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Modern Goblin In-depth guide: sideboarding & tips vs the meta

Rodrigo Eiras
10/12/2022 · 18 min read

Singularies and Similarities

I've been all over this world. I even remember some of those places.

Each game situation carries its own singularities and similarities. It is interesting to think about how each game circumstance requires a decision to choose a certain type of plan (check my previous article to learn more ). The sideboard serves precisely to reinforce a certain path against the most diverse strategies.

Sideboard Guides Are a Trap

Before I start explaining my game plans against the different Modern archetypes , which I believe are the most accurate at the moment, I want to say one thing: sideboard guides are a trap. I believe that many people have already lost games by blindly copying a subtraction or basic addition count between decreasing and increasing a certain number of cards against a specific archetype.

I don't think it's because of the lack of quality of whoever wrote a particular article about sideboarding, but because Magic is a complex game that carries many different nuances, and mainly because the game changes very quickly. This sideboard guide, for example, can become obsolete within a week or two of its publication, because Modern is a format that adapts quickly and your changes need to be carried out efficiently and very well articulated.

Have you Own Plan

It is in this sense that I use the term "sideboard suggestion" so that you have your own critical sense when you may disagree and have your own plans, taking into account the transformations that your lists have had and that the format itself has had.

So, don't treat this article as "a definitive guide", but rather as a chapter in your journey as a Goblin player. What I plan to do here is continue my writing by trying to contribute to those who want to become a better Goblin player by trying to explain a little bit how to approach a given match.

The sideboard guide is just a bonus, a conclusion of what I believe is the most coherent way to adjust our deck in certain situations after articulating certain game scenarios and a basic understanding of how our deck operates. Disagree, opine, come up with a better plan. I learn daily how to use my sideboard by discussing with other players (yes, Jokersrwild, I'm talking about you) and this is the best way for us to mature as players, discussing and learning from each other.

My current version of the deck

This is my current list:

Goblins. Builder: ganjadejanga.MTGO - Magic Online
1st in MTGO Modern Showcase Challenge #12495532 19-Nov-2022
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [33]
4  Mogg War Marshal   $0.35
2  Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker   $8.99
4  Munitions Expert   $0.35
4  Goblin Matron   $0.35
4  Boggart Harbinger   $1.49
2  Sling-Gang Lieutenant   $0.49
1  Goblin Cratermaker   $0.35
4  Ignoble Hierarch   $3.49
3  Goblin Ringleader   $0.59
1  Goblin Trashmaster   $5.49
4  Conspicuous Snoop   $6.49
Artifact [4]
4  Aether Vial   $7.99
Land [23]
3  Mountain   $0.01
2  Stomping Ground   $13.99
4  Cavern of Souls   $42.99
2  Blood Crypt   $16.99
1  Swamp   $0.01
4  Bloodstained Mire   $29.99
4  Unclaimed Territory   $0.35
3  Arid Mesa   $19.99
Sideboard [15]
4  Leyline of the Void   $3.49
1  Orvar, the All-Form   $5.99
2  Sling-Gang Lieutenant   $0.49
3  Tarfire   $0.35
1  Masked Vandal   $0.69
4  Blood Moon   $7.99
Buy this deck:

$70.09 Tix @cardhoarder   $1.75 / Week @cardhoarder   $440.01 @tcgplayer   $542.53 @cardkingdom  

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My list at the moment is very closed and clean, with many complete sets of several cards (4x Snoops, 4x Harbingers, 4x Matrons, 4x Marshal, etc.) but if I were to elect which would be the flex slots of the deck, they would be these: Goblin Cratermaker and Goblin Trashmaster.

Adapting the deck to an artifact-heavy meta.

I believe that the Modern meta is infested with decks that abuse Urza's Saga , and I trust that having a list with Cratermaker and Trashmaster in the maindeck makes the match very favorable, as they are very efficient answers against Construct tokens. We can easily destroy any artifact that might get in the way of our path to victory, such as Shadowspear and others that are not necessarily used in Saga decks, but can be difficult to deal with, such as Pithing Needle, Ensnaring Bridge, Wurmcoil Engine, and other cards common in Karn's Toolbox.

[blockquote=”Your sideboard is just an extension of your maindeck”]

I like to build my sideboard as an extension of my maindeck, making a mental fit that if I'm going to take 4 cards out of my deck, I intuitively know which are the other 4 cards that will go in. This combination is very present involving the two copies of Sling-Gang Lieutenant on my sideboard and the copies of Goblin Cratermaker and Goblin Trashmaster on the maindeck.

When I believe that destroying artifacts is not necessary (or that there is no colorless permanent I want to destroy with Cratermaker), I automatically replace those two copies of Artifact Hate with two of Sling-Gang, creating an extremely aggressive strategy with 4x copies post-sideboard of Sling-Gangs that curve very well with 4x Ignoble Hierarch.

This is the first valuable tip I can give you about my approach to the most diverse game situations I can find in Modern. I believe these changes are simple, intuitive, and fast, but also very efficient. It's incalculable how many games I've won with Sling-Gang. I dare say that the number of wins is even higher than the number of matches I won with the combo, as Modern is a very interactive format, and Sling-Gang shines in these matches. So, I love to use four copies of the card in my 75.

Increasing the Number of Goblins in Our Deck

Basically, our deck's strength is also its weakness: we can't give up the high number of goblins in our deck without weakening it. There is a synergy in the deck that is totally based on the term TRIBAL GOBLIN because we can use Goblin Matron and Boggart Harbinger as a way to tutor cards, creating card advantage with Goblin Ringleader and we can even use them from the top of our library with Snoop. It is a challenge to use non-goblin cards in our sideboard because of this fact, as each copy of non-goblin cards in our deck, despite often being a necessary evil, weakens our deck's synergy in the aforementioned points.

One way to "dribble" this deficiency is to try to reduce the number of Goblin Ringleaders after we put a lot of non-Goblin cards into our deck. Or, conversely, taking non-Goblin cards from our deck to insert other non-Goblin cards, to maintain a certain balance in how the deck operates. For example, in some games, I find it too much to use 4x Aether Vials, 4x Leyline of the Void, while leaving the number of Goblin Ringleaders unchanged.


Instead of removing Ringleaders from the deck, I decided to remove Aether Vial. Now, if you think that Aether Vial is too valuable in your strategy, then let the Ringleaders go. It's a little difficult to arrange the deck in these scenarios, but you can gain a better understanding with practical examples.

Generally, when I use all four copies of Blood Moon, some copies of Ringleader will have to come out. And so on. In short, pay attention to your Goblin count. If this number decreases too much, your Ringleader Goblins will be weakened, so it's best to decrease their number in your deck. If you need to use non-Goblin cards but don't want to lower your Ringleader number, consider removing Aether Vial from your deck. Despite being a counterintuitive change, as Goblin Ringleader works very well with Aether Vial, this is an outcome that is sometimes necessary, as you will see in my strategy against Yawgie.

The Goblin Cards in Our Siderboard

As I said, the greater the number of copies of Goblin cards in our deck, the better. Orvar, for example, is a card that can be great in matches against Creativity because the only copy can be tutored with Goblin Matron and Boggart Harbinger. Although many believe that the card no longer works because people are already playing around it, I still use it in the match. However, I agree that its efficiency has dropped a lot over time; particularly at the moment, it was nerfed because we lost an important element against Creativity, which would be the opportunity to attack first with our copy of Archon of Cruelty.

With Brother's War's new enchantment, Bitter Reunion, our opponent can give Haste to their creatures, disadvantaging us in our plan against the deck. Some players have already said that they are not using Orvar against the deck; maybe this is a game plan for the future, but I still don't have the definitive answer.

Masked Vandal is our answer against Kaldra Compleat, among other cards that may come our way, such as Urza's Saga itself.

Planning your turn before searching for the card with our search effects is essential. We should think about how we will place creature cards in our graveyard. The most common scenarios involve not paying Mogg War Marshal's echo to have a copy available in the graveyard, or sacrificing a goblin in combat so that the next turn we can play a Vandal with its trigger available. If you are in the mid and late game, sacrificing a goblin card with Sling-Gang is one of the best options. Don't hesitate to kill your own Munitions Expert with your own skill when you have no choice; Kaldra can impose a very fast clock.

Tarfire is my favorite sideboard card. I believe that it is the card that has accompanied me the most over time, and I dare say that it is the only copy that has always been present in my sideboard over these four years playing with the deck. It's interesting to see how nobody played with the card before, and now people consider it a valid option.

Tarfire accompanied me through the dark times of Lurrus, where the card was a quick and efficient response against the cat. Tarfire has killed several Goblin Guides, Stoneforge Mystics, Lurrus, Giver of Runes, and even my own Goblins in response to a Living End on the stack. I would like to play with 4 on my side, maybe if I confirm that Orvar is no longer efficient, I will remove this copy to add the fourth Tarfire on my side. Tarfire also fits very well in the deck when, post-side, there are 4 copies of Sling-Gang, creating an Aggro/Burn strategy in our deck, giving me victories when using it directly on my opponents faces, finishing their last points of life.

About Sling-Gangs

About Sling-Gangs, I already mentioned my most common uses above. In general, they will come in games where resources are exchanged and when your opponents try to interact with you a lot.

Having four copies in the 75 is also important because, in addition to Snoop, Sling-Gang has a target marked in itself, being a creature that eats a lot of removal in our deck and our opponents don't expect us to have all four copies in our deck. It also plays wonderfully in our deck when we have 4 copies of Mogg War Marshal. Then, use the 4 copies creating a Tokens strategy deck, in which your opponent tries to exchange one for one.

So, if your opponent is using a Lightning Bolt on Sling-Gang, it's a good exchange for us, because in addition to sacrificing it in response to draining our opponent's life point, we still have two 1/1 bodies on the field creating card advantage and board presence. In some situations it's also important to think about whether our opponent has Fury in his hand. Sometimes it's a good deal to be able to “trade” our table presence for 4 life points drained with Sling-Gang. Try to play around this situation with Aether Vial with 4 counters.

In many cases, it's best not to overextend our table presence if we can waste a turn to give an opportunity to our opponent to cast a Fury killing a few goblins. Another possible scenario is to pass the turn with 2 open mana to destroy a Fury in response to its trigger with Munitions Expert. In my experience, Fury is not so problematic, the problem is its combination of sweeper + clock. So losing four 1/1 isn't the worst of all worlds, but don't let this card put pressure on your life points, use many chump blocks or destroy this creature with Munitions when possible.

Sideboarding Against Modern's Most Common Archetypes


Although many players may disagree with me, I don't think this match is favorable. While some games may seem easy, others are extremely problematic if our opponents put a very fast clock in the form of a very large Murktide early in the game. As I've faced the game against very good players, I know how the game can be extremely difficult in the hands of experienced players, but on the other hand, extremely easy in the hands of inexperienced players. Preserve your points of life, prioritize hands with Aether Vial, Cavern of Souls and removal or block in the form of Mogg War Marshal for Ragavan. It's hard to combo in this match, so our main plan is to be aggro while trying to control the board, saving our life points and removals against Dragon's Rage Channeler, Ragavan, and Ledger. Post side, prioritize using Tarfire on Ragavan while Munitions Expert on Ledger Shredder or Dragon's Rage Channeler. Don't worry too much about killing the monkey if you have a Mogg War Marshal available, it's usually enough to stop the monkey.

Sideboard suggestion:

  • IN: 3x Tarfire, 2x Sling-Gang Lieutenant.
  • OUT: 4x Ignoble Hierarch, 1x Trashmaster.


The match is favorable for us, but believe me, sometimes the deck seems to be unbeatable, with victories in turn 2. I've already lost more than I would like for this deck, so respect the archetype. We have two plans: try to combo as soon as possible or go for control with Trashmaster. Pay attention in Urza's Saga, as when the card has two counters, probably on the next turn they will try to aggressive with a Hammer or control the board looking for a Pithing Needle. So, there's no point searching for a Trashmaster in a scenario where your opponent can look for a Needle next turn and name our Trashmaster, try to play around that when you can.

Sideboard suggestion:

  • IN: 3x Tarfire, 1x Masked Vandal, 4x Blood Moon.
  • OUT: 3x Ringlader, 4x Marshal, 1x Ammunition Expert.

I didn't usually use Blood Moon against the deck, but after talking to Jokersrwild I believe this is an interesting move, as many players start with Saga on turn 1. In this scenario, if we have the opportunity to cast Blood Moon on turn 2 with Ignoble, it may be a victory on our side. If you are not comfortable with this plan, you can leave 3x Marshals + 1x Munitions Expert in the deck. It's your decision.


Here is another match that many will disagree with, stating that this match is favorable. I again disagree. I can't say that a deck that plays with four copies of Fury in the maindeck is a favorable match, mainly because the deck can cheat the trigger of its own creatures. Avoid mulliganing playable hands, what we need is a hand that is minimally operational, containing lands and creatures. Mulliganing too much against a deck that can discard two cards from our hand on turn 1 can be fatal. Again, prioritize hands with Aether Vial and Mogg War Marshals. Get ready to chump creatures a lot and don't try to kill them with your opponent with open mana, because the worst feeling is when you try to kill a Fury and your opponent uses an Undying Evil effect in response, making you waste not only your removal, but presence at the table as well. Be patient, it is very common in this match to have topdeck wars, with your opponent with a strong clock involving Grief or Fury attacking every turn, while we wait to topdeck some relevant goblin that will give us card advantage and the opportunity to turn the game in our favor.

Sideboard suggestion:

  • IN: 3x Tarfire, 2x Sling-Gang.
  • OUT: 4x Ignoble Hierarch, 1x Trashmaster.


One of the worst matches for us, unfortunately. As I said earlier, the archetype became even stronger against us after the addition of Bitter Reunion to the deck. Our plan here is to go full control, trying to kill creatures with Tarfire and Munitions Expert in response to our opponent playing Creativity while trying to fit in a Blood Moon to lock our opponents out of the game. By no means let Fable's creatures survive, they can easily turn the game in favor of our opponents by generating colored mana while creating creature copies and pressing our life points.

Sideboard Suggestion:

  • IN: 4x Blood Moon, 3x Tarfire, 1x Orvar.
  • OUT: 4x Ignoble Hierarch, 2x Ringleader, 1x Cratermaker, 1x Trashmaster.


Burn has always been a very balanced match, but after the release of Ignoble Hierarch I feel the match has become easier for us, because we can more smoothly ramp into Sling-Gang Lieutenant while our opponent can't waste all his removals on our creatures. Our best hands involve Aether Vial, Ignoble Hierarch, Mogg War Marshal, Tarfire and/or Sling-Gang Lieutenant. Try to keep hands with early plays. Not playing spells or interacting until turn 3 is a death sentence.

Sideboard Suggestion:

  • IN: 3x Tarfire, 2x Sling-Gang.
  • OUT: 3x Ringleader, 1x Trashmaster, 1x Cratermaker.


The matchup is just flipcoin. We are both looking to win in turn three, although on the post side games can tend to be slower, as both players opt for hands that interact more. Prioritize hands with the combo and/or Blood Moon. I tend to aggressively mulliganing for hate or a turn 3 win.

Sideboard suggestion:

  • IN: 4x Blood Moon, 1x Masked Vandal.
  • OUT: 3x Ringleader, 2x Marshal.


The match is unfavorable if we fail to win in our turn three. Basically, it's impossible to win while there's a Yawgmoth in play if your opponent has more life points than you. However, post-side I believe our chances improve considerably. I've been reflecting a lot on the match and I've come to some conclusions that make me have a positive win rate against the deck: try to be as aggressive as possible - when it's not possible to win through the combo - because if you manage to leave your opponent with 10 life, Yawg's activations become a clock in our favor, making it impossible for them to combo without a Blood Artist on the board.

Ignoble Hierarch helps us a lot in this game because while it speeds up our game it makes it possible for us to attack with a 4/4 exalted body through a Yawg, making it possible for us to bet a race against the deck. After side, prioritize hands with the combo, with Leyline of the Void or with interactions to kill your opponent’s early dorks. However, don't think that Leyline will win the game by itself, quite the contrary, in addition to our opponents having an answer to the card, if we don't interact, we will lose the game with Leyline on the field even on turn 0. Remember: a hand that interacts can be more valuable than a hand with Leyline without removal. Don't hesitate to cast Leyline if you draw it turns later, the card is still valuable even after turn 0 and we can cast it easily with Ignoble and searching for Blood Crypt or Swamp.

Sideboard suggestion:

  • IN: 4x Leyline of the Void, 3x Tarfire.
  • OUT: 4x Aether Vial, 1x Ringleader, 1x Trashmaster, 1x Cratermaker.


Another favorable match, but don't be fooled; there are several answers to our strategy, like Subtlety, and they have a natural sweeper in their favor in case we can't put our creatures in the graveyard. The match is heavily influenced by the 'on the play/on the draw' factor. Again, we try to aggressively combo or ramp the game into a Sling-Gang as quickly as possible to gain free activations in response to our opponent's Living End.

Many games (many indeed) I won only with the Sling-Gang strategy. So choose your plan well and think about what you can play around our opponent. A tip is to always leave removal open for your own Snoop, because if our opponent does Living End at sorcery speed, we can respond by destroying our own Snoop with Tarfire or Munitions Expert to try to win the next turn by playing a Boggart Harbinger. Don't try to mulligan into oblivion searching for Leyline of the Void if your opponent kept a 7 card hand, as it's very likely that he has either a Living End on turn 3 or an answer to enchantment destruction, making our mulligans not as efficient like we would think, even because the deck plays with 4 copies of Grief.

Sideboard Suggestion:

  • IN: 4x Leyline of the Void, 3x Tarfire, 2x Sling-Gang.
  • OUT: 4x Marshal, 1x Cratermaker, 1x Trashmaster, 3x Goblin Ringleader.


I believe that our deck is relatively well positioned in the current Modern meta , having viable strategies even against decks that I consider to be good against us. I reinforce that you do not treat this small guide as definitive, many cards are released quickly and decks adapt at the same speed. Keep in mind that there can always be an element of surprise, and think about the uniqueness of each scenario. This is a guide that is intended to teach more how to approach our different plans than to be something definitive. Hope this helps.

If you believe this article has positively influenced your perception of the deck, please consider donating directly to me via my PayPal: [email protected] . Share this article with your friends, let me know what you think, and don't hesitate to reach me out on Discord or Twitter, looking for me on these platforms as ganjadejanga . See you in the next article!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Pioneer Azorius Control Sideboard Guide, Winning MOCS with Mono Green devotion: deck primer & sideboard guide

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Rodrigo Eiras
MTGO Grinder & Goblins specialist
Rodrigo Eiras, better known as Ganjadejanga on MTGO, is a Brazilian sociologist and PhD student who grew up in the Janga neighborhood and has a passion for decks built around creatures. Today he stands out in the competitive scenario with his favorite deck and favorite format: Modern Goblins.


Published: 2022-12-10 00:00:00

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