Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse!
Table of Contents
- 2016: The State of the Players
- 2016: The State of the Tribes
- The Human Problem?
- New year, new rules...
- Announcement Time!
- What's Next
Check the full archive for the "Diaries of the Apocalypse" series
2016: THE STATE OF THE PLAYERS
Happy New Tribal Year! Last Saturday was New Year's Eve so we didn't have a Tribal Apocalypse event, but there's much to discuss about the new season that starts tomorrow, January 7. First of all, let's review once again the 16 players who qualified to compete in the Tribal Apocalypse 2016 Invitational, to be held January 21, and how they fared compared to the previous year.
- mihahitlor, 292 pts. IMPROVED! In 2015 he was second with 258 pts. A confirmation for one of the all-time greatest.
- Socanelas, 203 pts. VASTLY IMPROVED! In 2015 he was 25th with 46 pts. A great improvement for one of the new sheriffs in town, capable of winning three events in a row (weeks 307, 308 and 309, all different tribes).
- Bazaar of Baghdad, 200 pts. IMPROVED! In 2015 he was 10th with 147 pts. BOB proves himself to be a very influential player.
- AJ_Impy, 190 pts. STEADY. In 2015 he was 4th with 193 pts. Seasons pass, AJ never fades.
- Golden_Lin, 178 pts. STEADY. In 2015 he was 5th with 187 pts. One of our main players from the Eastern hemisphere, never fails to deliver.
- Yokai_, 169 pts. IMPROVED! In 2015 he was 14th with 99 pts. and finalist in last year's Invitational. Definitely a player who's going places.
- ML_Berlin, 156 pts. DECREASED! In 2015 he was 3th with 257 pts. Running Chainsaw Massacre might have taken its toll.
- Generalissimo, 155 pts. IMPROVED! In 2015 he was 13th with 122 pts. Master breeder of the thousand tribes, but also a great player all around.
- Robin88, 144 pts. DECREASED! In 2015 he was 6th with 174 pts.
- Deonmag, 125 pts. IMPROVED! In 2015 he was 15th with 98 pts.
- Gq1rf7, 104 pts. DECREASED! In 2015 he was 8th with 172 pts.
- TLR, 102 pts. NEW ENTRY!
- Kasparadi, 98 pts. VASTLY IMPROVED! In 2015 he was 35th with 27 pts.
- BrunoDogma, 96 pts. VASTLY IMPROVED! In 2015 he was 63rd with 6 pts.
- MisterMojoRising, 82 pts. DECREASED! In 2015 he was 9th with 154 pts.
- AEFabricio, 74 pts. NEW ENTRY!
So, two players who joined Tribal Apocalypse this year ended up in the seasonal Top 16, while other three greatly jumped ahead, including seasonal runner-up Socanelas. Congrats!
But what about those from last year's Top 16 who didn't feature in this year's list? (Ignoring those who just got a life ban from the event).
- Tribal Apocalypse legend romellos, #1 Player in 2014, was 7th in 2015 but only 22nd last year.
- Lordpipas was 11th in 2015, didn't feature last year.
- Yours truly was 12th in 2015, only 31st last year.
- JogandoPelado was 16th in 2015, didn't feature last year.
Of course, most of these decrements are due to players joining Tribal Apocalypse events a lot less, if at all. Changes of job, interests, or economical concerns might have influenced it. It's only natural, if sad, to see people leave the event, when not the game altogether, but I certainly hope to see everybody back this year.
2016: THE STATE OF THE TRIBES
Let's examine the accomplishments of the tribes now. First by looking at those who won an event in 2016.
- Human, 17 events won
- Elf, 7 events won
- Eldrazi, 4 events won
- Archon, 3 events won
- Plant, 3 events won
- Kor, 2 events won
- Shaman, 2 events won
- Vampire, 2 events won
- Ally, 1 event won
- Angel, 1 event won
- Cleric, 1 event won
- Construct, 1 event won
- Fish, 1 event won
- Goblin, 1 event won
- Naga, 1 event won
- Praetor, 1 event won
- Skeleton, 1 event won
- Wizard, 1 event won
- Wurm, 1 event won
You can see how one specific tribe won exactly one third of the 2016 events (17 out of 51, not counting the Invitational). But we'll talk about it below. Among the classic tribes, big loser this year was Goblin, hindered by having a lot of key members quickly banned in Pure events. But to get a better picture, let's first add the undefeated results that didn't turn into a win.
- Human, 19 undefeated results
- Elf, 8 undefeated results
- Eldrazi, 5 undefeated results
- Kor, 4 undefeated results
- Shaman, 4 undefeated results
- Archon, 3 undefeated results
- Goblin, 3 undefeated results
- Plant, 3 undefeated results
- Warrior, 3 undefeated results
- Ally, 2 undefeated results
- Construct, 2 undefeated results
- Vampire, 2 undefeated results
- Angel, 1 undefeated result
- Assassin, 1 undefeated result
- Berserker, 1 undefeated result
- Cat, 1 undefeated result
- Cleric, 1 undefeated result
- Demon, 1 undefeated result
- Fish, 1 undefeated result
- Gargoyle, 1 undefeated result
- Insect, 1 undefeated result
- Lizard, 1 undefeated result
- Naga, 1 undefeated result
- Praetor, 1 undefeated result
- Skeleton, 1 undefeated result
- Soldier, 1 undefeated result
- Vedalken, 1 undefeated result
- Wall, 1 undefeated result
- Wizard, 1 undefeated result
- Wurm, 1 undefeated result
- Zombie, 1 undefeated result
So, in the end, 31 different tribes went undefeated, which doesn't seem that bad as far as variety goes. Of course, the monthly Underdog and Pure events helped (which is the reason why we have them to begin with). Let's look at the list for Regular event winners only. It's short enough.
- Human, 12 Regular events won
- Elf, 4 Regular events won
- Eldrazi, 3 Regular events won
- Cleric, 1 Regular event won
- Construct, 1 Regular event won
- Goblin, 1 Regular event won
- Shaman, 1 Regular event won
- Wizard, 1 Regular event won
So, Human also won half of the 24 regular events of the year. This latter list also emphasizes how Goblin is not that hot with Spikes anymore, even in events where they have their full arsenal of tricks available. Another consideration is the (literal) rise of Eldrazi, which greatly benefited from the latest Zendikar visit.
THE HUMAN PROBLEM?
In light of the 2016 results, I think we should take a step back and see if the current Human dominance has gone too far, and whether that's okay or something must be done about it. First of all, let's consider this is indeed a recent development. Sure, Human is the tribe that won the greatest number of events in Tribal Apocalypse's six seasons of the Blippian Era. It won a whopping 46 events, twice the number of the second runner-up, Goblin. But those are 46 events out of six entire seasons, which means 46 out of 307 (as the first season ran 52 events). As we've seen, last year they won one third of the events, i.e. 17 out of 51 (plus another 2 undefeated results). For comparison, during the first 256 events (seasons 1-5), they had won "only" 29, which is a good number, but very far from one third of the total.
So, what happened? I can't exactly tell, and it's not just a consequence of Pure events seeing Goblin's decline, although I'm sure that's somehow connected. It might be the effect of new cards that reinforced well-established strategies, like Thalia's Lieutenant. It might just be happenstance, just the combination of some new players liking the tribe and being very good with it.
The most typical defense of Human comes from the fact that the tribe is so large, those winning decks can be whatever, so this dominance doesn't generate a boring repetition effect. This is only partly true. Yes, you can pretty much use Human as a shell for a great range of vastly different strategies. But the truth is, those 17 victories all came through three well-known archetypes: White Weenie, Red Deck Wins, and UR Delver.
It's important to underline how freakishly large Human has become as a tribe, though. There's 1846 different Human card in the game (and I still need to update that number through Conspiracy: Take the Crown and Commander 2016). That's not just the largest subtype, it's also larger than most types. It's larger than the total number of sorceries or artifacts! This means Human tribal is not really tribal anymore, since it easily plays like a normal Legacy deck that's just a little more creature-heavy than needed (and yet, nobody is complaining about the "Spirit of Tribal" being broken).
I have no idea what to do, or even if we should do anything. Banning cards seems out of the questions, since the three abovementioned archetypes don't even share too many cards, if any card at all (two of them are monocolored builds of different colors). I thought about a possible new kind of rule that could discourage players from playing Human decks without outright preventing them from doing it: just shut down prizes for Humans. You can play your Human deck, but you're not eligible for prizes if you do. Would it seem fair? Or, I don't know, tribal racist?
Ultimately, if nobody complains about the Human invasion, that's fine by me, but you must recognize the anomaly of having not just one third of all events won by a Human deck, but of course also a similar quantity of registered decks from the tribe, which means the chances of facing Human in any given Tribal Apocalypse match is pretty large. Oh, the humanity.
NEW YEAR, NEW RULES...
Tribal Year 2017 is here, and will bring a little wind of change to Tribal Apocalypse. Let's see how.
New Rotation. The survey about the Modern/Pure rotation saw a slight victory of "Let's do Modern instead", but a solid showing for "Let's keep Pure but rework it into something more stable". So we'll do both: as shown in the brand new Calendar, the third week of the month will not alternate between Pure (6 events in the year) and Modern (5 events in the year). This leaves room for running some Singleton as well (3 events in the year).
New Pure rules. So, you wanted for Pure to change, and we'll change it. It will be a little bit of a process, though, because in order for it to be more stable, it needs to have a fixed ban list, and following the spirit of the format, that'll mean choosing "unfair cards" from all the Major Tribes. I intend to proceed like this: take away one broken card for each 5 events a tribe ever won, rounded down. So, looking at the list of the all-time winners here, this means that, for instance, Ally and Soltari will lose one card each, while Human will lose 9. This will create a more workable environment, while preserving a little bit of dynamic movement, because when tribes with 4 victories will get to 5, they'll lose one card as well. (Of course that specific card will go into the overall Pure ban list and be unusable to every other tribe as well; it'll just be a card whose absence affects that tribe the most). In order to decide what all these cards are I need a little more time, and a bit of help. I hope the likes of AJ_Impy, Bazaar of Baghdad and mihahitlor will give me input there.
New Hamtastic rules. The Hamtastic Award ceases to be a race between players and, in a very appropriate Hamtastic flavor, will start rewarding everyone! Well, everyone who plays different tribes, that is. Starting from tomorrow, each player's registered tribes (except for Human, Elf and Goblin) are marked down, and once that player reaches 10 different tribes, they'll get 3 tix! And you can go on from there, so if you totalize 50 different tribes in the year, your winning will end up amounting to 15 tix! (Remember you must play all rounds of an event for that week's tribe to be validated; you can't just reg and run).
New undefeated pool division. Starting from tomorrow, the playoff round to determine the event's winner will also determine a different split in the prize pool, with the winner of the playoff getting 60% of the undefeated pool and the runner-up 40%. In case there are more than two undefeated players (it never happened last year, by the way), tie-break matches will establish two finalists, losers of those matches will be downgraded to the 1-loss pool.
Team Tribal: I'd like to compile and maintain a separate leaderboard organized by team, with the teams being groups of players that decide to team up, or players grouped by country of origins, or both. Since the team efforts can be easily calculated afterwards, we can decide during the year which team is which, but it'll all culminate in a special event in December 30 all about team play (is Emperor still playable on MTGO?)
Just to remind you of a few things:
The Ishkanah Prize: The first player to win a match with a Spider deck by activating Ishkanah's lifedraining ability for a lethal strike of at least 4 damage, will get a 3-tix credit certificate from MTGO Traders. Spider lovers, or simply ticket lovers, start building!
The Underdog Prize: During any event of the regular rotation (but not during the one-time special events), all players who are running an Underdog Tribe are eligible for a 1-tix credit certificate from MTGO Traders. The tie-breakers are first the number of Underdog categories (for instance, a tribe that's simultaneously Endangered and Unhallowed will take the prize over one that's only Endangered), then the points achieved in the final standings. During Underdog events, only the True Underdog tribes are rewarded (those are the tribes belonging to all three categories of Underdog at once).
The Up-and-Coming Prize: When a tribe wins an event for the first time ever (losing Unhallowed status), its pilot will get a 3-tix certificate from MTGO Traders.
The Hamtastic Award: The Biodiversity Prize dedicated to the memory of Erik Friborg rewards each player who registered 10 different tribes (except Human, Elf and Goblin) during the year with a 3-tix certificate from MTGO Traders. You can go on and win the prize multiple times in the year, but you need to keep playing different tribes!
The Top Players Lockout: Every time a Top Player (either a Google Era Top 8, an Ultimate Champion/Tribal Player of the Year, or a seasonal Top 8) will end undefeated, they will not be allowed to register the same tribe and deck again for 5 events (i.e. they'll have to register a different deck or decks 5 times before coming back to the undefeated one). With "deck" is meant a specific, recognizable archetype (e.g. Wall-Drazi), which in some case will be linked to a specific combo card (e.g. Helm of Obedience). A list of the current lockouts is maintained here.
Wanna test your deck? Tell us when you're online, and look who else is there and when! All of this here!
The upcoming Tribal Apocalypse events of the Blippian Era (every Saturday at 17:00 GMT):
- 7.01 (Week 313 BE), on January 7: Underdog
- 7.02 (Week 314 BE), on January 14: Regular
- Special (Week 315 BE), on January 21: Invitational
- 7.03 (Week 316 BE), on January 28: Regular
Check out all the rules for the sub-formats!
Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2017!
SEE YOU ALL IN THE TRIBAL ROOM!