Monday 27 February 2017
I have written before about cards I thought were under and over rated however these were simply my opinions as to how others perceived cards. On this occasion I am using actual statistics!
I use Cube Tutor a lot for a wide selection of things , it is a great cube resource that offers a lot of interesting things that can help you build, analyse or just inspire you. I use the top cards by set and "average cubes" functions a lot as well as just having it as an easy to manipulate list for my cube. On this occasion I have been using the stats gathered by the Cube Tutor draft function to assess how the cube community values things.
Reading stats is pretty hard, you have to understand what is going on and what the things represent. This particular form of stats is quite hard to untangle as well. It is very hard to objectively measure the value of things, the pick % does a decent job but it falls short when looking at cards not commonly found in cubes. Themed cubes like pauper and stuff like the time shifted cube or whatever it was called have a huge effect on the results. As will the simple difference between powered cubes and unpowered ones.
Another big factor obscuring the results is that there is nothing riding on these drafts, no initial investment made, no prizes, rank or pride at stake. People are far more inclined to draft fun, exotic and risky decks in this kind of setting and this was very obvious in the results. What I really want is unfettered access to the MODO cube statistics, they would be far more revealing.
It was far easier to spot the things at the top end of the spectrum compared to those at the bottom. The undervalued cards are obscured among loads of cards that are not commonly in cubes. The range is also much lower at the low end, a difference of 0.1 in pick percentage for a card in the 12% pick range area is pretty huge compared to the difference of several percent in the 20% pick rate region. Another way to phrase this is that there is more change in pick % in the top 20 cards in cube than there is in the remaining 4,000 or so!
Rather than finding much out about specific cards I found that these stats were more illuminating in terms of peoples bias and of general trends than any thing else. A good example of this is Black Lotus, a card that is 10% above anything else for pick %. It is the most valuable and most iconic card in magic and that translates into how people value it in cube. Certainly it is a great card, one of the very best, but it isn't that much better than the rest of the very best. Sol Ring and Black Lotus are pretty comparable power wise on average in cube, I tend to prefer the Sol Ring. If you are not concerned about locking yourself into a colour Time Walk and Ancestral Recall compare well too. Even the Mox have archetypes that want them more than they want Lotus.
Another obvious bias in this vein is the Jace, the Mind Sculptor percentage which is insane. Apparently it is picked 59.23% of the time it is offered. Mind boggling. Jace TMS is the next most iconic magic card after Black Lotus and while it is powerful it is powerful in a much more contained, balanced and fair way. It was over powered in standard, not just by the standard of all other cards. There is simply no way that it is right to pick Jace TMS 59% of the time. Even if we were to assume that it was 100% correct to take it first pick first pack in an unpowered cube (which I would highly contest), this would still only get you 33% of the 59% total as there are two other packs to consider. If we assume that it is still correct 100% of the time to pick a Jace when you are in blue and we assume that 25-40% of the table is blue, when applied to the 2nd and 3rd packs still doesn't get you to 59%. This means people are seeing Jace when they are not blue and still picking it. This is on top of some serious assumptions regarding the initial power and playability of this card. Jace TMS is great, it is one of the best, if not the best, planeswalkers going. It should be picked highly, it is a great first pick. These things can all be true and it is still possible to overrate it. According to the statistics Jace TMS is the most overrated card in cube by a significant margin. It would seem that the reasonable level of pick percentage for the premium unpowered cube cards is up to about 20% pick rate. Jace is three times this value and it isn't even a linear progression. Jace is so monumentally overrated it is a joke. The number of games you win with Jace would not be that much smaller if you replaced your Jace with another random (4 CMC) cube quality planeswalker. Jace TMS is marginally better than a lot of similar cards. All you people diving into blue in pack three cause you opened a Jace are mental.
Next up on my list of things people are over drafting are the heavy colourless cards. This includes all the equipment (except Skullclamp), the big planeswalkers Ugin and Karn and a few others like Solemn Simulacrum. I can see why they would be picked higher as they are colourless and powerful. In theory they keep you open so you can respond to signals better and wind up in the most suitable colours. The thing with all these cards is that they are not actually that open. Sure, you can only play that Lightning Bolt if you wind up red but it isn't about colours as much as it is about archetypes. You want to pick a card that is open but open in a cube setting is not quite the same as in the conventional draft setting. There are more archetypes that you can draft and that are good that would want to play a Lightning Bolt than there are that can house an Ugin to good effect. The same is pretty true of all these cards. The equipment are more open than the others but they are a whole lot worse than people typically realise. I don't think these cards are wildly over drafted, nothing by the Jace TMS standard but still, they are one of the more obvious groups of over drafted things and there is an understandable reason why it is that way. Colourless in cube does not always mean you have kept yourself open in the same way it does in other limited formats.
Next up we have three types of things that are over drafted which in turn means we are also seeing a heavy over drafting of a specific colour - no prizes for guess which. Card draw effects, counterspell effects and Control Magic effects are all more popular than they should be which of course means blue is overly contested and over valued. I think there are several reasons for this particular bias. The format lends itself to fun decks and risks which lends itself to blue stuff. This is true particularly for Cube Tutor data but should probably apply to any cube setting. There is not really any competitive cube and so most people play it in a more casual manner. I suspect a lot of people know they are not necesarily taking the best card when they take that blue spell and that is fine. I am all in favour of people doing what they want. I am just here to tell those people who both think the blue card is the right pick but are also specifically trying to win as the main objective that blue is not likely your best bet. There were plenty of good blue cards with these effects all high up as you might expect. The thing that stood out more was how highly rated the weaker versions of those cards still were picked very highly. Dig Through Time pretty much made Fact or Fiction obsolete in my cube yet the wider community still values them relatively similarly. Treachery ( a very powerful card indeed) is not that far above the rather mediocre Control Magic. Ancestral Visions and Consecrated Sphinx also stood out as cards that were over valued likely because they say draw cards on them. Library of Alexandria is a non-blue example of a wildly over valued card draw card that I wont talk about here as I have spoken at length previously as to why Library is over rated. I do wonder how, if at all, the statistics account for change in time. There is a good chance a lot of the pick % FoF has on Cube Tutor is from a time prior to Dig even existing and as such the data is no longer as relevant.
There are a couple of other cards that I have also spoken about previously in over rated cards articles such as Bitterblossom and Mind Twist. I think these are further examples of a card's renown preceding them as with Jace and Black Lotus. Mind Twist and Bitterblossom are not on the same level of infamy as Jace and Lotus and this is reflected by the pick % stats. Never the less they do still stand out as cards picked too highly and are both cards with more fame in their history than most others.
The things that were generally under drafted were much harder to pick out due to the way in which I am able to manipulate the statistics. Ideally I need the filter function to apply to the stats as well as the cards, ideally I would also be able to exclude all cards not contained within specific cube lists too. Perhaps I can do these things already and I am just to dumb to know how! Anyway, Strip Mine is under drafted. It might not be the most under rated and drafted card but it is the best card that is in any significant way under drafted. Given how well people assess the value of remaining open and how much people love an iconic power card I am shocked to see Strip Mine with such a relatively low pick % at just under 18%. In an unpowered cube I think Strip Mine is categorically the best first pick you can make. It goes in almost any deck and it is oppressively good in some decks. It is brutal against a lot of decks and bad against nothing. If you could quantify how open a card was and how powerful it was then multiply those things together you would find that Strip Mine has one of the highest values possible, only really beaten by the power stuff like Black Lotus and Sol Ring. I think Strip Mine is too good for unpowered cubed and have banned it from mine but most don't do this and when I am playing those I snap pick the thing! It is still a top pick in powered cubes too.
Dual lands are also under drafted. Probably the most notably overall in terms of a trend. The good dual lands are fine first picks. They are not exciting cards and this is I suspect why we see them not being taken as highly as they should be. It isn't even right to pass up dual land on the grounds of having fun. Sure, play blue because you want to and find it more fun than turning your one drop dudes sideways. That is a fine choice. Do not however play some UX deck and take say an Ashiok over an Underground Sea on the grounds that the Ashiok is more fun and more what you want to do. No one has fun when they can't cast their stuff. Fun decks still need good mana bases to be fun so pick dual lands a lot higher regardless of what deck you are doing (unless of course it is mono, I feel like I shouldn't need to say that..).
Lastly, but given the themes in this essay, not at all unsurprisingly, we have things like Soldier of the Pantheon, Satyr Firedrinker and other low power low cost cards. These sorts of things are preumium in some of the best archetypes and can be used in a pretty wide array of decks. Of the examples I gave this is especailly true of the Soldier who I find useful in a number of archetypes and not just the aggressive ones. Like dual lands these cards are not exciting. I can very much see the temptation to be picking things like Brimaz over a one drop but unless you have loads of one drops already, it is late in the draft and you have very little on three as well as some good synergy I suspect that the generic one mana 2/1 is the right pick over the clearly much more powerful Brimaz.
My overall feel is that people slightly over value raw power and undervalue the archetypal support cards. This is an attribute rather unique to cube. Conventionally a single bomb in other limited formats is deck defining. You see a bomb and it is often a snap pick, at least it is something you think long and hard about playing, or trying to. Cube is just full of bombs. Most things are playable, most things are really good in the right place and so cube is not nearly as much about taking the most powerful things as it is about taking the most suitable thing. People undervalue fixing, one drops and low impact things. On the flip side of this people seem to over value cards based on their general renown almost regardless of context. A card that stands out as over powered in any other era or format seems to carry a significant amount of that value into cube regardless of how much the format merits it.
It is not just the aggro decks where you need to pick up those cheap low power, low impact filler cards. Yes, aggro decks should pick up all the Elite Vanguard/Rakdos Cackler style cards they can but midrange and control decks need a certain amount of cheap on theme cards too. Stuff like Satyr Wayfinder, Renegade Map, Coiling Oracle, Chromatic Star, Ash Barrens and so forth. Being a good cube drafter is a lot about knowing when to take the weaker card. There is no question that Vurdurous Gearhulk is substantially more powerful than a Wall of Blossoms. I would never take a Bloss first pick first pack while I may well take the Gearhulk in that situation. That being said, as the draft progresses there are numerous reasons I may well choose to take the wall over the bomb. The most common one is simply that I already have three+ plenty powerful enough five drops I would happily play to which the Gearhulk is only a mild upgrade while I still have gaps in my two slot that need filling. Perhaps I feel overly weak to early aggression. Perhaps I have a Recurring Nightmare themed deck and desperately need a card like Wall of Blossoms to efficiently and reliably get and/or keep things going. Sure, Gearhulk is nuts with a Nightmare but then a lot of cards are, especially the big ones. The Nightmare is the bomb, you don't need another bomb to win, you need to ensure your bomb in hand is going to work well. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that Gearhulk is better with Nightmare than the Wall because of the power of the Gearhulk. Another example of this sort of thing is with a Jitte vs a Talisman. Now it would have to be a pretty poo pack for me to take a Talisman first pick, I would certainly never take it over a Jitte which, despite how much I loath the card, is a totally fine first pick. Now, let us say I actually first picked a Wurmcoil Engine and was presented with a the choice of Jitte vs a good Talisman for the second pick. Odds on I am not going to have a deck that wants to play the Jitte AND the Wurmcoil. My best overall value from my picks is to take the Talisman as it is a very likely card to play with a Wurmcoil. I could take the Jitte and risk a wasted early pick so as to keep more options open. That is also fine but picking the Jitte and the Wurmcoil and then just ramming them in the same deck, whatever it may look like, is awful.
Most of the things I get wrong are due to personal bias and assumptions. These stats may not be the truest of stats but they did give some good evidence that the source of other peoples errors is the same as mine!
Tuesday 21 February 2017
Good old goblins! This has been an archetype since the start of cube although it is not often supported by cubes these days. It is not because goblins is that much weaker than it was but due to goblins being somewhat narrow with their tribal synergies. Either you go goblins or you don't and either you get enough of the good ones to have a good deck or you don't. Being a fairly low skill and un-interactive draft archetype there are generally better things to support in your drafting cube. While drafting goblins might be easy mode the playing and building of goblins is the complete opposite. I am pretty sure the big man himself Kia Bude claimed that Food Chain Goblins was the hardest deck in magic. This was at least a decade ago but never the less that is a big claim!
Goblins is an unusual archetype as it can play in a lot of different ways, even in a single build of the deck. It can play out like an aggressive red deck, indeed a lot of people view it as such and counter it like they might other aggressive decks. This counter play does alright but it is also a bit of a failure to understand exactly what the gobbos are about. Goblins has the ability to go off like a combo deck. It can do so without much warning and fairly explosively. Goblins also have a lot of board control tools, tricks and value cards and as such can play a great midrange or control game as well. Quite comfortably the goblins decks have the largest range of play styles of any cube archetype.
Not only do most builds of goblins have this complete range of play options but there are several fairly distinct ways to build a goblin deck. There is of course the standard mono red good stuff goblins which simply uses the most potent cards on offer and leans on consistency. This version of the archetype is the one in which you are happiest throwing in non-synergy cards like good generic burn or planeswalkers. You can go in a token direction which is the most aggressive and low to the ground way to build the deck. You can dip into green and go for the combo Food Chain build. You can go into black and have a Patriarch's Bidding build. You can just go black for a wider range of exotic goblins and tools. Burning Wish has always been a powerful tool in goblins if that is an option and black greatly increases that power.
The main issue that goblin decks have is consistency, even the mono coloured ones. Goblins decks really need land drops. Ideally all the way to four, even five. Vary rarely can you miss your 3rd and hope to have much game left in you. It is hard to get much in the way of card quality into the deck and so even with the perfect land balance you will find you are going off course and critically screwing and flooding more than most other cube decks. This problem is made worse by two further common factors in goblins decks. One is that there are not that many high power on theme cards that are also good mana sinks. Once you run out of stuff to cast from your hand you are generally done. This makes floods worse for you. You also have a number of very low powered cards that do little to nothing on their own. You have to keep three one drops with four lands as your opener but if you don't hit a significant card by turn three you are in a lot of trouble. A playable goblin looter would go a very long way to improving the archetype!
In terms of ratios you are looking at a 16 land mininum. You want mostly goblin cards after that. About half your deck should be goblins or things that make them. The curve is fairly flat up to 3 CMC with 6-8 cards or so in the one, two and three slot. Four and five CMC have room four a couple of cards or so too usually. These are all a lot more vague than usual as the specific way you are building your deck will have the most impact on your balance of stuff. Let us look at the sorts of thing we will be making our goblin decks out of.
One Drop Gobbos
Goblin Lackey 6.5
Potentially the most abusive card in the deck but in reality it is incredibly inconsistent. On turn one this is the best thing a goblin deck can do. Not only is it one of the most powerful one drops but unlike basically all the others you want in the deck, this is best on turn one while the others improve as the game goes on. Cube decks have less redundancy and so getting the dream of turn one Lackey into a Siege Gang has incredibly low odds. You will get a turn one Lackey in around 20% of your games, of those it will actually manage to get through to activate its trigger a more optimistic 25% of times. This means you are getting a free turn two goblin from hand 5% of the time. We are going to be under 1% of the time that this will hit a Siege Gang and are not even guaranteed to be able to make something that big or useful at all. A turn two Gang isn't even that game ending these days, there are loads of two and three drops that will hold that assault at bay enough. It seems like madness to cut the card but we are getting to the point where there are just better cards you can play for power and for helping your deck do what it wants to do. You can get some OK value from a Lackey later in the game but it is pretty situational, most of the time it is just a do nothing 1/1. You get more value out of the "fear factor" than the actual card. When you eat a Path to Exile in the Lackey it is about as good as you could have hoped.
Goblin Sledder / Mogg Raider 8.5
I love to play both of these if I can. While they suck pretty hard until you have somewhat developed a board once that stage is reached they dominate really hard. Anyone who has played against Arcbound Ravager knows how hard it is to get involved in complicated combat against it. You always come out with bad trades. These simple little cards basically do exactly the same thing for Goblins as Ravager does for affinity. You don't get to keep the value into the next turns but one round of combat against variable and reactive stats is usually more than enough to win from. These cards make things like Wurmcoil Engine somewhat of an irrelevance. A RDW list has kittens about a Wurmcoil in play while a goblin deck just ignores it and wins going around it. These also fizzle any bonus effect on things like Lightning Helix. In fact they make a lot of burn pretty ineffective. Pyroclasm typically goes from being a Wrath into being a poor Do or Die!
Skirk Prospector 9
In the unpowered cubes I actually think Sledder / Raider are more valuable than Prospector although exclusivity goes some way to keeping this higher rated. Prospector is the card the most lets you start playing like a combo deck. You can chain off a load of goblins and fuel things like Goblin Sharpshooter or just construct the perfect board for an on the spot kill. There are several goblins, situations and effects that will allow Prospector to generate mana turning some cards into Ritual like effects. Prospector also means you always have mana and so they always have to respect any instants you might have. Just like Sledder it is a free sac outlet which lets you negate a lot of spell effects and combat triggers. Nice Jitte, guess I'll feed it some 1/1 tokens and completely negate your 4 drop with my still useful 1 drop. To my mind the various one drop goblin sac outlet cards form the basis of your utility and mid game potency.
Goblin Guide 6
Another very overrated Goblin in the archetype. Yes, this is the most tempo you can get from a stand alone one drop (goblin). Yes, the card is one of the best cards in the game. The thing is it doesn't really do that much to help your synergy. Sure, it is a goblin itself and will receive the synergy boosts but it doesn't give any thing back. Despite being a very powerful one drop it is not a powerful card nominally and you want your non-synergy stuff to be high powered stuff. As the goblin player you are not typically trying to tempo people out. It is more like you are building up momentum so as to be able to explosively take them out. Goblin Guide doesn't really add to that momentum. It is a fine filler card that gives you something to be getting on with early. It is always nice to have some cheap sacrificial bodies laying around. Guide and Lackey ultimately see play because they are the most appropriate tempo filler in the otherwise limited one slot.
Mogg Fanatic 5.5
A bit of filler and a bit of tempo utility. The card is pretty low powered but it does help you stay in the game early when you are most vulnerable to other cheap creature decks. It is a better defensive tool and more useful to your game plan than a Guide and Fanatic. It is also slightly more useful later in the game too. The issue with Fanatic is that is it low powered filler and the more individually low powered cards you add the more inconsistent and vulnerable the deck becomes. Play this if you expect and fear RDW and white weenie, play Goblin Guide if you expect and fear blue players. Probably try and avoid playing too much like this, just enough to keep you able to spend your mana each turn and have relevant stuff to do in the early turns.
Goblin Arsonist 5.5
This is actually significantly better than Fanatic when you have the appropriate support. That extra R mana, +1/+1 or free ping always feel enormous on those critical turns. When you don't have the sac outlets this simply doesn't reliably do useful stuff at all. It is the greedy play of the two but ultimately fills a very similar role in the deck. Will you take that gamble on being able to kill their turn one Bird of Paradise for that bit of potential extra value later? It is a judgement call.
Goblin Bushwhacker 4
Not really a one drop. Neither does this offer something that conventional goblin decks want that much. Haste is great for goblins but there are far better ways to get it. Ones that offer it in an ongoing capacity and don't require you to pay RR on top of the thing you have played. Much the same applies to the pump this offers. Being a cheap card is far less useful if you are a situational one. There are still uses for the Bushwhacker. In the token themed decks you want as much pump as you can get your hands on and not just the premium stuff. Those decks being lower to the ground give Bushwhacker much more opportunity to shine. Played as a four drop alongside a Mogg War Marshal and you have quite a beating in store for someone.
Legion Loyalist 5
Goblins is one of the better homes for this card yet it doesn't make that many lists. Mostly this is because you are already playing a lot of individually low powered cards and this effect is one of the less important of the cheap effects. It is one of the best things you can pair with a Piledriver, you thought that card was scary before? Wait until it has trample and first strike as well! If you just need more one drops this is a well rounded one offering a reasonable amount of utility.
Spikeshot Elder 5
Nice cheap filler goblin with bonus utility. As a removal or reach tool this is pretty awful, 3 mana to ping a thing is not going to get you very far. Goblins does have very few mana sinks and so this has more late game than a lot of the cards and it is about as good as most of the other one drops in the early game. Having various lords and buff effects greatly increases the value this card can offer and that is ultimately what makes this playable. In a deck wanting to go a bit longer, with some pump effects, but missing low end then this is the card for you.
Goblin Chirugeon 6
More off radar and underrated goblins here with a rare Fallen Empires offering. You know you are in for a treat when it is a Fallen Empires card you have never heard of. So this is like the Spellskite for goblins. It is also kind of another Mogg Raider. Sac outlets are useful and protecting your key goblins is lovely as well in the right matchups. The 0 power body may seem weak but it really isn't that much difference between the 1/1 Raiders and Sledders. Small bits of damage are important to RDW, not to goblins.
Foundry Street Denizen 5
Probably one of the hardest hitting goblins you can flop out on turn one. With a good curve this will outpace Goblin Guide. In the more token focused and/or aggressive decks this becomes very good. In the other more conventional builds this isn't really doing what you want. You are after support and synergy much more than aggression or damage. This is a good cheap card but it is off theme fairly often.
Firefright Mage 2
One drop filler with some utility, both discard for recursion and unblockable for your key goblins. Sadly this is narrow and very slow. By the time you discard a card and pay the mana you might as well have been playing the things you get to Lackey out...
Frenzied Goblin 3.5
Too mana intense and unreliable at getting the things you need through. Not an awful card but not enough of one considering how many low impact support one drops you already have that are better and more important.
Two Drop Gobbos
The bane of midrange decks and pretty good against anything with creatures. It is quite easy to control how much this shoots for. With an active Sparky I would reasonably expect to be able to kill most on curve things my opponent makes. Being a proactive red deck with no other life costs I am generally pretty happy to sink anywhere from half to all bar one of my life into killing things. Often cheaper and with haste in the late game this card is really not far off having the effect of Visara the Dreadful. You want a high goblin count to maximise your synergy any this typically means being light on answers. This is the underlying reason why goblins was and is the best tribe. When your tribal dorks are also doubling up as removal you are one step ahead of the other tribes from the outset. There is a good reason this card earned itself the title of the best ever common in limited.
Goblin Piledriver 10
One of the big names! This is the card that actually kills you. Other cards clear your board and fuel the Piledriver but it is the the thing that puts in the actual numbers. Piledriver is likely the reason people think and feel the deck is an aggressive one. Any time you curve out with a Piledriver with basically any other goblins at all you are representing a disturbing amount of damage leading to a very quick clock. One of the big things in goblins is the choice of how to use your Piledriver. On curve you will bait any removal or incur the quickest Wrath possible. It has low odds of getting value but high odds on that value being game ending if you get it. If you save the Piledriver it makes a fatal blow later in the game a lot easier to achieve. Doing this however might not put enough pressure on to bait out the Wrath or removal. Piledriver is the Cranial Plating of the goblin deck, it is just as valuable but much more vulnerable. One of the best things about Lackey is that he eats the spot removal that would otherwise hit Piledriver. One of the nice things about Piledriver is that even when you can't force him through he will at least force through and pseudo protect all your other valuable utility goblins as they will simply be forced into blocking Piledriver to not die.
Mogg War Marshal 9
A highly underrated and off radar goblin that is the perfect support card for the deck. This is 3 goblins for 2 mana! It is a goblin itself and so works with every other synergy card in the deck. You want loads of throwaway tokens to power up your synergies and give you things to sac without losing utility. This is a Dark Ritual when you have Warchief and Prospector in play! Ideally you want to usefully sac the body right away and you basically never want to pay the echo. Despite this it is still a fine thing to flop out on turn two. Doing nothing is weak! There is no better way to cheaply clog up a board than this guy. It seems it doesn't matter which direction you take the deck in you want this guy there supporting your other goblins. Just having nearly three times as much value with each of your other synergy effects (+1/+1, haste, sac options etc) makes this card incredibly powerful in the deck.
Goblin Recruiter 9
This card can represent instant death, unending threats or just a calm tutor for a couple of things! Recruiter is incredibly over powered. It is also the hardest card in the deck. Setting up your chain of goblins is the reason Kai rated the deck as so hard to play. The one trade off for the immense power this card brings is that it is not great as an early play. Unless you have all the lands you need for the rest of the game you can't get all the things you want. If you don't have next turns land you can't efficiently use it either. You can think you have the right amount of land and then just lose to a Stone Rain... A great deal of the power of the tribe stems from this card. You want it in most incarnations of the deck and it is the linchpin card in some. Just be very careful in how you use it. If you are not an experienced goblins player always err on the side of safety when using the Recruiter. Ever locked yourself out of a game with a Necropotence? I have and it sucks and you can do much the same thing with a careless Recruiter.
Ember Hauler 5
Decent utility filler and fine stand alone card but not really what you want. There are better removal goblins and better filler bodies. The RR casting cost is a big let down as this never benefits from cost reduction effects. I play this when I am super light on removal or two drops. It is never better than a second choice card. It is fine because it is something to keep you in the game early and still a goblin therefore not reducing your synergies. Playing this is basically saying, I want a Shock but I also don't want to reduce my goblin count and so I'll play this compromise.
Skirk Drill Sergeant 5
One of the very few options goblins has for value outside the known staple cards. While this looks like another awful Legions card it actually has some game. It benefits from cost reduction and haste and is a fine filler body, much better than most of the RR cards. It has great synergy with Recruiter and is still a 50% hit rate in the lists you would play it in. That is fine as a mana sink. The average CMC of your goblins is not that far off three mana so blind you are getting value half of the time without losing tempo. When you have it setup you will be gaining both tempo and value. With all the sac outlets, especially Prospector it is very easy to chain off some juicy goblins. Mana sinks are rare and this is an OK one. A filler card for sure but one of the better generic filler cards the tribe has to offer.
Warren Instigator 6
The Goblin Lackey's big brother. This exaggerates many of the problems that Lackey has. You want the effects early yet this is inherently slower. You rely on having good targets in hand for it and that is harder to do with Instigator. On the flip side this card is some redundancy for Lackey and so it makes other cards and effects more worth playing. This also has great scaling with any pump effects you have and can actually be quite a dangerous threat. There are some cute things you can do with it to unsuspecting people as the first trigger occurs at first strike damage and so you can drop in a goblin lord and have all your normal combat damage improved. Slightly overrated due to the Lackey but still a fine enough card for the deck.
Goblin Tinkerer 4.5
This is your best goblin way of killing artifacts. It can repeatedly kill 0 and 1 cost things and can usually eat 2 drop stuff if you need to without him dying. Or you just throw him under the bus and trade one for one with the offending expensive artifact. It can often just be better playing a cheaper and/or quicker spell to deal with scary artifacts but the goblin version doesn't diminish your synergy and can be fetched up. Ultimately it comes down to how important it is to kill specific artifacts and how quickly. Tinkerer is great for important but a little less good for quickly. Like a lot of the utility goblins this is something I would happily play in a known meta or as a SB card but it is not something I overly want to maindeck blind. It is better in powered cube as there are loads of tasty cheap artifacts to eat up and so it is more something you can run blind there.
Goblin Wardriver 4.5
The other Piledriver. Obviously this is substantially worse than Piledriver but still fine enough filler. It is not the lack of prot blue, nor the fact that this scales half as well with number of attackers that makes it so much worse than Piledriver. Mostly it is the RR cost meaning it is never something you can slip out for one mana. Spreading out the attack buff over all your creatures is generally more effective than having it all on the Piledriver. The more board you expect to have the better this is.
Grenzo, Havoc Raiser 3.5
Really not what goblins needs. This is a total win more card and goblins is super good at win more already. This is not at all reliable as a late game mana sink or value card and as an early play it has nothing going for it in the deck. A relatively powerful card that might have more utility in the goad department than I am giving it credit for. In tokens this could help alpha strike easily over two turns or generate a lot of value even through somewhat robust defenses. Tokens is the least win more version of the goblins as well so this rating is subject to change with more testing. Grenzo is pretty new and most of his testing has been in RDW style lists which don't work well for him but for different reasons. Mostly I am condemning this for being another of many RR filler dorks.
A very useful tool to have in the goblin arsenal. In general this card is pretty inefficient, you never want to pay the echo and this makes it a situational soft removal spell. Against things like Emrakul and Blightsteel Colossus it is the best answer you have. As something you can tutor for with its goblin tag it is a very effective way to counter some of the super big creature strategies that are so popular and effective in cube. This isn't a card I would generally want to play blind but it is fine to do. It is a go to card as soon as I know there are things I otherwise struggle to beat in the meta. The slower the deck the more valuable the goblin Man O War is.
Vexing Shusher 4.5
This is another hedge card like the Stingscourger. You play this against blue decks relying on permission. You probably didn't need me to tell you that. It is obviously awful against anything other than a deck with at least a couple of hard counters but it is pretty golden against those that do. Goblins is a deck that not only relies on synergy but that also has an incredibly polar array of cards. A single well placed counterspell can neuter an awful lot of mildly wonky goblin draws. You are often so reliant on that Ringleader or Siege-Gang resolving that waiting a turn and doing it with a Vexing Shusher is a good plan. In mono red this is basically your only tool against countermagic. When you have black hand disruption is usually a more reliable, rapid and well rounded problem solving solution. This isn't a card you want but it is sometimes a card you need. SB material mostly but highly valuable SB material.
Subterranean Scout 6
Another unassuming filler card that does something you actually want rather than something that seems like it might be quite powerful. On top of being a cheap gobbo with a pleasant casting cost this card performs a valuable role in the archetype. The interaction it has with Lackey, Warren Instigator and Piledriver is perfect. You get to much more reliably get value out of your most abusive and powerful scaling cards! Ideal. It may seem like a win more card but the difference between having those cards blocked and killed and getting through is utterly game changing. If you are going the Lackey route with any conviction this is a card you should strongly consider.
Goblin Shortcutter 6
This is the greedy players version of the Subterranean Scout. With this you can force through your whole team rather than just one dork and so you can get a whole lot more value from it. That of course assumes they only have one blocker. When they have many this card has greatly reduced value and won't help your high value creatures to connect. Early game this is more consistent and that is when your Lackey style cards most want a free pass. I still favour the Scout in this role but I can see the argument for Shortcutter. It is not entirely unreasonable to play both!
Goblin Tunneler 3
Low powered and slow compared to the other two drop things that help force through goblins. I want to be able to force through my turn one Lackey and this doesn't help there.
Akki Rockspeaker 2
Super low powered and situational but it does allow for some burst. A potential for a well crafted and considered combo goblins build.
Akki Blizzard Herder 1
There is a bit of an option on an LD goblins build. I have not explored it much but it does have some interesting tools such as this.
Goblin Lookout 3
Weak but actually the closest thing there is to another Piledriver effect. Despite its potential power this is only worth playing in a token heavy deck. Sacing goblins is done a lot but it doesn't mean it isn't painful to do, the more stuff you have that you want to sac the more painful that becomes.
Three Drop Gobbos
Goblin Warchief 10
Even though there is now a selection of things that offer some redundancy to Warchief this little dude remains the man. He is the thing that enables everything else to be two turns quicker than it should be! He is the reason you can pass the turn facing a 1/1 token and five lands and be dead before you see another turn. The value you get out of one of these remaining in play is obscene. Warchief is the premium combo and engine goblin and one of the most important cards in those decks.
Goblin Chieftain 10
Better than Warchief in the more aggressive decks. Pump effects everything and scales better with any token generators. Cost reduction is more powerful for explosive plays and combo like wins. This is the best card in some decks and I card I want in every deck. Chieftain buffs the before stuff as well as the after stuff and so can be a much more significant tempo play than Warchief.
Goblin King 7
Not a great card but also a little underrated too. A +1/+1 lord is nice and mountainwalk is insane when it is relevant and that is more than you would think. Goblins takes very little from red and as such the colour is still open and should be played as much as it otherwise would if you were drafting a non-red deck. Red is very good in cube and a pretty useful splash colour too. King is an OK support card anyway and he becomes one of your most dangerous threats when they are packing mountains.
Goblin Sharpshooter 9.5
A really big name in the world of goblins. The Sharpshooter is the stuff of nightmares. You know how you kill a Mother of Runes on sight, nothing compares to how much some decks need this thing to die quicker than is physically possible! It is the single best counter to elf decks and really any deck trying to win with dorks. Sharpshooter looks like a one sided Wrath of God a lot of the time. The fact that it can come out with haste makes it all the more terrifying. Possibly the second most complicated card in the deck too. If you have ever played a goblin mirror where both players had hasted Shrpshooters hit the deck at the same time you will know quite how stupid it is. The largest stacks in the game involve this little goblin. When you have a pile of disposable goblins and some useful sac outlets, even a another copied Sharphooter for good measure, you can usually clear their board or do them fatal directly to the face or both of these things!
Goblin Matron 8.5
Who doesn't love a tutor on legs? This is a poor tempo play but it adds to your synergy significantly, makes up for lack of redundancy in some areas and really helps tie the combo aspects of goblins together. It is one of the few assured value cards the deck has and so it is important in that regard too. Significantly weaker in the aggressive lists but still a playable card. It is Matron and Recruiter that let you effectively play silver bullet goblins SB or main. It is also Matron and Recruiter than really help some of the combo elements of the deck.
Gempalm Incinerator 8.5
Speaking of value this is the only generic draw card that is in any way themed with goblins. You play this not because it is reliable removal but because missing your lands drops is unrecoverable and this is one of the only on theme tools available to help with that. It is lovely when you can kill some Titan without paying six life and getting to draw a card but far more often you are taking extra hits because you have to build up your goblin count before Gempalm even does anything! A two for one cheap and decently scaling removal spell is a solid thing in general. This is cast as a nut low 2R 2/1 an awful lot too which may seem bad but ultimately makes the card a better tool in the deck. When you just need more goblins it is another goblin...
Goblin Artillery 3
Not the worst removal option on offer but it is incredibly clunky. Really put to shame by Sparksmith. I may play this in place of having no Smith or perhaps in the SB for those kinds of matchups.
Goblin Rabblemaster 7.5
A very potent card that does a lot of things you want. It is a recent enough stand alone card that can actually put in some work without having the support of loads of other cards. This is great against removal heavy decks. It is some value and some tempo all in one. It is also a great source of goblin tokens. The one big issue with the card is that it forces you to attack with your team each turn. This can mean throwing valuable Warchiefs and such into the bin. This makes him more awkward to play with and around that a lot of your other cards. He is also a three drop which is when you ideally want to be doing more synergy things if you can. His power is such that it is still often worth including him. Despite some negative synergy the fact that this also has so much positive synergy to give and take with the deck while also being so individually high powered makes it very appealing.
Hellraiser Goblin 2
If you really need haste then this is an option. The card is very weak, it is a poor Warchief to begin with and comes with a worse drawback than Rabblemaster. I might consider this in some of the more combo driven lists if I didn't get both Chiefs but I wouldn't be happy about it.
Reckless Bushwhacker 3.5
Your plan is typically to obtain haste for your dorks in other ways. Most of the token stuff that generically good is quite high up the curve and so this is both a dead or low powered early card on top of situational late game card. In the more token focused lists he is best but in those it is much more about the +1/+0 that he offers. He is also quiet a nice way to greatly increase the punch from a Krenko. In specific decks this is great but I would avoid it outside of those places. In almost all ways this is worse than the original Goblin Bushwhacker but not by so much that you are not still happy to run either or both when you have the deck that wants them. Redundancy is nice!
Zo-Zu the Punisher 3
Ankh of Mishra on legs. Being slower and more easily killed than Ankh makes this less suited for its purpose and generally quite a poor tempo play. Against anything aggressive this will do you more harm than them. It is still great against midrange and control but not as good as an actual Ankh. Goblins isn't even really trying to win in that way either. Goblins is momentum and explosive damage, more like elves than RDW. SB cards should be as good as they can be at the thing they are trying to do. Zo-Zu doesn't add any thing to your burst capability, likely he reduces it. If you are running a very aggressive, burn heavy and low to the ground goblins list then Zo-Zu is quite good. Otherwise I would avoid him.
Boggart Ram-Gang 2.5
Good card in isolation but pretty weak in this archetype. It gets no cost reduction, nor does it benefit from gaining haste. It makes any colourless lands a real pain. Not even cheap enough to be that playable in the more aggressive lists unless short on cards.
Tuktuk the Explorer 3.5
Weak without a sac outlet but with one it is versatile. Several goblin bodies, one you actively want to die and another that is pretty fat for a goblin. Enough good three drops that you don't need silly situational stuff like this.
Four and Higher CMC Gobbos
Krenko, Mob Boss 6
Krenko is quite the silly card. Although he can win a game all on his own he is one of the slowest cards in the world to do such a thing and will be shut down by something before he does too much. If you can lay him with either goblins to follow, goblins already in play or with haste then Krenko is a lot more dangerous. The dream situation is making him with haste onto a board of some goblins! In that case he is somewhat better than Grave Titan. Krenko is the best source of disposable tokens and is often played as a filler card to help in that area. While he is powerful he is also rather on the overkill side and thus spends a little too much time in the Hill Giant camp to balance this.
Goblin Ringleader 9
The source of value for goblin decks. In most lists this is averaging a draw two blind. When you combo it with recruiter it is four instances of Eladamri's call. It is a cheap and very on theme five for one and still a very acceptable three for one in most worst case scenarios. It is the reason goblins can play the long game and an integral part of some of the more combo aspects the deck can be doing.
Boartusk Liege 3
Pretty weak body for your mana but it is another lord. The issue is that the decks that most want to go deep on lords are those that want to stay lowest to the ground. There is some stiff competition for those precious few four and above CMC cards in such deck and so this doesn't really get a look in anymore.
Goblin Goon 1
Pretty shocking card in all honesty. Goblins is not about big heavy threats yet that is exactly what this is. It is vulnerable to everything. Bounce, removal, tap or the real killer, too many guys in play. Sure, goblins can kill a lot of dorks but it can also be behind on the board. An expensive do nothing is never what you want. Perhaps if you are really afraid of Engineered Plague and such it could be more viable? Still seems bad.
Murderous Redcap 5
Quite a good value goblin but quite late in the day for the impact that he has. This is a great midrange filler card for decks wanting to go beyond the four slot. Goblins does a bit but not enough to really make this any sort of mainstay. When you can get this into play for a discount then it starts to be a lot more interesting. Essentially it has two bodies and so fuels a lot of your sac mechanisms well. It also can deal its full payload of damage immediately with much greater consistency in goblins than in other decks making it able to take out bigger things. This is doubly the case as it scales really well with your state based pump effects. A nice Goblin King and you are getting five damage out of the Redcap on its own. Great filler and utility card in the right deck but not quite the same scaling as other four and five drops that goblins typically play.
Beetleback Chief 5
Awful card but actually really quite good in goblins. This is a great example of a card doing what you want rather than being good. This is three disposable goblins in one card, critically a card with the type goblin. The goblins come with the card and don't require anything further like they do with Krenko. Krenko is substantially more powerful than Beetleback however you are using them pretty much for the same thing and the Chief is substantially quicker and more reliable. You get your goblins right away without the need of haste and spot removal wont deny you them. Without cards like this you don't have nearly enough disposable goblins to make your sac outlets perform. One of the best plays in goblins has always been the Warchief into Seige-Gange. Certainly these curve nicely and are high individual power but actually Goblin Chieftain into Beetleback Chief represents more tempo and damage.
Goblin Pyromancer 2.5
Narrow but deceptively powerful. This is a tutorable Overrun for four mana. No toughness pump isn't an issue as your dorks will die at end of turn anyway! The lack of trample is a shame but you can supplement this effect with Legion Loyalist should you need. Only really suitable for the heavy token generating decks. You have to reliably set up boards where you can kill people with Pyromancer else it is a dead card. This is a decent anti-goblin card too so worth picking up in open formats even if you don't want to run it!
Lightning Crafter 3
More unknown, exotic, highly situational and pricey yet just about playable goblins! This dude taps to Lightning Bolt stuff and is a Hill Giant. The ability to often have haste in this archetype makes it a lot more powerful. Champion is usually a drawback but in goblins it can be abused somewhat with the various come into play effects. If you want to go more control, value and midrange this is a strong tool to do it with.
Goblin Ruinblaster 3
Land destruction on a goblin. This is the best stand alone goblin flavoured LD effect. It is an OK cube card and a lot more independently powerful than many others on this list. Goblins doesn't really need to be bothering with opponents lands, certainly not on the turn four mark. I would only want this effect if I had some mana denial themes going on and goblins doesn't overly have the space spare to ram in extra things.
The big swinger. This guy does all the things you want. Loads of goblins, some reach and some removal. You can immediately get right back in a game post mass removal with a Gang, or you can close out any game on the spot if they left your board well alone. Seige Gang still looks good compared to cards 15 years younger than it despite all the power creep in dorks. He does this all on his own so I am sure you can imagine quite how stupid he is when he is supported by other goblins making him bigger and better! I always want to play this and I will warp my mana a little if I have to so as to be able to.
Skirk Fire Marshal 2
Pretty terrible card but being able to do 10 to everything for 5 mana shouldn't be underestimated. This thing ends games on the spot or saves you from a certain loss where no other card would. You don't really have the space for this sort of luxury, especially the expensive ones of which this very much is. Most likely to see play as a Living Wish target but none the less, a card worth knowing about at least.
Goblin Dark Dwellers 2.5
You don't really have enough targets for this. The RB versions of goblins get a little closer but then this is just a dorky midrange value card. It doesn't overly help your synergies.
Goblin Gardener 1
Over cost and requiring sac support but at least another goblin with land destruction potential for a deck themed in such a way.
Goblin Settler 1.5
Another very weak LD goblin but at least you don't need a sac outlet for this one.
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker 6.5
The top end greed goblin. The main reason you play this is so you can double up on various key goblins for the situation. Sometimes that is having your second Sharpshooter, some times it is another lord you want. The dream is just getting to push that Ringleader button over and over again. The Seige Gang button is a nice one too! Just writing this I am starting to convince myself that Phyrexian Metalmorph would be a good inclusion! Kiki is very powerful but a little on the win more side however if you don't run him can find it difficult to close a close game in which you lose access to a couple of key goblins. A simple Ashiok trigger can make it very uncomfortable for stripped back highly refined goblin decks to have all the things they need to win. Kiki is lots of power, lots of utility and a surprising amount of safety. His only real drawback is being a five drop. The second best five drop at that.
Goblin Marshal 3
Good redundancy and very on theme but super top end and not all that powerful considering the price tag. Most useful as a huge mana boost at the top of a Food Chain. You don't normally want to have to think about getting to 6, five is hard enough.
Just a Shock. A goblin flavoured Shock than you can tutor for with Matron or Recruiter. Draw with a Ringleader or recur with some of the other tools. It is one of the most comfortable non-creature additions to the deck and helps out a lot with your typically poor early game. A bit of burn is good in most red decks and this is one of the better ones you can play. I'd still play Lightning Bolt over this but Tarfire would very much be among my next choices for burn and it is a whole lot easier to pickup than Bolt and the other premium burn.
Warren Weirding 4
Tribal edict! You might play this to give you a bit more top end removal and versatility. In a known meta this is potentially a better answer than Stingscourger. The ability to kill off a goblin and make two more means the card is rarely dead too.
Boggart Birth Rite 2
A clunky remedy for a singleton format. Losing key goblins is a pain and this can help with such problems. Typically if I am in black I will have better ways to get back dorks and so this is a little low value and a little too reactive to ever see much play.
Fodder Launch 3
Quite the beating in a midrange style of goblins deck against other midrange decks. This does a lot of work and while it is a bit clunky you know about it when it is used. You are like, but that is a limited card, how is it being so good?
Kuldotha Rebirth 0
Three gobbos for one mana would be so utterly delicious that it is worth some effort to get it. Sadly you can't even get there if you could cherry pick all the cards to do so. Great Furnance and a Mox Ruby and er, already getting a little thin on the playable artifacts for the deck. Perhaps one day you will be able to play enough artifacts that are otherwise good with enough filter effects that this will become great. Until then it is just wishful thinking.
Dragon Fodder / Krenko's Command 7
These are very good indeed but they have their issues. Not being actual goblins they interact fairly poorly with a number of the goblin synergies (cost reduction, Aether Vial, Bidding, Ringleader etc). Obviously being a cheap card that makes a pair of goblins they have great synergy with a lot of the other synergies (Prospector, Piledriver, Sharpshooter pump etc). It was the printing of a critical mass of these kinds of cards that allowed for the tokens archetype of goblins to really come to life. Basically, you play these cards and you go in that direction or you don't. They are good enough when you have all or most of the good token making stuff that you can build entirely around them and have a very powerful deck. If you do not build around them then they are just OK filler cards.
Hordeling Outburst 6
A whole lot worse than the two drop token makers but still fine. The lower power is slightly offset by the higher scaling, especially given you are building around the theme. The three slot is also more contested relative to how much you want in it than the two slot is in any incarnation of goblins.
Mogg Alarm 1.5
Poor return on tokens for the mana and a very onerous alternate cost. Free cards are typically broken but this is a good exception. Two lands is a brutal loss for any deck. You want to massively break the game when you do that and making a pair of 1/1s is far from breaking the game.
The best non-red producing land you can play in the deck. Being able to have a goblin you can turn off and on is quite nice for things like Gempalm and Sparksmith. A goblin that can survive Wraths is very rare and a man land that scales with your pump and other effects is also a big win.
Super low powered card but tutoring is still tutoring. In the most combo builds of goblins you just want exactly the right goblin and so you are willing to play the weak Goblin Matron every now and again.
Frogtosser Banneret 3
While we all know the power of Warchief it turns out the haste is the real thing. The cost reduction allows for some explosive things and can be very broken but it is far less consistently useful. This is a super weak body for the mana that comes with a somewhat situationally useful effect. Again, in the more combo driven versions of goblin variants the cost reduction is a lot more useful but this is a very niche goblin. Goblins are pretty niche already, only being playable in the most complicated and least done of the many goblin variants does not merit a high cube rating.
Tin-Street Hooligan 3
Generally I think I just prefer Goblin Tinkerer to this. This card is so annoying. It doesn't work through a Vial, it doesn't work with a Warchief in play. You can obviously only play it when you are also green and there is not all that much call to be green in goblins these days. A bit of black or just mono red are certainly the most popular. The value you get from this two for one is hardly exciting. It is really not far off as much use as a 1/1 token. It isn't even that much quicker than Tinkerer at getting rid or artifacts. Goblins can have haste a lot and finding green mana isn't always easy.
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden 4
A rare example of a mana sink, both when you play him and there after should he survive. This version of Grenzo is rather midrange and that is one of the least common ways to see goblins built. Also being gold means this guy sees very little play despite being a very versatile and powerful card.
Knucklebone Witch 2
Just a one drop that grows. She is harder to cast than most one drops being black and grows in a slow and somewhat unhelpful way. You have to lose tempo in order to gain it with the Witch. Viable in some of the more aggressive token lists but needs lots of support from both the cards and the mana base. Not even that exciting of a return. Foundry Street Denizen is the far better card of this ilk.
Festering Goblin and the stuff like it 1.5
Low impact and potentially a liability. Just play the red Fanatic or Arsonist options over these.
Spike Jester 2
Powerful card but not what goblins are looking for. This is much more of a RDW style card. If you are splashing black in your goblin deck it is for specific tools not generic cheap filler which is all this would be at best in a goblin deck. Still better than a Goon but really not a card you ever want to have to play. The advantage of going into black should be having more playables and so you shouldn't be in a position to need filler cards.
Mad Auntie 5.5
The other goblin lord. Tap to regenerate is OK, mostly it just ensures Auntie gets herself killed. +1/+1 to all your stuff on a 2/2 goblin for three is also OK but much more actively something you want for your deck. If you are black and have a high goblin count and perhaps some token generation it is hard to turn this down. I still prefer King to this even when I am black as mountainwalk is so game breaking when relevant.
Vial Smasher the Fierce 4
Very strong card, much more powerful and effective than Zo-Zu. Sadly like so many goblins this is rather off theme for most of the ways you can go. This is direct damage and reach, you want it in the decks that mimic the playstyle of RDW most but outside of that you want more synergy driven cards.
Wort, Boggart Auntie 3.5
Very midrange card indeed. A Hill Giant with fear and an upkeep card advantage trigger. While not the most proactive card in the world this does do a lot of good work in goblins. Getting back key stuff is nice. Getting back tribal spells or things like Gempalm Incinerator get quite unpleasant too! The range of what a goblin can do combined with you ability to easily find, play and get to the bin any goblin you want actually makes Wort a very dangerous high priority kill target. She is a much more rounded version of Krenko is a lot of ways. Sadly she is gold and gains little from haste or other synergies so barely ever gets a deck spot over Kreko.
Card Advantage / Quality
Smuggler's Copter 8.5
I am putting this in the card quality section as that is the most useful thing this offers to goblins. It is easy to crew and offers looting in a far better package for this archtype than any other card in the game. While the card has no synergy at all with the goblins just having that looting going on, or perhaps drawing a removal spell that would have otherwise hit a Warchief, should make your deck a lot more consistent. Any thing that solves needing a fine balance on your spell and land ratio is a welcome addition. A two mana Rumaging Goblin would actually probably just be better than this in the goblins deck which is quite and extreme situation! Looting goes from being good to great when you are using graveyard synergies as well and so the value of Copter increases a bunch there.
Faithless Looting 6.5
Card disadvantage is hard to stomach in goblins but that is because you have such a a heavy reliance on curving well. Goblin mulligans badly. Goblins has a lot of tools to make up card advantage if it gets going it gets enough of the things it needs. Losing cards is bad but when you gain enough selection out of it then it is more help than hindrance. As such Faithless Looting can be very effective in the deck. Not only does it increase your consistency for curving better than basically any other red card but it also lets you build with more risks. Aether Vial is a super potent card that is rather on the dead side if drawn too late. Looting will reduce the damage a poorly timed Aether Vial does to you.
Demonic Tutor 6.5
So often a Lay of the Land in goblins! The Demonic Tutor is very slow and hurts tempo a lot but it is usually worth it to increase your overall consistency. Being a very synergy driven deck that also has curve issues the Tutor helps out in several areas. The more combo focused decks like this most, any deck with any sort of key non-goblin card will lean on tutor effects pretty hard and there are not that many on offer!
Vampiric Tutor 6.5
Basically just the same as Demonic Tutor except trading a card for less tempo loss.
Wheel of Fortune 3
Pretty shocking in all but the lowest to the ground goblin decks. Most curve to five and so this is not something you can play till around turn six. It is a disaster using this early when you need to dig for lands as you end up putting power key goblins in the bin.
Night's Whisper 5.5
Just cheap card draw. It helps you curve out and isn't super punishing to your tempo as often your early plays afford little tempo or board control anyway. A great way to smooth out and refine a list. I would rather a good goblin on two and the right number of lands drawn naturally but that is wishful. When things are not perfect the simple Whisper does well.
Aether Vial 7.5
Probably the best deck for Aether Vial is the goblins. You want to curve out, you have a lot of creatures, generally about 50% of your whole deck. You also are susceptible to countermagic and benefit a decent amount from flash on your dorks. All round Aether Vial is a big win. Although it a little bit isn't as well. A card you really want early and does little late is a bit of an issue. It is a ramp card or mana source of sorts but isn't a land, you still generally need to hit all your lands to at least three, probably still four or more. It makes you that much more likely to be short on lands or short on action. Vial is an inherently inconsistent card and putting it into a deck without much card quality or alternate uses for it does hurt, goblins more so than most decks. A very useful option to have, it does a lot and can be offensively powerful. It outshines Sol Ring when it performs and that is a massive acclaim. Often worth that risk. Often worth insuring against that risk as welljust so you can play it a little more safely.
Chrome Mox 5.5
Playable but a little uncomfortable on the card disadvantage side. You are not gaining any card quality with this like you are with Vampiric Tutor or Faithless Looting. As such you will still have some issues with things when playing Mox. There are a lot of cards you simple don't want to remove from the game as well which reduces the value of Mox further. In a deck with a couple of ways to regain cards in hand I am keen on the tempo boost mox can bring. Without any card draw I will avoid it.
Mox Diamond 3
Far weaker than Chrome Mox as it warps mana ratios out of line too much. Without good card quality and draw this is too risky and unreliable in goblins.
Orcish Lumberjack 4
A big pile of burst mana from the cousin of the goblins. If you have some good green fixing, Taiga / Stomping Ground and a couple of sacs then this is a very dangerous card, one of your better turn one plays. I would treat this a little more like an Aether Vial for construction purposes however. I would want something like a Faithless Looting or in this case a Skullclamp so as to put it to use beyond just the mana potential.
Seeting Song (and other Rituals) 4 (1)
The other rituals are pretty weak in red as they only boost you by one mana, you might as well play Simean Spirit Guide (but don't because throwing a card away for one mana usually isn't enough). As for Seething Song it can really help you do what you need on a key turn. In the perfect situation the card is one of your best. The issue with it is card disadvantage and inconsistency. You want goblins and this very much isn't a goblin. I am happy to play Seething Song when I have a lot of card draw. I can also face playing it when I am a little top heavy and may well need the help to make KikiJiki useful. The idea is that I should be able to recoup the value lost with the Song with the things it will help me play even if it is not in pure card form.
Food Chain 5
Really hard to build and play, particularly in cube. When you don't have a deck built around it complete with sufficient tutors and fixing for it you shouldn't even consider this. If you do then this is powerful, quick and dangerous. You can pull off tern two wins with this. That isn't likely but still, it has the potential to win from nothing and needs respecting. Goblins is not the easiest deck in the world but the Food Chain variant may well be the hardest! Play with great caution. Any deck that is a quick combo or a good creature deck depending on how it needs to play is a very cool and interesting beast!
Birthing Pod 6.5
This thing works super well in goblins. It just so happens they have a long chain of powerful and synergic cards complete with a wide array of highly desirable EtB and upon death triggers. You don't even need the green for this! Pod will win most fair games pretty quickly. It isn't so much ramp in that you won't get mana back out of it until you use it five times always paying the maximum life! You have won or lost that game way before you get to the five count! Apparently it should be in the card advantage/quality section I guess. It is sort of ramp in that you can play a lot more total CMC of goblins on a specific turn with it which is the kind of thing you want to do to ensure you get value from certain cards.
Purphoros, God of the Forge 6.5
A surprisingly good addition to the goblins, in particular the token themed ones! For the less focused lists this is a bit clunky and top end. When this guy is good he is very much one of your best cards, super hard to deal with, massive inevitability and even a mana sink.
Dranlu's Crusade 2.5
A bit gold and three mana for a card that does nothing on its own. Mountainwalk is far far better than being a black zombie and a 2/2 goblin is more what you want than an enchantment. It is not really playing much around a Wrath if they killed all your dorks anyway... This is like the 5th best goblin pump effect at best. Hall of Triumph is likely better so yeah, probably don't play this.
Goblin Grenade 6
Boom! So much damage, so few manas, so hard to resist! Good card but a little awkward and really nothing on a good old Lightning Bolt. This is generally a 2 for 1 on yourself, even if you only throw away a token it is still lowering your tempo. You can't get tricky with it as it is a sorcery so really it is only great when you are going the more aggressive route with your goblins and are just trying to kill them quickly and efficiently like a more typical RDW. In those decks it is so brutal. You can be dead on turn three without a chance, Guide turn one for six, some two drop for another two say and then bam, turn three Goblin Grenade, Fireblast and any other one or two mana burn spell you care to name! Play this as reach, not as removal.
Patron of the Akki 2
Not awful but rather outclassed now in terms of top end dorks. The card is a rather a win more card, the classic follow up to something like a Siege Gang where you play it for one at the end of their turn and swing in with a load of massively pumped up tokens they were not expecting. Flash isn't super exciting when so much of your stuff has haste anyway. It is a clunky non goblin that really wants you to have goblin in play for it to be good. You don't need this.
A more reasonable and rounded non-goblin goblin card. At only four this is quite playable on its own and not overly burdensome on your early draws. This dork makes combat really hard for them, Clickslither can push through fatal pretty easily if not respected and as such he psuedo protects and forces through many of your other goblins. Despite all this it is clunky, is only one way with the synergies and offers something you don't really lack in the archetype. Pushing through is easy, having loads of goblins isn't.
Duress / Thoughtsieze 6
Pretty good all told, especially in the more combo orientated lists. Goblins has a lot of very high value cards and a lot of very low value ones. Being able to protect your high value cards from counterspells and removal is a very worthwhile use of a card and a mana.
Patriarch's Bidding 7.5
Your I win button. Also a great source of inevitability. Any sort of midrange deck without counterspells or I guess graveyard removal is on a clock, they have to race you down because eventually you will draw this and win. Even if they manage to get a load of stuff back you are still good to go, your things will have haste, will be able to provide some mana and should be able to outright kill their whole board before attacking!
Living Death 7.5
Mostly this is just another Bidding for you. With access to sac outlets this is always able to get everything back for you. Then you have the mixed blessing of everything back for them and everything they had dead. Again, with your capacity for board control post return it shouldn't matter much either way. The times it does matter are generally in your favour, they have something pro red you can't target or perhaps an indestructible thing. Death tends to be a bit more versatile late on in the game and rather an emergency out in the midgame when you can first start to play it.
Recurring Nightmare 5.5
This can be very powerful but it isn't as good as it might seem in goblins. Despite having lots of powerful EtB effects you are paying a lot of tempo to do so. Very few goblins, basically just Seige Gang, offer enough impact on the board to be a potent tempo use of Nightmare. The rest is all value and utility which is nice but not what you need. You can get more powerful recursion effects and you can get better utility. Three is a really awkward amount of mana for a goblins deck to have to pay for an effect.
Umezawa's Jitte 5.5
This is another example of a very powerful card significantly under performing in goblins. Jitte does a bunch of things you don't need or do better already and it has all the same weaknesses that goblins has. Jitte is slow and clunky and it does little without things in play. This describes a lot of your other cards, the various goblin lords for starters. The lower to the ground your deck is the better Jitte becomes but I would only want it ever as a hedge card against weenie aggressive decks.
Smoldering Spires 3
Too marginal. In the ideal situation this is a free smack with a potent Lackey / Piledriver style card. Most of the time the effect of Spires is wasted and it is just a bad Mountain. If you really want unblockable effects load up on a few goblins that do it rather than harm your mana base. Goblins is a curve deck more so than most and as such wants as few EtB tapped lands as possible.
Goblin Bombardment 3
In the heavy token themed deck this can be worthwhile. You can go all out and play Impact Tremours - the mini Purphorus! Doing that and you have to play almost entirely dorks and token generators with them but it is quite a dangerous deck. It has that affinity feel of just getting to a critical mass and winning regardless of your defenses. Bombardment takes a long time to add up and is card disadvantage so needs to be played sensibly if at all.
Imperial Recruiter 5
Pretty much just a bad Goblin Matron in the deck. It isn't a goblin and it doesn't get every single goblin you might want. Decks with specific plans, more combo orientated ones may well want this. Tutoring is good! Evidently given that we are even looking at a 3 mana 1/1 non-goblin card!
Planeswalkers (Chandra, Torch of Defiance ideally) 6
Most of the good red planeswalkers are viable filler in goblins. They let you diversify your threat base and offer a decent amount of value and utility. They do this without having to splash for another colour too. Five and six are a little steep, it is rare that you would have room for a five drop non-goblin card. This pretty much leaves the 4 CMC Chandra offerings. Firebrand is naff, you have no spells you want to fork, don't play her, you would get more out of a Spikeshot Goblin! The pair of 2RR Chandra cards are both decent however. Some potential draw effects, some reach and some removal.
Outpost Seige 3
Kind of another planeswalker option, either this is some ongoing gas in a grindy game or it is protection from removal and race insurance. This card is a bit limp on the damage output for 4 mana but it is hard to deal with, has good synergy with your many sac outlets and token generators and gives you some reasonable inevitability. The things I dislike about this card is that it is four mana to do nothing to the board. You have to have stuff for it to be at all proactive, you don't want to be in the position you need to draw more cards, you don't want to pay four mana to start doing so and you certainly didn't want this card in your hand all the way up to that point.
Boggart Shenanigans 4
The mini Outpost Seige. This is much better in that role as it is cheaper and has all the tribal synergies allowing you to scoop it up. Much like all these effects that rely on things entering and leaving play, or indeed the Bombardment that helps you have things leave play, you only want them in a very dedicated kind of deck. It is more of a red tokens list than a goblins list as such.
Some Example Lists:
Mogg War Marshall
Krenko, Mob Boss
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Foundry Street Denizen
Mogg War Marshal
Reckless Bushwhacker / Goblin Rabblemaster
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Krenko, Mob Boss
Seige Gang Commander
Food Chain Goblins
Mogg War Marshal
Viashano Racketeer / Rumaging Goblin / Elvish Visionary
Boggart Harbinger / Imperial Recruiter
Seige Gang Commander
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
15 Lands - including many duals
Goblin Bidding (with SB!)
Mogg War Marshall
Wort, Boggart Auntie
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Duress / Firebolt
Devil's Play / Rakdos's Return
Pillage / Fiery Confluence
Foundry Street Denizen
Mog War Marshall