Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jan 11 2019 1:00pm

 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

 While we wait for the 2018 Invitational, which will be held tomorrow, let's have a look at some statistics from the recently concluded Season 8.

 Winning players:

  1. Bandit Keith: 7 wins
  2. Yokai:  6 wins (+3 second places)
  3. BoozeMongoose: 5 wins
  4. Nagarjuna: 5 wins (+1 second place)
  5. AJ_Impy: 4 wins (+4 second places)
  6. Deonmag: 4 wins (+1 second place)
  7. Generalissimo: 3 wins (+2 second places)
  8. Socanelas: 3 wins
  9. TLR: 3 wins
  10. Goblin_hero: 2 wins (+1 second place)
  11. lovetapsmtg: 2 wins (+1 second place)
  12. totalhate: 2 wins (+1 second place)
  13. Kumagoro: 1 win (+1 second place)
  14. DiamondDust: 1 win
  15. Armont: 1 win
  16. Golden_Lin: 1 win (+1 second place)
  17. SirFalcon2008: 1 win

 Other undefeated (one second place each):

  • CruelHellraiser
  • Inside_Trader
  • JackSlagel
  • under_a

 Winning tribes:

  1. Eldrazi: 7 wins (+2 second places)
  2. Goblin: 6 wins
  3. Human: 4 wins (+1 second place)
  4. Warrior: 3 wins (+1 second place)
  5. Angel: 2 wins (+1 second place)
  6. Berserker: 2 wins
  7. Bird: 2 wins
  8. Plant: 2 wins
  9. Scarecrow: 2 wins (+1 second place)
  10. Atog: 1 win
  11. Beast: 1 win
  12. Cat: 1 win
  13. Construct: 1 win (+2 second places)
  14. Dinosaur: 1 win
  15. Djinn: 1 win
  16. Elf: 1 win
  17. Golem: 1 win
  18. Jackal: 1 win
  19. Kor: 1 win
  20. Merfolk: 1 win
  21. Praetor: 1 win
  22. Rat: 1 win (+1 second place)
  23. Scout: 1 win
  24. Serpent: 1 win
  25. Sliver: 1 win
  26. Soldier: 1 win (+1 second place)
  27. Spirit: 1 win
  28. Vampire: 1 win
  29. Wall: 1 win (+1 second place)
  30. Zombie: 1 win (+3 second places)

 Other undefeated (second places):

  • Advisor
  • Boar
  • Hydra
  • Pirate
  • Wizard (x2)

 So Eldrazi and Goblin together amounted to more than one quarter of all the first places. On the bright side, we saw 30 different tribes at the top, five of them for the very first time: Dinosaur, Atog, Djinn, Jackal and Serpent. I guess it looks a bit strange to see historical tribes like Elf, Merfolk and Zombie appear only once in this list, but it's definitely not a bad thing: our meta looks as varied as ever.


  • Event Number: 9.01, Week 417 BE
  • Date: January 5
  • Attendance: 12
  • Rounds: 3
  • Subformat: Underdog
  • Winner: Nagarjuna with Hydra
  • Runner-up: Bandit Keith with Berserker
  • 1 Loss: lowman02 with Rebel, CruelHellraiser with Berserker, lovetapsmtg with Monger
  • Underdog Prize: lovetapsmtg with Monger
  • Tribes: Azra, Berserker (x2), Dryad, Horse, Hound, Hydra, Monger, Rat, Rebel, Scarecrow, Sphinx
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 Finally, Hydra ramp took its first win! Congrats to Nagarjuna for successfully piloting to the first place... Generalissimo's list! We'll talk of the differences in this week's Show and Tell. For now, here's the winning Hydra list:


 The deck that almost prevented Hydra from celebrating the victory was Bandit Keith's classic monored Berserker. As we saw above, Keith took more first places than anybody else in 2018 with this kind of deck, so it was a very hard test for the Hydras, though the threat of Price of Progress was not as scary for them as it is for most of the other decks.


 While lovetapsmtg's Mongers continue to amaze (this time with four different Mongers, due to Underdog rules), another interesting and successful monocolored deck was the Rebel list piloted by lowman02, which incorporated heavy land destruction strategies.


 I don't even want to feature my list, because it was just a last-minute, not well-thought-of variant of my old, and usually quite good, Living Death list with Sphinges, with an attempt at updating and streamlining them that turned into disaster. My Show and Tell pal Generalissimo was instead running these hyper-aggressive Hounds (and their handlers). (I have no idea what the deck's name means, which is kind of usual for me with Generalissimo's names.)



 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the amazing Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of January 11, 2019):

  • Nagarjuna's Hydras: $10.24
  • Bandit Keith's Berserkers: $81.71
  • lowman02's Rebels: $116.12
  • Generalissimo's Hounds: $51.41

 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.


 This week's discussion between Generalissimo, Nagarjuna and myself turned into a debate on advantages and disadvantages of fetch lands in monocolored decks. But first, here's all of Generalissimo's doggie games for your viewing pleasure.

 KUMAGORO: All right, in the aftermath of the first Hydra win, let's start by compare the list of Original Hydra Man to that of Victorious Hydra Man.


 KUMAGORO: The Hydra team itself has rounder numbers: 4x Polukranos, World Eater, 4x Kalonian Hydra, 4x Primordial Hydra, 4x Mistcutter Hydra, 4x (Broodmaster Hydra). So no Hooded Hydra and no Whiptongue Hydra (poor Whiptongue, it came online too late!) The latter is clearly a consequence of the major change: -4 Green Sun's Zenith (which of course causes the related change of -1 Dryad Arbor, +1 Forest), +1 Nylea, God of the Hunt, +1 Garruk Wildspeaker, and two cards less down to 60.


 Now, I think on paper removing GSZ is not a good idea. With GSZ you have more efficient early turns of ramp, more consistency in general, and you can bring Nylea in when needed, whereas with two Nyleas, you increase the chance of just draw into her (in a deck that doesn't provide any extra draw), but you also can be stuck with a second Nylea in hand, which is bad because Nylea is not easy to deal with so she rarely needs replacement.
 Also, can we address the fact that I personally didn't realize you were going to re-play any list discussed here, Naga? When you said so last time, I thought you meant just to revisit yours (but of course, from my point of view, you're welcome to play my decks any time!)

 NAGARJUNA: The Hydras looked so fun in Gene's video that I wanted to run them and the Show and Tell discussion brought up a core that could hardly be improved, I guess. For me testing improvements is the real purpose of these discussions. As for my changes, running 62 cards is not an option for me, so the GSZ package had to go, since Garruk is more important to me. I could remove one Nylea and add one GSZ, or go up to three Garruks. Hooded Hydra is just not as good as the others, which are all very relevant and powerful. Whiptongue Hydra was not online when I looked for it, one copy with GSZ would be great for sure.

 KUMAGORO: Yeah, the team seems solved for this version, but I'd go +1 Whiptongue, -1 Polukranos with a GSZ package. I thought the deckbuilding space could go more in the direction of using a lot of Hydras that like to die, like Hooded Hydra and Lifeblood Hydra, and something like Phyrexian Tower to sac them in response of removal, or just to ramp while exploiting their death triggers. Another question for Naga, however minor: Why no fetch lands? It doesn't seem like a deck that wants to draw excess lands.

 GENERALISSIMO: I don't think it's ever correct to play fetch lands purely for the deck-thinning aspect, Kuma. The change in odds of removing just one land is so minuscule and paying one life can easily be relevant, especially in a format where aggro is so prevalent. Plus, since the mulligan-scry rule was introduced, it's become even less beneficial because a turn-one fetch land on the play will shuffle your scry back into the deck.


 NAGARJUNA: Have to agree with Gene, in the finals I was virtually on one life in two games before winning. And the danger of Stifle effects, even if nobody seems to run them, is there too.
 Question for Gene: Do you play Primordial Hydra for 3? I did whenever I had nothing else to play and it always was impactful.

 GENERALISSIMO: Yes, absolutely. The ability to do that with an X spell is pretty much why it's a good card.

 NAGARJUNA: Sure, my thought was to protect it from burn by playing it later.

 GENERALISSIMO: I think you're only likely to be protecting it from burn at X=4, which is a long time to wait.

 KUMAGORO: Maybe I overestimate thinning or your underestimate it. But with 8 fetches in the deck, you're virtually playing with 52 cards. I've also been educated to never leave a fetch lying around uncracked unless it's the first few turns and you kept a hand with very few lands and you want to increase the chance of drawing another (or if you're facing Wasteland). Anyway, it's not just that, a fetch makes you shuffle the deck, which can be a crucial aspect in many occasions: cards that look at or manipulate the top, cards that put stuff at the bottom and you want to put them back in play – and I don't mean just your effects, but the opponent's too. Just tonight I could have completely neutralized Chittering Rats. But you're right that life is becoming precious with all the burn in our meta. I've just decided I'll play heavy lifegain decks for a while!

 GENERALISSIMO: If with 8 fetches you're virtually playing with 52 cards, by the same logic, you're also playing with just 12 life. Thank goodness Naga provided us this link that stopped me needing to try and fumble out a half-baked mathematical argument.

 KUMAGORO: I won't read that whole essay right now, but the gist of it seems to be "contrary to what everybody thinks". When I said I was "educated", I meant by looking at every pro list ever, where they routinely play 8-10 fetchlands in monocolored decks. Go tell them they're wrong! I guess even a minimal increase in drawing non-lands is better than no increase at all. And most historical metas didn't take a very conservative approach with life totals. You just drew a land on topdeck mode on turn 10 with 20 cards left in the deck? It feels better if you fetch away another land so that elusive game-ending spell becomes one turn closer.

 GENERALISSIMO: The long and short of it is that you're paying one life to have every subsequent draw be a couple of percentage points more likely to not be a land, which I don't think is worth it.

 NAGARJUNA: It only leaves interactions with opponents cards like Wasteland or Chittering Rats, like Kuma mentioned before.

 KUMAGORO: But also with your cards (Brainstorm, Sylvan Library, Scroll Rack, any landfall, etc). But of course in that case you know you have those in the deck to begin with, and if you still don't run fetches, it's your bad.

 NAGARJUNA: Not for mono green Hydras, though. If you run obvious effects and decks there's no question you have to run fetches.

 KUMAGORO: It's not really debatable that the introduction of fetches entirely changed the way Magic is played. I've read a discussion on MTGSalvation where essentially it boiled down to: if your clock is fast, you want as many fetches as possible even in monocolored. Otherwise, it depends on the effects you run.

 GENERALISSIMO: That... doesn't seem correct. Thinning becomes more impactful the more cards you draw after you crack the fetch, so the faster your clock, the less likely it is to be useful.

 KUMAGORO: The faster the clock, the more you need to draw gas, the less useful is to draw lands because your deck plays with just two or three. You see those extreme burn decks (though usually with several colors) with setups like 14 fetches and 3 lands. Like this Boros one from Modern, running 10 fetches and 5 fetchable. They don't care about taking damage because they're the deck who has to deal 20 first, otherwise they'll lose anyway.

 GENERALISSIMO: That's not necessarily true at all; there are plenty of aggro mirrors or aggro vs. midrange games that become a race, and a couple of life points can mean surviving a whole extra turn. And that Boros burn deck also has Grim Lavamancer and Searing Blaze to justify the fetches.


 NAGARJUNA: And monocolored burn decks like this one run no fetches.

 KUMAGORO: But it seems to me like a different philosophy, not directly due to being monocolored. Otherwise that Boros deck could have run more Boros-colored lands and fewer fetches. You can argue they're wrong, but not that it's not done. It's done, I've observed it constantly. In fact, I picked it up. I trusted them! And I've always felt like, what happens once you've finished your fetchable lands and you draw into fetches you can't crack anymore? But I guess that never happens, either they've won by then, or they've lost.

 NAGARJUNA: For me the question only was: are fetches worth in a monocolored green deck with no deck manipulation, just for thinning the library?

 KUMAGORO: Yeah, I see now monocolored decks don't seem to use them. I swear it was recommended back in the time of my youth, when math was different! Also, we can see Bandit Keith's 2nd place deck from this week still applies that principle (10 fetches, 10 fetchable). But you know what? You convinced me, but while reviewing my decks to see where I can eliminate fetches in monocolored, I'm realizing I don't really have many true monocolored decks. There's always some little splash. Like in monogreen midrange Beast, I don't have any nongreen cards in the list, but I still need red sources for Contested Cliffs. And I have a monoblue Vedalken, but I need black and white for (Etherworn Adjudicator)'s activation. I guess Hydra and Treefolk are the only truly monocolored lists I have.

 NAGARJUNA: And buuuurn sometimes.

 KUMAGORO: But I never play that.


 KUMAGORO: Elves is monocolored, but I don't do that either.

 NAGARJUNA: Merfolk maybe.

 KUMAGORO: Also not my cup of tea, plus I guess now they've green stuff that I might want to use. In Zombie I always find some Golgari card to use, if only as removal. And in Hydra, I've actually entertained the idea to splash for one of the red-green ones. And you play Treefolk as Abzan yourself, and it's not a wrong approach.

 NAGARJUNA: Even Elves have the Golgari guy now.

 KUMAGORO: The one that hits the opponent's life total based on the number of Elves?


 GENERALISSIMO: On the subject of marginal differences in odds, can you convince me that going up to 62 cards is always incorrect for Tribal Wars, Naga?

 NAGARJUNA: Here you go. The question for me is, why 62? Are those 62 cards are all equally good to your deck? If not, why run the two worst cards?

 GENERALISSIMO: Because the two worst cards are tribal creatures that you can't cut. To be clear, for reasons that I don't completely understand, fractions are always rounded down when determining what constitutes a third of your deck that your tribe needs to fill, so 60, 61 and 62 card decks all require only 20 tribal cards to be legal, whereas a 63 card deck would need 21 on-tribe cards.

 KUMAGORO: It's just an arbitrary decision made by who created the format. They could have chosen "one third, rounded up", but they chose "one third, rounded down" instead.

 GENERALISSIMO: So, while going above 60 cards undeniably increases the variance of the deck, if the extra two cards are better than some of your tribal cards, it can still improve the overall power of the deck.

 NAGARJUNA: Or every card gets weaker, because you're less likely to draw each single card now. In the end a Hydra deck with 60 cards, no fetch lands and no GSZ went 8-1 and won!

 KUMAGORO: This ends all arguments. But it also gives us a new goal: to win an event with a Hydra deck with 62 cards and GSZ! Anyone up for the challenge?


 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 no eligible tribe for the award.

 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, Monger, Nightstalker, Orgg, Ouphe, Rabbit, Salamander. Already cleared: Atog, Crocodile, Homarid, Jackal, Leech, Licid, 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):

  • Special (Week 418 BE), on January 12: Invitational
  • 9.02 (Week 419 BE), on January 19: Modern
  • 9.03 (Week 420 BE), on January 26: Legacy
  • 9.04 (Week 421 BE), on February 2: 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.