Budget Deck #1 Introduction to the Goblin King.

So after reading through my fellow authors’ articles, I realized that I jumped into it last week with out properly introducing myself. My name is Jonathan “The Goblin King” Logan. How did I get the nickname “Goblin King”? Well by playing Goblins of course!

I was piloting my beloved mono red goblin list during one fateful FNM, playing five mirror matches. After winning my fourth mirror and moving on to the fifth, word had started spreading amongst the other players.  I played against the only other red deck remaining during the top four. Someone behind my shoulder asked my friend Jason about my sideboarding choice.”Really? Why bring him in?” Jason responded with a simple, “Watch, he’s the Goblin King. He’s got this.”I smirked at the remark from Jason as I sided in all 3 of my Tuktuk, the Explorer. After the match was over and my opponent had lost to Tuktuk (and his token), Jason reminded, “See! The Goblin King.” The name stuck.

With such a nickname, I feel obligated to champion the powerful, brutally fast and sometimes down right kooky tribe to as many victories as I can. However, I have to warn you, red (and by proxy goblin decks) are not for everyone. Many cards exist that where designed to hate against you and your color: Kor Firewalker and Gideon Jura are two of the more common Standard examples. To play red, you will have to learn to play around these cards; accept that they exist and move on.

The last thing you need to know about playing red-based decks is that your sideboard is something you have to utilize properly. With so much hate for you, having and understanding your answers and outs are super important; things like Mark of Mutiny for everyone’s favorite fatty Primeval Titan. However should you decide to champion goblins, they will reward you in some great ways. Like the deck’s total cost. This makes it easy for almost anyone to run competitively. The rares I spoke about last week only cost around $58 before taxes. If you’re a savvy shopper and trader, you can put the whole deck together around $60-$84. The deck also has some of the best opening three turns in the Standard format. If you want to pilot a more agro strategy, you can even produce a turn three kill with Devastating Summons and Goblin Bushwhacker.

Mono Red Goblins:


4 Goblin Guide

4 Spikeshot Elder

4 Goblin Cheiftain

4 Goblin Bushwhacker

4 Goblin Wardriver

4 Ember Hauler


4 Lightning Bolt

4 Burst Lightning

4 Staggershock


1 Arc Trail

Land (23)

Teetering Peaks

19  Mountains


4 Mark of Mutiny

Manic Vandal

3 Tuktuk, the Explorer

3  Arc Trail

2 Perilous Mry

As you can see, there isn’t anything ground breaking here. It’s pretty generic to the majority of Goblin decks. However, if something isn’t broken, why fix it? The deck posts respectable pairs against most of the meta. The popular ramp decks like Valakut and Eldrazi green are easily out ran as their first three to four turns are spent dishing out lands, while yours are spent dishing out an ever increasing amount of damage. After sideboarding, you get to bring in Mark of Mutiny, which has many targets that can win you the game on the spot. For example: Primeval Titan theft allows you to go search up two Teetering Peaks to produce a hard to deal with 11/7 trample combined with any other creatures you may already have on the board. Against Vampires or Boros, your creatures being less valuable then theirs means you can put them in a hard spot by forcing creature exchanges that you win out in. It’s always a great feeling when you have them blocking a Goblin Cheiftain with something like Kalastria Highborn.  You also have a better and more efficient burn package that can push this plan even further.  Your weaker pairs being the new Caw-Blade decks that splash either black or red for better removal and the Naya list. After loosing multiple matches I became frustrated. Luckily I didn’t have to look for an anwser long. A member of my playtest group, Alex, had already come up with the answer. He suggested I splash black for Dark Tutelage. I liked the idea and applied it to my list.

B/R Goblins:


Goblin Guide

4 Spikeshot Elder

4 Goblin Bushwhacker

4 Goblin Cheiftain

4 Ember Hauler

3 Goblin Wardriver


4 Lightning Bolt

4 Burst Lightning

3 Staggershock


3 Dark Tutelage

Lands (23)

4 Lavaclaw reaches

4 Blackcleave Cliffs

3 Dragonskull Summit

12 Mountains


1 Dark Tutelage

2 Morbid Plunder

Go for the Throat

3 Manic Vandal

3 Mark of Mutiny

Arc Trail

So first let’s talk cash because that’s really what we care about, right? This list is a bit more costly than the mono red list, about twice as much. Its rares will come up to about $110 before taxes. The whole deck can be picked up for about $135-$200 depending on how savvy of a trader you are or your talent with bartering. This is still a far cry away from Caw-blade who racks up $400 in just 4 cards. The most expensive card in the deck remains the same as the mono red list; Goblin Guide can be picked up for between $6-$10.

So why black just for Dark Tutelage main? With the meta game being so strongly filled with the different versions of Caw-Blade, card advantage becomes more and more important. Between Squadron Hawks, Stoneforge Mystic ,Jace the Mind Sculptor, and Preordain, they simply put themselves into a place where they have answers for the majority of your plays and grind you down to a halt. Mono Red at a point simply runs out of cards. The splash of black flips the tables on them, putting you into a position where you are drawing two cards a turn. You have two times the amount of answers in the way of burn and creatures. Furthermore, when you look at your sideboard options things also improve there. Large creatures that normally would be an issue for red decks are no problem for the superb creature removal of black. You also gain one of the most useful cards an aggressive creature strategy could ask for: Morbid Plunder. Allowing you to get more use out of your one-time use creatures like Ember Hauler and Goblin Bushwhacker while gaining you a card advantage.

You loose Teetering Peaks as a land as a result of the other lands can come into play tapped. However what you gain are Lavaclaw Reaches that is a fair bit better. Teetering Peaks gives you a two extra damage for one turn. Lavaclaw Reaches can do the same thing every turn and, more often then not, even more damage as you pump into it. How does the black splash improve the mono reds weak pairings? Splashing black for better removal to deal with red hate cards like Kor Firewalker and any of the titans means you no longer have to lean on a small number of cards to solve these problems (like Mark of Mutiny). This frees you up to maintain your aggressive tempo without missing much of a beat. Against reds weakest matches (like control) the black gives you two cards that can particularly improve your win percentage in these matches. Dark Tutelage and Morbid plunder can levy a huge card advantage against them. With Dark Tutelage, drawing two cards a turn means that your drawing twice the amount of answers to the plays they are making and twice the amount of threats they will have to answer. At a given point, no matter how many kill spells or counter spells a deck has, it will run out. Dark Tutelage ensures that they will run out first. Morbid Plunder levies this advantage in another way. It extends the use of Ember Hauler, Goblin Bushwhacker and Manic Vandal as well as keeping your hand full of playable creature threats to keep your goblin horde at a respectable size.  It also means you fear a blow out from Arc Trail, Pyroclasm, Slag Storm or Day of Judgment a lot less.

So last week I talked a fair bit about four proven budget decks all whose rares priced under $200. I did not include deck list or links as I had planed to talk in a more detailed manner on each deck; revealing the playtesting I have done with them, how I sideboard and why I picked which cards to board in specific matches. As for the links to some of the tournaments in which the mentioned decks had placed I had originally included them under each deck they represented. The reason they did not show up is a technical problem on my end that I have since resolved. If you’re still interested, the prices and deck placement can be found at http://magic.tcgplayer.com/standard_deck_hq.asp or http://www.starcitygames.com/. However in the coming weeks I will be reviewing each deck. Next week I’ll be going over Blue/Black infect control.

If you would like to follow me and my thoughts on Twitter: @Dernosmirc.


About Jonathan F Logan

How I started my addiction to the fine game of Magic the gathering begins with my best friend’s 21st birthday. He anther friend of ours and myself decided after 6 hours of drinking it would be a good idea to walk up to that local store buy us some precons from Kamigawa and spend the night playing and debating over the rules with one anther before passing out. We have been addicted to the game ever since. During the Lorwyn block I primarily played the limited formats like sealed deck draft and Two headed Giant. During the Shard of Alara block I spent a great deal of time away from the game because of going to College full time as well as working full time. With the finish of school I have had a great deal more free time to play this game we all love so much. I have had some notable finish in the top 8 of a few PTQ’s as well as taking second place in a GP trial and Midwest Masters trial in the last month. I will be sharing what I have learned during these tournaments as well as some casual things on the side. My Focus lies mostly in the constructed Standard format.

Posted on April 9, 2011, in Articles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Great read. Great author. Keep up the good work. Goblins FTW.

  2. As a self-declared red mage, I love all things that require the power of the mountain. Goblins can be brutal. However, I think I like my Kuldotha Red deck slightly more. Sure, it has goblins, but it has a lot of zero and one cmc artifact creatures to move as fast as possible. In the end, though, it’s always the overwhelming number of goblins that give me the game. I admit that I’m guilty of spending a pretty penny on a playset of Mox Opals because I like the deck so much. However, I saw it as investment since the Mox Opals see play in Legacy and I can use them in my affinity deck. Overall though, a great review of the goblins’ capability to be wickedly fast in order to outpace decks that, if nothing else, are highly expensive and often seen during current Standard matches.

    • Kuldotha has the best first 3 turns in standard without a doubt. However since everyone is well aware of this its become a one trick pony. the excistance of early board sweeps like Pyroclasm Slagstrom Day of Judgment and Black sun’s Zenith have all but pushed the deck out of the competative realm. I respect the decks ability to turn out turn 3 kills but cant get behined it with so many esay ways to lose.

      • You’re absolutely right. I like Kuldotha Red for the speed and it has worked well for the occasional FNM, BUT if my opponent has an able sideboard and is smart about it, I can be completely shut down. That’s why I’ve been tweaking my Boros deck recently because it’s less susceptible to the cards you just mentioned. The problem, however, is that to be competitive with that deck, I would LOVE to have a playset of Arid Mesas and Scalding Tarns and we all know those cost a pretty penny. The only downside to your original goblin deck is its weakness against Kor Firewalker and Phyrexian Crusader, but you solved that by splashing black. For anyone who is not interested in adding black, Perilous Myrs and Ratchet Bombs are a must.

      • Haha. I said “pretty penny” twice. Oops, make that three times, now.

  3. Sounds like a good and (somewhat) budget deck. I guess Dark Tutelage’s drawback is negligible against most decks, since you are almost always the “aggro,” and if they start attacking you profitably you’ve already lost. How does this deck do against Kuldoltha Red, as that deck seems to be even faster and this deck isn’t well set up to play control.

    • For FNM i had to play against two Kuldotha red decks. I won both rather handedly. Being able to consistantly cast staggershock as well as arc trail from the board profoundly locks them out of thier plan.

    • Jonathan’s absolutely right. The right sideboard will tear up Kuldotha Red, white, red, and black all have strong answers to that deck currently. It won’t change anytime soon either since almost all of the answers aren’t rotating out anytime soon. In the long-term, an RDW or Goblins deck might be more effective.

      • I agree either red deck wins or goblins are your better choices for a competative red deck. Red deck wins cost a bit more with 8 sac lands 4 copys of koth and everyones beloved 1 drop goblin guide. Both decks pack a good amount of tech in thier removal that gives them a bit mroe reach then the kuldotha deck wich can only really get away with 1 and 2 mana castings with thier 18-19 land count.
        If the meta was to ever change after the next set i expect to see anther uptake on kuldotha. There is allready a Spoiled 1 drop artifact that gives them a great plainswalker anwser.

      • I think I need some Goblin Chieftains and Ember Haulers so I can revise my Kuldotha deck into a goblins deck. It might be time for the Mox Opals to go in my Affinity deck. Oooorrrrr, I might give it one more go around this weekend at FNM and see what happens. I’ll be in Dallas on Friday (I just missed checking out the GP Dallas!) so I don’t know what anyone is playing. But it’s a big city so there are probably more players with a ready answer to Kuldotha. Goblins, hmmmm.

  4. Your not wrong most decks feature anwsers to goblins kuldotha red deck wins ect. I feell that goblins bost the better anwsers for them however. The black list over comes the eate esayest and has the best pair against the two best decks RUG and Caw-blade. Not that red doesnt have great anwsers in Tuktuk rachet bomb and Myr.

  5. Somehow that Dark-Tutelage-approach reminds me of the Dark Confidant build back in the days of Ravnica: Speed at a risky price. It definitely played out well in mono-B. Would be interesting to see, whether the pace can be maintained when being color-splashed …

    • The lands slow it down ever so slightly at times. Sometimes you just get into starting hands where you have to lead with lavaclaw reaches over a goblin guide but the dark tutelage really helps you maintain the agresstion and just adds a ton of pressure. In our play test group aside from myself Alex the one i mention in the article we both only lost to anther member of our playtest group up agasint caw-go. He expecting to play us sided in celestrial purge just to deal with Drak Tutelage otherwise caw-blade cant handle that kind of hadn advantage being levyed against them.

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