Why Goblins is a Criminally Underplayed Modern MTG Deck

I’ve felt for a long time that Goblins is not only a criminally underplayed strategy in Modern, but it’s also been by far the best tribal deck in the format for a long time now. In stark contrast to all other tribal decks in Modern, Rakdos Goblins is a tribal deck with access to an absurd amount of card advantage tied to its creatures. This aspect makes it much much more resilient to the efficient removal that’s so prevalent in Modern, with every single goblin able to provide you some value before or after it is answered by a removal spell. In addition to this high degree of card advantage, goblins have access to a two card, five mana combo that is capable of winning by turn three with Conspicuous Snoop and Boggart Harbinger.

Boggart HarbingerConspicuous Snoop



The combo is sort of convoluted and here’s an excerpt from a previous deck guide on the archetype explaining the combo if you’re unfamiliar. (you can also read that guide here)

In order for this combo to work you’ll need:

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  • A copy of Snoop in play without summoning sickness
  • 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 1,000,000 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.

The combination of this combo as well as the card advantage elements means that Goblins usually play as a hybrid midrange/combo strategy rather than a traditional tribal aggro deck that you’ll see in decks like Humans or Merfolk. Goblins have also gotten a potential big upgrade from Dominaria United via one of the new two mana lords from the set: Rundvelt Hordemaster.

Rundvelt Hordemaster


At first glance it may seem like Hordemaster has tension with the Conspicuous Snoop Combo, since the trigger would exile your sacrifice outlet from the top of your library. However, once you have a Sling-Gang Lieutenant on top of your library you can sacrifice it, and with its trigger on the stack sacrifice your infinite copies of Snoops to win the game.

And one you understand that Hordemaster doesn’t interfere with your combo plan, you can start to evaluate it in the context of the rest of the archetype and in my opinion the card is an amazing fit. It provides a big buff to your beatdown game plan by being a two mana lord, turning your Mogg War Marshals into a serious threat (allowing your War Marshals to find you a new goblin when you don’t pay for echo is a nice upgrade to the card as well).

It’s a big upgrade to any of your goblins that can sacrifice themselves or other goblins. Turning Mogg Fanatic into a 2/2 that helps you hedge against cards like Inkmoth Nexus or Ragavan while also replacing itself (half of the time) when it dies. And in combination with Hordemaster, Sling-Gang Lieutenant becomes a more powerful advantage engine than Omnath.

However, the most important thing that Hordemaster provides Goblins is a lower mana curve, allowing your main card advantage spell to be a two mana lord rather than the four mana 2/2 with haste: Goblin Ringleader. This means you’ll lose less game to stumbling early and means you’ll win more games with fast beat downs.

With this evaluation in mind compared to the previous deck guide, the changes to the list are as follows:

-1 Wooded Foothills

-2 Goblin Ringleader

-1 Goblin Chieftain

+4  Rundvelt Hordemaster

And in the sideboard I recommended playing four copies of Magus of the Moon over the Obsidian Charmaws that were in the older list to account for the increase in Amulet titan decks.

With the lowering of the mana curve it’s alright to trim a land, Hordemaster is largely replacing your Ringleaders as your card advantage engine (although one Ringleader as a tutor target is still worth it in my opinion). And since Hordemaster gives you a lore effect you need a copy of Chieftain less (although giving your Goblins haste was always handy in certain situations).Here’s the list with the updates

Modern Goblins

I think that players will pick up Goblins now that it has access to this new interesting two drop, but I think that many players will find that the Goblin deck itself is a powerful, resilient, consistent, and grindy deck that has tons of potential and room to master. A slightly different list, just won a Modern Challenge, and I hope that players embrace the archetype going forward. I highly recommend it.


sideboard guide


Jund Saga

In: +1 Goblin Trashmaster

Out: -1 Boggart Harbinger




+4 Fury

+4 Leyline of the Void

-4 Rundvelt Hordemaster

-4 Mogg War Marshal




In: +1 Goblin Trashmaster, +3 Fury, +1 Boggart Harbinger

Out: -3 Rundvelt Hordemaster, -1 Sling-Gang Lieutenant, -1 Skirk Prospector




In: +3 Fury

Out: -3 Mogg Fanatic



Living End

In:+3 Leyline of the Void, +1 Boggart Harbinger

Out:  -3 Mogg fanatic, -1 Rundvelt Hordemaster



Temur Rhinos

In: +1 Boggart Harbinger

Out: -1 Mogg Fanatic



UWx Control

In:+1 Boggart Harbinger

Out:-1 Mogg Fanatic



Amulet Titan

In: +1 Boggart Harbinger, +4 Magus of the Moon

Out: -3 Mogg Fanatic, -2Rundvelt Hordemaster



Mono-Green Tron

In: +1 Boggart Harbinger, +4 Magus of the Moon

Out: -3 Mogg Fanatic, -2Rundvelt Hordemaster


3 thoughts on “Why Goblins is a Criminally Underplayed Modern MTG Deck”

  1. Sb guide is a little scuffed I think. Recommends to bring in Emrakul vs mill and void mirror vs rhinos and living end, neither of these cards are in the updated sb.

  2. Also one more error I noticed, in the paragraph before the deck list the word lore is written instead of lord. No big deal obviously but just wanted to let you know.

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