Historic Goblins Deck Guide

Historic Goblins Deck Guide

No, Goblin Guide is sadly not Historic legal. But I am still going to write one! Historic Goblins is a creature-based combo deck that’s looking to use Skirk Prospector and Wily Goblin to ramp into Jumpstart’s newest addition: Muxus, Goblin Grandee.

Muxus, Goblin Grandee

This guy is an insane powerhouse and ends most games once cast, so it’s only natural that we want to build a deck around him. What’s great about Muxus is that cards like Goblin Chieftain and Goblin Warchief enable some really swingy Muxus turns (so you can attack with Muxus and the crew immediately). Those cards are permanent fixtures in Goblin tribal decks anyway, and allow this deck to have an aggressive Plan B where you can just roll over your opponents by curving smaller goblins into Lords.

Technically speaking, Muxus by himself is the deck’s whole combo, but you will find yourself in a lot of spots where you want to fish either him or Skirk Prospector (to ramp into Muxus) out of your deck. Goblin Matron, Conspicuous Snoop, and Goblin Ringleader all help to find your big daddy Goblin. I’ll start by explaining my card choices, since there seems to be a vast misunderstanding of what this deck should and should not do.

Decklist

Card Choices

As stated before, I strongly believe that Goblins is more of a Ramp-Combo deck than an Aggro deck, because you play a lot of cards that don’t help you race at all. Understanding this highly influences the card choices for this Deck, and I will explain why in the “What I don’t play” section.

What I do play: The Maindeck

4 Skirk Prospector

Skirk Prospector

Without this card, this kind of Goblins build wouldn’t even be viable, because he is the reason for Muxus, a 6-drop, being castable most of the time. Skirk Prospector allows you to have him out really early and thus allows you to win games rapidly – even Turn 3 wins are possible (T1 Skirk Prospector, Turn 2 Goblin Instigator, Turn 3 Muxus).

3 Conspicuous Snoop

Conspicuous Snoop

We play Snoopy because he gives us something to do late game, on top of finding us Muxus or other Goblins. He also works well with Krenko, Mob Boss when Krenko is on top of your library, as he can borrow Krenko’s activated ability. In reality though, Snoopy is a bit clunky because he does not find what you want specifically and works more like an Experimental Frenzy for Goblins. He’s also not really crucial for Muxus himself, but he’s a nice 2-drop to have so I am happy with only 3 copies.

4 Goblin Instigator

Goblin Instigator

Great card, and i would play 8 if i could. This gives you 2 bodies which work as either great Skirk Prospector fodder or as a great go-wide tool for your Lords. 

4 Wily Goblin

Wily Goblin

Really not such a great card, but a decent roleplayer in this deck. You rely on curving out a lot and the extra mana will help greatly. There is a huge difference between casting Muxus on Turn 5 or on Turn 6, so i like playing all 4. This is a card that you will grow to love, once you’ve played some matches with this deck.

4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Goblin Warchief

It is really important to have Lords that give haste in this deck, in order to maximise Muxus and Krenko’s effectiveness; we want to make the Muxus turn as effective and consistent as possible. They are also needed for that aggressive Plan B. Play all 8!

4 Goblin Matron

han-011-goblin-matron

This card doesn’t have impressive stats but it plays a very important role: it makes the whole deck a lot more consistent. This basically adds 4 copies of any other goblin into your deck, which is important for finding your important pieces. Most of the time, this will get Muxus, but I’ve searched for Skirk Prospector a lot as well if I already had a Muxus in my hand. Sometimes, this will get a Goblin Chieftain to deal the last few points of damage, and sometimes it is nice to search for a Gempalm Incinerator or Goblin Chainwhirler post-board. Overall, this card is just incredibly flexible and merits including all 4 copies. Note that a 3 mana 1/1 is also not your typical aggro card, just sayin’.

2 Goblin Ringleader

m20-143-goblin-ringleader

This is where most Goblin lists will differ, because this card is fairly expensive and playing this and not hitting the cards you want can be really painful. However, I believe that you want as many cards as possible that look for other goblins in order to avoid running out of steam and have the highest chance of finding Muxus.

2 Krenko, Mob Boss

Krenko, Mob Boss

This card is absolutely nuts and you could probably play up to 3 copies of this. He works really well with Goblin Chieftain, because not only does it give your Krenko and his tokens haste, but it also buffs all of them. If you flip Goblin Chieftain and Krenko with your Muxus, you know you’re winning. If you don’t have Goblin Chieftain or Warchief, he can be a bit clunky, because you need to untap with him first, but making like 6 tokens every turn is still pretty good.

4 Muxus, Goblin Grandee

Man of the hour. Muxus is legitimately the reason to play this deck in Historic, and i would never start with less than 4 copies. I’ve seen a lot of lists playing 2 and they just seem to rely on Goblin Matron to fetch the other copies. I’ve never understood that though because he is the strongest card in your deck and you absolutely want access to him every single game.

3 Castle Embereth

This is sometimes nice to have with your Krenko tokens. It’s not really that important so if you want to save some wildcards, go ahead. I think I’ve activated Castle Embereth once in over 30 games, but without a second color in the deck it’s pretty much a free inclusion.

1 Phyrexian Tower

This is basically a single activation of Skirk Prospector, but honestly that is already good enough for a land. With this in play, your Muxus will always cost 5 mana (unless they literally kill your whole board). It looks a bit fishy, but trust me this card has won me a lot of games even if it might not look like much. You obviously do not want to play too many copies since it is Legendary, and it can mess up your early Wily Goblin and Conspicuous Snoop turns.

25 Lands

Yes, that is a lot, but again, it is incredibly important to curve out in your first 4-5 turns. You do not want to have an uncastable Muxus in your hand that would win you the game if you drew one more land. You’ll rarely flood with this deck anyway – Conspicuous Snoop needs a lot of mana, and your Goblin Ringleaders and Matrons will give you a lot of Goblins that need to be cast. I started with 23 and went up to 25 fairly quickly.

What I don’t play (at least Maindeck)

Goblin Chainwhirler

This card isn’t aggressive enough for your Aggro plan, and it doesn’t help you find your other Goblins at all. This is what I meant when I said that you need to understand what this deck wants to do. Especially game 1, you do not want to interact with your opponent at all. Just search for Muxus and win the game. It is that simple!

Goblin Chainwhirler is great for controlling the board against other creature decks, which is why I have some copies in the sideboard. Again, treat this deck more like a Combo deck. Use this to your advantage. Game 1, they won’t have cards like Grafdigger’s Cage and Tocatli Honor Guard. They won’t have an excessive amount of removal for your Skirk Prospector and your Lords. Just focus on the Combo and win.

Call of the Death-Dweller

We don’t play Goblin Chainwhirler Maindeck so there is absolutely no reason to play this card, or to splash black for it even. It is sweet once you land it on a Goblin Chainwhirler and demolish the board, but honestly you first need to get it in the graveyard too, and it’s just not what you need. 

Siege-Gang Commander

While this is nice to flip with Muxus, flipping Krenko is just a lot better. Krenko is basically the replacement, since he’s also way better and easier to get onto the battlefield without Muxus. Casting Siege-Gang just never feels too great.

Gempalm Incinerator

Wait, this card is great! Why are we not playing it maindeck? Well, same reasoning: don’t interact when you could just win! You could maindeck if you wanted to tech against creature-based decks, but I’ve always found it easier to just slam your stuff and not care about your opponent too much. Also, this card doesn’t hit planeswalkers, only creatures, and there are decks that really don’t care about their creatures too much.

Fanatical Firebrand

Same reasoning, treat this more as a combo deck. What baffles me the most is the fact that this is not even all that great an aggro card, and yet people still absolutely want to play it. You’ve got better cards, play them instead.

Matchups and Sideboarding Guide

General notes

Goblins – like any other Combo deck – cannot board too many cards, or they will mess up their synergy too much. You will not see me bringing in 4x Lava Coil or 3x Goblin Cratermaker often, for that that reason. I have 3x Goblin Cratermakers in this Sideboard because Grafdigger’s Cage should be good against us; I’ve rarely had people bring them in against me, but our Sideboard options are so limited that it’s not that bad to have 3x Cratermaker in here just for safety measures. If you disagree with this, go nuts and try out a lot of sideboard cards, but always keep in mind that with a deck like this, you shouldn’t change too many slots around anyway.

Historic is a huge format and not solved at all,  so it’s not easy to catch all the match-ups. Because of this, I will give you some additional heuristics you can use while boarding:

  1. If you bring in non-Goblins, board out Goblin Ringleader. If you play him and don’t hit Goblins, it’s really bad.
  2. If you need removal against decks that also play a lot of removal, try to play some more Lava Coils over Gempalm Incinerator instead. Lava Coil will always kill something, and you do not want to have an Incinerator stuck in your hand and not be able to kill something important.
  3. I would advise against boarding out Skirk Prospector, Goblin Chieftain & Warchief, and Muxus. These cards just work together far too well, so try to find some other cards to cut instead.
  4. Do not bring in Tormod’s Crypt just for Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. That card is too slow for you anyway, and the +3 life-gain just does not do much. Crypt is mainly for Decks that really need their graveyard in order to win (that excludes Jund Sacrifice or Simic Ramp for example).

Kethis Combo

This basically boils down to who can combo faster. I believe that your classic aggressive plan will usually be too slow, so you should really focus on getting Muxus out. Funnily enough, I think that we get to our combo faster and more consistently because of Goblin Matron, so I believe that this matchup is positive for us. Kethis Combo just struggles with a quick clock and their interaction in form of Teferi, Time Raveler and Oath of Kaya doesn’t do too much. This might vary though from list to list, so be cautious here.

We definitely want to bring in our removal and Tormod’s Crypt. They will bring in a mix of Tocatli Honor Guard and Linvala, Keeper of Silence, and we absolutely need to kill these guys. I will not bring in all the Gempalms because Fry will kill the important cards more consistently, and not only when we have enough Goblins. See how we only interact with our opponents if they absolutely force us to with their hate cards?

InOut
2 Fry2 Goblin Instigator
2 Gempalm Incinerator
Pro Tip: It counts your opponent’s Goblins too!
2 Goblin Ringleader
1 Tormod’s Crypt2 Conspicuous Snoop

Mirror Match 

In Game 1, as always, just try to combo off as fast as possible. He who plays Muxus first wins. We don’t play Chainwhirlers, but that doesn’t mean that no one else does, so if you can, play around him by not exposing your Skirk Prospector if not needed. 

Post-board, Chainwhirlers will be nice to mob up their Skirk Prospectors and Goblin Instigators, but we really don’t need more than 1 and can always look for him with Goblin Matron, so I am happy with only bringing in 2 You obviously want to bring in removal, but I would rather not bring in Lava Coils because trading 1 for 1 with all their cheap creatures is not what I want to be doing most of the time.

InOut
2 Goblin Chainwhirler2 Goblin Instigator
3 Gempalm Incinerator
Pro Tip: It counts your opponent’s Goblins too!
2 Goblin Ringleader
1 Conspicuous Snoop

Jund Sacrifice

Out of all matchups, this is probably the toughest. Their Mayhem Devils and Claim the Firstborns can be quite brutal, but we have enough haste and ETB (Enter the battlefield) effects to at least get some value before our Goblins die. They still have a rough time beating those strong Muxus turns and they win fairly slowly, so if they give us enough time to cast Muxus after Muxus, we can eventually overwhelm them later in the game. This is what I mean by “every matchup is winnable” – if they don’t play and draw to their full potential, they can still lose to us just doing our thing.

I want to bring in removal to fight chiefly Mayhem Devils and Priest of Forgotten Gods. The latter is sometimes not that bad, because we have a lot of cheap Goblins to sacrifice, but I’ve found it hard to catch up when they get too much mana with it sometimes. Mayhem Devil is our number 1 priority, and if we beat that, we have a good shot at winning the game. Don’t focus on their gameplan too much otherwise; let them do their thing as long as they don’t disrupt us. That is why Goblin Cratermaker will stay in the sideboard.

I choose to board out Conspicuous Snoop, because we will usually lose the value game against our opponent anyway.

InOut
4 Lava Coil2 Wily Goblin
3 Gempalm Incinerator2 Goblin Ringleader
3 Conspicuous Snoop

Gruul Aggro

Gruul is not that popular these days, but you need to know how to play this matchup. It’s pretty close, not because of their oversized creatures, but rather because of the amount of removal they have. Muxus is the name of the game; they usually cannot beat the sheer amount of power and toughness he brings to the table. Try to delay the game as much as possible because of that. Sometimes, it is necessary to go to 1 life in order to save your combo Goblins. Game 1 has been good for me as they lack removal, but we can’t rely on that post=board when they bring it all in. For that reason, it is important to interact with our opponents here.

I board out Wily Goblin because he is sadly just too slow on turn 2, and i would much rather be casting a Lava Coil instead.

InOut
4 Lava Coil4 Wily Goblin
3 Gempalm Incinerator2 Goblin Ringleader
1 Krenko, Mob boss

Simic, Sultai, Bant Ramp

You are generally pretty happy to play this matchup. They are just too slow for us to care about what they are doing. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is the only problem, but he costs 8 mana and we can still win after a wipe when we play another Muxus. Those decks just struggle against haste and go-wide creatures because of their lack of interaction.
Our nutdraw beats their nutdraw, and funnily enough it feels like we are ramping faster than they are sometimes with our Skirk Prospectors. This is the type of matchup where our combo will win against them, but so will our aggressive plan B, which is why we do not need to board anything at all.

InOut
Your free winTheir desire to keep on playing

Gameplay Tips

  1. I would much rather cast a Goblin Matron on turn 3 than a Warchief or a Chieftain. Just look for your Muxus, and if you already have him, look for Skirk Prospector to make him cheaper. Again, Combo first, then Aggro.
  2. If on turn 3, you have the choice between Goblin Warchief or Goblin Chieftain, play the Warchief. You don’t really need the bonus power on your other goblins most of the time, and making all your future Goblins cheaper can go a long way. One exception would be curving Goblin Chieftain into Krenko, Mob Boss.
  3. In most cases, you don’t want to sacrifice your Goblins to ramp out a Goblin Ringleader or a Goblin Chieftain. Save them for Muxus or to have synergy with your Goblin Lords.
  4. Always try to evaluate if you’re the Aggro or Combo player at each point in the game. Sometimes, you want to search for a Goblin Chieftain with your Goblin Matron to finish your opponent off, but you need to be cognisant of their life total to do that.
  5. Remember that your Conspicuous Snoop can activate the abilities of Skirk Prospector or Krenko, if they are on top of your library. Also don’t forget that your opponent can see whatever card is on top, and will plan for it.

Thank you for reading and have fun playing this deck – I know I’ve had tons!

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Chrysologus
15 days ago

Thank you for writing this! So helpful.

tamadon
14 days ago

Thanks for a good guide. I think 25 land is good for me too.
By the way. How about Field of the Dead deck sideboard?
I’m thinking Goblin Ruinblaster look good.