Sand Goblins Air / Logic is represented in a high mobility and high versatility deck.
The core of the deck is its 4 events, Thruster Upgrade, Mortar Upgrade, Turret Upgrade and Detonate. They should all see significant play on your mobile structure units and/or your gates. Once your structures have wreaked some havoc, Detonate will get them back into hand for you to use them again for more mayhem.
It is hard to talk about a particular strategy with this faction, because Sand Goblins can play them all. They can assassinate with all of their mobility, they can push with Mobile / upgraded structures or with their gates and upgrades. Swarm with Krusk’s Carry ability and lots of structures. Economy play style by getting a lot of value from upgrades + Detonate and Sand Scavengers. Poke / hit and run style with their structures thanks to Turret Upgrade and many more.
Sand Goblins can engineer a solution to every problem. And that is what the deck's ultimate strength is.
As mentioned, Sand Goblins do not have a specific strategy they want to lean into, like other factions. What they have are diverse tools, and each match is about deciding how to best use the tools for every problem that match presents. Regardless of that, the core is always on upgrading structures, be it cheap, highly mobile structures or a gate with Thruster / Turret / Mortar, especially your starting 10-life gate.
Perhaps the best way to describe the Sand Goblins is to talk about each card, each one of this deck’s tools and the multiple uses they have. This will be hard because each has a very high number of uses, which is in fact the point of the deck.
Krusk is one of the least essential summoners for a faction. Krusk is ultimately just another tool. A potential structure to improve, with the strength that he has pretty good initial stats (for a structure to be upgraded), but the downside that he can’t be detonated. Carry is not an integral ability to the faction like many other summoners, but instead, it is a way for Sand Goblins to bring a lot of units to the front to push, or reach a place that would be hard to reach for assassination. Krusk is also important to his faction in the sense that structures can be summoned next to him.
Turret, the most versatile of the upgrades, you probably should use this upgrade a lot, both copies will be played in most games.
In a way it is like +1 ranged damage, but in fact it’s even more than that. Its potential to do 2 damage gives you a higher kill ceiling and the ability to shoot different targets after or before your attack, it allows you to do many cool things like removing blockers or attacking things you otherwise could not.
Also it is important to note that when Turret Upgrade is on a unit, it fires independently of that unit attacking or not, so it can be for all intents and purposes a 4th attack.
On gates or your Summoner it is great because you will be able to fire a lot but it is also very good on Bug Biter and Rust Rider if you can detonate them.
A less versatile but more powerful version of the turret, Mortar Upgrade can be very expensive to fire but it is more reliable and can be extremely efficient when it hits several targets.
This upgrade is very good in defense and also in pushes where clumps of targets are created. However, unless you are attacking a key target, you shouldn't fire mortars if it doesn’t hit at least 2 targets. 1 damage for 1 card is too inefficient. Even when hitting 2 targets, generally it is not that great to play mortar just for that as it’s also not the most efficient use. Though if the game looks like you will be able to consistently fire for 2 damage several turns, then go ahead.
Mortar will also occasionally be used to kill your own units, to trigger rigged explosives or not let free magic be left around for the enemy in the form of damaged Bug Biters.
Like turrets this is a very efficient and versatile upgrade that you should almost always play.
The extra movement is not the reason this is good, so if you intend to just use it for that, most of the time you are better off then doing something else.
The real power is that it allows you to force AFTER attacking. This is a very powerful effect, allowing you to do hit and runs. Or focus fire (you can attack, move away and let another unit attack the target). This can be especially effective on Krusk or Uncle Sparks. Krusk / Sparks + Turret + Thruster can be very hard for the opponent to deal with such a ranged unit that hits and runs.
Another important use of Thruster is the “moving gate” effect. You can play this on your starting gate and now you have a 10-life gate that is slowly encroaching on enemy territory and in this scenario you will want to quickly put a turret and a mortar on it. This is very hard to deal with because once it seems your opponent is close to removing it … you can Detonate and replay!
Thruster with the gate can also allow you to range attack with another unit, and then force the gate in front of the attacker to protect it.
There are many other situational uses of Thruster for you to explore the potential of this card.
The last upgrade is not in the form of an event but a unit. Being able to become explosives, here are a few common uses:
- Pack them on a high mobility unit, send them to a place where the explosives can target 2 or more opponent cards and then Detonate.
- Attack with them and then use the Rig Explosives, this works both with friendly and enemy units, this way you deny the magic to the opponent after having attacked with the unit and also have working explosives.
- Attack with the Wrench Rat, Rig Explosives, and thereby open the path to another ranged unit to attack for a double attack on a single flank.
- Rig Explosives on an enemy unit that you are about to kill so it does damage to its friendly adjacent cards.
Remember that you get back Wrench Rats when you use the Detonate event on the unit with rigged explosives.
In general, summoning Wrench Rats just to become an explosive that does a single point of damage is not worth it. So you want the rat to do a bit more than that.
The core mobile structure, and the “tank” of the faction. One role is to serve as a Turret / Mortar target for a mobile structure. Because of it’s high life you can use the turret 2 or 3 turns usually at least.
Generally the main role is to serve as a “tank / blocker” to cover flanks and block enemy gates. Because of the high mobility they can reach those spots and then hold the position.
They are a permanent threat as they can do decent damage if the ability is used along with some upgrade(s). A good tactic is when you see a wounded Rust Rider, to pack them with upgrades and rigged explosives, send them to do damage, and then Detonate them.
Generally it is a bad idea to use their ability for just the +1 attack and this should be avoided.
Remember the Rust Rider as a structure can be built on the build phase on any place a gate could be built, which has a lot of uses, especially on defense. Or build it adjacent to Krusk so it can be moved for free next turn with Krusk’s ability.
Generally the main role of the Bug Biter is to sneak damage in, either to fly between enemy units packing a mortar and / or rigged explosives or to get close to the enemy summoner to put assassination pressure on by threatening triggering the explosives with a mortar attack or with Detonate.
Also a great unit to Detonate as it costs 0, so you can play it, send it into enemy lines with the rigged explosives and a Turret Upgrade, do a bunch of damage, Detonate and get everything back leaving no magic for the opponent to make.
One of the main reasons Sand Goblins can play a good economic game is the Sand Scavenger, a highly efficient unit. If the Sand Scavenger kills a unit, you have virtually played a 0 cost 3/2 that, if not killed immediately, can easily retrieve another card thanks to its 3 strength.
You can try to protect them with a unit that has a Thruster Upgrade that covers it after it kills something, but this is not really needed for them to do their job, it is okay to just throw these guys carelessly to a target that they can reliably kill.
Sand Goblins has a lot of mobility and a lot of tricks, and they are also a very versatile faction, that versatility being their core identity.
However, a lot of what they do relies on using mobility and poke capabilities for the faction to do its things and there will be a struggle with head-on confrontations for this deck. It doesn’t have ways to do explosive turns nor a lot of single target damage. When it comes to ranged combat, it lacks a strong ranged unit and will lose a direct ranged confrontation, needing instead to rely on its hit and run tricks and avoiding return damage to win such exchanges.
On the other hand, Sand Goblins are very hard to put in a bad situation because they always have an out, they always have a Plan B. And no matter the opponent’s strengths, the Sand Goblins will have viable counter strategies.
When playing Sand Goblins, you need to evaluate each match onto itself, given the tools you draw and what the opponent is doing, what is the best strategy in that match and that moment, and that is where their power and fun rests.
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