Rabble Red has been doing well, winning a bunch of Game Days around the country and placing second and third at the Standard Open in Syracuse along with a Top 8 at the Grand Prix in Utrecht. At the Pro Tour, Team Revolution had more than half of its nine pilots finish with a 7-3 record or better. We've also seen Gerry Thompson (a man that's hard to impress) become awed at an innovative Magic Online deck featuring Goblin Rabblemaster here.
While the shell of Mono-Red with fifteen one-drops is a solid one for Goblin Rabblemaster, I believe that there are more shells that the new hit from M15 can fit into. Stoke the Flames is a natural pairing with the Rabblemaster, and it's unsurprising to see it be in decklists along with him. It's also one of the stronger cards to come out of M15 and one that serves double-duty to convoke out easily with Goblin tokens as well as preventing your Goblins from attacking when you don't want them to.
Let's start with a deck that further pushes the usefulness of Stoke the Flames by adding another token generator in Young Pyromancer and the ability to reduce the costs of our spells with Goblin Electromancer, which just so happens to be a Goblin to power the attacks of Goblin Rabblemaster!
The blue additions here are Goblin Electromancer and some versatility with Izzet Charm and Turn // Burn. Sadly, Goblin Electromancer doesn't reduce the cost of both sides of Turn // Burn, but it's still quite efficient at outright killing any one creature for 2UR or to kill a blocker in combat with Turn. With all the 1/1s and other small creatures the deck has, Turn lets you push through blockers much like Rubblebelt Maaka does.
Cyclonic Rift is nice tempo to remove unwanted blockers like Polukranos, World Eater and Blood Baron of Vizkopa and has a realistic chance of being overloaded along with Goblin Electromancer. Steam Augury hasn't seen much play, but is much better when it costs 1UR instead of 2UR. Then you can leave Stoke the Flames and Steam Augury both up on turn 3 and react to their play on their turn.
Chandra's Phoenix has pretty good value here, as it makes the piles from Steam Augury more difficult and lets you use Izzet Charm's draw two and discard two mode to pitch them to rebuy as needed. Izzet Charm is a flexible counter as well against anything from planeswalkers like Jace, Architect of Thought to huge haymakers like Sphinx's Revelation. Without the heavy-hitter cards that typically close the game out against weenie decks resolving, they're hard-pressed to stop you with one-for-one removal. Given the aggressive nature of the deck, many decks won't have time to develop enough mana to get outside of range of Izzet Charm countering their spells.
The sideboard features four copies of Izzet Staticaster to fight the decks with a bunch of one-toughness creatures like Rabble Red and the white Soldier deck. There's an extra Turn // Burn as well to pair with the Staticasters to be able to Turn any creature into a 0/1 before pinging it. Catch // Release is a general upgrade to Harness by Force that allows you to take a planeswalker and use it, oftentimes to kill it. If you can Catch one about to go ultimate, then the game will be easily in your hands.
The Magma Sprays are against other Chandra's Phoenix decks and Voice of Resurgence. The package of Negates, Keranos, Purphoros, and Hammer of Purphoros come in against control to fight them on more angles. Any deck that's not pressuring your life total will have a tough time taking two damage every time you play a creature, and four the turn you play Goblin Rabblemaster.
Next is a shell somewhat akin to the style that Kent Ketter played at the Season One Invitational in Charlotte this year. You can check out the deck tech here for more information, but this version mainly uses Goblin Rabblemaster as an efficient midrange creature that goes along with the rest of your creatures without worrying all too much whether it lives or not.
Black offers Thoughtseize and the most efficient removal spell in Dreadbore. Here we're going with another Young Pyromancer pairing to go along with the Thoughtseizes and Sign in Blood to continue adding pressure while being proactive with spells, either to disrupt or go deeper into the deck. This version is more resilient to sweepers like Drown in Sorrow and Supreme Verdict as your threats are more sturdy on their own, and you have Thoughtseize to interrupt their plans. Also, rebuying a Chandra's Phoenix from a Rakdos's Return is the best feeling (especially if you nab a planeswalker in the process as well).
The gods out of the sideboard most likely won't get turned on, but that's perfectly fine. U/W Control will have fits against them, especially if they aren't running Detention Sphere. The Planar Cleansing version won the Pro Tour partly because the field was lacking gods of any sort. Back when G/R Monsters ran Xenagos, God of Revels, versions of U/W Control without Detention Sphere were much less effective. Moving forward, we'll just have to see if more decks incorporate gods to fight off extreme control builds like Floch's.
The B/R Rabblemaster deck could embrace a more robust Goblins theme as we see here:
- 4 Foundry Street Denizen
- 4 Goblin Rabblemaster
- 1 Goblin Shortcutter
- 3 Legion Loyalist
- 4 Rakdos Cackler
- 4 Rubblebelt Maaka
- 4 Spike Jester
The deck has fast draws like Rabble Red has with upgraded removal in Dreadbore and a touch of discard with the two Thoughtseizes. Your creatures want to attack every turn, and Legion Loyalist along with Rubblebelt Maaka make that possible more often. Rabble Red had some problems with very large creatures like Polukranos, World Eater and Desecration Demon that couldn't quite be punched through with Rubblebelt Maaka, and Dreadbore helps to deal with those blockers.
Spike Jester has been a favorite of mine and works well along with Goblin Rabblemaster as sometimes you don't want your Goblins to attack, but Spike Jester will often want to attack and trade with most any early creature they have as long as it's not Courser of Kruphix or a first striker. Spike Jester is also a fine surprise attacker on any of the early turns of the game so it's not so bad to not cast him on turn 2.
The sideboard is similar to that of Rabble Red including four copies of Eidolon of the Great Revel against the slower matchups and the midrange matchups when you're on the play. The extra Thoughseizes come in against a lot of decks as they're likely to have sideboard cards tailor made to destroy small armies. Sometimes sideboarding against how they're sideboarding is better than outright trying to beat the cards in their maindeck.
It's likely that the best B/R build with Goblin Rabblemaster is a hybrid of the two with Spike Jester and non-Goblin creatures that are good on their own. It's also likely that the right Goblin Rabblemaster deck choice will be dependent on what decks are popular, and more specifically, what answers people are playing in their decks and sideboards. In a world with one-for-one removal, cards like Desecration Demon aren't especially impressive, while in a world of sweepers like Drown in Sorrow, flooding the board with small guys gets you blown out.
In any case Goblin Rabblemaster is here to stay. It doesn't require a goblin shell to be good as it will win the game on its own when uncontested. I wouldn't be surprised to see it make appearances in a wide variety of decks post-rotation, including as a threat out of the sideboard of threat-light control decks that play red similar to how U/W Control does now with Nightveil Specter and Brimaz, King of Oreskos. I find a strange similarity with the card and Tarmogoyf in the fact that it was initially overlooked as a card that required too much commitment to make useful. Back when people tried too hard to make Tarmogoyf good by weakening their decks with Horizon Canopy, Seal of Fire, and random artifacts, the decks just weren't strong enough, and that made Tarmogoyf look bad as a result. It's also similar to Tarmogoyf in the fact that its power can't really be seen without actually playing with the card. It looks like a 2/2 but is really a 4/2 or 5/2.
Goblin Rabblemaster is a card that only gets better with time as undoubtedly more Goblins will be printed to potentially jump its power level a bit. Stoneforge Mystic was a pretty good card before Batterskull was printed, but when it was, the Kor Artificer's power level shot through the roof. The Goblins in Standard right now serve well to complement Goblin Rabblemaster, but it only takes one really great Goblin to be printed to see it go from good to great. I'll be keeping a close eye on this guy.