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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jan 24 2014 3:27pm
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where a tribal hero's journey is finally complete.

   Table of Contents 

  1. Last Week on Tribal Apocalypse...
  2. Show and Tell
  3. Announcement Time!
  4. What's Next

Check the full archive for the "Diaries of the Apocalypse" series


 Here we are, folks. Let's put a proper soundtrack on and put our hands together to salute our new Ultimate Tribal Champion...

 It was about time! And at the same time, unexpected, because Mr. A.J. Richardson is more known for crazy experimentations (I like to think that the J stands for "Johnny") than for the sheer ruthlessness you often need in order to accomplish such a feat as defeating the kind of players he defeated during last week's Invitational, the very special event that saw the Top 16 players of 2013 fight for a place in history (and a whole bunch of tix, to boot). But still, it's only fair to finally recognize someone who's been, hands down, the most representative player of the entire Tribal Wars format . And I'm not exaggerating.

 We'll find more about AJ_Impy – and about Robin88, our #1 Player of the 2013 Season, who unfortunately was unable to take part in the Invitational – in an interview I'll have with each of them next month. Until then, let's just find out what exactly happened during the Invitational...


  • Event Number: Special, Week 159 BE
  • Date: January 18
  • Attendance: 16
  • Rounds: 4
  • Special Rules: Invitational!
  • Winner: AJ_Impy (Archon, Human, Gorgon, Golem)
  • 2nd place: slug360 (Insect, Illusion, Soldier, Merfolk)
  • 3rd place: mihahitlor (Myr, Beast, Construct, Kithkin)
  • 4th place: pk23 (Rebel, Human, Artificer, Beast)
  • Tribes: Archon, Artificer, Beast (x2), Berserker (x2), Construct (x2), Devil, Drake, Fungus, Golem, Gorgon, Hound, Human (x4), Illusion, Insect, Kithkin, Leviathan, Merfolk, Myr (x3), Plant, Rebel, Satyr, Soldier, Sphinx, Vedalken
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 Let's do it round by round. First of all, two of the Top 16 players were unable to attend: the #1 seed Robin88, as previously stated, due to a trip through Europe he was doing at the time; and another very strong tribal champion, DirtyDuck, who was seed #15 for 2013. Their place was taken by two reserves, Coolcat1678 (seed #20) and fliebana (seed #21). They were assigned the bottom places of the board (seed #15 and #16, respectively), with romellos becoming the new seed #1.

 The tournament was single elimination. Each round the surviving players had to bring a different deck to the field. Since there are way too many cool decks to showcase, and I want to treat everyone equally, as everyone here was a really deserving, strong player (reserves included), I won't feature any list in the article's body. Just click here or on one of the single links I provide below and you'll see the decks directly from Gatherling. AJ_Impy and his opponents' decks are linked in the Show and Tell section where you'll also see replays from all his matches.

 Round 1 was an Underdog round, with the additional banning of the T9 cards. These were the pairings:

  • TABLE 1: romellos (seed #1) vs. fliebana (seed #16) – WINNER: romellos
  • TABLE 2:  Nagarjuna (seed #8) vs. AJ_Impy (seed #9) – WINNER: AJ_Impy
  • TABLE 3:  justcanceled (seed #5) vs. endless_nameless (seed #12) – WINNER: endless_nameless
  • TABLE 4: pk23 (seed #4) vs. ML_Berlin (seed #13) – WINNER: pk23
  • TABLE 5:  _Kumagoro_ (seed #6) vs. milegyenanevem (seed #11) – WINNER: milegyenanevem
  • TABLE 6: mihahitlor (seed #3) vs. SekKuar Deathkeeper (seed #14) – WINNER: mihahitlor
  • TABLE 7: Gq1rf7 (seed #7) vs. RexDart (seed #10) – WINNER: RexDart
  • TABLE 8: slug360 (seed #2) vs. CoolCat1678 (seed #16) – WINNER: slug360

 The most notable elimination of the round was justcanceled, seed #5, who was using Berserker burn and lost against this Leviathan deck by endless_nameless.


 I lost myself with my beloved Sphinges against milegyenanevem's Drakes. The Drake tribe sounds like a joke, but that build was strongly supported with all kinds of stuff, and it felt like a mirror match at times. The two Swords providing protection from blue were decisive in the end, to the point I'm thinking I should learn to pack artifact/enchantment hate in all my decks from now on, especially when I'm mono-colored. Nobody consistently does that, and I recently lost too many games to a single artifact or enchantment I couldn't deal with (plus, Theros block isn't going to help in that regard). Anyway, two years ago I was Top 4, last year Top 8, this year Top 16. I guess I got the numeric progression wrong.

 For Round 2, the 8 surviving players were allowed to run their most successful decks from last year. The lists are here. The pairings:

  • TABLE 1: romellos (seed #1) vs. AJ_Impy (seed #9) – WINNER: AJ_Impy
  • TABLE 2: endless_nameless (seed # 12) vs. pk23 (seed #4) – WINNER: pk23
  • TABLE 3: milegyenanevem (seed #11) vs. mihahitlor (seed #3) – WINNER: mihahitlor
  • TABLE 4: RexDart (seed #10) vs. slug360 (seed #2) – WINNER: slug360

 Except for AJ's triumphant march, this time all the higher-seeded players passed the round. Unfortunately, endless_nameless had to drop due to real life's issues. Elsewhere, mihahitlor used his Beast deck (first place on Event 144) to beat milegyenanevem's Satyrs (first place on Event 153), while slug360 successfully piloted his Illusions (first place on Event 136) against RexDart's Human build (first place on Event 141).


 And so we had our 4 finalists, the 2013 Four Riders of the Apocalypse: AJ_Impy, slug360, mihahitlor, and pk23! Two of them, miha and slug, confirmed their spot from last year (the other two back then were Nagarjuna, who didn't have much fortune this time around, and gbagyt, who more or less stopped playing MTGO since then, as far as I know). New entries: the legendary AJ_Impy, which was kind of due, and the Modern champion pk23, which was kind of expected as he's been the most successful new player of 2013 along with Robin.

 Round 3, the semi-finals, involved playing yet another different deck that wasn't one of the winning decks those players piloted last year (nor a Big Shot tribe). The four lists complete with statistics are here. The pairings were as follows:

  • TABLE 1: AJ_Impy (seed #9) vs. pk23 (seed #4) – WINNER: AJ_Impy
  • TABLE 2: mihahitlor (seed #3) vs. slug360 (seed #2) – WINNER: slug360

 What's immediately evident from these semi-finals is that 3 players out of 4 respected the seeds, with AJ_Impy taking the place of romellos. This speaks volumes about the crazy consistency of these guys. In the end, pk23 had to stop his run against AJ's unstoppable march, while slug managed to defeat miha using these white weenie Soldiers versus the latter's Cloudpost-based Constructs.


 This brings us to the finals, a.k.a. Round 4. It's typically a round where the players are asked to build a deck from scratch in 20 minutes, following special rules only revealed at the last moment, so that they can't prepare a build in advance. This year, that involved banning 9 cards and 5 creature types (entirely, not just as tribes) from your opponent's available pool. These were the choices, both for the main final for the title of Ultimate Champion, and for the final for 3rd place:

 Miha's choices seem particularly clever, knowing pk23's style. By the way, I didn't say anything so far, but you may have deduced by now that mihahitlor is back into the fold, after a pause from MTGO caused by the troubles I mentioned here in a past installment. So, welcome back, miha! (Of course, this might not have been the exact sentiment of his opponents in the tournament!).

 The resulting decks were: Golem for AJ_Impy, Merfolk for slug360, Kithkin for mihahitlor (big mistake not banning one of miha's signature tribes, pk!), and Beast for pk23. And the rest is history: miha won against pk, and you'll see below how AJ_Impy managed to take the champion's belt while piloting tribes like Archon, Gorgon and Golem, plus a red Human deck featuring a full playset of  Jaya Ballard, Task Mage. How cool is that? The AJ brand of cool!




 And now, here's AJ_Impy's entire path towards victory in the Invitational. And next week we'll have even more material thanks to RexDart's live commentary on the whole thing! Click on the links to see the decklists.

 Round 1 with Archon against Nagarjuna with Plant.

 Round 2 with mono-red Human against romellos with WBG Human.

 Round 3 (Semifinal) with Gorgon against pk23 with Artificer.

Game 2 of the same match.

 Round 4 (Final) with Golem against slug360 with Merfolk.

 Game 2 of the same match.

 Congratulations again, AJ!


 Just to remind you of a few things: 

 The Underdog Prize: During any event of the regular rotation (but not during the one-time special events), all players who are running an Underdog Tribe are eligible for a 1-tix credit on Pennybot. The tie-breakers are first the number of Underdog categories (for instance, a tribe that's simultaneously Endangered and Unhallowed will take the prize over one that's only Endangered), then the points achieved in the final standings. During Underdog events, only the True Underdog tribes are rewarded (those are the tribes belonging to all three categories of Underdog at once).

 The Up-and-Coming Prize: When a tribe wins an event for the first time ever (losing Unhallowed status), its pilot will get a 3-tix certificate from MTGO Traders.

 The Hamtastic Award: The Biodiversity Prize dedicated to the memory of Erik Friborg starts the first quarter of 2014 tomorrow. The quarter will end March 29. By that date, the player or players who registered the greatest number of different tribes will get a 5-tix certificate from MTGO Traders.

 The Tribal Achievements: The new list of achievements for the 2014 season is here. Unlock the most of them by the end of the year and you'll share a 25-tix Jackpot.

 The Top Players Lockout: Every time a Top Player (either a Google Era Top 8, an Ultimate Champion/Tribal Player of the Year, 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!

 It was Robot Week on PureMTGO this week! Click here (starting from Saturday) and you'll see all the amazing robo-articles!


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

  • 4.03 (Week 160 BE), on January 25: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, no Big Shot Tribes nor T9 cards allowed)
  • 4.04 (Week 161 BE), on February 1: Tribal Underdog (only Underdog Tribes allowed)
  • 4.05 (Week 162 BE), on February 8:  Regular Tribal (just plain old Legacy Tribal Wars)
  • 4.06 (Week 163 BE), on February 15: Tribal Singleton (only one copy of each card except for basic lands)

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2014!

Vote the Topdeck Awards!



Iron sharpens iron: This by AJ_Impy at Fri, 01/24/2014 - 17:53
AJ_Impy's picture

Iron sharpens iron: This success is only possible because of the quality of the opposition playing in the event and in the Apocalypse, year in, year out. I did not register a single first place this season, though my decks went undefeated a number of times. Here's a little about those I faced this week.

Nagarjuna is a previous Horseman, and one of only three people to have played at every single Tribal Apocalypse invitational. A true pillar of the format, he is recognised as one of the all-time top 8 and rightly so.

I have faced Romellos twelve times in the Gatherling era prior to this event, with him the victor eleven of those times. (The one time I did get the better of him was with the deck I was able to reprise here.) He earned that top seed by being one of the tightest, sharpest deckbuilders I've ever witnessed, as pure an exemplar of the spike ethos as you could hope to see.

PK23 has a staggering 56 gold medals listed on Gatherling, more than anyone else that has ever used that platform. He has earned a truly fearsome reputation across a whole host of formats.

Slug360 was the title holder coming into the event and kept alive the dream of an unprecedented title defence all the way to the very last round. He knocked me out in the first round last year on the way to the title.

Any of those would have made a worthy and deserving champion. I am humbled to have the honour to face them in an event such as this, and of the quality of the others in the top 16.

I realized after the by mihahitlor at Fri, 01/24/2014 - 18:34
mihahitlor's picture

I realized after the tournament that each of your matches could easily be a finals match, opponents-wise. Which makes your overall win even more impressive and deserved.

Glad to see you didn't stay by Paul Leicht at Fri, 01/24/2014 - 21:36
Paul Leicht's picture

Glad to see you didn't stay away Miha. Hope to see that you are continuing with the apocalypse now with the unpleasantness of last year behind you.

Thanks, yeah, I plan to keep by mihahitlor at Sat, 01/25/2014 - 05:55
mihahitlor's picture

Thanks, yeah, I plan to keep playing.

one of only three people by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 01/24/2014 - 21:32
Kumagoro42's picture

"one of only three people to have played at every single Tribal Apocalypse invitational"

I didn't look into it. The three people are you, me, and Naga?

Great words, by the way. I take this as the equivalent of "AJ_Impy is really moved" :)

Did you appreciate the Union Jack? I wanted to use the St George's Cross (which is also the flag of the city of Genoa, incidentally), but the Union Jack is more scenographic.

And I forgot to mention: if this was the FIFA World Cup, the final matches would have been a classic England-Spain and a more unusual Slovenia-USA.

Yup, we and he are the three. by AJ_Impy at Fri, 01/24/2014 - 22:28
AJ_Impy's picture

Yup, we and he are the three.

Also yes on being moved. Excellent choice of music and flag, you got both absolutely spot on. I'm not sure how well the current England football team would hold up to the all-conquering Furia Rioja, though. ;)

Slovenia-USA is actually one by mihahitlor at Sat, 01/25/2014 - 06:03
mihahitlor's picture

Slovenia-USA is one of the only few matches we actually played in the World Cup, haha (and the most bitter at that, as we were leading 2-0 at the halftime, already expecting to get to the 2nd round with 6 points, only to then allow 2 goals, lose VS England next match and miss the playoffs)

AJ is finally getting his due by Paul Leicht at Fri, 01/24/2014 - 21:38
Paul Leicht's picture

AJ is finally getting his due for being the premier builder in this crazy format. I wish I had the fortitude and ability to play in the apocalypse but hearing about the exploits of dear friends will have to suffice. :D WTG AJ!

Much appreciated, though I by AJ_Impy at Fri, 01/24/2014 - 22:34
AJ_Impy's picture

Much appreciated, though I maintain you're definitely good enough to hold your own in this crowd. I wouldn't be on the podium if not for the years of bouncing ideas back and forth with you.