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By: Tribal Apocalypse, Tribal Apocalypse
May 15 2014 12:00pm
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where all is well with the world, all things considered.

   Table of Contents 

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

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

by Kumagoro

 So, the Legacy Tribal Wars filter is back, the Vintage Masters are coming (yay to Recurring Nightmare in Modern frame! Fingers crossed for Survival of the Fittest now), and Tribal Apocalypse proceeds at cruising speed. (Let's just ignore that the V3 is going dark soon, for now.)

 I'm satisfied with the reworked rotation (this week we'll have the first official Kaleidoscope event). And I like the new course for Pure Tribal: witnessing the cutthroat tribes losing more and more of their weapons is fun (and it's a process that'll take years to be anything near complete, so we'll keep seeing it for a long while). But looking at the state of things, I realized there was a minor changed I wanted to make, something I wanted to tweak a little. Pure Tribal is the format I'm focusing more on, because I feel like it could become the most entertaining experience. Underdog has the big limitation of excluding a large number of tribes players like to play with; Singleton and Kaleidoscope are both too radically different from Legacy Tribal Wars to really represent it (in fact, they are the marriage of Tribal Wars with another existing format, not just a subset of it); and Regular is of course the Realm of the Cutthroat.

 This brings us back to Pure. The tweak I mentioned is about off-tribe creatures. Let's talk about those for a moment. There are three broad cases of off-tribe creatures in Tribal Wars decks (quick digression: a "tribal deck" and a "Tribal Wars deck" are two very different things):


  • Type 1: Off-tribe lords. This is pretty much a necessity. Back in the time, all the lords would have been off-tribe, because they all had the "Lord" type (so we could have had a Lord tribe with a bunch of guys who would essentially do nothing for each other). Luckily for us, that was retconned eventually, but they still print off-tribe lords. For instance, the Lord of the Illusions isn't an Illusion (see above); the Lord of the Thrulls isn't a Thrull, and so on. It's flavorful, of course: the Illusions are creations of a Wizard, and so are the Thrulls, which are lab slaves. In the world of Tribal Wars, though, that flavor translates into an issue, because it means those lords won't count towards the tribal quota of the deck. For us, it also means they will be left out of the Pure Tribal subformat entirely (it makes often almost no sense at all to use one of them in their actual tribes), and that's what I want to rectify (more on that below).
  • Type 2: Off-tribe creatures that complement the deck's strategy. Sometimes a tribe needs some support to do what the tribe does. Fattie tribes want discard outlets to build reanimator, and they might want the help of Fauna Shaman or Putrid Imp in that regard. Conversely, tribes that are good at discarding stuff, like Imp or Rat, or tribes that are good at cheating stuff into play, like Artificer or Gnome, might want worthy targets they can't find in-tribe. This is sort of a gray area, because by including off-tribe creatures you make your tribe stronger, but in a way that your tribe suggests.
  • Type 3: Off-tribe creatures that are just good stuff. You tribe isn't strong enough, or you just want to make it stronger? Just put Tarmogoyf or Knight of the Reliquary in there. They'll do most of the job, sometimes even pushing the actual tribe members aside with a "Stand back, kid. Let the pro work" attitude. Of course this may happen sneakily too, through things like Spectral Procession or Battle Screech, which aren't technically creature cards but fill the same role of creature cards with specific types that might well be off-tribe.


 Now, Pure Tribal demonizes them all equally, but that's mostly designed to punish the Type 3 of off-tribe inclusions, and only secondarily Type 2 (which isn't without side effects, though: by essentially killing some archetypes like reanimator you just helps the others to thrive; and, say, fast aggro isn't more or less fair; it's just different).

 What about Type 1, then? Punishing that kind of off-tribe creatures doesn't seem fair at all, it just reduces the deckbuilding possibilities for no reason, in a format that's meant to attack the top of the food chain, not random points along it. I want to give the fair deckbuilders all the tools of the trade. So the new rule is this: in Pure events decks are allowed to include up to 4 copies of one single off-tribe creature (we'll call it your Auxiliary), with the following limitations:

  1. Your Auxiliary can be an off-tribe lord, defined as a creature that mentions your chosen tribe in its rule text while not sharing the tribe's type.
  2. Your Auxiliary can be a God.
  3. If all the creatures in your deck have the artifact type, your auxiliary can be an Artificer (except for Stoneforge Mystic). 

 Point 3 represents the fact that the Artificers are the artifacts' creators (it's right there in the name) and often meant to help and care about them more than they help and care about each other (which is why an Artificer deck often includes off-tribe stuff itself. But please note that they don't actually take any advantage as a tribe from this new rule, because they can't elect, say, Blightsteel Colossus as their Auxiliary). Stoneforge Mystic isn't included in this deal, since she deals with equipments, not artifact creatures. Plus, she's still, and probably remains, not playable in Pure events except in Kor and Artificer decks.

 I mean to make a list of all the known off-tribe lords before the next Pure event (that's due for May 31), so everyone will know what the options are. On top of that, I wanted to allow a God as your Auxiliary, because while Gods make a tribe of decent size now, they'll hardly be played as such (AJ is experimenting on it, but it vastly remains a challenge for Johnnies). The way they've been designed, God plays more like planeswalkers, even flavorfully caring for their "people" more than for each other. Having a creature type, though, meant for them to bounce against the off-tribe barrier once again.


 I even considered allowing one Wall as Auxiliary, but I discarded the idea for now, for simplicity's sake. The Walls are a special type of creature, because if you think of it, they are creatures by rule's necessity, not by design. The game wanted to represent the kind of classical fantasy situation where the powerful wizard summons a column of fire or a barrier of stone to shield himself. Mechanic-wise, these mystical protections had to be considered creatures (it wasn't worth it to create a card type for them specifically), incidentally leading to comical situations where you give the fire barrier a pair of boots to wear, or you bribe it, or you slice its throat (seriously, I'd love to see how Go for the Throat on a Wall of Fire plays out in reality). All this to say that, despite how the rules are forced to treat them, the Walls are objects (it's telling that when one of them was actually organic they felt the need to make it a specific peculiarity), and as such it would feel safe to allow the presence of them off-tribe even when we play in a "pure" fashion. Your tribe is bound to build fortifications now and then, after all. It would be harmless enough, just resulting in slower green tribes using Wall of Roots or slower white Tribes using Wall of Omens, or something along these lines. But let's put this idea on hold for the moment. The off-tribe lord situation is what really needed fixing, this would be just cosmetic.

 Keep in mind that these 4 slots are still off-tribe inclusions. They don't replace anything in your tribal base, they're part of your off-tribe allowance, which within Pure Tribal construction rules doesn't otherwise allow for any creature at all. Now you can have up to either one playset of one off-tribe lord (which can be an Artificer if you're playing an artifact tribe), or one playset of one God. Not both, and no more than that.

 Finally, here's how we'll do it on Gatherling. Of course I won't ask Dabil to modify the Pure filter to allow exceptions just for this (okay, maybe I'll do, but for now we'll manage without that.) When you want to use an Auxiliary in your Pure deck, just put the established placeholder in the list you reg, and specify in the notes which Auxiliary it stands for. The established placeholder being Darksteel Relic, which is a neutral-looking card nobody seems likely to ever use. (If you actually want to play it while also playing an Auxiliary, well, just tell in the notes which other placeholder you're using).


  • Event Number: 4.18, Week 175 BE
  • Date: May 10
  • Attendance: 18
  • Rounds: 4
  • Special Rules: Regular Tribal (just plain old Legacy Tribal Wars)
  • Winner: MisterMojoRising (Elemental)
  • Other undefeated: mihahitlor (Elf)
  • 1 Loss: milegyenanevem (Elf), Gq1rf7 (Elf), arcbounddaylabor (Human)
  • Special Prizes: Underdog Prize to vantar6697 (Minion)
  • Tribes: Elemental (x2), Elf (x4), Faerie, Goblin, Golem (x2), Human (x3), Kor, Merfolk, Minion, Soldier, Zombie
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 Tribal Apocalypse have been Elfless for a long spell (Elf didn't win a single event in all of 2013, going undefeated just once and generally not being played much until March of this year). Well, not anymore, if this quadruple Elf presence, taking 3/4 of the Top 4 placements, is any indication. Oh well, at least they didn't manage to win. MisterMojoRising did, once again, with these burning Elementals that all only last for the blink of a sore eye.

by MisterMojoRising - 1st place
4 Ball Lightning
4 Hell's Thunder
4 Hellspark Elemental
4 Skizzik
4 Spark Elemental
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Earthquake
4 Fireblast
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rolling Earthquake
16 cards
22 Mountain
2 Barbarian Ring
24 cards

Spark Elemental


 Finalist Elves were mihahitlor, followed at 3rd and 4th place by milegyenanevem and Gq1rf7's ones. Click on those names if you want to look at the lists, but I'm pretty sure you can already imagine what was in them: some combination of Priest of Titania, Elvish Archdruid, Umbral Mantle and Ezuri, Renegade Leader.

 I'd rather showcase the Minion deck with which vantar6697 took home the Underdog Prize and scored the Phage the Untouchable achievement.


 And for the rest... well, nothing else, really. Just a bunch of Human, Goblin, Merfolk and Zombie and such (Robin88 brought back his Korphalid Breakfast). Creative slump, guys? Standing out a little there was a couple of Golem decks, by AJ_Impy and Leys7, but even those didn't feel particularly new. Leys7's featured my beloved Chalice of the Void, plus Phyrexian Colossus enabled by Voltaic Key, so let's just put it there.




 Also known as: how much do the top decks cost? As of May 15, 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, MisterMojoRising's Elementals: $11.06 (nonland cards: $10.84; tribal base: $5.40)

 Not cheap enough to make the list below, but still little more than a 10-buck deck. That's how mono-red builds usually roll, making hard to agree to who says that a competitive deck in any Legacy format is super-expensive.

 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, $3.58, 1st place on Event 169
  4. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.70, 1st place on Event 145
  5. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $4.12, 2nd place on Event 141
  6. Gq1rf7's Assassins, $4.18, 1st place on Event 147
  7. Trickerie's Golems, $4.31, 1st place on Event 138
  8. arcbounddaylabor's Goblins, $4.46, 1st place on Event 111
  9. Coolcat1678's Elves, $5.13, 2nd place on Event 149
  10. ellmaris's Goblins, $6.52, 2nd place on Event 103

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


 Just to remind you of a few things: 

 Voting on Swords of X and Y Still Ongoing: Do you want the Swords (and Batterskull) to be unbanned in Underdog and Pure? (Remember they're not banned anywhere else, nor will.) We have collected 19 votes out of 30 so far. Current tally is here (and will be reposted in the comments below).

 Special Duel Week: Plants vs. Zombies on May 24: You'll need a Plant deck and a Zombie deck to play. Each round, players listed first in the pairings will play Plant, the others will play Zombie. Zombie decks can't have off-tribe creatures. Plant decks can, but only if they are Treefolks, Fungi or green Elementals. Be aware that a deck with exactly 20 creatures that have both the Plant and Zombie types counts as a Plant deck (as per rule f2 on Tribal Identity). To count as a Zombie deck, it'll need one non-Plant Zombie more. For the rest the event will follow the Regular event rules but will have a special additional ban list with all the green and black (and Forest and Swamp) hosers. I'll release it next week, but you can expect every hostile instance of "all green creatures/permanents, "all black creatures/permanents", "all forests", and "all swamps" (or equivalent wording) to be banned. Grave Bramble will not be banned.

 Cockatrice Wants You! Be the first to win a match with (sort of) new tribe Cockatrice and you'll win 1 tix. Remember: only tribes with at least 3 members are effectively considered tribes in Tribal Apocalypse (since tribes that field an equal or greater number of Changelings than actual members count as Shapeshifter decks). Tribes with exactly 3 members, like Cockatrice, are allowed to play in Underdog events with 8 slots filled by Changelings, whereas nobody else (but, of course, Shapeshifter decks) can play with more than 4 Changelings in those events.

 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 (los alt=ing 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 second quarter of 2014. The quarter will end June 28. 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):

  • 4.19 (Week 176 BE), on May 17: Tribal Kaleidoscope (only multicolored cards and lands)
  • 4.20 (Week 177 BE), on May 24: Special: Plants vs. Zombies (all players need to reg a Plant deck and a Zombie deck)
  • 4.21 (Week 178 BE), on May 31: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, complete rules here)
  • 4.22 (Week 179 BE), on June 7: Tribal Underdog (only Underdog Tribes allowed)

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2014!

Vote for your favorite Equipment on the Topdeck Awards!




I'm fine with the new by AJ_Impy at Thu, 05/15/2014 - 13:03
AJ_Impy's picture

I'm fine with the new auxiliary rule, seems a fair solution and opens up some interesting new possibilities (Angel of Glory's Rise in a human deck, for example. Bonus points if you can wings of velis vel your opponent first to make his stuff zombies)

Does this mean that the non-creature type 3 good stuff cards you mention are going to be cut out?

As an aside, you answered your own question.

"And for the rest... well, nothing else, really. Creative slump, guys?"

As you said,

"Regular is of course the Realm of the Cutthroat."

The purest form of tournament play is with optimised decks all playing the best possible cards for their archetype. Creativity and originality introduce elements that have not yet been found to be optimal: It is safer to go with the stuff that works no matter what in order to ensure the best return.

You have said yourself this is a tournament first and foremost. Why do you sound disappointed that you have what you wanted? So long as this event is a tournament first and foremost, it will be treated as such. No need to innovate, especially not in an eternal-based format, so long as a given strategy works.

I don't have an answer here, although I will say the current format of achievements doesn't seem to be working as well as previous ones did, haven't seen anyone try for them in ages.

"Does this mean that the by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 05/15/2014 - 14:54
Kumagoro42's picture

"Does this mean that the non-creature type 3 good stuff cards you mention are going to be cut out?"

What do you mean? In other formats? They're already out of Pure, of course.

And I wasn't seriously disappointed. It was just a humorous observation. But one can be cutthroat while not rehashing the same list again and again. It's my duty not to applaud this kind of approach, which however still remains perfectly legitimate. But when you have a kid that can get A, and is content to aim for B-, don't you feel the need to tell him, "C'mon, you can do better than this?"

Also, please don't confuse what I allow with what I want. "I disapprove of what you build, but I will defend to the death your right to build it."

I was referring to Battle by AJ_Impy at Thu, 05/15/2014 - 15:03
AJ_Impy's picture

I was referring to Battle Screech and Spectral Procession. Have they been banned in Pure?

No, no. It was just part of by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 05/15/2014 - 16:56
Kumagoro42's picture

No, no. It was just part of the analysis.
They might be purified in future, though.

Fair enough. I'd suggest by AJ_Impy at Thu, 05/15/2014 - 22:36
AJ_Impy's picture

Fair enough. I'd suggest changing 'Now, Pure Tribal demonizes them all equally, but that's mostly designed to punish the Type 3 of off-tribe inclusions' to 'Pure Tribal demonises them all equally except the sneaky technicality type 3 cards, but that's mostly designed to punish the Type 3 of off-tribe inclusions' :)

It does seem a bit odd that fully half the examples you provide for Type 3, the type of card you don't want in the event, can be played in the event without restriction. Or is it just me?

Maybe I didn't specify it by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 05/16/2014 - 06:29
Kumagoro42's picture

Maybe I didn't specify it well enough (are you feeling nitpicky today?), but that section of the article had two subsections:

Subsection 1: Let's classify and discuss the type of ways you can use off-tribe creatures in Legacy Tribal Wars, including the sneaky ones.

Subsection 2: A new ruling for Pure Tribal events.

Do I at any point say, "And from now on, cards that generate creatures different from your tribe are banned from Pure events"? Because that would be kind of a necessary wording when announcing a new rule while announcing another, entirely different rule. (And that rule would be huge and hated by many, myself included.)

Spectral Procession and Battle Screech aren't examples for Type 3, because as I say, they're not creature cards, so they don't fall under the "including off-tribe creatures in your deck" discussion. They're mentioned to stress the idea that there's indeed no way to play entirely "pure" even under Pure rules (and what could we do about that? Ban every token creator, including things like Elephant Guide? What about Master of Waves?), and illustrated for the sake of people who didn't remember what they were and didn't feel like clicking on the links. I should have probably found a couple of examples of different colors that don't feel so close mechanically, like maybe Necrogenesis or Awakening Zone.

Plus, make no mistake, white has tons of strong ways to put tokens into play (Lingering Souls, Midnight Haunting, Promise of Bunrei, Timely Reinforcements), so that strategy's key is actually Honor of the Pure. Spirit, in particular, is even a flavorful type for the white humanoid tribes, because they represent the spirits of their fallen who come back to help. (Bird, not so much).

Semi-unrelated: several Angels are eligible Auxiliaries for Spirit.

It might be interesting to by AJ_Impy at Fri, 05/16/2014 - 09:29
AJ_Impy's picture

It might be interesting to have a 'no offtribe tokens' rule. They'd still be playable in spirit or bird respectively, just not splashed as free good stuff.

I do like the Auxiliary rule as presented, as it neatly handles one side of the problem.

It's an excellent idea to add by romellos at Thu, 05/15/2014 - 14:33
romellos's picture

It's an excellent idea to add God or a Lord as an Auxiliary to the Pure format.

I agree with your opinion about Gods that they are like Planeswalkers. As, I have added Gods to my previous two Pure decks unintentionally, then realized again and again that they are creatures. It's somehow natural to think them as auxiliary by their design.

The ironic part of this is by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 05/15/2014 - 14:56
Kumagoro42's picture

The ironic part of this is that I'm pretty sure Illusion will end undefeated at some point while running Lord of the Unreal, and in that case, I'll purify it! :)

Little update on the Plants by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 05/17/2014 - 22:11
Kumagoro42's picture

Little update on the Plants vs. Zombies event: the off-tribe rule for the Plant decks now is just limited to Avenger of Zendikar alone (no need to complicate this part, Avenger of Zendikar is the only relevant card in any case, being their off-tribe lord). Remember Zombies don't have access to any off-tribe creature, and neither deck can use Changeling.

Sure to be in the ban list (probably already 95% of the list):

Circle of Protection: Black
Circle of Protection: Green
Reign of Terror
Major Teroh
Dream Tides
Light of Day
Call to the Grave
Acid Rain

For the rest, ban list as a Regular event.

Note: Grave Bramble will NOT be banned. It's the flavor that originates the duel (from the videogame Plants vs. Zombies). Similarly, Elephant Grass will also be allowed for flavor reasons, but it's also less destructive than Light of Day, doesn't prevent blocking and it wears off eventually.
Stuff that gives protection to one creature won't be banned (including Blazing Torch). Be wise and put something in your deck that can deal with those things and you'll be fine.