Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where you can always count on a very Goblin Christmas.
Every time we do this kind of special event with heavy restrictions (in this case, no blue or black card identity allowed in the deck), it appears more and more evident that there's a divide between the players who "get it", and the players who just don't, or don't care. "Oh, they're asking me to use the colors of Christmas. Yeah, I think I'll bring Elves/Goblins with two hybrid cards in there." Now, I understand that there's a budget constraint to be factored in too, and both Elf and Goblin can be very budget-friendly tribes, while being a definite guarantee of success. Plus, with them nobody could accuse you of not following the "spirit of Tribal", whatever that is. After all, what in Magic history says "tribal" more than Elves and Goblins?
And yet, there's a fair share of the recurring players, heralded by, well, myself, who have had enough of it. Even in a year where Goblin and Elves stayed more quiet than in 2011 (only 4 Elf wins and 2 Goblin wins), they're always creeping around and lurking in the shadows, ready to take over any given event at a moment's notice. And why I say "take over", I mean this:
- Event Number: 2.51, Week 103 BE
- Date: December 22
- Attendance: 22
- Rounds: 4
- Special Rules: Christmas Special: no blue or black cards or blue or black mana symbols on cards (lands included)
- Top 4: mihahitlor (Elf, undefeated); ellmaris (Goblin, undefeated); dragonwarrio2 (Goblin, 1 loss); pelao28 (Goblin, 1 loss)
- Special Prizes: Secret Santa gift (voted by the other players): Coolcat1678 (a foil copy of SANTA'S REINDEER TEAM: Axebane Stag, Dawntreader Elk, Glimmerpoint Stag, Gang of Elk, Great Sable Stag, Hidden Stag); Good Boy Prizes (Underdog Tribes): AJ_Impy (Troll — 1x Winter's Night foil), SekKuar Deathkeeper (Elk — 4x Goblin Snowman foil), ChrisMH77 (Yeti — 4x Mirrorwood Treefolk foil), Malum (Troll — 1x of each Coldsnap Snow-Covered land foil)
- Tribes: Elf (x5), Elk, Goblin (x5), Golem, Human (x3), Kithkin (x2), Spirit, Troll (x2), Werewolf, Yeti
- Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is
Five Elf decks, five Goblin decks (not to mention, 3 Human and 2 Kithkin, just to be safe). That's almost a full half of the whole tournament. It's almost turned into a freaking Duel Week. That's unacceptable.
Of course, it's mainly my fault. I thought giving people the possibility to just use hybrid cards to fulfill the restriction would balance the color restraint, allowing for more players to build playable decks, not just the ones with lots of dual lands in their collections. Yeah, that backfired big time. It just became "Bring Your Monocolored Travesty" week. I can only say I'm sorry to the players who "got it", and brought Christmas-themed decks (being rewarded for that with special prizes, anyway).
It won't happen again: next year's Christmas Special will have sort of prismatic rules where you need to have one third of the deck of each color, with gold and hybrid cards counting only for one of their colors. Plus, I just created the category of the Big Shots tribes (the ones that won 5 events or more; currently: Elf, Human, Goblin, Wall, Cat, Wizard), and from now on, they will be negated access to most special events, and definitely to the once-per-year ones like Christmas Special. Plus, the last event of each month will be a Small Time event, meaning a regular event with no Big Shots allowed. In fact, I just redefined the week-by-week structure for 2013 (you can check the full calendar here), and that's how we'll roll:
- First Saturday of each month: Underdog event.
- Second Saturday of each month: regular event.
- Third Saturday of each month: a Special event in rotation (tentatively, between Singleton and Pure Tribal).
- Last Saturday of each month: Small Time event (regular with no Big Shots).
Months with five Saturdays will get some one-of-a-kind, very special events like Duel Weeks or celebration weeks. That's the structure I devised so far, I'll finalize it in the next few weeks, after, well, hearing from you. And you have a nice tool to express your preferences now: this brand new Tribal Survey (that you can also access via tinyurl.com/TRIBALSURVEY). Please take a few minutes and compile it. You can also propose an achievement through it! (All the proposed achievements, if sensible, will be included in the next rotation. That includes all the proposals you can currently see listed at the bottom of the achievement page. The best in-game achievement proposed will become the "I Made This Myself!" achievement in the current rotation, getting 1-tix prize.)
Generally speaking, I think we should all just relax and take the competitive issues down a notch (or five), especially during special events. Just saying.
Anyway, here's the Top 4. Elf was the (winning) choice of mihahitlor, with which he just won the Hamtastic Award.
The deck is a classic non-combo Ezuri build powered by Green Sun's Zenith. Of course, miha's trademark is the use of a copious number of "I don't mess around", low-cost removals, so here the white is actually and fully exploited with two full sets of exilers (red is limited to a singleton Gut Shot, halfway through a meta-call and a way to avoid worrying about mana fixing, since there's no pro-level dual lands here. You gotta love to see Graypelt Refuge in a 1st-place deck). Masked Admirers gets a mention because Masked Admirers is a great card that typical Elf decks never use, and a Commander staple that reminds us of this week's Commander Tribal (or Tribal Commander? I can't decide which one should be the apposition here).
And here we go with the Goblin parade. This one is from the former Wise King, ellmaris:
I have to say, the two choices for the white and green cards are really bizarre: Farbog Explorer and Spitting Slug?! REALLY bizarre. Sincere congratulations on avoiding the hybrid stratagem with stuff like Boros Recruit and Scuzzback Scrapper, though. Much appreciated.
First Goblin deck with 1 loss: dragonwarrior2's, a storm build.
Strangely enough, I had a fun match against this deck: I lost in the end, but I was close to stop Empty the Warrens with an Intimidation Bolt, which is as epic as a game against storm can go.
Last but not least among the top masters of the little dudes, pelao28:
I'm always glad to see good ol' Goblin Piledriver show up in these builds once in a while. Back in my time, before it was all about Goblin Guide or Goblin Wardriver or Goblin Bushwhacker, the Piledriver was the first and scariest weapon of choice of every Goblin deck. And there's also Goblin Sharpshooter here. Definitely old-school: I like it. As much as you may like a Goblin aggro build, that is. By the way, Goblin Guide only made one singleton appearance within the three top decks. Weird. But nice. But weird.
But enough with the Grinches. SekKuar Deathkeeper showed us the true spirit of (tribal) Christmas with his Elk deck! Elk deck for Christmas, you guys!
The gracious Elks also made up the most special of the special prizes: every player was asked to name another player for a Secret Santa gift. The player who got voted the most (aka The Player Who Everyone Loves and Wishes the Best to) was good boy Coolcat1678. So, thanks to his inherent likeability, Coolcat received a foil set of the whole Santa's Team, courtesy of SBena_Bot:
The more Christmasy tribe of them all
Again very Christmas-like was ChrisMH77's choice, this Snow-Covered Yeti deck:
And my own Spirit build celebrated the present every registered player got from MTGO Traders (while a foil copy went to the winner, mihahitlor): Tamanoa, the one and only Spirit of Christmas!
The tradition of using Tamanoa as the card that symbolizes Yuletide dates back to at least the Flippers_Giraffe tenure at the helm of Tribal Apocalypse. I believe it's all in that art, and its colors. Here's a game with Tamanoa in action against Coolcat and his army of Wellwishers (Glitterfang was meant to combo with Balefire Liege, which never happened during the whole tournament. But hey, doesn't he look a lot like some Christmas light decoration anyway?)
And that's it.
THE HIGH PRICE OF WINNING
Also known as: how much do the Top 4 decks cost? As of December 28, 2012, here's the answer (MTGO Traders prices; the cheapest version of each card is always used; basic lands count zero):
- 1st place, mihahitlor's Elves: $32.59 (nonland cards: $27.42; tribal base: $2.55)
- 2nd place, ellmaris's Goblins: $6.52 (nonland cards: $6.52 ; tribal base: $5.53)
- 3rd place, dragonwarrior2's Goblins: $48.17 (nonland cards: $48.17; tribal base: $1.55)
- 4th place, pelao28's Goblins: $24.05 (nonland cards: $24.05; tribal base: $19.84)
With all the top decks being essentially monocolored and from very budget-friendly tribes, this had to be the cheapest week ever, of course, with no deck going over the $50 threshold. Definitely the good and admirable side of such same old, same old tribes.
REXDART'S DECK TECH SERIES
RexDart's still in vacation, he'll come back in January!
AHMET'S GAMES BAZAAR
Last week, we had special tribal games with Naya color restriction. I was expecting to see lots of aggro decks there. And wanted to see how my veteran Werewolf deck will do against them. That deck is actually a mid-range aggro build, good at controlling the board most of the times with the Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows combo and the Swords package. But in reality this deck wasn't being fast enough to stop all those Goblin raids. For instance, here's Round 1, Game 2 against pelao28.
And this is game 3 of the same match:
Then in Round 2, I had a bad matchup against _BIG_BROTHERS_ and his Elves:
Round 4, Goblin again, this time by milegyenanevem:
So, all in all my deck didn't do very well but these games were still fun. I'm looking forward for this week's Commander games. This will be a first for me!
Just to remind you of a few things:
The Tribal Survey! Please take a few minutes and compile the Tribal Apocalypse Survey, to tell us what you like or dislike, and make the event better and better.
The Rules: we now have a page with all the rules listed, so we won't have to repeat all of them before any tournament. Yay for time saving!
The Top 8 Lockout: since last week, every time a Top 8 player (either from this year's ranking or all-time) will end undefeated, they will not be allowed to register the same tribe and deck again for 4 events (i.e. they'll have to register a different deck or decks 4 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.
The Watch List: some particular, archetype-defining cards have been put into a specific Watch List, giving them Annoyance Levels based on how frequently they show up and their degree of success. Once a card gets to Level 3 or more, it'll be banned until enough weeks will have passed to make its appearance ratio acceptable again. So far, with 12 cards on watch, none of them reaches an Annoyance Level.
The Tribal Achievements: Clan Leys, which is in charge of any Special Prize, has launched and is handling the Tribal Achievements: a way to have fun within Tribal Apocalypse, challenge yourself to do all kinds of strange MTG feats, and make some tix in the process. You can find the complete list of achievements here on the Hall of Fame. 39 unlocked, 11 to go. Remember to call in me as a witness before moving on in case of an In-Game or Endgame achievement. That's not needed for Deckbuilding achievements, you just have to declare them.
The Virgin Prize has ended! And the last tribe standing was... drum roll... Mongoose! Now, this lead to two things: 1. the award has been replaced with the Semi-Virgin Prize, for tribes that've been played no more than 3 times (current list is here); and 2. Mongooses becomes the protagonists of a new, dedicated prize that will remember forever that you all neglected them despite Nimble Mongoose being featured in high-profile, tier-1 Legacy decks. From now on, The Mongoose Pride Prize will award 1 tix (at SBena_Bot) to everyone who'll just... play Mongoose. That's right, you just have to play them and you'll get 1 tix, till the end of times. Well, there's just one clause: you have to win at least one match with them within the event. Let's show them all what the mighty Herpestidae can do, shall we?
Hard to kill, hard to play (apparently)
Topical Prize rotation! As we have returned to Ravnica, we said goodbye to Avacyn Restored's star tribes, Angel and Demon, and we embraced a whole new set of tribes for the Topical Prize. It's five tribes, each representing a different guild as portrayed in their relative keyrunes: Bird (for Azorius), Elemental (for Izzet), Devil (for Rakdos), Insect (for Golgari), and Wolf (for Selesnya). You don't necessarily have to play them in their guild's colors, but that gets bonus points for style and topicality.
The Hamtastic Award: the Biodiversity Prize dedicated to the memory of Erik Friborg has been awarded to mihahitlor for playing the following sequence of 10 tribes in a row: Assassin, Rogue, Rat, Soldier, Elemental, Kithkin, Goblin, Vampire, Human, and Elf. Congrats! (Also: wow, that's pretty much the 10 best tribes you could possibly play. You're really Spike at heart, miha!) The Award will start again in Event 105 (the first of the new year) in a shortened form: 2 tix every 5 tribes in a row.
The Volver Challenge is still unclaimed! I'll give 1 tix out of my pocket to the first player who'll win a proper match (no bye, no opponent forfaiting) with a Volver deck featuring 4 copies of each of them.
And maybe in the process we'll find out what the hell is a Volver
Videos: Send me replays of your games, please! Don't know how? Read this quick guide in 6 easy steps and start saving your tribal feats for posterity!
And Slugs for all! To honor the memory of BlippyTheSlug (the longest-run host of Tribal Apocalypse), any new player can ask me for a one-time free treat: a full playset of any and all Slugs ever printed and available online (that is (Splitting Slug), Molder Slug, Thermopod, and Catacomb Slug). Courtesy of MTGO Traders and Clan Leys/SBena_Bot. The gift is meant for players who never took part before on a TribAp event, but I can grant it to recent players or budget players too, at my discretion. So just ask me for that, maybe you'll be lucky.
What's Next as the upcoming Tribal Apocalypse events of the Blippian Era (every Saturday at 17:00 GMT):
Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2013!
See you all in the Tribal room!