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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Aug 02 2013 10:40am
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where they grow up so fast.

   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

 So, Shaman is a Big Shot now! Who would have thought? 4 wins this year only, but we have to go all the way back to Event 5 in 2011 to find their first one... by me! (With a Genesis Wave deck that probably wouldn't do much these days. I should try and test it.) Also, these 4 last Shaman victories belong to 4 different players, playing in 3 different type of events, including Regular. Shamans are the new Wizards!


  • Event Number: 3.29, Week 134 BE
  • Date: July 27
  • Attendance: 19
  • Rounds: 3
  • Special Rules: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, no Big Shot Tribes nor T9 cards allowed)
  • Winner: pk23 (Shaman)
  • Other undefeated: justcanceled (Spirit)
  • 1 Loss: Edison_88luckyplayer (Sliver), mihahitlor (Zombie), Gonzzy (Knight), romellos (Kor), slug360 (Cleric), undeadgod (Construct), fliebana (Ally), dueyutah (Ogre)
  • Special Prizes: Underdog Prize to dueyutah (Ogre)
  • Tribes: Ally, Assassin, Beast, Cleric, Construct, Efreet, Insect, Knight (x2), Kor, Ogre, Shaman (x2), Sliver, Soldier, Specter, Spirit, Zombie (x2)
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 And this is it: the creature-heavy, Jund Shaman deck that achieved the Big Shot status for the guys, while simultaneously giving up-and-coming champion pk23 his third consecutive final. Which means he's good at every freaking kind of event, from Singleton to Regular. It's getting scary around these parts!


 We find an Azorius Spirit deck (without Geist of Saint Traft, for once) battling for 1st place, as piloted by justcanceled. 5 finals for him this year, so the values on display were definitely high here.


 Among the others, this insanely powerful, entirely colorless Construct deck by returning Apocalypser undeadgod certainly deserves a mention. The 12-post build helped by Candelabra of Tawnos and Metalworker is classic, but there's a few interesting 1- or 2-ofs like Prototype Portal and Trading Post. And yeah, it's not a mistake: the deck really has 69 cards. SIXTY-NINE! I don't know how it can work so well with those odds, but apparently it does.  


 And it goes without saying that any Ogre deck ending in the money, although in a Pure Tribal event, is going to make the news. The big guys have dueyutah to thank for that.


 And that's it.


 Also known as: how much do the top decks cost? As of August 2, 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, pk23's Shamans: $130.23 (nonland cards: $27.82; tribal base: $24.26)
  • 2nd place, justcanceled's Spirits: $263.35 (nonland cards: $100.57; tribal base: $2.50)

 The fact that pk23 comes from Modern shows especially in his mana base being entirely non-Legacy, which nicely keeps the overall price low (who needs those horribly inflated Bayous to win events anyway, right?). Deathrite Shaman is still the one Shaman that stands out price-wise, of course. The micro-oscillations in that graph look like the heart monitor of someone having a seizure. It must be said, justcanceled's deck is equally Modern-oriented, though, and although a few cards make it pricier (mostly Cryptic Command, the renewed interest in Celestial Colonnade, and wow, is Scalding Tarn really currently close to 20 tix?!), we saw Spirit decks way more expensive than this, due to the apparitions of a certain saint.



 Welcome back to Show and Tell! This week we saw pk23 win with Shamans. Shamans have been one of the year's breakout hits, and pk23 has been one of the year's breakout players, so it's fitting that they'd get their 5th victory in his hands, joining the Big Shots and following in the recent footsteps of Vampires as they lose eligibility for Pure Tribal.

 I've discussed the strength of Shamans on several occasions this year. They are the perfect combination of versatility and power, and pk23's winning deck shows them off quite well. So let's get straight to the replays!

 In this first game, pk23 is up against slug360's B/W Clerics. After grinding his way through the midgame, pk23 finishes decisively.

 In the finals, pk23 faced up against justcanceled with his Spirit Prison deck. In game 1, pk23's onslaught is just too fierce and he overwhelms the Spirits.

 In game 2, the Spirits fight back, with a pair of Drogskol Captains ruling the skies.

 In the decisive game 3, justcanceled is able to hold off the assault with a Ghostly Prison, and drops down a pillow fortress constructed of Zuberas. But pk23 pulls it out with the help of an unlikely hero: Gruul Charm! Yeah, check the link, I already forgot what it did too, as I only drafted Boros for 3 months straight like everybody else. Who would have thought a Constructed matchup would wind up decided by a Falter effect? In a creature-based format, it does make for a cute singleton, so long as your opponent isn't expecting it.

 Congratulations to pk23! And bon voyage to the Shamans, banished forevermore to the Land of Wind and Ghosts... err, I mean Regular Tribal, whose denizens seem more like the true Endangered tribes these days.

     In the meantime, 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 almost 7 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! Be sure to check out my new ongoing series, Eternal Warrior, right here on PureMTGO.com!

     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 (by winning one event). What follows is the continuation of our debate about the best way to go there. The previous episodes can be found here.

     KUMA: Okay, debriefing on the second test of my "Recurring Swarm" deck. It didn't do that well, although the ending score of 1-2 sounds somehow harsher than reality, like sometimes they do. I had a good matchup vs. SekKuar Deathkeeper's Specter deck, where the Specters kept helping me discarding my Hornet Queens, an average matchup against fliebana's Allies, with the deck performing well enough, but losing to one explosive progression, then stopping the Allies with encouraging confidence two times in a row, only for game 3 to be decided by an unlikely sequence of direct damage spells that did something like 15 damage to my face before I could go lethal, something that the deck doesn't do very fast: the Hornets are able to take over the board in the end, but their clock is slow if not helped by Oran-Rief. The third round was a combination of a terrible matchup with an opponent, undeadgod with his full-powered Construct 12-post, that had one amazing, unopposable start in game 1 (although, to be honest, I could have killed a crucial, early Metalworker with my Abrupt Decay had my deck not given me 1 colored-producing land and 2 colorless-producing ones, something that severely needs fixing, so at least we learned that.) Then I won game 2 after sweeping away an early Myr Battlesphere, but only because undeadgod only drew into lands or land fetchers after that; in game 3 the superiority of his ramp made itself known again.



     KUMA: In the end, I came out of this with the knowledge that the deck COULD find 3 positive matchups in a row and take them home, with some luck, maybe a better pilot and a few tweaks (after all, it got close to beat two very powerful decks, arguably the most powerful explosive linear aggro and the most powerful ramp in the meta.) I know for sure that all the lands that give colorless need to go, not because they're bound to be in the way every time, but because they MIGHT, and they don't offer enough advantage to be worth the risk, especially considering the other changes we'll end up making. Blister Beetle, for instance, just outright doesn't work in the meta: it showed up constantly yet never killed anything at all, if not in one case where I managed to recur it twice in a row, but that was just win-more. Right before the event I also took out the surviving Tortured Existence copy for a Jet Medallion, a change that I stand for even if I didn't see the Medallion in any but one game. Casting Recurring Nightmare for 2 means a lot, as you can do it twice per turn with just 4 lands on the board. (Maelstrom Pulse and Damnation for 1 mana less are also great news.) I'm kinda thinking of upping the quota here. The Medallions are severely underplayed.

     KUMA: Before proceeding to work a new list for future tries (and then confirming the Rock build for this week's Underdog), I want to do something that I felt we should have done before: a quick but complete review of all the existing Insects. Just to know we're not missing out something. The Insect online are 122 (watch out for 2 Gatherer's fake results: Insectile Aberration, and some random Hornet token); we miss these 5: Emerald Dragonfly (Legends); Thelonite Monk (Fallen Empires); Flow of Maggots (Ice Age); Yavimaya Gnats (Ice Age); Endless Cockroaches (Portal). Surprisingly, there's decent stuff among these, but they all seem to have another fellow Insect that does a similar thing. Of the available ones, we already more or less extensively covered 13 in previous installments: Scute Mob, Necropede, Skylasher, Broodhatch Nantuko, Blister Beetle, Acridian, Nantuko Elder, Xira Arien, Deadbridge Goliath, Bane of the Living, Vorapede, Ant Queen, Hornet Queen.




    From top to bottom: the junior varsity team, the senior team (complete with homecoming queens), the outsiders.

     KUMA: Let's now briefly see what the other 109 are, divided by color groups, and how much useful they can be in general, so that we (as well as whoever might be interested in playing Insects) will be able to refer to this list for future building purposes.

     THE ROBO-INSECTS: 14 (+Necropede)


     KUMA: Arcbound Stinger is for artifact decks only. Brass Gnat makes way less sense than its humanoid counterpart; in fact, I don't even get why a 1/1 flyer for 1 needs to come with that downside at all. It looks more like just a modern nod to a past mechanic, which is the same that goes for Clockwork Beetle: again, pretty useless. Clockwork Swarm, which IS the past mechanic, at least is a 4/3 for 4, but beyond all that text there's still nothing useful. Ferropede looks like some combo piece, and not a fast one at that.

     REX:  I agree this lot isn't that great. I do, however, think it's worth noting at the outset how many low-cost artifact creatures there are in the tribe. I've often lamented that it's difficult to build an artifact tribal deck outside of a few select tribes, and when I was building Tezzeret Birds I took note of all these Robot Insects. Very few of them, alas, give much incentive to play that deck. If only Signal Pest was an Insect, maybe all these cheap guys could be jammed into a deck with Cranial Plating and we'd have something. 


     KUMA: Gust-Skimmer is Limited filler (although, there's not too many 2-drop, 2-powered flyers in this tribe). Hex Parasite is a great creature, but you need something for it to exploit, unless you just want a planeswalker killer. It's as cheap as it gets, might be worth remembering. Similarly, Jhoira's Timebug is for time counter shenanigans. We'll find a couple suspend Insects later, but it's still not the right tribe, unless we come up with a killer combo within the support cards. Jhoira's Toolbox, despite being named after Jhoira as well (long before she was featured in the game), has nothing to do with her signature mechanic, and it's just a generic, if not terrible, artifact regenerator. A colorless Insect deck is possible, I guess, albeit not very alluring. Mantis Engine is a poor man's Morphling-like guy.

     REX: Jhoira's Toolbox is not half-bad in the Pure Tribal environment, where regeneration is more useful. The problem is finding something in that Insect artifact deck actually worth regenerating. None of the rest of these are drawing me in that direction yet.


     KUMA: Needlebug has some pizzazz, but it's mightily situational and awfully overpriced. Pestilent Souleater is just crap. Rust Tick is a very restricted tapper. And Spinal Parasite might be the worst sunburst card in the game.

     REX:  All these counter-removing Insects seem like, at best, an invitation to build some awful, slow, underpowered combo deck by way overcommitting to a theme.  It's the kind of deck I've thankfully learned to dodge. But, again, it's worth noting every sub-theme in the tribe to see what tools are available.

    THE NON-GOLGARI INSECTS: 20 (+Xira Arien)


     KUMA: Army Ants is quite famous and interesting: Dust Bowl on a stick. Fragile but also way cheaper to activate. Can't tell which Insect build should use it, though. Barbed Shocker is weird, in that it requires quite the effort to Tolarian Winds the opponent. It may disrupt combos, though.  Beetleform Mage is noteworthy only for being a Human Insect Wizard. Cavern Crawler has a very obsolete set of abilities. Clickslither is bad even in a Goblin deck, which is where it only wants to be.

     REX: You mean you don't want to cast Conspiracy naming Goblins, make a bunch of tokens, drop Clickslither and swing for a billion? Ok, neither do I. Army Ants is interesting, though. It's in good land destruction colors, and combos nicely with Crucible of Worlds, but that deck really needs a set of Wasteland to be worth it. You'd need more than just the Ants to make Crucible worth it, plus the Crucible wants you to be using fetchlands to replay while the Ants want you to hit endless land drops, so the deck's mana base is in a bit of a conflict there. Life from the Loam would be saucy as well, but once again that deck really wants Wastelands and a host of fetches as its mana base or else you get too little value. If you can make the land destruction work, all you need is a nice finisher that can't be cheaply dealt with, and Insects do have a few of those.


     KUMA: Duct Crawler is unwatchable. Fire Ants seems good, though. It's not fast but I think it deserves to be marked down, since it keeps doing Earthquake for 1 and survives. Firefly is the typically overpriced red firebreather, and an Insect deck will never be that much committed to red anyway. Flameborn Viron is just vanilla filler. Giant Ambush Beetle is a bit too mana-intensive to be effective: by the time it hits the table, chances are it won't be really able to turn its ETB effect into actual removal.

     REX: If you didn't like Blister Beetle in this meta, I don't think you'll like Fire Ants much better. If there aren't a bunch of X/1s running around, you'll need to work a bit to make it effective, but maybe that ends up being worth it. You could run something to give it deathtouch. You can use the Fire Ants during combat to make your opponent's attacks trickier, but on-board tricks aren't all that impressive to me, so I think you need to build around this a bit if you want to run it.

     KUMA: Just to explain the difference to me: Blister Beetle is one-shot, and in the Recurring Nightmare build, you need to play stuff fast to both have sacrificial fuel or just stop the opponent's early attacks. If you happen to only have Blister Beetle available, it has to go and play, can't wait for a better occasion to exploit its ETB trigger, and most of the time that won't be the right occasion. But in a different build, a repeated effect like Fire Ants? Yes, please. It's never too late to kill that Quirion Ranger. And you don't even need X/1s to exploit it. You use it to kill two Goblin Guides after chump blocking them with two tokens, and such. In fact, I would have liked it better as a 1/2. You rarely want to attack with it, anyway.


     KUMA: Goldenglow Moth is sort of 4+ life for 1 mana (depending on what it blocks), might be worth recurring and it's more powerful than it seems with Swarmyard. However, splashing white hasn't been on the table so far. Invader Parasite might see games where it does a lot, but in general it's clunky, unless you have a major blinking theme in the deck. Lithophage is one of the biggest Insects, but also close to outright unplayable. Monstrous Carabid is used in Living End decks; I can't see the purpose of it elsewhere. Moonwing Moth is the second of only three white Insects (isn't it strange that they never did butterflies?), and it's even worse than the red firebreather from earlier.

     REX: Invader Parasite can double as a narrower Ankh of Mishra in the Parallax Tide combo. Ok we don't want to do that either. Lithophage joins Army Ants in putting lands in our graveyard. All the creatures that care about lands in our graveyard are out of tribe, so that's likely a dead end.


     KUMA: Now, Plated Geopede is undeniably a good creature. I think it should be considered in any Insect build featuring red. It engages the opponent early on, and it's a good blocker if adequately supported. Robber Fly is one of the two older cards Barbed Shocker took inspiration from, and it's just as weird and bad. Shocker is the other, and it's way, way worse. Sludge Strider is the third and final white Insect and the second blue Insect, but it's just a Hill Giant with an over-complicated artifact-based ability. Woodlot Crawler is the third and final blue Insect. It's a green-hating bear. You can't say bad things about it. You can't say very good things, either.

     REX: That makes three Insects that Winds of Change your opponent's hand. Rex checks to see if Psychosis Crawler is an Insect... drat! Um... you could wreck your opponent pretty hard with Chains of Mephistopheles, and you might be able to set that up fast enough to matter. Again, just taking note of any tribal subtheme with sufficient redundancy to make the germ of a deck idea. Plated Geopede is quite good in an aggressive deck, and not a terrible blocker on account of the first strike, though that's a really suboptimal use for him. We'll have to see if there's enough support for a real aggro deck in the rest of the bunch, but there really isn't in red alone, so I suspect that Geopede would wind up in Jund aggro. When I suggest that such a deck needs 8-10 fetchlands you'll have to concede the point this time! :-)

     KUMA: That deck is surely the epitome of the 10-fetchland deck. :) Jund aggro sounds sexy enough, too.

    THE GOLGARI INSECTS: 75 (+11 already covered)


     KUMA: Golgari is the real Insect domain. After all, forests and swamps just make you think of insects, no? Stuff with names like Bayou Dragonfly, which is actually a decent green flyer, if clearly nothing to write home about. Bond Beetle is fast but unremarkable, even in a deck that can recur things. Brain Weevil is just bad: it wants to make you think that you can do some damage with it, then turn it into a Mind Rot, but by the time you accomplished all of this, the opponent might well have already won. Brood of Cockroaches, well... I dismissed it in relation to Recurring Nightmare in a past installment. But I kinda changed my mind. It's sorta clunky, but it does assure fuel for the sacrifice, which is important. Many times you end up with one or more Recurring Nightmare around, and nothing to activate it with. 2 mana (which become 1 with a Jet Medallion) is little effort enough. The good ol' Carrion Ants is just a black firebreather, but at least it doesn't need red mana. Or any colored mana, for that matter.

     REX:  I don't have your experience with Recurring Nightmare, but I certainly thought Brood of Cockroaches looked at home there, and it seems you're entertaining that idea now as well.

     KUMA: Yeah, I was thinking of the "switching one creature for another while getting repeated value" part. In short, I was thinking tactically, not strategically. Plus, to be honest, my usual, more effective Recurring Nightmare builds have stuff like Bloodghast to solve the problem of having sacrifice fuel always at hand.

     REX: Nothing else in this lot is all that impressive. Carrion Ants was once a money card, amazingly. It used to be worth over $20 in the United States, though probably not over there in Italy where the Legends print run was larger. If it only cost BB to cast, you might get me interested as it would be a more flexible version of a formerly tournament-playable Insect that I assume is coming up for discussion in a bit. But as it is, too overcosted.


     KUMA: Carrion Beetles is a slow and expensive graveyard hate. Good thing the tribe has one, bad thing is this one. Caustic Crawler is just too slow to be worth the trouble. Caustic Wasps would be nicer if it could target enchantments, too. Unfortunately, it's not Trygon Predator. Still, it's averagely powerful against the right deck, if a bit on the frail side. Coiling Woodworm is a bad take on the "Forests matter" creatures. Deadly Grub is a clunky, unreliable way to put on the battlefield the creature that we'll see next, which isn't even that good in itself.

     REX: Caustic Wasps could be an actual Trygon Predator and it still wouldn't be that great in Tribal. Actually, we probably see more artifacts than enchantments in the event, due to the widespread use of Swords. It might be good enough to make the cut depending on the deck. Nothing else here I like at all.


     KUMA: Deadly Insect, here it is: even back at the time of Alliances a 6/1 shroud was bound to be blocked and killed easily enough. Nowadays, it's not even a question. Devouring Swarm and Dross Hopper are both sacrifice outlets with no activation cost. The former is better, but still less than interesting. Drudge Beetle is a Grizzly Bears with an impossibly pricy scavenging cost. Fog of Gnats is the Insects' Will-o'-the-Wisp. For 1 mana more, which makes a great deal of a difference, especially because it's another black, which makes 3 of them needed open in order to be able to regenerate it right away. It's still a good early blocker, though.

       REX: Deadly Insect was sometimes okay against those creatureless control decks of yore, though you'd usually play Autumn Willow instead.  In Tribal Wars, of course, it's pretty weak for the exact reason you stated. Even if something like this had haste and trample as well and only cost 4 mana, I doubt it would make the cut. The free sac outlets are worth noting in the "supported subthemes" file.


       KUMA: Giant Caterpillar is all flavor, no substance. Giant Cockroach is nothing at all. Giant Dustwasp, well, isn't that bad in a midrange deck. Or maybe it is, suspend 4 is a lot, and the following copies are going to be either a bad 3/3 for 5 or coming one week too late. There's the combo with Jhoira's Timebug from before, but.... heh. Giant Mantis is the Insects' Giant Spider. 'nuff said. Giant Solifuge is the Insects', I don't know, bad Ball Lightning?

         REX: Despite my prior jest, I have played Giant Solifuge in RAV Block Constructed Zoo. It really is basically just a bad Ball Lightning, you hit that one on the head. If the aggro Insect deck materializes somehow, it could be a curve-topper. None of the rest are worth attention.


         KUMA: Gigapede is Deadly Insect with a twist: it also works as a discard outlet. Okay, a bad discard outlet. Golgari Longlegs and Goliath Beetle are both Limited fodder. Grave-Shell Scarab is a dredge card, but it works well enough in non-dredge decks, given the drawing ability. It also fuels sacrificial recursions, but it's way too slow to be efficient in that regard. Hawkeater Moth really overestimates the cost of shroud.

           REX: These sacrifice and discard outlets tell me maybe there's a dredge deck here. Probably not the all-in sort of dredge deck, but one that just gets really good value out of its graveyard. Not sure if Gigapede is super awesome there, but it's probably playable.


           KUMA: I remember Heartstabber Mosquito being a high pick in ZEN drafts. And not anywhere else. Ironshell Beetle is a slightly better Grizzly Bears, but Insects have better options as a chump-blocking 2-drop, even if the ETB effect kinda combos with Recurring Nightmare. Jagwasp Swarm is yet another Limited-only creature. Killer Bees is possibly the best firebreather in the tribe. There are games where you may just win out of a couple attacks with fully pumped Bees. But they entirely lack defensive power. For Kraul Warrior I should say the same that I did for Ironshell Beetle, but I just refuse to given any consideration to that ability.

             REX: Hell yeah, Killer Bees! Like Carrion Ants, also once-expensive on account of the fact that only three boxes of Legends were sold in the entire United States and they were all purchased by Brian Weissman's mom so he could wreck everybody with the two existing copies of Moat. To support the Bees the deck would have to be heavy green, so that's limiting us quite a bit. There's less instant speed removal in Pure Tribal, so not as much chance you get blown out when you pump it. I guess it's a midrange-aggro candidate? Put that in the "maybe file", by which I mean the "probably not but it would be super-awesome to play with Killer Bees" file.

             KUMA: It sure would!


             KUMA: Locust Swarm is, yet again, an old-fashioned, overpriced card (and a terrible flavor fail: how is that a frightening, Biblical plague translates into a weak, defensive creature?). Marker Beetles is from the same mold as Yavimaya Elder, but the value of its sacrifice is definitely lower. Mind Maggots is theoretically a discard outlet that gives birth to a fattie. But I'm going to guess that reality will turn out a bit different, and it's more often than not just a terrible, terrible topdeck. Mortician Beetle works in conjunction with sacrifice outlets, which we have several of in Insects, but they don't seem to be able to coalesce into a single thematic deck that's worth the presence of this card. Mortipede is possibly the clunkiest Lure creature ever printed.

               REX: Diabolic Edict is actually a pretty good removal in Pure Tribal, and we know Liliana rocks. There are slightly fewer weenie decks in Pure it seems, so sacrifice effects are better in general. So Mortician Beetle is potentially the best 1-drop available, and in a disruptive/aggro deck it will grow as you clear the path with sacrifice effects. The ability to get synergy with your own sacrifices is just gravy.


               KUMA: Here comes the Nantukos, the humanoid Insects from the Odyssey block. Nantuko Blightcutter and Nantuko Calmer both use that block's threshold mechanic, the former being a black hoser, the latter an enchantment hater, none of them particularly efficient. Nantuko Cultivator has certainly combo decks to be built around, but it seems something hard to do within the Insect tribe (but you never know, feel free to suggest one). Nantuko Disciple is nothing good. Nantuko Husk is the granddad of all the sac outlet Vampires we've got lately.

                 REX: We have a number of ways to put lands in our graveyard, but so far little to do with that. I previously suggested Life from the Loam, so maybe Seismic Assault? If we could go straight Gruul, that might be supportable. I am starting to see the shell of a red-green midrange deck built around Assault/Loam, I think it's potentially worth sketching out a deck list. Not enthralled with the rest of this bunch, though I kind of like the idea of one copy of Nantuko Blightcutter to just randomly wreck some black deck, and by "some black deck" I mean whatever mihahitlor is playing. Except, the one game you cast it, he'd probably have an edict effect, because he's mihahitlor.

                 KUMA: It's also worth noting that Assault/Loam hasn't been seen around these parts in a long, long time. It's very gimmicky to resurrect it with Insect, of all tribes, but that might be the interesting part of resurrecting that combo at all. Of course AJ will say that we're winning games thanks to something that has nothing to do with Insects.


                 KUMA: Nantuko Mentor is a third-party Chameleon Colossus. Not sure how playable it might be as a tap ability on a 1/1. Nantuko Shade is the best pumpable Shade ever printed. Nantuko Shaman, the Time Spiral homage to the sub-tribe, is another suspend creature too slow to be seriously considered out of Commander. Nantuko Tracer is a graveyard recycler, which isn't something very crucial most of the times. Nantuko Vigilante is the tribe's artifact/enchantment hater of choice. It's Acidic Slime mana, although not necessarily in the same turn, and the resulting body is 3-powered. It's generic good stuff answer, but neither too fast nor too incisive.

                   REX: For a second I was starting to consider Nantuko Tracer for the pure aggro deck, which is enough to tell me that deck sure isn't panning out thus far. Nantuko Shade is probably worse than the Killer Bees, since it lacks evasion, but has the obvious upside of working with that whole Cabal Coffers/Urborg soft combo for some insane mana. Coffers is actually what made Nantuko Shade good, back in the day. I'm not a Coffers aficionado, I would need you or AJ to suggest the mana base when or if we got to that point, which we likely won't because I don't think I'm seeing a Coffers deck out of these Insects so far.

                   KUMA: I like Coffers/Urborg, but I don't play it much in a very committed way. I typically limited myself to 2 Coffers and 2 Urborgs as a reinforcement plan, not the main ramp (in black Avatars reanimator, if the reanimating plan fails, for instance; or Heartless Summoning Demons.) AJ would play 4 and 4, of course. Do you really need to ask? :) (Urborg is one of the cards that got better after the M14 rule kicked in, by the way.)


                   KUMA: Nullmage Advocate is definitely not the best way to kill artifacts and enchantments. Perilous Shadow is a new take on Nantuko Shade that ends far behind the original. Phantom Nantuko is the Insect member of the phantom cycle, and it's not bad at all. It starts as a Gray Ogre, but it has trample and can grow back (or outright grow) its counters. The stopping power of the phantom mechanic is nothing to sneeze at. Phyrexian Battleflies is a useless, restricted firebreather. Phyrexian Swarmlord is a powerful infect creature (and token generator), but it's probably going to be passed over by other 6-drops in a deck that's not devoted to infect strategies.

                     REX: Phantom Nantuko would almost certainly make the cut in the Blasphemous Act deck, since it survives damage-based sweepers. There are enough poison-based Insects that you can't rule out Swarmlord quite yet.


                     KUMA: Pincher Beetles is the junior version of Deadly Insect, and still not good. Plague Beetle is your typical, forgettable 1-drop swampwalker. Plague Fiend is a bad deathtoucher. Plague Stinger is a basic infect flyer. Rust Scarab is a barely decent body for its cost, with a clunky anti-artifact/enchantment ability.

                       REX: Plague Stinger would be the centerpiece of the poison deck if that materializes. Nothing else here that I like.


                       KUMA: Saber Ants is the improved version of Broodhatch Nantuko. Both should be the base for a combo with Blasphemous Act. Scavenging Scarab is crap. Stag Beetle should work after the abovementioned Blasphemous Act combo, but it's just bad even in that case. Swamp Mosquito is a proto-poisoner, entirely obsolete by now. Symbiotic Beast might have some use in a Recurring Nightmare deck, but at 1 mana less than Hornet Queen it's just outclassed.

                         REX: I agree with all these assessments, especially concerning the aforementioned Blasphemous Act combo deck. Swamp Mosquito could make it into a poison deck, but it doesn't work with power-pumpers, which is what you usually think of with poison decks.


                         KUMA: Tangle Mantis is Limited filler. Thornscape Familiar is good, but unfortunately it helps 2 colors that aren't going to be featured much in an Insect deck. Twigwalker is meaningless. Unyaro Bees is more or less strictly better than Killer Bees, at least in a monogreen deck. Venomous Dragonfly is one too many flyer (with bad deathtouch) that cost too much. Although, it must be said that Insect might be the green tribe with more flyers. None of them very good. Amazing.

                           REX: Unyaro Bees plus Killer Bees, GO BEES!  Why isn't there a Cabal Coffers for Bees? Or more accurately, why is there a kind of Cabal Coffers for Bees but it's a 60 ticket legendary land I don't own?

                           KUMA: C'mon, it's barely 50 tix. :)


                           KUMA: Vexing Beetle is a strange uncounterable creature that might be a 6/6 for 5. Of course, not that's going to really happen in Tribal Wars. And a 6/6 vanilla for 5 is still bad, anyway. Wirewood Symbiote is great. In Elf decks. Xantid Swarm is something I used to play against countermagic. It's effective enough and loves Rancor. Yavimaya Ants is another green Ball Lightning. They kinda stopped doing those. And Zanikev Locust is a severely overpriced flying scavenger.

                               REX: Yavimaya Ants could sneak into the aggro deck, but we still haven't found enough low drops to make that happen.


                               KUMA: I purposely left these 5 for last, because they are the Insects with the bigger bodies, along with Hornet Queen (if you count the cumulative bodies she puts onto the battlefield). Why so? Well, becase I had an idea. What if we did a true reanimator build with Insects? You know, an Entomb/Exhume kind of deck, with big dudes only. These guys are decent targets and might still play into a secondary Recurring Nightmare plan, since Giant Adephage creates token copies of itself and Living Hive creates an insane amount of tokens. Admittedly, Gleancrawler, which is in general a good creature, doesn't play too well here, since you don't want to get any of these creatures back in your hand at any moment. And Thriss, Nantuko Primus is just stupid. But their places can be taken by Hornet Queen, which is still the best creature of the lot, and Vorapede, which has a death insurance and is sacrifice-happy. And speaking of insurance, we have Moldgraf Monstrosity as a late reanimation target: they kill it (especially in a world where white exilers are forbidden), it brings back two other monsters. Plus, they're all tramplers or flyers. The resulting decklist might be something like this:


                               KUMA: Clearly it's not like reanimating Iona or Inkwell Leviathan (or even Shivan Dragon, probably), and it sure is not an original build, but it might be worth a shot just because we'd use Insects. And I was seeking an excuse to play with Moldgraf Monstrosity since when it came out.

                               REX: I don't know, you don't want to go to all that work to reanimate something then lose it to spot removal, which is why the popular reanimation targets are what they are. Hornet Queen brings enough buddies that you don't care, but all these get your work spoiled by Doom Blade even in Pure Tribal. Moldgraf Monstrosity is the most promising target, since the absence of white-exilers in Pure means the death trigger will usually happen.

                               KUMA: I think that's enough food for thoughts for today. Let's just confirm the decklist for the Insect Rock build we're going to try out tomorrow. Is it still this one for you? With red and Xira Arien?

                               REX: Unfortunately I may not be able to play once again this weekend. But even if I can't play the event, I will see about doing some practice matches with my proposed Insect Rock deck from last month (with Xira and all) and record those so we can include that next week.

                               KUMA: All right, then. Tribal Apocalypsers, if you see Rex online, you know which tribal deck you're going to challenge! He might even be playing with some bees by that time! Bzzz!




     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 started again, for its 6th edition: 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.

     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):

    • 3.30 (Week 135 BE), on August 3: Tribal Underdog (only Underdog Tribes allowed)
    • 3.31 (Week 136 BE), on August 10: Regular Tribal (just plain old Legacy Tribal Wars)
    • 3.32 (Week 137 BE), on August 17: Tribal Singleton (only 1 copy of each nonbasic land)
    • 3.33 (Week 138 BE), on August 24: Duel Week: Man vs. Machine

    Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2013!

    Take the Quick Survey about the ban list and the event rotation!

     See you all in the Tribal room!


The coffers/urborg numbers by AJ_Impy at Fri, 08/02/2013 - 11:54
AJ_Impy's picture

The coffers/urborg numbers depend entirely on the deck, its curve and your ramp. If you're going heavy coffers, be sure to pack a set of wayfarer's baubles to prevent being stuck on two swamp, one coffers. I usually just field the one Urborg as it's a nice bonus rather than an essential.

These videos are really good. by TennieCamp at Sat, 08/03/2013 - 19:32
TennieCamp's picture

These videos are really good. I like the idea on this. Keep it up. - YOR Health