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By: Tribal Apocalypse, Tribal Apocalypse
Dec 08 2014 10:46am
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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

 Apparently Tribal Apocalypse gave me an early birthday present last week, when my Aristocrat deck unexpectedly won the Pure event with a 4-0 score. Yippee!

Those who complain that modern Magic's art is too photorealistic never looked at Igor Kieryluk's expressionist pieces.

 This somehow brings us to the event scheduled for December 20, the penultimate event of the season, who was originally Kaleidoscope, then reverted to Regular when Kaleidoscope started to annoy the hell out of most players. But since back to back Regular events could also prove less than fun, I decided to give a little twist to the second one by banning Elf and Goblin. That's not just the tribes, mind you: no cards with the Elf or Goblin type will be allowed. This move warrants two Frequently Asked Questions:

 Q: Why this month's second Regular event won't allow Elf and Goblin cards?
 A: Because if you happen to lose to the typical Elf and Goblin builds in the Regular event of December 13, chances are you'll be compelled to either skip the following event, for fear of seeing the same outcome all over again, or to play Elf or Goblin yourself. By applying a minor spin that doesn't really constitute a different sub-format, we will be able to avoid such a sentiment. Also, it's a variant that's been asked for a long time, and might occasionally come back next year.

 Q: Then why isn't Human banned as well? I believed Human was the third Big Tribe in the meta, and actually won more events than Elf.
 A: Glad you asked. We all know Human has become a huge anomaly in the Tribal environment. It's so large it feels more like a supertype than a subtype (it's actually larger than all the existing supertypes, and even some of the types!). But the moment we ban the whole trifecta, it'll be because we're trying to bring the event's power level down. In this case, we're not: we're just trying to limit the "same old, same old" factor. And Human's ginormous size actually works in that very direction: there are certainly a number of favorites among them, but if we look at all the Human decks that got to 1st place in these years, most of them will look very different from each other, because you have so many great choices in the tribe and you can build a lot of different strategies with it. With Human you never actually run the risk of feeling repetitive: just look at the winning deck from last week, that features (by design) none of the usual Human powerhouses, and yet it's still able to work well enough to end undefeated.

 On top of this, you can easily build "a Human deck by any other name", most notably with Wizards, the same way you can build the usual Elf deck by calling it Druid; so if you want to prevent Elfball at all, you have to ban the Elf type, not just the tribe. But banning the Human type would be extremely impactful, crippling many other tribes, essentially all of the "classes". Both this option and banning a larger list of tribes would result in an event more similar to Underdog, and that's not what I was trying to accomplish, otherwise I would have just scheduled a second Underdog event.


  • Event Number: 4.47, Week 204 BE
  • Date: November 29
  • Attendance: 17
  • Rounds: 4
  • Subformat: Pure
  • Winner: _Kumagoro_ (Human)
  • 1 Loss: LeilaPari (Elf), Chamale (Soldier), ScionOfJustice (Elf), romellos (Beast)
  • Underdog Prize: marcuskane (Elephant)
  • Tribes: Ally, Beast, Elemental, Elephant, Elf (x4), Elk, Human (x4), Minotaur, Sliver (x2), Soldier
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 My making peace with the Human Anomaly saw me develop what I would call a "Band of Brothers" approach: at the core of your deck, there's a group of 20+ creatures that share a type, and they've come together to accomplish a battleplan. So they need to have something else in common other than a creature type, and in the case of this build, as explained in the deck tech below, the common factor is being good vampire food.


 There's actually a couple Humans at the top of the food chain along with Falkenrath Aristocrat (like in The Aristocrats deck from the last Standard cycle, I guess, although this build doesn't actually share much else with that one). But the quite elegant Rakdos Vampire is such a great card, and such a perfect, flavorful yet subversive embodiment of the Auxiliary rule, that her alone makes for a very fun, potentially explosive deck. Not to mention, one that doesn't include viable targets for the Purification Process (partially because it doesn't need any of those, partially because I designed it that way).

 Along the way to victory, I happened to beat both the decks that in the end placed at the top of the ranking right after me. One was LeilaPari's all-in Elves.


 And the other was Chamale's all-lord Soldiers.


 Nice to see a non-Elfball build for once, as is seeing our past Achievement Master Chamale back in the tournament. We'll get the chance to see both these builds in action in the Show and Tell section below, so I'll comment on them there. The one deck that made me sweat the most, though, was MisterMojoRising's Elemental build, that didn't actually placed in the money. It's the midrange version of the purified (Ball Lighting)-based build, with the former replaced by the slower Blistering Firecat, a change that called for the support of even more board sweepers. We can see this list hitting me hard (before I hit back) in the replays, too.




 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the amazing Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of December 4, 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. MisterMojoRising's Insects, $3.55, 2nd place on Event 201
  4. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.58, 1st place on Event 169
  5. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.70, 1st place on Event 145
  6. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $4.12, 2nd place on Event 141
  7. Gq1rf7's Assassins, $4.18, 1st place on Event 147
  8. Trickerie's Golems, $4.31, 1st place on Event 138
  9. Gq1rf7's Vampires, $4.38, 2nd place on Event 188
  10. arcbounddaylabor's Goblins, $4.46, 1st place on Event 111

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

by Kumagoro


 So, how does my "servants of a ruthless aristocracy" kind of deck work? First of all, of course, it includes full sets of both the namesake Aristocrats from that recent Standard deck:


It's more of a feminist stance than a royalist one.

 Falkenrath Aristocrat is obviously the bomb of the build, especially hard to deal with in a meta like Pure, that doesn't allow for cheap exilers. Her non-undead little sister Cartel Aristocrat does a lot of work as well, particularly during those games where the bloodthirsty vampire doesn't show up. She also introduces the Orzhov theme of the deck: there's no other red card in the list aside from the 4 members of the Falkenrath nobility.

 Now, both these gals demand sacrifices, preferably but not necessarily of the Human variety. And by the time I hit 4 mana, which is actually the top of this deck's curve (yes, I built a deck that's not midrange!), the prospective blood donors need to be on the battlefield and ready for the offering if I want to be sure my top predators are protected. This means I had to avoid the temptation to turn this build into yet another Academy Rector vehicle, like I had tried with mixed success last summer: by establishing Falkenrath Aristocrat as the curve-topper, I set myself for a 20 that was entirely comprised between 1 and 3 CMC.

 The most immediate option, which is also the only other card I share with the Standard deck, was of course Doomed Traveler, a guy who already knows he'll die, and you can't wait for that to happen in a productive fashion. However, it's another 1-drop the one that represents the best tech in the build: the recently introduced and very powerful Bloodsoaked Champion. Given enough mana, the Champion can keep coming back and being eaten by the Aristocrats multiple times per turn, even during an attack, since raid works at instant speed. Plus, being 2-powered, he considerably increases the early aggression of the deck, just like the Traveler guarantees some additional evasive beating later on.


Born to be dead.

 All right, these two were easy choices, but I wanted even more vampire fodder, so I looked into Human tokens, finding out there's very few cards that create them. In fact, before the release of Innistrad block, no card at all was able to create a token with the Human type. The current options are just six, with Commander's Authority being too slow and frail, Voice of the Provinces outright awful (other than illegal, since it would go in the same Auxiliary slots already filled by Falkenrath Aristocrat), and one-shots like Gather the Townsfolk and Thatcher Revolt potentially useful, but all in all underwhelming (Thatcher Revolt's tokens even disappear at end of turn, so it would just turn into 3 counters for the Aristocrat, but at sorcery speed, which is even lamer). And while Increasing Devotion might have a place in the deck as a 1-of, the deck is unlikely to ever hit the flashback cost. This leaves us with the card that was actually begging to be included: Thraben Doomsayer. At 3 mana, a 1/1 Human factory is good enough, and you even get the off-chance to win out of nowhere with a last-minute alpha strike. Thruth be told, I never got to see an active Doomsayer on the board, but in a couple occasions he was killed on sight. He is a pretty builder of inevitability in this deck. 3 seemed the right number for it, along with the other 3-mana free token creator the Human tribe has to offer: Ophiomancer.


They also happen to share the same artist, John Stanko.

 Those snakes aren't super-tasty treats for my vampires, but they come at the rate of two per turn, which means I can always count on one of them to save an Aristocrat's butt. Plus, they nicely hold the fort with their deathtouch.

 At this point, the framework of the deck was in place, but I clearly needed two things: something to make all these tokens more lethal, for when the Aristocrats weren't there (plus the lesser Aristocrat would also like to improve her 2/2 basic stats); and of course some removal. For the latter, I decided for Tragic Slip, which perfectly fits the various engines of the deck, becoming a very powerful 1-mana killer that even indestructibility can't stop. And as a mass sweeper, I opted for the newly released Comeuppance, a card that's bound to impact the Tribal world a lot, because it can easily turn into a one-sided Wrath of God, at instant speed, requiring just 1 colored mana. And it can even trump Price of Progress or Goblin Grenade, potentially winning you games in the process. All-around amazing card.


Comeuppance is still a bit hard to find, being from the C14 decks, but it's just 35 cents. Just saying.

 As for the pumpers, the first to come to mind was Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, for several reasons: it's an Orzhov card that matches the "vampire/aristocracy" theme; it also creates tokens; I always wanted to play with it but rarely got the chance. A case could be made for Sorin, Solemn Visitor as well, which is essentially a complementary card. I think this deck wants Lord of Innistrad better, though, because the emblems will remain even after Sorin has been killed; plus, on a suddenly empty board, Solemn Visitor might not be able to create a token if he hasn't enough available loyalty, whereas with Lord of Innistrad you're always sure to restart, something that will be fully illustrated by the replays below.

 At this point the deck had 12 token generators (will become 13 in the end), so Intangible Virtue seemed like a no-brainer, despite not being a very interesting card to me.


Essentially the Bizarro World version of the same card.

 Finally, I rounded out the Human count with Perimeter Captain. I just wanted another quick drop, and went with one that could buy me time for the Aristocrats to show up. I also briefly considered Loyal Sentry, which is a better deterrent, but the Captain remains on the battlefield to be eaten by the Aristocrats later, and gives you life while also blocking an attack, which is a better deal overall. This said, these two slots are up for debate. Possible replacements: Loyal Cathar, even if the transformed Zombie is not very useful; Unruly Mob or Village Cannibals, more likely the former, since the latter is slower and only deals with Humans (while it would be hilarious to see an Unruly Mob get all worked up by the death of some snake!); Orzhov Pontiff, which is probably the best candidate, because it's an awesome card; Grim Haruspex. They're all slower than the Captain, but the deck proved to be fast enough, so maybe?


Teysa is the 9th Aristocrat. She's not for eating!

 The singleton Teysa, Orzhov Scion is actually the 21th Human in the deck. I figured going over 20 could be a good thing, more food for the Aristocrats. Teysa is sort of a just-for-fun addition, but she actually interacts with the deck in two ways: she can generate tokens when a Bloodsoaked Champion dies, and she can sacrifice three white tokens (the Doomsayer ones, ideally) to get rid of a problematic creature in a pinch.

 The last card of the deck is Return to the Ranks, which seemed a good choice as a 1-of. It might become Increasing Devotion, though, they have similar functions. Or a Solemn Visitor should I acquire one. Massive lifegaining isn't a bad thing.


The Vorthos in me doesn't like too much the angelic theme of Increasing Devotion in this deck.

 The matches. My Round-1 opponent was brettmemphis1989 with his Humanimator, trying to dump Angel of Glory's Rise into the graveyard via Commune with the Gods and Faithless Looting, then reanimate her with all the Humans in tow. In game 1 his deck actually played like aggro, so Comeuppance was crucial to stop the assault and turn the tide. Game 2, it was my turn to take the fast aggro role with some help from Phyrexian Tower.

 Round 2: The always dangerous MisterMojoRising, piloting the Elemental mayhem mentioned above. Game 1 starts weird, with Mojo not drawing into much and I dropping both copies of Perimeter Captain and the singleton Teysa. However, the amount of life the Captains provide helps me neutralize a first Blistering Firecat's assault, then Comeuppance gets rid of the Whip of Erebos rerun, and two Falkenrath Aristocrat take care of the game from there. Game 2 is a great, tense affair. Mojo sweeps my board entirely while hitting me with all his firepower, and it's only the favorable interaction between Tragic Slip and his X-1s that keeps me alive. In the end, I've almost managed to reverse the position when Mojo opts to draw via Earthquake. In game 3 the strength of those 12 sweepers makes itself known, with Cartel Aristocrat being left alone on the board only to be dealt with after the untap, when there's no creatures left to protect her. Further sweepings seal the deal. The final game looks dire enough when the anti-Cartel Aristocrat gambit happens again, but I endure long enough for a twin Aristocrats ending.

 Round 3, my Vampire feeders meet Chamale's Soldiers. Chamale is known for being a combo player, but for his comeback after a long absence he chose a linear aggro entirely based on lords, featuring old-fashioned cards like Daru Warchief and Enlistment Officer. However, the barricade erected by Cartel Aristocrat and Ophiomancer is hard to tear down, no matter how big your Soldiers become, while the air superiority provided by Falkenrath Aristocrat and (Doom Traveler) made me able to hit past Chamale's defenses with ease. It helped that Chamale's secret weapon, Chalice of the Void, never showed up in these games; I'm not entirely influenced by it, but with thirteen 1-drops, it might have proven relevant.

 LeilaPari's Elf stomper is waiting for me as the only other undefeated deck in Round 4. It could go either way, as LeilaPari's build is mightily explosive with all its Invigorate and Berserk and stuff. Game 1 is a perfect game for me: a snake-eating Cartel Aristocrat stops the non-trampling Elves on the ground while Falkenrath Aristocrat swings on the air. Game 2 adds a Rancor to the picture, so that's basically reversed in LeilaPari's favor. Then in game 3 a Llanowar Augur actually betrays Leila, enabling my Tragic Slip on his super-powered attacker (I realize now I seriously risked to see that answered with Vines of Vastwood!).


 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 current card 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):

  • 4.48 (Week 205 BE), on December 6: Underdog
  • 4.49 (Week 206 BE), on December 13: Regular
  • 4.50 (Week 207 BE), on December 20: Regular: No Elves & Goblins
  • 4.51 (Week 208 BE), on December 27: Pure

Check out all the rules for the sub-formats!

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2014!

Vote for your favorite Goblin on the Topdeck Awards!