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By: Blackdeckwins, Anthony Davis
Mar 07 2016 1:00pm
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I love aggressive strategies. Some players love to be the reactive deck, to answer their opponent’s threats, invalidate their opponent’s good cards, grind out small advantages, and win a long and hard-fought battle. I am not one of those people. I like to have time between tournament rounds to catch my breath, collect my thoughts, and grab a regrettable concession-stand hotdog. When I play Magic Online, I want to be able to play as many games as possible, because my schedule is chaotic and game time is precious to me. I love aggressive strategies.

Right now, Goblins is one of the flagship aggressive decks. Cheap-but-powerful creatures like Goblin Cohort and Foundry Street Denizen get in massive damage while your opponent plays tap lands and tries to find answers. Mogg War Marshal and Goblin Sledder ruin all non-Electrickery-and-Shrivel removal suites. Goblin Bushwhacker and Goblin Heelcutter make for explosive high-damage attacks, and Goblin Matron finds whatever piece the deck is missing. Recently, however, the success of Goblins has been waning: only a few Goblin decks have been reported as 5-0 decks from Leagues in the last few weeks. Clearly, it’s time to try something new to bring the deck back into focus.

To find the “new” options, I browsed Gatherer’s expansive database for the Pauper-legal Goblins and Goblin-matters cards, and picked out my favorites. Some may involve shifts in the mindset behind the deck, but that may not be such a bad thing. Let us dive into the world of the other Goblins.

Turn-One Goblins

Goblin Cohort, Mogg Conscripts, and Foundry Street Denizen make for some stiff competition, but there may be some other good one-drops we could make use of.

Bloodcrazed Goblin

One mana 2/2 creatures are powerful on the surface, but often come with a downside. Bloodcrazed Goblin’s downside is difficult to meet in the current iteration of the Goblins deck, but one playing more burn or creatures like Goblin Fireslinger could reliably make use of this creature.

A few decks have actually included this Goblin as a two-of. Two toughness means it dodges Electrickery, and having a mana sink for the late game is interesting, as most versions are lacking late-game action. It’s a lot worse in the early game when we are trying to win quickly, though, so that is a strike against it.

Mudbutton Clanger

The deck already plays tons of one-mana 2/2s, so Mudbutton Clanger can reliably be a 2/2 for a single mana. Its condition is remarkably similar to Goblin Cohort and Mogg Conscripts: revealing a Goblin turns it into a 2/2, and casting that Goblin lets Cohort and Conscripts attack. Being a 1/1 on defense is a mark against it, and opens it up to Electrickery on our opponent’s turn, so it is not perfect.

Goblin Gaveleer

It may not be right in the current Goblin builds, but if the deck ever wants to move towards Bonesplitters and other cheap artifacts, Goblin Gaveleer carries those very well. It dies to Electrickery unless you’ve got a toughness-boosting artifact, unfortunately.

Skirk Prospector

Skirk Prospector’s ability to turn Goblins into mana is intriguing to me. Current builds probably are not interested in it, but imagine chaining this on turn one into Mogg War Marshal, sacrificing the Marshal for R and casting another Goblin. It also gives you a way to turn an alpha-strike into mana to cast burn spells afterwards. Skirk Prospector is unimpressive on its own and does not help with a hyper-aggressive approach, but its combo potential may make it playable.

Two-Drop Goblins

Currently, Goblins loads up on one-drop creatures, playing Mogg War Marshal and occasionally Sparksmith in the two-mana slot, preferring to spend turn two playing more one-drops. There are a lot of interesting potential Goblins we could try in a “bigger” Goblins deck, though. Let’s take a look:

Akki Rockspeaker

Akki Rockspeaker is basically half of Burning-Tree Emissary. It may be worse than playing multiple one-drops, but it is an interesting card to keep in mind.

Goblin Lookout

Goblin Lookout is a super-interesting card that could potentially be strong in more token-heavy Goblins strategies. Tapping it and sacrificing a Goblin to pump your entire team can produce a lot of damage, and at least makes it a lightning rod for removal. It could also combo with Goblin Bushwhacker on turn four to create a ton of damage out of nowhere. Token-heavy strategies would struggle against Electrickery, which is an incredibly popular sideboard card, but Goblin Lookout could make that risk worth it.

Goblin Shortcutter Goblin Tunneler 

Goblin Heelcutter can be used repetitively, but Goblin Shortcutter is a cheaper option, and is a faster combo with a turn four Goblin Bushwhacker. It could be a fun one-of for Goblin Matron to search out. Goblin Tunneler and Subterranean Scout are better options if the deck relies on Goblin Sledder and Mogg Fanatic to hit your opponent with a huge creature, but that strategy may be too all-in to be viable right now.

Goblin Tinkerer

Gorilla Shaman is cheaper and doesn’t require tapping to use, so it may just be a better option. Goblin Tinkerer does have the advantage of being tutorable, though, and can take out one-mana artifacts without dying or spending a ton of mana. Tinkerer may be too slow for the Affinity matchup, but it could be better than Shaman against decks that use non-land artifacts.

Grotag Siege-Runner

I know this card looks bad. Who plays defenders in Constructed?

Nivix Cyclops

Yeah, fine, it is probably too much of a corner case, but a tutorable kill spell for such a threatening creature that also deals damage to its controller is intriguing, at least.

Mardu Scout

A key cost of playing Goblin Cohorts and Mogg Conscripts is that you need to be able to cast a creature spell every turn. A deck with this many creatures can fill that requirement pretty easily, but having a cheap Dash creature to trigger it every turn could be helpful. It’s also a reasonable creature on its own that trades with most creatures that could block it.

Mogg Flunkies

Jackal Pup has seen some play in a few decks that want to go heavy on the one-mana 2/2’s, so Mogg Flunkies at least deserves a shot in a bigger Goblins deck. 3/3s are a lot harder to trade with in combat that 2/2s, and it is nowhere near dying to Electrickery.

Mudbrawler Cohort

The deck basically always has a Red creature in play, so jamming a 2/2 with haste on turn 2 could be pretty strong. Sure, it gets outclassed quickly, but that won’t matter if we manage to just kill our opponents!

Rustrazor Butcher

This is close to grasping at straws, but Rustrazor Butcher is difficult to block, and blocks pretty well itself. I could see maybe bringing this in to slow down other aggressive decks. Maybe.

Skinbrand Goblin

It’s worse than the other two-mana creatures, and its Bloodrush ability is worse than just Brute Force, but its flexibility and tutorability makes it interesting. There’s a chance it’s not good enough, but I think it deserves a shot.

Skirk Drill Sergeant

It requires a lot of mana to work, but turning dead Goblins into potentially new ones straight on the battlefield has the potential to be powerful. Certainly interesting as a late-game anti-removal card.

Stingscourger

Bouncing a creature is basically the same as making it unblockable, except your opponent has to cast it again. Using Stingscourger to bounce a Gurmag Angler can potentially wreck your opponent’s next turn, so there is some potential there.

It may be hard to cast before turn three, but Goblin Freerunner has a lot of promise. I could see a version playing cards like Gut Shot to facilitate casting this on turn two, but that’s probably not the best plan.

Bigger Goblins

Goblin General

It may be slow and expensive, but Goblin General has the potential to deal a lot of damage. Pumping your team’s power and toughness makes blocking more difficult for your opponent, too. The odds are high that this just eats a removal spell or gets blocked by a large threat, but that may not be a bad this if you get through plenty of extra damage.

Slingshot Goblin

Hey, it kills Delver and Faeries! It’s probably too slow or just worse than Death Spark at that, though.

Spikeshot Goblin

This would probably make it in the same deck as Goblin Gaveleer. Turning your creature into a removal spell or a repeatable direct burn spell sounds pretty powerful. Maybe Bonesplitter and goblins are meant to be together? Goblin Freerunner carries equipment pretty well, too…

Tattermunge Duo

There’s probably too much upkeep required here, as you can really only go a few turns playing multiple goblins before you just run out of cards. It’s interesting to keep in mind, though, and it offers a giant threat against decks that try to flood the board.

Beetleback Chief

No big Goblin deck would be complete without one of the best Goblins in the history of the game! Four mana for four bodies across three creatures would be ideal for a token-heavy deck, as well.

Non-Creature Goblins

The default builds of the deck load up on creature spells. There are some non-creature options that deserve consideration, though.

Tarfire

It’s basically worse than Lightning Bolt, except it can be search up with Goblin Matron and works with Goblin-matters abilities like Mudbutton Clanger. Those probably are not good enough reasons to play Shock, but it could surprise us.

Brightstone Ritual

Look, more Goblin mana! A card like this could help us dump our entire hand on turn 3, if we wanted. It could enable some fast kills, but would take some tweaking to build a deck that best takes advantage of the mana.

Goblin War Strike

Sometimes your opponent manages to flood the board and it’s hard to get through. If we manage to play out several Goblins, Goblin War Strike could deal a ton of damage out of nowhere. Of course, the opponent playing Electrickery in response would be horrifying, but that is the risk with this type of card.

Kuldotha Rebirth

If we are playing tokens and can squeeze some artifacts into the deck, Kuldotha Rebirth can generate some Goblins quite quickly. Playing more artifacts is a bit of a cost, but this is a format with artifact lands, so it is not impossible.

 

If the deck is looking to flood the board with Goblin tokens, these cards are the best ways to do it for two mana after Mogg War Marshal.

Goblin Caves Goblin Shrine

Anthems are difficult to find in Pauper, but Goblins is one of the few decks with access to some. I could see Goblin Caves being a more playable option, since it shuts off Electrickery. Goblin Shrine could potentially be wrecked by enchantment or land destruction, and in turn could destroy your team. They are both interesting options, though, especially against decks that could not remove them.

Multicolor Goblins?

Currently, Goblins is a mono-red deck. But, if we slow the deck down a bit, maybe we can add in some goblin synergies in other colors in exchange for playing tapped lands? White does not offer us much in the way of Goblin cards, but the other three colors have a few potential upgrades…

Blue

Boggart Sprite-Chaser Razorfin Hunter

We don’t pick up a lot of specifically “Goblin” cards with this color combination. Boggart Sprite-Chaser may be a fun inclusion if a Blue/Red Faeries deck, though. Razorfin Hunter gets to hit creatures or players, which is hard to come by for only two mana. I could see it helping the deck control the board.

Green

Jund Hackblade Tin Street Hooligan Hungry Spriggan

Jund Hackblade fits here pretty well, though it would definitely need help from non-Goblin multicolor cards. Tin Street Hooligan would be a fantastic inclusion against Affinity: main-deck artifact hate is phenomenal against them. Hungry Spriggan is an attacking 4/4 with trample for three mana, though it does die to Electrickery on our opponent’s turn.

Black

Frogtosser Banneret Goblin Deathraiders Kathari Bomber

There are a ton of goblin-based options available in this color combination. Frogtosser Banneret could turn Akki Rockspeaker into a quick flood-the-board creature, and would make the other two-mana Goblins much easier to play. Goblin Deathraiders and Jund Hackblade are looking to get aggressive, but the latter may still require extra multicolor creatures to enable it. Festering Goblin, Shambling Goblin, and Warren Weirding give the deck some removal options, and Warren Pilferers and Boggart Birth Rite could give the deck some late-game grind potential. Squeaking Pie Grubfellows could also help the deck fight through removal-heavy decks. Finally, Kathari Bomber gives it a good token-making option, or a recursive late-game creature to grind even more of an advantage.

Black/Red sounds like the best multicolor direction to take Goblins, but it would need to slow down and get a bit more grindy in order to work.

Current Goblins lists are starting to stagnate, basically tweaking numbers of the same cards. I’m more interested in seeing if there is a better way to build the deck using some of these unknown potential pieces. I managed to 5-0 a Pauper League earlier this week with this deck, which is a slight tweak from the norm to give the deck more 2/2’s and to better utilize Goblin Matron. Also, eighteen lands were way too few when I tested other versions.

 

Look for me to bring several Goblin-y brews for you to sample next week!