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By: Tribal Apocalypse, Tribal Apocalypse
Oct 09 2014 12:00pm
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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. Show and Tell
  4. Announcement Time!
  5. What's Next

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

by Kumagoro

 They did it! They finally did it! THE INSECTS WON AN EVENT! Woot woot! Hornets rule!

This is an actual hornet queen! Isn't she beautiful?

 All those Tribal Labs devoted to the Insect Project paid off in the end! To properly celebrate the accomplishment, I'll do the Entomopedia later this month (link not active yet, but if you're reading this from the future, i.e. after October 24, click away!). It'll  pair up with Adam_the_Mentat's History of Spiders, just in time for Halloween — and by the way, don't forget that this year's Halloween Special will be a Vintage Tribal event, in occasion of the 200th Tribal Apocalypse of the Blippian Era; it'll still be played with Spooky Tribes only, though, so prepare your Mox Jets.

 More about the Insect exploit on this week's Show and Tell, including all the 6 games I played, and won, with the amazing little suckers.

You don't want to mess with these guys.


  • Event Number: 4.39, Week 196 BE
  • Date: October 4
  • Attendance: 15
  • Rounds: 3
  • Subformat: Underdog
  • Winner: _Kumagoro_ (Insect)
  • Other undefeated: romellos (Monk)
  • 1 Loss: milegyenanevem (Pegasus), ML_Berlin (Berserker), MisterMojoRising (Soltari), m4vis (Elk), mihahitlor (Soltari), AJ_Impy (Naga)
  • Underdog Prize: AJ_Impy (Naga), m4vis (Elk)
  • Up-and-Coming Prize: _Kumagoro_ (Insect)
  • New Kids on the Block Award: AJ_Impy (Naga)
  • Tribes: Berserker, Centaur (x2), Dryad, Elk, Insect, Kavu, Kor, Monk, Naga, Pegasus, Rhino, Soltari (x2), Vedalken
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 Triumphant Insects ahoy! (Deck tech and replays below).


 All right, you can say that my Insects had it easy, what with this being a 3-round event. Plus, I took a bye round 1. Still, the score of the 3 games (2 rounds plus 1 playoff) is pretty peremptory: 2-0, 2-0, 2-0, with final match against the leader of the scoreboard romellos with his 3-time Underdog champion Monk deck.


 And ML_Berlin's Goblin-affiliated Berserkers weren't there just to kid around, either.


 Another good achievement was the 3rd place (first of the players with 1 loss) of this Pegasus deck by milegyenanevem. Did Pegasus reach critical mass for a proper white weenie build after Theros?


 And of course, we also had the debut of the fresh newcomer Naga, that immediately grabbed a more than respectable 2-1 score thanks to AJ_Impy's efforts.


 Finally, m4vis was ready to make his own exploit with Elk, thanks to a Valakut build that's a first for the tribe. He went well enough, though. Better luck next time.




 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 October 9, 2014):

 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 Kuma


 So, the Insect Project, born to give the extremely Underdog, now 133-member strong tribe their first victory, came to an end. Or is it a new beginning? This deck is powerful and fun enough, indeed, so I'm willing to test it again in the near future. We'll see if it was just luck.

 How did it happen, then? The basic idea was to exploit the best Insect subtype in existence: Hornet. Both Hornet Queen and Hornet Nest are, in their different ways, very strong cards. And, hell, those Hornet tokens might just be the most powerful tokens in the game, able as they are to alternatively control the board and go on the offensive.


Feel the deadly sting of the hornet!

 What the Hornet cards do is create a large number of tokens at once, rather than one per turn like your typical token-producing creature does (e.g. Master of the Wild Hunt, Creakwood Liege). I wanted to make this sudden board development especially matter, and the best way is of course to use the ETB condition to trigger damage. The Pandemonium/Warstorm Surge route felt good, but not good enough. A resolved Queen would deal 6 damage with them. Plus the 6-mana Warstorm Surge would ask for a fetching engine like Academy Rector (too complicated for an humble Insect deck), while Pandemonium is dangerously a symmetrical effect. What if I wanted a bigger yet safer punch? The answer came from Nyx.

Those pesky insects make him angry. He vents his anger on you.

 I admit that there's not a lot of flavor in insects being around Purphoros' forge. But maybe these hornets are like a moth to a flame. And in fact, they act like kamikazes (as most stinging insects do, after all). So, with Purphoros around, a Queen and his court would deal 10 non-targeted damage to the opponent (even Leyline of Sanctity can't protect you from it!), and the secondary ability of the hot-headed God would make the Hornet team swing for 12 the next turn. That's great, but the Queen still costs 7 mana to hardcast. How to put her on the battlefield faster? Green has two basic ways, of course:


This is so green that you can play golf on it.

 Gaea's Cradle is a powerful card, but it can easily come back to bite you if you overcommit (plus, it's a 30-tix investment). I always appreciated Crop Rotation as a way to fetch a Cradle when you're ready (1 mana, instant speed, fetches any land, the land enters untapped: it really speaks of a lost era when non-creature spells weren't afraid to be broken). And the Insect tribe comes with a special tribal land already, which plays into the other half of the Hornet plan.

The long-missing evolutionary link between Insect and Squirrel.

 If you manage to deal 2 damage to a Hornet Nest, then regenerate it via Swarmyard, then deal another 2, you'll end up seeing 4 Hornets come and (probably) go, which means 8 damage with Purphoros on the board. Of course, the main role of the Nest is to protect you by putting itself in front of an attacker, generating further stopping power in the process. But in late game, once Purphoros has come, the Nest combo is good to finish off a sting-covered opponent. Among the ways to ping the Nest, the most efficient and versatile has to be Goblin Bombardment. While, of course, red always gives you the option to damage-sweep the entire board.


Science fact: Seismic activity really bothers a nesting hornet.

 The choice of Earthquake over Rolling Earthquake makes the flying tokens survive (same goes for Starstorm, while Sudden Demise might accomplish even more, but only if I'm not facing green tribes). In addition, it can be used to clear the board in early turns, and to finish off the opponent, both things that Blasphemous Act can't do, regardless of how great it can be in the right board status.

 Now, this is the core engine of the deck. It directly influences 12 tribal slots out of 20, with Broodhatch Nantuko as a natural continuation of the "tokens by damage" theme (the third and original member of the family, Saber Ants, was just too slow to be considered, failing to come before Purphoros and not having enough of an impact later on). The remaining 8 slots needed to be cheap, to make an early board presence for Cradle's sake and to keep attackers at bay, and green, to fuel Natural Order. Thornscape Familiar is a good choice, because it actually accelerates Purphoros, or make Goblin Bombardment playable along more expensive stuff. The last one should have probably be Xantid Swarm, which is another flyer capable of dribbling Earhtquake, and has a relevant ability that prevents the opponent to mess with my endgame. However, the advent of online Vintage (I suppose) made it very expensive (almost 12 tix apiece? C'mon!), so I replaced it with another 1-drop, Bond Beetle, which isn't very impactful per se but can give a nice boost to one Hornet, and more importantly, can procure 2 Purphoros damage for just 1 mana. I also included a singleton Caustic Wasps, reprising the "stinger" theme, to secure at least one chance to kill problematic artifacts in a pinch, by fetching it via Natural Order.


The non-Hornet side of the team.

 For the remaining slots, I added one copy of the two Gruul planeswalkers, both useful enough in the build: Domri Rade, to trick an opponent creature into sticking its nose into the Hornet Nest, and Sarkhan Vol, to further exploit the 3 copies of Goblin Bombardment. There's also a copy of Oran-Rief, the Vastwood in the deck, fetchable via Crop Rotation, as a plan C.

 I typically only test my decks directly in the events, which means at the end of the day, regardless of the result, I routinely go back to the editor to frantically make all the adjustments the make-or-break playtest made obvious. This time, though, the "back to the building board" step didn't produce anything of substance (except, well, those Verdant Catacombs are bound to become Wooded Foothills soon, of course). I'm really satisfied with this build.

 Let's see it in action now. This is game 1 of the second round, against hexalite and his Rhinos. It's pretty much the ideal game: Goblin Bombardment into any green creature into Purphoros into Natural Order into win.

 Game 2, same endgame. You can appreciate how Stonehorn Dignitary does nothing against me, because this deck doesn't really need to attack. Also, Bombardment is great to negate lifelink.

 Round 3 vs. ML_Berlin's Berserkers. Hornet Nest and Broodhatch Nantuko are able to create a barrier to most of the attacks, even against the nearly unstoppable Stormblood Berserker, especially when assisted by Goblin Bombardment. Then the Purphoros plan starts chipping away at Berlin's life total, until the grand finale royale.

 Game 2 against the Berserkers. Neither Purphoros nor Natural Order show up this time, and the opening hand is tamer, so I need to slowly build up the swarm. Crop Rotation and Domri Rade come to the rescue, the latter forcing Berlin's 5/5 to shake that Hornet Nest, with catastrophic results.

 Playoff round against the formidable Monks by romellos. In game 1 I begin mana screwed after a mulligan to 5, but then romellos is mana flooded, so the whole thing ends up playing in my favor. That turn-2, 3-for-1 Earthquake will prove to be crucial. The finishing move is the Swarmyard/Nest/Bombardment synergy.

 Game 2, I have a good hand, which results in a turn-3 Hornet Queen. Then another one. At the last turn, I have three different ways to seal the deal, but I still choose not to attack and launch my hornet bombs instead.


 Just to remind you of a few things:


 Cockatrice Wants You! And Badger, too! Be the first to win a match with these new eligible tribes and you'll win a 1-tix certificate from MTGO Traders. 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 fourth quarter of 2014. The quarter will end December 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 at least 1 match and at least a total of 3 games 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. The first challenge involved Sunforger, and was won by ScionOfJustice (congrats!) during last week's event. And the next one is... Kusari-Gama! 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):

  • 4.40 (Week 197 BE), on October 11: Regular Tribal
  • 4.41 (Week 198 BE), on October 18: Tribal Singleton
  • 4.42 (Week 199 BE), on October 25: Pure Tribal
  • 4.43 (Week 200 BE), on November 1st: Vintage Halloween Special

Check out all the rules for the sub-formats!

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2014!

Vote for your favorite Elf on the Topdeck Awards!



Insects - ha! Congrats! by Bazaar of Baghdad at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 23:36
Bazaar of Baghdad's picture

Insects - ha! Congrats!

Thanks, BoB! (Somehow I by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 10/11/2014 - 13:06
Kumagoro42's picture

Thanks, BoB!
(Somehow I managed to not notice this post until now!)

Wow scion, congrats on by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 00:05
Paul Leicht's picture

Wow scion, congrats on winning AJ's ticket. I kept meaning to show up and claim it but meh. :D Job well done. Now Kusari seems pretty good. I wonder who will break it first?

Also Kuma nicely done. Using two of my favorite standard tricks in one deck :D

Thanks, Paul. You do Hornet by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 15:21
Kumagoro42's picture

Thanks, Paul.
You do Hornet Queen into Purphoros in Standard? With creature ramp?
What's the other trick? Hornet Nest something?

Chord of calling into hornet by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 16:03
Paul Leicht's picture

Chord of calling into hornet nest vs a stalled board, then anger of the gods. :D Not earthquake but it works. Also chord of calling is the usual method for generating Hornet tokens ala Queen too but occasionally creature ramp (elf, caryatid) works as well.

Thanks Paul, here are two by ScionOfJustice at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 00:24
ScionOfJustice's picture

Thanks Paul, here are two game replays of the Sunforger in action.

That insect deck is simply by Bartimäus at Sun, 10/12/2014 - 06:35
Bartimäus's picture

That insect deck is simply awesome - looks green, feels green but burn the poor one on the other side..