serious blow to tempo.
1) Using the Bazaar+Squee draw engine takes up seven or eight slots that could be used for Thirst for Knowledge and other draw and discard, which can provide much of the same functionality without many of the drawbacks.
Note that you can still play draw spells in conjunction with Bazaar+Squee+Welder, but the deck becomes extraordinarily tight as a result, which makes it increasingly harder to sideboard effectively or try out new tech.
And in conclusion...
I have been very excited about emergent Welder combo archetypes utilizing Bazaar for quite a long time, having played with them casually since 2003, and hopefully some of its recent tournament successes - all due to Eastman, to give credit where it is rightly due - will make these decks more of a common occurrence in a metagame near you.
member of TheManaDrain
* - Note that utilizing Bazaar is implicit with using Squee, Goblin Nabob.
** - I'm rather fond of A, B & E myself; crappy mana bases be damned! (see Goblin's Bazaar for further explanation).
*** - Fly fly, Captain Obvious!
**** - Triple-S, a.k.a. Super Secret Squirrel
***** - Even Force of was on the DCI watch list at one point. Note that I personally don't consider this a strong argument against playing a deck in Vintage, but I can nonetheless entertain the notion. It is entirely possible that somebody might base their decision to play a deck on whether a key component might be on the chopping block - as in they don't currently have the cards, and don't want to cough up a ton of moolah to play a deck just to see their investment crash and burn shortly thereafter.
****** - Although not as much when playing Crucible.