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If Kobolds Could Kill (Explosive, Turn 1 Win)

Legacy Artifact Combo Competitive Primer Storm Theme/Gimmick UBRG




How I Traded Force of Wills for Kobolds: A Memoir by 0rc

In order for me to explain this deck, and where it came from, I have to tell you about myself, and where I came from—because the inception of the Kobolds deck is intertwined with my own journey of discovery, away from, towards, and into the present of Magic the Gathering. It is a journey where many of life’s milestones occurred in the periphery (they need not be discussed).

In 2003, while working as the assistant manager of a local comic book and game shop—Dragon’s Lair Comics and Games, in Omaha, Nebraska—I had many friends who were interested in Magic the Gathering. I had a small but respectable collection of Ice Age and earlier cards from when I was a youngster, but I had long since quit the game. A close friend of mine and coworker (who eventually became my two-time roommate) who specialized in MTG trade and tournaments wanted to rope me back in. He wanted to brew me a deck. He told me to choose any card and he would build around it. He was insistent. It was an innocent enough attempt to include me in weekly game nights in which MTG would be an inevitable feature. I was resistant.

Having spent years cataloguing TCG cards for the shop, I had a fascination with silly-looking card art (I still do). As for MTG, the 0 CMC kobolds from Legends caught my eye: Crimson Kobolds, Crookshank Kobolds, and especially the ridiculous looking Kobolds of Kher Keep. I also knew they were utterly useless, so partially in jest, I told him I would play a deck featuring these creatures, and it had to be budget. I was a poor college student, after all.

He brewed me a casual Kobolds deck. I traded in my modest collection of vintage cards to buy Kobolds. (To this day I am still satisfied with my trade.)

Born in the time of Mirrodin, Kobolds was originally an affinity deck. It played ok but was not optimum—It was missing something to give it the gusto it deserved. It was underwhelming but still cute.

The Kobolds deck changed forms many times. The brew was continuous until Kamigawa released Glimpse of Nature, which would serve as the ultimate engine for the deck and presented many possibilities.

Instantly and unsuspectingly, the Kobolds became a force.

From that time forward the deck began taking shape as a competitive Legacy deck. We played the deck against many archeytpe decks of the time—and crushed many them. Our inexpensive twerp of a deck was making waves. The Kobolds deck was even featured in Scrye Magazine (however, they needlessly soiled it with moxen!)

Life happened, as it does (women, sickness, school, friends, deaths) and I lost track of MTG again for quite some time. I forgot about the Kobolds for many years.

A decade later, I made a friend in professional school who was interested in RPGs and other games. He played MTG and he knew I had a deck. (I’m sure I talked it up immensely.) I blew the dust off of the Kobolds deck and bowed in. It should have been easy...

He crushed the Kobolds. Over and over. It was, in fact, an upset. I also learned that some cards in Kobolds were now banned in Legacy or had been superseded by superior cards (time is cruel). There were plenty of new mechanics I was totally unfamiliar with. It didn't help that I could hardly remember the fundamental mechanics of the game, let alone my own deck. But the defeat hooked me. I felt a yearning to do justice for my old Kobolds, and catch them up to speed.

I researched. I reached out to old friends who play casually and new friends who play competitively, all of which orbit the same LGS, and many of which, through the years, I have lived with. Clerks at the same LGS (the same one I used to run—-and who as children purchased product from me) dispensed invaluable advice to ratchet up the Kobolds. And I met so many people along the way. I got dragged into EDH in the process. (Now I’m back to building busted decks.)

In the end, an entire community and many generations shaped the Kobolds deck into the glory of what it has become. It does not belong to me but I am honored to have it.

Through my research, I found that this deck has become an archetype in and of itself. But this Kobolds deck is more than just a deck. This is the Kobolds deck. It is the manifestation of friendships new and old, passion, and twenty-year brew. It is nostalgia.

You’re probably wondering what is this deck and how does it work? A detailed primer follows, but in sum I will say this: the Kobolds win spectacularly, and lose just as spectacularly. The combo is explosive and wins often on turn one by dealing ridiculous amounts of direct damage (upwards of 300 points of damage).

It’s the most fun deck I’ve ever had the pleasure of shuffling.

Hopefully you will learn the joy of this silly thing too.

I. The Mechanics

Kobolds utilizes Glimpse of Nature and an abundance of 0 CMC creatures to draw out and selectively play the entire deck in one turn. Win conditions include direct damage via Disciple of the Vault, Goblin Bombardment, and Tendrils of Agony.

To some extent, it is a storm deck. In actuality, it is something entirely different and novel, as the storm mechanic is not a necessary win condition.

Kobolds is a win-or-lose type of deck, and it does both quickly and gracefully. With a little bit of knowledge it is easy to tip the scales towards more wins.

II. The Mana Base

The Mana Base consists of only two lands, Mana Confluences, supplemented by four Lotus Petals, two Mox Opals, four Elvish Spirit Guides, and two Dark Rituals.

We do not want more, as more tends to clog up our Glimpse combo with non-creature cards. We have just enough mana to win consistently.

The Spirit Guides are best utilized to fuel Glimpse. The Rituals are best utilized to fuel Disciples and Tendrils. There is a lot going on in one phase with this deck, so it is best to think ahead about spending mana efficiently to maximize damage output.

III. The Winning Hand

The ideal opening hand contains Glimpse of Nature, a green mana source, such as Elvish Spirit Guide, and five creatures.

Alternatively, two Glimpses, two playable green mana sources, and three creatures is also very good.

An opening hand containing Personal Tutor (with which to find Glimpse) that meets the aforementioned criteria is acceptable, but not ideal.

If none of the above apply, then sculpt the hand and hope for the best. The deck contains ample blockers but will not prevent many non-combat win combos.

Scooping a bad hand is also a viable option, as the deck will likely succeed in two-out-of-three, given the correct sideboard considerations.

IV. Sculpting the Hand

The deck performs best 'on the draw,' which allows us to sculpt our hand for maximal effect when we cast Glimpse of Nature. As previously mentioned, Glimpse, a green mana source, and as many creatures as possible will increase the odds of a successful storm.

There's nothing worse than playing out a dozen fodder creatures and then losing steam. Once we have Glimpse and a green mana source in hand, we will discard non-creature cards and pass the turn without doing a thing. We will do this until we enough creatures to ensure our storm will not fall flat--or--we are confident that we can wait no longer because our opponents will combo off if we do nothing.

It is important to know the opponent's deck and what it is capable of in order to make an informed decision.

V. Maximizing Damage

Winning is simple. Play Glimpse of Nature, drop 0 CMC creatures, draw more cards, and so forth. Maximizing damage is another story. You will see that Kobolds produces an obscene amount of damage, so much, in fact, that in a multiplayer game, the Kobolds can destroy three opponents in one turn, with ease.

Tips for maximizing damage are as follows:

  • Do not sacrifice Lotus Petals until all four Disciple of the Vaults are in play--each petal will then equate to four damage, for a total of sixteen. The Mox Opal that will ultimately move to the graveyard due to the legend rule will finish them off with the final four.
  • Do not sacrifice artifact creatures to Goblin Bombardment until all four Disciple of the Vaults are in play. The Bombardment will deal sixteen damage directly to an opponent, however, the Disciples will then deal sixty-four more for a total of eighty points of direct damage.
  • Do the math on the potential storm count before casting a second Glimpse of Nature. A second Glimpse will certainly keep you moving, but it will also prevent you from playing out all of your creatures without decking yourself. There is a subtle art in knowing when to give the combo more gas.

If played as efficiently as possible, the Kobolds can deal as much as 310 points of direct damage in a single turn. Incidentally, it can gain as much as 186 life as well.

My playgroup makes a game out of who can achieve the most damage whilst running the Kobolds. Maximizing damage requires considerable forethought, whereas dealing enough damage is easy.


Thank you for reading my Legacy Kobolds write-up. I hope you enjoyed reading about this deck as much as I have enjoyed playing it. It is truly a unique deck that is easy to learn but difficult to master. It is exciting and explosive. And it is (relatively) inexpensive for its format.

Most of all, it embodies my journey through the years as a MTG player to the present.

Please upvote and leave feedback.


Special thanks to mlerickson, who is repeatedly referenced in the memoir (and whose expert guidance turned me into an insufferable a$$hole [who spends more time arguing over rules than playing the game]).


Updates Add

The iconic killer kobolds continue to conquer!

Just thought y’all would want to know :)

<3 0rc

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93% Casual


Revision 3 See all

(3 years ago)

+2 Beck / Call side
-2 Personal Tutor side
Top Ranked
  • Achieved #1 position overall 4 years ago
Date added 4 years
Last updated 2 years

This deck is Legacy legal.

Rarity (main - side)

4 - 0 Mythic Rares

8 - 8 Rares

26 - 3 Uncommons

22 - 4 Commons

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 0.97
Tokens Bird 1/1 W
Folders Funny, Spike, Good, we wants it, Decks to Build, Fun Ideas, Great deck, legacy, Decks I like, Fun Decks
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