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Playing Pauper: Goblins

Have you ever gotten tired of playing control? Do you ever get the urge to just destroy your opponent as quickly as possible? If that's how you're feeling today, then this primer is the one for you. Unleash the power of Goblins upon your board and laugh maniacally as Goblin Bushwhacker leaves your adversaries wondering just how they could have played around a two mana Overrun.

Check out the matches, then read the discussion below. If you enjoy Playing Pauper, subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel! It helps us draw more people to the channel, and it helps you to never miss any of our great video content.

Goblins Intro

Goblins vs UB Teachings

Goblins vs Domain Zoo

Goblins vs Kuldotha Jeskai

Goblins vs Mono W Metalcraft

Goblins vs UB Teachings

The Deck

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With 35 creatures in the deck, Goblin Cohort and Mogg Conscripts can attack most turns. Their presence is needed to add to the number of aggressive Goblins needed to make this deck work.

Goblin Sledder and Mogg Raider help push through damage in combat no matter how the opponent is trying to thwart us by blocking.

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Foundry Street Denizen is another one-drop that generally attacks for 2+ damage. 

Mogg War Marshal is cost-efficient and combos with Foundry Street Denizen, Goblin Sledder, and Mogg Raider.

Intimidator Initiate and Goblin Heelcutter both round out the deck and provide ways past problematic blockers.

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Sparksmith is free removal when you're the clear aggressor but can be painful to use when in a damage race.

Goblin Matron is very versatile as it can go get a Goblin Bushwhacker when your board is full, a Mogg War Marshal when your board is empty, or a Tarfire when your opponent is at 2 life.

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Lightning Bolt is too good for any red deck not to play and any aggressive deck certainly wants it.

Death Spark can be repeatable removal if timed right since creatures end up in our graveyard all the time.

Tarfire exists only to make Goblin Matron even more versatile.

The lone Fireblast is a free way to close out a close game that just needs a few more points of damage pushed through.

The Sideboard

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Electrickery is extremely efficient against the armies of Hexproof, Elves, Mono Blue Delver, and opposing Goblin decks.

Pyroblast is great against Counterspell decks and helps make sure your threats resolve.

Raze stops an early Fangren Marauder or Rolling Thunder from ruining our day when battling against Tron.

Sylvok Lifestaff is a great tool when racing other aggressive decks and provides life gain to which Red doesn't have access.

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Gorilla Shaman and Smash to Smithereens take out artifacts. You can switch over to all Smash to Smithereens for budget considerations, but it becomes a lot harder to lock an Affinity player out of the game with Smash to Smithereens only.

The Matchups

Goblins prey upon the slow decks in the format but have a harder time against opponents who can deploy multiple blockers to get in our way. Kuldotha Jeskai is especially troubling given that Kuldotha Rebirth grants three relevant blockers with a single card.

The full four Pyroblast in the sideboard makes it even more desirable in a metagame that is slowly becoming more and more saturated with Peregrine Drake decks.

Beating Goblins

To beat Goblins, follow these tips:

  • Always beware of Goblin Bushwhacker, especially if the Goblin deck has five mana and can chain Goblin Matron into a kicked Bushwhacker. This Goblin is the card you should be trying to avoid dying to.
  • When playing an aggressive deck, consider racing to minimize the impact of Intimidator Initiate and Sparksmith. These cards are effectively vanilla 1/1s when the Goblin deck's life total is under pressure.
  • Between Goblin Heelcutter, Lightning Bolt, and Fireblast, damage can come out of nowhere quickly. Manage your life total wisely even if the Goblin deck's boardstate is minimal.


As always, thanks for watching! Take a lesson this week from my mistakes and don't lose games where you have lethal damage on board. Don't let a good play stop you from seeing a great play.

To those of you who pick up the deck, let me know how it performs against Peregrine Drake. For those of you who'd rather play Peregrine Drake, keep an eye out for the next Playing Pauper in two weeks!


Viewer submissions are open! I'll still be playing known decks occasionally, but I'll mostly be playing:

  • Decks submitted by viewers
  • Decks created from viewer challenges (e.g. build a deck around Horned Kavu)
  • Decks created by Jake (especially ones comprised of cards from new sets such as Eldritch Moon)

Email me at or Tweet to me @JakeStilesMTG with your decklist or challenge, and I'll give you a shout-out if I use your submission!

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