Deck of the Week: Modern Goblins

Simon IrvingModern

Are you excited about Dominaria? I certainly am! Big set, new cards, old nostalgia. Yet, of all the shiny new toys that Santa Karn is about to deliver to us, there are two reprints that have really piqued my interest – Skirk Prospector and Goblin Warchief. Goblins have long been gnawing at the edges of playability in Modern, and I’m hoping that these two powerful cards finally becoming Modern-legal will help my favorite tribe get a claw-hold in the metagame.

Now, Dominaria is all about looking to the past for inspiration, so let me take you all through the ol’ Tolarian time machine back to the halcyon days of Onslaught block. Goblins were a dominant element of the Standard metagame at the time, utilizing the mana generation and cost reduction of Skirk Prospector and Goblin Warchief. The Prospector was great for sneaking in a Warchief on turn 2, and with a Warchief in play, a Goblin Piledriver would only cost a single red mana AND had haste, meaning it could deal an egregious amount of damage out of nowhere. At that mana cost, playing two or even three Piledrivers in a turn wasn’t unheard of. The deck was explosive and quick, with added resilience coming in the way of a black splash for Patriarch’s Bidding.

Fast forward a decade and a half, and almost all those pieces have found their way into Modern. Piledriver has been legal since Magic Origins, but has underperformed without its partners in crime. Plus, Modern has a deep pool of powerful Goblins we didn’t have access to back in the Onslaught era. Perhaps a list like this could be a good starting point:

Goblins (34)

4 Goblin Guide
4 Skirk Prospector
4 Legion Loyalist
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Reckless Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Warchief
2 Goblin Rabblemaster

Not Goblins (8)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Goblin Grenade 

Goblin Homes (18)
18 Mountains 

Here we have a lean, mean, bushwhacking machine, built to flood the board with cheap creatures and then swing in for a catastrophic amount of combat damage. Being a mono-colored deck, your sideboard options are limited to a handful of cards needed to counteract certain strategies – some artifact destruction (Smash to Smithereens, Shattering Spree) and graveyard control (Grafdigger’s Cage, Relic of Progenitus) would not be amiss. Also, keep in mind that Blood Moon is a very strong follow-up to a turn 1 Skirk Prospector.

Here are some tips for playing a list like this one: 

Goblin Rabblemaster functions fantastically as an additional Piledriver, dishing out large swathes of damage and benefiting from both the cost reduction and haste that Warchief provides. Also, don’t be afraid to aggressively run one out on turn 2 off the back of a Prospector.

Legion Loyalist has incredible synergy with both Piledriver and Rabblemaster. You’ll need that trample damage to get your bruisers through Spirit tokens, mana dorks, or whatever chump blockers your opponent just Collected Company-ed into play.

Skirk Prospector can give you the mana for a Lightning Bolt even when you’re tapped out, possibly allowing you to bait your opponent into thinking you can’t cast any more spells.

Reckless Bushwhacker‘s surge cost can be reduced by Warchief, so have as much fun as possible with one-mana Bushwhackers!

What will you be brewing up with Dominaria? Tweet at us at @Card_Kingdom and let us know!

Header design: Justin Treadway
Header image: “Goblin Warchief” by Karl Kopinski