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By: Tribal Apocalypse, Tribal Apocalypse
Aug 03 2017 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. Announcement Time!
  4. What's Next

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

by Kumagoro

 While people (including yours truly) are wondering about teams and how to best introduce them, let's take a moment to acknowledge that we have a bit of a Singleton problem. Last week's Singleton event had the lowest attendance of the year at just 9 players (it's actually the lowest since a Commander event in 2014); and yes, it's summertime, but it's a trend we can trace back to pretty much all the most recent Singleton events, that are constantly the less popular of the month they appear in.

 Full disclosure, I love the Singleton concept (I was the one who thought about marrying it with Tribal Wars, after all). In fact, I sometimes wish the "4 copies" rule was never created to begin with, and deck construction had one copy of each card as the limit. The game would be very different, I believe, and the card design as well, since they would have to come up with more redundancies and fewer filler cards. It certainly would make for a radical change, and maybe it would've been for the worse, maybe a serious competitive environment wouldn't have been able to originate from that, I can't really tell. But the thing is, deck lists containing a grand total of only 9 different nonland cards make me sad to some degree. Seeing games where cards that never see play are actually cast is a pleasure.

 But we're not here to fulfill the wish of anybody, if not the player base at large. Some players are extremely in favor of Singleton events, some are fiercely opposed to them (like AJ_Impy, who very loudly protests the subformat even in the name of his decks). But strong opinions from one side or the other aren't going to matter as much as the general absence of interest that the low attendance lately suggests. Let's have a look at the History of Singleton Tribal Wars.

 Singleton started as an experiment with two events back in Season 2.

  • Event 74, June 2012. Attendance: 16. 1st place: Vampire.
  • Event 87, September 2012. Attendance: 16. 1st place: Vampire.

 Then it entered the monthly rotation in Season 3.

  • Event 111, February 2013. Attendance: 16. Top decks: Goblin, Vampire.
  • Event 120, April 2013. Attendance: 15. Top decks: Knight, Sliver.
  • Event 124, May 2013. Attendance: 26. Top decks: Vampire, Goblin.
  • Event 128, June 2013. Attendance: 13. Top decks: Shaman, Knight.
  • Event 133, July 2013. Attendance: 20. Top decks: Wall, Goblin.
  • Event 137, August 2013. Attendance: 22. Top decks: Soldier, Knight.
  • Event 142, September 2013. Attendance: 16. Top decks: Shaman, Knight.
  • Event 146, October 2013. Attendance: 14. Top decks: Zombie, Knight.

 That first Singleton season was very good. Average attendance was 17.75, and we even had an event with 26 players! (All events that month had 20 players or more, but Singleton took the cake anyway). So we decided that Singleton would remain in the monthly rotation for Season 4 as well, although it started alternating with Kaleidoscope, so the total number of Singleton events in the year dropped from 8 to 6.

  • Event 163, February 2014. Attendance: 16. Undefeated: Elf.
  • Event 167, March 2014. Attendance: 18. Undefeated: Goblin.
  • Event 172, April 2014. Attendance: 18. Undefeated: Knight.
  • Event 181, June 2014. Attendance: 16. Undefeated: Goblin.
  • Event 189, August 2014. Attendance: 18. Undefeated: Knight.
  • Event 198, October 2014. Attendance: 14. Undefeated: Human.

 Attendance here is decreased but still solid at an average of 16. In an effort to simplify the rotation, though, we took both Singleton and Kaleidoscope out for season 5. From that point on, Singleton was relegated to months with 5 Saturdays (Kaleidoscope was discontinued).

  • Event 228, May 2015. Attendance: 12. Undefeated: Vampire, Goblin.
  • Event 241, August 2015. Attendance: 22. Undefeated: Human, Human.
  • Event 278, April 2016. Attendance: 16. Undefeated: Elf.
  • Event 291, July 2016. Attendance: 15. Undefeated: Elf, Zombie.
  • Event 329, April 2017. Attendance: 12. Undefeated: Goblin, Elf.
  • Event 342, July 2017. Attendance: 9. Undefeated: Goblin.

 We can see the Singleton attendance steadily falling over the last few years, perhaps as an effect of the subformat not being regularly featured anymore. These last 6 events have an average attendance of little more than 14 players, but it becomes just 13 if we only consider the past two years. It's worth noting that the global average in the history of Tribal Apocalypse (Blippian Era) is still of 18 players per event. When an event has less than that, it's below average. 9 players is half the average. And looking closely, the summertime objection doesn't stand: Singleton has had 22 players in August 2013 (20 that July), 18 players in August 2014. It just feels like the players grew disaffectioned with the format, or maybe the players who were really into it stopped playing Tribal Apocalypse altogether. It's telling that we typically have players bringing Relentless Rats or Shadowborn Apostle decks to Singleton events, as those don't strike me as people who love Singleton at all (those are also bad decks; what they do is just sparing you from having to put together an actual Singleton list).

 There's another concern there. I've included the winning decks in my statistics because it seems like Singleton has been the exclusive domain of a handful of top tribes (please note that all those Knight results entirely come from one list romellos kept bringing to Singleton events). Lack of diversity is the killer of any format of any game, and we can see how the latest Singleton events saw the participation of just five tribes, none of which was Underdog, none of which even had the requisites to count for the Hamtastic Award. It was mostly an Elf vs Goblin vs Human affair, and Singleton has progressively become just that over the years. So at the very least, if we continue supporting it, those tribes (and probably Vampire) need to see the receiving end of the ban hammer. In fact, I'd like to try Underdog Singleton, if anything. All the things I said about seeing different cards that never get played become totally moot the moment we only see the same three or four tribes; sure, you'll see some Elf and Goblin cards you don't usually see, but then you won't see anything else, so that's actually narrower.

 There's another Singleton event scheduled for next September 30. Singleton lovers, here's the challenge: spread the word and have like-minded people join the event, so that we can raise the attendance to acceptable levels; I won't demand the average, but at least 16 players like old times, so to play 4 rounds. Can we do that? And let's try Elf, Goblin, Human and Vampire banned as tribe.

 Otherwise, we might devote these extra weeks to something else next year. Modern proved popular, so we could do more of that. And I was thinking of Standard Tribal Wars. I've always rejected the very idea of it, but lately Standard has had nice tribal environments. I don't think it could even sustain a monthly rotation, but a couple Standard events per year could be interesting. Once again, the simplicity of the moniker Standard Tribal Wars could be key to attract more people, which at the end of the day is what I'm here to do.


  • Event Number: 7.29, Week 342 BE
  • Date: July 29
  • Attendance: 9
  • Rounds: 3
  • Subformat: Singleton
  • Winner: MisterMojoRising (Goblin)
  • 1 Loss: BoozeMongoose (Elf), Deonmag (Zombie), ML_Berlin (Human), Gq1rf7 (Elf)
  • Tribes: Angel, Elf (x3), Goblin, Human (x3), Zombie
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

  So, the Big Three triumphant. Let's start with MisterMojoRising's winning Goblin list. MisterMojoRising has also provided videos of his games (thank you!), so Show and Tell is back!


 And these are BoozeMongoose's Elves.


 Finally, ML_Berlin's Humans.



 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the amazing Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of August 4, 2017):

  • MisterMojoRising's Goblins: $20.63
  • BoozeMongoose's Elves: $171.76
  • ML_Berlin's Humans: $22.81

 The Top 10 Cheapest Decks that Went Undefeated

  1. mihahitlor's Warriors, $1.95, 1st place on Event 233
  2. morpphling's Vampires, $2.25, 1st place on Event 285
  3. morpphling's Goblins, $2.35, 2nd place on Event 102
  4. JogandoPelado's Berserkers, $2.80, 1st place on Event 248
  5. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.32, 1st place on Event 154
  6. MisterMojoRising's Insects, $3.55, 2nd place on Event 201
  7. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.58, 1st place on Event 169
  8. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.70, 1st place on Event 145
  9. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $4.12, 2nd place on Event 141
  10. Gq1rf7's Assassins, $4.18, 1st place on Event 147

 The Top 5 Cheapest Non-Goblin Decks that Went Undefeated

  1. mihahitlor's Warriors, $1.95, 1st place on Event 233
  2. morpphling's Vampires, $2.25, 1st place on Event 285
  3. JogandoPelado's Berserkers, $2.80, 1st place on Event 248
  4. MisterMojoRising's Insects, $3.55, 2nd place on Event 201
  5. Gq1rf7's Assassins, $4.18, 1st place on Event 147

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



 Here's the full chronicle of MisterMojoRising's win with his Goblins. Round 1, against Golden_Lin with Elves.

 Round 2, against Deonmag with Zombies.

 And this is round 3, against yet another Elf list, this time by BoozeMongoose.


 Just to remind you of a few things:

 The Bolas Prize: The first player to win a game by activating Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker's third ability for lethal damage will get a 3-tix credit certificate from MTGO Traders. Be cruel or go home!

 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 certificate from MTGO Traders. 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 New Kids on the Block Award: When a new tribe is introduced in the game, or reaches enough members to be played as a proper tribe (i.e. at least 3 members, so you can build a deck that features 4 copies of each plus 8 Changeling creatures), the first player to score a match win with it will get a 3-tix certificate from MTGO Traders. You'll need a hard win, not a BYE or a win by no-show of your opponent. The tribes currently eligible for the award are Camel, Gremlin, Hippo, Hyena, Monkey.

 The Repopulation Award: Some tribes get played only once (to get the New Kids on the Block Award) and then forgotten. Never again! Register one of the following tribes three times in different events, then play all rounds of those events with them, and you'll get a 3-tix certificate from MTGO Traders. The list of these tribes, established May 5, 2017, is as follows: Antelope, Atog, Crocodile, Goat, Homarid, Incarnation, Jackal, Leech, Licid, Manticore, Metathran, Monger, Moonfolk, Nightstalker, Octopus, Orgg, Ouphe, Ox, Processor, Rabbit, Salamander, Siren, Slith.

 The Hamtastic Award: The Biodiversity Prize dedicated to the memory of Erik Friborg rewards each player who registers 10 different tribes (except Human, Elf and Goblin) during the year with a 3-tix certificate from MTGO Traders. You can go on and win the prize multiple times in the year, but you need to keep playing different tribes! (So if you manage to register 50 different tribes in one season, you can get up to 15 tix!)

 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.

 Wanna test your deck? Tell us when you're online, and look who else is there and when! All of this here!


 The upcoming Tribal Apocalypse events of the Blippian Era (every Saturday at 17:00 GMT):

  • 7.30 (Week 343 BE), on August 5: Underdog
  • 7.31 (Week 344 BE), on August 12: Regular
  • 7.32 (Week 345 BE), on August 19: Pure
  • 7.33 (Week 346 BE), on August 26: Regular

Check out all the rules for the sub-formats!

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2017!



It is a shame that singleton by Paul Leicht at Fri, 08/04/2017 - 02:30
Paul Leicht's picture

It is a shame that singleton does not work out well in TWL. I suspect part of the reason is because the tribes viability gets cut when you take consistency into consideration. In a 4x each creature deck you can rely on the quirks of your tribe working in your deck's favor if you build around them. But in singleton, unless you are running a tutor heavy tribe (like Humans, Elves and Goblins all of which have their recruiters and fetchers) the lack of consistency makes it hard to even find a theme much less a theme that wins.

I do think if people were more focused on enjoyment and experimenting the format could work but if the goal is merely to win/excel/be top dog, of course only the spikiest and thus least fun (imho) strategies will do. This isn't a criticism of Spikes. Natures being what they are, everyone plays to theirs. Unfortunately there is no way to sculpt the rules (same problem as Kaleidoscope in that sense) to make the format work.

What you say is exactly by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 08/04/2017 - 12:05
Kumagoro42's picture

What you say is exactly right, Paul. Kaleidoscope was flawed at the root – just not enough of a pool to play with. On the other hand, Singleton has even a larger pool than regular Tribal Wars. I mean, it is the same pool (plus the banned cards that in Singleton are all available), but the format pushes you to exploit it to the fullest. Except, for the reasons you said, people don't really do that.

But I'm not sure that was the problem, even. Looking at the history, Singleton got some enthusiastic response back when it started. Then gradually, it seems, people are having enough of it. Maybe it's because there's other Singleton PREs around; as AJ noted in the room, if you want to play a singleton format, you're better off playing Commander or 100CS, Tribal Wars was never the most natural fit.

I did not mean for this to go by JXClaytor at Fri, 08/04/2017 - 13:19
JXClaytor's picture

I did not mean for this to go up last night. Sorry about that.