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Aug 18 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

 So, Cephalid Breakfast has made a strong comeback this season. It's one of the more recognizable combo decks in Tribal Wars (it's actually domain of certain tribes, namely Kor and more recently Wizard and Cleric), consisting in targeting the namesake Cephalid Illusionist with enough activations of Nomads En-Kor (or of any other 0-cost ability that targets a creature, Shuko being a popular plan B), so to dump our entire deck into the graveyard, returning a couple Narcomoebas to the battlefield to pay for Dread Return's flashback cost into various endgames.


 Lately, some players have started to feel uneasy about the combo. It certainly makes for a strong battleplan. But just how strong? Or, as MTG players like to say, is the sky falling? Let's find out. To the Gatherling database!

 It turns out there have been fewer Breakfast instances in the history of Tribal Apocalypse than one might think. It all started in February 2013, event 3.05 (110th of the Blippian Era), when Robin88 tried the archetype for the first time with this seminal Kor list, ending 3-1. Robin's Dread Return target was The Mimeoplasm, copying Murderous Redcap with Lord of Extinction counters, for instant lethal damage to the opponent's dome, no combat phase needed.


 Robin would play the list a total of five times in 2013, ending undefeated twice (but in the second case losing the final playoff to a Selesnya Human list with Punishing Fire): 3.05 (3-1), 3.07 (4-0), 3.12 (3-1), 3.27 (4-1), 3.44 (2-1). By the time of the latter registration, he had added Spellskite, to try and protect the combo.

 Two other players jumped on the Breakfast bandwagon that year. Nagarjuna didn't have much luck with it, never ending with a positive result a single time out of three attempts: 3.09 (2-2), 3.14 (0-1), 3.18 (1-1). DirtyDuck played it once in Event 3.07 with a different endgame: Angel of Glory's Rise to in turn bring back Laboratory Maniac and Azami, Lady of Scrolls (the tribal shell was still Kor, though).


 This variant earned itself a 3-1 finish, yet notably losing to Robin88's Mimeoplasm list in the only Breakfast mirror played so far.

 And then the archetype was essentially abandoned for 4 years. Two only exceptions: in 2014, Robin briefly brought back his brew for Event 4.18 to an a underwhelming 0-2 result; the following year (Event 5.37), hexalite tried the Laboratory Maniac list but didn't go beyond a 1-1. However, this attempt would mark the first time the combo appeared under the sign of Wizard rather than Kor.

 Then skip to this season: in Event 7.15, TLR debuts a new Laboratory Maniac variant in a different, more streamlined Wizard shell (with the key addition of Vedalken Aethermage to fetch the Illusionist). He would play the deck a total of five times to increasingly positive results: 7.15 (2-1), 7.18 (2-1), 7.20 (4-0), 7.22 (5-0), 7.28 (3-1). The latter saw the pairing of the combo with a brand new tribe: Cleric. (Please note that TLR was able to play the deck in consecutive Regular events because he wasn't Top 8 at the time).

 The same basic list was also played by BoozeMongoose on Event 7.24 and Yokai_ last week (Event 7.31), both to remarkable 4-0 finishes.

 Time for some statistics.

  • Total number of Cephalid Breakfast appearances: 18
  • Appearances in 2013: 9
  • Appearances in 2014: 1
  • Appearances in 2015: 1
  • Appearances in 2016: 0
  • Appearances in 2017: 7 (so far)
  • The Mimeoplasm variant: 9
  • Laboratory Maniac variant: 9
  • Kor shell: 10
  • Wizard shell: 7
  • Cleric shell: 1
  • Undefeated results: 6 (2 with Mimeoplasm, 4 with Maniac)
  • 1-loss results: 7 (4 with Mimeoplasm, 3 with Maniac)
  • Negative results: 5 (all with Mimeoplasm)

 These results don't look too overwhelming to me, but it's true that the current iteration of the combo seems more solid than the one from 2013. It's worth noting that TLR, the player who's almost single-handedly responsible for the Breakfast revival, is firmly in the Top 8 now, so he won't be able to end undefeated with the list more than once every other month. I'm wondering if it could be useful to create a list of combo decks that get locked out no matter what when piloted to undefeated results, even by players that aren't Top 8. What do you think about that?


  • Event Number: 7.31, Week 344 BE
  • Date: August 12
  • Attendance: 15
  • Rounds: 3
  • Subformat: Regular
  • Winner: Yokai_ (Wizard)
  • Runner-up: Socanelas (Angel)
  • 1 Loss: totalhate (Wall), MisterMojoRising (Elf), AJ_Impy (Demon), Maluc (Shaman), ML_Berlin (Human)
  • Underdog Prize: Tarrons (Manticore)
  • Tribes: Angel (x2), Beast, Demon (x3), Elf (x2), Golem, Human, Kobold, Manticore, Shaman, Wall, Wizard
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 So, this is the Wizard list by Yokai_ that gave Cephalid Breakfast its 6th undefeated result in 5 years.


 There was a weird amount of Angel and Demon decks among last week's registration. This Angel reanimator by Socanelas only lost to the Breakfast in the playoffs.


 And of course AJ_Impy is a longtime Demon enthusiast, and has coincidentally felt the call of the horned ones right when one third of the total players had decided to go heaven or hell for the week.



 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the amazing Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of August 18, 2017):

 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.





 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):

  • 7.32 (Week 345 BE), on August 19: Pure
  • 7.33 (Week 346 BE), on August 26: Regular
  • 7.34 (Week 347 BE), on September 2: Underdog
  • 7.35 (Week 348 BE), on September 9: Regular

Check out all the rules for the sub-formats!

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2017!



Adding a top combos lockout by AJ_Impy at Fri, 08/18/2017 - 12:15
AJ_Impy's picture

Adding a top combos lockout beside the top players lockout sounds like a reasonable option. The TLR build is very solid, especially with the swan songs to protect the combo. Played seven times this year, four wins, three X-1. Can't argue with results like those.

I'm not really convinced it's by Generalissimo at Sat, 08/19/2017 - 06:39
Generalissimo's picture

I'm not really convinced it's a good idea. It seems like it just hides the problem rather than actually solving it; if a deck is too good for the format then something needs to be banned to de-power it and if it's not too good then a lockout is unnecessary. Making it so you face a deck slightly less often is not going to make it any more fun to play against if it's overpowered and having it appear less often will make it take longer for us to accrue the data to determine if it actually is ban-worthy.

I think you're wrong, and I by Tribal Apocalypse at Sat, 08/19/2017 - 12:47
Tribal Apocalypse's picture

I think you're wrong, and I think it's what WotC/DCI is doing as well. They never ban something because it can sometimes feel overpowered. They only do that if it's a constant presence in the meta, to the point of twisting it. Forcing the players to refrain from using the same power deck several times in a row (something DCI can't do) is effective in keeping it at bay from the point of view of the overall format's game experience.
Case in point, if TLR wasn't able to play that deck so many times in a row, it's likely most players wouldn't even take notice.
As for Breakfast not being worth it, I agree, I think the not particularly overwhelming results across 5 years prove it. But locking it when it goes undefeated is harmless enough. And it's something that could be applied to a few other things as well.

At least the lock out adds a by Paul Leicht at Sat, 08/19/2017 - 13:03
Paul Leicht's picture

At least the lock out adds a layer of competition to the tourney that does not exist otherwise. "Do I add Painter Stone to this deck on the off chance that I won't be able to use it again for a while? Hrmmm." For example.

I'm not sure lumping the by AJ_Impy at Sat, 08/19/2017 - 22:01
AJ_Impy's picture

I'm not sure lumping the current incarnation of the deck with previous years makes that much sense. The current build has played 21 matches and won all but three of them.

Just out of curiosity, would by TLR at Sun, 08/20/2017 - 11:42
TLR's picture

Just out of curiosity, would you lock the whole combo, or just some pieces? That is, in this case, would all the pieces get locked, or could I still use a cleric deck with the Kor? Or just Dread Return in a non combo deck? Or just lockout the enablers, and I could still use Maniac, Azami, etc?

Also, what is considered a combo? Comparing with Natural Order, almost every green deck puts 4 NO, Hornet Queen and Dragonlord Atarka. I know I'm biased and I know this is a bad comparison because one is a game winning combo and the other is just a "creature kit", but almost every green deck gets this package. Would that be locked too if it wins too much?

Only Cephalid Illusionist by Tribal Apocalypse at Wed, 08/23/2017 - 08:48
Tribal Apocalypse's picture

Only Cephalid Illusionist would be locked.
"Combo" is shorthand for "endgame combo". Most of the cards in MTG combo with each other. Most of those combos don't cause the game to end.

One question though. In your by TLR at Sun, 08/20/2017 - 11:37
TLR's picture

One question though. In your opinion, is the deck too good, or is the combo too good?

I'm asking this because I also played the combo in a different shell, and have a few other in the making (I love the combo, so I brew a lot with it). A few are good, some are ok, a lot are bad. I even have control versions with just 1 kor and 1 cephalid. Should they all be banned? Just because of one tribe? When that tribe gets a 5 event lockout if it wins?

I'm not exactly by Tribal Apocalypse at Wed, 08/23/2017 - 08:58
Tribal Apocalypse's picture

One question though. In your opinion, is the deck too good, or is the combo too good?

I'm not exactly sure who are you asking. In my (Kuma) opinion, the deck is not too good. I tracked all its accomplishments to show that.

As a general rule, though, we don't want players to keep ending undefeated in consecutive format weeks with the same deck, because the goal is to keep attracting new players, and an environment where you see the same outcome every time is not attractive. Usually, those players are top players, so that's why the lockout exists. Usually, players who aren't top players become top players soon enough if they keep winning, which is what happened with you. So the issue sorts itself.
I wondered if a handful of very well-known endgame combos (Breakfast, Aluren, dredge, etc) should be locked out even when it's a non-top player using them. The rationale for not doing it is that the non-top player has the right to use all the means top players used to become top players. The rationale for doing it is that there's a window where a non-top player is almost a top player, leaderboard-wise, but not quite, so they're allowed to do things a top player is not, while feeling like a top player "breaking the rules" to all other non-top players.

What I meant was that the by TLR at Wed, 08/23/2017 - 14:51
TLR's picture

What I meant was that the power of the combo is not necessarily the power of the deck.

The UW Wizard Cephalid might be strong, but the same cephalid shell in a tribe without access to counters and/or search for the pieces is not that good. Even if it could be capable of a turn 2 kill, it would lose a lot of consistency. A deck that's already an all-in strategy losing consistency is not good.

I was asking this because some people talk about banning cephalid, but apart from a single tribe, is it that strong? Specially when you can get locked out?

I would also like to understand why a known combo that has been around for several years, is now worthy of ban talks, when it couldn't put up results before...

There's no ban in sight. I by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 08/24/2017 - 02:34
Kumagoro42's picture

There's no ban in sight. I never talked about bans here.

This said, it's not one tribe, it's three tribes: Kor, Wizard, Cleric. Of course Human would do too.

And your argument is, honestly, weird: why assume players would ever play a combo in a shell that doesn't help the combo as much as possible? Of course a Wurm or Angel deck with a Cephalid Illusionist package crammed in there is bad. But who would ever play that? Assuming that people would play a powerful combo card in anything less than the best way is a thought that leads nowhere and is defeated by facts: the progression clearly shows the opposite. You have to look at a combo card within its best possible shell, not in a vacuum, because it won't be played in a vacuum. Channel is bad in a deck where everything requires colored mana. Earthcraft is bad in a deck with no creatures.

The Cephalid combo is a strong combo because it's played in the right way. To neutralize it, even temporarily like we're discussing here, you need to take one piece away. Cephalid Illusionist is the only piece of the combo that's not easily replaceable (also, it's a card you only use within the combo, because it's pretty useless without something targeting it at will). Therefore that's the card that gets locked out. Not banned, locked out.

I never said you were the one by TLR at Thu, 08/24/2017 - 05:49
TLR's picture

I never said you were the one to want it banned, but you know some players complained about the deck and said it was too powerful.

And of course usually players will play the best shell for a deck. I never said differently. But I can play the combo in a different deck... Like I said before, I even have a control deck assembled that plans on winning with the combo, but I have just 1 cephalid and 1 kor, so I doubt I will win on turn 2. That deck would never be a reason for the players to complain.

Right now I'm aiming at the Hamtastic Award, so I'm trying new tribes and decks. And I like the combo, so i'm trying it in different tribes. That's why I want to separate the combo from the deck in this discussion.

In the end, what I meant was that if that deck is in a tribe that gets lockedout, should you also lockout the combo enabler?
I understand your argument and I agree that most players would only play the best shell of the combo. I just want to know if I should stop deckbuilding and testing decks that might lockout all the other decks I'm building.

Good luck with the Hamtastic by Paul Leicht at Fri, 08/25/2017 - 02:07
Paul Leicht's picture

Good luck with the Hamtastic Award race, as I understand it the competition is usually pretty tough.

Thank you. But... there's a by TLR at Fri, 08/25/2017 - 10:58
TLR's picture

Thank you. But... there's a race? I was aiming for the 10 different tribes award. If there is a race for total tribes played, at this point there's no way I can beat AJ or Generalissimo

The Hamtastic Award race is by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 08/25/2017 - 12:40
Kumagoro42's picture

The Hamtastic Award race is against oneself. You do it 10 times, then again another 10 times, and so on. AJ and Generalissimo are marching toward the third iteration. Three other players have already reached the first.

I should be more careful how by Paul Leicht at Sat, 08/26/2017 - 00:02
Paul Leicht's picture

I should be more careful how funny I try to be. :p Anyway glad it's still around.

The problem is definitely the by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 08/25/2017 - 05:12
Kumagoro42's picture

The problem is definitely the combo, not the shell. It's actually more unfair to lockout, say, Kor once you used Breakfast Combo in a Kor deck, when you could want to play a perfectly fair Kor equipment deck that has almost nothing in common with the Breakfast shell.

And I totally want to discourage a plan where a player keeps moving the same power combo from tribe to tribe to circumvent the lockout. We can already see it with combo packages like Dark Depths or Helm of Obedience, or even an entire shell like Restore Balance or Living End. I'm not stopping this kind of thing, but I certainly won't let it spread too easily. It again creates a feeling of "no matter the tribe, it's always the same outcome" with most players. Power combos having definite homes at least reinforces the idea that the tribe matters.

Ok, I guess I understand what by TLR at Fri, 08/25/2017 - 10:55
TLR's picture

Ok, I guess I understand what you're saying, and I have to agree with it.

But still, it feels a bit unfair if I can't play the combo even if I change tribes, but like you mentioned, some packages are played regardless of tribe, and those are OK. I mean, I played against a Camel deck (not 100% sure on the tribe) that was actually a Restore Balance deck with camels that were never cast. There was nothing tribal about that deck, only a restore balance deck with 20 dead cards...

If you want to implement that lockout with combos, I won't opose or even disagree with it. But if that's the case, then maybe something should be done about those packages that get played regardless of tribe (Natural Order, Dark Depths, Helm of Obedience, Restore Balance and Living End)

Just to be clear, the lockout by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 08/25/2017 - 12:37
Kumagoro42's picture

Just to be clear, the lockout for combos, any combo, is already in place – it has always been since the beginning of the lockout rule (albeit I sometimes forget to check if there was a combo in the undefeated deck). For instance, when a top player ends undefeated with a reanimator deck, they get Entomb, Exhume and Animate Dead all locked out for 5 registrations.

What we're discussing here is the idea of extending the lockout, in some particular cases, to non-top-players too. In fact, what we're discussing here doesn't influence you in the least (unless you plummet in the leaderboard in the next months).

I know we are talking about by TLR at Fri, 08/25/2017 - 16:51
TLR's picture

I know we are talking about non-top players. I just mentioned the other combos for consistency.

Just because it doesn't affect me directly, doesn't mean I can't think about it. I love tribal and I love democracy, so here I am.