Minion of the Mighty | Illustration by Oriana Menendez
Tiny little creatures are integral to fantasy settings. Not everything can be big and scary and impressive. You need some smaller things to make the world really work, to make the big things stand out. Goblins and imps are both classic fantasy creatures. Mix them both together and you get something new.
Kobolds are a small creature in Magic, both literally and figuratively. I know them best from Neverwinter Nights (you had to know I’d work that in somewhere). Deekin will always have a special place in my heart. Love that little guy.
Anyway, my obsession with NWN aside, let’s talk about these resilient little creatures in MTG!
What are Kobolds in MTG?
Crookshank Kobolds | Illustration by Christopher Rush
Kobolds are a pretty underserved creature type in Magic. There are only 9 cards in all of Magic’s history that have been printed with the “kobold” creature type, and some of those weren’t even originally kobolds.
There’s not really a whole lot to say about kobolds in terms of mechanics. There aren’t enough of them to assign a specific keyword or ability to them. They could pair well with dragons as a tribe thanks to a card we got in Forgotten Realms, but that’s about all I can say about them mechanically.
There aren’t enough kobolds for them to have any kind of distinct mechanical identity in Magic that’s not just “small goblin-like creatures that have the barest of synergies with dragons.”
The Lore and History of Kobolds
Kobolds are tiny little creatures with red or green skin. They’ve only been printed in a handful of sets, though some of them weren’t even originally kobolds. But I’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s talk about their short inclusion in Magic’s lore.
The Kobolds of Dominaria
As far as we know kobolds only exist in Dominaria where they live in Kher Keep, which is in the aptly-named Kher Ridges. Similar to cockroaches (you can thank Teferi for that comparison), they’ve lived in their lair mostly undisturbed by whatever other nonsense went on in Dominaria for centuries.
They’ve eaten and destroyed entire regions of the land thanks to their unique appetite. You see, kobolds will eat basically anything that’s not made of rock when they’re starving. So that’s a fun thought to have that’s almost definitely kept some poor Dominarian children up at night, imagining these tiny imp-like creatures gnawing their way into their bedroom during the dead of night.
Moving right along. Kobolds have interacted with quite a few horrors in Dominaria. Shauku, Endbringer, an ancient and terrifying vampire, made a few of them tend the fires that guard the Cosmic Horror she keeps imprisoned in her castle. If that wasn’t enough to give the poor little creature nightmares for generations to come, I don’t know what would.
The last we heard of these little goblin imps are from the Kobolds of Kher Keep, who survived long enough to revere Prossh, Skyraider of Kher as a god. They often offer themselves as sacrifice to the dragon thinking that this could appease him and save their kin. We’ve come full circle back to the kind of kobolds I know and love.
I’m still holding out hope we’ll get a Deekin card at some point. Let me dream.
The first kobolds were printed in 1994’s Legends. They briefly reappeared in a handful of sets after, including Time Spiral in 2006, Commander 2013, Commander Legends, and most recently 2021’s Forgotten Realms.
We’ve only got 9 kobold cards in the game, with two other cards that create Kobolds of Kher Keep tokens that are modeled after the kobold card with the same name from the original Legends. And while they’re both red and black there’s actually only one kobold card that uses black: Rohgahh of Kher Keep.
I mentioned already that not all the kobolds we currently have were printed with the “kobold” label. Kobold Taskmaster originally had the “taskmaster” creature type, but it was reprinted with the “kobold” creature type and joined the gang in Time Spiral. Three more cards joined the kobold lair in the 2007 Grand Creature Type Update: Kobold Drill Sergeant, Kobold Overlord, and Rohgahh of Kher Keep.
Considering we don’t even hit double digits with these little guys, that’s quite a bit of lore and history attached to them. But that’s all there is and so it’s time to move on!
Kher Keep can create a cute little Kobolds of Kher Keep token for . Considering the fact that the original Kobolds, which has matching 0/1 power and toughness, costs , this isn’t a great ability. I’m not sure why they opted to turn the OG Kobolds into a token without pumping it up a little, but you definitely need whatever you can get if you really want to make kobold tribal work.
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
Ah, the legendary Prossh, which the kobolds revere as a god. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher creates the same 0/1 tokens as Kher Keep when it’s cast, but it creates as many tokens as you spent to cast it. Considering it’s a 5/5 flier with a pump ability if you sac another creature, this is much better bang for your buck.
#5. The Minions: Crimson Kobolds | Crookshank Kobolds | Kobolds of Kher Keep
These three are basically just functional reprints of each other in the same set. The original Kobolds of Kher Keep, which became the tokens for our aforementioned honorable mentions, is here too. These are just tiny little 0/1s that costs .
Tiny bodies just to say you have kobolds on the board. There’s really nothing super impressive here but getting a chump blocker for free is nothing to scoff at.
#4. Rohgahh of Kher Keep
The only kobold that requires black mana, Rohgahh of Kher Keep is… interesting. With a mana value of six that pumps itself into a 7/7, the tax to keep it on your side of the board definitely turns me off. And considering the fact that it’s legendary, you have to pull off some shenanigans if you want to get more than one on the field at the same time to really take advantage of its +2/+2 boost.
You could make it work with some effort but it’s just not worth it to me.
#3. Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh
Okay, the son seems like a much better deal to me. Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh is a 0-cost legendary with first strike, menace, and trample. It’s incredibly squishy with absolutely no bite as a 0/1 but throw in some counters and pumps and you could have a real threat on your hands.
Not to mention that you could pair it with a dragon as a partner commander if you’re looking for some flavor. Go ahead, make a kobold/dragon tribal EDH deck. It’ll be fine, I promise.
#2. Kobold Tribal: Kobold Drill Sergeant | Kobold Taskmaster | Kobold Overlord
These are the cards you want if you’re going for that kobold tribal. All three of these kobolds offer a boost to your other kobolds. Kobold Drill Sergeant gives +0/+1 and trample, Kobold Taskmaster is less impressive with just +1/+0, and Kobold Overlord offers first strike.
They’re all just fine on their own, but throw them all in a deck with the minions and Rograkh and you’ve got the start of something good. Well, as good as kobold tribal can be right now.
#1. Minion of the Mighty
I’m going to be honest, Minion of the Mighty 100% gets the #1 spot because of the flavor. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good card. But a kobold that actually synergizes with dragons by letting you play one through pack tactics? I’m hooked.
Are Kobolds Goblins?
No, kobolds aren’t goblins. They’re similar to goblins, they kind of look like them, and they’ve been described as a mix of goblin and imp. But “kobold” and “goblin” are both independent creature types. We might get a hybrid kobold/goblin creature that has both types if Wizards ever decides to get weird with it, but right now they don’t overlap at all.
One day. Maybe.
Will Wizards Ever Make More Kobolds?
I think we’ll probably see some more kobolds printed, especially if Wizards continues to create D&D-related products. Kobolds are pretty prominent in the Forgotten Realms. At least to me.
Kobolds might not be as prolific as goblins but they’re a very interesting tribe. And the fact that they tend to follow where dragons go means it’d be super easy to create a really fun synergy between the two tribes. I’d bet that we’ll see at least one kobold show up in the upcoming Commander Legends: Baldur’s Gate, especially since it’s looking like we might get a suite of dragons based on the spoiled Ancient Brass Dragon.
Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh | Illustration by Chris Seaman
That’s about all there is to say about kobolds in Magic. I really hope we get some of these creatures in future sets and products. I need to make kobold/dragon tribal happen, and I need it to not be totally pitiful. Please, Wizards, just give me Deekin and Tymofarrar. I’m begging you.
Ahem. Anyway. What are your thoughts on kobolds? Are you happy to leave these creatures in Magic’s past, or do you hope WotC brings them back in earnest? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or debate me over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
But I’m all lore’d out for now. I’m gonna go restart my Shadows of Undrentide playthrough for the millionth time. Adventure awaits!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: