Going Goblin Mode – Budget Modern Goblins – Deck Guide

Double Masters 2022 is currently making its waves throughout the community and the markets, from its high value reprints in Wrenn and Six and the Eldrazi Titans to its seemingly unending number of borderless prints of common staples that have players scrambling to pick up some new bling.

One of the best effects that a Masters set has on the game however goes back to the original intent of the product line: introduce reprints into the secondary market, and bring the prices of staple cards down. Today we’re going to be unpacking an archetype that up until the 2X2 release was sorely missing its key component as a budget shell, but with the reprinting of Aether Vial, it is finally reasonable to give one of the best tribes in the game a chance. Let’s dive into the Hovel and check out Budget Modern Goblins. 




Budget Modern Goblins by Darren Magnotti


Note: Each Modern deck covered in this series is built at the time of writing to a $150 budget. This is in attempt to keep things reasonable for those who are actually looking to buy into the format on the cheap while not skimping so much that the deck is completely without the power to keep up. Every deck showcased in this series has been personally tested and is being shown off for a reason, whether its the decks competitive aptitude, its ability to transition easily into a nonbudget version or its capacity to teach a newer player a vital skill required to keep up in today’s competitive meta game.


Header - The Deck

Modern Goblins is a combo-aggro deck whose main goal is to outvalue and overwhelm. The deck plays in a similar mindset to Death and Taxes, where its creatures’ abilities are set up in such a way as to provide almost a control deck’s feel while their bodies apply pressure, which really puts an opponent between a rock and a hard place. Goblins are generally flexible enough to answer a wide array of threats, and those that they can’t readily answer they can always just attack through. While the toolbox creature plan is enough to win games on its own, the deck also has access to a game-ending combo in the form of Conspicuous Snoop plus Boggart Harbinger


Header - Explaining the Combo

Conspicuous SnoopBoggart HarbingerKiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker (Timeshifted)Mogg Fanatic

Conspicuous Snoop is in play and does not have summoning sickness. Play Boggart Harbinger, search the deck for a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and put it on top of the deck. Snoop now has the ability to tap and create a token of a nonlegendary creature in play, with haste. Conspicuous Snoop is not a legendary creature, so the Snoop can target itself, creating a new Snoop, which also copies the text of Kiki-Jiki. Repeat this process a couple hundred times to create as many tapped Snoops as you please.

With the last Snoop’s activation, target instead that Boggart Harbinger from earlier. The new Harbinger enters play, and lets you search for either a Mogg Fanatic or Sling-Gang Lieutenant. Now all of your many Snoops have the text “sacrifice this creature, deal some damage.” Create the largest Goblin Grenade anyone’s ever seen to take out the opponent.


Header - The Beatdown

Goblin ChieftainGoblin WarchiefHobgoblin Bandit Lord

Outside of the combo, Goblins is a deck that is out for blood in the more traditional sense as well. The deck packs various lord effects in Goblin Chieftain, Goblin Warchief and Hobgoblin Bandit Lord to make legitimate threats out of any Goblins in play.

Mogg War MarshalSling-Gang LieutenantPashalik Mons

Mogg War Marshal and Sling-Gang Lieutenant are the effective “army in a can” cards that load up the field with our… special forces, though all members of the goon squad can equally bash face in their own right as well. Pashalik Mons, while acting as an auxiliary combo piece (by being in play during the end step as the Snoop tokens all die), can do some major damage in the face of a board wipe while also duplicating goblins on occasion. 


Header - The Value Generation

Boggart HarbingerGoblin MatronGoblin Ringleader

Goblins don’t like to live alone, which is why you’ll see that most cards in this deck either in flavor or function come with a buddy. Boggart Harbinger and Goblin Matron help to call out the specific tools needed for a given board state, turning the deck into a legitimate toolbox with its broad access to many niche effects after sideboarding. Goblin Ringleader is a real bomb in this archetype, being able to refill the hand with up to four Goblins when ammunition supplies troop morale is getting low. Conspicuous Snoop, believe it or not, also has even more text on it that allows it to draw additional Goblins off the top of the deck too.

While all of these abilities may seem on their face like they aren’t very impressive, the combination of all of them occurring turn after turn really emulates the true experience of battling a Goblin horde as a seemingly endless number of them continue to tumble over each other out of their barrens like a squishy green avalanche. 

Munitions ExpertStingscourgerGoblin CratermakerGoblin Chainwhirler

Additional pieces of the tool belt include, but are not limited to Munitions Expert and Stingscourger, which can snipe a pesky creature out of the way, Goblin Cratermaker which can similarly act as a piece of spot removal while being a nuisance to anything colorless from Tron to Affinity, and Goblin Chainwhirler, who does a pretty good Fury impression.

Goblins has access to a tremendous amount of utility, and is extremely flexible in its construction. Unlike something like Death and Taxes, which looks to capitalize on broad stroke answers to the format at large, Goblins can really tech hard against an individual strategy with the types of hate that it provides. All of this nonsense is supported by the incredible mana generation of Aether Vial. The ability to effectively double the mana value that the deck has access to on a given turn, every turn, turns this cavalcade of mediocrity into a formidable force. 


Header - How Does It Play?

Goblins is not a simple deck to pilot, I’ve found. The deck can definitely punish sloppy play in today’s Modern environment, where the margins for creature decks are so slim. While some matchups can feel like a breeze, many decks that are packing the right mix of a removal spell and a competent pilot can be very difficult, as the deck doesn’t ever feel like it’s going toe-to-toe with its opponent. All of the matchups that I played were very polarizing, feeling like I was either behind the wheel of or trapped underneath the steamroller. Whether it was down to the deck not being perfectly configured for the metagame or just bad luck, I really struggled against the seemingly bottomless pile of Furys that my opponents were casting.

In the non-Fury matchups though, the deck felt amazing. Grinding it out against UW Control or out-comboing Living End, Goblins always seems like it has a trick up its sleeve. In a vacuum, the deck feels very good to pilot, which is to say that performing the game actions that the deck asks of you as a player is very satisfying. Dropping a Ringleader and drawing four, the relative efficiency of the combo in an MTGO setting, the juxtaposition of the idiot Goblin characters making big brain plays to outmaneuver some of the strongest and most efficient decks in the format – it’s all just very pleasing from the human perspective. 8/10, would Goblin again.


Header - Upgrades


Modern Goblins by Morrys


Moving out of the land of the budget, Goblins has a couple of options. Moving into Jund for the likes of Ignoble Hierarch working in tandem with Vial to increase the mana output of the deck is a huge boon. Likewise, the mana base becomes tremendously solid, adding uncounterability with the likes of Cavern of Souls. From there, the deck can also pick up some more prison-like elements with Chalice of the Void, Blood Moon, Leylines and more to help keep up in today’s breakneck Modern metagame. The general concept of the deck stays relatively intact, but the means by which it gets there increase in power substantially.

That’s all for this one. Goblins has been a long-loved strategy for myself and many other community members, and I’m glad that budget players finally have a shot to try it out. The archetype requires tight play and a narrowed focus, which can be difficult as that generally stands in stark contrast to the silly little buggers in the art. In form and function, the deck is a lot of fun to sit behind though, and is definitely a deck that fans of tribal strategies should check out. Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading. 


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