Last week I talked about the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top in Legacy, and its impact on the format. The Legacy community is still adjusting to the ban, and the metagame has not yet settled. We don’t know what is going to be the best deck a month from now, but we can look at recent trends and try to stay one step ahead. Naturally I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what these changes mean for Goblins, and how to move forward with the deck. Today I want to talk about Goblins in a post Top ban metagame, and where to go from here.

Predicting the metagame

Looking at the 5-0 decklists from MTGO we notice a few things. First of all, three decks clearly stand out above the rest: Storm, Grixis Delver, and Sneak & Show. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best decks or the decks that are seeing the most play, but in terms of number of undefeated finishes, these decks are far ahead of everything else.

After these three decks, the second most popular strategies include Mono Red Sneak Attack, BUG Delver, and Elves, followed by Lands, Turbo Depths, Four Color Loam, and Grixis Control. Note that the BUG and Grixis lists are all playing some form of sweeper effect, likely as a way to combat Elves. If more people are playing with Golgari Charm, Toxic Deluge, and Electrickery again we need to be ready if we want to be successful with Goblins.

We see surprisingly few copies of Death and Taxes, although this could simply be due to the price of Rishadan Port online. On the one hand, D&T was the second most played deck (tied with Show and Tell) at the MKM Series Frankfurt Legacy event. On the other hand, it had one of the worst conversion rates of all. Things certainly look difficult for Death and Taxes right now, but the deck is very adaptable, so I wouldn’t count it out just yet. Maybe all it needs is a configuration that is better suited to properly tackling this new metagame.

Grixis Delver was simultaneously the most played deck and the deck with the highest conversion rate at the tournament. This suggests it was more than a fluke, and puts Grixis Delver in serious contention for the title of “the best deck in Legacy.”

Interestingly, the deck with the second best conversion rate of all was Stoneblade. Stoneblade has long been pushed out of the metagame by Miracles, but now that Miracles is gone, it looks like it’s starting to make a comeback. There are a lot of ways to build Stoneblade however, and with the deck having been gone for so long I suspect it might take some time before we reach a consensus on what the default build should look like.

Elves and Storm both saw a decent amount of play, but neither had a very impressive conversion rate. Instead they were outperformed by decks such as Show and Tell, BUG Leovold, Reanimator, Four Color Loam, and BUG Delver. This could imply that the worst of the combo craze has passed, as people have began to successfully adapt to beat them.

Card choices


Two toughness creatures get a little better in a world of Golgari Charm and Electrickery, making Goblin Piledriver slightly more appealing in this metagame. I’m still a very big fan of Mogg War Marshal, but it might be correct to consider a split.


Goblin Chieftain protects your team from Golgari Charm type effects, but the cost reduction ability of Goblin Warchief is very important in the Goblins vs. Elves matchup, allowing you to go turn three Warchief into turn four Matron for Sharpshooter.


Grixis is now more popular than BUG, making Krenko, Mob Boss worse as he matches up very poorly against Lightning Bolt. His ability to beat up on BUG decks is no longer as useful now that there are fewer of those around. Instead, Siege-Gang Commander gets better again, as he is the least vulnerable to bolt of all the options. SGC is also the best thing to put into play off of a Goblin Lackey when you’re trying to race a combo deck, so there’s that. I still like having access to Krenko in the seventy five, but he might be better in the sideboard.

Tuktuk Scrapper / Tin-Street Hooligan

You might get away with not playing one of these maindeck for now, but I suspect it’s not going to stay that way for long.


I expect to see a lot of Deathrite Shaman, and wouldn’t leave home without fewer than three copies of Tarfire in the deck. Gempalm Incinerator is always great, but I wouldn’t play the full four right now, as it can be a little slow against Elves. If Stoneblade becomes a thing again I would expect to see True-Name Nemesis return as well. Warren Weirding is a clean and tutorable answer to TNN. If you’re splashing black I recommend having one copy in the deck, even if it’s a little weak to Young Pyromancer.

Utility Lands

With so many decks that are faster than you, Port gets a little worse. Karakas is still good against Sneak & Show, but I will have to wait and see how popular Leovold ends up being before I pass my verdict on it. Ancient Tomb could be a neat option to help cast your Chalices and Blood Moons earlier, but at that point I’d rather just play a different deck. I also don’t like the idea of dealing too much damage to myself against Delver decks.

I’m pretty high on Pendelhaven right now to be honest. Deathrite Shaman is as popular as ever, and it looks like Stoneforge Mystic is set to make a comeback. Pendelhaven also helps against all the Golgari Charm type effects, and can really help you play a fair game against Elves—an upside that should not be underrated.

Graveyard Hate

With the rise of Elves recently I strongly recommend Grafdigger’s Cage as your graveyard hate of choice. Cage stops Green Sun’s Zenith in addition to Natural Order, the easiest way they have to win out of nowhere. Relic of Progenitus is still good versus a lot of random decks, but with Fatal Push pushing Tarmogoyf out of the format, it is no longer necessary to play three copies.

Chalice of the Void

Chalice of the Void seems great with so much Grixis Delver, Storm, and Elves around. But people also seem to be very well prepared for it. A lot of these Grixis lists are playing some combination of Ancient Grudge, Engineered Explosives, and Kolaghan’s Command in the sideboard, and I prefer the cards I bring in not to walk right into my opponent’s’ answers.

The list

Legacy Goblins

Creatures (29)
Goblin Lackey
Skirk Prospector
Mogg War Marshal
Goblin Warchief
Earwig Squad
Goblin Sharpshooter
Goblin Matron
Goblin Ringleader
Lightning Crafter
Tuktuk Scrapper
Siege-Gang Commander
Gempalm Incinerator

Spells (8)
Warren Weirding
Aether Vial
Lands (23)
Cavern of Souls
Snow-Covered Mountain
Arid Mesa
Wooded Foothills
Bloodstained Mire

Sideboard (15)
Chalice of the Void
Cabal Therapy
Grafdigger’s Cage
Blood Moon
Engineered Plague
Relic of Progenitus
Krenko, Mob Boss
Goblin Sharpshooter
Tuktuk Scrapper

This is the list I’m playing for now. It’s fairly similar to my usual list, with most of the changes occurring in the sideboard. I really wanted a third copy of Chalice of the Void, but found that it lead to me having too many cards to bring in versus both Grixis Delver and Elves. I will probably also try out one piledriver in the maindeck and see how I like it, but until then I’m going with the option I’m more familiar with. The two Cabal Therapy in the sideboard are there because I desperately needed more cards against Sneak and Show, but having them against Storm doesn’t hurt either. Engineered Plague is an additional answer to True-Name Nemesis that also helps against Grixis, Elves, and Death & Taxes.

Sideboard guide

Grixis Delver

-4 Goblin Lackey
-1 Skirk Prospector
-1 Earwig Squad
-1 Tuktuk Scrapper
-1 Lightning Crafter

+2 Chalice of the Void
+2 Blood Moon
+2 Pyrokinesis
+1 Goblin Sharpshooter
+1 Engineered Plague

We bring in Chalice and Blood Moon to lock them out of the game, as well as more removal to help stabilize. I’m not happy about boarding out Lackeys here, but with them having both Deathrite Shaman and multiple one mana removal spells I estimate Lackey’s chances of actually connecting to be quite slim.

Sneak and Show

-3 Tarfire
-2 Gempalm Incinerator
-1 Tuktuk Scrapper

+2 Chalice of the Void
+2 Cabal Therapy
+1 Goblin Sharpshooter
+1 Krenko, Mob Boss

Ideally I would like about two more cards for this matchup. As it is the plan is to race them while hopefully disrupting them somewhat. We bring in the second Sharpshooter because combo killing them with Skirk Prospector is a real thing. It’s also an additional way to kill one of your own creatures that is being blocked by Griselbrand in order to prevent lifelink and get the last few points of damage through.


-3 Tarfire
-1 Warren Weirding
-3 Gempalm Incinerator
-1 Stingscourger
-1 Tuktuk Scrapper

+2 Chalice of the Void
+2 Cabal Therapy
+1 Relic of Progenitus
+2 Grafdigger’s Cage
+2 Blood Moon

We take out the removal and bring in all of our disruption. If they’re playing TES I’d bring in the second Goblin Sharpshooter as well since it deals with Empty the Warrens.


-4 Goblin Lackey
-1 Tuktuk Scrapper
-1 Stingscourger
-1 Earwig Squad
-1 Mogg War Marshal

+2 Chalice of the Void
+2 Grafdigger’s Cage
+1 Engineered Plague
+2 Pyrokinesis
+1 Goblin Sharpshooter

We bring in a lot of cards here, but all of them are really good in the matchup. If you want you could also shave a pair of Goblins to make room for Blood Moon. Consider leaving in Tuktuk Scrapper if you suspect they might have Pithing Needle. Goblin Sharpshooter is really important in the matchup, so if they needle it it’s bad for you.

Sandro is a Magic player from Stockholm, Sweden. He’s been playing Goblins in Legacy for years. Follow him on Twitter @SandroRajalin

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