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By: Tribal Apocalypse, Tribal Apocalypse
Mar 07 2014 1:00pm
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where it's a swordless world.

   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

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

by Kumagoro

 As told in past comments (and in PM to several people), I set a date for the re-evaluation of the entire "no more Swords" thing: we'll see where things stand after a complete cycle of events plus one additional Underdog, so announcements will be made after the event of April 5 (which is indeed an Underdog one). In the meantime, Swords of X and Y and Batterskull are out, Stoneforge Mystic is in (for every tribe, that is). Let's see if Stoneforge Mystic will be used in conjunction with something else to justify all the fuss we're doing for her. Otherwise, Swords might be back in one or all the sub-formats. Or I might even come up with some other solution that appeared to me in a dream.

 In the meantime, still no news about the Tribal Wars filter being restored in the client. The forum thread about it is still going on: make your voice heard, this battle is not won just yet.


  • Event Number: 4.08, Week 165 BE
  • Date: March 1st
  • Attendance: 13
  • Rounds: 3
  • Special Rules: Tribal Underdog (only Underdog Tribes allowed)
  • Winner: romellos (Monk)
  • Other undefeated: mihahitlor (Plant)
  • 1 Loss: MisterMojoRising (Soltari), Robin88 (Rebel), _Kumagoro_ (Plant), RexDart (Centaur), Deonmag (Bat)
  • Special Prizes: True Underdog Prize and Up-and-Coming Prize to romellos (Monk)
  • Tribes: Ape, Archer, Bat, Berserker (x2), Centaur, Harpy, Monk, Plant (x2), Rebel, Soltari, Whale
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 First win for romellos this year, and with a tribe that's been in Underdog (and previously in Endangered) all along, yet it was played only 4 times before this event. I'm talking Monk, and it's really weird how entirely overlooked was a tribe that can field a lineup like this:


 The deck romellos piloted to first place also included this guy:

 And he even dropped him against a Plant deck, risking an Ulamog to his face (fortunately, it wasn't that kind of Plant deck). Fortune favours the bold, I guess. For the rest, I got to say, I'm the first to respect the inclusion of off-tribe creatures that complete one tribe's strategy or helps its chances of success, so I understand the presence of some more lifegaining creatures (Baneslayer Angel, Scavenging Ooze) for the sake of Serra Ascendant; but Knight of the Reliquary seems to be there only because she's a strong creature in the right colors. The build would have been more elegant without her, I think.


 At second place we find mihahitlor with Plant, so another well-established Tribal champion piloting a less unusual tribe (played 20 times, you can even watch a weird mirror match below). It's an interesting build because it's essentially based on Chameleon Colossus as the "Plant" delivering the beatdown, with Thragtusk and Inferno Titan as backup and solution providers (lifegaining, removal). Worth noting that the Titan can be dropped as early as turn 2 with a couple of Tinder Walls. Also interesting are the supporting cards: Rolling Earthquake, often obscured by Starstorm yet capable (like its daddy Earthquake was) of outright closing games; and good ol' (Chandra Naalar), the infamous 20-cent planeswalker. I can't really say Chandra 1.0 is a good card in general (although she's still better than Chandra Ablaze), but Tribal Wars might be the one format where she actually makes sense, since for 5 mana she guarantees to take care of 2 or even 3 problematic creatures over as many turns. Of course, any planeswalker is safely at home in a deck with so many defender creatures.


 I mentioned a Plant mirror match, and that was courtesy of Kumagoro himself: it's a build I find amusing to play because Vulturous Zombie is definitely an amusing concept: a dead plant that somehow flies. It also gives me the chance to briefly talk about Natural Order and off-tribe creatures.


 See, I love Natural Order because I see it as a Timmy card. A strong one, of course, since it works both as a tutor and as an accelerator. But the moment Natural Order really became a Spike card, and an unfair one at that, was the moment Progenitus came to be (what would you even fetch back in Mirage block? Aboroth? Crash of Rhinos?). However, even with Progenitus banned in non-Hydra non-Avatar decks (tribes where Natural Order doesn't even fit that easily), there's still nasty green stuff to be fetched these days. Empyrial Archangel comes to mind, but the best non-Progenitus Natural Order target right now has to be Worldspine Wurm.

 All this to say that in the Plant build above, Natural Order is mostly meant to fetch Avenger of Zendikar, a "regular" (sort of) Plant card. Sometimes that would result in a strong play, other times not so much, especially since the main strength of Natural Order in a deck with Wall of Roots is to go off turn 3, but at that point Avenger of Zendikar wouldn't do much; it's certainly welcome, but it's not a game-wrenching move (indeed, I ended up fetching Vulturous Zombie more than once). Had I included even just a singleton copy of Worldspine Wurm (truly) off-tribe, I could have got more out of my Natural Orders. So why didn't I? Because I don't really want to win? Because I'm the host so I can't allow myself to be too cutthroat? Maybe, but there's also a component of having fun with strong cards without being brutal with them. I honestly think that's the spirit we should all adopt: play to win, don't play to brutalize. This is not the Pro Tour, we don't have anything to prove or gain that way.

 I often applaud miha's Spike builds because they're brutal in their efficiency, but not in their showmanship. There's no showmanship in Chandra Nalaar, really. If anything, that's a card you see at the other side of the table and think, "Hey, wait a minute... that's a 20-cent, reviled card, but it's actually pretty good in this meta. Who would have thunk?"

 And speaking of challenges (because the approach I just described sort of is), RexDart's Robin Hood Challenge is still active. Last week, my teammate Leys7 (to whom I say, welcome back!) tried it with this Archer deck, coming close to the two match wins, even in a 3-round event.


 I like some of the creatures Archer can field, like Thornweald Archer and Daybreak Ranger. And look who's back from the last millennium, Jolrael's Centaur! (It ties with RexDart himself playing Centaurs this week. Hello, Courser of Kruphix.) But I don't think Archer even won that much in their handful of appearances, even without the challenge's restrictions. It's not an easy one this time, but the tribe is fun and the reward is big enough.




 Also known as: how much do the top decks cost? As of March 6, 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, romellos's Monks: $564.10 (nonland cards: $85.68; tribal base: $13.39)
  • 2nd place, mihahitlor's Plants: $40.75 (nonland cards: $21.10; tribal base: $9.40)

 The Monk build is very expensive, once again due to the land base. In particular, wow, Tundra is sold at $51 these days. We really need that promo to come out soon. Instead, miha's build typically tries and does the most with the cheapest of the strongest cards available. Did you know that both Thragtusk and Inferno Titan are currently little more than 1 tix? Now you do. Make good use of this information.

 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.



 So, here's the very unusual mirror match between mihahitlor and Kumagoro's Plant builds. Game 1, an early Inferno Titan decides the outcome; lots of resistance from Tree of Redemption, that tries and prolongs the game as much as it can, but all the tiny Plant tokens sired by Avenger of Zendikar get easily mowed down by the fiery Titan, while the Chameleon Colossi can't be dealt with by Golgari removals (not that such things actually showed up in the game). Chandra Nalaar also shines, doing her best Vraska the Unseen impression.

 Game 2, Kuma wins thanks to the flying ability of the glorious Vulturous Zombie, and some well-timed removals.

 Game 3, Kuma should have definitely played that Tree of Redemption earlier on, rather than trying to ramp. Two Inferno Titans are dealt with, but by that time, that rampaging Chameleon Colossus has inflicted too much damage already. Again, Chandra Nalaar shows what she's (unsuspectedly) capable of.

 Here are the rules for the 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. 

 Only one prize is available and it is handled and assigned by 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 Champion's Challenge: AJ_Impy, our reigning Ultimate Tribal Champion, has issued a running challenge of his own: play with a deck featuring 4 copies of a card he'll nominate, and win 3 matches with it during a single event, and AJ will reward you with 1 tix (which you'll keep as eternal memento because it's the tix the Ultimate Champion gave you). You'll be required to prove through a screenshot (or calling either me or him as witnesses, but only if we're not playing!) that you actually played the card and/or activated the card's abilities at least once during the event. And the first chosen card is... Sunforger! Good luck, folks!

 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):

  • 4.09 (Week 166 BE), on March 8: Regular Tribal (just plain old Legacy Tribal Wars)
  • 4.10 (Week 167 BE), on March 15: Tribal Singleton (only one copy of each card except for basic lands)
  • 4.11 (Week 168 BE), on March 22: SPECIAL: Tribal Kaleidoscope (all cards must be multicolored or lands)
  • 4.12 (Week 169 BE), on March 29: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, complete rules here)

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2014!

Vote for your favorite Titan on the Topdeck Awards!



Since my BNG set review got by RexDart at Fri, 03/07/2014 - 15:37
RexDart's picture

Since my BNG set review got eaten by my computer last week, I'll give a short-short version: Courser of Kruphix was my #2 favorite for tribal behind only Brimaz. So naturally I played Centaurs first chance I got! I wanted to maximize the fun and power of Courser of Kruphix, and Knight of the Reliquary is great with both the Courser's landfall-ish lifegain ability and for the ability to see the top of your deck and shuffle it away. I also included Domri Rade and Mirri's Guile to go along with that theme. I expect to play Centaurs again this year, Courser of Kruphix is the best thing they've ever had as a "build-around" creature. The tribe has a minor theme of using the threshold mechanic, and I expected the ample use of fetches and KotR to make that work, but it never proved relevant in any game. If better Centaurs are printed in Journey Into Nyx, I hope to re-work the tribal base without so much focus on threshold. Threshold is a tough mechanic to get going in tribal wars without some real dedicated enablers like Careful Study or Faithless Looting.

Despite the added difficulty of winning 2 matches out of only 3 rounds for the challenge, Leys7 came so close, I would have SWORN that archer tribal should be a favorite against bats in round 3, they have all those flying creatures with 1 or 2 toughness to shoot! But Leys7 flooded out a bit, and I have to give some props to Deonmag's "bleeder" style deck construction. Leys7 would hit the point where he was clearly stabilizing and gained board advantage, but without any lifegain it was just inevitable that he was gonna die to a 2-point life drain from some random bat.

Hey, I missed the "archers by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 03/07/2014 - 16:38
Kumagoro42's picture

Hey, I missed the "archers shooting at bats" aspect of that match! That's hilarious. Guess those elusive bats aren't as easy a target as they look.

" I'm the first to respect by AJ_Impy at Fri, 03/07/2014 - 19:21
AJ_Impy's picture

" I'm the first to respect the inclusion of off-tribe creatures that complete one tribe's strategy or helps its chances of success, so I understand the presence of some more lifegaining creatures (Baneslayer Angel, Scavenging Ooze) for the sake of Serra Ascendant; but Knight of the Reliquary seems to be there only because she's a strong creature in the right colors. The build would have been more elegant without her, I think."

I'm correspondingly the last person to respect off-tribe creatures, but this is something of a disservice to Romellos' deckbuilding style, namely the tightest possible deck with the best possible cards. This is a clever variation on Bant humans, with Avacyn's Pilgrim in for Noble Hierarch and a similar selection of roles across the team. Elegance is very much an irrelevance to him. I was one of the four previous monk players (Possibly two of them), but I forget how the deck did back in the day.

Yeah, but rom isn't just by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 03/07/2014 - 21:51
Kumagoro42's picture

Yeah, but rom isn't just that. You have to read his Modern articles to see that he has other styles, too, and he's no stranger to flavor-oriented choices, even.
Plus, there's always a middle ground to everything. As I said, there's an intellectual justification (and even a flavor one, if you want) for Baneslayer Angel helping Serra Ascendant (you can also see Angelic Destiny being both strong AND flavorful). KotR doesn't even have a mechanical reason to be there, it's just in the Tarmogoyf role. If you looked at deckbuilding as if it was filmmaking (and I do), that would be called a lazy narrative shortcut.

I do follow Romellos' by AJ_Impy at Fri, 03/07/2014 - 22:51
AJ_Impy's picture

I do follow Romellos' writings with interest, which is part of how I formed that opinion of his deckbuilding fingerprint. I've faced Romellos dozens of times, and particularly at this event, his style is very distinctive.

Look through his decklists and you will find dozens of cards shoehorned in purely on the strength of 'being strong cards' regardless of any relevance to a given tribe, most egregiously when a tribe is already among the strongest. Human decks with Tarmogoyf and Deathrite Shaman, Cat decks Zooing it up with Kird Ape, 'goyf and Knight of the Reliquary, and most famously, swords of X and Y wherever they fit, something you yourself raised when he spoke out against them being in the format.

'Lazy narrative shortcuts' are very much his calling card alongside very nonbasic-heavy manabases, much like my tendency to go overboard on mass removal and to include incremental value land type exploiters.

I didn't imply we're not all by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 03/08/2014 - 09:25
Kumagoro42's picture

I didn't imply we're not all a bit lazy sometimes. :)
I just want to push everyone away from their comfort zones!

Well you should. Some of us by Paul Leicht at Sat, 03/08/2014 - 14:12
Paul Leicht's picture

Well you should. Some of us work very hard to avoid the impression of laziness. :/