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Mogg War Marshal
Call me biased, but the most fun tribe in all of Magic is Goblins. The art is fun. The flavor text is a blast. The game play for Goblins can also be pretty sweet so long as you're willing to learn the subtlety of bluffing, strategic sacrifice, and a bit of algebra. But fear not, Aggro fans, there is still a whole lot of "Turn 'em sideways!" to playing Goblins.

The power level of Pauper Goblins is surprisingly high end. While Goblin Guide might not see a Pauper downgrade anytime soon, we have an oversupply of the most efficient 1-drop and 2-drop Goblins in the history of Magic. We have redundancy, better redundancy than even Modern could offer, and we have all the Legacy-class burn spells at our disposal we could ask for to give us reach.

But why Goblins? If you follow the results of the Pauper Friendly Leagues and Sunday Challenges, you might observe that the most popular Red Aggro deck is "Red Deck Wins", a deck that plays as many conditional Red 2/2s for r as it can muster, backed with hasty Red 2/2s for 1r and just a bit of Burn. "Red Deck Wins" (RDW) is efficient but generic. There is little synergy to the deck, just a lot of 2/2 bodies coming out faster than your opponent can generate answers. In a format without sweepers, there is little risk in over committing bodies to the board. RDW gets to play 2/2s whereas nearly all Goblins are 1/1s. So what advantages are there to playing Goblin tribal over the less synergistic RDW?

Goblin Sledder

3 Advantages of Goblin Tribal over RDW

Goblins negates lifegain

Believe it or not, the original design of Goblins was to combat cards like Tendrils of Corruption that used lifegain as a way to gain virtual card advantage just by extending the number of turns in a game, thereby negating the usual Aggro deck advantage of ending the game before the control decks can deploy all the cards in their hand. Having access to up to 8 copies of Mogg Raider and Goblin Sledder ensures that if you don't want your opponent's Tendrils of Corruption or even their Moment of Craving to resolve, it ain't gonna.

Goblins is better vs. spot removal

Lifegain aside, a huge difference between the deck composition of Goblins vs RDW is that Goblins plays more cards that give two or even three bodies for one card. When the Pauper format is flush with spot removal like Lightning Bolt, Disfigure, Journey to Nowhere or even non-targeted edict effects like Chainer's Edict, the tempo value of trading one of your removal spells for one of their 1/1 Goblin tokens greatly diminishes the value of removal.

Goblins is better against blockers

The most played creature in all of Pauper right now is Augur of Bolas, a 1/3 body for 1u that not only draws a spell about 80% of the time but also has an annoying body for brickwalling 2/2s. What Goblins does better than RDW on attacking is going wide in order to go tall. If I am attacking with five 1/1 Goblins and you have 3 blockers, as long as I have at least one Mogg Raider or Goblin Sledder on the battlefield, you will be taking at least 5 from that combat. Add in the synergy of Goblins that die into other Goblins like Mogg War Marshal and cards that synergize off creatures dying like Death Spark and Sylvok Lifestaff, and that death business of yours is looking mighty fine.

Frenzied Goblin

Recent rarity downgrades in Masters 25 also added two exciting new Goblin cards to Pauper: Frenzied Goblin and Hordeling Outburst. The former of these two is very effective at removing a lone blocker, similar to Goblin Heelcutter. The latter is an awesome inclusion for the deck since it's the first 3 bodies-for-1 we've had without that pesky Echo cost on Mogg War Marshal. Looking ahead, there's also an exciting Goblin being printed in Magic 2019, the recently spoiled Goblin Instigator. Because these three cards augment different styles of play, I'm going to feature two potential Pauper Goblins decklists to take advantage of each of these cards.

Mogg Conscripts

The strength of this build is on the back of your twelve 2/2 Goblins, a package we borrow from RDW. Having so many 2/2 bodies instead of 1/1s makes this deck much more resilient to Electrickery, one of Pauper's most popular sideboard cards. But running the full set of Goblin Cohorts and Mogg Conscripts means that you absolutely must be casting a creature spell every single turn to turn on your attack. We shaved down the number of Goblin Sledders and Mogg Raiders from 8 to 6 because we're going for size. Instead we toss in two Fanatical Firebrand for creature-based removal that can also attack and the full four Mudbutton Cohort to beef up on size. I've also added a toolbox package spread out between the main deck and sideboard of Sparksmith, Goblin Heelcutter and Stingscourger that can be tutored up by our pair of Goblin Matrons, though the most common Goblin Matron targets will usually be the 4 Goblin Bushwhackers to get in there for the kill.

As for the sideboard, we have also have Flame Slash as supplementary removal, Flaring Pain to shut off Moment's Peace, Gorilla Shaman as a creature-based way to attack artifacts, Pyroblast because Blue is a real color and Spellstutter Sprite is a pain, Raze for Tron lands.

This build is better in a metagame where Delver decks are on the downswing since some of the cards that can be a pain for us are Augur of Bolas, and Spellstutter Sprite.

Hordeling Outburst

In this version of Goblins we trade size for sheer numbers, and we seek to exploit those things that are better when we have a ton of disposable bodies on the battlefield. Our Foundry Street Denizens are at their very best in this build where they might attack as a 3/1, a 4/1 or better and can even grow in power at instant speed. We play 12 cards that give multiple bodies for one card, including the newly spoiled Goblin Instigator from Magic 2019. Because the 3-drop spot is full of Hordeling Outbursts, we use Frenzied Goblin to negate blockers. And because we don't have to worry quite as much about casting a creature spell every single turn, the deck plays twice as much burn for reach, including a main deck copy of Death Spark, great for shooting down those Faeries and Elves.

The sideboard of this build is highly conscious of both the strength and the weakness we have in creating so many tiny bodies. A second Death Spark is great in attrition wars. Goblin Caves saves us from the dreaded Electrickery and lets us attack freely into 1/3s, the pair of Sparksmiths in this deck will often be able to ping for 4 or more damage at a time, and Sylvok Lifestaff is a card we can turn on at will since we have so many ways to sacrifice. Rounding out the sideboard are the Pyroblasts and Razes for Blue and Tron and a pair of Smash to Smithereens to give us a bit more reach on our artifact hate since we don't need the bodies.

This build of Goblins shines in an environment heavy on spot removal full of midrange and control decks since trading cards for tokens is a losing proposition. Its biggest advantage is sweepers, particularly the devastating Electrickery and Black's suite of Shrivel and Evincar's Justice.


Thank you all for reading my first article on GatheringMagic.com, where I will be writing a weekly column on the Pauper Format.

Send me your wishes if you want me to feature or test out a deck that you love. I'll also be featuring discussion of the Pauper metagame, card discussions, banned list discussions, and Pauper finance to help encourage you in your Pauper pursuits.

I used to write by the pen name SteveJeltz on PureMTGO.com and you can find me on MTGO under that same username: SteveJeltz. Special thanks to Josh Claytor who hosted my content as a new writer there and to all my readers who have followed me over to GatheringMagic.com

You can also follow me or communicate with me on twitter at @RevDavidWright.

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