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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jul 12 2013 11:34am
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where under a good general there are no bad soldiers.

   Table of Contents 

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

 It finally happened! Soldiers have won an event for the first time in 3 years! This means they're out of Underdog and into the Major League now! Woo-hoot! (And yes, I remembered updating the Gatherling filter this time!). We often said that Soldier were one of the anomalies of the Underdog list, due to the fact that people playing white weenie decks with a lot of Soldiers usually ended up playing what amounted to be Human decks, much like what was happening with Druid toward Elves. I'd say now the most eminent tribe still included in the Unhallowed section, as it never had the satisfaction to sit on top of a Tribal Apocalypse throne in the Blippian Era, has to be Beast. For which there's not an easy explanation: they're popular, played, reasonably powerful and with a lot of good members. Does anyone want to help them succeed at last?


  • Event Number: 3.26, Week 131 BE
  • Date: July 6
  • Attendance: 24
  • Rounds: 4
  • Special Rules: Tribal Underdog (only Underdog Tribes allowed)
  • Winner: mihahitlor (Soldier)
  • 1 Loss: romellos (Kavu), slug360 (Dryad), ML_Berlin (Soldier), DirtyDuck (Troll), bdgp009 (Soldier), ChNidox (Wurm), Coolcat1678 (Berserker)
  • Special Prizes: True Underdog Prize to slug360 (Dryad); Up-and-Coming Prize to mihahitlor (Soldier)
  • Tribes: Advisor, Bat, Beast (x2), Berserker (x2), Dryad, Insect, Juggernaut, Kavu, Myr (x3), Ninja, Rat, Samurai, Soldier (x4), Troll (x2), Wurm, Zubera
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 So, here's the Soldier list with which mihahitlor did the trick, and as the only undefeated player of the week, no less (which, coupled with the large attendance, translated into one of the highest prize in this PRE's history). It's very appropriate that it was miha to finally lead the white militians to the higher glory, as he has been trying this for a long time. And it's now the most successful player of the Blippian Era, with 11 events won. Congrats!


 I mentioned Beast still missing the sweet taste of victory. Their cousins the Kavu already went there instead, and romellos has often played them with a good degree of success.


 One of the  most interesting decklists of the week, and equally successful, is this Dryad list by slug360. The little forest nymphs really reached a critical mass of good members lately. But no Dryad Arbor? I would expect it, at least to close the ranks leaving more room for spells and support.


 Finally, could I leave a colossal tribe like Wurm unmentioned? I most definitely couldn't, and they even made Top 8 thanks to newcomer ChNidox!

by ChNidox - Top 8
4 Argothian Wurm
4 Dirtcowl Wurm
4 Nesting Wurm
3 Pouncing Wurm
3 Ravaging Riftwurm
2 Wurmcoil Engine
4 Arbor Elf
24 cards

Other Spells
4 Cultivate
4 Wild Growth
2 Harmonize
2 Lure
2 Wild Pair
14 cards
22 Forest
22 cards

Ravaging Riftwurm


 All Wurms in the low mana range here (so nothing really colossal, alas), which is interesting in and of itself. Ravaging Riftwurm is certainly a viable answer to the question, "How do I generate early board presence with Wurms?". There's a good, partially sweeper-resistant ramp (with Arbor Elf making the most out of Wild Growth), and a couple of casual techs, like Wild Pair to exploit Nesting Wurm's Caw-like tutoring into the mirror-body of Dirtcowl Wurm, and Lure to maximize Wurmcoil Engine's already devastating impact.

 And that's it.


 Also known as: how much do the top decks cost? As of July 12, 2013, here's the answer (MTGO Traders prices; mtgGoldfish charts and analysis; the cheapest version of each card is always used; basic lands count zero):

  • 1st place, mihahitlor's Soldiers: $38.22 (nonland cards: $21.96; tribal base: $8.20)

 A celebration of Soldiers, white weenie and, generally, mihahitlor's builds is also a celebration of budget decks. I don't think our Slovenian champion ever piloted something that would cost more than 50 tix in any of his 11 victories. Something to seriously ponder about. In this case, the most pricey card, surprisingly, turns out to be Windbrisk Heights at $3.75 (the From the Vault: Realms version; otherwise, it would be around $5.00). Path to Exile used to be that much, too, but now it's $1.50 thanks to Modern Masters. All the rest is below the 1-tix threshold. Among the Soldiers themselves, Champion of the Parrish is next to that mark. It's interesting to note that 3 out of 5 tribal members used by miha are currently Standard legal, and all of them are Modern legal. Gone are the days of Enlistment Officer and Daru Warchief.



 Welcome back to Show and Tell, the weekly feature where you can always see audio/video coverage of the Tribal Legacy Wars format and the Tribal Apocalypse PRE!

 This was Underdog Week, and once more we see one of the bigger and more powerful tribes take the brass ring and, in so doing, lose eligibility in the event hereafter. Mihahitlor, whose bread-and-butter white weenie aggro decks have been racking up wins in this event for years, has been playing the Human Soldier aggro deck for months now in Underdog. He finished undefeated with them once before, but lost to my Tezzeret Birds deck in the finals. And so Soldiers remained "unhallowed" until now, when they finally grab their first victory as a tribe. This time, there were no finals to impede him, as he was the sole player to end undefeated — when's the last time that happened?
[Well, it happened in the previous Underdog event, endless_nameless with Druid. And other 3 times this year, weirdly all in February: Nagarjuna with Sliver, Robin88 with Kor... and yours truly with Snake! And that was the only time that happened in a Regular event! — Kuma's note]. He finished off slug360's Selesnya Dryad deck in the last round and wound up all alone at the top of the standings.

 Earlier in the event, he took down romellos' Kavu deck. I've previously discussed that deck, it combines the Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows combo with Kavu Predator, and gets to play a set of Flametongue Kavu — one of the best creatures ever printed, in my opinion. True to romellos' usual style, a few Swords are tossed in there as well. I continue to believe the Kavu deck will be tier-1 in the Underdog metagame indefinitely. But mihahitlor got the best of him this time. In round 1, miha takes a gamble on a 1-land keep — the same gamble did not pay off for him in the Invitational this year, but this time it does quite nicely. A very fast start for the Soldiers overwhelms romellos quickly.

 In game 2, romellos' removal is able to slow mihahitlor down enough to take over the game with Punishing-Grove, inducing the scoop from last year's scoreboard leader.




 Mihahitlor then took game 3 to win the match, but unfortunately that game was not saved. Oh MTGO, how I both love and hate you at the same time. So many little things you do wrong... yet you do everything just barely good enough to keep me satisfied.

 With Soldier now unplayable in Underdog events, Soltari would be its heir apparent for the white weenie enthusiasts. Mihahitlor played it regularly as an Endangered tribe prior to the expansion of that event into Underdog. I look next for Beast to fall from the Underdog ranks: As one of the few remaining large and powerful tribes yet to win an event, its day will come soon. For one, _BIG_BROTHERS_'s Beast deck is pretty solid, I've seen it in the tournament and in testing at the Casual Room, so look out, Underdogs!

     The Army of Telim'Tor Deckbuilding Challenge is still available! Here's the rules:

    1. Build a Knight tribal deck.
    2. Every creature in the deck must have the flanking ability.
    3. You may NOT use any card that turns itself into a creature (i.e. Jade Statue or Gideon Jura), "animates" a noncreature permanent into a creature (i.e. Living Lands or Animate Artifact), or creates a creature token (i.e Spectral Procession or Beast Within), unless the resulting creatures or tokens also have the flanking ability (such as the token created by Riftmarked Knight).
    4. Your deck must include at least 3 copies of Telim'Tor, if allowed (it won't be allowed during Singleton events, of course: in that case, you'll only need the one allowed copy).
    5. You must enter a Tribal Apocalypse event with your deck and obtain at least 2 match wins, not counting forfeits or byes. 

    The prize is still one nonfoil, digital copy of Wilt-Leaf Liege, worth over 3 tickets on MTGO Traders!
     DISCLAIMER STUFF: 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 the players are still tied, a random choice will award the prize. Also: please note that 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.

     That's all for this week's Show and Tell, but that's not all for my contributions this week, as Kuma and I continue to discuss the possibilities for Insect tribal, so read on!!

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


     Previously on The Insect Project: RexDart and I decided to set ourselves to a preposterous goal: taking the Insect out of Underdog. What follows is the continuation of our debate about the best way to go there. Featuring a heated and largely unrelated discussion about mana bases.

     REX: Last week, we concluded that we would build two decks: an Insect "Rock" deck in Jund colors, and another that kept the Recurring Nightmare into Hornet Queen plan. And here is the list I proposed to you as a rough idea of the Insect Rock deck last Friday.


     KUMA: And I played a version of this list in last week’s event, as just a preliminary test, since I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to win an event with it right off the bat (if ever!). In fact, I ended with a 2-2 score. I’ll document changes and impressions as we proceed talking.

     REX: The basic Rock idea is to have card advantage mostly in the form of 2-for-1 spells, and to have sufficient hand disruption to be able to ensure your threat cards are safe to deploy and hard for your opponent to handle. The hand disruption also serves as our deck's way to fight combo, since there is no countermagic, and the deck itself is far too slow to race a combo deck. You might get lucky and dodge all combo decks in the event, but I don't go into an event without at least some plan to either disrupt them or race them.

     Let's talk about the card choices I made in this first pass. At the low end, I stuck with Necropede because he can get a 2-for-1 against some decks and is a strong early play, and you can scavenge onto him later so he isn't completely dead in that situation. He also plays well with the special lands I wanted to include. Blister Beetle is just to try it out, but he won't be as good as Necropede most of the time. The deck may not really want a 5th 2-drop, because of the importance of casting one of the noncreature spells on turn 2.


     REX: I think the 4x Vorapede and 4x Deadbridge Goliath are certain to make the list. Xira Arien is an experiment, but gives some card advantage that the deck needs so it should at least be tried, I would maybe run 3 copies just to make sure it gets drawn and test it out before cutting back.


     REX: I like the two Ant Queen, something to do late game after you've cut off most of their answers, you can take over the game. Bane of the Living should help as a backup board-clearing plan against aggro, and you can scale it in the mid-game to make the effect as one-sided as possible.


     KUMA: For my test version, I decided to cut red entirely. Mainly to simplify the test and the manabase design. But also because, I have to admit, I’m not really sold on a red splash if it’s only for Firespout (I'm pretty sure we'll both agree to trash Xira sooner rather than later, because of her inherent clumsiness). I like Firespout quite a lot, but I don't see where it particularly interacts with our creatures' toughness here, and we can't cast it sooner than turn 3, the same point where we can reasonably try and cast the vastly more powerful Damnation thanks to Nature's Lore (I'm going with that one over Three Visits, because it's the original one that Three Visits functionally reprinted. And it comes in Modern frame, too! With Terese Nielsen's art!).

     Therefore, with red gone, Xira followed. I also cut the Blister Beetle (but I had missed on this one, it could be good in the Recurring Nightmare build!) and one Ant Queen, which I came to regret later because her majesty the token generator is really good in this list. I was fearing that 23 lands and 4 accelerators aren’t enough to sustain a mass of six 5 CMC creatures plus 3 Banes of the Living, which are highly mana-intensive. So I replaced those 4 slots with the fastest decent Insect available, Scute Mob, which I like enough because it plays well into the late game (when you don’t just chump block with it early on) and the Nature's Lore ramp. And people don’t consider it harmless as they generally tend to get scared by anything that grows over time, so they try and remove it, which is fine by me, since it’s just trying to run interference for the better guys.

     REX: On to the spells. A full playset of targeted discard is essential in this list, and I have chosen Thoughtseize. But it could reasonably be a split of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek instead. I usually prefer Thoughtseize during Pure Tribal because mana costs aren't as concentrated at the low end in those events. I you have to run only Inquisition because you don't own Thoughtseize, you will whiff sometimes when using it "offensively" to disrupt combo. But you will be fine using Inquisition "defensively" to clear a removal spell out of an opponent's hand before deploying a threat, as most removal is 3 CMC or less.


     REX: The 3 copies of Hymn to Tourach should likely be 4x or 0x, because it's best in your opening hand or not at all, but I can't figure out what to cut. I may cut Hymn entirely and try something else like Blightning, or just up the removal spells instead. Nothing else really does the job of Hymn very well as a replacement. I also thought about 2-3x Liliana of the Veil here, but there isn't anything other than Deadbridge Goliath that plays well with her. 3x Firespout and 3x Maelstrom Pulse seems about right to me, because Bane of the Living is handling some of the weenie-sweeper duties. If I decided to cut Hymn to Tourach, I might up one or both of these to a full playset. I've been thinking about a singleton copy of Vraska also, but she's not in the list as of now.


     REX: My choice of Three Visits (or Nature's Lore, if you like) is to ramp us safely from 2 to 4 or 3 to 5 mana. Farseek would be better if we relied on searching for a Badlands (or Blood Crypt), but I would rather be able to search and use the land to play a spell when you draw spells slightly off-curve — sometimes you draw that one-mana discard spell on turn 2 quite inconveniently and you'd like to still cast it. Wild Growth or Utopia Sprawl are also possibilities, but we would have to be very careful to fetch a basic land to enchant on Turn 1 if we had any reason to suspect opposing Wastelands — and those are definitely not going to work if the fetchland count comes down too much.


     KUMA: I just replaced Thoughtseize with Inquisition of Kozilek, due to budget constraints, and with the red gone, Firespout became Damnation. I’ve also added the 4th Hymn to Tourach as a 61st card (did you guys know that promo Hymn to Tourach is 50 cents? And it was even 30 cents last week? Pretty crazy, uh?)

     REX: Since we're getting into the mana base decisions here, let's talk about that.

     KUMA: Yeah, we had some discussions about it, mostly resulting in the shared admission that we just have wildly divergent philosophies where mana bases are concerned. Mine can be summarized with: play the lands that fit best your deck, minimize self-damage and exposition to harmful effects, and feel free to use the full spectrum of possibilities. Whereas yours seems to prescribe to always use the lands that are the best in a vacuum, as they'll be the best regardless. In particular, I objected here to the 10-fetchland setup, which seems to me more suited to a fast aggro deck, one that prioritizes drawing into fuel over developing resources, and/or a deck that absolutely needs to have several different colors always at hand. Plus landfall-based decks, of course.

     REX: Yes, I used a very orthodox fetch/dual mana base, plus a couple special lands. There are, in my opinion, very few reasons to deviate from the standard fetch/dual manabase. This mana base is nearly universal in Legacy, excepting some special cases like decks that rely on artifact lands, "Sol lands" (Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors), or some gimmick. The fetch/dual combination allows nearly any land you draw to provide the color you need, while allowing you to play around Wastelands.


     REX: The question of when you do and do not want a small percentage of "deck-thinning" has come up many times, so I looked into Legacy for similar decks to see what their manabases were like. Eva Green is the BG Rock deck most like ours, as a two color deck with a heavy black requirement. That deck runs the typical fetch/dual setup, sometimes with an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to let their Wastelands tap for black in a pinch. But it could be argued that deck doesn't need to hit as many lands as ours does. Other than 12-post, there are only two decks in Legacy that cast big spells and have a big interest in hitting their land drops: UW Miracles and Nic Fit. Miracles, despite being mostly two-color with an occasional red splash out of the sideboard, still plays the orthodox fetch/dual mana base. Plus, this is a control deck where the life loss might be relevant, but that still doesn't deter it. However, the fetchland count is slightly lower, only around 6-7 in the lists I saw, and Mystic Gate is used to help with color fixing. Nic Fit casts spells like Thragtusk and Broodmate Dragon, usually with the help of Veteran Explorer, but obviously wants to hit its land drops and get to its late game. Nic Fit uses about 6 fetchlands as well, plus a few special lands like the Phyrexian Tower, and sometimes features Grove of the Burnwillows.

     In short, while none of these are precisely the same as our deck, it does give us an idea of what kind of mana-fixing has been used in decks with either similar color requirements or a similar need to hit land drops. And the verdict is clearly in favor of using about 6 fetchlands. A good argument could be made to use Twilight Mire in our deck as well, since there is an abundance of double-green and double-black.

     KUMA: All right, if we really want to do this, let’s do this. Maybe people will be interested in this debate.
     First of all, I can certainly agree on 6 fetchlands over 23 lands. I often use this setup in Modern midrange (usually with 8 accelerators, though). The Rock list I objected to used 10 of them. That’s really too much, it’s a Cat Zoo setup, or a Lotus Cobra setup. I don’t even know why you see this as “orthodox”.


     KUMA: But I like to discuss this a little more, while we’re at it. You seem to say, “This setup is correct because look, there’s a bunch of people using it.” I just don’t operate like that. Something is correct if I see the logic in it from where I stand. There are a number of reasons why some archetypes are usually built in a certain way. It’s clearly useful to look at their experiences, but always with a grain of salt.
     In this case, for instance, those are Legacy archetypes (and not even that successful, if I may say). We’re NOT playing Legacy. We’re playing a Legacy-based format that is NOT Legacy. I believe I told you once that you tend to play Tribal Wars as if it were Legacy, and sometimes this pushes you down particular avenues. The “fighting combos” concern, for one. It’s absolutely correct to worry about that, but you know how many proper combo decks there were in last week’s event? Zero. Out of 24 lists. (The only one that came close to it was kuaggie’s Myr deck, that included 2 copies of Splinter Twin to turn the Galvanizer/Palladium shenanigans into endgame, but played as an aggro deck just as well). We should just face it: in Legacy Tribal Wars nonlinear combo decks (as in, not the ones that exist just in virtue of a tribal critical mass, like Elfball) stand out because they’re relatively rare, for a number of reasons. Whereas in Legacy they’re overwhelmingly present.

     Your three examples are also unconvincing to me: Eva Green (who I admit I never even heard before), according to this primer, seems to be a fast deck that plays mostly 2-drops, with 21 lands and Dark Rituals. UW Miracles is committed to deck thinning because, eh, it wants to draw into miracles. And Nic Fit is the heir to RecSur, it doesn’t aim to play the big creatures, but to cheat them into play via Recurring Nightmare or Birthing Pod. The biggest thing it would hardcast is Academy Rector. Plus, it’s 4-color, ready to go 5 if one likes.

     But coming back to the mana base conundrum, the fetch lands have to be seen as a specific type of dual lands. They’re the best ones, of course, and exactly because they thin your deck. But I have a golden rule: if you’re able to build a deck that perfectly works using basic lands only, do it. Because basic lands are the safest lands of all. The fetches have definitely upsides and downsides. The upsides are, of course, great: they fix your mana, they thin your deck. The latter is usually what you want most of the times, because you always wish to draw into more cards to play, not just lands. So, fetches prevent mana flood. On the other hand, they expose you to Blood Moon and alike; they lower your life total; they lower your chance of drawing more lands. So, that’s the main flip side: fetches can cause mana screw. It’s simple math: you have 23 lands; to simplify, let’s say in average you’ll have 3 of them in your first hand. If 2 of those are fetches, you’ll have 18 lands left over your remaining 53 cards, which means 33%, which means you might well hit your 6th land only by turn 9. But wait, if you have 10 fetches, that means almost half of those lands take out another land, so those figures go further down. This isn’t only perfectly fine for most decks, it’s absolutely crucial to some of them. But midrange isn’t among those. The fact is that midrange doesn’t even exist in current Legacy, it’s outright unplayable. It is in Legacy Tribal Wars, though (or so we hope.)

     By the way, I didn’t really understand that “play around Wastelands” mention. You meant by turn 1, when you have just your un-cracked fetch on board? But it’s not like we see people cracking Wastelands as their first land a lot of times (although, it happens, especially if you use a full playset.) And after that, if you want to play something, you have to fetch your land already, and at that point won’t the Wasteland player just pull the trigger anyway, if that’s what they really wanted?   

     REX: Kuma, you raise a lot of points here. First off, I am not just relying on what other people have played in Legacy. I have experience attempting two-color control decks in Legacy Tribal Wars, and initially thought as you did, I wanted to build the mana base to suit the kind of deck I thought I was playing. I have done extensive playtesting with a UW Elementals control deck, and my first pass of that deck’s mana base was created to minimize life loss, and I included Glacial Fortress in that list, but I found it was often very clumsy to use when trying to cast UU and WW spells if I didn’t have a Mystic Gate and I couldn’t just fetch Tundras all day at will. Having a lot of special lands in your deck really messes up the M10 checklands. Land sequencing becomes a nightmare and occupies way too much mental energy. Keeping the M10 lands was going to mean ditching Celestial Colonnade in that deck, which was crazy. That experience completely soured me on most lands that enter the battlefield tapped. However, I was impressed with the Mystic Gate, and seeing all those GG and BB costs in our Rock deck made me think Twilight Mire could do some work.

     REX: So with that experience in mind, last month I played an Orzhov Vampire midrange/control deck. You can see the list here. This deck has 8 fetchlands and casts a bunch of 5-drops. I think the deck played fairly well despite a 2-2 finish, and the only mana problem I had was that even with 15 white sources I still had games where I didn’t draw white mana — it probably should have been only 5 basic Swamp and a full playset of Godless Shrine to match the set of Scrubland. I think you are likely right that 10 fetchlands was a bit heavy on the first pass for our Insect Rock list, but not by that much.

     As for the examples I gave from Legacy, I think you would agree that I have a bit more knowledge of Legacy than you do, just as you are more familiar with Modern than I am. I can certainly tell you don’t have experience against UW Miracles, since I play against the deck in competitive-level Legacy events such as SCG Opens, and they are casting Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Entreat the Angels, and often need to hardcast Terminus and Force of Will. They want their land drops, they play a healthy number of basic Islands, and they STILL use 6-7 fetches. And Nic Fit is a deck that diverges wildly from player to player, but again I have experience playing against this at SCG Opens and the Birthing Pod and Recurring Nightmares versions are not popular. They are usually casting their threats, they want the land, and again we see several fetches.

     If basics are the safest, fetches are the 2nd safest land in any Legacy-based format because they can get your basics when that’s what you need. What I mean by playing around Wastelands is especially critical in decks with turn 1 discard spells. I’ve played Jund in Legacy quite a bit in the Tournament Practice room, and I’d much rather fetch a basic Swamp to cast Thoughtseize/Inquisition on the play rather than play out a dual land and then see the Wasteland in his hand. The example you mention of just saving the fetch when you have no turn 1 play is less important, but still legitimate as it messes with your opponent’s play sequence.

     KUMA: Look, you can play with 10 or 12 fetches and do great. And you can play with none and do great as well. It depends on a plethora of factors: what deck we're talking about, how good at piloting it you are, what particular event you were playing in, and so on. What I question is the idea that 10 fetches is "standard" or "orthodox". It's not. Mainly, it doesn't exist a "standard". It's more a case of whatever works, and mostly, whatever one likes best. And I'm sorry, but I'm playing this game since almost 20 years, competitively or less. And I consider a "standard" building for a 2-color deck in current Modern AND Tribal Wars (not in Legacy: I can't stress enough that we're NOT playing Legacy here) this one: 4 fetchlands, 4 fetchable lands (you can have up to 8 in Legacy pool, I usually add 1 shockland to a full set of Alpha duals), 4 M10 taplands. That's the base for me. If I feel comfortable with it, or I feel like I need a better fixing, I bring in 1-2 fetchlands more. If I don't have a lot of early plays, and if it fits the deck, I look into manlands. If I need a lot of double green and double black, I bring in 1-ofs or 2-ofs of painlands, Reflecting Pools, and whatnot (with specific combinations, you have specific solutions, like the Tainted cycle. And the SOM dual lands are good too, if your 4th land drop isn't particularly crucial to you).


     KUMA: I’m very fine with the M10 taplands as a backup. In a 2-color deck, they become the best possible draw-into duals very fast after the first few land drops (usually, after the first one). Supported with the right amount of fetches and fetchable duals, they're the perfect complement. No need to help the fast agro opponents out by dealing ourselves more damage than it's necessary (especially if one had to resort to use shock lands over Alpha duals), and in a 2-color deck, you might just be fine with basic lands a lot of the times. As noted, over-committing to nonbasics for no real reason exposes you to all kind of nasty stuff, from Price of Progress to Blood Moon and targeted land destruction. If there's no reason to do that, it's just lazy building to me. 

     KUMA: I can't recollect any problem with mana fixing and land sequencing or such — but it might well be because of the way I build decks, and the confidence I have with this setup. On the other hand, I tend to dislike the filter lands, as they're terrible 1-drop and they risk to self-lock you out of the game (but of course, if used just as a 1-of or 2-of, as you can see in most Modern multicolor builds, they're fine. Same as Reflecting Pool, I guess). By the way, I never said that UW Miracles CAN'T play big spells. I said that there's an inherent reason why that archetype seeks out deckthinning. And going from 6 fetchlands (which we saw is what the mentioned archetypes actually run, after all) up to 10 fetchlands equals to a 80% boost, which is definitely something your deck will feel, in a way or another. 

     REX: Anyway, I think this mana base, or one tweaked to add 2 copies of Twilight Mire, is optimal. The special lands can be fooled around with, and fitting in 2 copies of Swarmyard would be nice during Pure Tribal where the regeneration is more relevant, so there's some tweaking to do. You could also suggest the Punishing/Grove combo in here, since it would fit the Rock playstyle. I don't think it's as strong in Pure or Underdog events, but a weenie aggro deck is always around even on those weeks.


     KUMA: Swarmyard is definitely needed. If we can't find a room for Swarmyard in an Insect deck focused on combat, something's wrong. I played 2 of them in my version, and they were game-changers 99% of the times, dominating the board every time they showed up (even canceling out Day of Judgment, which is still popular among budget players.) If we can manage to work 4 in there (via Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, presumably), we should. I had two on the board once and life becomes very hard for an opponent who wants to get rid of Vorapede at that point.

     Pendelhaven is definitely not needed, as it only interacts with Necropede, that we're actively hoping to send to the graveyard. It would just be a Forest that’s killable by Wasteland and Blood Moon and helps Price of Progress out. Oran-Rief, the Vastwood feels better, as you would like for the Ant Queen's tokens to be born as 2/2s, or for Vorapede to come back as a 7/6 trampler. But in the end I left it out as well.

     REX: I notice you decided not to run the Phyrexian Tower I had suggested, any particular reason? It “ramps” you, sometimes helps with double-black spells, and gives you a way to sacrifice the Necropedes for profit!

     KUMA: No, I like Phyrexian Tower very much, it's just that I still have to buy it back for my collection. I usually include a singleton Tower in every black-based deck, as a rule of thumb, wherever I don't have too many other colorless sources. In this case, it conflicts with Swarmyard, that's tactically superior in the Rock build, but we'll see. The new M14 Legendary rule makes Urborg safer to play, so that might be the key.

     REX: As a nod to reality, I do understand that fetchlands had a price spike this year, one that I'd been blissfully unaware of until recently because I had the luxury of holding onto my ZEN fetches for the last two years. If I didn't have access to the fetchlands presently, I would not even attempt the red splash. You need Firespout by turn 3. My deck runs 14 red sources or ways to search a red source, so I'm 93% likely to draw one by turn 3 (maybe a tenth of a point lower if I have to fetch on turn 1 or 2) plus I have a 44% chance of being able to cast Three Visits for Taiga on turn 2. If we drop this to 10 red sources to accommodate a less efficient mana base, the odds of drawing red by turn 3 drop to 83%, which plus the Three Visits is still ok, but without fetches you'd have to play some really questionable types of lands to have that many red sources while still supporting the black and green requirements. Any lower than that number, casting Firespout becomes too difficult, so you ditch red. Xira would then be ditched, and you'd have to replace Firespout with a higher-costing sweeper. I usually worry about being on the draw with nothing but Damnations against some of these aggro decks when I'm not loaded up on spot removal, but on the other hand there are Three Visits / Nature's Lore to get there on turn 3 sometimes.

     KUMA: The fetchlands, despite everything I said before, have to be the first lands one should buy, always. 4 Verdant Catacombs and 1 Bayou are strictly better than 4 Bayou and 1 Verdant Catacombs.

     In the end, the test ended with an even score, but not a lot of useful data. I won against two budget builds, deonmag’s and Edison_88luckyplayer’s (and who knows how it would have gone down if Edison had Wrath of God over Day of Judgment), then I lost to slug360’s Dryads, two weird games but both close. Most importantly, I lost without a chance to Coolcat1678 who was playing red burn Berserkers. Just too fast and lethal, that matchup in unwinnable as of right now. General considerations: Inquisition/Tourach showed up a lot and did next to nothing versus all these aggro decks. Vorapede is generally great. Ant Queen, too, as mentioned, there should be at least one more, like in your build. Necropede plays well with Goliath, as expected. Bane is slow as molasses but you're generally happy to see it.

     REX: Here’s my thoughts about your experience. Midrange can easily be built to beat aggro if you want to bias the deck for that matchup. Against aggro, midrange has to lean on two things: sweepers, and bigger creatures (toughness of 4 or more) that aggro can’t clear away as easily. I think we are fine on creatures. I prefer Firespout because the 4-mana sweepers are sometimes too slow, and maybe that was the case. If you stay BG with no red splash, I’m not sure how to fix that. You can cut the Hymns and replace them with Abrupt Decay and probably have a better chance to survive to the point where your sweeper will stabilize you at a high life total. You can try some sort of life gain options like (Sorin’s Thirst), but that seems pretty loose. Still, the more burn-heavy the aggro deck, the better life gain becomes. Berserkers is tier-1 in the Underdog metagame, it’s going to present some challenges.

     KUMA: Especially because I didn't lose to creatures, I mostly lose to Lightning Bolt, Chain Lighting, Searing Blaze, Price of Progress, good game. That's why 10 fetchlands is just a way to concede to these decks, particularly if I'll still need to run more Overgrown Tombs than Bayous. As for lifegaining, watch out for Flames of the Blood Hand. Burn players know their tools.


     KUMA: All in all, I think we should try Rock on Underdog, and leave Pure for the Recurring experiments, as the absence of the white exilers is more relevant in the latter case (Vorapede notwithstanding). We’ll have three weeks to prepare this list then, since next event is a Regular one (and after that, there's Singleton), and we don’t trust the Insects that much, do we?    

     REX: I agree with your proposition that this experiment be contained to Pure and Underdog. But if we are building the Rock deck for Underdog and the other deck for Pure Tribal, I am not sure about the Swarmyards. They are great in Pure Tribal because there’s no white exilers, but in Underdog everybody with white in their deck — which was an incredible 52% of the field last week — will have answers. A lot of the Rock deck’s creatures, including the Necropedes, the Vorapedes, and the Deadbridge Goliaths, need an environment free of exile spells to flourish. So if we’re doing that, now I seriously want sac outlets in that deck.

     KUMA: And I'd like to find room for graveyard recursion, at that point. Because I feel like we have a definite "self-sacrifice for profit" theme, but not the complementary recursion. Just saying: Tortured Existence would be good with Bane of the Living (you should really try that card). Or a singleton Grim Harvest, if you like. Even just to de-trivialize the deck a bit, since right now it feels a little like a collection of good stuff.


     REX: Let’s let the Rock deck percolate for a week and move on to the Hornet Queen recursion deck, since I’ll be planning to play that at Pure Tribal if I can attend this month. For next week’s article, can you lead off with some suggestions on a second iteration of that deck? I’ll take that and see where it goes.

     KUMA: I can't ask for anything better! Recurring Nightmare coming up!



     Just to remind you of a few things:

     The Tribal Achievements: welcome to the second season of the Tribal Achievements! 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.

     The Hamtastic Award: the Biodiversity Prize dedicated to the memory of Erik Friborg has ended its 6th edition and vantar6697 did it! Here's his 10-tribe sequence that earned him 5 tix on SBena_Bot: Dragon, Cyclops, Human, Myr, Soldier, Wurm, Wizard, Assassin, Cat/Hound, and Juggernaut. Honorable mention to AJ_Impy, who ended up with 9 tribes. Now everything starts again. be the first to run 10 different tribes in a row and you'll get 5 tix too! 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.

     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)

     The Champion Challenge: challenge one of our Tribal Champions, and win an Egg of Tarmogoyf (aka a Future Sight booster, courtesy of SBena_Bot) and 20 points in the seasonal leaderboard! In order to do that, you must: 1) choose one of the Challenge Decks; 2) end X-1 or better with it in a Tribal Apocalypse event; 3) beat its creator in a challenge! Follow this link for the complete ruling and the decklists.

     The Top Players Lockout: every time a Top Player (either a Google Era Top 8, an Ultimate Champion or a seasonal Top 8) 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.

     Videos: Send RexDart replays of your games and we'll feature them in these articles! Don't know how? Read this quick guide in 6 easy steps and start saving your tribal feats for posterity!


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

    • 3.27 (Week 132 BE), on July 13: Regular Tribal (just plain old Legacy Tribal Wars)
    • 3.28 (Week 133 BE), on July 20: Tribal Singleton (only 1 copy of each nonbasic land)
    • 3.29 (Week 134 BE), on July 27: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, no Big Shot Tribes nor T9 cards allowed)
    • 3.30 (Week 135 BE), on August 3: Tribal Underdog (only Underdog Tribes allowed)

    Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2013!

    Take the Tribal Survey!

     See you all in the Tribal room!



For me in a 2 color deck 6-8 by slug360 at Fri, 07/12/2013 - 15:01
slug360's picture

For me in a 2 color deck 6-8 fetchlands, 4 duals, 4 shocklands, some basics (path to exile) and maybe 1 or 2 utility lands. Don't like m10 duals or filter lands unless you have a lot of double or triple mana colored costs.
Not sure about splashing red for firespout...

But I find that 4 shocklands by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 07/12/2013 - 18:25
Kumagoro42's picture

But I find that 4 shocklands in a 2-color deck, once you have a robust amount of fetches and a full set of Alpha duals, just help the opponent with the burn deck to take the game. You either have a STRONG reason to take this risk, or it's just masochistic. Your mana progression will start with a land with a basic type almost every time (for first hands that contain at least 2 lands, and otherwise you would mulligan anyway), and at that point any M10 tapland you draw into will just be a dual without any downside.

I'm thinking of a base setup like this, let's say for Golgari:

- 4 Verdant Catacombs
- 4 Bayou
- 4 Woodland Cemetery
- 4 Basic lands
- 1 Overgrown Tomb (that's the first you fetch when you don't have a 1-drop)
- 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- 2 colorless-producing utility lands (more likely Volrath's Stronghold and/or Phyrexian Tower as needed, or LD lands)
- 4 as you like/need: more fetches, painlands, manlands, Reflecting Pool, Gaea's Cradle, more utility based on strategy (but producing colored mana if possible), LD lands, etc.

Now, you can see that the odds of not having a drop with a basic type in first hand are really remote this way (of course, it helps that in most of my builds I rarely have much to do turn 1, so it's actually the right moment for me to drop something that enters tapped).

I forgot to mention in the article that, generally speaking, I subscribe to the use of 4 fetches even in monocolored decks. However, I don't subscribe to a deck design that includes 18 land-based self-inflicted damage, unless something in the deck specifically asks for it (landfall, suicide black, basic types matter, etc.)

Well i guess it all really by slug360 at Fri, 07/12/2013 - 21:55
slug360's picture

Well i guess it all really comes down to your deck (mana curve, color requierements and strategy). If you have a low curve deck with 1 and 2 drops shocklands are definitely better i think. And also i just like to have that possibility of paying 2 life to make it enter untapped, and as you said shocklands should most of the times be the first ones to search with fetchlands if you don't have anything to do. Normally you can play around the 2 life factor.
Another thing to keep in mind is that shocklands count as 2 basic land type, forest and swamp in overgrown tomb's case, which could be relevant.

Another consideration with by AJ_Impy at Sun, 07/14/2013 - 19:09
AJ_Impy's picture

Another consideration with shocklands is if you are in a position where maximising your mana every turn is essential, or if you're in a slower, more controlling position where your initial moves are reactive or focused on the long game. If your plan for the early game is stabilisation followed by mass removal, you have the opportunity to play out a few tapped whilst building up to a sledgehammer. It depends how the course of the game is likely to go and the nature of the matchup.

As an aside, likely skipping next week. Singleton ain't worth trying to get back in time for, or building for whilst rebuilding a collection.

Due to a sudden price spike, by RexDart at Sat, 07/13/2013 - 03:10
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Due to a sudden price spike, the Wilt-Leaf Liege prize is now worth over SEVEN TICKETS on mtgotraders. So just a reminder that my Telim'Tor challenge prize is looking VERY good right now, it's probably the best payout available for the tournament all of a sudden.

Good ol' crazy MTGO by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 07/13/2013 - 11:14
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Good ol' crazy MTGO micro-economy.
Does anyone know what happened with Ajani Vengeant? Has been dozing for YEARS around 5-6 tix, and now he's like the 4th most expensive planeswalker all of a sudden?

Ajani sees a lot of play in by JXClaytor at Sat, 07/13/2013 - 11:49
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Ajani sees a lot of play in competitive modern in a form of jund and urw control