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Deck Primer: Goblins in 7 Point Highlander

Deck Primer: Goblins in 7 Point Highlander

Hello aspiring warchiefs!

The printing of Conspicuous Snoop and Muxus, Goblin Grandee last year has created a lot of hype. As someone who has been playing and tweaking 7-Point Goblins for two years, I thought I could share my knowledge.
Note that Strixhaven was the latest set for this primer.

Primer contents:

  • My current list
  • Explanation of role in each matchup
    • Against midrange – cheese
    • Against control – embracing goblin tendencies
    • Against aggro – grinding
    • Against combo – Earwig Squad
  • Mana curve and points expendature
    • Mox and Mana Crypt early game
    • Lutri and Skullclamp late game
  • Ways of winning (various cheeses)
    • Goblin Recruiter
  • Mana base
  • Some individual card discussion
    • Eligible pointed cards that weren’t chosen
    • Collected Company
    • Random cards
  • Sideboarding for Goblins

Goblins – My Current List

Explanation of role in each matchup

Against midrange – cheese

Midrange is the most popular strategy in my local metagame and therefore this list is tuned against it. Traditional Goblin decks have access to 4x Goblin Guide. After Goblin Lackey and Goblin Guide, the quality of 1-drop aggro Goblins drops off a cliff. Decks like Zoo and Rakdos have a much deeper selection of 1-drops and are therefore better dedicated aggro decks.
Rather than trying to get underneath or go wider than the 4/5’s and planeswalkers presented by midrange strategies, Goblins’ game plan is to ‘cheese’ midrange decks with a powerful effect:

Blood Moon Krenko, Mob Boss Muxus Goblin Grandee

Against control – embracing Goblin tendencies

Control has a lot of removal and counterspells to stop cheese. Therefore, the plan is to throw a few ‘must answer’ goblins at them and hope this creates an opening to slip in some cheese. It’s not a great plan but this list is tuned against midrange so it’s the best plan we’ve got.

Goblin Lackey Goblin Rabblemaster Legion Warboss

Against aggro – grinding

Dedicated aggro will win a damage race. Therefore the plan is to trade wherever possible and grind them out:

Pashalik Mons Goblin Chainwhirler Sling-Gang Lieutenant

Against combo – Earwig Squad

Prowling an Earwig Squad against combo is typically game over. Against other archetypes it is difficult to enable the cheap prowl cost, so it can be weak in those matchups. But for the price of one unreliable card, the maindeck disruption package goes from five cards (Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, Opposition Agent, Mental Misstep and Deathrite Shaman) to nine (aforementioned + Goblin Recruiter, Goblin Matron and Boggart Harbinger).

Earwig Squad Opposition Agent Deathrite Shaman

Mana curve and points expendature

Mox and Mana Crypt early game

[3 points] and [2 points]
Turn 1 and 2 is where the deck needs the most help. Therefore, we’ve invested most of our points there.
Rituals like Mana Vault don’t help because they aren’t a recurring boost in mana and would expose us two being 2-for-1’d by disruption.

There aren’t many good aggressive 1-drop Goblins, therefore we aren’t even running Goblin Guide because the critical mass isn’t there to consistentaly overwhelm a midrange player. However, we still need proactive early plays to keep up on tempo. The ones we are playing either speed up our cheese plan or provide some way of supporting it.
To keep a hand we need at least one play on turn 1 or 2. I personally like my ‘hand keeping percentage’ at a minimum of 90% (I use’s hypergeometric calculator for my probabilities), which equates to ≥16 plays on turn 1 or 2. Here’s our early game skeleton crew:

Mana Crypt [2 POINTS]
Mox Ruby [3 POINTS]
Deathrite Shaman
Goblin Chirurgeon
Goblin Lackey
Skirk Prospector
Conspicuous Snoop
Goblin Cratermaker
Goblin Recruiter
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden
Munitions Expert
Mogg War Marshal
Warren Instigator
Ancient Tomb
City of Traitors
~Once Upon a Time

~Once Upon a Time won’t always find an early drop, and Skullclamp is more for the mid-late game, so let’s say they roughly combine to an early drop.

Ancient Tomb City of Traitors
I’m counting Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors as 2drops because we have lots of 3drops with two colourless mana in their costs, and we have Lutri as our companion. Obviously playing City of Traitors turn two is not ideal but I’ve found the deck can happily run on a curve of 1, 3, 4, 3, etc. And if our 3drop is Blood Moon or Magus of the Moon then City of Traitors becomes a Mountain and loses the sacrifice ability.

Lutri and Skullclamp late game

If the board is even when we reach 3 mana, we’re in a good spot. We have a lot of 3drops thanks to Collected Company, and from there it’s just a matter of positioning until Muxus, Goblin Grandee ends the game.

[1 point]
Every creature-based deck should run Skullclamp as a means to grind late game, especially if it has a lot of X/1’s or ways to sacrifice creatures, of which Goblins has both!
Mana Crypt, Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors often leave spare mana for Skullclamping. I’m getting a vision of a Goblin jamming a Skullclamp into its neck, then two of his buddies come over and fight over who gets to clamp themselves next.

Lutri, the Spellchaser
[1 point]
The Instants and Sorceries in the deck are Mental Misstep, Once Upon a Time and Collected Company. You won’t be copying them often.
Lutri attacks and blocks, a desirable set of skills in the control and aggro matchups.
The rules change did help balance the power level of companions but they’re still effectively an 8th card in hand.

Ways of winning (various cheeses)

Goblin Lackey Warren Instigator
Connecting with either of these on turn two or three is a big enough tempo swing to win the game. Most of the time the opponent will have a removal spell or early blocker but sometimes they don’t.
Munitions Expert, Goblin Crater Maker, Goblin Chainwhirler and Goblin King can all help with getting through blockers.

Mox Ruby Mana Crypt
The tempo boost these provide is game winning. The ~1.5 damage a turn from Mana Crypt is rarely a problem because we can win quickly.

Blood Moon Magus of the Moon
A nongoblin spell needs to be really good to make it into a Goblin deck.
Only 8 of our spells require nonred mana. The deck is almost fully functional under a Blood Moon. We’re also running Mana Crypt, which can power it out turn one, and 5 other accelerants to cast it turn two.
If the opponent is savvy, they will use their fetchlands ASAP to find basic lands. A deck prepared for Blood Moon will be able to function on two basic lands, but if we’re lucky enough to be going first and have a Moon effect and an accelerator, they won’t get a chance to fetch their second basic. This is a nasty way to win but we will be redeemed by the times we righteously drop Blood Moon turn three on the draw against a greedy 4-colour player with no basics.
We are running a basic swamp because 7 black spells is enough to warrant it. There can be tension when we have a hand with a black spell, Ancient Tomb, Blood Moon and a black fetchland: You want to cast Moon ASAP but that would lock out the black spell. Whether to cast Moon turn two or fetch a swamp depends on the situation.
We only have two pure green spells maindeck, Collected Company and Once Upon a Time. That’s few enough to neglect a basic forest.

Opposition Agent
Like Blood Moon, it’s more likely to be effective the sooner it is cast. If you catch even one search effect with Agent, that is enough to win the game. By now players are very aware of Agent and will try crack their fetchlands whilst you don’t have 3 open mana. Most decks run at least 7 fetchlands, so there’s a good chance Agent will be relevant even if the opponent plays around it.

Krenko, Mob Boss
Wins the game if he activates against aggro or midrange. The downside is that he easily dies to one mana removal spells and activated abilities of Planeswalkers, and against combo he is too slow.
Giving Krenko haste with Goblin Warchief or Goblin Cheiftain is excellent.

Muxus Goblin Grandee
Resolve and win the game. Muxus is one of the many reasons to minimise running nongoblin spells.

Conspicuous Snoop Plus Boggart Harbinger
Boggart Harbinger can put Kiki-Jiki on top and if Conspicuous Snoop doesn’t have summoning sickness, it can use Kiki-Jiki’s ability to target itself. That copy makes another copy, repeat a billion times. Then the final copy targets Boggart Harbinger to put Sling-Gang Lieutenant on top and win.

If Sling-Gang is in the graveyard there are other ways to win:

  • If you have 3 mana you can get Pashalik Mons, who will kill them when all the tokens are sacrificed to their triggers at end of turn.
  • Skirk Prospector will give you infinite red mana to cast your hand.
  • Worst case is waiting until the opponent’s end step, then making a billion Snoops. The Snoops won’t sacrifice until the end of the next turn, which means they all untap and attack for lethal. Of course this worst case gives the opponent an opportunity to untap, draw a card and potentially stop the combo. You should always make a Snoop copy in your end step, that way if the opponent does have removal next turn they will have to kill the copy, leaving the real Snoop Shady to combo off again in upkeep.

Goblin Recruiter

Goblin Recruiter
Deserves a whole article to itself. The greatest Goblin of all time, or GGOAT if you will. In my opinion the most-difficult-to-play-optimally card of all time, and it does take all of time to resolve that trigger. Be considerate to your opponent and do it as quickly as you can. You don’t have to play it optimally to win. Thankfully the recent printings of Conspicuous Snoop and Muxus Goblin Grandee made it a little easier.
When choosing which Goblins to find and in what order to put them, you need to predict what disruption the opponent has. There is a balance between power and resilience.
I’ll attempt a guide for you:

How much mana do I have?

I have been very tempted to reduce the land count to fit more sweet Goblins into the deck but Goblin Recruiter is the reason I have not.
Six land + Goblin Recruiter hands are absolutely keepable. Once you resolve Goblin Recruiter you’re probably not drawing any more lands for the rest of the game, so before you cast it, think about the minimum amount of mana you need.
If you know the opponent runs Strip Mine and/or Wasteland, try to only use Goblins with CMC less than your total available mana. Strip/Waste decks often run ways to tutor for them, so there’s a good chance you’ll lose a land.
Assassin’s Trophy and Ghost Quarter are effectively Strip Mine in this case because you don’t want to shuffle away the nice order of Goblins. Field of Ruin doesn’t give you the choice though.
As a general rule, if you have at least 6 mana, just get every Goblin in your deck. The overwhelming information may blind your opponent from the combo plan.

Level 1

Every situation is unique but I’ll begin with the simplest example before adding caveats. For further simplicity I’ll assume that we’re only casting Goblin Recruiter on turn two, which is most common.
The fastest powerful thing you can do with Goblin Recruiter is set up Conspicuous Snoop with Kiki-Jiki. You don’t need to show which order you put your Goblins so generally it doesn’t hurt to find superfluous ones as red Goblins herrings.
How you order the Goblins depends on many factors. I spent hours thinking about it and my brain melted. I’ll try explain what I think I figured out.
Let’s start with the simplest order.

This is similar to the Conspicuous Snoop + Boggart Harbinger combo but you’re replacing Boggart Harbinger with Goblin Recruiter. In this case you would draw and cast Snoop on turn three and then in your turn-four upkeep before you draw Kiki-Jiki, you make infinite Snoops and use the final one to copy Recruiter and put Sling-Gang Lieutenant on top.

It’s like Conspicuous Snoop has his face pushed up against a one way mirror, and Kiki-Jiki breaks the Mirror and pulls him through to combo world.

By adding Torch Courier you can win on turn three:

With this order, if you have the third red mana on turn three you can cast Torch Courier off the top, give Conspicuous Snoop haste and win right there. My current list is not running Torch Courier though because it is relatively weak outside this combo.
Another factor to consider is removal from the opponent. If they have removal for Snoop, this line will leave you with a couple of measley 1/1’s and an unwanted Kiki-Jiki on top.

Level 2

Removal is common so it is typicaly correct to protect Snoop with Goblin Chirurgeon. Remember that if a creature with a regenerate shield on it would be destroyed, it ends up tapped, which affects the lines:

Once Snoop resolves Goblin Chirurgeon will be on top and you will have the option of sacrificing Goblin Recruiter to regenerate Snoop. Here’s where things get complicated.
If you have a third red mana on turn three you can cast Goblin Chirurgeon off the top immediately. However, if the opponent has removal ready they could kill the Snoop whilst Chirurgeon is on the stack. Therefore if you suspect they do have removal, you can simply leave Chirurgeon on top. Then on turn four when you draw Chirurgeon you will reveal Kiki-Jiki. Then in your main phase you will cast Chirurgeon. If they try to kill Snoop before Chirurgeon resolves, you can make infinite Snoops in response. This situation is lose-lose for the opponent; If they’re advanced they should anticipate this and use their removal in your upkeep before you reveal the Kiki-Jiki. This will force you to sacrifice Goblin Recruiter to regenerate Snoop in response, which will tap him. This means you won’t be able to tap Snoop to make copies until your turn five upkeep. But when you do, Sling-Gang Lieutenant will be revealed in the draw step and you can sacrifice the copies.
It’s worth mentioning that Pashalik Mons can act like Sling-Gang Lieutenant because all the tokens will sacrifice end of turn. This is useful when Sling-Gang is in your graveyard.

Winding back; if the opponent does simply use their removal on Snoop whilst Chirurgeon is on top, you will be forced to sac Goblin Recruiter. If Recruiter is dead you can’t kill on turn four because even if you make infinite Snoops, they’ll all be tapped, so instead you’ll need to wait until your opponent’s next endstep, then make infinite Snoops and untap on turn 5 and swing for the win. Either way, if the opponent has removal, you don’t win until turn five, which may give them enough time to kill you or disrupt you again.

To optimise, if you do have the third red mana on turn three, you may as well put a Skirk Prospector between Snoop and Chirurgeon.
You will have first priority when Snoop resolves, so you can immediately put Prospector on the stack revealing Chirurgeon. This way you have an extra Goblin to sacrifice for regeneration.
If the opponent has two removal spells on your turn three, you won’t be able to save Snoop, but if they stagger them over two turns you’re safe.
An advantage of having Skirk Prospector is that if you lose Goblin Recruiter before turn four, you can sacrifice enough Snoops to cast Kiki-Jiki off the top and kill them, rather than waiting to draw Kiki-Jiki.
If you don’t have the third red mana on turn three, you may be lucky enough to have a 1drop Goblin to cast on turn one. In this case you will still have the second regenerate available.
If you find yourself with the ability to make infinite Snoops but no Goblin Recruiter or Skirk Prospector to immediately win, it is a good idea to make infinite tapped Snoops in your end step, that way when it’s the opponent’s end step and the sacrifice triggers go on the stack and you’re forced to attempt to copy again, if the opponent has removal it will kill a token rather than the real Snoop, and therefore you’ll keep the combo and win next turn.

Can my lands produce 1RRR?

Instead of using Goblin Chirurgeon we can ‘protect’ Conspicuous Snoop by presenting an alternative ‘must kill’ Goblin beforehand. This line has the advantage of not losing to the removal that Goblin Chirurgeon can’t stop. However, we need 1RRR on turn four. Here’s an example order:

Goblin Rabblemaster could be substituted with any ≤3 cost Goblin that the opponent would be obliged to kill on sight.
Mogg War Marshal acts like a ritual with Skirk Prospector. Assuming we still have Goblin Recruiter to sacrifice for mana, that is enough to cast Goblin Chieftain/Goblin Warchief whilst keeping Skirk Prospector and giving Snoop haste for the win.

Do I have 6 mana?

If you have 6 mana, just go Muxus, Goblin Grandee. You win if he resolves.

Are they a control deck with lots of disruption?

In this case we don’t go for Conspicuous Snoop + Kiki-Jiki straight away. A counterspell on Conspicuous Snoop would leave us drawing situational Goblins. Instead the plan is to bait out their counterspells and then hopefully resolve a Goblin Ringleader, Conspicuous Snoop or Muxus to overwhelm them.
Even working out an example order was difficult. It’s all situational but I’m imagining something like this:

You want your best 3drop for turn three, then you want access to Goblin Ringleader as soon as you hit four mana, that way if they tap out, you can resolve Ringleader and not worry about getting grinded out. Try to include Chirurgeon as the fourth card after Ringleader so that you can double-Goblin the following turn to gain tempo.
Similar to Ringleader, you want access to Muxus as soon as you hit 6 mana in case they’re tapped out. Obviously omit Muxus if you don’t have 6 mana.
Try to order your Goblins so that Goblin Ringleader and your draw steps don’t mess up Conspicuous Snoop + Kiki-Jiki on top of the library.

Lightning Crafter
If you’re running Lightning Crafter, he can be a backup plan in case Conspicuous Snoop gets exiled: By putting Lightning Crafter after Kiki-Jiki, you can cast Kiki-Jiki on turn five and then the following turn cast Lightning Crafter. Before the champion trigger resolves you can copy Lightning Crafter with Kiki-Jiki. The copy will have haste and you can tap it to Lightning Bolt the opponent. The copy will also create another champion trigger, which will exile Kiki-Jiki. Presumably you will still have either Skirk Prospector or Goblin Chirurgeon around, they can be used to sacrifice the copy of Lightning Crafter, which will bring the Kiki-Jiki back untapped and you can loop this process to win the game.

Are they combo?

If the opponent has a chance to combo you, you should put Earwig Squad on top, unless of course they have enough blockers to stop you dealing combat damage to them.

Could they Jitte me?

Most Goblin piles get shredded by Umezawa’s Jitte, if there’s a good chance they have it, get Goblin Cratermaker or Goblin Trashmaster for safety.

Can they mess with the top of my library?

For example, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Thought Scour and Vendilion Clique.

There are many other situational things to consider but I’ve already written an article’s worth just on Recruiter, so practice practice practice and hopefully you’ll work it out!
That concludes Goblin Recruiter discussion and the various cheesey ways to win with Goblins. Now to discuss individual cards:

Mana Base

The mana base is pushing the envelope; There is a black and green splash amongst double and triple red spells and Mana Crypt, Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors; all under a Blood Moon. Let’s look at some numbers and see how it’s going:

24 lands + Once Upon a Time + Mox Ruby + Mana Crypt = 27 total
(Once Upon a Time is practically a land at 93.1% to hit.)
27 mana sources may seem high until you consider that Goblin Recruiter or any tutor that finds it, can absorb any amount of mana flood. Skullclamp and Grenzo, Dungeon Warden also consume limitless mana unless the opponent interferes.

Single Red

There are 21 turn one red sources, which gives a 95% chance; Shitting it in.

Double Red

The double red 2drops are: Warren Instigator, Conspicuous Snoop and by extension, Goblin Recruiter.
21 red sources plus Deathrite Shaman give a 81% chance of double red in the opening hand. That is a little lower than I’d like, hence not running a basic Forest. I aim for a minimum 80% success rate on important conditions.

Triple Red

There are 23 turn three red sources; Triple red on turn three is only a 75% chance, but if you push back to turn four you get an extra draw step and the assistance of Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon, bumping the chance up to 88%, which is why Kiki-Jiki is acceptable.

Single Black

Sometimes the 2drop is Munitions Expert or Grenzo, Dungeon Warden; 15 black sources gives a 88% chance in opening hand.

Single Green

8 green sources not including Once Upon a Time or Cavern of Souls. The main card here is Collected Company, which is typically a turn four play, so we have a ~3 more draw steps to find the green. We roughly have a 79% chance to cast Collected Company on turn four. Choke is in the sideboard and is sketchy to cast, but the raw power makes it worth.

Some individual card discussion

Eligible pointed cards that weren’t chosen

Sol Ring
[3 points]
Sol Ring is a perfectly acceptable substitute for Mox Ruby. Sol Ring plays better with the top of the curve but worse early on, which is where it’s needed.
I actually ran Sol Ring instead of Mana Crypt for a while until I realised the deck is fast enough to race the ~1.5 damage per turn from Mana Crypt.

Birthing Pod
[1 point]
Could help assemble combos but most Goblins don’t leave behind significant value if they’re sacrificed. Birthing Pod is better suited to decks with mana dorks and stronger ETB effects.

Umezawa's Jitte
[1 point]
Goblins tend to die in combat; this means there’s a greater chance of having nothing to equip to. You’ll also spend more mana than usual re-equipping.
Jitte is better suited to decks with fliers, first strikers and ways of protecting the equipped creature from removal.

[1 point]
The mana base is at its limit for non red mana, and Wasteland has diminishing returns with Blood Moon. Also you’d rather not sacrifice lands because Skullclamp, Goblin Ringleader and Muxus, Goblin Grandee are mana hungry.

[1 point]
The deck has a few Legendary Creatures that Karakas can protect from removal but only Muxus has a useful ETB trigger and he’s overkill. Karakas is also great at bouncing opposing Legends, especially big ones from Reanimate decks. However, our mana base is already pushed to the limit with non red sources.

[1 point]
Despite not producing red, if these lands weren’t pointed they would still make the deck on power level, like Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors have.

Collected Company
Collected Company

Collected Company dominated Standard and it still sees play in the cutthroat Modern format.

Tribal decks rely on powerful payoffs like Goblin Recruiter and lords. Collected Company increases the the likelihood of finding these payoffs, making it especially good in Highlander where there is only 1 of each premium payoff instead of 4. It also assists with assembling the various combos, which is the game plan against midrange decks.

There is strategy involved with deciding when to cast Collected Company: Normally it is cast ASAP to get the benefits of Magus of the Moon, lords, Goblin Rabblemaster/Legion Warboss, etc as soon as possible. However, if a counterspell is suspected, then it’s best to wait. If they tap out in the end step for a Vendilion Clique or something, then Collected Company can be cast safely in response. If they do nothing and untap, then they lose mana and Collected Company is then cast before their draw step in case they don’t actually have the counterspell. And even if they do, this way they won’t have a chance to draw a worse counterspell to use instead. However, if the opponent runs a lot of sorcery-speed removal then it may be best to wait until their end step. All this must be judged case by case.
Due to the strength of planeswalkers and blue cards, many decks run cards like Force of Negation and Spell Pierce. Often I get a sense of anticipation from the opponent when they have these cards because Goblins have so few non creature spells. If you get this sense it is best to keep playing out your creatures instead of Collected Company.
The other common reason to cast Collected Company in the opponent’s turn is simply for surprise blockers and messing with combat math.

A minimum number of 3CMC or lower creatures is required for Collected Company. The infamous mathmagician Frank Karsten wrote an excellent article about the appropriate number, which you can read HERE.
To be Frank I would go no lower than 22 hits, and 23 is the number we have albeit a more 3CMC-heavy curve than his model.
There are several Goblins which could make the main if it weren’t for Collected Company and an already high curve. Many of them I have run before and been happy with:
Goblin Trashmaster
Beetleback Chief
Goblin Settler
Lightning Crafter
Wort, Boggart Auntie
Siege-Gang Commander

Below are some more ‘Goblins’ left out due to Collected Company. These can be copied with Lutri, the Spellchaser but they miss out on other synergies like lords and being put onto the battlefield by Goblin Lackey/Warren Instigator/Muxus, Goblin Grandee:
Boggart Birth Rite
Nameless Inversion
Warren Weirding

The following have been disregarded for the same reasons. These ones also miss with Goblin Ringleader:
Adventurous Impulse
Oath of Nissa
Gitaxian Probe
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Icon of Ancestry
Eldritch Evolution
Herald’s Horn
Imperial Recruiter
Rhythm of the Wild
Bloodbraid Elf

Random cards

Deathrite Shaman
Not a Goblin but worth it.
Much needed disruption against Reanimate decks, Strip Mine recursion, Gifts Ungiven abuse and more.
Is a 1drop that accelerates Blood Moon. Exactly what the curve wants.
I’m not running other mana dorks because they don’t have the disruption and life loss capabilities of Deathrite Shaman to overcome their nongoblininess.

Mental Misstep MTG
Very tempting to cut because it doesn’t synergise with anything. However, Goblins is low on disruption against Combo and Mental Misstep helps.
Mental Misstep is an autoinclude in prodominately red decks due to the popularity of Hydroblast and Blue Elemental Blast in sideboards.
It is also an autoinclude in Creature-Combo decks because it protects against prevalent removal: Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push and Swords to Plowshares. When Mental Misstep protects Goblin Rabblemaster from one of these, I think of it as a turn-three zero-mana Goblin Rabblemaster itself.
Of course Misstep will also stop broken things like Sol Ring, Ancestral Recall, Crop Rotation, Dark Ritual, etc.

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden
Just under 50% chance to put a creature on the battlefield. He’s kind of an INconspicuous Snoop except each Goblin costs an average of four mana.
Typically I’ll never cast him for X≥2. I would rather get an activation than make him >3/3. This is because every creature in the deck except Muxus and Earwig Squad has ≤3 power.
The London Mulligan Rule was a boost for Grenzo. If I mulligan and don’t use a fetchland, I will know if Grenzo will succeed. Similarly, Grenzo plays amazingly with Collected Company because I choose the order of cards put on the bottom. Once Upon a Time puts cards on the bottom in a random order but that is still useful information.

Goblin King
Seems strange to have a ‘hate’ card in the maindeck but he’s fine even if the opponent doesn’t have a Mountain. And besides, Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon will occaissionally be around to ‘give’ Mountains.
The fact is most decks play red. A big reason why is because blue is so overpowered that Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast make red an appealing complimentary colour. Also, having red as a tertiary colour is less risky against Blood Moon.
My current build is low on removal, which makes the possibility of mountainwalk better. It can even get you through a True-Name Nemesis.
The +1/+1 is also handy against Plague Engineer.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Notoriously powerful but not as strong in my build as you would expect. If it weren’t for the Conspicuous Snoop combo I wouldn’t be running him.
Kiki-Jiki shines brightest when comboing with creatures that untap him like Pestermite and Felidar Guardian, or in decks with lots of powerful ETB triggers. My build does have Goblin Ringleader, Goblin Matron and Sling-Gang Lieutenant but apart from those, Kiki-Jiki acts like a five mana Clone. Muxus doesn’t count because he wins by himself anyway.
There is strategy involved in when to activate Kiki-Jiki, mostly due to the token sacrificing AT END of turn:
Most of the time you will activate immediately for extra damage, but if the opponent has good blockers, you can instead wait until the opponent’s end step to make a copy; then on your turn you can activate again and have two tokens at once, which may be enough to go wider than their blockers.
If the creature you’re copying would provide some value like an ETB trigger but the opponent is representing removal, it may be worth losing the opportunity to attack with the token and instead attempt to copy the Goblin in the opponent’s upkeep so that they don’t get to spend their mana before untapping.
Kiki-Jiki can be defensive too, often you will be making a token in the opponent’s turn to chump block their attacking fatty.

Goblin Ruinblaster
There is a skill shortage of disruptive Goblins, so his effect is desirable. He also ticks the Collected Company box and is castable with Mana Crypt, Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors. However, I tested him and found the land destruction too slow to be disruptive enough.

Goblin Cratermaker
We want at least one artifact removal goblin maindeck to tutor for. Previously I used Goblin Trashmaster but had to switch to Cratermaker for curve reasons. There are plenty of artifacts that must die, and we want instant speed destruction to minimise their impact: Batterskull, Umezawa’s Jitte, Sword of Fire and Ice, Vedalken Shackles and Time Vault.
Goblin Cratermaker also hilariously destroys Emrakul, which is game saving.
There is a lot of skill involved with knowing when to you can and can’t tap out with Cratermaker on the battlefield.

Goblin War Marshal
This is more of a sideboard card against aggro but we are scant on early plays, so it has made it to the maindeck. It has the added bonus of acting like a ritual with Skirk Prospector.

There are ~10 targets for Pendlehave. Not quite enough to warrant the nonred land. I would like to run it though, especially wirh Goblin Lackey and Warren Instigator.
Most of the time Pendelhaven doesn’t even activate, instead it forces the opponent to play around it in combat and then it casts a spell second main phase.

Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Technically there are six Legendary Goblins in the maindeck but realistically Kiki-Jiki and Krenko Mob Boss doesn’t get into combat, and Muxus wins the game regardless. That leaves only three targets…EXCEPT the everpresent Lutri, the Spellchaser, who by itself makes Shinka worth it, psych!

Mutavault Volrath's Stronghold
I had Mutavault but cut it; Colourless is too great a cost. Volrath’s Stronghold is untested for the same reason but it would be particularly powerful with Conspicuous Snoop.

Sunbaked Canyon Fiery Islet
I have tried these but found that I rarely sacrificed them because Goblins are surprisingly mana hungry. In a mono red build I would run them though.

Sandstone Needle
I have tried this one. It is a dream to cast Blood Moon on turn two, but otherwise it’s bad, especially in Goblin Recruiter games.

Raging Ravine Castle Embereth
I haven’t tried these. Entering tapped can be a huge tempo loss.

There are many aggro Goblins not chosen because our primary plan is cheese. Some of these are:

Foundry Street Denizen
Frenzied Goblin
Goblin Bushwhacker
Goblin Guide
Goblin Motivator
Knucklebone Witch
Legion Loyalist
Tattermunge Maniac
Cheering Fanatic
Goblin Deathraiders
Goblin Instigator
Goblin Piledriver
Zhur-Taa Goblin
Clamor Shaman
Mad Auntie
Reckless Bushwhacker
Boartusk Liege
Goblin Heelcutter

There are many Goblins which act as removal. These are great for getting in hits with Goblin Lackey, Warren Instigator and removing scary creatures like Grim Lavamancer, but there’s only so much space in the deck:

Goblin Firestarter
Fanatical Firebrand
Mogg Fanatic
Ember Hauler
Gempalm Incinerator

Sideboarding for Goblins

I can’t give a definite sideboard. Sideboard content varies wildly from week to week depending on the expected metagame. I’ll give a general guide of what to take out but there are always expections depending on the situation.

Some general rules:
Try to only include Goblins or cards that win the game by themselves, a.k.a. silver bullets.
Try to maintain a minimum 22 hits for Collected Company. The more the better.
Avoid double black and double green spells. We only have ~8 greens sources and ~15 black sources.
The maindeck is already low on 1 and 2drops. Maintain or improve the curve if possible.

Sideboarding Against Aggro

Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon are bad here. Aggro often have a heavy red flow themselves, or they can simply out tempo you by dropping a couple creatures before Blood Moon rises. With Moons gone, Ancient Tomb is an acceptable cut when you consider how much it hurts us. Leave Mana Crypt in though!
Aggro decks often run a few Goblins themselves, so Goblin King can hilariously be a liability.
Earwig Squad definitely comes out because you’ll often lose early Goblins to removal or blocking.

Typical cuts:
Magus of the Moon Blood Moon Ancient Tomb Earwig Squad

Sideboarding Against Midrange

They typically have blockers to stop Earwig Squad from prowling.
If they’re black, beware of Plague Engineer. Lords help against it but they aren’t reliable because they can be removed. Munitions Expert and Gempalm Incinerator are also unreliable at dealing with Plague Engineer because you may not control two Goblins.
Creature based midrange decks can have lots of big blockers and therefore Goblin Rabblemaster can be a liability, especially against lifelink creatures.

Typical cuts:
Goblin Rabblemaster Earwig Squad Goblin War Marshal

Sideboarding Against Control

Don’t expect the combos to come together. You can cut all the Goblins that aren’t respectable threats by themselves.

Carpet of Flowers is a 1drop option but not as good as you’d expect because Control can counter or remove whatever the Carpet ramps into. I’ve also been unimpressed by Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast; They don’t synergise with the rest of the deck and they don’t replace 1drops because you don’t want to be countering cantrips.

Don’t bring in discard (DITS) against control unless they have a combo finish.

Choke is fantastic especially since it can’t be Hydroblasted or Blue Elemental Blasted. However, our number of green sources is very sketchy.

Goblin Cratermaker is often weak but necessary against Stoneforge Mystic + Batterskull and Vedalken Shackles if the opponent has them.

Earwig Squad should be cut if they’re not running Thassa’s Oracle combo.

Typical cuts:
Earwig Squad Munitions Expert

Blue Moon control is significantly different because we need to cut Blood Moons as well.

Sideboarding Against Combo

We don’t need the slower grindy cards like Skullclamp and Goblin Ringleader. Skullclamp also nombos with Null Rod, which typically comes in.
Combo has minimal removal, so Goblin Chirurgeon isn’t required for protection. It also doesn’t deal damage for the prowl cost of Earwig Squad, which is our primary plan.
Avoid bringing in cards which require you to hold up mana; We need to resolve 3 and 4drops, so we must tap out.

Typical cuts:
Skullclamp Goblin Ringleader Goblin War Marshal

That concludes the primer on my version of Goblins. I hope you have as much fun with them as I do.

Luke Mulcahy

MtG buddies call me Mulch. Been playing 7 Point Highlander since 2004. Based in Victoria, Australia. Competed on the ProTour eight times. Won Mox Ruby, Mox Pearl and Mox Sapphire from Highlander tournaments, just Emerald and Jet remain! I've been writing Highlander articles since 2012. Most of them on my blog I'm on the points committee. Hit me up anytime for a chat.