Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jul 12 2019 12:00pm

 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

 Time has come for our quarterly Banned and Restricted Announcement! (I say it like it's a tradition: this is the very first time and I even missed the deadline last week!)

 After three months of metagame observation and pondering, I've come to the conclusion that we need to tone down non-tribal monored strategies in our Legacy formats, and in particular strategies that lead to game wins by punishing the opponent not for their gameplay or the broken cards they ride into battle, but simply for deciding not to play monocolored, which is meta-warping of the highest level and for no good reason (monocolored decks are the most successful ever). So, here's the trio of cards that are now banned from Legacy events, effective immediately: Fireblast, Price of Progress, Wasteland.


 And here's the motivations.

 Fireblast promotes wins based on the pure luck of the draw. A playset of Fireblasts represents 16 face damage a monored player can just happen to draw over the course of a game and cast for free; this, paired with the rest of the burn elements, and especially Price of Progress, leads to games where the tribal component is reduced to a semi-irrelevant waiting room.

 Similarly, Price of Progress generates lame, non-interactive, out of nowhere, predatory wins. It punishes players for having the gall to play non-basics, thus pushing the format towards monocolored strategies that are also the most powerful and unhealthy (Elf, Merfolk, monowhite or monored Humans, of course Goblins and its various sub-tribes). It was tolerated to a degree so far because it attacks Post and greedy manabases, but somewhat counter-intuitively, it ends up damaging budget players even more (most VMA duals are budget choices nowadays, and the tapped fetchlands can't escape Price of Progress the turn they drop), and certainly discourages those players who want to experiment with multicolored decks and fancy utility lands. Most importantly, it's not a tool that's given to every deck, it is specific of an archetype, Monored Burn, that's been one of the most successful in the history of the tournament, and yet has had very little taken away from it, while we were busy nerfing Eldrazi and Post, which aren't nearly as victorious as monored.

 Finally, Wasteland, which is available to every build (though not to budget players), also contributes to the punishment of multicolored decks regardless of their power level, and has an insane negative player experience factored in when used as mana deprivation in the early turns (and I won't even touch on the easy recursions with Crucible of Worlds and such). As a tool to keep powerful non-basics at bay, it's completely replaceable by fair alternatives like Field of Ruin, so that argument is moot now. Wasteland has been an advantage allowed to money players, and it's time for this to end.

 As an aside, my attention to budget players and negative player experiences stem from the fact that our attendance has been dwindling in the past couple of years, and if we hope to keep the event running, and consequently the Tribal Wars format alive, we should give new players incentive to come and join our ranks. Not having to invest a ton of money and coming out of an event with a happy feeling (regardless of the personal outcome) are the two key elements here. Which also leads to me making an appeal to all Tribal Apocalypse players: when registering your decks, please keep in mind newcomers and non-Spikes. Don't always bring a machine gun to a Crab fight. We're not playing a Pro Tour here. We're not competing for a $200,000 prize pool. Stop trying to win at every cost, and try to have fun, and let others have fun. Otherwise, and I don't say this lightly, you might be the ones who ultimately kill Tribal Apocalypse for good.


  • Event Number: 9.26, Week 443 BE
  • Date: July 6
  • Attendance: 
  • Rounds: 3
  • Subformat: Underdog
  • Winner: Kumagoro with Wolf
  • Runner-up: Bandit Keith with Berserker
  • 1 Loss: ThyShuffler with Rat, -DiamondDust- with Devil, arcbounddaylabor with Werewolf
  • Underdog Prize: lovetapsmtg with Nightstalker
  • Tribes: Avatar, Bear, Berserker, Devil, Dinosaur, Nightstalker, Rat, Werewolf (x2), Wolf
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 Man, three wins this year? Two in a row?! Three in five weeks?! What's happening to me? I know I'm still a bad player because of the 4 games (out of 12) that I lost in this event, at least a couple were entirely due to my goofy misplays. Well, let's give all the credit to my Standard-based Wolves, then, capable of conquering a Legacy event on the strengths of Core Set 2020's Nightpack Ambusher and War of the Spark's Tolsimir, Friend of Wolves. I'll do a full deck tech below, but it's interesting to note that Wolf had already won once, and I completely forgot it was also with me at the helm, all the way back in 2012, Event 83. The decklist was this. Well, the tribal base didn't actually change much, did it? But Wandering Wolf equipped with O-Naginata (provided Immerwolf is around)? That was some truly janky Underdog tech.


 In the week of the second Wolf win, I can't pass the opportunity to also give a shout-out to their cousins, the Werewolves, also ending in the money. Nightpack Ambusher would work very well with them, too, but arcbounddaylabor opted for a very low, aggressive curve, topping at three mana.


 Surprisingly similar to Wolves are the Bears, which also got a recent boost, in their case from Modern Horizons instead of WAR and M20. Nagarjuna even plays Savage Swipe for removal, which is sort of a honorary Bear card just because of the art. It's curious, though, how Wolves do all the things Bears do, except twice as much: they have a 4/4 flasher instead of a 2/2; they have a +4/+4 soulbond instead of a +2/+2; their lord is a 4/4 instead of a 2/2; they can discard excess lands with Ayula's Influence to create 2/2s, while Vivien's Arkbow (not strictly a Wolf card, but a definite combo with the Ambusher) can do the same to dig for and cheat into play any creature in the deck. It seems like WotC got the woodland predatory pecking order backwards.


 Finally, here's a budget-friendly Devil deck by -DiamondDust-, featuring the final appearance of Fireblast. Goodbye, free red damage!



 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of July 12, 2019):

  • Kumagoro's Wolves: $94.03
  • arcbounddaylabor's Werewolves: $70.28
  • Nagarjuna's Bears: $9.89
  • DiamondDust's Devils: $4.30

 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. Bandit Keith's Soldiers, $3.48, 1st place on Event 422
  9. MisterMojoRising's Insects, $3.55, 2nd place on Event 201
  10. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.58, 1st place on Event 169

 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. Bandit Keith's Soldiers, $3.48, 1st place on Event 422

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


 So, Wolves. The core interaction comes from Standard. Nightpack Ambusher from Core Set 2020 is easily the best Wolf ever printed, being not just a lord but a free token generator too, on top of acting as pseudo-removal due to its initial, flashy ambush. It plays perfectly with the other, most recent Wolf-related power card, Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves from War of the Spark. As his name suggests, he's an Elf you want to play in Wolf decks. With him on the board, every Wolf you play gives you three life and can potentially kill something on the spot – so he's especially powerful with the Ambusher boosting all the Wolves and triggering Tolsimir's ability every turn with its tokens. Of course, in order to ensure that such tokens keep coming, you have to forfeit playing spells during your turn, and that's where the stealthily most powerful card in the deck comes in: activating Vivien's Arkbow for X = 5 digs for both Tolsimir and the Ambusher (as well as any other creature in the deck), dropping them on the battlefield in response to the opponent's declaration of attack (thus dribbling any attack triggers, like classic Berserker's "when this creature attacks, target creature can't block this turn"), which provides a mana sink that entirely replaces casting for Ambusher's token-generating purposes.


 And that's in a nutshell what makes this deck so strong. It needs some other cards, though. Well, the older Wolves weren't all bad by any means. In fact, the previous win was most certainly earned thanks to a solid early body like Watchwolf, another good flasher in Wolfir Avenger (which plays perfectly into the Ambusher plan), and the explosive curve-topper Wolfir Silverheart.


 Then Young Wolf is a decent one-drop with staying power to fill the curve, while Immerwolf is an additional lord. Although, I'm not sure the deck needed a full set of Immerwolves. The red splash would likely still be there for Kessig Wolf Run (wich is not just flavorful, it's another useful mana sink for a deck that doesn't feature evasive abilities), but Immerwolf is a much weaker three-drop than Wolfir Avenger, so it might be better to increase the latter's count, possibly even bring in some copies of Witchstalker.


 You certainly need a full set of Tolsimir as one of the engines of the deck, which leaves less room for Wolfir Silverheart at the top, but you clearly want at least a couple of them. And as many copies as Mayor of Avabruck as you can fit in the off-tribe slots, since the guy asks you to play in the same way as Nightpack Ambusher does, and it's a much better secondary lord than Immerwolf. Ultimately, I only brought two – he's not the most impactful two-drop (even if his day side boosts my one-drop mana dork of choice, Noble Hierarch), and I wanted to try the two most Wolf-related planeswalkers, Garruk Relentless and of course Arlinn Kord. That version of Garruk is perhaps the most versatile and never disappoints; as for Arlinn, well, I didn't draw her a single time over the course of the event, so I can't really tell, but she also seems pretty versatile and a good fit in the deck.


 And maybe Moonlight Hunt could become more Mayors – or, you know, just Swords to Plowshares – but it's tribe-based, flavorful and I liked it well enough, it's a good spell to cast in the opponent's turn to avoid disrupting the Ambusher's work.

 The Wolf tribe is not the largest, but still counts almost 50 members. Still, I feel like there's nothing much outside of the ones I mentioned. Witchstalker seems the one good Wolf I didn't play; in 2012, I ran Wandering Wolf, which is decent but not necessary anymore, as it's essentially outclassed by every Wolf in my list. The rest of the tribe includes awful rares like Lupine Prototype, Scourge Wolf, Skalla Wolf and Wolf Pack. Silverfur Partisan is interesting but it would require some degree of heroic-like build-around to really exploit the ability. Spirit of the Hunt is another flash creature, but strictly inferior to Wolfir Avenger. Wolf of Devil's Breach (the tribe's only mythic) and Assembled Alphas are too expensive. All in all, I feel happy with my lineup, give or take some Immerwolf trimming.


 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 eligible tribe for the award: Trilobite.

 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, Nightstalker. Already cleared: Atog, Crocodile, Homarid, Incarnation, Jackal, Leech, Licid, Manticore, Metathran, Monger, Moonfolk, 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.

 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):

  • 9.27 (Week 444 BE), on July 13: Standard
  • 9.28 (Week 445 BE), on July 20: Modern
  • 9.29 (Week 446 BE), on July 27: Legacy
  • 9.30 (Week 447 BE), on August 3: Underdog

Check out the ban lists and the event calendar.
Next banned and restricted announcement: October 4.
Current watch list:
 Aether Vial, Mutavault, Thalia's Lieutenant.



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