Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 02 2018 12:00pm
Login to post comments

 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

 The Halloween Special happened and... at first I thought, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to push players into playing All Hallow's Eve for the thematic prize? Just because that may suggest a more pronounced graveyard strategy, with particular emphasis on All Hallow's Eve's better relative, Living Death. But looking at the lists now, that was only the case of one deck, TLR's Zombies, which only performed as smoothly as intended against... me. So no harm no foul, I'll say. After all, Living Death is also a very Halloweenian concept.


 This said, some tweaks for the next time may be welcome. It's an event we've been played for years, but only once per season, so the data are still not too many. I'm thinking we should especially do something to reward playing the minor tribes. I don't believe anybody ever played Hag or Harpy, for instance. But we'll see, we have a full year to ponder about it.


  • Event Number: 8.42, Week 407 BE
  • Date: October 27
  • Attendance: 11
  • Rounds: 3
  • Subformat: Halloween Special
  • Winner: Generalissimo with Vampire
  • 1 Loss: AJ_Impy with Demon, Yokai_ with Vampire, JackSlagel with Zombie, Nagarjuna with Vampire, Deonmag with Scarecrow
  • Tribes: Demon, Rat, Scarecrow, Specter (x2), Vampire (x4), Zombie (x2)
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 So, our own Shower and Teller Generalissimo was the Vampire Master of Halloween! From the Snake-assisted Primeval Bounty to the bounties of (Mathas, Fiend Seeker)! (And yes, that ability stacks). You can jump directly below to hear the feat of the day commented live by Generalissimo himself, then read the post-mortem (pun intended) discussion with two other Vampire riders, i.e. Nagarjuna and myself. Behold the vampiric mirror in Round 1! Marvel at Bloodline Keeper being the absolute dominator of Round 2! Witness the "blazing fast turn-16 win" against the demonic hordes in Round 3!


 And speaking of those demonic hordes, here's the pretty powerful Demon deck that AJ_Impy piloted close to victory. I particularly like how Whip of Erebos turns Pestilence Demon's signature Pestilence-like activations into massive lifegaining.


 But the event belonged to the bloodsuckers, and they're the theme of the three-pronged discussion of this week's Show and Tell. So here's all the others Vampire lists, one by one, each with its own personality. Yokai_'s was about control, uniquely featuring Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Asylum Visitor and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, along with off-tribe controllers from other Spooky Tribes like Tidehollow Sculler, Ravenous Chupacabra, and Conspiracy goodies Queen Marchesa and Custodi Lich (which currently has a favorable bug: it triggers even when the opponent is the one who becomes the monarch).


 On the other hand, Nagarjuna's vampiric deck was more aggro-oriented, with Vampire Lacerator and all the lords: Legion Lieutenant, Stromkirk Captain, Captivating Vampire and classic Vampire Nocturnus. Surprisingly enough, no other build went the tribal linear route.


 Finally, my own silly concoction. I'll describe it better below, but it tried to go into very unfamiliar territory with Oathsworn Vampire, Heir of Falkenrath and Voldaren Pariah.


 Some statistics. The four Vampire lists featured 26 different Vampires, which speaks volumes on the current state of grace of the tribe. Here's the distribution. Gifted Aetherborn is the only one who appeared in all four lists, proving to be the most impactful new addition of late.




 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the amazing Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of November 2, 2018):

  • Generalissimo's Vampires: $29.49
  • AJ_Impy's Demons: $87.03
  • Yokai's Vampires: $67.94
  • Nagarjuna's Vampires: $63.39
  • Kumagoro's Vampires: $60.25

 Interestingly, the cheaper build was the winner. Also, it illustrates perfectly the difference between MTGO and paper Magic, since those not even 30 bucks becomes $2,162 in the material world, courtesy of Badlands and Scrubland.

 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.


 First things first, here's Generalissimo's video commentary of his three victorious rounds, plus bonus re-match against AJ.

 And now, vampiric round table!

 KUMAGORO: So, guys, let's compare and contrast our three very distinct Vampire lists!

 GENERALISSIMO: Well, one big difference between our decks is that mine has a shiny gold medal next to it!

 NAGARJUNA: Right, but your deck seems illegal, Shambling Vent becomes an ELEMENTAL, which is not a Spooky Tribe!

 GENERALISSIMO: An Elemental is totally just a ghost possessing a natural formation: super spooky! And Shambling Vent becomes a BW Elemental with lifelink, so that's obviously the ghost of a Vampire taking rock form. Quod erat demonspookum.

 NAGARJUNA: Quick thoughts: I expected some Living Death builds (because of the Special Prize), so I went for the exiling removal spells. Got mana screwed against Generalissimo, so maybe 21-22 lands would have been better than just 20. I do not like (Kheru Mind-Eater), seems slow to me, as does Bloodline Keeper most of the time (I ran one copy of it). I prefer Vampire Nocturnus and Sanctum Seeker as four drops. On the other hand, Drana, Liberator of Malakir, that's one I would now add as a one-of.


 KUMAGORO: I don't know what our sire Generalissimo will say in the video as I haven't watched it at this time yet, but from the limited experiences of my games (I've only played round 2 and 3), I've also come to the conclusion that Bloodline Keeper is a powerful card that I don't particularly want or need. So those are three slots I should devote to other stuff. I dislike Vampire Nocturnus too, because it only does one aggro-related trick two third of the turns, and the rest of the time it does nothing (I think it's the reason it has fallen out of favor in late years, whereas it was found in every Vampire deck once).
 Now Sanctum Seeker, that's pretty great for me. Main difference between the Keeper and the Seeker, being both four-drops: one hits the battlefield and does nothing until the next turn; the other hits the battlefield and you might well have won the game right there.


 GENERALISSIMO: Bloodline Keeper is basically the reason I built my deck; I wanted to play with the fun, grindy Vampires that have a hard time finding a place anywhere else and Bloodline Keeper was basically the top of that list. That being said, the pace of my deck is much slower than either of yours and I can see how it wouldn't be nearly as good for you. For me, its primary purpose is to create tokens while the transformation is a bonus, but if you want it to be a game-ending lord, then, yeah, it's probably a lot clunkier than either Vampire Nocturnus or Sanctum Seeker.

 KUMAGORO: All right, I've watched now, and I gotta say, in your second round the Keeper almost won me over. The way you play the first one, then follow it up with a second one the very next turn, so that the turn after that they both transform and you find yourself with three 6/6 flyers tokens out of nowhere, that's pretty great, and you managed to do it twice in a row!

 GENERALISSIMO: The whole deck was basically built out of the nostalgia I feel for Bloodline Keeper; I first started playing Magic around the time of the original Innistrad block and, to my inexperienced eyes, Bloodline Keeper seemed like the height of power. So, to get the most out of the card, I tried to build a deck that facilitated grindy, midrange games: removal, hand disruption, some more removal, deaththouchy lifelinkers, a bit of card draw and dash of extra removal. I have to say, I think it went pretty well.

 KUMAGORO: My build was trying to go into unexplored Vampire territory. The ideal interaction was: drop Heir of Falkenrath on turn two, untap, discard Voldaren Pariah for her madness cost, attack with a 3-powered flyer, basically the Vampire Delver of Secrets. Oathsworn Vampire is also there to be discarded to the Heir (I'd use Bloodghast too if it weren't a kidney apiece), and there's almost full sets of all the major lifelink guys plus Drana's Emissary to ensure I can consistently recur Oathsworn. Drana's Emissary in particular is unexpectedly solid, the steady flux of drain life stacks up in the end. I also profited from Bitterblossom's price to be down to quasi-honest, so I could have a source of free creatures to transform the Pariah with or to sacrifice to Indulgent Aristocrat, which I think is the best under-played Vampire right now.


 NAGARJUNA: I would pair Indulgent Aristocrat with lords and tokens. But paying 2 and saccing a creature is a lot for the effect, since you even lose one the creatures you were supposed to pump. Not a fan.

 KUMAGORO: Well, of course the trick is having creatures that you want or don't mind to sac, e.g. Bloodghast, Oathsworn Vampire, Bitterblossom faeries, or Bloodsoaked Champion (I had the Champion in the deck back when it was meant as a Modern build, but it's not Halloween-legal).

 NAGARJUNA: So play the guy, spend two mana and a dead body for the Metallic Mimic effect? Not sold.

 KUMAGORO: The body won't stay dead (either via natural recursion or an effect like Bitterblossom that recreates it). And it's the inverse of Metallic Mimic, which asks you to cast creatures afterwards; whereas I once put two +1/+1 counters on a Vampire Nighthawk that was already there by saccing Oathsworn and a Faerie token, then attacked with the Nighthawk and the Aristocrat, gained life, replayed Oathsworn. That's basically two Gavony Township activations at the price of one. Or just one activation for two mana in most midrange phases. In the early game, it's just a 1/1 lifelink for 1, at worst you didn't invest that much and you got a block and a life out of a single mana. Of course, if he wasn't a one-drop with a relevant battle ability (meaning he grows himself into something relevant too eventually), it wouldn't be even worth considering. It would feel... indulgent.

 GENERALISSIMO: I've never played with him myself but I've certainly seen him be pretty potent. It seems like you generally need to activate him at least twice for him to be more effective than the other lords, of which there are plenty for Vampires now, though. There's certainly an advantage to paying the mana over multiple turns but since it's usually going to have to pair up with something recursive to ameliorate the risk, I probably wouldn't run more than a couple.

 KUMAGORO: I don't really see him as a replacement for a lord, though. He requires some serious build-around. But speaking of Vampire lords, I'm still not sure if I like Captivating Vampire. I never played with him, seems very basic until you get into "win-more" territory? What Vamp deck wants to keep five Vamps untapped? Maybe yours, Generalissimo?

 GENERALISSIMO: Mine isn't that likely to get to five Vampires and if it does, it's usually already won with a transformed Keeper.

 KUMAGORO: And yet I see Captivating appears in several Vamp aggro lists (including Naga's, and an old Robin88's list that ran a full set and went undefeated, though that had to be one of those special Blippy celebrations because I see Slugs in the deck); but I guess he's just employed as a straightforward lord with a bonus ability that likely never plays a role if not once every hundred games.

 NAGARJUNA: Sometimes even five Vamps cannot get through. For those moments I like him as a one-of that's also a lord beside that.

 GENERALISSIMO: I have to say, after watching back my own games during editing, I wasn't very happy with the order I deployed my cards against you, Naga, and I was probably really lucky that you had such awkward draws both games. Looking over your list, the only thing I would suggest is more one-drops; it seems like the deck would benefit from being able to curve Stromkirk Noble into Legion Lieutenant into Stromkirk Captain, for example.


 NAGARJUNA: Yeah, the games against you were painful, even more once you got away with all the taplands. I don't think Stromkirk Noble would work well in the Halloween Special. He has no upside since there's no Humans, while there's a lot of other fast Vampires, Zombies, Rats etc. to hold him back and keep him small.

 KUMAGORO: I think Stromkirk Noble is for the kind of Vamp deck that's basically all one-drops with 18 lands or something. You know, all Lacerators, and Pulse Tracker and Guul Draz Vampire, and now there's also Vampire Cutthroat, Vicious Conquistador and Skymarcher Aspirant. I remember such builds winning events, they're also very cheap.


 GENERALISSIMO: Honestly, I'm having a hard time figuring out suggestions for your deck, Kuma; it's pretty weird and different and I think I'd need to actually play it to get a feel for it. That being said, I think Feast of Blood is a bad idea. The upside is just not worth the risk of not being able to cast your removal when you really need to.

 KUMAGORO: Totally agree, Feast of Blood is terrible. I thought it could be both flavorful AND useful, but nope. I realized it the first time I drew into it and couldn't play it, which then proved to be pretty much always.

 NAGARJUNA: Same here, Kuma's deck looks very unique on paper and needs to be played to get a feel for it, I guess.

 KUMAGORO: Oh, I'd love for one of you to play a reworked version of my deck! (without Feast of Blood, of course). If anything, it does some strange, potentially powerful things. I never managed to transform the Pariah, though. But I essentially only played one real match (where it did brilliantly in the long run), since I started on Round 2 and TLR's very dedicated Living Death deck performed impeccably against me and I couldn't do much about it.
 I don't know if you address it in the video, Gene, but did you consider Blood Baron of Vizkopa? Seems like it could be a good one-of finisher for your deck.

 GENERALISSIMO: Err... I think I considered it a long time ago when I was first designing the deck, but it just got beat out by the other top-end Vamps; the deck isn't super likely to get up to 30 life so it's mostly a 4/4 lifelinking pro-white/black, which can be amazing but it seemed a bit to matchup-dependant.

 KUMAGORO: Well, everyone was black in this particular event, though.

 GENERALISSIMO: Oh, that is true; I didn't actually design my deck specifically for this event, though, and it might be possible that I only woke up from a nap a short time before the event started and didn't have much time to think about and adapt it to the uniquely spooky metagame.

 NAGARJUNA: You can always count on Deonmag with his Scarecrows, but even he runs 4 black creatures in Reaper King. I actually considered playing Liliana's Defeat and/or Dark Betrayal.


 KUMAGORO: All in all, the thing with Vampires these days is that they have a whole lot of different options that aren't clearly ranked (the way for instance most Goblins and Elves are), so you really have an embarrassment of choices where no one is clearly better than the other. For instance, I put a single Drana, Liberator of Malakir in my deck, and I thought it might have been just a cute choice and that a fourth Vampire Nighthawk would have served me better in her stead, but then I saw her in action in one of Generalissimo's games (I never drew into her myself), and she's pretty great (the key is the opponent not realizing she's going to put her counters on the team in the same combat phase because of first strike). I'm sure there were a few other strong cards in the Vampire lineup neither we nor Yokai_ even considered (aside from Falkenrath Aristocrat, who doesn't want to be in a Vampire deck).



 Just to remind you of a few things:

 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. There's currently one tribe eligible for the award: Azra from Battlebond.

 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. Already cleared: Atog, Crocodile, Homarid, Jackal, Leech, Manticore, Metathran, Moonfolk, Octopus, Ox, Processor, 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.

 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):

  • 8.43 (Week 408 BE), on November 3: Underdog
  • 8.44 (Week 409 BE), on November 10: Standard
  • 8.45 (Week 410 BE), on November 17: Modern
  • 8.46 (Week 411 BE), on November 24: Legacy

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.


Kuma's Deck by Nagarjuna at Fri, 11/02/2018 - 14:06
Nagarjuna's picture

I did some quick testing with a modified list of your deck and I even dislike Indulgent Aristocrat more then before. Removing him and bitterblossom gives you 5 slots for lords or disruption I would prefer.

Bitterblossom is essential to by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 11/02/2018 - 17:44
Kumagoro42's picture

Bitterblossom is essential to play the Pariah. Maybe you should do some more testing, but hey, to each his own style. :)

The one consideration I did by Generalissimo at Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:38
Generalissimo's picture

The one consideration I did make towards the Halloween event was I removed Anowon, the Ruin Sage to make room for the Mathas, since the risk of the Vampire mirror-match was so much higher, but it is generally another fine consideration for my kill-everything style of Vampires.

Anowon is another one that we by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 11/03/2018 - 14:27
Kumagoro42's picture

Anowon is another one that we didn't mention at all. He's not played much but he's not bad. The boltable butt is probably is biggest weakness though.

While browsing the mythic Vampires I stumbled upon Olivia, Mobilized for War, and boy, she really got a terrible second incarnation, didn't she? She may work a little in a reanimator deck, but even there she's outclassed by many other cards even in-tribe.

I feel like I should spend some words on Vampire Hexmage instead, because I rarely played her in Vampire tribal, but she's still good as a multipurpose fighter/controller who kills planeswalkers on sight and blocks Ball Lightnings. :)

Olivia works nicely in a by Paul Leicht at Sun, 11/04/2018 - 01:02
Paul Leicht's picture

Olivia works nicely in a combo deck but you need to build around her or accept that she may underperform.

Mobilized for War works by Generalissimo at Sun, 11/04/2018 - 06:42
Generalissimo's picture

Mobilized for War works nicely in my Haakon Knight deck but that might admittedly be more to do with the lack of alternatives for self-discard in the Knight tribe.

Yes, I well remember how good Hexmage is against Ball Lightning. *grumble grumble*