krenkos command art

Hi all,

Everyone goes gaga over tribes, and Goblins are no exception. They’re cheap to buy and cheap to cast, and droves of them often swing for lethal by the critical turn four. Still, they aren’t producing results. Perhaps it is because we are giving them the wrong role. Consider where they are most powerful in Legacy: a slew of them mix with Rishadan Port and Wasteland for a control deck. Again, in Vintage, where many decks win with a few cards, the go-to game plan is Goblin Lackey on turn one into Goblin Warchief and Earwig Squad on turn two. This is a very controlling strategy.

In Modern, we have been focused on one thing: attacking quickly, and reaching with Goblin Guide. The most recent exciting thing for many Goblins enthusiasts has been Howl of the Horde. A turn four triple Goblin Grenade still doesn’t launch our green friends to success, though.

Instead of the aggressive strategy, then, let’s try and take Goblins through the other two modes of play: Control and Combo.

Control Goblins

What exactly are we trying to control with a red-based deck, and how do Goblins contribute to it?

Looking at Modern as a whole, we want to have favorable percentages, or at least plans, against Twin, Abzan, Affinity, Infect, Burn, and Amulet Bloom.

vs. Twin – First of all, we can assert the aggressor role and race. Traditional Goblins decks have been blown out by Electrolyze in the match-up, but we can do better than a horde of x/1 creatures. Sideboard Combust and Rending Volley keep them off their combo plan, and other pieces of burn removal ensure that we can get there.

vs. Abzan – This is a nightmare matchup for Goblins. If they develop their mana, we will throw fodder into massive rhinos and lhurgoyfs until finally succumbing to the stampede. Goblins do not have to allow them to develop their mana, though. We have two of the most powerful effects against Abzan available: Magus of the Moon and Blood Moon. We can bolt their birds or target them with Mogg Fanatic.

vs. Affinity – It is strictly a race, but we can play cards that give us the edge in the race: Tin Street Hooligan seems limited in scope, but a beater for two that grows is efficient enough. Mogg Fanatic keeps Arcbound Ravager shenanigans at bay, and our sideboard has the most powerful effects available to beat Affinity.

vs. Infect – Infect folds to sufficient removal. Mogg Fanatic and Lightning Bolt, coupled with a nice clock should eliminate their Blighted Agent and Inkmoth Nexus so that we can keep blocking and establishing a clock.

vs. Burn – Like Affinity, we are out to race Burn, but Aether Vial keeps us from just losing whenever they have an Eidolon of the Great Revel and are ahead, and Dragon’s Claw post side will give us a lot of life since we are casting red spells as well.

vs. Amulet Bloom – We have the only relevant cards against the Primeval Titan plan and the Hive Mind plan: Magus of the Moon and Blood Moon.

So why choose Goblins for a control deck, anyway? Well, Goblin Rabblemaster has shown himself to be a capable card even in Jund Midrange, so if those same wheels get turning in Goblins, the train will be hard to stop.

Now that we know what we need to have a plan against archetypes, let’s see if we can build a deck with consistency and pressure.

Control Goblins (Modern)

Lands (20)
Copperline Gorge
Mountain
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills

Creatures (29)
Ember Hauler
Goblin King
Goblin Rabblemaster
Mogg Fanatic
Magus of the Moon
Siege-Gang Commander
Simian Spirit Guide
Tin Street Hooligan
Warren Instigator

Other Spells (11)
Aether Vial
Blood Moon
Lightning Bolt
Sideboard (15)
Blood Moon
Dragon’s Claw
Rending Volley
Searing Blaze
Shattering Spree
Tin Street Hooligan

If we’re being honest, this is really a deck that is looking for free wins with turn 2, Simian Spirit Guide and Blood Moon or Magus of the Moon. Of course, while this works against a massive portion of the format, we have to place it in a shell that can still win otherwise.

Looking back at the list, I like our chances here against the format. The only deck that gives me a lot of pause is Zoo, and that is why the 4 Searing Blaze are in the sideboard.

Combo Goblins

Modern does not have anything remotely close to Food Chain in terms of power level, but when we fail to port a list from Legacy or Vintage into Modern, we know our next step: old Extended.

There is a long-forgotten piece of equipment that combined nicely with Goblins and Shamans there: Thornbite Staff. Together with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, a number of infinite combinations are present. The easiest two are Mogg Fanatic and Lightning Crafter, winning on the spot. Ember Hauler may or may not win immediately, but he will certainly get you close. Aside from those, we can likely easily clear the board with Siege-Gang Commander or Lightning Crafter.

Combo Goblins (Modern)

Land (20)
20 Mountain

Creatures (32)
Ember Hauler
Goblin Chieftain
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Krenko, Mob Boss
Lightning Crafter
Mogg Fanatic
Mogg War Marshall
Siege-Gang Commander
Simian Spirit Guide
Warren Instigator

Other Spells (8)
Aether Vial
Thornbite Staff
Sideboard (15)
Blood Moon
Dragon’s Claw
Rending Volley
Shattering Spree

Finally, since so many want to do stuff like this …

Aggro Goblins (Modern)

Land (20)
20 Mountain

Creatures (20)
Foundry Street Denizen
Goblin Buswhacker
Goblin Chieftain
Legion Loyalist
Mogg War Marshall

Other Spells (20)
Dragon Fodder
Hordeling Outburst
Krenko’s Command
Obelisk of Urd
Shared Animosity

If it isn’t Foundry Street Denizen into Krenko’s Command (attack for 3) into Hordeling Outburst AND Obelisk of Urd, then my friend, it isn’t curving out.

So will any green men rise to the top besides Elves, aided now by Collected Company? I think if we shift gears away from Aggro, Goblins can do it!

-drinkard

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