Fecundity Goblins In Modern

Jim Davis was once the Goblins master of the world. Guess what? He’s bringing it back! Go combo, go aggro at SCG Baltimore tomorrow!

When we
last left
our Goblin friends, we were reminiscing about better times and looking at a
Goblin combo decklist from over a decade ago:

For the uninitiated, Skirk Prospector plus Fecundity makes for some pretty
crazy times when you throw Empty the Warrens into the mix.

Every Goblin you sacrifice nets you a red mana and a new card, which
creates an engine that eventually finds you an Empty the Warrens. At that
point your storm count will be sufficient enough to make at least a half a
dozen Goblin tokens, which is good for more cards and more mana. Rinse,
repeat, draw your whole deck, and play your win condition – in the original
lists case either Grapeshot or Goblin Warchief plus a bunch of Goblins.

History is fun and all, but won’t help you actually win your Modern event
this weekend… especially considering that Extended hasn’t been a format for
around seven years. However, we properly identified that Skirk Prospector’s
reintroduction to the format as having potential, and offered a theoretical
decklist to get started:

Unsurprisingly, the deck didn’t really work.

Abandoning the Goblin Warchief / Goblin Piledriver part of the deck made a
lot of sense, as they simply no longer form a reasonable threat base. In
Extended many years ago there were very few good removal spells, which
meant that Goblin Warchief would frequently survive. Now in a world of
Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push, Path to Exile, and a bevy of other great
removal spells, this is no longer the case.

Instead we became more focused on the combo, which in turn was problematic
because we weren’t very good at assembling the necessary pieces with any
level of consistency.

Faithless Looting was our only real method of controlling our draws, and
without any sort of graveyard interactions it was very underwhelming. The
idea was that you could flash it back while going off to ensure you get
there, but one of the biggest issues the deck had was actually getting to a
critical mass of mana. Too many cards were mana natural, meaning it was
sometimes hard to get ahead when going off.

This was a byproduct of having too many weak cards in the deck.

Dragon Fodder was pathetic compared to Mogg War Marshal, and while Goblin
Bushwhacker was meant to be an extra turn 1 play that was our win condition
later, it was Mon’s Goblin Raiders more often than not. The beatdown plan
was not a reasonable one; we needed more ways to consistently find
Fecundity and Skirk Prospector.

This is where things got interesting.

Usually when combo decks look for extra consistency they turn to either
blue (for cantrips and card draw) or black (for tutoring). However, the
more spells we add to our deck, the less Goblin pieces we have for going
off. Given the creature-centric nature of the deck, it was only natural
that the next step involved adding green.

It’s always important to look for other Modern decks for inspiration, and
to find the most effective creature-based tutor in Modern we’ve borrowed a
page from the various Traverse the Ulvenwald-based Death’s Shadow decks.

Mixing Traverse the Ulvenwald with Mishra’s Bauble and Street Wraith for
fast delirium is nothing new, but instead of just trying to play as many
copies of Death’s Shadow as possible we are looking at Traverse the
Ulvenwald as a one-mana Demonic Tutor for either Skirk Prospector or Mogg
War Marshal.

Skirk Prospector is obviously the key component to the engine, but Mogg War
Marshall is also extremely important because it’s the only self-contained
mana-positive play in the deck that’s not Empty the Warrens. Every Mogg War
Marshal is effectively a Desperate Ritual plus Ancestral Recall, and goes a
long way towards achieving the critical mass necessary to get over the
hump. Traverse the Ulvenwald finds both these pieces, as well as the now
one-of copy of Goblin Bushwhacker to win with.

With finding Skirk Prospector covered, we now needed to find a way to
reliably find Fecundity. While we can theoretically make some big Empty the
Warrens turn without it, Fecundity is the true engine behind the deck. If
only there was a card that could find either Fecundity, Skirk Prospector,
or Mogg War Marshall…

Remember Standard in 2015? Whip of Erebos? Tasigur, the Golden Fang?

Commune with the Gods may not feel like a Modern card, but it does
basically everything we need for two mana. It’s an effective Ancient
Stirrings for our two most important cards, and furthermore has the bonus
of giving us almost instant delirium.

Speaking of a free cycle that adds to the storm count, Manamorphose is a
staple in most Storm decks.

Aside from just adding to storm, the cantrip is
much-needed in a deck whose color restrictions prevent it from playing the
typical slate of card selections spells that most combo decks in Modern
have access to. In concert with Street Wraith and Mishra’s Bauble,
Manamorphose really shrinks your deck down to its essential parts.

With an effective level of deck manipulation and cantrips, we’re stating to
look like an actual Modern combo deck!

We’ve managed to shrink our deck down to its most important parts and
focused it on making sure it finds them early and often. We’ve established
that when we draw Fecundity and good things to do with it we are very
capable of doing broken things, and slanted our deck towards only those
things. Very little fat, very little filler. We are still capable of just
producing an early Empty the Warrens for ten tokens and trying to win that
way, but make no mistake: the aggressive leanings of the old Dirty Kitty
deck are gone. We are a combo deck, through and through, and have a number
of hands capable of winning on turn 3.

With the fat trimmed, let’s look at the remaining non-combo, non-deck
manipulation cards left in the deck.

While Wild Cantor is almost strictly worse than Skirk Prospector, Skirk
Prospectors effect is so important that the deck is happy to play eight of
them. Wild Cantor allows you to play a turn 2 Fecundity as well as just
gives you an extra mana for the turn you go off, and then once you start
going off it’s effectively just a free cycle to a new card and plus one to
the storm.

One of the issues when going off sometimes is making mana-positive plays,
as the old Dirty Kitty deck had access to Rite of Flame and Seething Song,
both which would provide the mana necessary to fuel our big turns. Without
the powerful banned ritual effects, we have to find other options. Mogg War
Marshal is mana-positive, but only nets one extra mana, so we need another
boost on our big turns.

Infernal Plunge ends up being the perfect card for us, providing a Dark
Ritual as well as a sacrifice effect for our Fecundity. It’s always a good
thing when your combo deck is utilizing the supposed drawback on a card as
an advantage, and one mana for three is much better than Desperate Ritual /
Pyretic Ritual.

One of the most common threads in our deckbuilding process so far has been
shrinking our deck as much as possible, as well as maximizing our access to
our best cards, namely Fecundity, Skirk Prospector, and Mogg War Marshal.
Postmortem Lunge furthers this purpose, giving us access to extra copies of
the latter two, both when we are going off or if we are disrupted by
removal. Postmortem Lunge also provides some further synergy with Commune
with the Gods, giving us more use for our graveyard. It’s hard to play too
many copies of Postmortem Lunge because it doesn’t do anything by itself,
but providing a redundant copy of your best cards is a great option to

With our deck trimmed down, we only need two direct win conditions. Goblin
Bushwhacker remains as a single copy for your big combo turns, which can be
found with Traverse the Ulvenwald and provide lethal damage with Empty the
Warrens. Grapeshot exists also as a way to overcome cards like Ensnaring
Bridge and win through non-combat damage.

It’s been quite the evolution.

We’ve gone from a bad aggressive deck with a combo finish to a much more
focused and powerful combo deck. We use the graveyard but aren’t reliant on
it, and have the excellent fallback plan of just making a dozen Goblins or
casting Blood Moon on turn 2.

The Sideboard

Our sideboard is mostly focused on dealing with hate cards our opponent may
have against us, as well as being a surprisingly good Blood Moon deck.

Unsurprisingly, when you are a mostly mono-red deck with eight ways to cast
Blood Moon on turn 2, you’ve got a really good chance to punk some people
out. Blood Moon is one of the more frustrating cards in the format, and
many decks in the format fold to it early, giving you plenty of time to
combo. It’s not fun, but it’s a fantastic angle of attack for the deck to
have in sideboarded games.

Damping Sphere is the new Dominaria card that is designed to give
storm-based decks fits, and we’ve got plenty of answers. Ancient Grudge
plays awesome with Commune with the Gods, as well as just being great
against the more dedicated artifact decks in the format.

Eidolon of the Great Revel, Eidolon of Rhetoric, Meddling Mage, etc. all
need to die if we are going to go off, and Flame Slash does it most
efficiently. It’s not pretty, but it does the job.

We’ve also got a small creature package for Traverse the Ulvenwald in the

Reclamation Sage is our go-to answer for other artifacts or enchantments
that would try and stop us from going off, and also provides a body to
sacrifice to Infernal Plunge. Tin-Street Hooligan accomplishes a similar
goal, but is cheaper and also a Goblin to boot.

The spiciest card in the sideboard is Bedlam Reveler, which is your tutor
target in grindy matchups to recover from a mass of discard or removal
spells. The body is also not irrelevant, proving somewhat difficult to kill
to either buy you time or win the game outright.

Bringing It All Together

When you bring it all together, we end up with a surprisingly powerful and
consistent new Modern combo deck. We’ve culled our deck down to its most
important parts and done everything possible to maximize them. We aren’t
super weak to graveyard hate like Storm is, and have our “just make a dozen
Goblins” backup plan built right into our main deck.

Change comes slowly in Modern. Because people usually change decks so
infrequently, they are often slow to adapt. When a powerful new tool
arrives in the format, being the first to jump on board can pay off
dividends weeks and months before everyone else catches on. Is Fecundity
Goblins the next new broken Modern deck? I’m not sure. The power is there,
but it may take time to come together on the correct way to build it.

Even in it’s crude form I was able to 4-1 a League on Magic Online
with it, which is promising, so I’d say we’re off to a good start.