An old adage in Magic The Gathering circles is Red Deck Wins. This is a comment on the ubuiqity and consistency of mono red aggro decks throughout a range of formats and over time.
In the current standard however, for the first time in a while, mono red isn’t being given much of a look in. I love red, and I love goblins, so I’ve been trying to turn this trend around by building a competitive mono red aggro goblins deck that can stand up to the likes of Mono Green Aggro and Isset Epiphany in the current meta.
While you may want to stick with your Esika’s Chariot and Alrund’s Epiphany for the highest possible win rate. If you’re like me, and looking for something new that puts you at least in range of those decks – and ahead of most others – then you might enjoy this hard hitting goblin aggro brew.
Game Plan Of The Deck
The game plan of this deck is simple and effective.
- Get goblins on the board as early and plentifully as possible.
- Disrupt opponent with interaction.
- Pump goblins to keep threat oppressive and finish with either double strike or disruption + board presence.
- 4 Goblin Javelineer (CMC: 1)
- 4 Battle Cry Goblin (CMC: 2)
- 4 Hobgoblin Captain (CMC: 2)
- 4 Reckless Impulse (CMC: 2)
- 4 Roil Eruption (CMC: 2)
- 4 Hulking Bugbear (CMC: 3)
- 4 Hobgoblin Bandit Lord (CMC: 3)
- 3 Basalt Ravager (CMC: 4)
- 3 Blade Historian (CMC: 4)
- 4 Spikefield Hazard (CMC: 1)
- 4 Den of the Bugbear
- 18 Mountain
Deep Dive into the Deck
The threats here are nothing particularly special, but are all all goblins – important for our upgrade and finishing cards in the following section – and are all a decent mana cost for the value they give.
The Goblin Javelineer is probably my favourite here, as for a one drop it tends to do a fair bit of work. It’s haste, and the fact that it deals damage to blocking creatures means it consistently gets past 2 toughness creatures (higher once it’s pumped up with Battle Cry Goblin and Hobgoblin Bandit Lord).
Hobgoblin Captain quickly levels up to become essentially a 3/3 thanks to our aggro playstyle and the fact that it gets first strike when attacking with creatures having a total power of 6 or more.
Hulking Bugbear is just a nice decent 3 drop at 3/3 with haste.
Bolster the Goblin Threats
Once you have a whole bunch of goblins on the field, or even 2 and 3, it makes a world of difference to be able to pump up their attack power. That’s where Battle Cry Goblin and Hobgoblin Bandit Lord come in.
While Hobgoblin Bandit Lord is certainly useful, making all your goblins that bit tougher – including turning the token goblins from your Den of the Bugbear into 2/2 threats – Battle Cry Goblin is really the star of the show.
At only 2 mana, Battle Cry Goblin more than pulls it weight, able to come down as a 3/2 with haste in turn 4 that buffs everyone else +1/0. Even better, if already on the battlefield, you can spend 4-6 mana in the late game to buff by +2 or +3, and you can do it at instant speed after the opponent has declared blockers. Not only that, but when you attack with a total power of 6 or more, you also get a bonus 1/1 goblin token creature tapped and attacking. Probably my favourite card in the deck.
Don’t Forget Interactivity
Because of the aggro imperative to keep plenty of threats in our deck, we don’t have a ton of interaction. We’re playing a full playset of both Roil Eruption and Spikefield Hazard.
While Roil Eruption is, unfortunately, sorcery speed, it does hit anything for 3 at a cheap rate and can even be buffed to a straight up 5 to the face in the end game which can sometimes be all you need to get over the finish line.
Spikefield Hazard is easy to underestimate, dealing only 1 damage, but it provides surprisingly good utility. Apart from the fact that it also doubles as a slow land if you’re stuck for options, it also has a couple of other great benefits.
One is the fact that it’s instant speed, meaning that you can attack into larger toughness blockers and then finish off their remaining 1 point of health for only 1 mana. The other, is that permanents destroyed by Spikefield Hazard are put into exile rather than the graveyard. This is very useful in a recursion/graveyard value heavy format, and completely undermines other colours’ value 1 drops like Shambling Ghast. Oh plus the fact that you can hit anything, including that last remaining life point if you need to go straight to the face.
In the current format, Spikefield Hazard is also particularly potent given the number of 1 toughness creatures are popular, such as Elite Spellbinder, Thalia Guardian of Thraben, Champion of the Perished and Ascendant Packleader to name a few.
More so than any other card in this list (yes, even my pet favourite Battle Cry Goblin), Reckless Impulse may be the card I’m most excited about. Why? Because it provides card advantage for a cheap mana cost at instant speed that has been sorely lacking for red. I often keep two mana open in the mid to late game if it’s not detrimental to my game plan and then pull this out in my opponent’s end step, to start my turn with an extra 2 options available. Even better, if you have this in your deck and have no playable mana at the start of your turn you can play Reckless Impulse, hopefully get the land you’re looking for and then also have another card available for either this turn or next. I honestly think this could turn out to be one of the most impactful cards out of Crimson Vow for mono red.
Going a bit weird here for finishers, in so far as not sticking with the goblin theme. But after playtesting earlier iterations of this deck a lot, I found that what it was really missing was a way to close out the game. It was often strong in the early game, but then faltered around the mid game, when other aggro decks or midrange decks were really picking up steam.
Because our game plan is about building a wide number of threats, I wanted something that built on this base. Blade Historian does this nicely in the turn it comes down, even without haste, by giving all other creatures double strike. Especially in BO1 when the opponent doesn’t know what’s coming, this is often a lethal move.
The other option you might draw is the Basalt Ravager, which takes your raw number of goblins and turns this number into a free damage shot at anything as you ETB. This can help clear the way for your attackers by taking out a defender or you can go straight to the face, and then either way, you’re left with a decent 4/2 body on the field.
I know the common wisdom is to keep mana count low for aggro decks, but I took the advice of Reid Duke in his article Your Land Count Is Too Low on Channel Fireball, and erred on the side of more lands. In total we’ve got 26 mana sources in this deck.
That might seem like a lot, but keep in mind that 4 of those sources can be used as instants (Spikefield Hazard) and 4 of them double as useful Goblin creatures that also add an extra 1/1 goblin to the board as well as their own body in the turn they attack (Den of the Bugbear).
I’ve played this deck a lot and this amount of land feels pretty much perfect. With the dual utility of the lands mentioned above, plus the card selection offered by Reckless Impulse, I very rarely end up in a mana swamp or drought.
The deck is already pretty well tuned for the Izzet matchup, being cheap and fast. It also does well as is against most mid range decks. Where you may want to include some sideboard answers when playing BO3 is for other aggro matchups, especially Mono Green Aggro.
Some good options here are Burning Hands thanks to it’s incredibally efficient damage against green, Abrade for it’s cheap artifact removal option as an answer to Esika’s Chariot and End the Festivities to help keep any Scute Swarm and White Weenie decks in check.
Watch The Deck in Action
Goblin Smash Vs Izzet Epiphany
Mono Red Aggro Goblins Vs Gruul Ramp
Goblin Smash Vs Mono White
Have you tried out this deck yourself? If so, let me know how you went with it! Have any suggestions on how to improve the deck, I’d love to hear them. Drop me a line over on the contact page.