Legacy Goblins at ABU’s first Win-a-Dual

Hey, what’s up, everybody! It’s Joe here with a big ol’ Legacy Goblins double whammy for you! This past weekend was the first in ABU’s new Win-A-Dual Series, taking place during our Extra Life Extravaganza (where we raised over $5000 for our local Children’s Hospital! Be sure to come out for next month’s Win-A-Dual for a chance at a Taiga!)

Things had been super crazy getting ready for Extra Life so I hadn’t had much time to prepare for the tournament. I have a couple of Legacy decks put together and plenty I could borrow from the local community, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to take. In the end, I decided to go with my first and favorite: Goblins!

It took me years to finally assemble a full Goblins list in paper, and since then I’ve played many different variations of the list (shoutout to the Legacy Goblins Facebook group for all the help! ) Lately I’ve been testing various Winstigator lists, trying out new goblin homies like Chainwhirler, Trashmaster, and my new favorite, Cratermaker, but due to a moment of panic and brief consideration of our local meta I decided to go with the old standby: Thalia Goblins.

In general, Goblins is usually a value-packed toolbox deck that taxes your opponent’s mana, drops dudes that mess with their game plans, and floods the board with little green meanies. Newer lists are lighter on the taxing and heavier on the aggro plan, but old school Thalia Goblins is like Death and Taxes lite. Goblins and Taxes! I’ve been playing a lot of Death and Taxes lately and had a lot of fond memories of stomping Miracles before the Top Banning with my old gobbos-featuring-Thalia list, so I decided to default to that (with a few tweaks) for the tournament.

First, I’ll break down my list. Then I’ll talk a little bit about the tournament and the decks I faced!

Before we get started, here’s the list!

First, let’s talk about the core of pretty much any good Goblins strategy:

Goblin Lackey

Goblin Matron

Goblin Ringleader

I read a deck discussion forum about Legacy Goblins back when I first started getting into the deck that hammered the idea that you never ever leave home without these 12 cards and I took it to heart. Lackey was insane before Deathrite was printed, and now that the spooky shaman is gone the Lackey is back! Playing a Lackey on turn 1 (or turn 2 if you played a Vial on 1) and then swinging in and dropping a fatty/value creature feels SO GOOD. He’s even good late game when there’s a good chance he’ll get haste because your opponents are going to have to make some pretty awkward blocking decisions.

Goblin Matron is what allows you to be a toolbox strategy. Dropping her allows you to go get any silver bullet or piece of value you want, and the ability to vial her in at the end of your opponent’s turn or nab her off of a Ringleader trigger allows for some seriously explosive tricks.

Ringleader is just SO GOOD. Usually, your deck is going to be so packed full of little green dudes that you’ll be able to nab at least two goblins to your hand off of his trigger. It’s like Christmas came early when all four turn out to be hits! When you’ve got a vial or two out and ready to go, Ringleader can refill your board in a hurry and help you take over the game. However, sometimes you hit four lands twice in a row off of back-to-back Ringleaders against Dredge in the top 4 of an important event and want to cry a little bit… but I swear that’s usually the minority situation.

You may have noticed that I mentioned Aether Vial when talking about all three of the “must-haves.” I would honestly include it on that list, bumping it up to 16 cards you never leave home without. I know some goblin lists have been straying from the “4 Vial” plan, but I love playing Vial strategies and feel best when I have all 4.

Aether Vial

Next, we throw in some Lords. Tribal, baby!

Goblin Warchief

Goblin Chieftain

I feel like there will almost always be a 5-7 card split between these two Lords depending on your expected meta. I wanted cheaper dudes, so I went with 3 Warchiefs and 2 Chieftains for this particular tournament. Chieftain sure did a lot of work though!

We’ve got some dude makers:

Mogg War Marshal


Mogg War Marshal is a body that makes more bodies, and having more bodies is awesome when Krenko comes out to play! He’s also great when getting pumped up by Chieftain or costing only one red paired with Warchief. Honestly, Krenko probably belongs in my “Silver Bullet” category, but whatever. He’ll chill here! I LOVE Krenko. As many of you who have been following my ‘Fan Favorite Friday’ series knows, Krenko is the card that got me into Magic. I know a lot of lists have been dropping him in favor of more consistent stuff, but I was just depressed when I didn’t have him and ended up wishing I could Matron for him. I’m glad I played him in this tournament! Fetching him up, Vialing him in when there’s a haste-enabler on board, activating him, then swinging with a whole army of pumped up 1/1s just feels AWESOME, you know?

Uh, now here are some random good cards that don’t seem like “Silver Bullets” or any of my other categories I’m making up on the spot:

Thalia, Honorary Goblin

Gempalm Incinerator

Goblin Piledriver

Thalia is my favorite honorary goblin. She’s great at slowing down everyone who isn’t playing a bunch of creatures, and that’s like, most of the field these days again it seems like. At least around here! That’s why we asked her to come back to the fold. Gempalm Incinerator is a dope card that lets you either have another body on the field or draw a card and (usually) kill a creature. Most goblin lists out there are running way more than me (3, I think?) but I just haven’t been a fan lately. I know how good he should be, but I just wasn’t feeling it this time, and for this tournament, I think that worked out okay. Piledriver can be a house sometimes! Swinging in with +2 for every other goblin swinging with you is awesome, being pro blue is awesome (especially if you’re going to encounter True-Name), and generally, he’s just pretty awesome.

Now, let’s talk “Silver Bullets!” These are the tools that you’ll be fetching up situationally.

Skirk Prospector

Goblin Cratermaker

Grenzo, Havoc Raiser


Goblin Sharpshooter

Prospector is dope and lets us cheat out dudes early or just go get more mana when we’re in a pinch. Cratermaker was an ALL STAR in this tournament and I really wish I’d had three instead of two. He deals with Emrakul, Eldrazi, Robots, and Delvers. Plus, the art is awesome. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser is a card I had tested in the past and then moved away from. The night before the tournament I saw more talk about him on Facebook and decided to try him out again. The one time he connected it was super worth it! I’m definitely going to keep testing him out.

Stingscourger is another one of my favorite cards in this deck. Sometimes I consider going up to more than one copy, because he’s great against decks like Show and Tell or Reanimator and comes in handy against all sorts of other decks with pesky creatures as well. He was definitely one of my MVPs for this tournament. Sharpshooter wasn’t all that great this weekend, but I don’t think I’d go to a tournament without him. He’s great at blasting through tokens or pinging your opponent for that last bit of damage.

Now, let’s chat about lands.

Rishadan Port


Cavern of Souls


Rishadan Port and Wasteland are the important ones. These are what allow us to mess with our opponents’ mana and give them a real bad time. Normally, you’d be running 4 and 4. Lately, I’ve seen that number shift around with the meta, and I decided to drop a Wasteland on a whim for a Karakas to give me a little more white and more game against big legendary creatures (plus sometimes you have to bounce your own Thalia or Krenko to save them.) Cavern of Souls is a life saver, obviously. TAKE THAT, FORCE OF WILL!

Then I have two Plateaus, which is funny because that’s the dual we were all competing for, fetches to get the plateaus, and some basic mountains. Boom! Ready to rock.

So… my sideboard was a total mess. I only had about twenty minutes to get my deck together and hadn’t brought my whole collection with me. I’m super grateful to my friend Ben for lending me the Chalices! Thanks, Ben! I’m not sure exactly what changes I would make, but I know I wish I had more Surgicals, and some Grafdigger’s Cages, or like, Leyline of the Voids.

Well, that’s the deck! Honestly, I’m not sure right now what I’d change if I were taking it to a much bigger tournament. I’m going to keep working at it and let ya’ll know if I think of anything.

Now, time for the tournament report!

Round 1: Miracles, 1-0

I was paired up against Ian, who was almost certainly playing Miracles. Normally I have a fantastic Miracles matchup with my goblins, but Ian is a tricksy opponent so I definitely went into this matchup a little anxious. Goblins did what goblins do best, and I was able to refill my board after every Terminus with my Ringleaders. When Goblins is performing right, you’ll just be able to out-value your Miracles opponents most of the time. Monastery Mentor can be a big pain in the butt though, and I was lucky to have a Stingscourger to bounce Ian’s when the time came. I managed to take the match 2-1!

Round 2: Sneak and Show, 1-1

In the next round, I ended up across from Ryan, who is a regular at our Legacy nights. I had him pegged on running Lands before we sat down, which was a mistake. I forgot he’d been playing Show and Tell lately, and probably kept a hand I shouldn’t have! Playing Ryan is always a pleasure, but holy cow did he steamroller me! I couldn’t get any of my tech in time and got Emrakul-ed twice in a row (I’m certain I didn’t get a game off of him, but I lost my notes so who knows for sure!) 0-2 stompage.

Round 3: UB Shadow, 2-1

This was a pretty unremarkable round! I drew hot, bounced every creature he played, and got sick Ringleader value. Quick and easy 2-0.

Round 4: Intentional Draw, 2-1-1

I was in something like fifth place and my opponent Kyle (the guy who eventually won 1st) and I decided to draw into the Top 8. There was some confusion because we thought there were going to be five rounds, but due to a miscommunication, we only got the four before going to the top 8.

There were three UW decks going into the Top 8 and I had my fingers crossed, praying to Squee that I would have to face one of them first. Alas, it was not to be.

Top 8 Round 1: Show and Tell Again, 2-0!

It was time to face Ryan again, and I wasn’t feeling very confident. I’d tested a TON of games against Show and Tell back when I was first getting into Goblins and it’s definitely a tricky matchup sometimes. Ryan had just stomped me into the ground a few rounds ago, how were my little green men going to compete against things like Omniscience and Emrakul? Well, by delivering me all the answers I needed right when I needed them apparently. Cratermaker is a boss against Emrakul, and when your opponent casts Omniscience and doesn’t have anything to cast off it… well, Ringleader and friends will help seal the deal.

Top 8 Round 2: Dredge 1-2

My opponent started off the match saying that he had to leave soon and would scoop to me at 6:35 PM if neither of us had won at that point (about fifteen minutes away.) Well, come game three it’s almost 6:50 and we’re still going at it, the lure of $20 more trade credit was too much for him to handle I guess. I was in a pretty favorable spot in Game 3, but then I whiffed on two Ringleaders in a row. My hand is empty except for the Ringleader, with Vials and lands ready to rock. Four lands. Next turn I draw another Ringleader and… four more stupid lands. I was betrayed! My opponent managed to reanimate an Elesh Norn and win. Then he immediately scooped to Kyle, who took home the Plateau.

Admittedly, I was pretty salty after this one (lack of sleep and food do not look good on me), but after eating dinner and reverting back to my normal self I was stoked! This was a super fun tournament full of great opponents, and I managed to take fourth place with my favorite deck!

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions, and don’t forget that [our next win-a-dual tournament is coming up in December!] This time the grand prize is a Taiga! I’d love to see some out of town faces come to this one – hit me up if you’re looking for a place to stay and I’ll ask around!

That’s it for now, I’m going to go back to tweaking my list. Believe in the goblin power!

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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.