To me there's one card that's really stood out in all the pre-M12 previews and hype, one card that I've heard more people speculate about, one card that has me personally most excited. From the title of this article, it should not be a surprise to the astute reader that the card is Goblin Grenade I must confess that I'm quite bias. I like goblins. In my 17 year on again off again love affair with Magic the Gathering, I've played many types of decks, but I always seem to come back to the good old mono red goblin deck. It seems to be ideally suited to my situation. First off goblins are cool, they really have their own unique flavor. Yes, there are other races that get played. I've seen covens of vampires skulking about in tournaments lately, and packs of elves sometimes frolicked about in blocks past, but it seems to me other races just get played because a block comes through that makes them competitive I've played goblins even when they really weren't, just because they're cool. Secondly goblin decks are cheap, the mono redness means you don't need a bunch of pricey dual land, and the bulk of the other cards are usually common or uncommon. Thirdly, they are fast, which means you almost always get to swarm in for a little combat before some annoying control deck changes the game to 'Mother May I', and your matches are usually quick enough that you can relax a bit between rounds. The main draw back to the goblin decks is that though they come out fast and furious, they tend to run out of steam quickly. This is why the return of Goblin Grenade has me so excited, it adds some real punch to the deck, maybe enough to push it over the top. There are a lot of flavors of goblin decks. In this article I'm just going to look at one. My criteria for this deck are:
1) Simple - Easy to build easy to run. No complex combos or timing to worry about.
2) Fast - This deck is all about doing damage as fast as possible.
3) Cheap - I don't expect to win the pro tour with it, so I don't look at it as an investment towards future winnings.
4) Mono Red - You can take a beating from a good sideboard, but its simple, fast, and cheap.
5) Uses Goblin Grenade - That's kind of the point of this article.
So what goes into a goblin deck? Well first off, goblins, of course, and there is quite a cast of characters to choose from in post M12 standard. So lets walk through the lineup.
Battle-Rattle Shaman - A nice ability but 4 mana is just too much.
Blisterstick Shaman - Real tempting, there are some cases where that one damage comes in real handy, put him down as maybe.
Bloodcrazed Goblin - I really want to like this guy, and teamed with the new Goblin Fireslinger I might give him a try.
Bloodshot Trainee - Could be great in a specialized deck designed to pump up your goblins, but I'm looking to blow them up not pump them up, so no.
Ember Hauler - A 2/2 for 2, plus a nice ability should make him a first round draft pick. My only hesitation is that using his special ability means he's no longer a available as grenade fodder.
Goblin Arsonist - The grenade takes this guy from a third string wannabe to a stone cold killer. Give him a grenade and he can take out a titan.
Goblin Balloon Brigade - These guys and I go way back, so I'm real tempted to throw them in, and against some fast flying infect decks they can be a life saver, but there's a lot of competition for one mana slot goblins now, so I'm torn.
Goblin Bangchuckers - If they were two mana I'd probably throw them in and save their special ability for emergencies. But for four mana, you've got to have some really mad coin flipping skills to run these guys.
Goblin Bushwhacker - I thought this guy was only so so when I first saw him, but after running him a few times he became my new best friend, and the grenade makes him even better, because after his initial kick he becomes a great candidate for grenade duty. But you have to figure him as a two mana slot filler because you almost never want to play him without the kick.
Goblin Chieftain - Yes he comes into play with a huge target on him, but in the unlikely event he survives he's great and at least he distracts your opponent from your other goblins. For three mana I've got to think hard about it but I'd probably put him in as a matter of principle if nothing else.
Goblin Firesliger - I really like the look of this guy, he seems so gobliny. Hide him in the bushes and ping for a damage each turn. Not a big threat, but so annoying your opponent may feel compelled to deal with him. Combines real nice with Bloodcrazed Goblin so I may run them for the short time they're in rotation together.
Goblin Gaveleer - I really wanted to like this guy. There is so much good equipment in standard now, but try as I might I couldn't get a goblin equipment deck to work, it was just too slow, so for now at least I'm going to pass.
Goblin Guide - This guys been getting a lot of good press, but I don't like him. 2/2 with haste for one mana is awfully tempting but there's a lot of land heavy decks around right now so there's a good chance each attack that you'll wind up giving your opponent card advantage. Besides I don't have any and I'm too cheap to pay out $24 dollars or so for a play set of a card that will rotate out in a few months. Plus I don't like the floppy eared goblin look.
Goblin Piker - Not bad, but just too many better choices for the two mana slots.
Goblin Roughrider - Back in the old days a 3/2 for 3 would have been great on it's own, now days the expectations for creatures are much higher. I still might throw one in because I like the art so much.
Goblin Ruinblaster - Side board for sure with Valakut decks on the rise. Too slow for main deck though.
Goblin Shortcutter - I'm on the fence with this guy. Every so often he's really handy, but normally you should be blowing up any creatures that get in your way. The art is cool though so maybe.
Goblin Tunneler - Nice for some trick decks, but too specialized for this kind of deck.
Goblin Wardriver - Oh yeah, this guy just screams goblin hoard, maybe a tad less useful with grenade since you'll be blowing some of your troupes, but still yes.
Grotag Siege-Runner - Maybe a candidate for the side board, if you fear walls.
Kuldotha Rebirth - This is a tough call. It can slow you down a little early game since you've got to throw down some expendable artifacts for it to chew on. But three creatures for one card is great, particularly since the main weakness of this kind of deck is running out of steam (in the form of cards). My personal favorite artifact to use with this is the Perilous Myr, it can join the horde if you don't end up with a Rebirth in hand and if you do sacrifice it you get a bonus 2 non-red damage to deal out, great for those pro red creatures opponents will sideboard in. I've had some luck with Tumble Magnets as well. There's no shortage of good artifacts in standard now, picking the right ones for this card is a careful balancing act and probably too complicated for this article.
Lavafume Invoker - Lets face it, with this kind of deck you're either going to win or loose long before you get to eight mana. That makes the special ability a non issue, so there are better picks
Oxidda Daredevil - If you've got expendable artifacts use Kuldotha Rebirth instead.
Slavering Nulls - Not in a mono red deck.
Spikeshot Elder - Tempting, but again more for a pump up than a blow up deck.
Torch Slinger - Nice, but it takes five mana before it really shines and there are many better things to do with five mana.
Tuktuk Grunts - Too expensive and too specialized.
Tuktuk Scrapper - Maybe sideboard, but probably too much mana even there.
Tuktuk the Explorer - I want to like this guy, but he's just too easy for your opponent to ignore.
Warren Instigator - Oh come on, mythic rare, who's idea was that? If I had any I might well play them, but alas no.
So those are the goblins, how many do you use? There's a lot of good creature removal in standard right now so you have to expect to loose a bunch of your troupes and you still need to have some left to carry in the grenades, so I'd put in at least 20. Personally I love creatures so I'll probably put in a bit more.
Next you need some mana. All you really need are mountains and since a reason to run this deck is it's low cost, that might be all you want. Still Teetering Peaks is awfully nice to give your goblins a little extra punch and is available pretty cheap. The real question is how many lands. Most if not all your spells should cost three or less mana, and you'll have a lot you can do with only one, but getting stuck at one or even two mana really slows the deck down and this deck is all about speed. By turn three (if not two) you really want to be able blast a blocker out of the way attack and still have mana to add another goblin. Also having to mulligan because you have no mana is painful, you're already going to run out of cards in hand soon enough, so you can't go too light on mana. On the other hand there are few things worse than around turn five or so, after you've beat your opponent down to within a point or two of death with your initial onslaught, to watch that lead evaporate as you top deck two or three land in a row, so you don't want too much land. Twenty to twenty-two seems to work pretty well, If you 're using Teetering Peaks probably veer to the high side since they come into play tapped.
Now you need to add the artillery Goblins can hit hard for their size, but they're not all that durable. It doesn't take much of a blocker to really ruin their day, so it's up to you to blast a path for them. Or you can always turn your guns directly on your opponent to really punctuate your charge. Four grenades go in of course and Throw in four lightning bolts (boy, I'm going to miss those come the rotation). Other candidates for the artillery spots would include:
Burst Lightning - Good and cheap with a possible late game kick.
Galvanic Blast - If you're going to go the rebirth route you might want these in case you happen to end up with metalcraft.
Forked Bolt - More versatile but sorcery slow.
Shock - OK, but better options exist for now.
Searing Blaze - A little more pricey at two mana and not always as dependable, but with bonus damage to your opponent
Burn the Impure - Side board, maybe main deck if you play in an infect heavy environment.
Arc Trail - Sorcery slow, but has the potential to give a little card advantage.
Staggershock - Two for one special with this, but three mana is a high price in this deck.
Pyroclasm - This will usually clear the path but leave no left to charge up it. Against some decks it'll be your best friend, but use with extreme caution if at all.
Now you might want to stop there, and you'd have a good solid deck, but if you don't end up getting off a grenade or two you're probably going to end up not able to do damage quite fast enough so you might want to add in just a few late game finishers like these:
Shrine of Burning Rage - If nothing else having an ever growing time bomb ticking away in your opponents face ratchets up the pressure on them, However you have to get it out early for it to really to do much good, which means one less goblin in play or one more enemy blocker not blown up, so you're a little slower for it, but it can really end the game with a bang.
Bloodthirst - This deck is all about doing damage why not capitalize on that with Blood Ogre or Gorehorn Minotaur to beef up your front line.
Act of Treason, Mark of Mutiny, Traitorous Instinct, or Act of Aggression - if you can't beat them, get them to join you. Watch your opponent pale as you barrow their titan. Turning a lone blocker into an attacker can be huge.
B.F.D. (Big Flying Dragon) - There are a bunch of these out there to choose from in standard now, probably too expensive to play and most likely countered, exiled, dismembered, or such as soon as they hit the board, still who doesn't love a dragon and if your opponent has used all their creature removal on your goblins...
Chandra - Either flavor. Alas she's mythic rare, so kind of out of the whole cheap and simple deck theme.
So there are your options. Here's an example of a quick cheap and simple 'Goblins Go BOOM' deck. I kept the list to commons and uncommons (estimated cost for the deck, bought as singles would be around $25, but you probably already have some of these cards and they shouldn't be hard to trade for). Don't expect it to win the pro tour for you, but with some practice and a little luck it should at least make a respectable showing in casual play and maybe serve as a base from which to build better things.
4 Teetering Peaks
4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Firesliger
4 Goblin Wardriver
4 Ember Hauler
2 Goblin Shortcutter (Chieftain would probably be better here, but it is rare)
4 Goblin Grenades
4 Lightning Bolts
4 Forked Bolt
2 Arc Trail
2 Act of Treason
4 Goblin Ruinblaster - Replaces the Ember Haulers against Valakut decks
4 Crush - Replaces Forked Bolts against any decks that rely on equipment or other non creature artifacts like Shrine of Burning Rage.
3 Pyroclasm - Replaces Forked Bolts against other swarm decks
2 Act of Treason - Replaces Forked Bolts against decks with really big creatures
2 Burn the Impure - Replaces Forked Bolt against infect decks.