Last updated on June 22, 2022
Goblin Matron | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
There are plenty of different tribes in Magic. Some more popular and well-fleshed-out than others. You’ve got vampires, Eldrazi, werewolves, slivers, spirits… and those are just off the top of my head.
But there’s one tribe that probably comes to mind if you’re a red player: goblins. These pesky creatures are many in number and fearsome in nature. But which goblin is the best goblin?
Let’s find out.
What Are Goblins in MTG?
Muxus, Goblin Grandee | Illustration by Dmitry Burmak
Goblins aren’t really my favorite creature type in Magic, but they are fun. If you like red deck wins then you probably like goblins. These little guys spread chaos, mayhem, and destruction everywhere they go. And that’s how they like it.
I’ll admit that while this tribe’s playstyle isn’t really my cup of tea, their flavor is top notch. Goblin cards have some of the best (and funniest) flavor text in the game if you ask me. But that’s enough about that; let’s talk mechanics.
Like I said, goblins are chaotic little creatures. They’re violent and destructive and they’re good at it. Here are the main mechanics you’ll run into if you dive into this tribe:
- Token creation
- First strike and double strike
- +1/+1 counters
- Sacrifice effects and payoffs
- Dealing damage
- Creating (red) mana
Now that you know what goblins are all about, it’s time to take a look at the best in the game. Let’s go!
This is definitely a sideboard card, but it more than earns its keep when you stumble into those matches. I also love its flavor. Its ability perfectly matches its name, art, and creature type. It is a pirate, after all.
You’re about to notice a pattern in my honorable mentions. Treasure Nabber is another card that should live in your sideboard, ready to slide in whenever you encounter an artifact-loving opponent.
The Nabber pulls its weight when you do get to use it and your opponent will definitely think twice about whether that mana is worth it. Goblin decks can do a lot with a little extra juice.
Hey, look, another goblin that wants to punish artifact decks! Who woulda thunk it?
Jokes aside, Goblin Trashmaster could actually get away in the main deck against non-artifact decks depending on how much you want those +1/+1 counters. That on a 3/3 isn’t bad when it boosts all your other creatures, after all. It just gives you a little more when your opponent is an artifact-loving player to boot.
#22: Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
Grenzo, Havoc Raiser is a really good card assuming you can get through your opponent’s defenses. But it shouldn’t be that hard as a goblin deck. And then you’re able to goad one of their creatures or steal a card from the top of their library.
The only reason Grenzo doesn’t get a higher ranking is because its abilities aren’t specific to the goblin tribe. It’s a powerhouse of a card otherwise.
#21: Legion Loyalist
This card is great; a 1/1 haste creature for just with a battalion ability is nothing to turn your nose at. And goblins definitely appreciate the first strike and trample. I just wish it was more goblin-focused is all.
#20: Vexing Shusher
I think Vexing Shusher is great. It’s simple, not too expensive as a 2-drop, and it offers some potential protection to your other spells while also keeping itself from being countered. There’s nothing wrong with this card at all and some players would probably put it much higher on this list.
But Shusher just doesn’t do enough for the tribe for me to commit that much, so it gets the totally respectable #20 spot.
#19: Goblin Guide
Hey, you remember how I was complaining about cards that are good but don’t necessarily benefit goblins specifically? Welcome back to that same train of thought.
Goblin Guide is a step up from Legion Loyalist. It’s also a 1-drop with haste except it’s a slightly more buff 2/2. Its ability is a bit of a downer, though, potentially giving your opponent some card advantage.
Still, this Guide is the one for you if you’re looking to get a slightly bigger goblin out a bit earlier.
#18: Goblin Chainwhirler
I’m about done railing on cards that dare to go outside the tribe. I promise.
Goblin Chainwhirler gets some preferential treatment because it’s kind of awesome. A 3-drop 3/3 with first strike that deals a few pips of damage as soon as it lands? That’s great. Even better if your opponent is drowning in planeswalkers.
#17: Skirk Prospector
The first card on the list that specifically wants to work in the tribe is Skirk Prospector. This is a little goblin, just a tiny 1/1 for . But it looks to ramp you by sacrificing the army of Goblin tokens you’re undoubtedly going to amass for each.
Prospector basically pays for itself. With the help of a (probably) unwilling assistant, of course.
#16: Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician
Do you want to use your inconsequential 1/1 Goblin tokens to make your opponent wish they’d never challenged you? Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician is here to help. This card either forces your opponent to make some less-than-ideal blocks or get pinged to death by an army of tiny little Goblins. Assuming you’re making an army of Goblin tokens.
You are making an army of Goblin tokens, right?
Going in a slightly different direction, Guttersnipe fits perfectly in a spells-matter deck. You could slide it in a hybrid goblin/spells deck and it would be right at home. An explosive Izzet () Spells deck is also a great spot for Guttersnipe.
Go ahead. Pick your poison. I’m sure everybody will love playing against you either way.
#14: Goblin Piledriver
Goblin Piledriver is an absolute beast. The more goblins you have, the more beastly it gets. Not to mention that it’s basically indestructible if you’re facing mono-blue opponent thanks to that protection. That’ll teach ‘em.
#13: Goblin Chieftain & Goblin Warchief
They’re both 2/2s that cost and give your other goblins haste. Chieftain is arguably better since it also has haste and gives your other goblins +1/+1 on top of the speed. But Warchief makes your goblins cheaper which means they can hit the battlefield a turn sooner and attack right away.
So really it just depends on what you’re trying to do. Your opponent is in for a rough ride either way.
#12: Warren Instigator
It’s always fun when you get to play a card for free. Goblins especially like that. Warren Instigator is here to make that happen. It might not be particularly intimidating as a 1/1 but it’s sure to grow into some very scary territory with all the counters goblins like to throw around.
Assuming it sticks around long enough to get there. Your opponent definitely won’t want a double striker that can put fellow goblins on the battlefield to stick around. Proceed with caution.
#11: Goblin Recruiter
I feel like there’s so much to say about Goblin Recruiter, and yet also nothing to say at the same time. It kind of speaks for itself. If you’re looking to set up your next few turns to be as chaotic and destructive as possible, you’ve found the right goblin.
#10: Goblin King
Okay, so Goblin King isn’t anything crazy. But as a 3-drop that gives your other goblins +1/+1 and mountainwalk, it deserves to be in the top 10. You could argue that it deserves to be in the top 5, or even top 3.
#9: Legion Warboss
I really love the mentor mechanic. It’s got good flavor, and anything that gives +1/+1 counters is great in my book. Legion Warboss really capitalizes on the mechanic by making little 1/1 Goblin tokens that it can immediately pump into 2/2s if you don’t have any other creatures you want to mentor.
#8: Goblin Lackey
Did somebody say free cards? I think it was Goblin Lackey.
This little 1-drop goblin might not be anything special on its own, but it doesn’t need to be. It’ll bring a bigger goblin to the party as long as you can get it through your opponent’s defenses.
#7: Conspicuous Snoop
Conspicuous Snoop might not be very subtle but it’s trying its best. Give it a break.
You might be giving some info away with this card but basically having an extra card in hand that doesn’t count towards your hand size is still pretty great. And the Snoop is smart enough to do as it sees and copy the abilities of the card it’s snooping on.
#6: Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Now we’re getting into the goblin cards that you’re probably well aware of. You know them; you either love or hate them depending on what side of the table you’re sitting on.
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is the first of our familiar friends. A 2/2 goblin with haste is so original, I know. But is a pretty steep price so its ability needs to pull its weight. Creating a copy of non-legendary creatures is pretty sweet, even if you do have to sacrifice it not long after it joins the fight. Put Kiki-Jiki in a goblins sacrifice deck and you’re sitting pretty.
#5: Mizzix of the Izmagnus
Mizzix of the Izmagnus is pretty awesome. It’s basically the It™ goblin when it comes to Izzet Spells and it’s easy to see why. You’re going to be casting your instants and sorceries for dirt cheap by the time Mizzix gets going.
#4: Vial Smasher the Fierce
Here we have another goblin that likes to play with spells. Vial Smasher the Fierce would be right at home in a Rakdos () deck with some heavy hitters. It’s also a partner commander, which means you can create some truly chaotic Commander builds with this goblin.
#3: Muxus, Goblin Grandee
Being able to bring pretty much any goblin from this list onto the battlefield the second Muxus lands is really something. Not to mention that Muxus gets a temporary +1/+1 for every goblin you control when it attacks. And it already starts as a 4/4.
#2: Krenko, Mob Boss
Remember how you were pinging your opponent to death with an army of Goblin tokens thanks to Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician? I think these two would be friends. Oh, and it’s a great card for a mega-cheap goblin tribal build in EDH.
#1: Goblin Matron
Muxus might be the true goblin king, but Goblin Matron is their queen. The card itself is nothing particularly special. A 1/1 for is… not great, admittedly. But Matron’s ability really makes this the best goblin of them all.
Tell me, what goblin do you need at this very moment? Are you missing one piece of a great combo? Do you need to make some tokens? Get some +1/+1 counters out there? Give your goblin army haste, or first strike? Just go get whatever you need.
You’re all set to make your opponent regret every choice they’ve made up until this point. Go forth and sow chaos, my little goblin friend.
Best Goblin Lords and Payoffs
Goblin Chieftain & Goblin Warchief
Hey, look, it’s Goblin Chieftain and Goblin Warchief again! I already covered why these cards are both great (and how similar they are). I’m sure you get the point. They’re great at boosting your other goblins and helping them land a little sooner.
You should probably grab both of them if you’re looking to bolster your forces.
Hey, you! Bow to your king!
Just like the chiefs up there, I already covered Goblin King. Boosting your other goblins with counters while giving them full access to ping your opponent to death is probably one of the best goblin lord abilities there is.
Cool MTG Goblin Accessories
Biker Goblin Playmat
- VIBRANT- Our bright colors let your personality shine. Our TCG playmat colors are thoroughly tested for optimized and true print colors. Extensive testing by our color professionals leave you with the best looking playmats on the market.
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- DURABLE – Optimal thickness that doesn’t compromise playability. Designed and produced in the USA. Our MTG playmats stand the test of time with durable materials and careful construction.
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GnD Goblin Tokens
Want to make your Goblin token army as fearsome as they are many? Then you want the GnD custom Goblin tokens. These bad boys are appropriately terrifying for how many you’re bound to pop onto the battlefield over the course of the game. Opponents beware.
Classic Creature Tokens
Scary, menacing tokens not your thing? Maybe you’d prefer some softer art instead. If that’s the case then these classic creature tokens are for you. They have a much less intimidating art style while still capturing the essence of a goblin. The seller also offers plenty of other tokens (8 in total), so take a look and see if any of the other creatures catch your eye.
D6 Dice Counters
If you’re having trouble keeping track of all the counters your goblins are bound to be throwing around, then you need these D6 dice counters. I see goblins when I look at these dice, okay. They’re red and green, goblins are red and green…
It makes sense.
- Large quantity: comes with forty-eight pieces of dice counters, including 24 pieces positive dice counters and 24 pieces emerald negative dice counters, nice combination for satisfying your gaming using or replacing
- Quality material: these dice game counters are made of quality polyresin which is stable and reusable, not easy to break, featuring smooth and cool surface, and can serve you for a long time
- Add more fun: token dice can be applied to recording the statistics of your creatures, and the counters can help you keep track of the board state while playing the game, no need to remember the specific data of your cards, and it will also bring more fun and convenience to your joyful game process
- Proper size: D6 dice cube is approx. 16 mm/ 0.63 inch in diameter which is bigger than standard dice (12 mm/ 0.47 inch diameter), so the numbers on each side is clear enough for you to read and check
- Come with 2 bags: 2 velvet bags will be provided for you to store and carry these dices anywhere you like, preventing these dice counters from losing
Goblin Guide | Illustration by Filip Burburan
And there you have it! The best of the best when it comes to this mischievous tribe. What’s your favorite goblin? Did I miss one that you think definitely needs to be included? Let me know in the comments down below or find us over on Discord if that’s more your thing.
I’m headed off to unearth the one and only red goblin deck I ever built. Stay safe, stay healthy, and try not to get blown out of a cannon. See you next time!
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