Goblins and Graveyards

As many of you will know, I am quite partial to playing with tribal decks. Whether it’s crushing games of Legacy with mono White Humans or running Eldrazi Processors in Modern, I am at my most enthused when I pilot a tribal brew. In fact, the only time I’m happier is when I get to play mono red aggro (which I currently do in most formats). As such until very recently I was all aboard the Rakdos hype train when it came to my Standard deck selection, and things were going great. However, as the seasons begin to change, and the summer holidays get underway we in the Magic community come to an uneasy realisation. Rotation is on the horizon. When Guilds of Ravnica comes out in October we will be losing Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation from the Standard format, and with it most of my beloved Rakdos aggro. But rather than getting sad about spilt milk, I decided to look ahead and start working on my new Standard brew. Luckily, Core Set 2019 brought us a few more additions to one of my favourite tribes. Yes, Goblins are once again viable in Standard.

With cards alike Goblin Instigator and Goblin Trashmaster been made available in the format, many players have started wondering if Goblins could be the premier red aggro deck after rotation. But some like our good friend Jorden from Orcs Head Magic are not waiting until October to get their tribal fix. Been inspired by a deck he came across on the web, he put together this little number and headed to Magic Online. What’s more, he had a measure of success with his little brew, proving in the process that Goblins are a viable strategy for the format.

So, taking inspiration from Jordan’s achievements I set out to have a go at brewing my own version of Standard Goblins. But unlike Jordan, I wasn’t just going to do the aggro game plan. No, we were going to be taking a page from a previously successful strategy and resurrecting our army of green meanies. That’s right, we are going to bring back Goblin Gifts.

For those of you not in the know. Goblin Gifts was a deck that had a little bit of a day in the sun back when Dominaria first came out. The aim of the game was simple. Use Skirk Prospector to sacrifice Goblins and generate mana, all the time filling up your graveyard with Gate to the Afterlife. You then go ahead and get a God-Pharaoh’s Gift and overrun them with a torrent of hasty 4/4’s. the deck was sweet, but only loosely resemble a Goblin deck. It instead felt a little bit like a bad version of mono Red aggro, with a sprinkling of graveyard recursion for good measure. Luckily, that has all changed. This is the list I put together.

Goblin Gifts

Creatures (28)
Skirk Prospector
Fanatical Firebrand
Goblin Instigator
Wily Goblin
Goblin Chainwhirler
Combat Celebrant
Rowdy Crew
Siege-Gang Commander

Enchantments (4)
The Flame of Keld

Artifacts (6)
Gate to the Afterlife
God-Pharaoh’s Gift
Lands (22)
22 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Goblin Warchief
Goblin Trashmaster
Shock
Lightning Strike

For those of you familiar with the old list, you will notice I have made a few changes. Most notably, I have removed Walking Ballista and Bomat Courier from the list altogether. While this might seem a strange choice at first (them been two of the best cards in the format), it makes a lot of sense when you consider the wider deck.

The Ballista has been traded out for a full playset of Fanatical Firebrand. Since they are Goblins they work better at synergising with the rest of our deck, but they also allow us to pick of early X/1’s like Llanowar Elves before we have access to our Chainwhirler’s. The second change is the inclusion of The Flame of Keld over Bomat Courier. While the Courier does provide the ability to pitch expensive creatures in our hand and gain us some card advantage, it is very open to variance. The Flame of Keld allows us to ditch expensive creatures to our graveyard, as well as guaranteeing that we draw three cards next turn. What’s more when we hit chapter three of this saga all of the Goblin tokens our Goblin Instigators and Siege-Gang Commanders make suddenly hit our opponent like little freight trains.

Speaking of Goblin Instigator, I just wanted to point out how good this card is in this deck. Not only does it provide more bodies on the ground (an advantage against red aggro decks), but it also functions like a cantrip when paired with Skirk Prospector. In fact, on more than one occasion I have been able to ‘go off’ on turn three with and opening hand of Skirk Prospector, Goblin Instigator, Gate to the Afterlife and one other creature. While it is far from consistent, the number of players I have surprised killed on turn three and four is no joke and should not be over looked.

But the most interesting thing about this deck is its transformative sideboard plan. If you feel that your opponent is going to bring in a ton of graveyard hate and artifact removal, you can potentially blow them out by siding into a conventional Goblin aggro deck. Simply remove all the Gate to the Afterlife, God-Pharaoh’s Gift, Combat Celebrant, Rowdy Crew from the deck, as well as a single Flame of Keld. Then put in your entire sideboard and smash face. What’s more, this sideboard plan is 100% rotation proof. In fact, the deck only loses ten mainboard cards this October, which is a lovely bonus.

I’ve had a lot of fun playing the deck over the last week or so, and even took it to my local FNM. I ended up coming 4th with a record of 3-1, only losing to a Grixis aggro brew. but even that match was very close and could have gone the other way. The only changes I am considering making to the deck is to mainboard the Goblin Trashmaster over the Rowdy Crew since they are additional sac outlets, and sideboarding some Fight with Fires for larger threats. But overall, I am very happy with how the deck is performing and look forward to tweaking it in the coming weeks.

But what did you think of today’s deck? Is this the kind of brew you would consider running yourself? Or have you had success with your own M19 inspired build? Let us know in the comments below and while your there please subscribe to the site to keep up to date with all the goings on from us here at Master of Magics. But until next time remember no matter the format you play, Good Luck and Have Fun.

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