Are You Excited To Bash Your Opponents With A Ton Of Goblins?
With the DND set giving us new pieces, I figured it was time to revisit my favorite tribe in Magic: the humble goblin. A while back, the goblin deck proved itself a demon of Historic. It’s fallen from memory slightly, and even the people who expect it aren’t prepared to face a different version.
Thus, the time is primed. I’ve built a deck that combines RDW with the usual goblin build that’s so fast and explosive it can kill before they can do anything. I’ve only played around eighty games with it so far, and only thirteen with my newest version, but the win rate is solid. It nearly always arrives victorious on the play. It’s also—and this part is important—relatively budget-friendly. You can get away with only eight rare wild cards to build a decent version.
(Cards that can be changed out for budgeting are in italics.)
4 Wily Goblin (XLN) 174
4 Castle Embereth (ELD) 239
4 Goblin Matron (MH1) 129
4 Muxus, Goblin Grandee (JMP) 24
4 Goblin Warchief (DAR) 130
4 Battle Cry Goblin (AFR) 132
4 Skirk Prospector (DAR) 144
3 Goblin Ringleader (M20) 143
3 Legion Warboss (GRN) 109
4 Hobgoblin Bandit Lord (AFR) 147
2 Den of the Bugbear (AFR) 254
20 Mountain (ANB) 114
Now, some of the card choices are obvious and ones you’ve seen before. I’ve not reinvented the wheel here. Goblin Warchief, Wily Goblin, and Skirk Prospector all help you slam down a Muxus on an early turn and that’s been true for a long time. But I’ve made different choices with the rest of the list to make it work as an aggro deck when that combo is denied.
Hobgoblin Bandit Lord:
One of the new goblins from the DND set. This guy is an alternative to Goblin Chieftain, and you could argue to swap them out here. But the thing I like about our Bandit Lord is that he can shoot things. That extra damage can target problem creatures and will sometimes do more damage than just attacking with him after a successful Muxus. I’ve yet to pull this off, but if you chain multiple Muxus triggers or even make a build with Krenko, you can blast people.
Battle Cry Goblin:
Oh, the tricks you can pull with this guy. His passive ability will make your swarms even more dangerous, especially in multiples—but he also has a sneaky combo to push through damage. Combined with Skirk Prospector, you can sacrifice anything that’s blocked to focus on direct damage. This is only a trick for a killing blow, as you’ll often ruin your board, but people aren’t expecting it. He’s also a mana sink for late-game turns and can give stuff haste if you don’t have a Warchief.
This is the final of the aggro subtheme trifecta and the one you can remove if you’re playing budget. He’s worth considering, though. If not dealt with in a turn or two, he swarms the board. A bunch of little goblins isn’t that scary in Historic, but anthems make them a real threat.
Ultimately, the deck’s trying to do the same thing any other version will be. If you can get a Muxus out on turn four, then do so. If you must sacrifice your whole board to do it—then do it. The card ruins people. It’s busted.
The usual way to do this is to play some combination of Wily or Skirk on your early turns, and then use Goblin Matron to find Muxus—or have him in your opening hand. You can even use Ringleader to increase your chances of drawing him.
However, if that’s not an option, you go for the aggro line until you draw the combo. Battle Cry Goblin combines well with Bandit Lord, and you can do a lot of damage in a few turns. If your opponent doesn’t board wipe you—which seems to be a less played strategy lately—then you might swarm them.
And this is the most important thing to remember: you can just punch them for victory. I’ve overcome the Tibalt’s Trickery combo so often. Omniscience is the only target that for sure beats you. If you can resolve a single Muxus, you have a chance, so don’t concede immediately. I’ve won even though my opponent got Ulamog by simply attacking around it. You should only be keeping quick hands, but with twenty-six mountains, your curve is nearly assured.
Your only actual bad matchups are other swarm decks. Elves are nearly unbeatable. You can win against Collected Company Angels if they stumble even a little. Merfolks are at least a fair fight—watch out for Mistcaller countering Muxus. But I don’t think I’ve ever won against Elves. They can simply build a wall you cannot puncture. The only victory I can see is blitzing them hard and hoping you can knock them off stabilizing a board by forcing them to trade blockers.
As to things like control and sacrifice decks, they’re often still too slow. Control has been switching to Memory Lapse instead of hard counters, and Muxus still works on a second turn. They don’t even seem to run Grafdigger’s Cage much anymore.
So, what are you waiting for? If you like games that end in under five minutes but are full of tons of small decisions, this is the deck for you. If you wanted to play goblins but didn’t like (or could afford) the usual version, then Historic Goblin Aggro will be a blast. I’ve been having tons of fun with it, and it’s always nice to turn the tides on those Tibalt’s Trickery players.
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