Checklist: Modern Goblin 2-Drops

An aggresive fringe deck of Modern Goblins is based on many one drops, but there are some two drops that can find its spot in our decks. Last time we went through most of the one drop goblins, and today we are checking out what two mana goblins we have at our disposal.

Both Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker are kind of a two drops, but their true casting cost is not two and both of them are great cards, so I chose to not include them in this article. However, you should play them in your Goblin decks, at least four of them. Atarka’s Command might be one of the best, if not the best two drop in a regular Goblin deck as it offers three great modes, but we all know that. In addition to that is just isn’t a goblin related card to begin with. However, these are:

Warren Instigator – Lackey on steroids is a bit too slow for Modern considering Goblins are an aggro deck. In addition to that, there is not much use of cheating Goblins post-combat. Unless you are trying to explore midrange Goblins, don’t run any in your aggro deck.

Goblin Electromancer – for Storm decks only, thanks. Instants and Sorceries we run are mostly only colored mana, if you even need justification on not playing it.

For storm, not aggro goblins!
Vexing Shusher – two mana for a 2/2 is not where aggro Goblins want to be, and Counterspells are not that hard to play against. You are better of playing Cavern of Souls in a blue-heavy metagame. Making spells like Goblin Grenade uncountrable could be decisive in some games, but please don’t go relying on that.

Mogg War Marshal – finally a decent two-drop that is widely recognised as a staple and although some pilots tend to skip on it, it’s far from wrong if you play it. Goes nicely with Goblin Grenade, Foundry Street Denizen and going-wide approach of a token-heavy builds. Three creatures for two mana is a good deal guys, but it can be clunky on occasions.

Goblin Piledriver – one of the newest additions to Modern is this Legacy staple, but due to high number of removal spells it is not as effective as in Legacy. Still the best beater and despite the fact that it dies to all spot removal it can be deadly with Bushwhackers and Legion Loyalist. Good against non-interactive decks you have to race and Merfolk.

Bloodmark Mentor – while first strike is decent for combat oriented decks like Goblins, being 1/1 and without haste is a no-go. You are better of playing Legion Loyalists.

Mudbrawler Cohort – a card I played around brewing but ended up disregarding it. You usually have other guys around, but when you don’t, its a downer. A two mana 2/2 haster is decent, but I would rather go with Spike Jester in case you need hasty two-drops.

Mardu Scout – interesting option that is heavy on mana, but plays nicely with Foundry Street Denizen and surging Bushwhacker when on four lands. Good thing is that if dashed, it dodges sorcery speed removal, and three power is nothing to sneeze at. Maybe a 1 or 2-of if you need high power swingy creature, but that’s about it.

Jund Hackblade – playable when packing Spike Jester, Burning-Tree Emissary and Tattermunge Maniac for an all out multicolor aggro plan, but lacks the consistency of Mardu Scout and Spike Jester alone. Try it and enjoy for a while, then move along.

Okk – a no-go in Modern Goblins, unplayable. It would remain unplayable even if Piledriver could trigger it. Probably one of the worse 2-drop goblins as far as our tribal decks go, even in other formats. I would rather go with Goblin Piker or Goblin Raider, and that should speak volumes.

Akki Rockspeaker – this Akki is an interesting option that I always wanted to brew with, but in the end its lackluster. It plays along Reckless Bushwhacker nicely and enables some aggresive turns, but all in all Burning-Tree Emissary is just better.

Skinbrand Goblin – combat trick stapled on a Goblin card, not that bad but nothing exceptional. Opens up a two-for-one in favor of your opponent, and a vanilla 2/1 for two mana is not where we want to be.

Goblin Diplomat – another 2/1 for two mana that could have some use when in a stalemate, but I would rather go with Gruul Charm or even something as narrow as Magmatic Chasm. Diplomat, albeit it has a great art and flavor, is just too slow.

Goblin Diplomats by Izzy.
Goblin Shortcutter – the enter the battlefield ability is good enough to warrant another look, but is offers too little to be considerate a must have. It has some potential in creature based games, especially against a single Kalitas or Wurmcoil, but is slow and useless against decks that lack creatures, or have them in abundancy. Probably better than Diplomat, but that’s about it.

Subterranean Scout – a third variety of a 2/1 for two mana that manipulates blocking, can make Piledriver or Rabblemaster go through, but is fragile against removal where Shortcutter at leasts incapacitates a blocker.

Goblin Tunneler – slower Subterranean Scout is not what we want, keep to the options above if in need of an anti-blocker.

Mogg Flunkies – interesting card standing 3/3 tall for only two mana, and in a deck like ours it should be able to attack most of the time. Dying to bolt (and Fatal Push) makes it a bit worse, but was borderline playable even before the printing of the new black removal spell. I would shy away from it since there are better (faster, more reliable) options at 2-drop.

Art by Brom.
Goblin Wardriver – this pseudo-lord is great when leading a bunch of tokens in attack while doing nothing otherwise. Lacking haste is a bummer, but its still a decent option for those who opt to go wide.

Stingscourger – a must-have in Legacy goblins, this bouncer is one of the goblins with the most tempo potential that can play a similar role to Shortcutter. Using it to attack, block or sacrifice for Goblin Grenade is just bonkers. Also great when removing a token, or in combination with Bushwhackers, but kind of too slow and clunky for Modern.

Frogtosser Banneret – this black goblin is one of those that I always try to incorporate in slower and bigger goblin decks (that usually end up worse than aggro). Haste is good, and it does dodge Doom Blade, but does next to nothing in fast decks with lots of 1-drops while offering little firepower on its own.

Spike Jester – ahh, one of my pet goblin cards; this 3/1 haster is my go-to beater when splashing black and looking for faster options at two drop than Mogg War Marshal or Piledriver. Great in combination with Legion Loyalist and when deployed turn 2 after a Foundry Street Denizen, but in a removal heavy metagame it usually just dies as soon as it hits the ground. Haste makes him faster than Piledriver, but it has less potential.

Tattermunge Witch – an interesting option, a bit on the slow side but can be powerful against tokens or weenies. Sadly too expensive for our mana-hungry deck and is good only conditionally, so I would shy away from it. Goblin Chieftain, both Bushwhackers and even Magmatic Chasm are probably better, while an all-star Legion Loyalist fills the occasional need for trample.

Akki Blizzard-Herder – could be good against tron decks, but usually it spells doom for the goblin pilot as well. We usually lose when flooded either way, so its not really an anti-flood tech, and we need from 2 to 4 lands to operate as intended. Considering other decks play more lands than we do, its only viable against specific decks like tron and maybe Valakut, but it’s hard to warrant sideboard slots for the land-hating Akki.

Ember Hauler – a bigger and more costly Mogg Fanatic could be good in a removal heavy metagame without many creatures or against small creature decks acting as a removal, but otherwise lacks the aggressiveness of other haste goblins or the width provided by the likes of Mogg War Marshal. It does nothing the turn it comes into play unless you keep one mana up for a 3-mana Shock, which is not where we aim to be.

Tin Street Hooligan – much was written about our Hooligan on my page, but let me just say that its my favorite artifact hate. A two-for-one that leaves a body is on par with Destructive Revelry and Smash to Smithereens (well, its not instant and can’t hit enchantments, but still …). It can cast a Goblin Grenade, it triggers a Foundry Street Denizen, and blocks like a boss. In addition to that, it just loves to see a Bushwhacker right after destroying an artifact (Ensnaring Bridge anyone?). Also great against the likes of Expedition Map on the play. Consider runing some in the side, it has a bigger damage potential than both mentioned spells.

Tin Street Hooligan by Luca Zontini.
Slavering Nulls – the discard clause is good but Nulls are just too slow and require a heavy fetch and shockland based black splash (remember that Auntie’s Hovel and Blackcleave Cliffs don’t trigger it). It also lacks haste to be effecting on the turn it comes into the play. All in all an interesting design but does too little too slow for our taste.

Nath’s Buffoon – elves might be our arch-enemies but this buddy does nothing against them. They usually don’t block, so unblockable clause is useless, and when they attack a 1/1 isn’t going to change the tides of the battle.

Squeaking Pie Sneak – the goblin version of Silvergill Adept is nowhere near the Merfolk, and while Fear is indeed a decent evasion, it just lacks the power and/or haste (cantrip would be just too good I guess).

Weirding Shaman – not a worst of goblins but four mana for a semi-useful ability is just too much. Our two-drops are crowded as it is, and some pilots don’t even play any 2cmc goblins, so it’s hard to see the inclusion. Good against removal if you have six mana to spare on the turn you play it, which is probably never.

Warren Weirding – not a goblin per se, yet a removal capable of making more goblins of our own. Bear in mind that those black goblins off of Weirding have haste. Cute, but probably not mainbord material. Great against Bogles and Infect.

Krenko’s Command/Dragon Fodder – our go-to spells in token strategies, both have some pros and cons in regards to Mogg War Marshal. Playable, yet not a must-have for every goblin deck in Modern. Good when going wide and against spot removal, but lacks speed (however, both are faster than Mogg War Marshal).

Best Command, Krenko’s. Art by Karl Kopinski, text from reddit.
Goblin Outlander – Pro something is always worth a look, but with Outlander a look is all it gets. Not enough white in the metagame, and Path is not really the best removal against us (it’s Bolt and Push).

Ishi-Ishi, Akki Crackshot – Spirit decks are a (fringe) thing in Modern and this buddy is the hate for it, but I doubt any of us will resort to it. Crackshot also hates on Goryo’s Vengeance and Through the Breach, but we can find better hosers for reanimator in Modern. A fun card with a interesting name, but that’s about it.

Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer – another kind of useless legendary goblin in regards to Goblin (and Kuldotha) decks. It aims to protect a value artifact by trading a less useful one, but that doesn’t seem like something a Kuldotha Red wants. Regular goblins even less so.

Grotag Siege-Runner – a casual option if facing Defender (Doran) decks in your local metagame. Please don’t play it otherwise.

Rustrazor Butcher – not that bad against creatures since Wither and First strike are a good combo, but offers next to nothing when clocking our opponents. Would not play it myself.

Bazaar Trader – when I started to play Modern (Goblins of course), I played a few of those (in addition to a full playset of Goblin Kings) in hopes of hitting a might-win-combo of giving my opponent a Mountain to make my horde unblockable. Please don’t do the same mistake as I did, skip the unnecessary shenanigans, it doesn’t work in all but the most casual settings. Blood Moon does a better job if you insist on mountainwalking goblins with Kings.

Art by Matt Cavotta.
Goblin Glider – evasion is decent but the lack of power and haste makes it unplayable in a cruel world of Modern.

Utvara Scalper – much better flying Goblin than Glider, but sadly that isn’t saying much. Can block a Lingering Souls token the turn you play it, but that’s about the only positive thing other than flying. Offers too little.

Goblin Skycutter – on paper is seems like a decent hate for flying creatures, but after thinking about it we Goblin pilots are not really that keen on blocking or losing our guys for such an effect as Skycutter’s. “Decent” only against Inkmoth Nexus, but don’t play it because you have a few infect and afinity in your metagame. Just don’t.

Thick-Skinned Goblin – could be good with the likes of Mogg War Marshal and Stingscourger, but is too slow and echo cards do too little to warrant a build-around. Pro Red is fine but rarely decisive.

Goblin Kaboomist – fun but inconsistent, not powerful enough and does nothing until our next turn. Also more or less useless against other Modern decks, especially from an aggro point of view. Pass.

Jeering Instigator – too mana intensive, slow and clunky, but the idea is decent. Morph, pass the turn, pay morph and swing for X, win. Or you could win instead of playing a morph card to begin with.

Metallic Mimic – the new tribal artifact pseudo-lord started some talks within the goblin community in regards to its playability, but it was dismissed as a staple. Kuldotha goblins (so called gobots) might find a use, but at 2 mana do-nothing on the turn it comes into play is not where either of the goblin-based decks want to be. I doubt it will find place in the current versions of both decks, and unless something new gets printed that plays along, it will remain a mayboard at best.

By Zack Stella.

Out of all mentioned goblins, Piledriver, Mogg War Marshal, token generators, Spike Jester, Tin Street Hooligan and Goblin Wardriver are the ones with the most applications, but never stop brewing and trying out different takes on the Goblin decks. Keep goblining and the time shall come when the small greenskin army will rise to its rightful place!

All images courtesy of WoTC.



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