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Jul 03 2014 12:00pm
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where there's always something to make you forget July 16th is coming.

   Table of Contents 

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

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

by Kumagoro

 Magic 2015 is almost around the corner now, and the spoilers keep giving me nice things. I've already said it, but I want to repeat it: M15 might be the set I'm most excited about since a long while, and that includes Vintage not really into the Power 9, and even if I were, I think this is one of the few cases where the new art would upset me. And for the rest, we just got a few cute legendary guys for Commander, and Council's Judgment. Which, granted, is stealthily the most powerful white exiler ever printed, but I rarely get too excited for such straightforwardly Spike cards. Plus, the rules text will never be not awkward in 1v1.

Here's what the card's text should actually be.

 So, what do I get excited for? Well, what about something like this?

His next incarnation will be shouting "Lilianaaa!" in a ripped wifebeater, a la Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.

 But actually, no, that's too easy and too larger-than-life. Garruk 5.0 is Timmy-esque, and I'm not even sure it'll be a playable Constructed card outside of Standard (of course I'll try it, that goes without saying).

 There's actually some subtle stuff that I'm already loving in this set, several great designs, which is unusual for a Core Set. The last time it happened was probably back in Magic 2011, and that was mostly because of the Titans, whose replacements at Mythic Rare in M15, the Soul cycle, aren't even the most Constructed-worthy mythics in the set, as much flavorful and thematically resonant as they are (the existence of this kind of card is entirely due to the mythic pool of a set needing to be large enough, because if there were just 5 mythics, each of them would appear too often).

 I'm telling you, M15 feels like fresh air to me, and it's possibly thanks to the contributions of 15 external game designers (the full list is here), whose creations are all interesting, sometimes brilliant, making me hope they'll do this kind of outsourcing again. But even the internal team lead by Aaron Forsythe did great, and the tribal applications abound. For instance, I really look forward to playing this card in my reanimator builds, not necessarily Zombie-based:

Card disadvantage in reanimator: not anymore!

 And what about this little common Elemental? So simple, yet elegant and powerful. We'll see a lot of it, that's for sure, either paired off-tribe with the instant-combo piece Myr Superion, or even better with a Reveillark you'll get to attack with on turn 3.

And why not a couple Spawnwrithes on turn 4?

 This one is an explicitly tribal card, even if I can't tell yet if it'll be good.

Maybe in Fungus decks? Or right after an Avenger of Zendikar hits the field?

 My current favorite is for my beloved Insects, though. Remember Broodhatch Nantuko trying to generate some tokens with the help of Swarmyard? Well, forget about it!

Hornets, baby!

 This is card is just so wonderfully flavorful AND powerful, in its own way. Being a 0/2 you can even try and find a way to ping it to generate a token per turn. And those aren't your regular tokens, those Hornets kill almost anything!

 And we got a new Sliver lord (accompanied by the land I featured last week, and a few uncommon Slivers, mostly back to the old design), and a new way for Vedalken to power artifacts really fast.


New titles after, respectively, Queen, Overlord and Legion, and ArchitectSculptor, and another Engineer.

 The return of convoke immediately reminds us of the latest "emergency reprint", which was an unexpected one: none other than Chord of Calling.

Did you ever see a thread on MTG Salvation where everybody says "thank you, WotC"?

 M15 also keeps up the recent attention to the minor, obscure tribes. And with good cards, as well. We got an Ogre that duplicates activated abilities, a Squid (a Squid!) that grows and resists sweeping, and a Hippogriff (a Hippogriff!!!) that flashes Torpor Orb hate onto the battlefield, and will see a lot of play.


No, seriously, that's the second Hippogriff ever. The first one wasn't that bad, though.

 Finally, to remind us that July's theme week on PureMTGO will be Vegetation Week, here's a nice Treefolk and a nice Plant. There's really a little something for everyone in M15!



  • Event Number: 4.25, Week 182 BE
  • Date: June 28
  • Attendance: 16
  • Rounds: 4
  • Subformat: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, complete rules here)
  • Winner: smawatts (Knight)
  • 1 Loss: MisterMojoRising (Elf), ML_Berlin (Human), Deonmag (Zombie)
  • Special Prizes: Hamtastic Award to AJ_Impy and MisterMojoRising
  • Tribes: Demon, Eldrazi (x2), Elemental, Elf, Goblin, Human (x3), Kithkin, Knight, Soldier, Soldier, Treefolk, Wizard, Zombie
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 He finally did it. Our own resident War Reporter smawatts managed to take an event home, and of course he'll tell us all about it in his audio commentaries below, introduced with a special mini-interview that will help us know better this Rock City player. Congrats, Shawn!


 This Knight deck, that features a quite unusual playset of Cursed Scroll (Vintage Masters-inspired?), caused the Purification of Knight Exemplar, which isn't particularly relevant in the grand scheme of things, but we're not at the point where a Major League tribe can win a Pure event and not lose something just yet.

 Once again (it happened for the last 5 events) there was no other undefeated deck, which leaves us with a few 3-1 players. And I want to celebrate two players who, like smawatts himself, represent the "new generation" of Tribal Apocalypse players, and have both become fairly consistent this year. This is ML_Berlin with a Soldier-heavy Human build...


 Here's Deonmag with Zombie. Both are signature tribes for these players.


 Of course, we also had MisterMojoRising, who's been ending in the top places since when he started playing around these parts, and this time did it with these Elves. He also managed to take home the 10th Hamtastic Award: click the link to see his sequence of tribes, a record 13 different ones. MisterMojo could have actually decided to go for a 14th one, but decided not to, allowing AJ_Impy to reach him with a final rush. Nice work, both. The next Hamtastic Award is due on September 27.

 As for me, I was celebrating Vampire Week with a deck where one host of puny Humans were the willing victims of this very fascinating Vampire.

 I was able to play her in a Pure week because of the recently introduced Auxiliary rules: you can have up to 4 copies of one off-tribe card, provided it mentions the name of the tribe in its rule text (or it's a God, or an Artificer for artifact tribes). In this case, Falkenrath Aristocrat clearly states she feeds on Humans, so she becomes her very special, mostly ironic Auxiliary. I do a quick deck tech on Show and Tell, where you can see a couple games too. The deck ended 2-2 but could have easily done more (in one case, it lost because of my mistakes), and it's a lot of fun to play. Here's the list:



 Also known as: how much do the top decks cost? As of July 3, 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, smawatts's Knights: $38.20 (nonland cards: $19.56; tribal base: $16.80)

 Fairly cheap build for the winning Knights, despite the blue splash, due to Hallowed Fountain now costing just a little more than Temple of Enlightenment. Among the tribal base, Mirran Crusader has recently gone back up, surpassing fellow Mirrodin Besieger Hero of Bladehold.

 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.

by Smawatts

 Special: Five Question with first-time Tribal Apocalypse winner and War Reporter smawatts!

 WHO: My name is Shawn Watts, I'm 34, and from the USA; Detroit, originally. I currently work through Easter Seals as a direct assistance person helping people with autism learn social and life skills in order to be more self-reliant. And I spend a good amount of energy on my gaming YouTube channel.

 WHAT: I tend to favor proactive control strategies. But I tend to play whatever seems competitive and within my budget. My favorite tribe is Merfolk, which I oddly haven't yet played in Tribal Apocalypse, probably followed by Vampire, because you can go so super aggressive with them or play a heavy control version of them. I also really enjoyed my Eldrazi reanimator deck because I have always loved graveyard shenanigans.

 WHEN: I started playing Magic back when Fallen Empires came out, I quit just after the end of Masques block. The tournaments I ran had dwindled from 50 players to 15, and even the local pros stopped showing up consistently. It just didn't feel worth my time as much anymore. I got back in through MTGO around Return to Ravnica, after playing Duel of the Planeswalkers and remembering how much I enjoyed the game, and discovering that it had not only recovered from the blahness of Masques but was better than ever.

 WHERE: Well, this maybe a bit of a cop-out but my favorite format is Cube. I generally try to record at least two or three PREs a week, generally Modern, which I love but the cost explosion on Modern cards has pushed it out of my budget; then Tribal obviously, and I try to catch a Friday Night Standard or a Sunday Heirloom depending on schedule, and on a good week maybe get in a draft. Every once in a while I will play Pauper, but the Tuesday Pauper PRE goes way too late for me these days. The only format I don't play is Commander and that is mostly due to a dislike of multiplayer. I currently only play paper magic with my 12-year-old cousin who is just getting into the game.

 WHY: I think that after technical play, the most important skill to work on if you want to be a better Magic player is deckbuilding, and Tribal Wars is great for that. It has the deep card pool of Legacy, but you can't generally just copy the 60 from a Legacy daily or an SCG. You have to actually build a
deck, and it reminds me of those days way back when I was first playing Magic in high school and would have a notebook full of decklists and ideas, and I love that. It also changes the question for deckbuilding from "what is the best deck", to "what can I do with [insert tribe]".

 And now, the victorious War Report.

 It seems that very aggressive decks have been dominating the winners bracket of Tribal Apocalypse the last few weeks. Lots of Goblins and a good amount of white weenies. So I decided I wanted to play something that would be geared toward beating an all-in aggressive plan. I decided on Knights because they can generally clog up the ground very well with a wall of first strikers, and then with exalted triggers and/or Knight Exemplar (my pick for most unique and overpowered lord) you can start sending a single knight in to chip away at their life totals while building out a dominating board position. My big worries were Soltari, as they can be hard to race, but hopefully I was packing enough removal to slow them down; plus combo decks, which I fully expected to lose to since that tends to be what happens when midrange meets combo. I had Mana Leak for that, but If I owned a playset of Vindicate, I would have probably splashed black and not blue.

 Round 1: Against Gq1rf7 with Treefolk. So I mostly built my Knight deck to be able to crush aggressive red decks. Then in round 1 I play against a monogreen Treefolk deck that is trying to just go way over the top of with giant unkillable trees. Mirran Crusader did a lot of work as a lumberjack in this match. 

 Round 2: Against fliebana with Kithkin. A very aggressive white weenie deck, overall a very similar build, with his being a bit faster while mine is a bit more set up to take control. I think ultimately who played first was one the big deciders of the match.

 Round 3: Against MisterMojoRising with Elves. Ugh, monogreen combo Elves is one of the match-ups I was dreading and hoped to dodge. It's super fast and requires answers very very quickly. Mana Leak becomes a dead card almost the turn after I can cast it and they don't care about the attrition game I am trying to play.

 Round 4: Against ML_Berlin with Human. Very similar to round 2, though against Berlin's deck ultimately the match was all about  weathering his early rush then making my army indestructible through Knight Examplar.



 So, a Vampire eating Humans for the greater good. It's a build (click to see the list from Gatherling – remember Darksteel Relic is a placeholder, as explained in the note) that Falkenrath Aristocrat easily suggests. You can take different directions with the concept, though. I didn't want to be entirely dependent on the Aristocrat, but of course all the Humans in my deck needed to be prepared to face death, or at least to see their friends die. This lead to the most obvious inclusions: the one-drop Doomed Traveler, which leaves a very handy flyer behind after feeding the Vampire; and the other token-generator Xathrid Necromancer, that's a bit slower but potentially rewarding in the long run.


 I didn't want to fully take the route of the Standard deck named The Aristocrats after Falkenrath herself and Cartel Aristocrat, but in hindsight maybe I should try and include a larger number of Humans, like Skirsdag High Priest, that seems especially fitting for my midrange style, and Silverblade Paladin or even Knight of Infamy, that help Falkenrath Aristocrat in their own way while holding down the fort on the ground. Instead, I went with Unruly Mob, which looked like a solid 2-drop but is probably not ideal; and Orzhov Pontiff, which may result very destructive, but also irrelevant at times. Plus the idea of haunting one of my creatures, then sacrificing the haunted to trigger the ETB effect again was just as clunky as it reads. You're surely bound to meet 1/1s you want to kill en masse, but four is almost certainly not the right number for the Pontiff.


 Mostly, though, I went in knowing that the Legacy pool included a Human that I always love to build around, like I did for my Venser deck from a couple weeks ago. I'm talking about Academy Rector, of course, and where the Rector goes, a  larger-than-life toolbox of enchantments follows. One of them was Banishing Light, a.k.a. "the Oblivion Ring that's not banned in Pure" (and I think it's fine, by the way. O-Ring was banned because it was too obvious a choice. Banishing Light becomes obvious as a consequence, but it's not been seen around enough yet. Plus, white has been targeted too much with the Pure bannings already). After working in two full playsets of removals (including Tragic Slip, particularly effective in a deck with so many death triggers), I allowed myself 4 slots to devote to Rector-fueled enchantments. These are the four I ended up choosing.


 Of these, Eldrazi Conscription is the less questionable. In a game that unfortunately didn't save on the server, I followed up a Rector with an Aristocrat, who immediately ate the Rector and a Doomed Traveler, attacking as a 16/13 monstrosity with flying, trample, indestructible and annihilator 2. Considering the Rector can find ways to die even when the Aristocrat is not around (I should include more lands to sacrifice it, not just the singleton Phyrexian Tower), you can try and make any available creature wear the Conscription, with possible devastating results.

 The rest of them was mostly for fun. Enslave in particular was an experiment that didn't disappoint. Granted, it could have been Exclusion Ritual, but I wanted to do things differently than with the Venser deck, and Enslave felt more thematic. And I already had Banishing Light for emergency exiling, after all. When you have some problematic creature on the other side of the table, controlling it while doing extra damage per turn is far from a bad solution.

 Now, Debtors' Knell is a strong card for sure. And this deck kills a fair share of things, so the targets shouldn't be lacking. Still, I rarely found myself compelled to fetch it. My original reasoning was that my own creatures go to the graveyard on a regular basis by my own volition. But is bringing them back so crucial as to warrant the complicate fetching of a 7-mana enchantment? Resolving such an effect should be more game-breaking than what happens when I just reanimate a Doomed Traveler per turn. And sure, the opponent might be running a fattie tribe, or trying and reanimating big stuff of his own. But it's less likely than one might think. I also considered Grave Betrayal in this slot, which gives me the creatures faster, but it's not retroactive, as it needs to see them die in order to grab them; plus, it only works on the opponent. All in all, I think Grave Pact or Martyr's Bond would be better choices here.

 Finally, there's Painful Quandary. It's cheap enough for me to be able to hardcast it if I draw into it, which is good. But it's one of those cards that are very hard to judge. I put it in play once, and the opponent destroyed it on sight, 2-for-1-ing themselves in the process. It's most definitely a pain in the butt if it sticks, but is it something I want to fetch on purpose? It doesn't really control, nor really disrupts, nor really deals damage; it's an oddity for the sake of the oddity, which may be good enough for me, but in the end I wasn't particularly amused by its presence. If the deck wants to fulfill its potential, while still keeping the Academy Rector plan, I should put Exclusion Ritual or Teferi's Moat in this slot. Or maybe a second Conscription.

 That's enough for the Tell; for the Show part, here's a couple of fun games I won against romellos, who was playing Soldier (and using the Auxiliary rule himself, for Heliod). In this one, Falkenrath Aristocrat proves to be great at playing indestructible defense as well. Just before one of those instant-speed Enslaves sort of decided the game.

 And here we have double Necromancer on the battlefield, resulting in Zombies goons for our favorite Vampire. In other news, Porcelain Legionnaire doesn't like Tragic Slip much.


 Just to remind you of a few things:

 VMA Cards are not yet on Gatherling: Due to the recent change of Gatherer architecture, the data import of the latest set into Gatherling is taking long than usual (the code needs to be rewritten). In the meantime, you can regularly use the cards, but you need to "trick" Gatherling by putting a placeholder in the list, then specifying in a note what VMA card you're actually playing instead.

 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.


 Cockatrice Wants You! And Badger and Siren, too! Be the first to win a match with freshly promoted to tribes Cockatrice, Badger or Siren, 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 (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 third quarter of 2014. The quarter will end September 27. 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):

  • 4.26 (Week 183 BE), on July 5: Tribal Underdog (only Underdog Tribes allowed)
  • 4.27 (Week 184 BE), on July 12: Regular Tribal (just plain old Legacy Tribal Wars)
  • 4.28 (Week 185 BE), on July 19: Tribal Kaleidoscope (only multicolored cards and lands)
  • 4.29 (Week 186 BE), on July 26: Pure Tribal (no off-tribe creatures, complete rules here)

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2014!

Vote for your favorite Equipment on the Topdeck Awards!