But WHY is the Goblin Red? | The Goblins of MTG
Goblins have been a part of Magic the Gathering since Alpha with cards like Goblin King and Goblin Balloon Brigade. Even in those early days they were aligned with Red, as if the great Richard Garfield knew what direction this slice of the color pie would take and that the Goblin would be a core part of Red going forward.
It's easy for us to sit back and look at it with the power of hindsight and say “of course Goblins would be Red”, but I believe that's more a product of years of conditioning, as Goblins have showed up time and time again in Red across the multiverse. We must take into consideration that the color pie was in its infancy in the early days.
It was less of a solid philosophical backbone for designing worlds and instead was no more than an idea, a feeling, a way to organize cards into groups and yet they knew from the beginning that Goblins had to be Red. I know you may be thinking to yourself that I am obsessing over an idea that doesn't need to be discussed, but you clicked on this article, you know deep down that there is more here and I intend to show you how it how much deeper it goes. It's not that Goblin suit Red it's that Goblins are Red.
~ Freedom in Chaos ~
What happens when every action is dictated by a spontaneous reaction, well you get chaos of course, or anarchy in it's purest sense. The goblin leads a life of uncertainty where any day may be its last and yet it does not fear the future, for it's feet are set firmly in the present. Many say the Goblin is this way because they are stupid, they have small brains or they simply haven't evolved enough, and yes they aren't the most intelligent creatures in the multiverse but this aspect is not a hindrance in the way you see it, just a new manner of perspective.
The Goblin act and reacts differently than us but you could also see how the Goblin would desire this life, even if it knows no different. Its not a matter of disregarding the future because it can't think that far ahead but rather a wishing to only live in the moment. In this way the Goblin embodies the heart of Red, because as you may know, Red dictates its life not by how it thinks it should be or how society expects it to be but rather based on the impulses that underpin it's every action.
It's time for a little introspection here. Us humans have impulses as well, and we would be similar to the goblin without the help of our frontal cortex which manages these impulses and emotions. When an impulse comes to us we analyses it and then we act accordingly. The Goblin and as an extension Red cuts out the middle man, it is then impulse straight into action, as if the frontal cortex is no more than a paper barrier. There is never a matter of weighing options only the acting upon of those impulses. This is why the Goblin gets itself into so much trouble, why death and dismemberment are so common place and yet the beauty lies in the fact that they would have it no other way. Many of us wish we could live more in the moment and in that way perhaps we should envy the Goblin to some degree. They are free from pressures and expectations, it's freedom in Chaos.
~ Resourceful & Creative ~
If we are confident in saying that the Goblin sits firmly in Red this means this little creatures values are in stark contrast of its enemies, White and Blue. What you must keep in mind is that these colors represent structure in one form or another meaning that the Goblin lives in the absence of structure and in the absence of structure resourcefulness must take its place. This sentiment is perfectly displayed in the life of the Goblin. They are never ones to live in perfectly crafted cities but rather a cluster of ramshackle homesteads, caves and other loosely crafted communities. This is extended to the many creations of the Goblin. If one thing could be said of this small creature, it's that they do not lack creativity.
Their ability to create something out of nothing more than scraps, and whatever else is lying around, isn't something to scoff at. Their skills in re-purposing unwanted items to suit their needs is a pillar of the Goblin and it requires a greater deal of creativity to pull off. Why creativity? When it comes down to it survival dictates much of how our methods are shaped. For White it's order, for Blue it's rigid planning and thus it means that Red must rely on something that is neither of those and in fact opposes them. This is why Red rejects rigid planning in favor of creative creations and pushes against order with resourceful spontaneity.
This is a side of Red, and the Goblin, I don't see talked about enough. Sure sometimes they over engineer their creations to point of it becoming comical but their ability to get it to that point must circumvent their limited intelligence, and the only way to get there is with creativity and resourcefulness. It's more like making continued additions until some outcome is found. The best example of this idea is the art for Goblin Sharpshooter.
While it's ridiculous in every way, you can see what I mean when I say they see scraps, machines and contraptions in a different way. To an extent that the Goblins is more than a mindless artisans. Take for instance the Goblins of Kamigawa Neon Dynasty. They pride themselves in turning the scraps of Kamigawa proper into machines and weapons that many a great smith would envy. You see in the absence of rigid structure creativity and resourcefulness can take its place, further still it must, or else how would the Goblin survive.
~ Camaraderie / Community ~
The Goblin is unique in Magic the Gathering in that when we see the Goblin on a card it's often accompanied by other Goblins. Rarely does it seem that any one Goblin is ever alone. They come in a swarm overrunning their enemies, charging headlong into battle, their clan at their sides. The Goblin is known for its great numbers more so than most creature types in the Game. What if I told you that this is more evidence of their strong connection to Red. While we might think of White as the color of community the truth is that every color forms communities its just done for different reasons. The reason for Red, and in this case the Goblin, comes down to the emotional ties that are unique to the color and yes this extends to Goblin.
Well how could this be Dice I don't understand, don't goblins injure, dismember and disregard each other all of the time. How could these large clans be held together by any emotional ties? While that's a great question fictional viewer, I ask that you take into consideration everything we have discussed so far. It is possible for the Goblin to treat those its cares about with reckless abandon because it treats itself in such a way. It's then a matter of Reckless loyalty and camaraderie that I say holds a Goblin clan together. Loyalty or at least strong connections which form such camaraderie is very much a Red trait, as they are based in emotion. Just because it's not in the way we would recognize it does not mean it is any less valid.
Why is the Goblin Red? It's because it embodies every attribute of the color boiled down to its purest form. We see many creatures and races across the multiverse who are red aligned and yet the Goblin is special among them. You see when these other creatures take on Red they are simply applying a single aspect of the color to themselves, a version of the color which skews in one direction or the other while the Goblin simply is Red. Its the impulses that drive its every action, uninhibited by any need to water down what it is. Its a lack of fear in the future because it only thinks of what it desires in the present.
The Goblin doesn't have everything planned out and it wouldn't have it any other way. In that way we can see that the Goblin is impulsive, creative and resourceful. The Goblin is engrossed in large communities of like minded beings of chaos. In many ways its as if Red was shaped by the Goblin and not the other way around. Some would say that the Goblin embodies the bad parts of Red for all we often see is the violence of this creature, but I would say this is because the Goblin lives in a violent world and they are reacting to their environment. If that environment demands violence to survive then they are right there to dish it out. Violence as a reaction is less egregious than violence for a purpose, which we often see with the other colors. The key here is the Goblin is pure action and reaction, nothing more. So to answer the question at the top Why is the Goblin Red? Well you see the Goblin isn't aligned with Red, no it IS Red.
I hope you enjoyed this look at the Goblin creature type, and it in turn gave you a further appreciation of it. If you like this sort of content then consider becoming a site member today, that way you can be notified when the next article goes live. Also be sure to check me out everywhere else, links for that below. With that friend, I will catch you in the multiverse bye!
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