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By: Tribal Apocalypse, Tribal Apocalypse
Sep 19 2014 1:02pm
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse!

   Table of Contents 

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

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

by Kumagoro

 Khans of Tarkir is almost here (I'll have a Tribal Evaluation coming up soon), and with it comes a brand new tribe for us to explore, and a promising one at that (unlike, you know, that one). Before doing a baby shower for the Naga, though, just a couple of routine announcements pertaining to the Tribal Apocalypse's ban lists.

 First of all, let's not forget that, as already announced, Kaleidoscope events (of which we'll have a new one this week) will now have to make without the "Half Progenitus", Oversoul of Dusk. So change your decklists accordingly.

She's banned, baby. She's banned.

 More so, I ran into a couple of powerful Goblin builds lately, and while they didn't storm the event or anything, I realized that Goblin Lackey might be a bit over the top, after all. It's been banned for years, because scary, then unbanned toward the end of last season, and mostly lay dormant since, until recently has been picked up by Goblin players to make for an explosive start where either the opponent has an immediate answer to it, or they'll find themselves facing a turn-2 Siege-Gang Commander or Krenko, Mob Boss.


I'm not exactly sure what the flavor is supposed to be here, but the guy with the helmet is more intimidating than the guy with the big ears.

 Using a Gatherling tool that you might have been unaware of (the "Deck Search" button), we can see exactly how many times Goblin Lackey has been played in Tribal Apocalypse, when, by whom, and with which results. Once we filter out Singleton events, where it has always been playable with no particular impact (it's Singleton, after all), we're left with 17 decks that ran the Lackey in Regular events since October 2013 (unfortunately, I can't link to these searches directly). The results of these attempts have been barely average, as Lackey-including decks ended undefeated 3 times, but we also have a couple of negative scores. Par for the course for Goblins, probably. What I'm saying is that I don't particularly feel Goblin Lackey is making a big impact on the meta, and in fact I never heard defeated players swearing vengeance upon him, and has never even be eligible for purification in Pure events (after all, most Goblin builds still favor mad consistency over a 1-drop that might or might not come at the right moment – which is in first hand).

 Still, with the recent banning of Umbral Mantle, it might seem unfair toward Elves to keep Goblin's most powerful toy around when they've been deprived of their favorite one. I don't know, though, I'm still just pondering on it. Maybe Goblin Lackey belongs to the ban list in Regular just because both Goblin and Elf are such unparalleled powerhouses (Human gets there with them only because Human is essentially 10 different tribes rolled into one), that they shouldn't be allowed any more advantage than they already inherently have. Any thoughts?

 Anyway, let's give a warm welcome to the Naga! (Or, you know, a cold-blooded one).



 There's only 5 of them so far, but they look like they might go in Tarkir block the way of the Satyr in Theros block. And they already have a legendary one! And interestingly, they already embrace the full range of rarities.

 In Sankrit, "nāga" identifies the Indian cobra, or more generically the snake. In fact, the English word "snake" itself shares the same etymological origin, the Proto-Indo-European word "snego" (here morphologically approximated for non-linguists). The mythological nagas are creatures that are typically human-like from the waist up and snake-like from the waist down (or shapeshifting snakes) from Indian and other Asian myths and religions. In the Mahabharata they're mostly evil, but in Hinduism, they're akin to natural spirits, associated with waters. They're curious and not malevolent, they bring rain and fertility but also floods, so you better not make them angry.


Naga Kanya, "daughter of the snake", a Hindu deity later linked to the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna, from whom the Tribal Apocalypse player took his name! (I think)

 In the world of collectible card games, the nagas already appeared as one of the playable factions in one of the best non-Magic CCGs, Legend of the Five Rings, which has a feudal Japan setting that includes other Asian flavors as well. Tarkir adopts the same kind of pan-Asian sensibility, which is interesting in that it gives MTG the chance to revisit the fascinating Kamigawa themes without actually going back to Kamigawa itself. The Tarkir nagas are, unsurprisingly, mostly blue and green, while belonging to the Sultai clan, which also includes black (so that probably accounts for a bit of their Mahabharata-inspired naughtiness).

Female nagas are called "nagi" or "nagini". They're not always this cute. (Art by Cassidy Stone, storyboarder for Archer).

 Speaking of the Tarkir clans, i.e. the enemy-colored triplets, I realized they have been engineered in such a way that I'm not sure will lead to the same mnemonic ease with which we remember the Alara shards. See, in Magic a cycle of 5 elements is typically linked one way or another to the 5 colors of mana. In the case of the Alara shards, for instance, each of them was actually thematically and mechanically based on just one color: Bant was white, Esper was blue, Grixis was black, Jund was red, Naya was green. It was easy because you just had to remember these basic associations, with the cards and mechanics themselves helping up in that regard, and you would immediately know the other two colors in the triplet, because those would just be the two "allies" of the central color, which means the two neighbour colors in the color wheel.

 Now, with Tarkir, one would think they replicated the same concept using enemy colors, the famous "wedges". But it's not actually the case, as you can see from this scheme:

Clan Dragon Aspect Central Identity Colors
 Abzan  Endurance (Scale) White WBG
 Jeskai  Cunning (Eye) Blue URW
 Sultai  Ruthlessness (Fang) Black BGU
 Mardu  Speed (Wing) Red RWB
 Temur  Savagery (Claw) Green GUR

 So, while it's very evident from their themes and flavor what each clan is supposed to stand for, that central color is not paired with its two enemies, but with one enemy and one ally, which defies mnemonic shortcuts, because each color has four possible pairings this way (for instance, WUB, WUR, WUG and WBG all describe "white plus one ally and one enemy"). More so, if you remember that, say, Temur are the green-oriented guys, all about savagery, claws and, mechanically, big creatures, you're actually talking of the "wedge blue" triplet, while the real wedge green triplet is the black-based one, which is more than a little confusing. I suppose that there have been reasons to design the clans this way, possibly to avoid too many jumps within the color pie while creating the cards (I didn't check if Mark Rosewater commented on this aspect yet). But I still find it mightily counter-intuitive.

 Anyway, Eastern reptilian mythologies in the Tarkir plane don't stop at the nagas, because we also have the Return of the Kirin!

After more than 9 years of waiting, we finally got... a Limited filler.

 Well, it's one Kirin, and not a particularly exciting one at that (it's also more of the unicorn-like variety rather than the dragon-like ones from Kamigawa), but it's a first step, isn't it?


  • Event Number: 4.36, Week 193 BE
  • Date: September 13
  • Attendance: 17
  • Rounds: 4
  • Subformat: Regular
  • Winner: romellos (Merfolk)
  • 1 Loss: MisterMojoRising (Zombie), arcbounddaylabor (Human), Dawwy (Human), LeilaPari (Elf), mihahitlor (Goblin)
  • Underdog Prize: m4vis (Myr)
  • Tribes: Beast, Elf, Goblin (x4), Human (x2), Merfolk, Monk, Myr, Sliver, Spirit, Warrior, Zombie (x3)
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 This week in the romellos-MisterMojoRising race for the 1st place in the seasonal leaderboard... romellos is ahead again, thanks to these slightly more midrange than usual Merfolk (Mishra's Factory? It's because you sold the Mutavaults, rom?)


 But MisterMojoRising is just 3 points behind, thanks to his Living End Zombies (that come right after the Living End Spiders from last week. I remember when raf.azevedo would play a Living End deck based on  different tribes every other week. Raf has abandoned Magic for the time being, and I pay homage to him with this mental association).


 Do you realize that these two combined have won the last 7 events? It's unprecedented. Somebody has to stop them!

 The Big Three tribes follow, with the two registered Humans both ending Top 4, in spite of all those Goblins. This build by arcbounddaylabor is essentially a Modern Delver deck ported into Human. Did you know that pretty much anything can be ported into Human?


 And this is a fine example of a Goblin deck, by the only player who has been able to challenge the rom-Mojo connection this year, mihahitlor. Please note the conspicuous presence of Goblin Lackey.




 Here's the prices of all the featured decks (wait for more in the following weeks, pending technical developments), courtesy of the amazing Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of September 19, 2014):

 A playset of Scalding Tarn = half of arcbounddaylabor's deck = 140 tix (and it was almost 200 last July!). That's the other (dark) side of the fetch moon that has to be fixed next, Wizards!

 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. Gq1rf7's Vampires, $4.38, 2nd place on Event 188
  9. arcbounddaylabor's Goblins, $4.46, 1st place on Event 111
  10. Coolcat1678's Elves, $5.13, 2nd place on Event 149

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

by Smawatts

 After watching the classic 1979 film The Warriors, I felt inspired to build Warrior tribal, as a fairly direct Naya beatdown deck. That and I had no idea what to play until an hour before the tourney.

 As a side note I was not having a particularly good day overall before the event, and it shows in both how I played and my attitude throughout.

 Round 1: Against mihahitlor with Goblins. Goblins are rock solid and he played them well, but Boros Reckoner wrecks red aggro pretty hard.

 Round 2: Against Dawwy with Humans. I would be stone cold lying if I said I didn't get super tilted after game 3 swore up a storm, and nearly dropped from the event. [Super titled Shawn = just slightly less calm than usual — Kuma's note]

 Round 3: Against Gq1rf7 with Beasts. I was still a little upset from the last match and after this one I dropped 'cause I was just having an all around bad day.


 Just to remind you of a few things:


 Cockatrice Wants You! And Badger, too! Be the first to win a match with freshly promoted to tribes Cockatrice or Badger (Naga will join next month) 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 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. And of course this will happen only as soon as the Changelings will work on V4 as promised.

 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 5 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):

  • 4.37 (Week 194 BE), on September 20: Tribal Kaleidoscope
  • 4.38 (Week 195 BE), on September 27: Pure Tribal
  • 4.39 (Week 196 BE), on October 4: Tribal Underdog
  • 4.40 (Week 197 BE), on October 11: Regular Tribal

Check out all the rules for the sub-formats!

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2014!

Vote for your favorite Human on the Topdeck Awards!



As someone who play goblins by ScionOfJustice at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 16:08
ScionOfJustice's picture

As someone who play goblins in this event, with a couple of turn three victories, one of them against our host. I'd say hitting with the lacky and getting a seige gang in play is great. I had it done against me during the pure event and that's why made me want to give it a try. Even so, I only managed to go 2-2 in this event, so I can't say that the lacky is overpowered. It's a 1/1 for 1, it is answered by swords, bolt, a blocker or a turn four wrath most of the time.

Your guess about Mutavault is by romellos at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 16:51
romellos's picture

Your guess about Mutavault is true. Yet, Mishra's Factory also managed to achive nearly the same role. There were only one game in four rounds, where Mutavault would matter for only 1 extra damage. Otherwise, Mishra's Factory is still a very good manland. Especially, against the aggressive decks with its pump ability.

Personally, I'm looking forward for your Khans of Tarkir Tribal review. Generally at my side, I'm so much disappointed from this new generation Orcs and Nagas. Their CMC curve is basically killing their chance to see moderate amount of Underdog play, like Centaurs did after Theros.

For Goblin Lackey: I have faced, 1st turn Lackey and 2nd turn Siege-Gang Commander (and Krenko in following turns) with an empty board during last week. And, I saw how bad the situation can be. Still, let's wait for another one month (4-5 weeks cycle) to see this picture more clear. And for the records, I won't be playing with any Goblin deck in foreseeable future.

Your Merfolk didn't use all by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 20:39
Kumagoro42's picture

Your Merfolk didn't use all the lords they could, anyway, so Mutavault's chances of pumping were lower than they could have been in other builds.

Yeah, I'm not so sure about Khans myself. It started promising with the first few spoilers, then ended up being mostly focused on Limited again (it's probably an intended trend). The mechanics are more constructed playable than Theros's, though (devotion apart).

I'll watch what Goblins decks do, it doesn't seem likely Lackey will do much more than he already did so far since his unbanning. Or maybe Goblin players will pay more attention to him now, and he'll see more play. It's a 20-cent card, after all.

I wouldn't ban Goblin Lackey. by mihahitlor at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 18:25
mihahitlor's picture

I wouldn't ban Goblin Lackey. Maybe I have just been unlucky, but I don't remember any broken starts with it (surely partly due to the fact that I only play 1 Krenko and 0 Siege-Gang Commanders), so I am not convinced that it is really a consistent super threat.

ML_Berlin had a deck focused by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 20:31
Kumagoro42's picture

ML_Berlin had a deck focused on Lackey (this one), featuring 13 Goblins with CMC 4 or more, and Warren Instigator as a backup. Of course, the risk there is that you either pull off the turn-1 Lackey, or you end with a midrange Goblin deck that might be too slow vs. other aggros. In fact, Berlin's deck lost to arcbound's Delver and your more traditional build in the mirror.

In retrospect I like this kind of build, it plays like if it was Goblin reanimator. :)

Goblin Lackey is a 1/1 by MisterMojoRising at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 20:04
MisterMojoRising's picture

Goblin Lackey is a 1/1 creature that doesn't have any synergy with the rest of the deck, and in a format with ample blockers. I'd say it wins you about one game in fifty, whereas Goblin Matron/Ringleader wins you at least half your games.

I think the bannings are going overboard here. When something gets popular, people can respond to it. That's why the Mantle elves won a few times and then couldn't anymore. Once people figured out how to deal with it, it stopped winning.

All of these more combo type decks are going to require the same thing: removal or disruption of some kind. That's it. I know it's difficult to run mass removal in a deck full of creatures, but if you're not running your own strategy that can attempt to race something like goblins, elves, or merfolk, then you need some type of wrath. That's why my elementals, with eight board wipes, or the Living End deck that always has a wrath, work so well. They can put up pressure while stopping the opponent's plan.

This is a strange format, but the decks still fit into the aggro/combo/control schema.

No, the bannings aren't going by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 20:41
Kumagoro42's picture

No, the bannings aren't going overboard because I banned exactly one card this year. It just happened to be the one card that you cared about. And ONLY you, I must note (unless there's a large crowd of enraged Elf players that just don't say anything).

And I work for all the players, not the top dogs only — in fact, most players resent when I do things that seem to advantage mostly the top players. Exactly like unbanning powerful cards like Lackey, that you wouldn't have ever been able to play if it wasn't for me. At the same time, I have the duty to reflect on meta, constantly. Popularity gets things banned by DCI all the time, because popularity twists the meta, power in a vacuum doesn't (the Doomsday Effect).

You're fairly new to the event, so you maybe don't know that when I inherited it, and for a long while after that, there were about three times more banned cards. (And that doesn't even include the fact that until this year, entire tribes were banned in Underdog that aren't now.)

I'm the one who unbans.

I concur with Kuma's by AJ_Impy at Sat, 09/20/2014 - 20:36
AJ_Impy's picture

I concur with Kuma's statement here. He loves opening Pandora's Box far more than trying to rebottle the genie.

I'm entirely in favour of shaking things up every now and then to avoid complacency and saminess. Elves and Goblins should always have a target painted on them because they have a high degree of ubiquity and tribal synergy, as should any tribe which has had six or more sets worth of tribe-enhancing cards tailored to them.

I support banning lackey on the grounds that it makes Goblin decks less appealing.

In response to the Lackey by Paul Leicht at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 20:11
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In response to the Lackey question:

Lackey punishes slow tribes hard. If you don't build your deck with the following cards you will likely lose to Lackey: Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, turn 1 drops (that can block), Mass removal that hits before turn 5 at the latest.

While I find that to be a repugnant sign of an op card, and it may induce people to play only with the above cards, it in itself is just but one threat that accomplishes this. That is the tension of playing aggro + removal vs not playing Aggro + Removal. If your op is playing lackey goblins and gets a decent start on the play you are going to game 2 at a disadvantage unless you are somehow countering that plan. Sadly Mental Misstep is missing from the format or you could literally do so at low cost. But the truth is tourney players who want to win play with the above cards.

Ban the lackey and another card will leap up to take its place as the slow deck hoser. That is the problem with banning cards. The bans are endless if you go down that road.

Hope that helps clarify it a little.

I agree with most of what you by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 20:40
Kumagoro42's picture

I agree with most of what you say, Paul, but it's weird to me that when I unbanned Lackey last year, there were many voices saying, "Are you crazy?! Lackey has always been banned for a reason!", and now it seems that simply considering to put Lackey back where it spent the previous 3 years of Tribal Apocalypse comes out of the blue.

There's something to say about critical mass, too. One more card that pushes towards situations where you either have a turn-1 answer or you're likely to lose can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Lackey probably isn't, but if there was one card like that in Goblin builds, it would be it, not any other 1-drop Goblins can use.

Yeah people get excited when by Paul Leicht at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 22:28
Paul Leicht's picture

Yeah people get excited when they think things are going to go out of their control. However as we can see Lackey only recently made any kind of splash and that's because of who decided to show up and what they brought. Honestly I hate playing against Goblins, and Elves. I have always called them "easy button" tribes and always will. BUT as you have said in the past and quite correctly they are easy because they are very accessible.

WotC's no group of fools when it comes to printing cards. They know that goblins and elves are popular precisely because they fit the budget paradigm. So no megaexpensive cards get printed in their vein. Or they print a balancer that makes that $ go up and down as metas shift. Players need a baseline and thats our little green men (Of both green and red mana)

I don't think there should even be a question of banning Lackey. People just need to be mindful of what the tourney is about for them.

I know this wasn't really by m4vis at Fri, 09/19/2014 - 23:41
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I know this wasn't really touched on here and I don't really know if this is up for debate still but in regards to alternate types of tribal tourneys to potentially replace kaleidoscope (I know that doing a regular tribal in place has been a thing, and I fully support that) I think maybe some themed tourneys would be fun. I saw something about a plants vs zombies tourney, and that's a cool idea especially if the community could come up with/vote for a theme for upcoming tourneys. Angels/demons, cats/birds, wizards/warriors, there are a bunch of possibilities. So there is my idea...

We've done all of those by Tribal Apocalypse at Sat, 09/20/2014 - 16:13
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We've done all of those already (except Wizards/Warriors). We do 1 or 2 of the Duel Events per year, but they're not very popular, I wouldn't recommend make it a permanent feature. People don't like to be forced to build a particular deck (= buy cards they didn't plan to buy).