MTG Deck Tech: Great Galloping Goblins (Standard)

Artwork from the 'Magic: The Gathering' card Goblin Banneret. Artwork from the 'Magic: The Gathering' card Goblin Banneret. WOTC / VICTOR TITOV

Lately we've been building decks for those on a budget.  This time around we've decided to have a little fun and loosen those purse strings to make the best goblins-based deck possible for Magic: The Gathering's standard format. We still only spent about $100, but here's what we came up with:


Regardless the format, goblins tend to hit fast and often.  That tends to be the case with this new standard goblin deck as well.  The formula is pretty much the same here as it is in Modern and Legacy:

  • Turn one: Mountain, goblin, attack (if possible), go
  • Turn two: Mountain, goblin, attack, go
  • Et cetera and et cetera

In other words, it's pretty easy to run.

Your first turn options are Fanatical Firebrand and Goblin Banneret, with the Firebrand being the preferred play thanks to its haste and built-in direct damage option.  Turn two, you have the option of another one drop (or two) as well as Goblin Instigator for a two-for-one creature, or you can clear out an early blocker with a well-placed Lightning Strike.  Turn three, we tend to like to put out a Legion Warboss, but failing that it's hard to go wrong with a Goblin Chainwhirler (especially if there are blockers) or a Goblin Warchief.  Hopefully by turn four you have a nice army assembled and can plop down a Volley Veteran for four or more damage to get rid of a bigger blocker or other creature-based threat on your opponent's side of the board.  Oh, and don't forget to double stack those Mentor triggers!

By that time, you should have a pretty good handle on the game.  You probably also have an empty (or near-empty) hand.  That's where Risk Factor and The Flame of Keld come into play.  Risk Factor will probably just be a four-damage spell in the early game, but later on when your opponent is a bit short of life it's a nice three-card draw to help you land that finishing blow.  The case is similar for The Flame of Keld.  You'll want to drop it down when you either have an empty hand or don't mind losing what you do have and hope for a nice payoff in the extra card draw on the following turn.  Either way, on the saga's third and final mode all of your red sources will deal bonus damage and that includes your goblin army.  The Flame of Keld's final mode is even more fun when paired with a Siege-Gang Commander.

The sideboard isn't as ideal as we would have liked, but we had difficulties finding good options at this point.  Hopefully that will change after the next set, Ravnica Alliance, comes out next January.  Until then, the best we could come up with were options to make the goblin deck play more like a direct damage/Red Deck Wins sort of concept.  In it, you'll find a playset of Lava Coil (good against Golgari), two copies of Fiery Cannonade for when opponents go wide (*cough cough* History of Benalia), a couple copies of Banefire for when you're against control decks, and two copies of Fight with Fire for added firepower.  There is one card, Goblin Cratermaker, that not only stays true to the theme of this deck, but also has extra use thanks both to its ability to shock an opposing creature as well as destroying a colorless card (ie: Karnie McKarnface) in play.  The two included copies of Experimental Frenzy are there to replace The Flame of Keld when the situation calls for it.

The deck is quite quick and goldfishes extremely well even though we sometimes had no turn-one plays (one mulligan later we were fine).  That only occurred once or twice.  In simulated digital games, the deck held its own against the dreaded Teferi/Nexus of Fate combo deck better than expected (partially due to the opponent's inability to draw enough copies of Root Snare).  It also did a good job against a Golgari mid-range deck and went a close 1-2 in three games against a very aggressive Boros deck.  The deck didn't face anything all that stompy, but we're pretty sure we'd have a tough time in that matchup.

Are you planning on running something similar to this deck at your LGS or online?  If so, leave us a comment and tell us how you fared!

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