With Dominaria soon to be released, we have an abundance of fun new cards to be talking about. Skirk Prospector has been printed 5 times previously to being printed in this set. Why is it a big deal THIS time? The previous sets were as follows: Onslaught, DD Elves v. Goblins, DD Anthology Elves v. Goblins, DD Knights v. Dragons, and Vintage Masters. Dominaria is the first set this card has been printed into the modern format! It is simply a common card, nothing flashy on the surface. Just a simple 1-drop goblin with a sacrifice outlet (sac outlet) for red mana; typical 1/1... However, in this article, we'll discuss some of the fun to be had with Skirk Prospector in Modern nonetheless!
The Significance of a Sac Outlet
Just so we are all on the same page, a sac outlet is a term magic players use to refer to a card that allows them to sacrifice a permanent, these permanents usually being creatures. Typically a sac outlet is one that does not have some other cost associated with it, and just allows you to sacrifice the creature freely (and instantly). Other costs that could be associated with an activated ability such as this are often something like tapping the creature, or paying some amount of mana or health. Another example of a sac outlet is Viscera Seer. This topic as a whole could probably use an entire article on it's own.
But why does this matter? Sac outlets are good because they let you pull some unexpected tricks, and you can do these tricks at instant speed. We'll dive into the details of these tricks in just a moment (thankfully, you can have these ones).
A Piece of the Puzzle
Skirk Prospector is ultimately just one pawn among many when it comes to playing Modern, more specifically Modern Goblins. While he preaches to a very small choir, he's good at his work.
What Can Mr. Skirk Do For You?
Ultimately, it's up to you to dive into the deck brewing to see what sort of exploits exist for Skirk Prospector. Let's dive into what I found in my initial research now.
SUSTAIN INTO LATE GAME — we all know that the general idea behind a goblin deck is to overrun your opponent with seemingly endless hordes of goblins and/or goblin tokens. What if you opponent has an Ensnaring Bridge, making sure to keep their hand empty? Perhaps they have half a dozen 2/2 or 3/3 creatures, and you don't want to lose half your arm just to get a little bit of damage in. It is moments like these that Skirk Prospector gives you sustained mana into the late game. It gives you options, and options are very important.
Just imagine it is turn 6 and you have 10 goblin tokens, you topdeck a Bonfire of the Damned. Attack if you want (or need to), tap your lands for mana, sac your creatures, and you're hitting your opponent in the face with 15+ damage to the face. If this doesn't technically kill them, the game is all but over as their creatures would be history, curtesy to the Bonfire. This is obviously an ideal situation, but this is the option that Skirk Prospector gives you.
RAMP YOUR EARLY GAME — The Rabblemaster and Krenko are just two possible targets for Skirk's skills to aim for. Getting either one of them an extra turn sooner can be powerful in a quick format like Modern.
MORE, MANA ANY TIME — Just imagine on turn 3 or 4, you have the option to play either of the above cards, or keep mana up to react on your opponent's turn with an instant spell (like Bolt). Skirk Prospector gives you the freedom and true confidence to tap yourself out. Perhaps your opponent plays a Mantis Rider on their turn, and you're tapped out. Sacrifice one of your little goblin minions, get 1 red mana, bolt the mantis... you're golden. This really comes down to what we've already talked about, and this is having the option do something is inherently valuable.
REACTIONARY MANEUVERS — What if your opponent has a bolt of their own? Perhaps they're going to cast Pyroclasm and try to wipe the board. What if they try to mind control your creatures? The answer is simple, as long as you have the trusty Skirk Prospector on the board... just sacrifice your creatures before your opponent touches them, get mana, be happy. Simple.
Note: Entrancing Melody isn't seeing a lot of play currently, but this interaction could be seen in the Standard format as well.
Thoughts on Deck Building with Skirk Prospector
Build with creatures that "die well". Examples:
While the creatures themselves are, of course, great to have around. You can almost just treat them as spells, especially the 1-drops. Goblins Arsonist isn't great on its face, but as soon as you play it, sacrifice is, deal on damage, it ends up being free damage. That's not too shabby, right? Here are some more examples:
If you want to get really committed to this build, you could throw in something like Knucklebone Witch. Cards like this again help Modern Goblins scale into the late game, instead of needing to kill your opponent so early in the game, you're able to (somewhat) keep up into the later turns.
At the end of the day, Goblins still has a ways to go before it becomes a tier-one Modern deck, but wizards seems to be keeping them in mind. They remain a great budget option, that is fun, relatively simple, and can compete with the top decks when it gets the right draws. It will be exciting to see what developments the future holds on this front.