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Budget Magic: $52 (7 tix) Goblin Calamity (Standard, Magic Arena)


Aw ni ce, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we are heading to Ravnica Allegiance Standard for a deck that sort of walks the lines between tribal, aggro, and even combo: Goblin Calamity! The basic idea of the deck is to flood the board with one-power creatures, stick a copy of Cavalcade of Calamity or two, and sort of build our own enchantment-based version of Hellrider to burn our opponent out of the game by attacking. If we need to get in a bit more damage, we can add The Flame of Keld to the mixture to make it so each of our Cavalcade of Calamity triggers is hitting our opponent's face for a massive three damage! Can the combo of Goblins and Cavalcade of Calamity compete in Standard? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

Oh yeah, one last thing before the video, since I'm sure it will come out in the comments: after making Goblin Calamity and recording the videos, I realized that Dev over at StrictlyBetterMTG did something similar a little while back. If you're interested in an ultra-ultra budget deck (around $20) that plays similarly, make sure to check out his deck tech.

First, a quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Budget Magic: Goblin Calamity (Standard)

The Deck

Goblin Calamity is basically a tribal aggro deck that also has some combo-like finishes thanks to the synergy between The Flame of Keld and Cavalcade of Calamity. The main idea is to flood the board with cheap one-power creatures, stack as many copies of Cavalcade of Calamity and The Flame of Keld as possible, and kill our opponent quickly before they find enough removal to deal with our creatures and enchantments.

Calamity Combo

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Maybe the easiest way to think of Cavalcade of Calamity is as a two-mana enchantment version of Hellrider that comes with a deck-building restriction (we need to play mostly one-power creatures to trigger it). In a deck that is overloaded with 1/x's and has several cards that can put multiple one-power creatures on the battlefield, like Goblin Calamity, the enchantment is quite powerful. If our opponent doesn't have blockers for our creatures, Cavalcade of Calamity essentially doubles up the power of our attackers by pinging for one for each creature that attacks, and once our opponent puts up some defense, Cavalcade of Calamity allows us to finish the game through blockers by throwing damage directly at our opponent's face as we chump-attack. Apart from our random, mostly interchangeable creatures, Cavalcade of Calamity is the most important card in our deck. Not only are we hoping for at least one copy ever game, but it gets even better in multiples.

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The Flame of Keld is quite powerful in our deck. If we don't have a copy of Cavalcade of Calamity, it works almost like a backup version of our namesake enchantment on the turn that we get the third lore counter, giving our 1/x's a way to force through a bunch of extra damage. On the other hand, things get even more insane if we happen to also have Cavalcade of Calamity since when we get the third lore counter on The Flame of Keld, each creature we attack with basically gives us a free Lava Spike at our opponent's face before it even deals combat damage, since each Cavalcade of Calamity trigger deals +2 damage thanks to The Flame of Keld. Combine this with the fact that The Flame of Keld gives us a way to refuel after dumping our hand of cheap Goblins, and the Saga is an essential component of our plan.

The Goblins

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Since both Cavalcade of Calamity and The Flame of Keld want us to go wide with cheap, one-power red creatures, the best Goblins in our deck are cards that can put multiple 1/1 Goblins on the battlefield. Goblin Instigator, for example, is a fine card on its own, putting two power and toughness across two Goblin bodies on the battlefield, but it's even better in conjunction with Cavalcade of Calamity since each of those Goblins sort of turn into a 2/2 when they attack, thanks to Cavalcade's extra damage.

Meanwhile, Goblin Gathering starts off as a more expensive version of Goblin Instigator, giving us two 1/1 Goblins for three mana, but it gets progressively better as the game goes along. The second copy gives us a Hordeling Outburst, while the third and fourth copies (if we happen to find them) add a ton of bodies to the battlefield for just three mana. While it's not that efficient on its own, Goblin Gathering gets much better with the help of Cavalcade of Calamity to essentially double up the damage.

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Further up our curve, we get Legion Warboss and Siege-Gang Commander—both powerful standalone cards that also work really well with our Cavalcade of Calamity / The Flame of Keld plan. While Legion Warboss itself isn't a 1/1, it does make a hasty 1/1 each turn. Oftentimes, the downside of Legion Warboss is that the token just smashes itself into a blocker and dies. Cavalcade of Calamity helps solve this problem, since even if the Goblin suicide attacks the turn it comes into play, we still get a damage from Cavalcade. Meanwhile, Siege-Gang Commander tops our curve, and along with adding three 1/1 Goblins to the battlefield, it gives us an additional way of closing out the game without attacking by throwing our random Goblins at our opponent's face for two damage (or four damage, with the help of The Flame of Keld's third lore counter) while also giving us a resilient threat to fight through decks with a lot of targeted removal. 

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Finally, Skirk Prospector and Fanatical Firebrand get our 1/1 Goblin plan started on Turn 1. Fanatical Firebrand is the more aggressive of the two, coming down to deal a hasty damage thanks to haste, which makes it a scary top deck in conjunction with Cavalcade of Calamity. Perhaps more importantly, Fanatical Firebrand can be sacrificed to kill some really important creatures, like Siren Stormtamer against Mono-Blue or Llanowar Elves against Sultai Midrange. Then, in the late game, if we manage to ultimate The Flame of Keld, we can activate Fanatical Firebrand to throw three damage at one of our opponent's creatures or their face.

As for Skirk Prospector, it's the least aggressive card in our deck, but it makes up for this with endless synergy. On Turn 2, it gives us a 1/1 attacker to trigger our Cavalcade of Calamity, while later in the game, it allows us to sacrifice our Goblins for mana, which can help with the Siege-Gang Commander kill or with Banefire post-board. It also works well with our backup card-advantage engine Experimental Frenzy by allowing us to sacrifice our creatures to keep playing cards from the top of our deck to Frenzy off.

Other Stuff

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Experimental Frenzy is just a two-of in the main deck, but we have a couple of more in the sideboard for slower, grindy matchups. While Goblin Calamity isn't as explosive with Experimental Frenzy as some Mono-Red decks with Runaway Steam-Kin, the enchantment does give us a steady source of card advantage by allowing us to play multiple cards a turn. One of the risks of Goblin Calamity is that it's difficult for us to recover if our opponent can sweep our board, but the combination of The Flame of Keld and Experimental Frenzy makes it much more possible.

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Last but not least, we have two Shocks and two Lightning Strikes, mostly to be removal in the early game. In our current Standard format, cards like Curious Obsession and Wildgrowth Walker can run away with a game if they sit on the battlefield, so having a bit of removal is important. Plus, if we don't need to kill any creatures, we can always just throw our burn spells at our opponent's face to help close out the game, a plan that gets especially effective if we happen to have The Flame of Keld online as well.

Wrap-Up

Goblin Calamity was surprisingly awesome. Last week, I was grinding toward mythic on Magic Arena and decided to record Budget Magic on the Arena ladder. We were in diamond (the second-highest rank) and won five matches in a row with the deck! Perhaps even more impressively, we played against a who's who of top Standard decks, taking down Mono-Blue Tempo twice, Esper Control, Simic Nexus, and Sultai Midrange. Apparently, jamming a bunch of cheap Goblins and backing them up with Cavalcade of Calamity and The Flame of Keld is a pretty legitimate plan in Standard.

As for changes I'd make to the deck now that we've played some games, I'm not sure I'd touch anything. I can see an argument for finding room for more copies of Shock and Lightning Strike, but I'm not sure what to cut. In theory, you could go without Experimental Frenzy, and this might be the right call, depending on the metagame. But having access to another source of card advantage is really key in some matchups. 

As for the budget itself, the deck is dirt cheap pretty much everywhere. In paper, it falls into our ultra-budget category at just $52, while on Magic Arena, the deck has zero mythics and 16 rares (even better, only nine of the rares are in the main deck, so the deck is even cheaper if you're playing best-of-one). Combine this with being surprisingly good at killing opponents, and Goblin Calamity seems like one of the better budget options for Ravnica Allegiance Standard. As such, if you enjoy aggressive tribal strategies with pseudo-combo kills, keep Goblin Calamity in mind. Based on our experience, it seems good enough to grind out a collection on Arena or take down and FNM. Plus, the Cavalcade of Calamity / The Flame of Keld combo kill makes it surprisingly fun to play for a tribal-aggro deck!

Ultra-Budget Goblin Calamity

No ultra-budget list this week, since the list we played for our videos already falls into the ultra-budget range. If you're looking for an even cheaper version for kitchen table play, I'd recommend the build that Dev put together on StrictlyMTG (you can check out his deck tech here).

Non-Budget Goblin Calamity

Oddly, we don't have a non-budget build this week either. Rather than being a true budget deck, Goblin Calamity is one of those decks that just happens to be cheap in its optimal form (similar to Mono-Blue Tempo). While you should feel free to make changes to suit your tastes, for now, I'm sticking with the same build we played for the videos—it's really solid just the way it is.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.

 


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