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Goldfish Gladiators: Arena Budget Goblins (Standard, Magic Arena)

Welcome to Goldfish Gladiators! Last week, Wizards announced that, at least for the time being, ranked play on Magic Arena will only take place in best-of-one matches. As such, today we're going to see if an Arena budget-friendly build of Goblins has what it takes to grind out wins and rank on the client! While best of one is a lot different than traditional best-of-three Magic, there is an upside for budget players: namely, you don't need to have 15 cards for your sideboard, which makes decks cheaper. Take today's deck, for example. It only has 15 rares and no mythics at all! This makes it a reasonable choice for players looking to grind Arena in free-to-play mode. The question, of course, is if it can win consistently enough to rank up, finish well in events, and earn rewards. Can a budget build of Goblins compete in "Arena mode"? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Goldfish Gladiators: Arena Budget Goblins


  • Well, that was an interesting run. In best-of-one tournaments on Arena, you play until you get seven wins or three losses. We started off losing our first two rounds, and it looked like we might have the shortest Goldfish Gladiators of all time. Then, Budget Goblins came roaring back, winning six matches in a row before we finally fell in the finals. More impressive, we did this while winning just one of our nine die rolls, which theoretically puts us at a pretty major disadvantage in a best-of-one setting. 
  • As such, Budget Goblins actually felt like a pretty legitimate (and cheap) option for grinding rewards and rank in best of one. The deck is fast and has some really incredibly explosive turns once we get a Vanquisher's Banner on the battlefield. We had at least two games where things looked grim, but we were able to chain together a lethal board of Goblins out of nowhere with the help of Vanquisher's Banner and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. 
  • In fact, Vanquisher's Banner felt so important to the deck that it might be worth finding a way to play some more card advantage. The Flame of Keld and Risk Factor both offer good options, while Experimental Frenzy could work, although it's sort of a non-bo with Vanquisher's Banner itself, since we'll end up with a handful of uncastable cards. 
  • Another interesting possibility would be to find a way to play some removal. Thanks to Skirk Prospector and our deck's ability to flood the board with Goblins, a copy or two of Banefire could be really solid. In the early game, we can use it as an overcosted removal spell on a creature, and in the late game, it's possible to throw 10 or more uncounterable damage at our opponent's face by sacrificing our board. This being said, it is worth mentioning that we can do something similar with Siege-Gang Commander and Skirk Prospector, although it isn't that efficient (requiring sacrificing three Goblins for two damage). 
  • Legion Warboss and Goblin Chainwhirler are the reasons to play the deck. Together, they give Goblins two of the best three-drops in all of Standard, and each is good in different matchups, with Legion Warboss punishing slower control decks and Goblin Chainwhirler being great against aggro.
  • Overall, Budget Goblins felt great, especially considering how cheap the deck is on Arena. It seems to be a natural fit for best-of-one (Arena mode) play, since it's mostly trying to goldfish its way to the win and doesn't especially care about what the opponent is doing. If you're looking for something different and fun to grind rewards and rank, it's worth giving this a shot! Getting six wins while losing (almost) every die roll with an aggro deck is actually a pretty impressive performance, and the Vanquisher's Banner combo turns are super fun!


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

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