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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Mar 15 2013 11:11am
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where more than 30 people gather every week! (Well, they did it THIS week.)

   Table of Contents

  1. Last Week on Tribal Apocalypse...
  2. The High Price of Winning
  3. RexDart's Show and Tell
  4. Announcement Time!
  5. What's Next

 Apart from the record attendance of 32 freaking players (and we even had to shut the door on late arrivals!), here's some other interesting statistics for the event. We had the second Crab deck ever registered, by none other than our Ultimate Tribal Champion slug360 (wait for his interview, it's almost ready! Right, slug?) Other unpopular tribes slowly growing in popularity: Hound has been played 10 times now and, weirdly enough, Warriors got to their 8th appearance overall. They're really the Cinderella of the major tribes. In other unexpected news, Illusions made their first Hall of Fame points, ever (thanks to Chamale's manaless dredge build switching from Horrors.)

 And it was the 10th first place for mihahitlor (who therefore catches up on Ranth at the top of the list) and the same goes for the Humans too, that became the most successful tribe ever, with over 2000 Hall of Fame points. Which brings me to a thought I recently keep having about them: given that nearly every fourth creature in the game is a Human (they're 1429 out of 6788 creatures in MTG, not counting the Un-Sets), which is almost 3 times the second biggest tribe (Wizard, with 488 members), shouldn't be fairer to just consider them a super-type for all tribal intents and purposes, therefore making them illegal in any Tribal Wars event? After all, it's easy to just build the same decks under one of their current sub-tribes, and at the moment it seems a bit like we're allowing to build "multiclass" Wizard/Soldier/Cleric decks, or something like that. It's not about power level, you would be able to build very similar decks anyway, but it just seems a bit beyond the tribal concept at this point, since Human is really used by the WotC creative team as a catchall denomination for creatures that don't belong to any other specific race. Keep having them feels like allowing to build an Artifact Creature tribal deck (which, actually, would have just one third of the options, with only 442 members.) I'd like to see your opinions on this topic.


 As for this record-wielding week, refer to RexDart's feature for some meaningful comment, and to my section for the decklists and useless accompanying words. Let's roll.


  • Event Number: 3.10, Week 114 BE
  • Date: March 9
  • Attendance: 32 (yay!)
  • Rounds: 4
  • Special Rules: none
  • Winner: mihahitlor (Human)
  • Other undefeated: RexDart (Warrior)
  • 1 Loss: romellos (Human), SekKuar Deathkeeper (Kor), Chamale (Illusion), Frenzy277 (Hound), elwhammy909 (Elemental), arcbounddaylabor (Human), Owain (Human), thorneweaver (Goblin), kokonade1000 (Goblin)
  • Special Prizes: Endangered Prize to Frenzy277 (Hound); Semi-Virgin Prize and Topical Prize to slug360 (Crab)
  • Tribes: Angel (x2), Assassin, Beast, Crab, Demon, Druid, Elemental (x2), Elf, Goblin (x3), Hound, Human (x6), Illusion, Knight, Kor (x2), Merfolk, Shaman, Sliver, Spirit, Warrior, Zombie (x3)
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 We salute the champion of the week and 10-time winner mihahitlor, who was running... oh look, a Human deck.


 As he'll explain below, RexDart had a great time going undefeated with this Warrior deck. We don't see them often, but when we see them, we remember them. Can you dig it? Caaan you dig it? Caaan yoouuuuu diiiigg ittt?


 The 3-1 deck were led by another Human deck by another strong player, romellos; right after that came this (non-combo!) base-2 Kor deck by SekKuar Deathkeeper:


 Woof! The Hounds are getting strong and gnawing the bones of their opponents, as Frenzy277 proved here. I've been planning a Cat vs. Dog special event for a while now (where Dog would be either Wolf, Werewolf, or Hounds); let's see if I can find it a place somewhere this year.


 Then we have... let's see... other Human decks... a few Goblin decks... yawn. Let's cut to the chase: I give you Crabs (wait, that came out wrong), by slug360!


 And that's it.


 Also known as: how much do the top decks cost? As of March 15, 2013, here's the answer (MTGO Traders prices; the cheapest version of each card is always used; basic lands count zero):

  • 1st place, mihahitlor's Humans: $73.90 (nonland cards: $55.21; tribal base: $27.41)
  • 2nd place, RexDart's Warriors: $252.15 (nonland cards: $56.19; tribal base: $16.26)

 I like how Rex's deck cost almost 4 times miha's deck, but they go down to roughly the exact same price once you factor the dual/fetch lands out. Ah, Wild Nacatl, what a high-maintenance catgirl you are!



 Welcome back for this week's Show & Tell segment, where I continue to examine the top decks and players of Legacy Tribal Wars in our weekly Tribal Apocalypse PRE. The format seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance right now. Player attendance for Tribal Apocalypse has been very high this year across the board, and last week we saw the highest in recent memory: thirty-two players!  Although it was a "regular tribal" week, we have also seen sky-high attendance numbers for all the variant-format weeks this year. I had some concern that the large number of special events would hinder turnout, either from player confusion or inability of some limited-budget players to construct multiple tribal decks, but those concerns appear baseless now, as the players have really rallied behind the Apocalypse these past few months. [Average attendance per event during the first 10 events of 2013: 22.7 players — Kuma's note.] Players will always complain about formats, cards they wish were banned, strategies they despise, but in the end the numbers don't lie: this format is working, this event is flourishing. Now, on to the videos!
 Do you ever find yourself wondering at the last minute what deck to play this week? Do you also find yourself spending the previous night being relentlessly pursued by violent gangs of bat-wielding baseball players, women with big hair and poor aim, and guys dressed as mimes? Have you ever fought a vicious turf war for control of Coney Island? Do you ever look out your window and see this guy taunting you to come out to play?

 If so, you might have what it takes to play... THE WARRIORS!

 I had a great time en route to a 4-0 finish with these guys. Warriors are one of the two tribes that can utilize Wild Nacatl, but the lack of other great one-drops within the tribe led me to develop this as a midrange aggro deck, and working to maximize the power of the Bramblewood Paragon. Yeah, he's a Warrior lord. This fact seems to have gone largely unnoticed as he sits in Elf deck after Elf deck pumping endless streams of Elf Warrior tokens. I had high hopes for Rubblebelt Raiders in my "10 Gatecrash Cards" feature a few weeks ago, and they didn't disappoint. Wolfir Silverheart is also a nice curve-topper for midrange aggro. And an off-tribe splash for Deathrite Shaman did great work gaining life and ramping into those 4-5 CMC creatures. So, in the first video of the week, I explain the deck's choices and feature two replays. In one game, I play cautiously and lose to SekKuar Deathkeeper's Kor equipment deck. In the other, I again take the control role, but more successfully, against ElectronBlue's Goblin deck.

 Next up, we have a real up-and-comer: Hounds! Somebody must have decided to finally let the dogs out, as we've seen a couple of these this month.  Isamaru, Hound of Konda and Jackal Pup are the backbone for a decent aggro strategy, but the other one-drops have serious drawbacks compared to their kittie counterparts. Nonetheless, Frenzy277 took them to a respectable 3-1 finish with his sligh build. In this video, we'll do a short deck tech to see the choices he made in construction, then watch two replay games.

 The next video includes two more games played by Frenzy's rabid pack of dogs against Ayanam1's Zombies.

 Speaking of which, Ayanam1 took down the "All Poxes Great and Small" Deckbuilding Challenge at the first try with his Zombie deck featuring 4 Smallpox and 4 Pox. Zombies gave him some great options to make the most of the Pox's symmetrical effects, thanks to their ability to return from the graveyard and don't mind being discarded or sacrificed. He also worked the Haakon, Stromgald Scourge/Nameless Inversion combo into the deck, great with both the Poxes and the 3 copies of Liliana of the Veil. Cursed Scroll prize gained! Stay tuned until the end where I unveil my third challenge of the year in full details.

 And right as I was wrapping it all up, I got links to a few replays from romellos, who had a solid 3-1 finish with his Bant Humans deck. Romellos' deckbuilding style is consistent and powerful, with aggressive 3-drops, mana acceleration, and disruption in the form of hatebears. It's the type of deck that is nearly always present whenever Humans are permitted in the event, and I decided it was long past time that I feature it here. I was the only player to beat him this week, and it could easily have gone the other way. In this last video, I co /amment on the deck and walk you through three replays pitting the Bant deck against Kumagoro's Boros Angel flicker deck, Chamale's manaless dredge, and Gq1rf7's Elementals.

 And now, since the Pox challenge lasted a mere one week, the next has to be more difficult. I'm putting some pretty good prizes on the line here, after all! Without further ado, introducing... the Kamigawa Block Deckbuiding Challenge (aka Toshiro Umezawa's Block Party 2000!) The prize this time is one nonfoil, digital copy of the popular Commander staple, Sakashima the Impostor, valued at over 4 tix on MTGO Traders.com!

 In order to win this card, you must do the following:

    • Construct your deck using ONLY cards that were printed in Kamigawa block. This includes both creatures, spells, and non-basic lands. (You may play any available version of a Kamigawa block card. For example, you may play an M10 copy of Pithing Needle, or an Urza's Destiny copy of Sowing Salt.) Ninja decks are additionally permitted to include the following PC2 cards: Silent-Blade Oni, Sakashima's Student, and Sai of the Shinobi. Moonfolk decks are additionally permitted to include the AVR card, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage.
    • You must enter a Tribal Apocalypse event and get at least 2 match wins, not counting forfeits and byes.


 Only one prize is available. In case multiple players accomplish this in the same event, the player with the greater number of valid match wins takes the prize; if two or more players are still tied, the player whose tribe has the fewest lifetime Hall of Fame points will take the prize. If the players are still tied, a random choice will award the prize. Also: please note that beginning with this prize and for all of my further deckbuilding challenge prizes, the winner will be determined by reviewing decklists AFTER the event. This means that the winner will not be officially chosen until the announcement is made on the following Friday, within this article here on PureMTGO.com. If you are the winner, you may collect your prize from me by messaging RexDart on MTGO after the winner is announced. Because of the large turnout at the PRE recently, and the fact that only Kuma has access to deck lists during the event, this method was chosen to avoid putting stress and delays on the tournament. I will make my best effort to review all decklists, but optionally you may wish to notify me (not Kuma!) by message on MTGO that you are attempting the challenge so that I am certain to examine your decklist, especially given the large volume of players in recent weeks.

 Good luck!

 Check the complete archive of RexDart's Deck Techs here.


 Just to remind you of a few things:

 The Rules: we 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 13 cards on watch, none of them reaches an Annoyance Level.

 The Tribal Achievements: the second season of the Tribal Achievements is up and running! Find new ways to have fun within Tribal Apocalypse, challenge yourself to complete all kinds of strange MTG feats, and make some tix in the process. This week Coolcat1678 achieved "Community" (Having 10 different tribal members on the battlefield at the same time), while thorneweaver achieved "My Peeps Only" (Playing and winning at least one match with a deck that includes only your tribe's creatures, your tribe's tribal cards, and at least 12 nontribal cards that reference the name of the tribe in their name or rule text.) Congrats, and keep 'em coming!

 The Mongoose Pride Prize!  As the last tribe standing after everyone else had been played at least once, Mongoose has become the protagonist of a dedicated prize that will remember forever that you all neglected them despite Nimble Mongoose being featured in high-profile, tier-1 Legacy decks. The Mongoose Pride Prize will permanently 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 (byes and forfeits don't count). Let's show them all what the mighty Herpestidae can do, shall we?

Hard to kill, hard to play (apparently)

 Topical Prize rotation!  Return to Ravnica is not the latest trend anymore, so we embraced the Gatecrash flavor. The Tribes eligible for the 1-tix Topical Prize (remember: you need to win at least one match with one of them, and be the highest-ranked to do that at the end of a TribAp event) are the ones represented in the Keyrunes of the Gatecrash's guilds: Thrull (for Orzhov), Horror (for Dimir), Beast (for Gruul), Soldier (for Boros), and Crab (for Simic). Note: in the case of Beast and Soldier, that are way stronger tribes than the other three, your deck needs to include at least 20 cards of each guild color (gold and hybrid cards count as both). .

 The Hamtastic Award: the Biodiversity Prize dedicated to the memory of Erik Friborg has started again, for its 5th edition, and it's back to its original roots: be the first to run 10 different tribes in a row and you'll get 5 tix on SBena_Bot! You have to play all the rounds of an event in order for the tribe to be added to your sequence. If you repeat a previous tribe, your whole sequence resets. With 4 tribes played, we currently have 3 players in the lead: romellos, SekKuar Deathkeeper, and slug360.

 The Bringer Challenge is on! A new, crazy pentacolored challenge has been issued! After Elder, Kirin, Nephilim and Volver, it's time for a true heavy weight, the kind I like best: be the first player who'll win a proper match (no byes, no opponent forfeiting) with a Bringer deck featuring 4 copies of each of them, and you'll win 1 tix and admiration, both from me!

C'mon, this time is alluring!

 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 the one and only 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 Spitting Slug, Molder Slug, Thermopod, and Catacomb Slug). Courtesy of MTGO Traders and 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.


 The upcoming Tribal Apocalypse events of the Blippian Era (every Saturday at 17:00 GMT):

  • 3.11 (Week 115 BE), on March 16: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, the T9 are banned)
  • 3.12 (Week 116 BE), on March 23: Tribal Commander! It's back! Rules and everything else are here
  • 3.13 (Week 117 BE), on March 30: Small Time Tribal (no Big Shot Tribes allowed as creature types in your tribal base)
  • 3.14 (Week 118 BE), on April 6: Underdog Week

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2013!

Take the Tribal Survey!

 See you all in the Tribal room!


"I give you Crabs" had me by RexDart at Fri, 03/15/2013 - 18:22
RexDart's picture

"I give you Crabs" had me chuckling more than it deserved, ha.

On the topic of Humans as a tribe...

When I first got into this format a couple years ago, I didn't consider Humans a "real" tribe. I have played them as a tribe a few times, sometimes with decks that had alot of flavor or actual use for the Human creature type (i.e. Mayor of Avabruck, the Deranged Outcast, etc). But sometimes it's just the most flexible tribe to use when adapting some legacy goodstuff deck to tribal. Our combo-oriented players sometimes use them as the easiest way to bring their legacy combo decks into tribal as well. I don't know if that's really the "point" of tribal, but that's an argument that never goes anywhere but in circles.

Personally, despite having played them a few times, if I were the grand exalted ruler of the Apocalypse I would eliminate Humans as a legal tribe. It adds an additional split between the Apocalypse and WotC's legacy tribal wars rules, but the players seem to be okay with the extensive splits we already have, so that objection doesn't go too far. Humans are perhaps a bit too flexible and lack character, and I agree with Kuma that they feel more like a "supertype" than a real tribe. I do concede they have one actual limitation despite the size of the tribe, which is the lack of larger creatures, but that is also true of many other tribes and is hardly that distinctive. I would say give 'em the boot, but I am totally upfront about the fact that this is just my personal preference and is for aesthetic and flavor reasons as much as anything.

I would ask first, however, whether anybody knows if there are creatures with ONLY Human as a creature type? Creatures like that would be effectively stranded if we do this.

There are a few. Ali From by KaraZorEl at Fri, 03/15/2013 - 18:29
KaraZorEl's picture

There are a few. Ali From Cairo and Angry Mob. Mostly, if they're only human, they're in older sets like Homelands.

Off the top of my head, one by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 03/16/2013 - 11:21
Kumagoro42's picture

Off the top of my head, one of the most recent Human-only creatures is Seller of Songbirds. One of the most powerful is Peacekeeper. You can still build a nice deck with Human-only creatures. Maybe it can be an achievement at some point.

One sure way to make sure I by Paul Leicht at Sat, 03/16/2013 - 11:55
Paul Leicht's picture

One sure way to make sure I never associate with the apocalypse again is to ban the Humans tribe. Sure if there is something special going on by all means stick them in the no go section, otherwise this is a ridiculous idea.

Perhaps I should clarify my objection.

I think that banning an entire tribe (particularly such a large one) is an alienating act. I don't think it solves anything flavorwise. People will still build against the spirit of the format if that is their will. Those who do so, don't do so because they are flaunting the idea but because they find certain decks win more consistently. If you want to calm the power level of humans down you can ban certain ones that seem like trouble spots (but I am not for this either.)

If it isn't as you say about the power level then you need to keep sculpting the scene to be more flavor friendly and rewarding creativity such as with the achievements system which is an excellent innovation.

Banning humans because they are ubiquitous would just flip those who abuse them back to gobbos or pointy-eared treehuggers or some other tribe that lends itself to this kind of abuse.

I think it would be wonderful instead if you had a humans only day with a top 10 ban list involving the top most played humans. And then put them on no go list for special days.

I also need to clarify by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 03/16/2013 - 18:35
Kumagoro42's picture

I also need to clarify (further), then.

[First of all, DISCLAIMER: it's just a theoretical debate, nothing else. It's a topic of interest to me, so I'd like to collect feedback on it.]

It's not about the power level. We don't have a Human problem. I'm not worried if there are 5 Human decks per week (and there aren't), since they can be (and mostly are) all different enough, for intrinsic reasons. And, like I said, I think that if Human ceased to exist as a tribe, you could just turn the more power-hungry of those decks into 4-color Wizards, which we already see plenty of. So it's not about "solving" an issue. Or even fixing a flavor according to personal criteria.

What is it about then? It's exactly what RexDart wrote: it's a Melvin thing. The Human type is clearly an anomaly in the game. I won't be surprised if at some point, should one of the rule gurus feel like that, the Human sub-type would really be moved to super-type. Mechanically, nothing would change. It would only affect Legacy Tribal Wars games. (Which is why I don't see it happen anytime soon.) But it would be about putting things in order and correct the anomaly.

How I know it's an anomaly? Well, the numbers speak for themselves, as does the inherent definition of super-type (either an attribute or a larger group defining a characteristic that's shared by different, lesser groups of items.) But think about this: most Zombies should have the Human type. We see that Zombie isn't treated as a race, it's a state: they keep their race's type on the card. Jarad was an Elf, died, was raised from the dead, he's now a Zombie Elf. Same as Glissa. Balthor was a Dwarf, he's a Zombie Dwarf. Helldozer is a Zombie Giant. And so on. In MTG universe, zombified things remain what they were, only in zombified form. But what about Mikaeus? There's a version of him who actually has the Human type. Yet the Zombie version loses it. Same goes for Geth or Haakon: the official background stories for these characters tell us that they were Humans. I'd say 70%/80% of the Zombie cards actually depict Humans turned Zombies. Why they don't have the Human type then? What if they will at some point? Once upon a time, all legendary creatures were only "legends", without any other type. Then they fixed it.

And here's what Mark Gottlieb was writing during the Grand Creature Type Update, which is 6-year-old now: "Creatures that lacked races got a race. The vast majority of these are creatures that should be Human but were printed before Mirrodin. In fact, more than half of the cards involved in this update got 'Human' added to them."

The vast majority. More than half. They didn't do this to help the Human tribe as defined in Tribal Wars. I'm sure they didn't even think of Tribal Wars at the time. They did it because it felt right. Those were clearly humans on the cards. It's a fantasy game based (like most) on our folklore: of course the basic state of a character is humankind. We're freaking human ourselves, and so are all the WotC creatives (even MaRo!) So, what if at some point they'll do another update during which they'll realize Mikaeus and co. should get the Human type too? We'd have a tribe where you can accommodate a proper Zombie deck with 4 Dark Confidants inside the tribal base.

Given the current rate of growth, I think 10 blocks from now half the existing creatures in the game will have the Human type. Building them as a tribe it'll be halfway from building a "Creature Tribal deck" (currently, we're at one quarter of the way.) And way less ridiculous than building a "Legendary Creature Tribal deck" or an "Artifact Creature Tribal deck", since the former are only 490 and the latter 449. Hell, all the cards with the Artifact type, both creature and non-creature, are 1446, just a little more than the number of Humans. Now, that's ridiculous.

I guess I am not Melvin by Paul Leicht at Sat, 03/16/2013 - 21:00
Paul Leicht's picture

I guess I am not Melvin enough to see the urgency of this. Though that does indeed clarify your thinking a little. As far as already printed nonhumans (Mikaeus) suddenly becoming human I think that's a bit farther fetched than you make out.

Mikaeus is an interesting example actually since he has a former self in white that WAS human. Human to Zombie transformation is a common enough trope that no one even mentioned it when MII was printed. But not all Zombies are former humans so I guess that could be confusing.

However the changes made by Mr Gills were a reorganization of earlier sets based on a changed paradigm R&D has for the way creatures work in magic and to bring existing cards in line with this newer viewpoint. For them (R&D) to feel the need to change massive amounts of creature types again would take a change in the parameters with which they are currently designing creatures and how they imagine further design down the road.

That kind of change would be far more drastic than merely cleaning what doesn't make 100% sense.

As far as the population growth of humans to nonhumans, well OK you're probably right there. And hence my suggestion which you didn't respond to. But this doesn't have anything to do with playing the game. Merely how statisticians (and I guess Melvins??) view data gleaned from examining card printings and trends.

To me the sheer size of human tribe gives it a lot of building room. There are so many ways to build humans that there is no way to say "This is how you build them" which you can pretty do with Elves and Goblins, even as numerous as those two tribes are.

Your last line: that's why by Kumagoro42 at Sun, 03/17/2013 - 13:06
Kumagoro42's picture

Your last line: that's why Humans are NOT a problem in-game. It's not about the Human TRIBE but the Human TYPE, so to speak (a difference that might just seem ontological, but you know what I mean.) So we don't need to create specific events to put Humans in, but if enough people like the idea of a Human Event, let's do it (at some point down the line, where there's room. Maybe even as a Duel Event Human vs. Monsters?)

There's no urgency AT ALL. I just had a thought about the Human type and I shared it and asked opinions, that's all.

You know how in zombie movies by CottonRhetoric at Sun, 03/17/2013 - 20:27
CottonRhetoric's picture

You know how in zombie movies some character will go "I can't shoot him; he's my father!" and then some other character will go "He's not your father anymore."

Becoming a zombie robs you of your humanity. WotC's model is unexpected but it makes sense, I would say.

How it doesn't rob you of by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 03/21/2013 - 02:31
Kumagoro42's picture

How it doesn't rob you of your Elvish/Dwarven/whatever other nature, though? :)

(Not to mention, they filed under "zombie" pretty much every non-ghostly undead but vampires. And the mummy is very much still the pharaoh, while the lich is the mad wizard/scientist who made himself immortal.)