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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jul 20 2018 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


 So, here we are, finally! The new and nerfed Legacy format is ready to kick in with its first event on July 28 next week (this week's Modern). In the past few weeks, I read a lot of suggestions and did a lot of soul-searching (the soul of Legacy Tribal Wars, that is), and I came up with the list I'll discuss below. I erred on the side of caution, I think, because we want the new Legacy to decisively feel like a more enjoyable experience, and to more warmly welcome new players – which is the reason why I still haven't posted any message on Reddit, like I was asked to: I don't want to invite new players in while the entire tournament is a work in progress. I think we'll implement the changes now, then August will be our test run, and then starting with September I'll spam the MTG reddit and MTGO subreddit once a week, hoping to bait some much needed new blood.

 At the same time, I didn't as aggressively pursue bans as the old Pure list would, despite the fact that this ban list will apply to the Underdog format, too – for simplicity's sake, from now on I want ban lists linked to the card pool/underneath DCI format, not for each of our possible variants. So the Legacy ban list will apply to everything that use Legacy as a pool, which in the current rotation means Legacy Tribal Wars and Legacy Tribal Wars: Underdog. Keep in mind two things, though: 1) That we'll revise all the ban lists at the end of every quarter, announced the following Friday (so, next revision: October 5) and 2) that banning cards is easier than unban them, because we'll have a pretty good idea of what annoys us, but it's harder to know if something that was unbanned years prior is still a threat. We can also do "quarter trials" in the future, temporarily unbanning a card to see how it affects the meta.

 This said, here's the list, comments below.

 It's 33 cards, 20 new bans, one unban. It's complemented by the creatures that can only be played within their own tribes, a list with some new faces as well.

Let's proceed by category. 

 Fast reanimator. New bans: Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead, Exhume, Life/Death, Necromancy, Reanimate, Shallow Grave. Unbanned in Underdog: Dread Return. This was something most everyone agreed on. We've accepted it as part of the natural state of things for years, but Nagarjuna proved how easy it is to abuse such a straightforward strategy (also thanks to the better and better enablers that got printed over time) to achieve consistent wins with one of the many fattie tribes, like Leviathan or Wurm, where most everything is a strong reanimation target, generating an extremely Negative Player Experience in the process. This is a section where I didn't pull any punches, going as far as including a three-mana card like Necromancy, with the rule of thumb that nothing too end-game-y should be given a chance to regularly happen on turn 3 or earlier. Plus, this way we can keep around all the enablers (Careful Study, Cathartic Reunion, Entomb, Faithless Looting). I figured, if even just Necromancy was still around, people would use all the enabler to dig for it, with the risk of repeating the same pattern, even if in a less consistent fashion. This way, instead, the faster reanimators left in the format are Corpse Dance and Recurring Nightmare. They can also be online by turn 3, I guess, but they usually follow different, more elaborate strategies.

 Cheating into play from hand. New bans: Show and Tell, Omniscience. There wasn't agreement here. It's an archetype that has the same issues of reanimator, but even less ways to stop it. Some said, without Omniscience, Show and Tell is not so terrible. But I disagree, for the reasons exposed above: I don't want to allow routinely explosive plays by turn 3 without help. On the other hand, without Show and Tell, it's Omniscience even a threat?It's not that I think it is, but it's just such an obvious, uncreative card that pretty much negates the very structure of the game (honestly, I think it's a bad design that shouldn't exist to begin with; plus, it's a flavor fail, "omniscience" means to know everything, not to be able to do anything you want, that'd be "omnipotence"; a card called "Omniscience" should have the effects of Enter the Infinite). Even just as a target for something slow like Academy Rector, Omniscience becomes a go-to, and go-tos are another things that we should be wary of, because they make the meta more boring.

 Non-banned in this category: Eureka, which left to its own devices is not even that good; Goryo's Vengeance and Through the Breach, both Modern-legal cards, and Sneak Attack. All these "temporary cheaters" are especially good either with Griselbrand or with the better Eldrazi titans Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger), but all of those are tribe-locked. And we don't particularly want to nerf Big Eldrazi, anyway; it's the smaller Eldrazi that have become a concern.

 Dredge. New bans: Bridge from Below, Laboratory Maniac, Narcomoeba. Getting rid of Lab Man thwarts the most obvious endgame for degenerate self-mill strategies. It doesn't prevent them from existing, they just have to find more elaborate finishing moves. Same for Bridge and dredge. Narcomoeba is a card that only exists as an enabler to Dread Return in dredge. This way, Dread Return can stay in the format and find fairer applications. Narcomoeba doesn't have any (I even thought about restricting it to its tribe, but it seemed pointless).

 Non-tribal power combos. Already banned: Grindstone, Scapeshift, Thopter Foundry. New bans: Dark Depths, Goblin Charbelcher, Helm of Obedience. These are all the pieces with fewer applications of all the major two-card combos that don't care about the tribe they're in. Charbelcher is not as popular as the others, because it's harder to build, but it's been played, and it's actually a one-card non-tribal combo. No reason to allow it if we're taking a more tribal-oriented stance.

 Sheer power level. Already banned: Hypergenesis. New ban: Aluren, Cephalid Illusionist. These have been played a lot, with a lot of success.

 Twisted in a Tribal environment. Already banned: Engineered Plague, Extinction, Umezawa's Jitte. New bans: An-Zerrin Ruins. The reason we keep banning Extinction is not that it would change the format much; it's that it would become the go-to black sweeper, being one-sided. (Tsabos's Decree) is okay because 6 mana are too many for a sweeper (and the discard part is negligible at that point). Fumigate proves 5 is still a good number, instead. Plus Tsabo's Decree allows players to pursue this effect if they want ramp into it; after all, it's what Cloudpost players already do with All Is Dust. Extinction doesn't require much in the way of deckbuilding around it. Along the same lines, I think An-Zerrin Ruins has never been considered because it's such an obscure card (thanks for reminding me of its existence, Naga!). But it exists, and in our environment, it plays in a way that's different from how it was designed (which was as a mildly interesting sideboard card). This is a mechanical ban, in a way, not linked to actual use or power level.

 Unfair advantage to major tribes. Already banned: Glimpse of Nature, Goblin Lackey, Umbral Mantle. New bans: Eye of Ugin. Unbanned in Underdog: Quest for the Holy Relic. Here I want to take a risk and try and see how Eldrazi Stompy fare without the Eye but with Eldrazi Temple still available. If they're still oppressive, at the next revision we can ban that one, too. But I think Eye of Ugin was the key for their degenerate turn-2 and turn-3 plays. Plus, it helped Big Eldrazi and other Cloudpost builds, too. As for the Quest, it was banned in Underdog because the Kor were winning too much, I believe. I think they can resume playing with that one, doesn't feel like an issue right now, we can sort it out later if need so. At the moment, they're not a "major tribe" in Underdog.

 Twisted board states. Already banned: Arboria, Stasis, The Abyss. No new bans here. Humility and Moat stay. The Abyss is a good candidate to be unbanned at some point. We already discussed it in the past, I think. We should discuss it again. It doesn't seem extremely oppressive, and it's certainly not slow. I believe the rationale was that it helps artifact tribes too much.

 Miscellanea. Already banned in Underdog: Batterskull. Unbanned in Underdog: the Swords of X and Y. I'm okay keeping Batterskull at bay, because it's a go-to equipment, it would give an advantage to Kor and Artificer (the only tribes that have access to Stoneforge Mystic), and most importantly, it's a recurring off-tribe creature on top of everything else. The Swords have been discussed a lot in the past. Right now, let's bring them in. I don't even remember which tribes were playing them in Underdog, they certainly haven't been played much in Regular. A reason to unban them is also that they don't seem to be a good fit for very fast aggro decks, so the tribes that might want to use them are likely tribes that don't show up frequently at the moment, like Troll.

 Note that Scapeshift, Thopter Foundry and Umbral Mantle are the only cards allowed in normal Modern that we don't allow neither in Modern Tribal Wars nor in Legacy Tribal Wars.

 Things that we aren't banning right now include:

 Mana disruptors. Armageddon, Blood Moon, Crucible of Worlds, Ravages of War. Blood Moon keeps the greedy mana bases honest. Armageddon effects are a broad strategy for on-the-field victories, not exactly a combo. Crucible of Worlds is more problematic, but again, not against cheap monocolored decks, because we don't have Strip Mine in the format.

 Fast mana. Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors. Cloudpost doesn't even count as fast mana for me. It's an important shell that supports several tribes that wouldn't exist otherwise. The victories fueled by it can have over-the-top finishes, but they're never fast.

 Miscellaneous combo pieces. Ad Nauseam and Hive Mind are okay for Modern, Legacy shouldn't fear them in the least. Dream Halls and Splinter Twin are fair. Past in Flames, as well as Storm in general, is probably not even feasible. Also rarely or never played: Donate, Doomsday, Food Chain, Lion's Eye Diamond. Smokestack Stax strategies and Time Spir decks don't feel like a threat, too. Once again, they're not fast, so they don't generate the kind of Negative Player Experience of not having had a chance to play at all.

 Inkmoth Nexus could be problematic, so it's kind of under watch. Punishing Fire+Grove of the Burnwillows was annoying back when it was all the rage, but later it wasn't seen much around.

 Also, unbanned: poor Worldgorger Dragon. Without Animate Dead, it's pretty much entirely useless.

 As for the new creatures restricted to their tribe: it's pretty much every Natural Order target ever used. Which is my goal: Natural Order is an amazing tool for minor tribes, and now those tribes will have their own targets for it, like Hornet Queen for Insect, and Craterhoof Behemoth for Beast. Admittedly, this will affect Wall and Plant a bit, but hey, they have (Arcades, the Strategist) now.

 And that's it. Let me know what you think! And good brewing!


  • Event Number: 8.27, Week 392 BE
  • Date: July 14
  • Attendance: 10
  • Rounds: 3
  • Subformat: Standard
  • Winner: lovetapsmtg with Jackal
  • 1 Loss: Nagarjuna with Vampire, Deonmag with Vampire, AJ_Impy with Elder, MisterMojoRising with Knight
  • Underdog Prize: lovetapsmtg with Jackal
  • Up-and-Coming Prize: lovetapsmtg with Jackal
  • Tribes: Druid, Dwarf, Elder, Jackal, Knight, Merfolk, Vampire (x3), Zombie
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 So, back to back Up-and-Coming winner these past two weeks! First Djinn, now Jackal. Since when I keep track of it, which is since event 109, it happened only twice: with events 135 and 136, when Dwarf and Illusion, respectively, took their first wins; and with events 222 and 223, when Avatar and Shapeshifter did the same. Over the course of these almost 300 events, only 34 Unhallowed tribes lost their sorry status. It's little more than once every ten events, but it still indicates that the list is being marked off regularly enough; four times this year alone, in fact, with Dinosaur and Atog also joining the Great Hall of the (at least once) Victorious. Will we ever see a time when every existing tribe has had its moment of glory? I don't know, it seems hard for tribes like Kirin or Licid to ever be able to get there. Hell, Camel and Hippo are still waiting to win their first match. But who knows, given time, everything can happen. In the meantime, congratulations on the Underdog King, lovetapsmtg, for this brilliant first place, achieved on the back of the genuine strength of current Standard Jackals, a perfect fit for a Rhonas's Monument-fueled stompy strategy. (Too bad Rhonas the Indomitable himself is a Snake. The Jackal God is Hazoret the Fervent).


 Vampires are another solid reality of the format, and popular to boot (they've been the most played tribe in the two Standard events we've had so far, follow closely by Merfolk). Our Ultimate Champion Nagarjuna is one of players who made good use of the bloodsuckers and their ruthless synergies.


 AJ_Impy often tries to brew outside the box, so why not go with Elders? They're uncharacteristically well-represented in this Standard rotation, between Dinosaurs, Demons and Dragons.


 Powerful as the tribe should be, the Knight deck by MisterMojoRising closes the parade of the money entries.



 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the amazing Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of July 20, 2018):

  • lovetapsmtg's Jackals: $4.52
  • Nagarjuna's Vampires: $14.28
  • AJ_Impy's Elders: $94.68
  • MisterMojoRising's Knights: $5.09

 The Top 10 Cheapest Decks that Went Undefeated

  1. SirFalcon2008's Goblins, $1.54, 1st place on Event 289
  2. mihahitlor's Warriors, $1.95, 1st place on Event 233
  3. morpphling's Vampires, $2.25, 1st place on Event 285
  4. morpphling's Goblins, $2.35, 2nd place on Event 102
  5. JogandoPelado's Berserkers, $2.80, 1st place on Event 248
  6. kokonade1000's Berserkers, $2.95, 2nd place on Event 354
  7. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.32, 1st place on Event 154
  8. MisterMojoRising's Insects, $3.55, 2nd place on Event 201
  9. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.58, 1st place on Event 169
  10. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.70, 1st place on Event 145

 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. kokonade1000's Berserkers, $2.95, 2nd place on Event 354
  5. MisterMojoRising's Insects, $3.55, 2nd place on Event 201

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


 Just to remind you of a few things:

 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 and Hippo.

 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, Goat, Homarid, Incarnation, Licid, Monger, Nightstalker, Orgg, Ouphe, Rabbit, Salamander, Slith. Already cleared: Atog, Crocodile, Jackal, Leech, Manticore, Metathran, Moonfolk, Octopus, Ox, Processor, Siren.

 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):

  • 8.28 (Week 393 BE), on July 21: Modern
  • 8.29 (Week 394 BE), on July 28: Legacy
  • 8.30 (Week 395 BE), on August 4: Underdog
  • 8.31 (Week 396 BE), on August 11: Standard

Check out all the rules for the sub-formats!

Check out the full Tribal Calendar for 2018!