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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jan 31 2014 1:00pm
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where revenge is a dish best served in a berserker frenzy.

   Table of Contents 

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

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


 So, the spoiler Born of the Gods are among us, and in a shocking twist, I've already wrote my evaluation this time (I don't know if it'll be online right now, or later, but at some point click here and you'll find out). I gotta say, it's a bit of an underwhelming set with clunky mechanics and just a handful of meaningful creatures, despite some good grinders, especially for white weenie (which I'm not sure needed more). The big development for us is that we have two new tribes! Well, not really, but we have two tribes that weren't playable in Tribal Apocalypse before and now reached 3-member status. Woot! And one of them is a mustelid! Again! Groan.

 Let's start with the one that went directly from 2 members to 5: Siren, now represented in their proper "bird maiden" flavor. The resulting lineup is:



 So, now they essentially have an Air Elemental to block with when they force attacks. I don't dislike Siren of the Silent Song, though. It's annoying for the opponent and doesn't require for you to do anything except swinging.

 The other tribe is the abovementioned mustelid: Badger. Did you forget we had badgers in the game? Well, we did, and now we have one more, ending up with this potential quintet (due to Homelands' Rysorian Badger not being online):



 The last two members look very strong. Anyway, good luck playing with these two appealing (?) new tribes, and just remember that the New Kids on the Block Award gives 1 tix to whoever will win the first match ever with one of them. 


  • Event Number: 4.03, Week 160 BE
  • Date: January 25
  • Attendance: 20
  • Rounds: 4
  • Special Rules: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, no Big Shot Tribes nor T9 cards allowed)
  • Winner: justcanceled (Berserker)
  • Other undefeated: Heureka (Faerie)
  • 1 Loss: romellos (Sliver), _Kumagoro_ (Construct), mihahitlor (Kithkin), Bazaar of Baghdad (Rogue)
  • Special Prizes:  milegyenanevem (Thalakos) 
  • Tribes: Archon, Assassin (x2), Bat, Beast (x2), Berserker, Construct, Faerie, Golem, Kithkin, Myr, Rogue, Sliver (x5), Thalakos, Wurm
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 One thing last week's event convinced me of is this: when justcanceled wants to win, he just does. Down at Sunday Commander, he won 4 events in 5 weeks (with entirely different lists) just to prove a point to me. Then he just decided it was enough. That's how JC rolls. Of course, during the Invitational two weeks ago, he also wanted to win, but that first round brought a doomed matchup upon him. It happens. But one week later, JC got his mojo back and took his revenge. With all the righteous fury of a Berserker.


 In final with him we find a player who wasn't in the Invitational (having joined the tribal crowd relatively recently) but is growing fast a Tribal Apocalypse cred: Heureka, piloting Faerie, the tribe that's currently next in line to attain Big Shot status. They didn't get there this time, but this build proves that they can do great on a budget, too. Take this, Vendilion Clique!


 Speaking of the Invitational, we'll see more of it in RexDart's section below, where he audio-comments the whole thing for us. And yeah, RexDart's back! For just this time, but he brought the gift of a new and particularly flavorful challenge!

 Back to last week's event, here's another player who didn't do as well as expected in the Invitational: romellos, ending on top again thanks to the new recipients of the Aether Vial grant, the Slivers. After two mono-colored decks, let's go crazy with a close-to-penta-colored build, fueled in no small part by Cavern of Souls...


 ...and now let's go entirely colorless, instead! And to continue with the picture of "people that the Invitational didn't treat well", hey, that's me, too! It needs to be said: I had as much of a bad matchup in Round 1 as justcanceled. And now look at me going Top 4 with my Constructs (in homage to Robot Week), while our freshly crowned Ultimate Champion AJ_Impy struggled with his celebrated Golems. Ah! (It doesn't count as if I actually beat him, I know). (Plus, I blatantly stole from him that Predator, Flagship tech.)  




 Also known as: how much do the top decks cost? As of January 31, 2014, 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, justcanceled's Berserkers: $57.98 (nonland cards: $8.70; tribal base: $0.84)
  • 2nd place, Heureka's Faeries: $20.87 (nonland cards: $19.45; tribal base: $6.18)

 These could be two super-budget decks if it wasn't for two non-essential cards. In case of the Berserkers, it's the playset of Arid Mesas that's just there to think the deck (I did count the Snow-Covered Mountains as regular Mountains, anyway, because there's no Snow interaction in the deck, so it looks like it was just an aesthetic choice). As for the Faeries, they just had a singleton Daze that's worth more than half the whole deck (another quarter is made of the two Sowers of Temptation, but those are probably more needed.) I gotta say, a successful Faerie build this cheap is really amazing. Congrats, Heureka!

 And while we are on the topic of budget and what it means for the players, check this great article by Winter.Wolf (and our exchange in the comments).

 The Top 10 Cheapest Decks that Went Undefeated

  1. morpphling's Goblins, $2.35, 2nd place on Event 102
  2. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.32, 1st place on Event 154 (cheapest event winner)
  3. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.70, 1st place on Event 145
  4. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $4.12, 2nd place on Event 141
  5. Gq1rf7's Assassins, $4.18, 1st place on Event 147
  6. Trickerie's Golems, $4.31, 1st place on Event 138
  7. arcbounddaylabor's Goblins, $4.46, 1st place on Event 111
  8. Coolcat1678's Elves, $5.13, 2nd place on Event 149
  9. ellmaris's Goblins, $6.52, 2nd place on Event 103
  10. Heureka's Weirds, $6.53, 3rd place on Event 140

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


by RexDart


 [NOTE: This section is written by RexDart. Enough with the clumsy italics, just know that it's not me talking here, it's him!]

 Hey everybody, I'm back this week for Show and Tell to share my thoughts about the recent Tribal Apocalypse Invitational tournament.  

 The tournament required participants to have three different decks prepared for the first three rounds, assuming you have some hope of going all the way (as it was single elimination). I had a pretty good 2013 season, with four wins in a relatively limited number of events I could attend, so had high hopes of playing spoiler from a lower-seeded position. I prepared three decks, and I'll take you through my thoughts about the decks I was able to play, as well as show you my match footage with my live commentary recorded during the match.

 For Round 1, we had to build Underdog decks and the Tribal Nine were banned. I knew right away that I wanted to be on Wurmcoil Engine, because that card is insane whenever the white exiler spells are banned. Many players turn to Go for the Throat as spot removal, or eschew spot removal for sweepers. Neither of those is effective against Wurmcoil. For the tribal shell, I chose Vedalken. I had not played them before, but Kumagoro had proven their viability in the Apocalypse a few weeks earlier. Most of the tribal shell is fairly obvious. I chose to go with Court Hussar for some extra digging power, since nothing is worse than having tons of mana-producers and nothing to do with the mana. Of course Grand Architect doesn't just help produce mana, he also pumps your team, so you have a Plan B of just laying a good ol' fashioned beatdown on your opponent. I splashed white for my Hussars, and black as well to activate the Ethersworn Adjudicators. I couldn't be sure what my opponent might be on, or even who my opponent would be if players above me failed to show up for the event. So, as I was a blue tribal deck, the set of Force of Will would provide a safety net in case my opponent was on combo. I originally decided, based on the opponent I was expecting, not to play Wasteland but to run Mishra's Factory instead. When my matchup changed due to no-shows, I waffled a bit, but stuck to the Factories.

 Here's my Round 1 match against Gq1rf7 with Myr:

 And this is some bonus coverage of other Round 1 match play:

 In Round 2, we had to play our "best deck", which was any deck that had finished undefeated through the Swiss round of a 2013 event. I had finished undefeated 6 times, so my choices were:

  1. Snake Ramp (Event 105, 1st place)
  2. Esper Counterslivers (Event 108, 2nd place)
  3. Naya Midrange Warriors (Event 114, 2nd place)
  4. Tezzeret Artifact Bird Control (Event 122, 1st place)
  5. UB Faeries (Event 125, 1st place)
  6. Junk Humans (Event 141, 1st place)

 I saw I was up against slug360, last year's champion. I wasn't sure what to expect from him, he did have a fondness for blue aggro-control decks (in fact, he ended up playing Illusion), and that likely would have made both Snake Ramp and Midrange Warriors horrendous choices against him. The Fae deck was clearly better than Counterslivers in my opinion. So that really left me with Tezzeret Birds, Fae, or Junk Humans. I felt that the Humans had the most play against the widest possible range of decks he might field against me, and I still think that was the right decision. It had pro-active disruption with Thoughtseize, cheap and versatile removal spells, mana acceleration, protection, and just good quality creatures.

 I had a good shot at defeating him, getting close to parity in game 3 despite a rough mulligan. In retrospect, I realize that I missed a play in game 3 that might have turned things around – he let me untap with a Knight of the Reliquary in play and I could have killed his lone remaining Illusion by hitting it with a Maze of Ith, thus triggering its sacrifice drawback. He would have then likely hit the Maze with Wasteland, but I would have still been okay with mana production. Instead I went for a Hail Elspeth and got punished for it hard, never getting back into the game after a crushing Cryptic Command.

 Had I made it to Round 3, my plan was to play Hexproof Rogues: Deft Duelist, True-Name Nemesis, and friends. Now that TNN is available online, you can actually field a reasonable team of all hexproof and shroud guys, entirely blanking your opponent's spot removal. Had I made it to that round, my opponent would have been mihahitlor, and I would have definitely expected him to be playing tons of spot removal. I would likely NOT have played Wasteland against him either, since he typically plays mono-colored decks. It turns out that I would have grossly erred in my assessment, since he decided to play 12-post mana ramp with no spot removal at all, and unless I had Force of Will in every hand I probably would have been crushed.

 This is my live commentary for mihahitlor's showdown with reigning tournament champ slug360: Construct vs. Gorgon.

 For the finals, the players had a chance to lock their opponents out of particular tribes, spells and lands. Some of the choices (you can see them here at the bottom right of the page) were pretty clever. If you knew your opponent's deckbuilding style, and the limitations of his card collection, you could hamstring him fairly well. I thought slug360's choices left AJ_Impy with the ability to build a fairly obvious mono-black Demon Coffers deck that would have been right in AJ's wheelhouse, provided he had some sweeper in his collection other than the locked-out Black Sun's Zenith, his usual favorite. Instead he went a different direction entirely. Here's my live commentary of the finals:

 'Grats, AJ! It's great to see one of the stalwarts of the format from the old days come out on top, even as we saw so many new faces this past year.


Art by Michael C. Hayes

 It's been awhile since I last posted a deckbuilding challenge, so let's kick off the new year with the chance to win more fabulous prizes! Here are the rules for my Robin and the Nine Hoods Deckbuilding Challenge:

  1. Your tribe must be Archer.
  2. Your deck must include one copy of at least 9 different Archery Theme cards from this list: Bow of Nylea, Nylea, God of the Hunt, Crossbow Ambush, Slingbow Trap, Viridian Longbow, Arrow Volley Trap, Arrows of Justice, Avenging Arrow, Borrowing 100,000 Arrows, Hail of Arrows, Infused Arrows, Serrated Arrows, Archery Training, Hankyu, Heavy Arbalest, Viridian Longbow, Wolfhunter's Quiver.
  3. You must include at least 3 copies of one Legendary Archer to play the role of Robin Hood and lead your upstart band of rebels to victory. (In Singleton events, this requirement becomes a single copy of 3 different Legendary Archers).
  4. You must enter Tribal Apocalypse with the deck and achieve at least 2 match victories, not including byes or forfeits.
  5. Only one prize is available and it is handled and assigned by me, RexDart (so not Kumagoro nor MTGO Traders). If two or more players both achieve the challenge in a single week, the player with the most match wins will take the prize. If the players are still tied, the player with the most unique number of cards from the Archery Theme card list will take the prize.

 The prize will be one Mercadian Masques non-foil copy of Bribery, so that you can rob the rich of their best creature and give it to the poor... or just give your opponent a nice face-smashing!



 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 has started the first quarter of 2014. 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!


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

  • 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)
  • 4.07 (Week 164 BE), on February 22: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, no Big Shot Tribes nor T9 cards allowed)

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2014!

Vote the Topdeck Awards!



I can't believe I failed to by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 15:49
Kumagoro42's picture

I can't believe I failed to comment on AJ's Recurring Nightmare deck two weeks in a row (well, this time I didn't want to invade Rex's space, though). That Archon build is really tempting to me right now.

Rex, in the second video, your reaction to the pig token was awesome. Did you really never see it before? I essentially put Curse of the Swine in the deck only to see the piggy!
And yeah, one single Sword of Fire and Ice pretty much undid me. I started to put Disenchant/Naturalize in mono-colored builds. I'm counting so many crucial targets these days (and if the Gods will become really popular, make that Revoke Existence/Unravel the Aether).
I'm also this close to ban the Swords from Pure events. T9+Blades, how does that sound?

And you should have fetched basic Forest at the end of that game against slug, not Savannah. :)

Also, Locus is a type, Snow a super-type. That's probably why Cloudpost loses it after Spreading Seas.

And did it dawn on you like it did on me that Colossus of Akros is actually a great card in a Cloudpost deck? Faster and bigger than Darksteel Colossus for sure (poor Darksteel Colossus, it's entirely obsolete now).

Wait, did I just hear you say by AJ_Impy at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 16:43
AJ_Impy's picture

Wait, did I just hear you say you were thinking of banning the swords? Your experience is pretty much why them being around isn't a great idea. They are incredibly good, especially with any kind of tutor, particularly against mono decks but also just in general. Powerful equipment in a creature based format tends to warp it. I'm entirely in favour of the proposed ban, it should increase deck diversity.

I'll probably run the Archons with a few tweaks this week: I originally slated the deck for the weeks prior the invitational, but life got in the way.

Yeah, they are the go-to by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 18:10
Kumagoro42's picture

Yeah, they are the go-to final slots when you don't want to think of anything different. While there are other good equipments that could see play instead, within tribes that care for those (like, say, Troll).

I'm thinking of a ban limited to Pure events. I'd like to ban stuff in Underdog, but I want to keep it simpler: Underdog is where the restriction targets the tribes, Pure is where it targets the cards (off-tribe stuff, T9. There's some tribes banned, too, but nowhere close to Underdog, that bans 1/4 of them). So, in short, I'd rather not ban specific cards in Underdog.

I think it would be fine to by RexDart at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 16:46
RexDart's picture

I think it would be fine to add Swords of X&Y to the banned list from Pure, as they are the sort of card like StP/Bolt/etc that is good both with and against almost any creature-based deck, which is what Tribal is. But you have to be careful of that list creeping and growing, because you are basically asking new players to remember two distinct banned lists: the normal list, and the pure list. Plus the pure format has banned *tribes* on top of that. The rotating sub-formats of Tribal Apocalypse may keep things fresh week to week, but they also have a cost in terms of format complexity, and those two things have to be balanced against each other.

But as a counterpoint to banning it, I think there is some value in the fact that the Swords' presence gives higher value to otherwise marginal tribes and creatures that interact well with artifacts. I also believe that since SFM was "restricted" to Kor and Artificer decks, which are basically legal once or at most twice per month, the original strength of the blades has greatly diminished. That too came at some cost, as easy access to blades was one of the things helping increase the play of minor weenie tribes like Pegasus or the Boros Samurai deck I twice went undefeated with back in 2011. We speculated at the time that Steelshaper's Gift or Enlightened Tutor would take SFM's place, but neither card has made much of a splash. W/o SFM, you can't just play one each of 3-4 different ones and get the perfect one for each matchup. For some reason, I guess because of alot of our guys being commander players too, playing one of each is still the norm, even without tutoring ability. Overall, I think the influence of those blades is in an acceptable place right now.

And yes that was the first time I'd seen the hilarious pig token. It is hands-down the funniest thing they have put in a Magic set in ages.

I absolutely agree about the by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 18:43
Kumagoro42's picture

I absolutely agree about the necessity to keep format complexity in check. It's the reason why this year we won't have too many gimmick events, and we'll keep the rotation clear and steady. Underdog is "the format where we play the minor tribes". No other restrictions need to exist there. Pure is a more experimental format, but I want to try and sell the concept of "playing pure", so that it might become intuitive what we're doing here. The first aspect is playing only your tribe's creatures, of course. But even all the "usual suspects" might be seen as an "impurity".

Back when we restricted Stoneforge Mystic, there was the idea to ban the Swords (and probably Batterskull) as an alternative. Going with the Mystic was the simpler solution, but the two things are linked. Should we ban the Swords across the formats, the Mystic would come back. I'd actually love to see her fetch things like Basilisk Collar or Sword of Vengeance (and Johnny equipments like Sunforger or Deathrender would become more playable, too).

About what you say below: I don't want to defend LAZY mono-colored builds. But I don't want to punish them, either, because that would mean punish the budget players. I can't do that as a host.
Plus, with some luck (and that's a factor), you might have the right sword against BOTH the opponent's dual-deck colors. So it's not just about mono-colored.

A case in favor of banning the Swords can be made based on the fact that they're the next best thing after Umezawa's Jitte, and Jitte was dangerous enough to be recognized as such by the WotC itself, which doesn't really check the Tribal Wars ban list in probably a decade.
In a creature format, that kind of effect is relevant. And honestly, the "but if you have the right answer, they're fine" is a flawed line of defense. Then everything is fine. The issues need to be analyzed when you DON'T have the answer. How warped do the games become at that point? They seem pretty warped to me, due to inevitability: it's hard to trade with a Jitte-equipped creature, but it's not inconceivable.
And more arguments can be made: the "rewarding luck" argument; the "promoting deckbuilding laziness" argument, and so on.
Just saying, of course.

Wow, I'm really thrilled by romellos at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 19:09
romellos's picture

Wow, I'm really thrilled about your idea to bring back SFM and ban Swords & Batterskull. Maybe we can tweak this idea as; people may choose to include SFM to their respective deck without any Swords & Batterskull or they can play with any Swords or Batterskull without the SFM. This is just my brainstorm here.

Either way, I think things may become interesting after this change. There are lots of good equipment around waiting to be explored; like Sunforge, Neko-Te, O-Naginata (as I remember you are the only one who played with it up to now at Tribal games, Wolf deck) and some obvious others as well...

The idea of an either/or is by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 07:34
Kumagoro42's picture

The idea of an either/or is interesting. The problem is that implementing it in the Gatherling filter would require creating a specific tool for that, and I don't think it's worth it.
Plus, I'm not sure it would change much re: decks using the Swords right now, as they could keep doing the same things and ignore the Mystic.

And yeah, O-Naginata is great and totally disregarded, once again because it asks for some thinking on how to better use it.

A deck probably should by RexDart at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 20:33
RexDart's picture

A deck probably should include a plan to deal with artifacts. Even among mono-color decks, blue can counter them, black has discard, and the other three colors are great at blowing up artifacts. And in most cases it is not a matter of having to maindeck a very narrow answer card that is useless in 90% of your matchups, the way graveyard hate is. There is removal that hits all permanents plus creatures (D-Sphere, O-Ring, Vindicate), and that's all very playable in tribal. Finding a way to deal with noncreature permanents is just a part of good deckbuilding in this format, people have been doing it for the entire time I've been playing the format.

I think banning the Swords from Pure Tribal is a defensible position as I said above, and I can see arguments on either side. Banning them in anything beyond Pure is going too far, in my opinion. The format appears to be working right now, and I am not seeing evidence of a pressing need to ban them.

We're just talking. We might by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 07:22
Kumagoro42's picture

We're just talking. We might be taking a poll about it. We'll definitely take a poll about it.

But I keep refusing the argument, "you have ways to deal with it".
So, you can deal with Umezawa's Jitte, too. And Thopter Foundry, the same way. The necessary, joined criteria for banning (at least, on my watch) are level of annoyance on the battlefield, level of ubiquity in the lists. They're both high in the case of the Swords.

And like romellos, I miss Stoneforge Mystic off-tribe. She's out only because of the Swords (and to a lesser extent, Batterskull). This fact precludes a more creative use of the equipments in favor of the most possible lazy one. I don't like killing deckbuilding possibilities to preserve obvious and powerful ones, it's kinda the opposite of what we should push for.

Something to consider is the by mihahitlor at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 08:13
mihahitlor's picture

Something to consider is the possibility that people who use the swords won't just start using another equipment in case of a ban. More spikey types might just conclude that other equipment is not powerful enough to warrant playing in a Legacy format and add 3 more removal spells instead. Such scenario would decrease and not increase the variety. (And as far as influencing the equipment choices of non-spike players, I don't know how prevalent the swords are in that group anyway)

But I'm not sure what would happen, of course.

Variety issue aside, and concentrating only on a power level, I don't think the swords are powerful enough to warrant a ban. They are powerful equipment for sure, but this is a Legacy format, and spending 5 mana to attempt to equip a creature is a risky play with potentially severe tempo ramificiations if it goes wrong. Obviously, everyone will have different experiences, but I generally never perceived Swords as a huge threat, except when I played slower decks, like Assassins and Vampires. They seem to be the best versus more midrange/controlish decks that can't deal with artifacts. So the lesson learned for me was that if I want to play control, I need to be able to deal with artifacts, but if I am playing aggro, my opponent's are more than welcome to spend their resources on the swords while I am beating them down. Same holds true for combo decks, of course.

I don't know, I actually think the swords are overrated. I never had any desire to include them in my decks, but I might have evaluated them wrongly.

You misunderstood me: I by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 12:19
Kumagoro42's picture

You misunderstood me/I haven't been clear: I didn't imply that the variety would come from the Sword players changing equipments should the Swords be banned (although, it might happen). I was mainly talking of giving back to the players who NOW want to play strange, Johnny equipments the help of Stoneforge Mystic, that now they can't play uniquely because of the players who would abuse her with the Swords/Batterskull. The notion that the presence of such no-brainer cards is hindering the playability of fun cards like Sunforger or Deathrender is very sad to me.

The solution proposed by romellos feels ideal, but it's technically difficult to accomplish in the filter (and I want to reduce almost to zero the cases where I need to check the lists myself, because I know I'd make mistakes in that case).

We'll see. For now it's just weekend talk. But I'm curious to know more opinions via poll (I'll start it next week).

Wanting people to try out by AJ_Impy at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 14:55
AJ_Impy's picture

Wanting people to try out interesting things needs incentivization. If you want people to play sunforger, deathrender or any other specific equipment, we can reward them through the achievement system. At present, equipment which has a great chance of winning you the game no matter what comes out as by far the better option than trying to be clever.

Thanks for shout out Kuma :) by Paul Leicht at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 16:56
Paul Leicht's picture

Thanks for shout out Kuma :) I am looking forward to toying with sirens and perhaps badgers too (did you know that badgers and wolverines are in the same family? I bet you did since you named it. )Anyway love the fighting spirit of those animals and they are strangely becoming as well.

I don't think banning swords from pure will be great for morale because they tend to be relatively accessible now and are often a first answer to much of what is broken in creature removal for tribal wars. But I get the temptation. It sucks to see everyone tread the same tired path when you've been over it hundreds of times. Particularly when there are actually quite a rich variety of possible answers to choose from instead of the usual suspects. Swords are costly in game (6 mana to legit cast & equip) though unlike STP and most of the T9. I have lost quite a few games with a sword on the board too so they aren't game ending, unless your op is in monocolor. And imho the monocolored players make themselves vulnerable as a tradeoff for their efficient draws and plays.

Thanks Rex for posting AJ's finals game. Since I wasn't there that weekend it was good to see it. Slug is a tough customer and that Merfolk deck looked nasty.

Also Rex's challenge looks fun.

It's mainly because a Sword by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 17:23
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It's mainly because a Sword is the ultimate randomness, you often have 1-of of 2-3 of them, so drawing into the right one is sheer luck. They're more cause of sorrow than most of the other strong plays. I mean, Batterskull is strong regardless, doesn't feel like something that's targeting you specifically, which makes you feel bad. And yeah, I came to think that the mono-colored builds should be protected. They're a budget player's refugee, and sometimes all that minor tribes can do.

(It's 5 mana, by the way, they cost 2 to equip. Loxodon Warhammer is 3+3).

Budget players have plenty of by RexDart at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 17:57
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Budget players have plenty of low-cost mana-fixing options, I don't really think anybody is forced to play mono-color. Three-color decks really want fetches and duals most of the time, but two-color decks can get by just fine on many alternatives under a dollar. I don't agree with giving any special protection to mono-color decks, as I don't really find Yet Another White Weenie Deck and Yet Another Mono-Red Aggro Deck to be that valuable to the format. And in either deck there is ample instant-speed removal to kill a guy in response to a sword-equip. Those decks might also just win before the Sword becomes relevant. You yourself have gone back and forth over the issue of whether or not cards that punish mono-color builds are good or bad for the format, and it sounds like there's still some diversity of opinion on that point.

Minor correction on the by AJ_Impy at Fri, 01/31/2014 - 19:25
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Minor correction on the commentary, in round 3 Slug was playing Soldiers against Miha's Constructs, I was playing the Gorgon deck linked against PK23's artificers.

Yeah, those links have been by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 07:29
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Yeah, those links have been added by me to supplement Rex's comments. I messed up there.

The links to the semi-finals decks are these:

AJ_Impy: Gorgon
pk23: Artificer

slug360: Soldier
mihahitlor: Construct

I'm going to quote A.J. in a by Bazaar of Baghdad at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 21:27
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I'm going to quote A.J. in a separate mini-thread: "Wanting people to try out interesting things needs incentivization. If you want people to play sunforger, deathrender or any other specific equipment, we can reward them through the achievement system. At present, equipment which has a great chance of winning you the game no matter what comes out as by far the better option than trying to be clever."

Well said, A.J. Too bad so much emphasis is put on winning and losing, and that said, Kuma does far, far better than what it used to be before his Apocalypse series. Winning and losing may be a necessary evil, but if I were in control of the universe, I would try to reward the tribal decks that most personified what it is to be that tribe. I have a hard time remembering, outside of "regular" events, when the last time I either won or lost a game where the reason was not mainly because of the support cards, not the tribe. In several games, won and lost, the winning tribe didn't have a single tribal member on the battlefield.

Kuma and others have developed the "achievements" but they still seem artificial and haphazard (only certain tribes need apply). I would like to see us think more along the lines of incentivization.

Yet, until A.J. or someone else can concretize "incentivization" with a good plan, here are some potential negative-based solutions:

1) greatly extending the ban list with narrow cards that are only likely to be used degeneratively;
2) banning certain combos;
3) banning swords and Jace (for variety's sake)
4) increasing the tribal proportion to 24/60 instead of 20/60;
5) putting financial (i.e., "heirloom") constraints on non-tribal cards;
6) some kind of format-specific sideboard rules that target noncreature permanents or combos
7) allowing only commons and uncommons and lands for non-tribal cards.

Of these, I like the last best, and would like it to be implemented in all but "Regular" events. It levels the playing field for beginners (I have a huge collection, other people, not so much), incentivizes heavier tribal counts (you sometimes get more rares), and it prevents overpowered cards from overtaking the tribe's identity or modus operandi, which otherwise would arguably make (and currently makes) a joke of the format. Obviously spot removal becomes more prevalent, but that's a lesser evil and can be metagamed against.

Still, incentivizing tribal purity is best, if it can be done properly.

While some of those ideas by Paul Leicht at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 22:07
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While some of those ideas have merit some really rub me the wrong way. There is something to be said for allowing an extensive mana base for example because without it the simpler monocolored tribes win. All of the time. Neither Elves nor Goblins require much in the way of rares or money cards at all to win. It is those who try to explore the outer reaches of the format who rely more heavily on the pricy mana bases.

Now if you want to start your own Heirloom Tribal event I am certain you will have takers but in my humble opinion that will not fly for many of the regulars. It is one thing to live under restrictions, and another for them to be so oppressive that only the spikiest of spike tribes have a decent chance.

I am in agreement that positive solutions are far better than penalties. But if there were penalties I would suggest that they go toward reducing prize winnings rather than towards bans.

If you play Goblins for example as your tribe and go 4-0 or 3-0 you get the prize for undefeated - 1.

If you run more than 2 blades("swords of...", or batterskull) and you go undefeated you get your prize -1 tix.

Penalties would be cumulative so that it would be possible to go undefeated and win nothing. No one else gets that prize either. It goes back to MTGOtraders.

I am betting that wouldn't be very popular either. But if it were varied so that some weeks it would be perfectly OK to run Elves Combo and another OK to run Dream Halls Combo, and another OK to run Charbelcher or Dredge or some other Legacy Shoehorn, I think that would be interesting.

Today I ran Archers for Rex's challenge and couldn't win more than 1 of 4 matches (though I did win 4 total games out of 10 which isn't the worst I've done.) That was excruciating but what really pissed me off was that each of my opponents, except Coolcat (who won with a burn.dec) complained about my expensive mana base.

Nevermind that I wasn't running anything near an optimal tribal deck for underdog. (Archers may be the weakest tribe around and the extra restrictions placed by the challenge definitely made it a bad bet.) My point being that money isn't the problem.

Easy buttons are. And if you take away the easy buttons people will leave.

Paul, calm down, man. Note by Bazaar of Baghdad at Sat, 02/01/2014 - 23:35
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Paul, calm down, man. Note that I exempted lands on my point #7, the restriction I most favored, once I remembered that tribes definitely need a viable manabase. This means rare cards. I just forgot to go back and similarly exempt lands where needed elsewhere (e.g., suggestion #5). I feel bad for you that people would yell at you for a manabase when otherwise some tribes would be even more unplayable than they are (was the burn deck player running PoP?). As someone who has 2-4x foil copies of each ME4 dual, I can totally empathize.

I am calm? by Paul Leicht at Sun, 02/02/2014 - 01:23
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I am calm? Yes he killed me game 2 with Pop as part of his burn suite.

Also I suppose I should be a little clearer. It isn't that my opponents were unfriendly. Coolcat was the only who didn't chat with me at all in game. (Though he chatted afterward.) They weren't nasty and didn't curse at me. But all the same this same refrain has come up so many times in tribal events that it is wearing on my patience.

The big thing is that they all had the same refrain at the start of the game and in 2 of 3 cases they were totally wrong about the outcome. Admittedly I could have won any of the 4 games that I lost that cost me me those 2 matches because they were really close games. We were all playing bad tribes with suboptimal support cards. Mine was somewhat frozen in place by the restrictions of the challenge and I decided to go the full way and play into the theme despite the fact that playing STP and or Wrath and that card type would have suited the match play better. But that was my choice. I could have played a much tighter deck and I might still have lost anyway. Can't entirely blame the deck there.

The griping just put the event over the top for me as a bad day.

The thing about prize by Kumagoro42 at Sun, 02/02/2014 - 09:29
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The thing about prize penalties. Sure, on paper it seems like it would make sense. In reality? Except some budget players that play 2-tix Goblin decks hoping to win 2 tix (when they can, which is once per month, so why bother punishing them further? It becomes cruel and unusual punishment), most of the players we're talking about here won't care that much, if not maybe as a principle. I'll explain why.

Tribal Apocalypse has a very democratic prize distribution. Most events award prizes to more than one third of the participants (typically is 2 undefeated and 6 with 1-loss in a 20-player event, so that's almost 50% of the participants). It means the single prize isn't a lot, typically little more than 2 tix. Making more people happier, which is the mandate of the event.

Another effect of this is that they guy with 4 Lion's Eye Diamonds don't care in the least about those 2 tix. They don't play for the prizes, they play because this is the only Tribal events where they can play, and one of the few weekly Legacy events as far as I know, and always more fun to play than your average Legacy event with its strictly defined archetypes. And they do want to play their LEDs. (I use LED as an example because nobody actually ever used them here, so it won't feel like I'm talking of someone specifically).

One way to incentivize would by Bazaar of Baghdad at Sun, 02/02/2014 - 10:22
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One way to incentivize would be to take one of the restraining rules, whether mentioned above or something different, and reward separate tribal "Purity" points for a new Purity prize and/or extra player-of-the-year points to deckbuilders who conform, perhaps even regardless of record. Probably only for the Underdog and Pure events, as Regular is fine and Singleton is already sufficiently constrained.

Bazaar, your heart is in the by Kumagoro42 at Sun, 02/02/2014 - 11:26
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Bazaar, your heart is in the right place, yet I don't share any of your solutions (I can get behind just number 3, essentially).

But I need to make a (long) premise first.
As a player, I'm entitled to my opinions on the format. As the host of the event, these opinions clearly influence my mandate. As much as I try to listen to every voice, I won't change my opinions, and those in turn will shape the event as long as I run it.

My strongest opinion, which I'm aware is a divisive one, is that Tribal Wars is sometimes subject to a big misunderstanding. What it is is a creature-based Legacy format. It's not a Vorthos format. It has one rule (with a corollary): "Your deck must be composed by at least one third, rounded down, of creatures sharing at least one type (and since we don't have a way to check that this will still be the case after sideboarding, sideboarding is shut down)".
That's it. It's called Tribal Wars because it's a cool name, but it's not the format where Magic turns into Warhammer Fantasy Battle (which actually is also not entirely Vorthos, but you get what I mean).

But you know what? Actually the armies in Warhammer Fantasy Battle resemble more what we get when we DON'T advocate "tribal purity" (a concept that irks me for a variety of reasons, not last of which is the real life sound of it.) Because they have allies. They create synergies between races that share one common goal. So if I want to be Vorthos, and cool, I try to recreate that feel with my deck.

Many off-tribe creatures are off-tribe in virtue of technicalities. Avenger of Zendikar belongs to a Plant deck. Lord of the Unreal freaking belongs to an Illusion deck. And so on. These are obvious examples, because they're off-tribe lords (and there's plenty of them), and yet they're not playable in Pure events or within a "pure" conception of the format. Which a) makes no sense, and b) actively DAMAGES the format and the flavor.

But it's not even that simple. Some off-tribe creatures aren't off-tribe lords, and yet belong to another tribe because they complete what that tribe is trying to do, in general or in the specific setup you gave to it in your deck.
I played with a Gnome deck yesterday. I'll do a complete deck tech for it in the next article, but what the Gnomes do is that they can put any artifact on the battlefield or the graveyard, put themselves into the graveyard, protect artifacts. Given their abilities they clearly aren't meant to interact with each other: you don't pay 4 and sacrifice Copper Gnomes to cheat into play a Bottle Gnomes. You don't spend 3 mana to regenerate a Gnome that already regenerates on its own. My take on it is a reference to the typical gnome flavor: they're good at building mechanical wonders. So when they go to battle, they build big robots (there's actually plenty of pop culture examples about that). That's what my deck does.

I could have put Dark Confidant in it. Now, that would have been annoying. Why a Human Wizard that whispers demonic-inspired words on your ear should go to battle alongside a bunch of gnomes? It would just be a strong card for the sake of a strong card. Sundering Titan, instead? That's of course one of the Gnomes' best creations (plus, they're all colorless, so they don't care about the mana wheel and attack it directly).

This is my position, my deckbuilding approach. If you try and tell me that I should play "pure Gnome", we're speaking different languages. And I don't care for your language, because it's a language that limits my play, my fun, my flavor, and push a tribe like Gnome out of the meta (if I can't play it like that, I won't play it), encouraging only the biggest, baddest, most obvious tribes that are able to survive on their own.

On your points:

1) & 2) I keep saying it but it keeps being brought up: there's no reason to ban a degenerate combo that nobody plays or it's played once per year. Banning it doesn't help the format in the least. You ban things that are actively affecting the meta. Otherwise it's just a ban for the sake of a ban. We don't have any problem with combo decks. Look at the list of winners, I don't even know whe was the last time a heavy combo deck ended undefeated. Most events are won by fast efficient aggro: Myr Affinity, Merfolk, Berserker, Soltari, only to mention the last 4 winners. The active players at the top of the winners' list aren't combo players. Robin88 does play Cephalid Breakfast a lot (it's in his right to like that deck, and he's only one of two players who ever played it, so his example didn't spread), but also other decks that have nothing to do with that - in fact he only won with Breakfast once.

3) I'm all for taking out, even temporarily, cards that have become lazy ways to complete your lineup with generic strong stuff that goes everywhere. Swords and Jace (now that it's more affordable) qualify.

4) That would damage the smaller tribes. The exact opposite of improving variety. Spirit and Elemental can field 24 strong members. Kithkin and Soldier already do most of the times. Gorgon? Not so much.

Also, let's be clear on two things: a) at the core, I want this to be Legacy Tribal Wars, not Our Own Kitchen Table Mad Format; and b) I won't, I repeat WON'T do anything that increases my workload. I already spend many hours working on TribAp before and after the events. It's a pleasure, but always at risk of becoming a chore (it requires about 20 times the effort my other PREs require). It was becoming a chore before we joined Gatherling. So everything needs to be done within Gatherling and its filters, or else it won't stand.

5) See point 4b. Plus I don't like heirloom as a concept. It will never become a supported format by WotC because it's based on the secondary market. And again, see point 4b. Not only I won't check the lists in a format that's already super-complicate to handle; I won't even check if my opponent has illegal cards. I think that wold be true of most players: they're here to play, not be the judges of their games. And if they do, they'll come to me complaining, and I'll have to disqualify people or issue automatic losses, and there will be arguments, and angry people, and more arguments. I won't wish this to my worst enemy.

6) See points 4a and 4b. In order to play Tribal Wars with a sideboard, you would have to create Legacy tables. Again, I wouldn't check legality on that. I want to play in peace the only tournament I play all week. And I don't want endless debates during the events.
And mostly, if one feels like the Legacy Tribal Wars format should have a sideboard (and I don't, but this post is already too long to explain why), by all means, write to WotC, start a petition to have it changed. I don't think they would even be technically able to do it even if they cared, but I won't stop you.

7) Some strong arguments against the limitation of rares. Strong commons cost more than bulk rares (0.08 or more vs. 0.05). The average, competitive pauper deck costs more than all of the decks listed in the section price that won Tribal Apocalypse events. If you go back and check the price section, you'll find out that most 1st place decks are in the acceptable $50-100 range. Hence we don't have a financial problem.
Plus, good commons are simple and efficient. Rarely fun. Rarely Johnny worthy. I believe the variety wouldn't be enhanced, quite the opposite: the meta would become even more the absolute dominion of fast, efficient aggro with 1- or 2-drop removals. To me, a nightmare.

General arguments against further rules: we should stop the complexity creep, not make it worse. Some players are overwhelmed. New players are overwhelmed. We stop recruiting new players = we die.

Also: don't fix what ain't broken.
Finding new ways to improve what's good is a positive approach. But there's no emergency here. I just said, "Man, the Swords are annoying and lazy". I'm already over it and look forward to Naturalize them all. If the upcoming poll will say that many players feel like they can live without them, I'll ban them, and probably Batterskull, either in Pure or in general (in the latter case the silver lining is that it would bring back Stoneforge Mystic). Otherwise, nothing has to change.

Good framework there on by Bazaar of Baghdad at Sun, 02/02/2014 - 12:51
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Good framework there on Vorthos vs. maintaining original Legacy limitations that are slightly arbitrary - that is the question. I respect your decision for the latter, but I kind of feel it's my duty to make you ban more cards then based on tournament success, at the risk of upsetting other players with degenerate combos. But the purist in me may get the better of my deckbuilding choices, I'm not sure. There were certainly problems with each proposal, some more serious than others. Ultimately a fair solution would boil down to a level of arbitrariness which many people are not comfortable with.