Last updated on April 23, 2022

Krenko, Mob Boss - Illustration by Karl Kopinski

Krenko, Mob Boss | Illustration by Karl Kopinski

I’ve written up quite a few Commander deck guides lately. They’ve ranged from mid-power casual lists to completely optimized cEDH builds. But I haven’t gone to the opposite side of the spectrum and put together a list that’s almost as affordable as precons.

It can be surprisingly difficult to find a list of 100 cards that cost less than $0.50 per card on average. But there’s one tribal archetype that is particularly good at being cheap, and that’s goblins.

Goblins is a classic EDH tribe that constantly gets new cards and support with each set that releases. Many of its top cards and staples are at the common and uncommon rarity. They often come in at $0.10 to $0.25 per card, which means it’s easy to fill most of your deck on the cheap while still having room in the budget for a few powerful $3 to $5 cards.

But that’s enough talk. Let’s get into the deck!

The Deck

Siege-Gang Commander - Illustration by Aaron Miller

Siege-Gang Commander | Illustration by Aaron Miller

Today’s deck is a creature-heavy combat-matters list led by none other than Krenko, Mob Boss. Its main goal is to create a wide array of goblins to be reinforced by its commander’s activated ability. It wins through raw combat damage or Trumpet Blast effects and enchantments like Goblin Bombardment.

Despite its affordability with an average price of around $5, Krenko Commander decks out to around $300 on average. I think that’s far too much for the beginning Magic player who’s been attracted to the idea of swarming their opponents with this unique and fun card. The list I bring to you today is an ultra-budget version with a price of a little over $50, which is only a little more expensive than the precon decks by WotC.

But don’t let this price tag fool you. This deck is powerful, and it’s still able to include many of the most powerful and deck-enabling goblin cards in Magic, like Goblin Bombardment and Throne of the God-Pharaoh. Goblins are cheap, which makes this budget list incredibly potent. And it doesn’t look like a typical budget list either.

The Commander

Krenko, Mob Boss

Krenko, Mob Boss is the most powerful goblin commander out there. It’s also one of the most popular commanders overall with nearly 4,200 decks online. Its power comes from its activated ability, which doubles the number of goblins you have in play by creating a lot of 1/1 tokens.

This ability gets out of control very quickly, especially because it’s just so easy to make goblins. So many spells and goblin creatures create additional 1/1 goblins on top of their other effects. They’re practically free, and the more you have in play the better your commander and the rest of your deck is.

Early Creatures

This deck’s average mana cost is as low as its price point is, and that means you want to have a turn 1 play as often as possible. With nine 1-drop creatures you have a decent chance of finding one in your first opening hands without much trouble. You don’t want to throw away a decent hand that pops off on turn 4 if you don’t have a 1-drop, though.

Goblin Motivator

Goblin Motivator is one of the best 1-drops you have. It helps push out Krenko, Mob Boss a turn early by letting you immediately double the number of goblins you have, which greatly increases your win rate. The easiest way to shut this deck down is to consistently kill your commander and deny you your duplications, so Mentor helps a lot.

Goblin Soothsayer

Goblin Soothsayer is also decent and gets increasingly more valuable the longer the game goes and the wider your board gets. This can often give upwards of 15 to 20 extra combat damage, which makes it an okay creature early and a grave threat later on.

If creatures aren’t your favorite (which they better be if you’re playing Krenko), you can still hope to get out something like Hazoret’s Monument or Hammer of Purphoros early on. This is an incredible start and feels amazing to play since you’ll be a turn ahead of your opponents, controlling the board state in terms of aggression.

Powerful Enchantments

Cavalcade of Calamity

Despite this deck’s incredible creature-heavy nature, you still have a few enchantments you want to make room for. The first of these is Cavalcade of Calamity, a 2-mana enchantment that deals damage whenever you attack with a creature with power 1 or less. Since you’re an entirely-goblin based strategy you’re almost always guaranteed to get value from this, usually more than once. The only time you won’t is if you have some other power-buffing effect in play, but that’s still really strong on its own and is often more than +1/+0.

Goblin Bombardment MH2

Second is Goblin Bombardment, an all-time classic goblin enchantment. It lets you sacrifice a creature to deal one damage to anything at instant speed, which can effectively double our possible damage output in a single turn. Any blocked creatures can be flung before damage if you’re facing down a single opponent, and any attackers that go through can be sacrificed after combat for even more damage. This is hands-down one of the best cards in your deck, and for only about $1.

Goblin Oriflamme

Goblin Oriflamme is technically an anti-combo with Cavalcade of Calamity but it’s good enough on its own to warrant running. The two cards are equally as good and you have both for consistency. Having an effect like this is really strong and makes your otherwise mediocre board states much more threatening.

Outpost Siege

Last but certainly not least is Outpost Siege. This enchantment lets you choose “Khans” or “Dragons,” which each offers you different effects. While Khans is strong and can help generate additional pressure and card advantage, you’ll be choosing Dragons most of the time. It gives you guaranteed damage in the face of board wipes and can effectively set everyone’s life total much lower since board wipes significantly hurt them.

Game Finishers

While a very wide board of 1/1 goblins that duplicate each turn is usually enough to kill an opponent who’s lacking in defense, there are a number of cards that close games for you if played when you have a strong board.

Throne of the God-Pharaoh

Throne of the God-Pharaoh is one of these cards since it presents a massive amount of table-wide damage. Most players won’t have nearly enough blockers to kill a significant portion of your board in a single swing which makes it very easy to spread damage across the entire table. It also hits every single opponent so it’s powerful even if you have three or four creatures out since that’s 9 to 12 damage in total. On top of all of that it costs only , which means you can often play it on curve and get significant returns over the course of a game.

Goblin Bombardment MH2

Next up is Goblin Bombardment, for obvious reasons. This card can come down and kill an entire table if it’s late enough in the game, and at instant speed.

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell is another massive threat that can pop off if you have something like Goblin Bombardment or Cavalcade of Calamity in play. It turns 12 table-wide damage into an instant win which is about as good as you can hope for.

Hobgoblin Bandit Lord

Last is Hobgoblin Bandit Lord. This card is a decent midrange creature that can pose a serious threat once you put another 10 goblins on the board with Krenko, Mob Boss. The Bandit Lord is obviously a little more difficult to kill an entire table with, but your opponents are in for a bad time if you manage to untap with it and Krenko.

Interaction

Vandalblast

Every deck needs interaction, even if it’s an ultra-budget creature-based deck like this one! Red is great at artifact destruction first and foremost, so you have one of the best cards in that department. Vandalblast is artifact removal for just and can overload to wipe the entire table clean of powerful mana artifacts or stax pieces.

You also run Abrade for some consistency which doubles as early creature removal along with Shock.

Red Elemental Blast

You also have a copy of Red Elemental Blast to handle the ever-growing prevalence of blue. You’ll rarely find yourself in a pod where nobody is running blue, and even if you do there’s no guarantee you draw this.

Card Draw

The average cost of cards in this deck is significantly lower than most. You’re a fast creature-based strategy. You’re likely playing multiple cards per turn on turns 4 and 5 and emptying your hand quicker than most other players. To prevent this from becoming an issue you have plenty of card draw and card-advantage mechanics to make sure you’re never hellbent.

Faithless Looting

The most powerful and popular of these is Faithless Looting. While this card is technically card negative it can help filter through some dead cards like lands or cheap 1-mana creatures in the late game. It also comes back through the flashback keyword to give you extra value later on.

Tormenting Voice

Tormenting Voice, on the other hand, is card neutral and actually digs through your deck. It still needs another card in your hand, which is hopefully a land, and can ideally refill you with two stronger cards to play.

Thrill of Possibility

Thrill of Possibility is a better Tormenting Voice. It does the exact same thing but at instant speed.

Hazoret's Monument

Hazoret’s Monument is another card-neutral source of advantage that basically lets you cycle cards for free whenever you cast a creature spell, which will be a lot. It also gives a welcome 1-mana discount to all your red creature spells.

Outpost Siege

Outpost Siege can become a card-advantage engine by selecting Khans when it enters the battlefield. It restricts you to the top card of your library, but that card will almost always be playable later in the game when you have plenty of mana to spend.

The Mana Base

Acceleration

Sol Ring

While you don’t have the efficient mana acceleration of green, there are still some powerful acceleration tools included in this list. The most powerful is the classic Sol Ring, which helps you get a powerful turn 2 Krenko, Mob Boss in play.

There’s also Fire Diamond for an additional and Hazoret’s Monument for a 1-mana discount across the board.

Lands

The mana base for this deck is exceptionally simple, partly thanks to the fact it’s mono-red with a very limited range of choices for utility lands, but also because utility lands are expensive.

You have a simple setup of 30 Mountains, a copy of Castle Embereth, and one Forgotten Cave. The Castle can be a good mana sink later on to push additional damage, and the Cave is some card-neutral digging for the late game.

Combos and Interactions

Possible Rule-0 Violations

Goblin Motivator - Illustration by Johann Bodin

Goblin Motivator | Illustration by Johann Bodin

As with any deck you plan on bringing to your friend group or local game store’s table, you need to make sure it’s the right power level for the job. This Krenko deck is appropriate for anything between precon and mid-power level games. Playing this decklist against somebody who just has a pile of cards or against an Urza Stax deck (one of the saltiest decks out there) will both result in at least one player being incredibly sad.

There are no infinite combos in the deck, the most popular “Rule 0” violations out there. There are also no fast mana artifacts like Mana Crypt or Mana Vault, which can often balance the scale in one player’s favor beyond what can be fought against. There also aren’t any incredibly “salty” cards in this list either, like Dockside Extortionist, Blood Moon, or Ruination.

Nothing here will make your playgroup flip the table or force you to make changes. This is a pretty “fair” deck, and an excellent budget option.

Budget Options

Throne of the God-Pharaoh - Illustration by Titus Lunter

Throne of the God-Pharaoh | Illustration by Titus Lunter

As far as budget goes, you’re literally looking at it. But if you’re looking to truly go bare-minimum then the most expensive cards are Throne of the God-Pharaoh, Conspicuous Snoop, and Brash Taunter.

Throne of the God-Pharaoh is the single-most expensive card in the deck at about $6. But unless you’re completely pressed in terms of budget purposes, I’d recommend keeping the list as-is. These “expensive” cards add a significant level of power to the deck so expect a much weaker version if you axe the price down any more.

Other Builds

Dark-Dweller Oracle - Illustration by Deruchenko Alexander

Dark-Dweller Oracle | Illustration by Deruchenko Alexander

As far as alternative-builds go, Krenko, Mob Boss is practically an exclusively goblin-based commander. If you’re hellbent on not being just “goblin tribal” there’s an unbeaten path down the sacrifice route.

If there’s one thing Krenko and his goblin friends can do it’s make a boatload of creature tokens to sacrifice. You’d ideally look to play a lot of cards like Mogg Fanatic, Goblin Sledder, and Dark-Dweller Oracle to combo off with an infinite token generator with this strategy. This can come in the form of something like Krenko, Mob Boss with Thornbite Staff and Skirk Prospector, or just a simple Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker plus Zealous Conscripts.

Commanding Conclusion

Goblin Bombardment - Illustration by Dave Kendall

Goblin Bombardment | Illustration by Dave Kendall

With that we conclude today’s EDH guide on Krenko, Mob Boss! I really enjoyed the puzzle of putting this list together with such a low-budget ceiling. It forced me to really pick my brain and search through EDHREC and Gatherer for cards to include, as well as coming to terms with the fact that Skullclamp was just too expensive to play.

What do you think of the list? Do you already play Krenko and saw some cards you might want to include? Let me know down in the comments.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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2 Comments

  • Thomas April 23, 2022 11:29 am

    I recently got into Magic again and have two questions. 1: Why are there 101 Cards in your list?
    2: Why not play “Play with Fire“ over “Shock“?

    • Jake Henderson April 23, 2022 2:07 pm

      Hey, Thomas,

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. That was just a miscounting of the lands. There were meant to be 29 mountains, not 30!

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