Drafting a well-tuned deck and dueling against similarly skilled competition is the peak Magic experience for this author. Every decision made during the draft, deckbuilding, and gameplay has an impact on the outcome. Even in defeat, I’m satisfied to have been part of a great game of Magic.
But, uh, that’s usually not the experience I’m looking for when the Arena screen loads these days. Magic happens on mobile while feeding my toddler, playing outside with the dogs, or hiding in the basement from my older children for a few minutes of peace.
I’m just trying to win at least one game on all three of my accounts and complete the daily quests so I can remain mostly F2P, so I play a lot of unranked Standard.
With efficiency in mind, the “Goblins Everywhere!” beginner deck caught my eye but it didn’t take long to recognize my plan’s core flaw: the deck is terrible. And that’s fine if you’re playing against other horrendous piles like the Aerial Domination deck, but most opponents play with actual decks (e.g. Avalanche, Lifegain). After trying different builds and cards on each of my accounts, now I run this exact list on all three.
It’s consistent, fun, fast, and can win on turn four.
Great for completing daily quests with casting red spells, casting creature spells, and attacking with x creatures.
4 Battle Cry Goblin
4 Grotag Bug-Catcher
4 Hobgoblin Bandit Lord
4 Play with Fire
4 Tin Street Cadet
4 Hobgoblin Captain
4 Fireblade Charger
4 Faceless Haven
4 Goblin Javelineer
19 Snow-Covered Mountain
4 Sneaking Guide
1 Reckless Impulse
At some point during the writing process, I started using acronyms. Here they are:
- HBL = Hobgoblin Bandit Lord
- BCG = Battle Cry Goblin
- GBC = Grotag Bug-Catcher
Goblin Javelineer – Your best play on turn 1 because it has haste and can potentially attack through blockers.
Fireblade Charger – I typically play these later so they’re potentially buffed by HBL or BCG when they die.
Sneaking Guide – Being a rogue pumps GBC. Just like Zendikar Rising draft, you can target GCB with the ability before combat to sneak in the last few points of damage.
Tin Street Cadet – Most replaceable because it’s rarely blocked and there’s a hasty 1-drop in the format that might be better than Cadet. When it does get blocked, HBL’s second ability counts the goblin that entered the battlefield.
Play with Fire – Aiming the spell at your opponent’s face can be correct if you need to hit a land with your next draw to cast and activate Battle Cry Goblin.
Hobgoblin Captain – It’s a goblin. It attacks for three. That’s the analysis.
Grotag Bug-Catcher – Important to note that GBC only attacks for two on its own. Creatures that buff GBC are Sneaking Guide, Hobgoblin Bandit Lord, and Faceless Haven while activated.
Hobgoblin Bandit Lord – It only attacks for two and your opponent is highly motivated to kill it, so it doesn’t enter combat as frequently as most goblins. Its activated ability is extremely relevant though and is great for picking off cards like Prosperous Innkeeper and Lunarch Veteran. Goblins that enter the battlefield mid-combat from BCG, Tin Street Cadet, or Den of the Bugbear count towards the total.
Battle Cry Goblin costs two mana. This might trick you into thinking you should play it on, oh I don’t know, turn two. But that’s a mistake most of the time. BCG is secretly a 4-drop that enters the battlefield, pumps your entire team, and then attacks for four if the coast is clear. Whether or not you attack with BCG is often the most difficult and important decision of the game.
This deck has no 4-drops according to its curve graphic, but in reality it plays four of them in the form of BCG. I almost never concede games with this deck because so many games are winnable if BCG is your next draw.
The Part for Experienced Players
The deck is plug-and-play ready but definitely not perfect. I’m far from an expert when it comes to goblins, mono-red, or constructed decks in general. The rare count was intentionally kept low to make the deck accessible to new players, so it’s very possible upgrades can be made with more rares and mythics.
With commons and uncommons, I wouldn’t be surprised if the optimal build is 4-5 cards different from the current one. There’s a one-of slot that’s currently filled by Reckless Impulse just to try it out. Truth be told, I’m kinda stumped about what the 60th card should be.
The Part for Newer Players
Rare Arena wildcards are precious resources if you plan to play constructed formats. I’m not a constructed player, but Faceless Haven is an incredible card that will be played for as long as it’s standard legal. Crafting four of them seems like a solid investment, especially if you like aggressive decks. If you don’t want to craft them, there’s nothing wrong with playing regular mountains with a Den of the Bugbear or two if you have them.
For a quick discussion about the importance of small edges, let’s talk about why this deck plays Faceless Haven instead of Den of the Bugbear, which does something similar but also makes a goblin.
Better when entering the battlefield: Faceless Haven. A land coming into played tapped doesn’t seem like a huge deal on a per-game basis. But when you play the same deck for a couple hundred games, the cost becomes clear. Coming into play tapped as your third or fourth land means you can’t cast HBL on turn three and can’t cast/activate BCG on turn four. So unless Den is in your opening hand, it doesn’t support the deck’s best draws.
Better as a land: Den of the Bugbear. This is a mono-red deck with 20 cards that Faceless Haven can’t cast. Draws with two Faceless Haven can be extremely awkward to navigate. There are turns where you can’t spend all your mana because you can’t produce enough red, so only producing colorless mana is definitely a cost that hurts in some games.
Better as a creature: Faceless Haven. Based on stats alone, Den looks like the better choice. They both produce four power and three toughness, but Den makes a goblin token that can attack again next turn. The monumental difference between the two is what else you can do on the turn you activate them.
To attack as a creature: Den of the Bugbear requires five mana, four to activate and it then taps when attacking
To attack as a creature: Faceless Haven requires three mana to activate and then attacks with vigilance, allowing it to be used for mana after combat. The deck doesn’t have a way to use the single colorless mana Faceless Haven produces, which I’d love to change but haven’t figured out how.
Sadly, this deck sometimes needs to play beyond turn four, so what can you do with five mana?
Den – Attack for four including a 1/1 token.
Faceless haven – Attack for four and activate BCG or Sneaking Guide before blockers are declared or play a two-drop after combat. It’s a changeling, so it gets all the same buffs that Den gets (see it attacking for six in the last photo below) while also adding a party type for GBC! Not to mention the fact that Faceless Haven can attack a turn sooner because you only need four total mana.
The combined costs of coming into play tapped and costing five to activate made me try Faceless Haven and I never looked back. That being said, it is my strong opinion that you should play whatever way makes you happy. If you want to maximize the goblinness of your goblin deck, Bugbear is more on theme.
Faceless Haven is a Standard constructed staple but the same can’t be said about Hobgoblin Bandit Lord. It’s certainly great in this deck, but unplayable outside of goblin tribal.
If you’re thinking about using wildcards to play this deck, I highly recommend crafting the Faceless Havens first. A common spell like Burn Bright or You See a Pair of Goblins can play a similar role to Hobgoblin Bandit Lord without the need to use wildcards. The spells might even be better in some games considering how often my HBL gets bounced back to my hand.
Pay close attention to how you sequence your plays. With so many cheap cards, the decision tree is surprisingly large. Do you play a 2-drop on turn two or a pair of 1-drops? Depends. GBG or Hobgoblin Captain on turn two? Depends. Do you have a way to pump the GBC? Is first strike likely to be relevant?
Try to plan your first 3-4 turns with the goal of maximizing damage and spending all your mana.
Here’s the easy turn 4 kill:
Turn 1 – Goblin Javelineer. One damage
Turn 2- GBC or Hobgoblin Captain. Two total damage.
Turn 3 – HBL. Eight total damage.
Turn 4 – BCG, pump and attack. 25 total damage
And a rareless turn 4 kill
Turn 1 Goblin Javelineer
Turn 2 GBC
Turn 3, Goblin Javelineer X2 and Sneaking Guide
Turn 4 BCG pump and attack.
Exactly 20 damage.
Conservatively, I’d guess about 263% of my losses can be attributed to Meathook Massacre. It’s everywhere, even in Unranked play mode. Just accept it as a fact and try not to get tilted. That being said, there are times when the first one is beatable.
The W and WG lifegain matchups are winnable, but even this deck’s best curve-out can’t beat their good hands when you’re on the draw.
If you’re looking for a quick way to play a few games and complete your daily quests, this modified version of Goblins Everywhere is what I use every day.
While its primary purpose is to complete quests efficiently, you can also use it for things like beating a very good clerics deck
Or winning on turn tour through a big blocker
Or beating the super annoying WG Lifegain decks
Whatever your goal, this version of Goblins Everywhere is a pretty fun way to spend your time. Happy attacking, and remember to be excellent to each other.
Draft Enthusiast, Daily Quest Completer
About the Author
Schaab fell in love with Draft when he came back to Magic in 2016. These days, he’s mostly F2P on three Arena accounts. Life responsibilities prevent him from being a tournament grinder or taking Magic too seriously, so he happily considers himself a successful casual player.
If you’re new to Arena and want to accumulate wildcards then you should consider Draft, the format I usually write about. Watching streamers is a great way to see and learn more about a format. There’s no shortage of streamers with different styles out there, but I really enjoy Chord_O_Calls content in both video and written form. He’s an excellent drafter who explains his thought process well, streams regularly, and most importantly answers my silly little questions on Twitter. If you want to give draft a try, I wrote a guide for building better draft decks.
LetsTalkLimited on Twitch. Haven’t streamed in a few months but just upgraded my internet so might try again soon. I’ve really upped my Twitter game lately (I’ve been posting more pictures of animals).
You can contact me with comments, questions, or feedback at BeBoring@letstalklimited.com
My content is a labor of love to help others get better at draft that will always be free. The best thing you can do is help other people (draft is really hard) but financial support is always appreciated. Thank you!
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