Cave Goblins

Cave Goblins (Instinct / Cunning) is deck focused on swarming the board with cheap units.

An aggressive faction with high mobility, tricks, and strong melee orientation, the Cave Goblins are more comfortable on the offensive, threatening to destroy enemy gates and assassinate the opponent summoner. However, they can adapt to the situation if they have to play on defense or play a slow attrition game thanks to their many tricks.
The main plan of the Cave Goblins is to quickly fill the board with quick units and assault the opponent gate and summoner. Many of their events and units generate the best value when there are a lot of units on the board, so trying to achieve that is important. Therefore, they should start their games by summoning a lot of units very fast, and because of that, it is important to quickly build a second gate. Thanks to their Summoner Sneek’s ability, Sly, Cave Goblins have a lot of options on where to build that second or third gate, often in the enemy territory to strongly pressure the opponent.

So, summon a lot of units quickly, try to be on the offensive and put a lot of pressure, but if that doesn’t seem possible, be ready to play a slower game of attrition using all the Cave Goblin tricks arsenal to win the attrition war.
Cave Goblins don’t support Sneeks; rather, Sneeks supports the Cave Goblins. He does so in four main ways (there are other uses, of course).

  1. 1. Take the shots for the team: Reaching critical mass of the horde is very important, and often, early game, it is preferable to expose Sneeks instead of a Slinger or even a Clinger. Sly in to take the shot. It’s okay if it means taking a hit on Sneeks, and it may even be fine to take multiple ones. Sneeks should lead the charge most of the time in the early game, until he is too wounded, when he can then easily hide and wait in the shadows for the final strike.

  2. 2. Provide a gate in the front lines: A common early game play with Sneeks, when the opponent doesn’t have enough firepower, is to get a cheap common unit into enemy territory and then Sly. Next turn, move Sneeks and place a gate in the middle of enemy territory. This tactic is very powerful for Cave Goblins; however, it requires saving a hand slot for a gate or hoping to draw the gate in the next turn.

  3. 3. Create a virtual, extra contact point: Sneeks’ opponents will try to reduce the contact points with the Cave Goblins to minimize the effect of their events. Sneeks, in dire situations, can virtually create one extra contact point by Slying in and out, thus creating two attack opportunities from the same space.

  4. 4. Assassination: A Climber or Clinger that gets in the proper spot can be switched for Sneeks, who can put a lot of pressure on the opponent, if not outright kill them.
Enrage the Horde
Sneeks' Epic Event and the main reason Cave Goblins want to have a lot of units on the board. Unlike its Summoner Wars 1st Edition counterpart, it doesn’t give 0 cost units a double attack, but is in fact much better!  It allows every one of them to attack again, whether they attacked or not!  NEVER discard this event! It’s just too powerful. Worst case scenario, if you need hand space, just getting two extra attacks out of it is worth it, but often you can get a lot more, the sky's the limit.

Sneeks' success often hinges on a great Enrage the Horde play.
Pile On
Talking about Enrage The Horde without Pile On, is like something is missing. If Sneeks can pull a great Enrage The Horde + Pile On combo turn, it’s often game over. However, that is not an easy task. Don’t be that greedy trying to set up that dream turn, as often Pile On on its own is just what you need to deliver a reasonable punch. It’s a cheap event, so generally just getting 2 or 3 extra strength out of it is enough value. Don’t slow down Cave Goblins' card drawing, holding this card overly long in the hope of that dream turn that meanwhile a smart opponent will do everything they can to stop from happening anyway.
Horde Slinger
Slingers are essential to the deck. They are so essential that you should never discard them for magic, just summon them SOMEWHERE, you want all four Slingers played from deck, each and every game.
Their extra attacks allow Cave Goblins to generate more damage per turn than their opponents on a consistent basis.

However, using them is not easy. They are very easy to kill at 1 life and many decks have tricks to kill them without ever attacking (like direct damage).

How to use Slingers properly and keep them alive is one of the main skills to master when playing as Cave Goblins.

Keep them at range most of the time, Sly them away and even have them attack non-optimal targets rather than expose them early to a quick death.  A Slinger slowly chipping away at an enemy gate can be of great value.
Beast Rider
Beast Riders really lead the charge. They are actually not the best at any role in the Cave Goblins and not being 0 cost units make them not the most synergistic with the deck. 
However they are all-rounders, high reach, high damage, decent life, and are the main way of Cave Goblins to make use of magic, and because of that you should try to summon at least 3 of them every game.
They make your gates scary, even those that are far from the action, and they provide quick support to the army with a big come-into-play effect.
They also like to bring Clingers with them.
Clinger stats are good for 0 cost, but they don’t hit particularly hard nor are they particularly tough to kill. Where they shine is to help with a Cave Goblin weakness: Cave Goblins require a lot of mobilility and the game only gives you 3 movements per turn. Clingers don’t need a movement action to reach places and they can reach places where it would be often not possible to in a standard move action.
Horde Clingers cheat the system in many ways, however, often it is hard to put the Clinger in a place that is really useful and generally in those situations it is a great time to Sly in Sneeks for a Clinger, so that next turn Sneeks can hit and then Sly away.

Clingers are the reason Cave Goblins should be very mindful of gate placement, as proper gate placement is necessary so that newly summoned Cave Goblin units can have a Clinger clung to them.

However, if those tricks are not enough, Cave Goblins have another way to help Clingers ...
Sneak can move Clingers, or any of your many 0-cost units to that useful place. 
Cave Goblins can have trouble moving the horde, with so many units on-board and only 3 movement actions and Sneak helps with that.
This event is what also makes it okay to just drop a lot of Cave Goblins in random places. Sneak can suddenly place those units where you need. 
It's very important to note Sneak is a Move Phase event, which means it can be used at any point during that phase, before or after any unit moves, so the possibilities are endless. It’s not the most powerful effect, but it really helps Cave Goblins to position their many units.
Horde Climber
Providing cheap health and mobility, Climbers are the last piece of the common puzzle for Cave Goblins. Don’t be afraid to swarm your opponent with Climbers and send them through the enemy forces, where they will cause chaos. They may seem inoffensive with their 1 attack strength, but their threat can be very high. 
They are gate blockers, they can bring along Clingers or let Sneeks himself Sly in, and with the help of Pile On and/or Enrage the Horde, the damage output can quickly get out of control. 
For your opponent, having to deal with 3 health to get rid of a 0 cost unit instead of other targets is going to be a painful decision.
Providing protection for the weakest members of the horde, Unrelenting turns are often the only hope for Cave Goblins to reach critical mass and you should probably play both copies every game. Even if it protects just one unit it may still be worth it.  This event can often feel oppressive to the opponent. 
It can be hard to predict if it would be even more useful next turn, so don't hesitate to be liberal in its use and play it even on seemingly little value. Cave Goblins hand space is very limited.
Just don’t leave Sneeks too exposed on an Unrelenting turn as playing this can tempt your opponent to ignore your commons and use all of their firepower on Sneeks.
While Cave Goblins commons define their play, they really need to summon their champions for the magic use and health they provide and Blarf is the maximum expression of that fact.
Always summon Blarf, it provides key life for the Cave Goblins while also providing a great way to dump your magic. It also synergizes extremely well with your events and Sneeks. There is no reason for Blarf to ever not join the horde.
Attack with Sneeks, Sly away for a 5-boost Blarf that you then attack with and then Enrage The Horde. That is of course the dream that you may enjoy some day with this card.
If Slingers are essential, what is better than a Slinger that is harder to kill?
Smeg is just that, a Slinger that doesn’t require the coddling protection of its common counterparts.
The Eater
The Eater is not essential every game like most other Cave Goblins cards, The Eater is not another cog in the machine. 
The Eater is the insurance, when every other plan fails, a 5/9 body can be a winning plan on its own. The Eater's high life and damage for its decent cost can be extremely hard to deal with and it doesn’t really need much support, except for a snack or two. It can be used to kill commons, safely ignoring its ability for the most part, or used to attack champions, and just feed a Clinger or Climber if it fails to kill its target. Its real weakness is that it can be toyed around with, exploiting its need to have destroyed a unit on its turn, though this can be hard to do while having to simultaneously deal with the rest of the Cave Goblins.

Against factions that can bring a lot of units to the battlefield, The Eater may be the only way to make use of all that magic and feed on all those units.
During the first turns is often important to play units as fast as possible to quickly develop the board. Some games we will able to mount a quick offense but others may struggle a bit if the opponent is quick to kill goblins. 

This is specially true if we have troubles to find that second quick gate which you should build as fast as possible.
You may delay building a gate 1 turn if there is a plan to sly Sneeks to build that gate on the offense, but in some games that delay can hurt a lot.
If necessary play their commons wherever. Even if they are not doing anything the turn played, it is better most of the time to just play them rather than saving them or discarding them, as Cave Goblins don’t have much use for magic.
there is only so many cards you can burn, as the deck is very inexpensive and you can quickly run out of gas if you burn too many units.

Cave Goblins need to balance putting and keeping a lot of pressure on with not overexposing their units so much that the opponent can kill them faster than they can replace them. Otherwise it is game over for the Cave Goblins.
It’s correct to slow down in some scenarios to not allow the Cave Goblin units to easily be killed. The goal of the horde is really to reach a critical mass of units, but every turn they are not putting pressure on is a turn where the game is slipping away from them. 
Balancing both goals; pressure and survival, is indeed no easy task.

Key unrelenting turns are often critical for this goal, but because of the Cave goblins need to play the cards very fast,  is often hard to keep unrelenting for better turns.

Once you have a lot of units, Pile On, but especially Enrage The Horde will get a lot of value and Relentless units will become so much more relevant and Sneak can overwhelm the opponent with its added mobility.

At their worst they feel like you can’t get anything going, and just a disconnected bunch of weak units dying before accomplishing anything.  But when played optimally, they really can feel unstoppable, quickly overwhelming the opponent by doing 3 times what your enemy is doing. 
Copyrights for the Summoner Wars logo and art belong to Plaid Hat Games, used herein with their express permission.
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