Hey there, Budget Magic lovers, it’s that time once again! This week, we’re continuing our budget-friendly exploration of Dominaria United but switching from Standard to Modern to play one of my all-time favorite budget Modern decks: 8 Whack Goblins! Why are we revisiting the archetype? The deck got a huge new addition from Dominaria United in Rundvelt Hordemaster, which not only offers another way to pump our small Goblins but also helps us fight through the removal and Fury of the Modern format by drawing us cards when your Goblins die, helping us refuel against sweepers and rebuild through targeted removal. How good is Rundvelt Hordemaster in 8 Whack? How good is 8 Whack in 2022 Modern? Let’s get to the video and find out; then, we’ll talk more about the deck!
Budget Magic: Rundvelt Whack
If you’ve missed the past versions of 8 Whack (or 12 Whack), the game plan of Rundvelt Whack is the same: flood the board with cheat Goblins, pump them with our Whacks (Goblin Bushwhacker, Reckless Bushwhacker, and Battle Cry Goblin), and get our opponent’s life total low enough that we can finish them off with a Goblin Grenade to the face. But as I mentioned in the intro, the deck gets a huge upgrade thanks to Dominaria United in Rundvelt Hordemaster!
In some ways, we can consider Rundvelt Hordemaster an honorary Whack; even though it doesn’t give haste (or have haste), it does offer another way to pump our Goblins, which is Whack-ish at least. But pumping our Goblins isn’t the main reason Rundvelt Hordemaster is in our deck. The real payoff is the second ability, which lets us exile a card whenever a Goblin dies and, if that card is a Goblin, play it until the end of our next turn. While we do have some sacrifice synergies in our deck (like Goblin Grenade), the ability is strong enough that we don’t really need to build around it to make it good. One of the weird aspects of 8 Whack decks is that they tend to chump attack a lot. We end up making a bunch of small Goblins, pump them with a Whack, and swing with the team to force through damage, even if our opponent has a blocker or two. With a Rundvelt Hordemaster on the battlefield, these chump attacks become even better since we’ll probably be able to replace some of our dead Goblins with new ones from its ability. Plus, since every creature in our deck is a Goblin, any removal our opponent spends on our creatures will kill a Goblin, thereby triggering Rundvelt Hordemaster. Another way we can potentially lose is to a sweeper if we don’t have a fast enough draw. Rundvelt Hordemaster helps there as well, potentially letting us rebuild our board the next turn. Basically, Rundvelt Hordemaster makes 8 Whack much less of a glass cannon aggro deck by giving it a way to play a longer game and fight through opposing removal and sweepers. It’s a huge, huge addition to the archetype.
The rest of our deck looks much like past builds of 8 Whack. We’ve got our 12 Whacks in Goblin Bushwhacker, Reckless Bushwhacker, and not-quite-but-almost Whack Battle Cry Goblin, all of which can pump our team and give it haste, allowing us to pour on tons of damage if we can build a board of small Goblins.
Backing up our Whacks are a ton of one-drops. Foundry Street Denizen looks like it has one power, but it’s often attacking for three or four early in the game, making it a perfect addition to an aggro-tribal deck. Goblin Guide is just the most aggressive Goblin one-drop in all of Magic, and, thanks to a bunch of reprintings, it’s now cheap enough to play in a $100 budget deck, which wasn’t always true in the past. Legion Loyalist helps us get through blockers, and its sneaky “tokens can’t block” battalion ability is actually super impactful in our current Modern format since it lets us attack through Urza’s Saga Construct tokens.
Rounding out our creature base is Mogg War Marshal, which offers two 1/1 Goblin bodies for two mana, which is exactly what our deck wants. Plus, its echo ability is weirdly synergistic since Mogg War Marshal will sacrifice itself (and replace itself with a 1/1 Goblin token) if we refuse to pay, which will trigger Rundvelt Hordemaster. The replacement Goblin it makes when dying almost makes it a mostly pain-free Goblin to sacrifice to Goblin Grenade.
Finally, we have a bit of burn to close out the game. Lightning Bolt gives us early-game removal that can also go face to close out the game. Meanwhile, Goblin Grenade is an absurd card in a deck full of cheap Goblins, offering an unheard-of five damage for a single mana. Thanks to these two burn spells, we don’t usually need to get our opponent’s life total all the way to zero with our Goblins to win the game. If we can get our opponent down near five (or sometimes even 10), we can usually close out the game with burn!
Record-wise, we finished 3-3 with Rundvelt Whack, which is a fine record for a budget deck, although one that perhaps undersells the archetype’s power. While it is true that Modern has gotten more hostile to 8 Whack recently (especially thanks to Modern Horizons 2 removal like Fury), the deck still feels like one of the most competitive budget options.
As for Rundvelt Hordemaster, it was great. Its floor—being a two-mana lord—is fine, and its ceiling (which we saw in a couple of matches) is amazingly high. There were at least one and maybe two matches that we likely wouldn’t have won if not for Hordemaster’s ability to draw us cards when our Goblins die.
We didn’t talk about the sideboard in depth, but I did want to mention Leyline of Combustion, which was a sneaky all-star (see: our matchup against Burn). The idea of the enchantment is to punish our opponent for targeting our creatures with removal. But it was oddly effective against less removal-heavy decks as well, like keeping our opponent from killing us with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle triggers or punishing our burn opponent for throwing Lightning Bolt at our face. The card was one of our best sideboard options, and I think it might be legitimately underrated in Modern.
Oh yeah, I also wanted to briefly mention the mana. The lands themselves are solid, but we’re playing 20, which is a pretty high number for an 8 Whack deck. (In the past, we’ve played 18 or 19.) I think that mathematically, 19 lands is the correct number for the deck. We really want to draw exactly three or four lands; any more or less, and our win percentage drops. But I start playing the deck with 19 lands and kept getting stuck on two mana, so I added one more. My guess is that this was mostly just variance because if you plug the numbers into the hypergeometric calculator, 19 lands should do what we want. But in practice, the deck ran a lot better with 20 lands than 19. Plus, having cards like Ramunap Ruins and Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance helps minimize the drawback of flooding out by giving us something to do with extra lands, although we’d still rather stop at four lands if given the choice.
So, should you play Rundvelt Whack in Modern? I think the answer is yes. While the archetype isn’t quite as good as it used to be because of cards like Fury, it’s still one of the most competitive budget Modern decks, and Rundvelt Hordemaster is a really strong new addition! If your looking for a budget deck that can potentially 5-0 a league or win an FNM, this is probably the best choice. While I wouldn’t expect those results consistently, it’s very possible with some good running and good matchups. Considering how expensive Modern is at the moment, it’s nice to know that a budget deck still has a chance to compete!
Getting Rundvelt Whack down near $50 is easy although a bit painful. Outside of Rundvelt Hordemaster itself, which is uncuttable, only two cards in the deck cost more than a dollar: Goblin Guide and Legion Loyalist. While both one-drops are great in the deck, we can replace them with Mogg Fanatic and Skirk Prospector, which are less aggressive but have even more synergy with Rundvelt Hordemaster and get the total cost of the deck down to $47!
Non-Budget Rundvelt Whack
8 Whack is one of those unique archetypes that happens to be budget-friendly even in optimal form. Even with an unlimited budget, I wouldn’t change anything in the main deck. There are probably some potential sideboard upgrades (maybe Alpine Moon or Blood Moon to help against Scapeshift, which was two of our losses). But outside of this, there isn’t really a ton to change.
Anyway, that’s all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.