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Lobbing Goblins

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There are few classic battling tribes in Magic quite like elves and goblins. The two have been major players in the game since its inception, coupled alongside the likes of merfolk and zombies. Over the years, the two former tribes have shown up many times in tournament settings, from Standard all the way to Legacy. The even had a Duel Deck that pitted the tribes against one another - the very first one in fact!

If you know me, you'll know that I love elves. Playing Elves in the days of the Onslaught block ignited my spark to get more into competitive Magic. Over the years thereafter I would play the tribe regularly in other forms. Commander was a favorite, but so too was Modern. Then I tried the deck in Pauper and the rest was history.

What you may not know, however, is the fond memories I have with goblins as well. When I first started back in the days of the Urza block, cards like Goblin Medics and Goblin Marshal were favorites. They weren't much, but I still ran them in my giant 150 card, 5-color deck once upon a time. Soon after I started picking up a bunch of them during that same Onslaught block that made me so fond of elves as a tribe.

Goblin Goon's power wowed me for being gigantic with a minimal-grade drawback for the time. Goblin Sharpshooter could mow down tiny creatures like nobody's business while Sparksmith beat back the bigger ones. Goblin Sledder would even show up here and there and protect your strategy. While the Elves deck could get out of hand fast, so too could the Goblins deck.

While I could regal you all with a tale of my first FNM destroying a Goblins opponent thanks to the likes of Silver Knight and Worship, I'd rather go into some other topics. Namely Goblins in Pauper. The deck has always been nearly there and for awhile was outright replaced with the Red Deck Wins variant. Even that one didn't quite get there a lot of the time.

Then, just a few months ago, Pauper became an official format. When that happened, card legalities shifted. All cards ever printed at common, online or offline, were now legal in Pauper, with the exceptions of Hymn to Tourach, Sinkhole, and High Tide. What they glaringly left off, however, was this card:

Goblin Grenade

With this, Goblins and the Red Deck Wins lists both found an intensely amazing way to end games. As a result, it's actually brought this old classic somewhat out of retirement and straight to the top! Check out this second place list from a Pauper Challenge at the tail end of July:


Hey, I recognize some of these old favorites! Goblin Sledder...Sparksmith...feel like I mentioned those just before talking about pieces that made Goblins such a force to be reckoned with in Standard. These were some of the deck's key cards just like Elves had the likes of Wellwisher and Timberwatch Elf. While Sparksmith and Wellwisher are somewhat polar opposites in what they set out to do, Goblin Sledder is actually a lot like Timberwatch Elf in that it performs double duty of saving your creatures as well as helping close out games.

The goal of the deck is to spit out as many creatures as you can within the first couple turns. You will often want to lead with a Foundry Street Denizen and then follow it up with a pair of either Goblin Cohorts or Mogg Conscripts. This supercharges the Denizen for a quick, mighty blow. You can achieve the same effect with a Mogg War Marshal, though you'll likely be hitting in for less damage on the following turn.

You close out the game by dropping Goblin Bushwhackers for big hits or else using your Sledders and Mogg Raiders to throw extra damage on unblocked creatures. Any remaining damage you simply deal with your various burn spells, up to and including Goblin Grenade.

Alex Ullman ran a very similar list to this one in our first week of the Pauper Premiere League to great effect. While he couldn't quite get past Andreas Petersen's Affinity list and its massive creatures, it made short work of Evan Erwin and Michael Bonde. In fact, the ending to the match against Bonde let him push some serious damage all the way through a Circle of Protection: Red to show just how out of nowhere the deck's kills can be.

The lists that were putting up numbers before the resurgence in straight up Goblins looked a bit something like this:


It's not hard to see the similarities, but while the previous list goes really deep on the Goblins strategy, this deck tries to go really wide with the likes of Burning-Tree Emissary and running out the 2/2s with Jackal Familiar and Valley Dasher. These days, though, it's down on the Dashers and up with the Sparksmiths. Why, you ask? Because this deck, which used to run Reckless Abandon to end the games, now also gets Goblin Grenade!

No matter your brand of Red creature aggro deck, you'll be lobbing Goblin Grenades all day long at your opponents' faces. And hopefully you'll be winning tons of games as a result. The deck is incredibly well positioned so get out there and hit them with everything you've got!