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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Sep 14 2018 11:00am
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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. Announcements
  5. What's Next

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

by Kumagoro

 We did it, we completed 400 Tribal Apocalypse events (in the Blippian Era)! Woot!

 On to the next 400, now!


  • Event Number: 8.35, Week 400 BE
  • Date: September 8
  • Attendance: 17
  • Rounds: 4
  • Subformat: 400th Special: Memory Lane
  • Winner: Socanelas with Sliver
  • Runner-up: Generalissimo with Hydra
  • 1 Loss: Yokai_ with Warrior, Golden_Lin with Rat, -DiamondDust- with Specter, CruelHellraiser with Golem
  • Second Chance Prize: AJ_Impy with Hydra, Generalissimo with Hydra, Dawwy with Samurai, Inside_Trader with Samurai, Deonmag with Specter, -DiamondDust- with Specter, Nagarjuna with Specter, sheaj31 with Specter, _against_ with Zubera
  • Tribes: Dragon, Elemental, Golem, Hydra (x2), Rat, Samurai (x2), Sliver, Specter (x4), Warrior (x3), Zubera
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 So, Sliver won the 400th event, and it felt right, because they're arguably the game's most accomplished embodiment of the tribal's concept. Also, their pilot here, Socanelas, is one of the best players that's been active in the past couple of years. He was responsible for Sliver's previous win in 2017, and before that, they hadn't done much for a few years – to find another first place for the little suckers we have to go back to Golden_Lin's win in season 4. They're not played as much as they once were, which is a pity considering how Sliver-friendly the 5-color mana base has become for them, thanks to, in order of appearance, Ancient Ziggurat, Cavern of Souls, Sliver Hive and Unclaimed Territory. They don't need to worry about colors of mana anymore.


 The runner-up was, somewhat unexpectedly, Hydra, a tribe that's still seeking its first event win; this time, the multi-headed fiends came closer than ever, thanks to Generalissimo's efforts and design, which we discuss at length in the returning Show and Tell section, including live video commentary of all his games. Don't miss it.


 Generalissimo's list was cheap enough, but nowhere close to the most successful Specter list (the most popular tribe of the week), piloted by newcomer -DiamondDust-, and which ended up in the money despite clocking a 0.90 tix total. It's not every week that a deck earns more than its cost!


 And this was my own attempt at green Elementals, which I feature only because we'll discuss it with Generalissimo below.


 But last week also saw the debut of the brand new Standard Tribal Wars event! Every Sunday, same time as Tribal Apocalypse, come to the #TRIBAL chat (and the Getting Serious room), or join us on Discord, and host Nagarjuna will treat you with a 3-round Swiss, Top 4 final cut Standard event. First winner (the full list of players and decks is here), was BoozeMongoose with Zombie.


 Second place for yours truly, with a Wall list that tried to improve on AJ_Impy's similar Arcades, the Strategist build from the last TribAp Standard event. I abandoned the artifact/historic theme, hiring larger and faster tribesmembers in Wall of Mist and Wall of Vines, respectively; I included ways to defend Arcades, because without him the deck's gameplan miserably crumbles; and I discovered how insanely amazing is Nissa, Steward of Elements in a build where she can drop for 3 and two turns later she'll basically cast one of your spells for free (or drop an additional land) every turn. And I didn't even need to pursue the ultimate, which was just a bit farther and is more or less a 10-damage finishing move.




 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the amazing Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of September 14, 2018):

  • Socanelas's Slivers: $342.14
  • Generalissimo's Hydras: $18.39
  • -DiamondDust-'s Specters: $0.90
  • _Kumagoro_'s Elementals: $84.84
  • BoozeMongoose's Zombies: $4.19
  • _Kumagoro_'s Walls: $21.77

 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.


 Here's Generalissimo live comment video containing the deck tech and all the matchups of his almost-winning Hydra list, of the typically obscure name.

 And here's our discussion about it.

 Kumagoro: Let's start with the tribal choices. Kalonian Hydra is undeniably the best Hydra (and sort of a lord for them); Polukranos, World Eater is also great, being in-tribe removal; Mistcutter Hydra is very good, its interaction with Kalonian potentially game-ending. I think these three are bound to be in every Hydra deck, with good reasons. Hydra Broodmaster is pretty strong as well. And I guess Hooded Hydra is good, though another Hydra that drops for 3 and gets bigger later is Managorger Hydra (and it does get out of hand fast), but there's certainly value in generating those chump-blockers Snakes to stay alive while waiting for the big Hydras. And maybe I worry too much about exilers, when it seems like the meta is currently more about black and red removal, which triggers Hooded Hydra just fine.


 Generalissimo: Managorger Hydra is something I tried in an earlier iteration of the deck and, while a turn-1 ramp spell into turn-2 Managorger is often pretty great, it loses effectiveness really rapidly as the game progresses, it's a miserable late-game topdeck and you never really want to play it on to a board state that already you're already behind on, which is not an uncommon situation when you're spending the first two or three turns ramping.

 Kumagoro: All in all, the only one of your Hydras I'm not sold on is the same you singled out as underperforming at the end of the video, that is Genesis Hydra. I think hits too many dead cards with its ability, and is subpar on the battlefield. While the only major monogreen Hydra you didn't include is Primordial Hydra, which has the same cost as Genesis but in stalling situations, like against those deathtouch blockers in round 3, still gets larger without attacking, and eventually attains inevitability, because you just can't survive a 64/64 trampler. And of course, you mention Commander 2018's Whiptongue Hydra in the video debriefing, and that one will certainly make for a great 1-of when it'll be available! (I think it has the potential to become a fixture of ANY deck with green fetchers like Green Sun's Zenith or Natural Order and whatnot).


 Generalissimo: I completely overlooked Primordial Hydra for no good reason; an X-sized Hydra with trample (even if it is conditional) that is still good to cast early with a small amount of mana would be great and definitely an upgrade to Genesis Hydra. Unfortunately, it's also about $1.50, which, while not completely unaffordable for me, is something I'm reluctant to spend on a card that will only be useful in this one deck.

 Kumagoro: Your choice of ramp is interesting. I used to play a Modern deck like that, it was devised by Travis Woo a few years ago. Of course there was more room in that build, Woo's had 23 ramp elements (three Garruks plus full sets of Utopia Sprawl, Overgrowth, Arbor Elf, Voyaging Satyr, and Fertile Ground – the latter just because Wild Growth isn't legal in Modern) against your 18, which are still a significant number, and work just fine, as you perfectly proved. Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (also not legal in Modern, of course) doesn't actually play much into the gameplan, but he's still very fast mana, I guess. Also, it's high time they reprint Wild Growth in a non-horrible frame. I don't think I'll ever be able to stomach playing with that 7th edition eyesore.

 Generalissimo: I think Rofellos is just too fundamentally powerful to consider cutting. There are certainly times when Voyaging Satyr will do more but Rofellos is more reliable; for the Satyr to be better there need to be as many Auras on a land as there are Forests in play and while there are just 21 Forests in the deck, there are only 9 Auras (ignoring Overgrowth being twice as good as the others, but I'm considering cutting that anyway). I'm sure you could up the Aura count to the point that Satyr is better most of the time, but even then I'd want at least a single Rofellos to Zenith for when it's better. Plus, I think the 2/1 body of Rofellos is vastly more likely to be useful than the 1/2 Satyr. I certainly agree about Wild Growth; those white borders are ugly as sin. They actually did reprint it with a Modern frame... in Commander 2018, so who knows if we'll even get it online.


 Kumagoro: I think your math is sound about Rofellos. But I wonder if a ramp with Utopia+Overgrowth as Auras could work (I admit I'm just trying to find reasons to not having to use Wild Growth). It may be riskier yet more explosive. I noticed several times you had a development turn where you cast a second one-mana Aura on top of the first, then you did nothing else, while you would have the mana to drop Overgrowth at that point. Maybe in such a build the Satyr does play consistently better than Rofellos?

 Generalissimo: As far as Wild Growth vs. Overgrowth goes, it's actually more complicated than reliability vs. explosiveness, because Wild Growth can be just as, if not more, explosive than Overgrowth, but in a slightly different way. Turn-1 Arbor Elf into turn-2 Overgrowth can give you as much as 8 mana on turn 3 if you hit all of your land drops. Turn-1 Arbor Elf into turn-2 Wild Growth leaves you with another 4 mana to use on turn 2, which could be a Polukranos or a Garruk or two more ramp spells... or it could be nothing if your hand is all Kalonian Hydras and Green Sun's Zeniths you don't want to spend on more ramp. I suppose that's part of why I like Hooded Hydra; it gives more possibilities to make use of that extra turn-2 mana (and an X=2 Primordial Hydra wouldn't be a bad way of spending it either). The reason I think Wild Growth is overall better, however, is the redundancy of having more 1-mana ramp spells; the difference between casting a ramp spell on turn 1 or not is absolutely huge.


 Kumagoro: By the way, I think the choice of that singleton Satyr over a fourth Green Sun's Zenith doesn't stand up to scrutiny, because for the same two mana, GSZ is the fifth Arbor Elf the Satyr also is, but it has many more applications.

 Generalissimo: You're absolutely right; I cut the fourth Zenith to make room for Garruk but I obviously didn't spend enough time actually thinking about the best choice.

 Kumagoro: By the way, lucky for you Ghost Quarter is not that popular (I had it in my list, though!). It is in Modern, which is why this ramp base never became high tier.

 Generalissimo: You're certainly right about Ghost Quarter. Fortunately Wasteland is the much more popular card for those that can afford it and Field of Ruin has probably stolen some of Ghost Quarter's share of the format. I think Ghost Quarter is probably a little under-played among budget players right now; against most Cloudpost decks, which I think is the main reason in the format to include incidental land destruction, it's functionally identical to a Wasteland and, for example, both Yokai's and Socanelas's decks that I played against didn't have any basics.

 Kumagoro: All things considered, the single most evident flaw, as yourself noted in the commentary, is the lack of trample on too many of the Hydras, but there's an easy fix for that and her name is Nylea, God of the Hunt. I personally never go to battle without a Nylea when I pilot a green deck with big creatures, especially with Green Sun's Zenith to fetch her when the time is right. It's as much as a wincon as Garruk's ultimate is (plus she defends you, as all those Auras are devotion enablers), but I'll probably replace the singleton Overgrowth instead. Old Garruk is too strong in this build, it's actually a pity there's no room for more.

 Generalissimo: Nylea is an excellent suggestion; I never even considered her but a Zenith-able target that grants trample, provides a outlet for excess mana and is difficult to remove is exactly what this deck wants.

 Kumagoro: You could use Rhonas instead, which is easier to Zenith for (a few times you lamented that you haven't got any target for X=3), basically any Hydra would wake him up, deathtouch on an indestructible body can be useful, and you probably need to give trample to just one Hydra at a time anyway. Still, I like not having to spend any additional mana for the trampling to happen.

 Kumagoro: Let's talk Dryad Arbor for a moment. You already know I don't like it in general, and you saw yourself how it almost made you mull a perfectly fine hand because of its slowness. But there's definitely a stronger argument against it in this particular deck (which didn't even include fetch lands), because, really, how many times would you ever Zenith her in on turn 1 when you have so many other more crucial targets on turn 2? A hand that'd lead you to that decision would probably also be a hand you mull away, because you don't keep a hand with a Zenith and zero ramp elements.

 Generalissimo: Yes, Dryad Arbor is an awkward card to draw and ideally I don't ever want to be Zenithing for it but there are still lots of non-ideal scenarios where having it in the deck makes Zenith much, much better. Consider, for example, an opening hand of Forest, Rofellos, GSZ and expensive cards; that becomes a mulligan if you take Dryad Arbor out of the deck. Or a Forest, Forest, GSZ, GSZ, expensive cards hand; without Dryad Arbor you're looking at probably going T1 Forest, T2 Forest + Zenith for Arbor Elf, T3 Zenith for Rofellos and T4 you have lots of mana, compared to T1 Forest + Zenith for Dryad Arbor, T2 Forest + Zenith for Rofellos and then on Turn 3 you've got 3 Forests and a Rofellos to go nuts with. With 3 or 4 GSZs in the deck and only one Dryad, you're just much more likely to draw a Zenith and have the Dryad in the deck be good than to draw the Dryad and have it be bad.

 Kumagoro: As for my deck, there's not much to say, it went horribly, so if you want to chime in and suggest a different build for monogreen Elemental, be my guest. The only thing that worked is Titania, Protector of Argoth paired with the sacrificial ramp, so I'd keep that. The +1/+1 counters theme was hit or miss and generally too slow (it's worth noting Hardened Scales is probably better with Hydra, as it's a form of ramp there, essentially +1 mana on every scalable Hydra and every monstrosity activation). Ivy Elemental is too meh, Cytoplast Root-Kin never managed to hit the ground at the right moment; Undergrowth Champion was okay and got occasionally bigger than I expected. Forgotten Ancient (Managorger Hydra's progenitor) is good enough. Whisperwood Elemental is strong but didn't gel with the rest of the list here – one time I even tried to flip Root-Kin, killing it.
 It's probably better to build a reliable ramp, go with Omnath, Locus of Mana (which is also in itself a ramp), (Vine Mare), maybe Gaea's Revenge?

 Generalissimo: I've found that falling into a +1/+1 counter synergy deck can often be a trap, and a very tempting trap too because there are so many interesting cards for it and making a bunch of absurdly massive creatures can be a lot of fun. However, there are some seriously diminishing returns from just making a few creatures bigger and bigger (as I think I aptly demonstrated in my final game against Socanelas) and you can end up with a mid-speed deck that has a hard time against aggro because your creatures can't compete in the first few turns as you spend time to assemble the synergies, has a hard time against heavily disruptive decks because all the +1/+1 counters die along with the creature they're on and has a hard time against combo because they're doing something so much more powerful than you at about the same speed and you have very limited interaction. Overall, I think a +1/+1 counter deck has to either be very aggressive, be able to go wide and turn a large number of creatures into medium-size threats rather than a few into giants, or somehow be able to get more than just power and toughness out of the counters.

That's admittedly not exactly constructive criticism, though, but honestly the only direction I could see going with the deck is heavy ramp, as you already suggested, which is often the most obvious place to take every mono-green deck. There are some OK in-tribe forms of ramp in Omnath, Fertilid and (maybe) Silverglade Elemental and some creatures that are worth ramping into at the top of the curve, plus Titania offers some protection against flooding.

Hardened Scales is something I was seriously considering for the Hydras because, as you said, it's essentially an extra mana for those X costs but then I realised what would we better than that is extra mana for anything in my deck and just put in more ramp instead. Especially since it doesn't make Polukranos do more fighting or Broodmaster make more tokens or Genesis Hydra dig deeper.

 Kumagoro: Oh, I thought monstrosity would look at the counters to generate the effect (thus taking into consideration extra counters from Hardened Scales and such), but I just checked, and it only looks at the X you paid, unfortunately. I mostly agree about the traps of the "+1/+1 counters matter" decks, and also about what you said earlier about Managorger Hydra, though I still think that kind of self-growing creature (see also Taurean Mauler and Lorescale Coatl) has mad value in the right deck.


 Just to remind you of a few things:

 There's a new Standard Tribal Wars event in town! Every Sunday, 5 PM UTC (same as Tribal Apocalypse), same room, Nagarjuna is the host. Three rounds of Swiss, then two rounds of finals for the Top 4, with ticket prizes eventually assigned to them with the 3-2-1-1 distribution. A 1-tix door prize is also randomly awarded.

 The Underdog Prize: During any event of the regular rotation (but not necessarily 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.

 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 only tribe currently eligible for the award is Camel.

 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, Incarnation, Licid, Monger, Nightstalker, Orgg, Ouphe, Rabbit, Salamander, Slith. Already cleared: Atog, Crocodile, Homarid, 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.

 We're on Discord! Join us from here, chat about tribal things with other tribal players and arrange tribal games on MTGO all week long! (Or your can just keep using our Google Sheets bulletin board).


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

  • 8.36 (Week 401 BE), on September 15: Standard
  • 8.37 (Week 402 BE), on September 22: Modern
  • 8.38 (Week 403 BE), on September 29: Legacy
  • 8.39 (Week 404 BE), on October 6: Underdog

Check out the ban lists and the event calendar

Art disclaimers. Revel in Riches art by Eric Deschamps; Show and Tell art by Jeff Laubenstein; Herald of Anafenza art by Aaron Miller.