Revitalizing high-finishing but long-forgotten archetypes from Magic’s history in a favorite pastime of mine—I’ve tried a pure Draw-Go control deck with Baral, for example, and a Modern Ponza deck several times. Sometimes it fails—like those aforementioned decks—but sometimes it’s at least reasonable and, most importantly, a neat fusion of nostalgia with reinterpretations of previous champions. Nostalgia’s to be resisted, but nothing’s wrong with new iterations on old foundations.

This month, my target is the Onslaught-era Goblin Bidding deck. It was a fantastic machine—you’d curve out with Goblins, get early chip damage in; then, when your Gobsquad was outclassed, you’d throw them into the woodchipper for a few more damage, before mass-reanimating them with a Patriarch’s Bidding. It gave an aggressive deck a plan B—or a plan A in many games—and was an absolute blast to play.

Here’s Eider’s list, which he took to a Top 8 finish in the 2003 World Championships. Is it possible to create something similar in Dominaria/Guilds Standard? Well, here’s our list:

Standard Goblin Bidding

Creatures (25)
Skirk Prospector
Fanatical Firebrand
Goblin Cratermaker
Goblin Instigator
Midnight Reaper
Goblin Warchief
Goblin Chainwhirler
Goblin Trashmaster
Siege-Gang Commander

Spells (11)
Risk Factor
Goblin Barrage
Gruesome Menagerie
Lands (24)
Dragonskull Summit
Cinder Barrens
11 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Dark-Dweller Oracle
Goblin Trashmaster
Necrotic Wound
The Flame of Keld
Goblin Barrage

The advantage, of course, of this deck over the original Goblin Bidding deck is that Patriarch’s Bidding was at least somewhat symmetrical—you’d exploit it better than your opponent, but they generally would get back a creature or two with it—whereas Gruesome Menagerie only benefits you. It’s harder to get full value, and the success state of Bidding was much greater; while Menagerie limits you to a maximum of three creatures. But if they’re the right three creatures, you won’t even notice.

Quick hits on card choices: what we’re missing is the raw card advantage of Goblin Ringleader and the door-slammer of Goblin Piledriver. In Ringleader’s place, I’ve put in Risk Factor, which can advance our reanimation plan. It’s more scattershot than the laser-focus of the Ringleader, but it does the job, and does it better than Rowdy Crew. You’ll also just straight-up win games with it against opponents who choose poorly, and I love no other method of victory more than getting people hoisted on their own petards.

You’ve also got Midnight Reaper, who has overperformed so far. We’re lacking a replacement for Piledriver at the moment, and I’m not dumb enough to try this deck in Modern. This is also why we’re leaving out Legion Warboss—Goblin density doesn’t matter to this deck, unlike the original form of Goblin Bidding. That said, there’s absolutely a variant of this deck that exploits the synergy of Warboss, Midnight Reaper, Goblin Instigator, Dark-Dweller Oracle, etc.

Also, this is a corner case, but man, between Cratermaker and Trashmaster, your opponent will not have a single artifact on their side of the table. It feels like heresy to only run two copies of Goblin Warchief; but the cost reduction doesn’t truly matter in the deck, although the haste is a bonus. I absolutely hate saying this, but you might be better off with Garna, the Bloodflame—I haven’t tested her out yet, but she seems absolutely ideal in the deck.

Originally, this was a much sillier deck that ran Squee, the Eternal, Desecrated Tomb, and Goblin Warchief/Skirk Prospector to effectively create a “pay 1R, create a 1/1 flying Bat.” That’s still a blast, especially once you add Midnight Reaper, but this is a much more coherent, viable deck.

Obviously, when Ravnica Allegiance drops, this will be a stronger deck—Blood Crypt will ameliorate the mana issues, and there will presumably be some utility Rakdos cards, and possibly more Goblins. But I’ve been impressed by the promise of the deck, and look forward to seeing how it develops. Goblins are a perennial favorite, and it’s been too long since I’ve been able to bring back the squishy things en masse. If you too miss throwing your entire board away, only to drag it back out of the graveyard, your chance has never been better. Throw caution to the winds and take the shot; it’s what the Goblins would have wanted.

While we’re on the topic of Gruesome Menagerie, here’s an encore bonus deck that really goes to town.

Standard Turbomill Menagerie

Creatures (23)
Stitcher's Supplier
Dusk Legion Zealot
Glowspore Shaman
Jadelight Ranger
Charnel Troll
World Shaper
Bone Dragon

Spells (12)
Mausoleum Secrets
Gruesome Menagerie
Desecrated Tomb
Crucible of Worlds
Lands (25)
Overgrown Tomb
Woodland Cemetery
Field of Ruin

Mill your entire deck for fun and profit. Make bats! Gruesome Menagerie to mill yourself for even more! Spit out Bone Dragons! I love this awful deck.

A lifelong resident of the Carolinas and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Rob has played Magic since he picked a Darkling Stalker up off the soccer field at summer camp. He works for nonprofits as an educational strategies developer and, in his off-hours, enjoys writing fiction, playing games, and exploring new beers.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.