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Zendikar Rising Limited Set Review with MTG Nerd Girl
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The Scoop on Conspicuous Snoop

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I must be dreaming.

Wizards of the Coast, the company that has cruelly put Goblin Ringleader, Goblin Warchief, Siege Gang Commander, and Skirk Prospector back into Standard over the last few years but also did not print a single new Goblin worth anything to give them any support, has finally printed a good new Goblin! (Note I'm not counting Modern Horizons; Munitions Expert and Sling-Gang Lieutenant are clearly great.)

Don't believe me? Take a look at Conspicuous Snoop!

Conspicuous Snoop

That's a lot to unpack!

"Play with the top card of your library revealed.

You may cast Goblin spells from the top of your library."

Conspicuous Snoop is a sweet tribal card. Like Goblin Ringleader, it is a great card advantage engine but only if you stuff your deck full of Goblins. Experimental Frenzy is a phenomenally powerful card, but comes with a significant drawback and a high cost. Conspicuous Snoop is all that and more for only two mana, with rock solid 2/2 body. Not having 1 toughness is especially important given how good one damage effects and global -1/-1s are against Goblins.

So we get very solid 2-drop that can lead to loads of card advantage in a Goblin deck, awesome! But wait... there's more!

"As long as the top card of your library is a Goblin card, Conspicuous Snoop has all activated abilities of that card."

Conspicuous Snoop is certainly a product of the 2019-2020 school of Magic design. Take a powerful ability, put it on a card with a really good rate, and then add another ability on top of that and...

What's more "2019-2020 Magic design" than a likely unintended two card, turn three combo kill off the back of an extra ability that probably didn't need to be there?

Boggart Harbinger
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Sling-Gang Lieutenant

The combo is fairly simple:

  1. Play your Conspicuous Snoop on turn two.
  2. Play Boggart Harbinger on turn three, fetching Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to the top of your library.
  3. With Conspicuous Snoop, use the Kiki-Jiki ability targeting itself (which works because it is non-legendary). You end up with another copy of Conspicuous Snoop which is granted haste from the Kiki-Jiki ability.
  4. Repeat step 3 a million times so you have one million and one Conspicuous Snoops in play.
  5. Use the last copy of Conspicuous Snoop to make a copy of Boggart Harbinger, which will put a Sling-Gang Lieutenant on top of your library.
  6. With Conspicuous Snoop, use Sling-Gang Lieutenant's ability to sacrifice your one million Conspicuous Snoops for one million damage. Mogg Fanatic can also stand in here instead of Sling-Gang.

That's all there is to it. Play Conspicuous Snoop turn two, Boggart Harbinger turn three, and just have at least one Kiki-Jiki and Sling-Gang Lieutenant in your deck.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, this combo is probably good enough to push Goblins into a very serious territory in Modern. This combo is at least on par with the Devoted Druid plus Vizier of Remedies combo, and may even be better because that combo only makes infinite Green mana and requires a third card to actually win the game. The Conspicuous Snoop combo requires very little deck space and all the cards involved range from "fine" to "actively very good" in a Goblin deck.

The downside is that there's zero incentive to play Conspicuous Snoop fairly as long as this combo exists. What could be a really fun tribal card for a classic tribe that hasn't gotten much support in a decade ends up being just another dumb two card combo in Modern.

Regardless the reality is that the combo exists, so it's time to get brewing and win the race to break it first.

The "Classic" Approach

The simplest approach is just to add the combo to a normal Modern Goblin deck like the one I played at Mythic Championship IV. This approach has a serious pedigree, as combo-based Goblin decks that can also win fair games have a long history of being good in Magic across various formats.

Conspicuous Snoop is certainly good enough to see play as a fair card in a "normal" Goblins deck, and while a normal Goblin deck wouldn't play Boggart Harbinger or Kiki-Jiki, both cards aren't completely unreasonable when played straight up.


The benefits here are twofold.

Goblins is already a reasonable, if slightly underpowered deck in Modern. We aren't reinventing the wheel here, and while the combo is poor against removal and interaction-heavy decks, those are the decks that the normal Goblin strategy tends to be good against. Where Goblins tends to struggle is against turn 3-4 unfair decks because it can't kill fast enough or disrupt enough to not die on turn four. Having the ability to turn three combo kill decks like Storm and Tron is a huge upgrade, giving the Goblin deck a lot of game where it previously struggled.

The "Double Combo" Approach


Of course, there already is a combo version of Goblins that has been floating around in Modern based around the infinite persist combo with Grumgully, the Generous.

Grumgully, the Generous
Murderous Redcap
Skirk Prospector

For the uninitiated, the deck works by combining Grumgully, the Generous or Metallic Mimic with a persist creature and a sacrifice outlet. Because the +1/+1 counter invalidates the -1/-1 counter from persist, you can sacrifice the same creature an infinite amount of times, allowing you to kill with Murderous Redcap or Sling-Gang Lieutenant.

I've played this deck to a few 5-0 finishes on stream and it has a similar idea to the decks we're proposing today - it's a fair Goblin deck that can win normally, but also combo too. For reference:

Given that there's a good amount of crossover with what the Conspicuous Snoop combo deck is trying to do, as well as less reliance on the more fair cards that get worse as the deck is diluted with combo, loading up on both combos to have more possible turn three and four kills while overloading removal is an interesting idea.

The "Splinter Twin" Approach


An important feature of the Conspicuous Snoop combo is that it is fairly compact. It only requires about 12 slots in your deck (4 Conspicuous Goblin, 4 Boggart Harbinger, 2 Kiki-Jiki, 2 kill cards), meaning you can fill your deck with all sorts of other things besides just the normal Goblin cards. While this does reduce the power level of Conspicuous Snoop and the utility of Boggart Harbinger, it does allow you to play more individually powerful cards and interaction.

Thoughtseize
Kolaghan's Command
Blood Moon

This deck has more in common with Mardu Pyromancer or Grixis Control than a tribal deck, using discard and removal the plow the way for your combo kill. You still have the ability to just kill people on turn three if they aren't interacting, but if they are you can take your time and remove their ability to interact with discard. You can also just win with Young Pyromancer or by locking them out with Blood Moon.

Finding the right mix of fair cards and colors to play won't be easy, but this is a reasonable start.

The "Non-Goblin Creature" Approach


Of course if you're looking to still play a creature game but bring disruption to the table, something like this could be good as well.

Giver of Runes
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Keeping Aether Vial but substituting Goblins for fair White cards ups the average power level of your cards a lot. Giver of Runes is perfect to protect your combo from removal, while Stoneforge Mystic is an alternate win condition that can draw fire and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben can help protect your combo and slow down opposing combo decks. Tidehollow Sculler also fills the disruption role, helping protect your combo and letting you know when to go off. You're still a great Aether Vial deck, with Militia Bugler and Goblin Matron keeping the gas flowing.

This is the wildest idea of the bunch, but goes to show how far you can take the combo in non-Goblin directions.

Conspicuous Snoop

I'd be lying if I said those last two lists didn't make me a little sad, as seeing the cool new Goblin card overshadowed by a Splinter Twin-style two card combo kinda sucks, but there's no doubt that Conspicuous Snoop will be making major waves in Modern.

Let's just hope we get some more new Goblins in Core Set 2021 and we can play it in Standard too!

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