Too-Specific Top 10 - Fodder Family

(Goblin Cannon | Art by DiTerlizzi)

Step 1: Find Your Cousin.

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Goblin Flectomancer is the only Izzet Goblin that can sacrifice itself?)

There is at least an argument to be made that Goblins are the most beloved tribe in Magic's history, although I doubt that the citizens of the Multiverse feel quite the same way. Not that there aren't a few respectable Gobbos like Goblin Legionnaire about, but they appear - to put it lightly - to be the exception. In almost every other representation, Goblins are either charging forward with no regard for themselves or the dynamite in their hands, or are actively encouraging other Goblins to do so, with everything from words to giant slingshots.

But who cares? Winning isn't a popularity contest. Although I'm sure being a popular Goblin does help with the whole not-ending-up-in-a-cannon thing.

Top 10 Goblins that Sacrifice Goblins

Which raises the question: which Goblins are the best at convincing their kinfolk to give themselves to the Greater Good, or maybe just some good old Battle Frenzy? Well, before we find out, as per usual we need to lay down some ground rules about what we mean by "best":

Criteria: Goblin creatures that have the ability to sacrifice Goblins, specifically, as opposed to any creatures or just themselves. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

Well, that was easier than usual. Let's do a list!

10. Arms Dealer

(919 Inclusions, 0% of 193,532 Decks)

Players aren't usually crazy about sacrifice effects that cost mana in addition to having you sacrifice a creature, but almost a thousand decks have made an exception for Arms Dealer. I, for one, am not so surprised by this. Four damage is enough to take out most of the relevant creatures in Magic, and if you're in the Goblin deck the chances that you'll have a couple of tokens sitting around is pretty much guaranteed. The Phyrexian Plaguelord fanboy in me would rather be doing less for less mana, but the fact of the matter is that two mana for four damage is an excellent return. That may be less true when it comes to the fact that you have to have a Goblin you're ready to commit to the graveyard and it comes strapped to a very fragile 1/1 body for three mana... But I would still say that more decks should probably be giving this card a try given how often you'll be looking to clear a board for an alpha strike when you're already in the go-wide deck. It's not like Goblins are struggling to make mana or tokens, after all!

9. Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician

(Helms 56 Decks, Rank #674; 927 Inclusions, 0% of 193,532 Decks)

Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician last came up on Too-Specific Top 10 when I did an article on the Top Ten Cards That Care About Mountains, and the first thing I brought up then was the amazing art. Well, it's still great, so thank you again, Wayne Reynolds. The second thing I brought up is that Ib is seeing basically no play as a Goblin commander, sitting in Purphoros, God of the Forge decks rather than helming his own. A lot of that has to do with how unpopular sacrificing lands is outside of Lands Matter decks, but honestly that just makes the hipster in me want to build him even more for the unique cards and builds I might be able to find to turn the Mountain sacrifice ability into a boon rather than a detriment. I would heartily suggest to fans of the Goblin archetype to give this more unique build a try. You may not win quite as many games as you will with the heavily tuned Goblin lists out there, but you might just find your opponents reaching across the table to read what that card does while you chuckle to yourself a bit more often, as opposed to getting eye rolls by going inf-a-lot with Krenko, Mob Boss for the fifth time that week.

8. Goblin Lookout

(1,174 Inclusions, 1% of 193,532 Decks)

However you end up going wide, though, Goblin Lookout will make sure that it goes lethal for you. Staring across at a board of tokens that your Goblin opponent can sac for mana or direct damage is bad enough, but when you also notice that said horde is made up of 5/3 monsters with menace, it starts to get a bit more real.

Goblin Lookout only takes care of the +2/+0 portion of that, but any deck that's considering this card will also be considering the good old Goblin pump standbys like Goblin King, Goblin Chieftain, and the more all-inclusive Goblin War Drums. All of that probably still adds up to less than a single copy of Shared Animosity in the power department, but quantity over quality is kind of what you sign up for when you start slinging Goblins, isn't it?

7. Goblin Sledder

(1,402 Inclusions, 1% of 193,532 Decks)

If you are looking to go tall while you're going wide, however, then Goblin Sledder has your back. This makes a lot of sense in Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, specifically, which is why Goblin Sledder is seeing a 45% inclusion rate in those decks. What was a bit more confusing to me, however, was the 35% inclusion rate in old-school Krenko, Mob Boss decks. Sure, there're only five more unlimited Goblin sacrifice effects strapped to Goblins that don't cost mana or make the creature tap... but there's also the entire gamut of your more 'run of the mill' creature sacrifice outlets available in red, from the on-theme Goblin Bombardment to Skirk Prospector backups Phyrexian Altar and Thermopod.

Of course, none of those make a creature bigger, but from everything that I can see in the advance filtered version of Krenko decks which contain Goblin Sledder, there's not really a good "huge creature" target, just a bunch of go-wide options. Not even the quintessential Goblin "go tall" option of Clickslither is on the page. In other words, Goblin Sledder and its cousin Mogg Raider are only being used as another sacrifice option, when from what I can tell there are much better options available. That may just be because of theme or wanting to maximize slots for Goblin cards... but this personally feels a lot more like inertia to me, especially since Mogg Raider is functionally the exact same card and didn't even get close to cracking the Top Ten at 655 inclusions.

6. Sling-Gang Lieutenant

(2,112 Inclusions, 1% of 207,400 Decks)

When I initially saw Sling-Gang Lieutenant this high on the list, my thought was that Wort, Boggart Auntie decks were more popular than I had assumed.

The puzzle of Sling-Gang's popularity ended up being much more interesting, however. Not only are there Grenzo, Dungeon Warden Goblin decks that I was totally unaware of, Sling-Gang Lieutenant's 1/1 stature is also small enough to abuse in Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker, where you can repeatedly sacrifice it and its two tokens to itself, allowing for three damage to any targets you choose once on each player's turn. That is a beautiful little piece of tech there, is what that is.

5. Goblin Chirurgeon

(2,925 Inclusions, 2% of 193,532 Decks)

If there is a theme to Goblins sacrificing Goblins, it is probably the lesson that some Goblins are just more important than others. Goblin Chirurgeon is that idea personified, allowing you to sacrifice Goblins to save creatures that may be a bit more important to the war effort. If you're thinking the whole Goblins-saving-Goblins thing doesn't seem like it quite explains these numbers, however, might I point out that at its absolute worst, Goblin Chirurgeon is still a poor man's Dauntless Bodyguard with more flexibility, at the same mana cost. In other words, you don't even need to be in the Goblin deck for this little gobbo surgeon to put in some work for you, which in my mind more than explains the almost 3,000 inclusions.

4. Pashalik Mons

(Helms 101 Decks, Rank #568; 3,311 Inclusions, 2% of 193,532 Decks)

Pashalik Mons was a real attempt to bring the Aristocrats build into the Goblins tribe, with a combination of Goblin Warrens and Goblin Bombardment stapled to the same commander. Unfortunately, even with all that synergy printed on the same card, it wasn't enough for more mechanically-minded Goblin players to abandon Purphoros, God of the Forge, who has 176 decks that meet the algorithm's definition of Goblin Tribal, and another 538 that by and large still play everything from Krenko, Mob Boss to Beetleback Chief to Dragon Fodder. Still, it is a bit disappointing to see the numbers not catch up for this Modern Horizons catch which brings a lot of the same capabilities from inside of the tribe, at a cheaper cost of entry both in mana and dollars. Pashalik Mons might be a bit too linear for some folks who don't like Wizards designing a whole Commander deck on a single commander, but he's also about as pushed as we're probably ever going to get when it comes to a commander for the Goblin tribe.

3. Goblin Trashmaster

(3,948 Inclusions, 2% of 193,532 Decks)

Goblin Trashmaster is a weird Goblin lord compared to your other options.

Looking at the other lords, they all seem to have much more understandable goals and synergies: the original Goblin King makes Goblins bigger and harder to block, Goblin Warchief makes them cheaper and faster, and Goblin Chieftain makes Goblins bigger and faster. In other words, all of the old lords allowed for more and more aggro, a mainstay of the tribe. Goblin Trashmaster, on the other hand, is a more civilized lord, utilizing his minions to "manage" a massive junk pile, while also arming them with it, I guess? Whatever the head-canon, the less focused approach seems to be working for him, as he is the second most popular lord behind Goblin Warchief, who he is approaching quickly at 4,663 inclusions. I don't know if the same would be true if any of these lords were legendary, but as it is Goblin Trashmaster's popularity doesn't come as a surprise to me. Being able to throw down a whole bunch of Goblins, attack with them, and then pick off everyone's engines and mana rocks as they die of natural or unnatural causes is strong, and allows you to utilize one of your removal slots for more aggro. What's not to like?

2. Skirk Prospector

(6,073 Inclusions, 3% of 193,532 Decks)

I've been meaning to get around to a list of the best sacrifice outlets in the game for a while now, probably restricted to the ones that appear on creatures themselves just to keep the Altars off of it. Skirk Prospector wouldn't make that list that will all-but-certainly be topped by Viscera Seer, as it only sacrifices Goblins, but it really should. Coming down at one mana and allowing you to sacrifice other Goblins or even itself for a mana apiece is absolutely ludicrous, and can drive turns that fit the same description. If you have anything in the way of enter-the-battlefield or death triggers to work with, you can easily start playing the game of winning where you just start moving cards from one pile to the next to the next, whittling away at opponents as you do so. Skirk Prospector only letting you do so with Goblins specifically is the only thing keeping this card in even a semblance of balance. As it is, we can only see the power of this card in decks that have dedicated a significant portion of their hundred cards to Goblins, and for that, we should all be thankful.

1. Siege-Gang Commander

(8,839 Inclusions, 5% of 193,532 Decks)

If you are looking more in the direction of "general goodness", however, then Siege-Gang Commander is your answer! Coming down for three tokens would be good enough for the decks that are looking for a mass of bodies for one reason or another, but doing so for a total of 5 power and toughness on the board with an option to sacrifice for direct damage is just ludicrous. What decks don't want that kind of action? Aggro, Blink, Aristocrats, tokens, the list goes on. Siege-Gang Commander can be shoved into just about anything with the solid feeling that it's going to do work for you, and while that's not always the best use of a slot if you're looking to go all in on a strategy or a theme, it's not a false statement, either.

Honorable Mentions

As per usual, I went through a couple variations on theme this week before settling on Goblins that sacrifice other Goblins. The first was actually the deceivingly small card pool of Goblins that only sacrifice themselves, which I had assumed would be in the hundreds of available options:

Top 10 Goblins Who Sacrifice Themselves

  1. Goblin Cratermaker
  2. Torch Courier
  3. Mogg Fanatic
  4. Fanatical Firebrand
  5. Goblin Archaeologist
  6. Izzet Chemister
  7. Ember Hauler
  8. Goblin Electomancer
  9. Goblin Grenadiers
  10. Goblins of the Flarg

As you can see, that list went from low-to-the-ground flexible inclusions to obscure nostalgia cards in no time flat, and as such I broadened out my search to include Goblins that could also sacrifice other Goblins or themselves fairly quickly:

Top 10 Goblins That Can Sacrifice Other Goblins. Or Themselves. Or Both?

  1. Siege-Gang Commander
  2. Skirk Prospector
  3. Goblin Trashmaster
  4. Pashalik Mons
  5. Goblin Cratermaker
  6. Goblin Chirurgeon
  7. Sling-Gang Lieutenant
  8. Goblin Sledder
  9. Torch Courier
  10. Goblin Lookout

If you're having trouble distinguishing that broader list from the main one, so was I (hence the bold). Ultimately, it just made for a more convoluted list that wasn't worth trying to think up a concise title for, no matter how much I love Goblin Cratermaker.

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion…), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.

What Do You Think?

From the time I opened up my first pack back in 1994 and saw the dumb look on the front of Goblin Grenade, I've had a love for Goblins that I'm sure many of you share. With that said, however, they've also been taken in some strange directions over the years, which has me wondering which of the various kinds of Goblins in the multiverse people like the most:

And finally, what is your favorite way to sacrifice Goblins? Is it with other Goblins, or some of the more flexible options out there?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the ramshackle table made out of a pile of junk that at once looks rickety, unstable, and possibly lethal to all involved in sitting down to play Magic at it. I'm sure it'll be fine.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.