Goblins In Standard

Don’t be shocked if your SCG Columbus hopes are quashed by some of the very Goblin brews that Sam has laid out here! The iconic tribe is back in a big way, and it doesn’t start and end with The Chainwhirler!

We have our first


from Magic Online competitive leagues, and we have our first event this
weekend at SCG Columbus. Therefore, the stage is set and we need to figure
out the best deck out of the gate. As a longtime fan of Siege-Gang
Commander, I was excited to see NAKA_MURA’s 5-0 with Goblins:

This is a basic aggressive Goblin deck–not the way I would build it, but
it highlights that Goblins finally have deep support in Standard, with more
than enough options at every point on the curve. Today I want to go over
those options, a few different ways they can be put together, and my
preferred Goblin strategy in Standard.

The Goblins


It’s pretty crazy to me that there are six one-mana Goblins in Standard.
Skirk Prospector is probably the most powerful in a dedicated Goblin deck,
and I doubt I’d recommend a list that didn’t play four. After that, there’s
more of a debate.

Goblin Banneret has really impressed me as a card, but it’s best with other
mentors so that you can get a counter on it, and then it can start putting
counters on other things without requiring a mana investment; so it’s not
at its best in a dedicated Goblin deck, but its stock goes up if you’re
also playing Legion Warboss.

Fanatical Firebrand is likely the best all-purpose Goblin since it lets you
pick off things like Llanowar Elves and Pelt Collector, so it’s probably my
second choice for most Goblin decks.

Rigging Runner only plays well when you have a lot of one-drops and you’re
trying to play a one-drop on the first turn and two more on the second, so
it’s best to only play this if you have two, or better yet, three other
one-drops. I don’t really think that’s the best way to build Goblins, so I
probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Torch Courier and Goblin Motivator both give haste, and if I’m playing
enough heavy hitters that I’m interested in that ability, I’d probably
rather get to do it multiple times than have my creature have haste up
front. As it happens, none of the Goblins are really that exciting to give
haste to (Legion Warboss and Volley Veteran are the best options), so I’m
not that excited about either of these.

This means by default, I’m adding one-mana Goblins to my deck in this
order: Skirk Prospector, Fanatical Firebrand, Goblin Banneret, Rigging


Goblin Instigator is the best fit for Goblins as an archetype in Standard
because you’re either going to be interested in pumping your Goblins or
sacrificing them, and either way, two Goblins in one card for two mana is
exactly what you’re looking for.

Dark-Dweller Oracle is a bit tricky to evaluate, but I think it’s excellent
in Goblins in general, as it’s easy to end up with Goblin tokens that are
far less valuable than new cards. It plays especially well with Legion
Warboss, since it can sacrifice a token that might otherwise have to chump
attack for no value.

Goblin Cratermaker offers a mini-Abrade that doesn’t require you to play
non-Goblins to have removal, which is something I value very highly, as I
like the most possible synergy in my synergy decks.

Wily Goblin doesn’t hit hard, but it plays really well with Siege-Gang
Commander specifically. The more four-mana spells are in your deck, the
better Wily Goblin is. It’s also a little better if you’re splashing white
and looking for a few extra sources.

Runaway Steam-Kin isn’t a Goblin, but I think it would be irresponsible to
leave it out of considerations because the card is so powerful and has some
specific fantastic uses with Goblins that I’ll get into later.


We’re all familiar with Goblin Chainwhirler by now. It’s a Goblin. It’s
also powerful.

Legion Warboss is new and exciting. It plays best either with lots of
removal to clear the way for the tokens, which I don’t expect to have, or
with lots of ways to make the tokens bigger, which I’m more interested in.
If you don’t have either of those, this is not necessarily a card you need
to play.

Goblin Warchief, without Goblin Piledriver, isn’t as exciting as it used to
be. It’s still great with Siege-Gang Commander, but no one cares about a
2/2 haste, and most of your Goblins don’t benefit all that much from cost
reduction or haste. If you’re taking advantage of it in some dedicated way,
like Experimental Frenzy, this is great. Otherwise, it’s probably not the
right three-drop.

Squee, the Immortal is a card you never want to play many copies of, but it
does some interesting things – particularly in conjunction with Skirk
Prospector, Dark-Dweller Oracle, Goblin Warchief, and Runaway Steam-Kin.
This could merely allow you to spend mana for extra counters or extra shots
at cards with Dark-Dweller Oracle, but if you have two Steam-Kins, a
Warchief (or third Steam-Kin), and Skirk Prospector, you’re looking at
infinite mana. If you add Dark-Dweller Oracle to the mix, you’re looking at
casting your deck. If you add Siege-Gang Commander to your library, you’re
looking at a dead opponent. This is an unreasonable sounding amount of
setup, but I expect that Experimental Frenzy can allow a lot of cards to
come together.


Volley Veteran should be pretty close to Ravenous Chupacabra here, but with
more power, it won’t always kill their biggest creature. Overall, I think
that’s a little worse, and I’m not sure how much this deck wants a Ravenous
Chupacabra. This seems like a good card to have access to, but I don’t
think you want a playset, at least not main.

There aren’t a lot of artifacts left in the format, but those that are
still around might see more play now that Abrade isn’t around. The artifact
destruction clause is a nice bonus, but really, if you’re playing this it’s
because you want to give all your Goblins +1/+1, which I think could be a
reasonable approach.


If Goblins isn’t about Siege-Gang Commander, I’m not about Goblins.

Other Spells

You get very few non-Goblins, so you have to pick which of these big payoff
cards you want.

Radiant Destiny lets you play as a tokens + anthems deck, Experimental
Frenzy lets you play as an aggro/combo deck, and Vanquisher’s Banner does a
little of both, but it’s more expensive.

I wouldn’t play more than six removal spells that aren’t Goblins, and if I
played that many, I’d probably want to prioritize spells that could damage
my opponent or Conclave Tribunal for versatility if I were playing them
maindeck. That said, I personally prefer to err toward leaving all that
kind of thing in the sideboard.

So I think there are at least three different approaches that I’m
interested in: aggro, go wide, and combo. Let’s start with aggro:

This is my take on NAKA_MURA’s approach. This is not how I’d personally
want to play Goblins, but I do think it’s reasonable to want a balanced
strategy with some interaction. Here’s the go wide version:

You could splash for Radiant Destiny, but I really want as many Goblins as
possible when I’m playing Vanquisher’s Banner, so I’m just using Goblin
Trashmaster instead. The goal is just to use Skirk Prospector and Wily
Goblin to play Vanquisher’s Banner as early as possible, and it should make
the rest of your deck great once it’s on the battlefield. It’s possible
that there should be four of them and three Siege-Gang Commanders, I’m
really not sure.

The sideboard has as much of its interaction as possible in Goblin form
because I want the Vanquisher’s Banner to keep being good after
sideboarding. The enchantments offer even more card advantage against
control decks. I like the split of Experimental Frenzy and Vance’s Blasting
Cannons because drawing two of either is horrible, and drawing one of each
is good.

Goblin Warchief replaces Legion Warboss because we’re trying to cast many
Goblins in a turn, so we’re really making the most of the cost reduction,
and unlike in the Vanquisher’s Banner deck, we’re not pumping up the tokens
so they’re not as valuable. This deck uses Experimental Frenzy instead of
Vanquisher’s Banner because it’s cheaper (though maybe there should be a
split of both). Experimental Frenzy stops digging when you hit a second
land in a turn, but Dark-Dweller Oracle can sacrifice a Goblin to exile the
land to keep going.

This deck aspires to assemble the combo I discussed above that can
potentially cast your entire deck, but it doesn’t need the full combo on
the battlefield; each piece benefits from each other piece and the more of
it you have, the easier it is to find the rest.

This deck only plays 21 lands because Experimental Frenzy is best with
lower land counts, which is tricky because it costs four mana to play
initially, but this is where Skirk Prospector, Wily Goblin, and
Runaway-Steam Kin come in, allowing you to cast your four- and five-mana
spells with fewer than four lands.

Against decks that can’t exile it easily, this deck is happy to just try to
cast a Rekindling Phoenix on turn 3 and chump block with Goblins while the
Phoenix kills your opponent.

Lava Coil and Volley Veteran are there to answer Steel Leaf Champion,
Vanquisher’s Banner gives you more tools to try to out grind the removal
decks, and Banefire and Sorcerous Spyglass are there to beat Teferi, Hero
of Dominaria decks.

If I had to play a tournament now, this is the deck I’d try. I’m not sure
how good it is, as I’ve been focusing on Limited since the release of Guilds of Ravnica in anticipation of Grand Prix Mexico City, but I
like the idea of having chump blockers against big creatures, Goblin
Chainwhiler against small creatures, and Experimental Frenzy against
control, on top of a powerful proactive combo plan.