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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Aug 02 2012 10:16am
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Welcome to another edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  Today, I'll be looking at Goblins in Modern and whether or not they fit in to the format well.  The idea for trying out a Goblin deck came from seeing a list taken to 3-1 in a Modern Daily by Chessmack:

3-1 Modern Daily 06/30/2012 by Chessmack
4 Ember Hauler
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Goblin Guide
4 Goblin Wardriver
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg War Marshal
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Searing Blaze
11 cards
4 Arid Mesa
11 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Teetering Peaks
21 cards

Goblin Chieftain

The list I decided to run is pretty much card for card the same apart from I swapped out the Surgical Extractions in the sideboard for a couple of Grafdigger's Cages, mainly because it was cheaper as I already owned the Cages.


Ember Hauler
Ember Hauler
Ember Hauler is actually my least favourite card in the deck.  As two-drops go in Modern, Ember Hauler is really underwhelming and I would consider changing this for something else, possible Dragon Fodder or something.  The advantage of being able to sacrifice it for damage isn't really all that great and the fact that the ability costs 1 mana to activate means you won't always be able to use it.

Goblin Bushwhacker
Goblin Bushwhacker
Along with Goblin Guide this is probably one of the best Goblins printed in recent times.  Bushwhacker is a big game as it can create a lot out of damage out quickly and easily.

Goblin Chieftain
Goblin Chieftain
The only Lord in the deck.  Chieftain pumps your guys and makes all your guys enter with haste.  A lot like Goblin Bushwhacker, Chieftain turns your small dudes into big threats and allows for big swings to your opponents life total.

Goblin Guide
Goblin Guide
One of the best drops of all-time.  Goblin Guide is a real beating and a great turn one play.  You can get a lot of damage out of an early Goblin Guide and that can go a very long way.

Goblin Wardriver
Goblin Wardriver
I prefer Goblin Wardriver as a two drop over Ember Hauler but not a great deal.  Wardriver still feels slow but at least he has a significant impact on the board.  Allowing each of your goblins to get a +1/+0 bonus on attacks is pretty significant and even better if you can give him haste with a Chieftain or a Bushwhacker.  

Mogg Fanatic
Mogg Fanatic
Mogg Fanatic is a really nice creature in this format.  A lot of creatures only have 1 toughness in this format, e.g. Dark Confidant, Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, Delver of Secrets before flipping.  Mogg Fanatic is a fine one-drop and trades off for a lot of problematic creatures. 

Mogg War Marshal
Mogg War Marshal
Mogg War Marshal is a nice two drop, acting a bit like a Dragon Fodder on a stick.  Making a lot of creatures is very important as it makes your Goblin Bushwhackers and Goblin Chieftains significantly better. 

Goblin Grenade
Goblin Grenade
Goblin Grenade is a little risky in Modern and I would probably side it out against most Blue decks.  Remand and other counterspells are obviously really bad for Goblin Grenade.  Otherwise though it's 5 damage to the dome which is really powerful, especially when your deck is so aggressive.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
The greatest burn spell of all time, need I say more.  Hits blockers so your team can get in or delivers the final points of damage to the face

Searing Blaze
Searing Blaze
Searing Blaze is a card that I'm still not entirely sold on in Modern.  The fact is that it's dead against a significant number of decks: Storm, Hive Mind, Tron and Splinter Twin largely.  However, against decks that are running creatures it's a great deal, getting 3 damage on your opponent whilst also clearing out a creature.

All you really need is Mountains here.  However, I ran fetches because I could and it helps you hit Landfall for your Searing Blazes which is a little marginal but still somewhat significant.  The other land you can choose to play is Teetering Peaks.
Teetering Peaks
Peaks isn't bad in this deck but there aren't as many one-drops in this deck as I'd like and sometimes it can set you back on making your Turn 2 play.  However, it is often a free 2 extra damage which may warrant inclusion in the deck. 

This deck is fairly easy to build.  As I mentioned in this article and in my last one the fetchlands I am using aren't really necessary and you can just run Mountains instead.  This will keep the deck nice and budget friendly.  The only real expensive card in the main deck, aside from fetchlands, is Goblin Guide which you can pick up a playset of for around 9 tickets.  Not a bad investment as it is also a staple of Red Deck Wins, which I covered last time.  However, the Zendikar fetchlands are staples in Modern and are worth picking up if you are strongly interested in the format.

As always prices are taken from MTGOTraders and are correct at the time of writing.  If a card is available in multiple versions the cheapest was chosen.

Main Deck
4 x Scalding Tarn= 24.32
4 x Arid Mesa= 21.12
4 x Goblin Guide= 8.92
4 x Mogg Fanatic= 0.56
4 x Goblin Wardriver= 0.56
4 x Goblin Chieftain= 0.40
4 x Goblin Bushwhacker= 0.32
4 x Mogg War Marshal= 0.32
4 x Lightning Bolt= 0.32
4 x Goblin Grenade= 0.28
4 x Ember Hauler= 0.12
3 x Searing Blaze= 0.12
2 x Teetering Peaks= 0.06
Total: 57.42 tix
Total (without Fetchlands): 11.98 tix

2 x Grafdigger's Cage= 4.06
4 x Smash to Smithereens= 0.60
1 x Shattering Spree= 0.48
3 x Pillar of Flame= 0.27
3 x Relic of Progenitus= 0.24
2 x Combust= 0.08
Total: 5.73 tix
Grand Total: 63.15 tix
Grand Total (without Fetchlands): 17.71 tix

So they you are a decent deck for under 20 tix.  Not too bad at all.

So now that we've looked at the deck it's time to take it for a test run.

The first matchup we faced was RUG Delver.  This matchup was pretty terrible, they have a ton of removal and often their cheap threats are just more powerful than yours.  Also, as they are playing blue they are in a much better position to restock their hand.

Our second matchup was against RG Tron.  I had high hopes for this matchup but it didn't work out quite the way I wanted.  Wurmcoil Engine is a real beating and one that is very hard to get past once it sticks.  Perhaps adding Leyline of Punishment to the sideboard would help out with the problems this deck has with lifegain.

The final matchup I bring you is against Merfolk.  This match went well for us but I'm not sure if that is reflective of the matchup as a whole.  I suppose if you can keep them off playing too many lords then you probably have a pretty good chance of winning.  Provided you get out of the gates quickly and prevent them from making your creatures outsize yours then you should be able to win.

There are a number of different ways to build Goblins and I actually made my own build and took it for a spin.  My build is more heavy on the one drops and ditches most of 2-mana spells in the deck.  This is how I prefer to play Goblin decks but I'm not saying it's necessarily better than the least I've displayed above but it does play somewhat differently.  So here's my other Goblins list:

Goblins is a pretty fun deck and worth a try if you fancy something new or you're just dipping your toe into Modern.  Very budget friendly and fairly competitive.  Overall though it's probably just not as good as the other options available.  If you want to play cheap aggressive creatures then you're probably better off playing Affinity or even Boros and if you want to play an aggressive Red deck RDW is probably the stronger choice.  Also, as I've mentioned I predict that Delver decks will be coming increasingly popular in the format due to the results at GP Columbus, where 4 Delver decks of varying types made the Top 8.  Delver decks are a horrible matchup as I have shown in the matches I played and so Goblins probably isn't something you should be taking into the Dailies.

Next article I plan to look at Dungrove Aggro!  A deck that recently emerged a few times in the Dailies and is very interesting.  Hope you will join me then. Also, if you enjoyed this article please check out the other articles in this series.

Thanks for reading,
Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)