Fan Favorite Friday #6: The Little Chieftain That Could

Wow! What a tense voting process this week was. Elvish Archdruid gained a fast and huge lead, but in the end, Goblin Chieftain beat it out with 55% of the votes! (I think the Goblin groups on Facebook had a lot to do with that…)

You could win this sweet foil!

Don’t forget, you can win the “Fan Favorite” card each week! This week we’ll be giving away a foil copy of Goblin Chieftain from it’s first ever set – M10! All you have to do is go to our Facebook, and:

  • like the ABU Games Facebook Page
  • like the post announcing the giveaway
  • comment on said post with what deck you would put the Goblin Chieftain in
  • share the post

Then you’ll be entered to win this sweet foil! The winner will be announced in conjunction with next Friday’s “Fan Favorite Friday.” Good luck friends!

Now, those of you who know me (or read the first Fan Favorite Friday) know that I love all things Goblin Tribal, so there’s no way this week doesn’t look biased. Don’t get me wrong, I love Elvish Archdruid and have played many a copy of him in my day (remember the Beck//Call combo elves in Modern? Loved it), but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was extra pumped to get to write about an awesome goblin again today. Let’s dive in!


He’s the King, but his Chieftain is a strict upgrade.

Goblin Chieftain first debuted in the M10 core set (alongside this week’s other contender). In Mark Rosewater’s article “Lord of the Things,” he mentions that M10 allowed the designers to make the exact versions of cards they wanted which resulted in Chieftain being a strict upgrade to the original wonderful goblin lord: Goblin King. Chieftain keeps the same power and toughness but only grants the +1/+1 to your goblins instead of every goblin on the field. Also, instead of Mountainwalk, Chieftain gives all of your goblins haste which made the Chieftain much more relevant in most matchups.

The Chieftain was, of course, an auto-include in almost every goblin based strategy, and has continued to be so in every format legal to play it in. Chieftain saw reprints in M11 and M12, and then no printings again until the recent duel deck Merfolk vs. Goblins. All of the printings have featured the same gnarly art

from artist Sam Wood.

What Makes this Card So Good?

Good flavor text is good.

If you’re playing a tribal strategy, especially in red, this card gives you almost everything you could want. With most goblin strategies you’ll be deploying a bunch of little 1/1 tokens, so Goblin Chieftain giving your crew +1/+1 is invaluable!

The haste ability is also incredibly relevant, allowing you to attack in with your gobbos as soon as you play them. Also, he’s an awesome card to pair with Krenko, Mob Boss. Giving the boss haste can spell disaster for your opponent! Bring on the goblin horde!

As an added bonus, the original flavor text on the card is pretty hilariously awesome: “We are goblinkind, heirs to the mountain empires of chieftains past. Rest is death to us, and ars

on is our call to war.”


What Formats is this Card Played In?

Goblin Chieftain has kind of fallen out of favor in the current, 8-whack style Modern Goblin builds. Here’s a recent list from a Starcity IQ that ran some chieftains.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a more tribal focused goblin deck started seeing play in modern soon now that Goblin Warchief and Skirk Prospector have joined the format. If that happens, definitely plan on seeing Chieftain joining the fray.

I definitely usually run at least a few copies of Goblin Chieftain in my Legacy Goblins builds. Here’s one of my old Thalia lists that I ran two Chieftains in. In Legacy, you have to look at your meta and decide what your split is going to be between Goblin Warchief and Goblin Chieftain. I generally run 5-7 copies of them combined.

If you’re running red goblins in Commander, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be playing our friend the Chieftain! Here’s a list I found that is pretty similar to a Krenko Commander list I’ve run in the past.

He even shows up in Vintage! Here is a cool Goblin Stax list from an event in 2017.

In Conclusion:

Goblins are awesome, and goblin lords are great! Thanks to everyone who voted this week for giving me a chance to write about another one my favorite cards! Stay tuned for next week to see who wins that sweet foil.

What cards would you like to see battle it out in “Fan Favorite Fridays” to come? What did I miss this week? What are your favorite goblin builds? Hit me up in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

Take care!

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Joe Davidson is the Content Production Manager at ABU Games. When he's not playing Modern, Legacy, or following around Team ABU with a camera he's pursuing a BFA in Fiction at Boise State University. He loves Goblins, casting burn spells, and writing about Magic. You can find him on Twitter @MTGJoeD.