This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Notions of Horde

Billy headshot

By Billy


Legends tell of a goblin of unusual intellect. One who rose through the goblin ranks during Dominaria’s Ice Age. Invaluable to Goblin Chieftains of his era, he built armies that made them Goblin Kings. Innovator of brilliant new tactics like “Don’t look at it! Maybe it’ll go away!” and “It’s the pokey bits that hurt the most,” he is perhaps best known for the brilliant gambit of “Everybody but me-CHARGE!” He is. . . Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician, and he has come to your kingdom on a Quest for the Goblin Lord!


Hello, and welcome to Notions of Horde! Today we are taking a look at a much beloved tribe, and giving them the Horde Treatment: Goblins! Goblins have been competitive decks in many eras of Standard, Legacy, old Extended, and almost Modern! We’ll see how well that translates to our beloved Horde format, but I expect good things.


On to the decklist:


Goblin Kings and Queens

Boartusk Liege; Goblin Chieftain; Goblin King; Goblin Wardriver; Mad Auntie; Patron of the Akki; Quest for the Goblin Lord, Legion Loyalist; Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician; Dralnu’s Crusade.


Goblins do not lack for Lords, which is great as the default token is a rather small 1/1. As I’ve learned from other hordes, the difference in threat level between a 1/1 and a 2/2 is huge, so the ability to inspire the horde beyond their normal abilities is crucial. Most of these lords offer nothing more than the standard +1/+1 bonus we expect from leaders in our community, but some give a bit more.


Legion Loyalist is back from his tour of duty in the Soldier Horde, bringing with him three brutally disruptive abilities. The once and future Goblin King brings along Mountainwalk and all the concerns that Landwalk brings to Horde. My vote is to ignore Mountainwalk, especially if Calvin or some other Red addict is playing with you. Unblockability is rough, and takes a good amount of the fun interaction out of the horde, while also just ending games too early.


Dralnu’s Crusade and Quest for the Goblin Lord are essentially Glorious Anthem effects, though each brings a bit of a twist. Quest’s delayed effect can give the players a bit of breathing room to find a Disenchant, while Dralnu’s Crusade makes the all the Goblins into Black Zombies in addition to their other types and colors. Just in case that matters, I guess.

Now the man himself: Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician . My ruling for Ib is that he will not attack. He’s too smart to charge in blindly; that’s why he’s the tactician. He will block, so think of him as an attackable enchantment in this horde.



Beetleback Chief; Boggart Mob; Chancellor of the Forge; Goblin Marshal; Goblin Rabblemaster; Goblin Ringleader; Ponyback Brigade; Siege-Gang Commander; Skirk Drill Sergeant; Tuktuk the Explorer; Wort, Boggart Auntie; Empty the Warrens; Goblin Offensive; Hordeling Outburst


Have you ever seen a lone Goblin? Of course not! Where there’s one, there’s dozens. This section is for the best recruiters of the Horde. Boggart Mob provides a steady stream of little goblins as long it keeps pushing through damage, while Chancellor of the Forge doubles the goblins the horde already has. Goblin Marshal brings friends coming and going, while Goblin Rabblemaster makes a new friend every turn he stays around.


Siege-Gang Commander has been a tournament staple in Goblin Decks over the year, and he’s still good here. His fling effect doesn’t really apply, but he still brings friends. Skirk Drill Sergeant helps the horde replace its fallen members, and since most of the deck is Goblins, it should be working most of the time.


A few of these cards require special rulings for Horde mode. I’ve ruled that Wort, Boggart Auntie gives the horde a random Goblin from its graveyard. It’s easy to do, and it means that no one has to handle targeting things for the horde. Empty the Warrens uses the number of spells and tokens cast by the horde in the turn that it’s played as the Storm Count, while I suggest rolling a die to determine X for Goblin Offensive.


As to the size of die, I think a d6 for a single player, and a d12 for two players. For 3+ roll multiple d6s. Go nuts, figure out the dice that works best for your playgroup. I assume at least one person in your playgroup has a set of D&D dice. We’re all nerds here.



Akki Blizzard-Herder; Ankle Shanker; Caterwauling Boggart; Goblin Assassin; Goblin Bowling Team; Goblin Bushwhacker; Goblin Piledriver; Hearthfire Hobgoblin; Horde of Boggarts; Ignition Team; Knucklebone Witch; Mogg Maniac; Reckless Bushwhacker; Reckless One


Here we have the wackier cards that make Horde matches unpredictable. These range from player disruption, like Goblin Assassin, to big scary monsters, like Ignition Team. Akki Blizzard-Herder can disrupt players’ mana production, while Ankle Shanker acts as a perpetual Plague Wind if no one has the removal for it.


Caterwauling Boggart give all your Goblins and Elementals Menace, which can be as problematic for balance as other forms of mass evasion are in horde, though unlike Gruul War Chant the ability is on a relatively easy to deal with creature. That should help keep the difficulty in check a little, though I included my suggestions for difficulty adjustments at the end of this article.


Goblin Bowling Team is a fun card, and I always like squeezing in Uncards when I think they won’t break everything. Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker both require some special rules. Goblin Bushwhacker is always kicked, and Reckless Bushwhacker counts as surged if the horde has played any other spells the turn it is cast. Horde of Boggarts and Reckless One are the primary big monsters for the horde, and they are dependent on having an army of friends at their back. They fit very well with the swarming nature of this horde.


Difficulty Adjustments

First suggestion for making the horde easier is to remove Ankle Shanker. That card is probably too good for Horde Mode, but The Charmander Vibrator is a very removal-heavy deck, so not having removal is a rare occurrence for my playgroup, but I can definitely see that one getting cut in the next revision. Other cards to add instead include Dragon Fodder and Krenko’s Command. Auntie’s Snitch is a relatively unscary recursive threat, it didn’t quite make the cut, but could easily slot in to replace something that is ruining the fun, or even a card you don’t have.


Caterwauling Boggart might be too much evasion, and could be due for removal. Other ideas would be to cut down on Lords and Anthems. I would recommend cutting Dralnu’s Crusade first, because Enchantments are hard to deal with. Goblin Swine-Rider is an old, old card, that acts as a mini-pyroclasm to everything in combat, but I didn’t include it for fear that in might be too easy for players to use to their advantage. That said, it’s an interesting effect, and could definitely replace anything you’re finding to be too powerful


For increasing difficulty my first suggestion is Boggart Shenanigans. These shenanigans are cruel and tragic. Eeeeeviiiiilll shenanigans. That one damage trigger adds up very quickly and enchantments are among the hardest permanents to interact with. Goblin Assault is another constant source of tokens to consider, and creatures like Goblin Dark-Dwellers could re-buy Goblin Offensive or Krenko’s Command.


Goblin Pyromancer turns the horde’s Goblins into suicide bombers capable of dealing large amounts of damage and then self-destructing. I’m not sure whether adding the pyromancer would make things easier or harder, but it’s definitely a card to consider as time and testing move forward.


If you truly want an all-or-nothing card, Goblin Recruiter can move all of the horde’s tokens to the top for one very bad turn. Mardu Ascendancy is another repeatable token producer that can frequently make more than one token in a turn. It’s likely not a straight difficulty increase, but it is a great way to move the deck into an even “swarm-ier” build. Wort, the Raidmother is another good choice for moving in a this direction.


In Closing

All-in-all, this horde will take time and testing to iron out. Ankle Shanker is probably too strong, as is Caterwauling Boggart. We’ll see how things play out. The problem with these high-variance decks is it can be hard to test individual cards, because they won’t come up every game, so it can take large quantities of games to achieve a reasonable sample size for each card. For this horde, I hope to acquire lots of data on the cards inside, so if anyone else builds this, I’d love to hear your opinions.


As always, remember to have fun and remember: Step lightly and we might be able to use it as a bridge!





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