Tribal decks in Modern have always been a part of the identity of the format. There’s a huge subset of players who love the style of play tribal decks offer: strategies that are creature-focused, synergistic and have interesting and unique game plans. I’ve spent a decent amount of time over the last few months exploring Humans, Merfolk and now Goblins, trying to figure out the best builds of each of these decks. My overall impression is that all of these tribes are underplayed in Modern, but the best of the three is Goblins.
Goblins (like other tribal decks) is a deck that’s resilient to countermagic via Cavern of Souls and Aether Vial. Unlike other tribal decks, however, it has access to a two-card, five-mana infinite combo and tons of card advantage. This means that it not only has access to a lot of the resilience of other tribal decks, but it can also win faster and grind through more removal. I’ve found that these attributes combined make Goblins a real force to be reckoned with. That being said, I’ve also found the deck to be incredibly difficult to pilot, with some of the hardest gameplay decisions I’ve ever made stemming from what to tutor with a Goblin Matron or a Boggart Harbinger.
In order for this combo to work you’ll need:
- A copy of Snoop in play without summoning sickness. This will either mean just untapping with a Snoop in play or giving it haste with a Goblin Chieftain.
- A resolved Boggart Harbinger trigger. This will allow you to put a copy of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker on top of your library. Kiki being on top of your library will give Snoop Kiki’s activated ability. This will allow you to tap your Snoop to make a copy of itself. These copies are however tapped after you activate them to make another copy, so while you do have infinite Snoops, you still need a way to win the game. You could make these tokens on your opponent’s end step so you can attack with them on your turn before they get sacrificed or…
- If you have a copy of Sling-Gang Lieutenant or Mogg Fanatic in your deck, you can use the last Snoop you make (after you’ve made a million copies) to copy your Boggart Harbinger instead of itself. This will allow you to put a copy of Sling-Gang Lieutenant or Mogg Fanatic on top of your library, allowing you to sacrifice your Snoops for infinite damage.
I’ve found the deck to be particularly strong against most Ragavan variants and control, while being weak against Rhinos and other cascade decks. It is important to note that no matter how bad your matchup is with Goblins, the presence of the turn three combo means that you never really have an unlosable matchup.
Here’s the list I’ve been playing: