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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 08 2013 1:00pm
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE of which Dorothy would be proud.

   Table of Contents 

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



 The first win for Scarecrow in almost 150 events (and against the Tin Men, no less!) provides me an occasion to talk again about the ban/watch list, because the Scarecrows used an old, dirty trick to get there: the notorious Grindstone/Painter's Servant combo. Now, the Watch List has been discontinued, since in my opinion it fulfilled its purpose (to prove that, essentially, none of those cards had any impact on the meta in the long run), but that combo is so noticeable that I can tell you with some certainty how many times it showed up: exactly 4 times, included this last one, over 72 events since when it's been allowed to be played. And of those 4 times, this is the first it went undefeated. In fact, in two of the other occasions it even ended with a negative score. I agree that it's an annoying combo, because it's fast, easy to assemble, and the kind of "Oh look, I won" situation that always feels frustrating to the opponent, because they're denied playing a game of Magic at all. On top of that, it's not even a combo that requires any real skill, while you can make an argument for storm or even dredge to being more dependent on the pilot not messing up. It's nearly impossible to mess up Painter/Grindstone: you just have to drop the Painter, choose a random color, then drop the Grindstone and/or click on it, and it's done. As we saw from the historical result of these 4 appearances, it doesn't guarantee a win, since the opponent just needs to be able to instant kill a toughness-3 creature, but it's surely a powerful bullet to have in your arsenal, often more powerful than any shield the opponent will have.

 But you know what? It's also boring to play with too frequently. Once you have it, you can't help but devote resource to help it, so your deck becomes a Grindstone deck, and you'll win most of your games that way. Plus, you know you'll annoy your opponent and get bad reactions out of playing it. In fact, no player brought it to an event twice, and Bazaar of Baghdad, who piloted it to victory now, is on records saying that he just wanted to take Scarecrow out of the Unhallowed List, and already "retired" the combo. And it's even quite appropriate that the combo gave Scarecrow their win, because they sort of "own" it, no?

 Bottom line, and once again, these aren't the cards that we should worry about. Which brings me to... well, remember the Quick Survey? (Click and take it if you didn't!). I was specifically asking about two powerful cards that were becoming too ubiquitous, which is my main criterion to put a card on the "bannable" list. Those cards were Cephalid Illusionist and Punishing Fire.


 And guess what, since then we didn't see much of those. The Illusionist (with his self-milling combo) was mostly played by a couple of players who aren't showing up too often these days, if at all. And Punishing Fire, along with its partner in crime Grove of the Burnwillows, does still show up, but not in such an overwhelming fashion as it used to. So time heals everything, apparently. (For the records, 29% of the answers hated on the Illusionist, 14% on Punishing Fire, 24% on both.)

The other thing the Survey inquired about was if Tribal Singleton is beloved enough to still maintain its place on the fixed event rotation next year. And the results in this regard are... I can't tell. More or less half the answers indicate Singleton as their most beloved format, while another half deems it the least liked. I once thought of doing an epic showdown between Singleton Lovers and Singleton Haters to determine the fate of the format come 2014 (there are illustrious representatives on both sides). But I still have to make up my mind on that. In the meantime, I just happened to replace the last Singleton event of the year, on November 16, because it occurred to me that that was the 150th Tribal Apocalypse Event of the Blippian Era. It should be celebrated somehow. So I came up with yet another, one-shot special format. I give you: Legacy Tribal Wars: Origins!


What is that, you may ask. It's just an event where the only allowed tribes are the ones who were already present right when everything began, in Alpha Edition. I call them the Original Tribes. I talked about them, and listed them, in one of these articles, almost one year ago, when I foreshadowed that one day there would have been a special event about them (and I also said that Cockatrice would never see another member. Silly me.) They're 64, but we'll ban the Big Shots ones, for obvious reasons. Not the T9 cards, though. Start brewing!


  • Event Number: 3.43, Week 148 BE
  • Date: November 2
  • Attendance: 18
  • Rounds: 3
  • Special Rules: Tribal Underdog (only Underdog Tribes allowed)
  • Winner: Bazaar of Baghdad Scarecrow
  • Other undefeated: Kingritz (Myr)
  • 1 Loss: justcanceled (Bringer), _Kumagoro_ (Sphinx), AJ_Impy (Octopus), Heureka (Weird), Gq1rf7 (Kavu), milegyenanevem (Ninja), Robin88 (Weird)
  • Special Prizes: True Underdog Prize and New Kids on the Block Award to AJ_Impy (Octopus); Up-and-Coming Prize to Bazaar of Baghdad Scarecrow
  • Tribes: Bat, Bringer, Chimera (x2), Hound, Kavu, Kobold, Myr, Ninja, Octopus, Ooze, Rat, Scarecrow, Sphinx (x2), Vedalken, Weird (x2)
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 So, here's Bazaar of Baghdad's highly successful Scarecrows. Bazaar was so kind to record a deck tech and comment his games, so go listen to his beautiful voice explaining how everything works in his build. I just want to say that I'm pretty sure the reason this deck was able to win 4 matches in a row is because it packs some solid B-plans on top of the nasty combo.

by Bazaar of Baghdad - 1st place and Up-and-Coming Prize
4 Grim Poppet
4 Painter's Servant
4 Scarecrone
4 Scuttlemutt
4 Wicker Warcrawler
2 Platinum Angel
22 cards

Other Spells
4 Enlightened Tutor
4 Expedition Map
4 Grindstone
2 All Is Dust
2 Lightning Greaves
16 cards
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Cloudpost
4 Glimmerpost
4 Vesuva
2 Plains
1 Arid Mesa
1 Buried Ruin
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Marsh Flats
22 cards



 The other finalist was a new player, Kingritz. Interestingly, with an artifact deck using a Cloudpost base as well. You can watch his little Myrs doing awesome stuff with Genesis Wave and Intruder Alarm in the replays he sent us. Enjoy!


 Most intriguing card of the build: Drift of Phantasms used to tutor important stuff up via transmute: both the Galvanizer and the Alarm are in Phantasms range.

 AJ_Impy did again what AJ_Impy does best: play with some obscure tribe to win a challenge. This time, it was newly legal tribe Octopus. In his own words: "I did what Bazaar of Baghdad did, basically. Find something just broken enough to get the necessary edge. In his case Painter/Stone, in mine Vedalken Shackles. But hey, what's an Octopus deck that doesn't grab things?"

by AJ_Impy - Top 8, True Underdog Prize and New Kids on the Block Award
4 Giant Octopus
4 Lorthos, the Tidemaker
4 Sealock Monster
4 Amoeboid Changeling
4 Turtleshell Changeling
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Encrust
4 Spreading Seas
4 Vedalken Shackles
4 Volition Reins
16 cards
20 Island
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
24 cards

Lorthos, the Tidemaker


 This is a list that really says, "I don't like Singleton!" :P 

 Finally, I want to feature my beloved Living Death-based Sphinx deck, that ended in a top position once again (it almost ever did every time I played it, this time even with a sub-par land base due to collection rebuilding).


 This gives me the chance to officially announce that the Dragon Week, the first ever Theme Week here on PureMTGO, will soon have a follow-up, and it will be... that's right, Sphinx Week! Starting from November 25 and for a full week, we'll get articles about these awesome flying enigmas, covering their casual and competitive applications in different formats, their flavor, their complete tribal evaluation, and whatnot. To all the writers out there: if you have a nice idea for a Sphinx-themed article, just let me or Joshua know!



 Also known as: how much do the top decks cost? As of November 8, 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, Bazaar of Baghdad's Scarecrows: $231.59 (nonland cards: $160.98; tribal base: $21.00)
  • 2nd place, Kingritz's Myrs: $109.97 (nonland cards: $9.09; tribal base: $0.85)

 So, the Scarecrow build wasn't impossibly pricey, but not cheap, either. First of all, the PainterStone combo involves playsets of a 12-tix card (Grindstone itself) and a 3-tix card (Painter's Servant), for both of which you won't find a use pretty much anywhere else. But in order to guarantee some consistency, you need to be able to dig for the combo, so here it comes a playset of Enlightened Tutor, and that's a big fat 17/18-tix card (depending on which version you take). There's also another Scarecrow that doesn't come cheap, Scarecrone, but that's fair, because Scarecrone is amazing in many decks and should be played more.

 The Myrs had a semi-money build, too, but mostly due to the land base, as it happens. Intruder Alarm is the only nonland card that costs more than half a tix, at $1.56. If you're curious, the entire 12-post base (Cloudpost, Glimmerpost, Vesuva) amounts to little less than 13 tix, mainly due to Vesuva.

 The Top 10 Cheapest Decks that Went Undefeated

  1. morpphling's Goblins, $2.35, 2nd place on Event 102
  2. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.70, 1st place on Event 145 (cheapest event winner)
  3. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $4.12, 2nd place on Event 141
  4. Gq1rf7's Assassins, $4.18, 1st place on Event 147
  5. Trickerie's Golems, $4.31, 1st place on Event 138
  6. arcbounddaylabor's Goblins, $4.46, 1st place on Event 111
  7. ellmaris's Goblins, $6.52, 2nd place on Event 103
  8. Heureka's Weirds, $6.53, 3rd place on Event 140
  9. kokonade1000's Rats, $7.55, 2nd place on Event 140
  10. mihahitlor's Goblins, $10.24, 1st place on Event 100

 NOTE: not adjusted to current prices; data collected since Event 85.



 Here's a few replays from this week. First Kingritz's Myrs battling against Heureka's Weirds (which were Top 4 in the previous Underdog Event as well)

 Then Kingritz again, with his inner Tin Man paired up against Bazaar of Baghdad's Scarecrow. And not always losing. Too bad the playoff wasn't a 3-man thing involving a Cat deck, too. A cowardly Cat deck, of course. (Also, the Myr deck should have included some kind of axe. And maybe Woodripper).

 And finally, here you can listen to Bazaar himself talking of his Scarecrow deck and commenting a few games.

 Check the complete archive of Show and Tell here.


 Just to remind you of a few things: 

 Meet a new, very special challenge from RexDart: the "Chris Has Bought an Engagement Ring Challenge"! That's right, we're going to celebrate another Magic marriage at some point! Congrats, Rex! And the challenge is of course ring-based.

  1. Build a deck that includes at least a total of 12 copies of cards from the following list: Jinxed Ring, Ring of Gix, Rings of Brighthearth, Sisay's RIng, Ring of Ma'Ruf, Ring of Renewal, Ring of Three Wishes, Aladdin's Ring, and/or no more than 5 of the rings from the M13 Ring cycle (Ring of Evos Isle, Ring of Kalonia, Ring of Thune, Ring of Valkas, Ring of Xathrid).
  2. Enter a Tribal Apocalypse event with the deck, and achieve at least two match wins, not counting byes or forfeits.

 The prize is a Darksteel Sword of Fire and Ice.
 First tiebreaker: The total number of rings in your deck. Second tiebreaker: The player whose tribe has the fewest total event wins. Final tiebreaker: randomization. 

 The Up-and-Coming Prize is now 3 tix! So go find a tribe that never won an event (the Unhallowed list) and try and be the first to break it!

 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 8th 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. Currently leading: hexalite and milegyenanevem with 4 tribes each.

 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 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 5 events (i.e. they'll have to register a different deck or decks 5 times before coming back to the undefeated one). With "deck" is meant a specific, recognizable archetype (e.g. Wall-Drazi), which in some case will be linked to a specific combo card (e.g. Helm of Obedience). A list of the current lockouts is maintained here.

 Videos: Send us 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):

  • 3.44 (Week 149 BE), on November 9: Regular Tribal (just plain old Legacy Tribal Wars)
  • 3.45 (Week 150 BE), on November 16: 150th Event Special! Tribal Origins! (play only with the Original Tribes, no Big Shots)
  • 3.46 (Week 151 BE), on November 23: Slug Special! (Tribute to BlippyTheSlug, every deck will have Slugs in it)
  • 3.47 (Week 152 BE), on November 30: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, no Big Shot Tribes nor T9 cards allowed

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!


Painter's Servant is a fun by RexDart at Fri, 11/08/2013 - 14:02
RexDart's picture

Painter's Servant is a fun card with other applications, it's kind of sad that Grindstone is so good it makes playing any other combo with him seem silly.

I agree with Kuma's remarks about Grindstone. The combo itself is readily disrupted, since all you have to do is kill Servant in response to the Grindstone activation. Much like Splinter Twin combo or Cephalid Breakfast, it's powerful but also vulnerable to being disrupted by the most common type of spell in Tribal Wars: removal. It may not be "fun" to play against, but most decks have several spells that can attempt to stop the combo. The version played in January with a playset of Force of Will I think looked even stronger than this one, though I won't fault this one for having some backup plans, and I'll wait until I can watch the videos to see if my opinion changes.

The only combo deck I continue to believe shouldn't be legal in the format is dredge, because it is the only one that people generally have no way to interact with. (I don't think Doomsday should be legal either, simply because it makes a joke out of the entire idea of tribal wars, but since NOBODY plays it, I guess it doesn't matter.)

Dredge isn't played much as by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 11/08/2013 - 17:29
Kumagoro42's picture

Dredge isn't played much as well. Only Chamale did it consistently, and mostly only to clear achievements. This year, that wasn't allowed, so I don't think dredge was played at all.

These kinds of decks are so extreme that you can maybe want to play them once, to see how they do. But in an environment like Tribal Wars, you'll get soon pushed towards something else that's more fun and diverse to play. Not to mention, the fact that the 4 sub-formats in the rotation are quite different from one another pushes even further towards a diversification of each player's range of decks.

Historically, the worst offender during these nearly 150 events has been Elfball, and only because it's tribal-based, so you feel like you're playing a legit tribal build with it, even if in the end you're just playing a creature-based storm deck. Plus, it doesn't use any novelty or expensive cards that you have to expressly acquire and that will end up sitting in your collection taking dust afterwards.

This said, I seriously hope someone will try Doomsday at some point I'm sure it will be a lone attempt, anyway, so it's just sort of a challenge now.

By the way, when evaluating the "dangerous combos" you don't have to consider only what it's needed to stop them. It's also important to look at the timing. Where the opponent would be at when the combo goes off? If it's something that goes off at, say, turn 6, that's fair regardless (you can even just outrace it). That's Dream Halls (without Show and Tell), for instance. If something consistently goes off at turn 3, instead, that's an issue, because you might have all the removal you want, but if they were on the play, you have two lands in play and maybe you're tapped out. That's what happens with Elfball a lot of the times. Elfball ALWAYS goes off at turn 3, if not disrupted. You don't have to draw into a combo, the whole deck is a combo. Disrupting it is easy enough, but once you fail, you're done. And you can't succeed every time, even if you went in fully prepared.

Dream Halls can easily go off by RexDart at Fri, 11/08/2013 - 18:45
RexDart's picture

Dream Halls can easily go off on Turn 3 unless they get one of their lands Wasted, since they play Sol Lands and the double-mana sac-lands. Those lands are not as conducive to early library manipulation cantrips (Brainstorm, Ponder) which does hold it back. Still, that's a fast combo deck, even if not as fast as Show and Tell.

Elfball wouldn't be as well-positioned in this format if people played more Pyroclasms and Firespouts instead of relying on 4-mana wrath effects so heavily.

I agree that the sub-format rotations have made most of the super-obnoxious combo decks less obnoxious by reducing their frequency, I think we've talked about that before.

The Doomsday deck would just be 4 copies of Doomsday, the 5 cards that go in your "win the game" pile, and a largely irrelevant tribe stapled onto that shell. Maybe the tribe draws cards for you to find Doomsday, or maybe you're using Labratory Maniac as a win-con and use Humans/Wizards for convenience, but it hardly matters. You could play 20 Unicorns you had no way to even cast and still win games just with Doomsday and your 5-card pile. That's why I think it has no place in Tribal, even the first time somebody plays it, the deck will just be a joke at the expense of the format. I'm no purist, I'll play offtribe creatures and offtribe win-conditions, but Doomsday is too pointless for me.

On the Doomsday point, I by AJ_Impy at Fri, 11/08/2013 - 20:28
AJ_Impy's picture

On the Doomsday point, I concur. It isn't so much a case of squeezing a combo into a tribal deck, it's making whatever tribe you choose completely blank. Hell, you could win the Unicorn challenge achievement with it because you'd never have to play a unicorn.

Kuma, only three of the by Bazaar of Baghdad at Fri, 11/08/2013 - 17:53
Bazaar of Baghdad's picture

Kuma, only three of the fifteen minutes of my deck tech video was posted here. What happened to the rest? Did it not arrive to you in one piece?

On other matters. With little feel for the format, Singleton is probably my least favorite as well. I like deckbuilding exercises and wouldn't mind a week each month dedicated to a more wacky tribal variant, of which singleton might be just one week a year, modern tribal might be another, Alpha as a third, etc.

I'd be one for expanding the tribal ban list. Maybe Grindstone, maybe Belcher, but honestly, how in the world is Enlightened Tutor in the spirit of the format? Rather, it mostly undermines it (except maybe for artifact tribes). I'd rather see a longer list myself. Another possibility is not to ban cards but win cons that are outside the spirit of the format - like don't ban either Painter or Stone, but instead ban PainterStone. People who attempt the combo get a game or match loss, and must replace the combo with lands or a tribe member for future rounds.

Not sure where the hate for by RexDart at Fri, 11/08/2013 - 18:48
RexDart's picture

Not sure where the hate for Enlightened Tutor is coming from, but the card has great potential *against* unfair combo decks. I've dabbled in using it with a toolbox of anti-combo cards such as Rest in Peace, and it still has utility in non-combo matches by being able to fetch swords. It's important that there be anti-combo cards available that aren't dead in non-combo matchups, and Enlightened Tutor toolbox packages are a great weapon in keeping the world safe for fair decks.

Against unfair combo decks? by Bazaar of Baghdad at Fri, 11/08/2013 - 19:41
Bazaar of Baghdad's picture

Against unfair combo decks? Maybe. But when your opponent is not playing one, I'm sure you'll have several other bullets that Enlightened Tutor will more regularly dig for. Out of my unofficial count, the 4 players that Rest in Peace in Tribal had the other half of the combo as well. Enlightened Tutor is against the spirit of the format which should be enhancing the creature aspect.

Counterpoint: There are now, by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 11/09/2013 - 13:01
Kumagoro42's picture

Counterpoint: There are now, and there will be more over the course of Theros, enchantment tribes.

Your idea of banning combos, not cards, seems nice. A problem with this approach is that it's hard to come up with a list of offenders that's not subjective. Everyone has a different take on a format, much more with something like Legacy Tribal Wars, where you can approach the format from a lot of different directions. Who am I to say, "This is the correct way to play"? There's not such a thing. There's not a "spirit of the format", because when someone attempts to definite it, it invariably becomes "the spirit of the format according to me". Everyone is welcome to champion their own "spirit of the format", within rules flexible enough to allow them to.

What I aim to do here is to allow for any and all kinds of decks that are legal under the Legacy Tribal Wars filter to be playable at least once per month. Every deck. This is why I fight to keep the fixed ban list to a minimum. Because there are events where you don't even realize it, but our ban list equals to a couple thousands cards.

And I will also keep enforcing this principle of banning: you ban only when there's a problem. You don't ban because there might be. That's why you don't ban Doomsday until a player with a Doomsday deck shows up every other week (which I firmly believe will never happen, but once it happens, it'll be dealt with like we dealt with with Glimpse of Nature and Thopter Foundry). There are other builds where the tribe is irrelevant. None of those show up more than, I dare to say, once per year. So they are, in turn, irrelevant.

Man, I'm sorry, I don't know by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 11/09/2013 - 12:58
Kumagoro42's picture

Man, I'm sorry, I don't know what happened with your video during the upload! I watched him locally and was fine. Maybe YouTube cut it and I didn't realize it? I'll try and have it re-uploaded.

Do you have a YouTube account, by the way?

Note that Drift of Phantasms by KingRitz at Sat, 11/09/2013 - 05:28
KingRitz's picture

Note that Drift of Phantasms can also, perhaps most importantly, tutor up Genesis Wave.