Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 25 2011 3:02am
Login to post comments

 *** Tribal Apocalypse: Week 46 BE ***
Bad Santa's Little Helpers

 Welcome back for yet another reportage of Tribal Apocalypse!

 After last week's Human proliferation, on November 19 the players who gathered in the Anything Goes Room to celebrate the 46th Tribal Apocalypse event of the Blippian Era witnessed a very different phenomenon: Goblins are back, guys! Ok, Goblins never really left the building, but during the past two months we only had 2 Goblin decks being registered (as you can see from our new and shiny Tribal Apocalypse's Tribe Popularity Table, courtesy of vantar6697), and Goblins didn't score a single Top 4 placement since middle September. This definitely changed this time, since 3 out of the 4 registered Goblin decks ranked among the Top 4! Including 1st place? Well, actually no. Just like during the Human craze of last week the winning deck ended up being a different tribe entirely (DirtyDuck's Cats), now the top deck was... well, a Human deck actually! The irony.

 We're talking about Etriol's fearsome 4-color deck, which had already earned him a 2nd place some weeks ago, and finally delivered a well-deserved win, going undefeated among all those pesky gobbos. Here's the list:


 The only change from the last time was Elspeth, Knight-Errant replaced by a singleton Doom Blade. The strategy is at the same time straightforward and sophisticated. We have mana acceleration (Noble Hierarch, Avacyn's Pilgrim), we have protection (Mother of Runes, Mirran Crusader), and we have the sheer power of Knight of the Reliquary, completed with a nice land toolbox which includes a nearly full playset of Wasteland to guarantee a certain amount of disruption where needed. All topped by a vast number of creature spot removals to clear the path (Ghastly Demise being the most interesting choice here), a couple Jaces to bring strategical and tactical advantage, and a Stoneforge Mystic package to increase the overall punching power. Plus, of course, the steady MVP of the deck: the one and only Dark Confidant, a.k.a. "How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Random Damage and Love the Card Advantage from Turn 2". This is one of the veritable "hot decks" right now, its build is perfectly balanced and Etriol is piloting it with amazing skill and confidence: you better wish to not be paired against him anytime soon (I know I wished for it to not happen myself, but I wasn't fulfilled: as I'll recount below, I suffered through this match-up again, and again while using a deck built around a strategy Etriol's deck nullified almost completely. There's something wrong with my karma lately).

 At 2nd place, the Goblin parade begins. And it does in a very significant way, because newcomer kaifeiyu's build is, guess what, a Pauper deck.

Pauper Goblins
by kaifeiyu
4 Goblin Cohort
4 Mogg Conscripts
4 Mogg Flunkies
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Mogg Raider
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Sparksmith
2 Goblin Matron
34 cards

Other Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Death Spark
7 cards
19 Mountain
19 cards

Goblin Sledder


 The concept is very familiar to every Pauper player out there: extremely fast threats (as in "3 creatures on the battlefield by Turn 2" fast) based on a "strength in numbers" philosophy (Goblin Cohort, Mogg Conscripts, Mogg Flunkies); sacrifice-pumping to bypass blockers (Mogg Raider, Goblin Sledder); Goblin Bushwhacker to "pump hasten" everyone for deadly alpha strikes; and burn spells plus Sparksmith to finish off the opponent. Simple and effective. Total cost of the deck: $9,86. For comparison, cost of the Etriol's deck listed above (non-promo lowest prices as of November 24, 2011): $580,61. Both the decks went undefeated. It makes you think, doesn't it?

 Also undefeated is what comes next, as piloted by milegyenanevem: basically the very same concept done with a slightly larger budget:


 Here we have Dragon Fodder to help the goblin proliferation, while Goblin Wardriver and the singleton Signal Pest consistently boost the attacks. We also see the first traces of what will form the next and final Goblin deck's core strategy: passive damage via creatures' deaths. Here's the 2-1 list that gained a 4th place to its builder marcio costa:

Burn Goblins
by marcio costa
4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Goblin Guide
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
4 Incinerate
4 Searing Blaze
2 Shard Volley
2 Geistflame
20 cards
20 Mountain
20 cards

Goblin Arsonist


 Goblin Arsonist and Tattermunge Maniac  aren't just extremely tactical chump blockers here: they play directly into the main win-con of direct burn damage. In fact, this deck limits the number of creatures to the strict minimum (which is unusual for a Goblin deck) and chooses to play a massive amount of 20 burn spells instead. This is also the only deck out of the three to feature Goblin Guide, a frequent favorite among Goblin players. Which reminds me of how we aren't seeing much Goblin Piledriver anymore, a past classic which apparently has been nearly forgotten in this time and age, despite still being a powerhouse. Probably latest innovations in Goblin warfare like the Guide and the Wardriver are preferred to the old, glorious warrior from Onslaught times (I will be surely proven wrong by someone pointing out the dozens of Goblin Piledriver decks I somehow missed). Also, it still costs a few tix (a full playset is more than kaifeiyu's whole deck), and players are probably attracted to the Goblin scene in part by the budget-friendly aspect of it.

 Exiting Goblinland, this week's Endangered Prize went to a tribe which has quickly grown from obscure creature type to veritable Endangered classic: Zubera.


 The death-friendly spirits had already sat on the Endangered throne on two other occasions while piloted by milegyenanevem (whom also conquered two different Top 4 placements with them). This time it's sadisteck who chose to dance with the Zuberas, adopting the combo approach needed to take advantage of their triggered abilities. It's all about sending them to the graveyard through sacrifice outlets (Spawning Pit and the Altars, all happily free-to-activate, which is an important element since we want to mass sacrifice our little spirits), then bringing them back thanks to intersting combo cards like Bloodbond March and Lifeline, or just by using one of the more traditional reanimation spells (sadisteck's choices are Makeshift Mannequin and Dread Return, with this latter doubling as a sac outlet in itself). As sadisteck himself noted in the forum, the deck's main strategy might work, but the hard part is successfully managing the five colors required by the tribe, and the mana base here is a bit lacking and all over the place due (once again) to budget constraints. Among the cheap all-color-producing lands, a favorite of mine is always Mirrodin's Core, which I would suggest here: I find that by just charging it on the turns it's not needed, then carefully managing it along the way, it becomes nearly a full time all-color land, at least for midterm purposes.

 Since this event ran with the maximum number of players for a 3-round Swiss (that is exactly 20 players; with 21 there would have been one round more), and as a consequence we ended up with a large quantity of 2-1 decks, let's review some more of them than I usually do.


 I like fliebana's Vampire deck because, along with all-time classics like Bloodghast and Kalastria Highborn (here interestingly enabled by Living Death), it uses one of the most underrated vamp chicks in the game, and a favorite of mine: the lovely Drana (who, by the way, is like the Highborn's big boss). There's something to be said about a 5cc evasive finisher which also doubles as repeatable removal. Given enough mana, she's able to create a true "deal with me right now or prepare to die" situation. That's why this deck is screaming "I need Cabal Coffers!" very badly. Also interesting (and also in need of Cabal Coffers) is the presence of Sadistic Sacrament to mess with the opponent's gameplan, taking out everything from combo cards to centerpieces. The deck also features a serious amount of Jaces, which has me asking: what is with everyone owning TMS, lately? I know that his price is now a quarter of what it used to be, but it's still, like, 4 Goblin Pauper Decks! (I thereby introduce the Goblin Pauper Deck as a new unit of measure for the cost of decks. The "Big Jace" being its natural multiple).


 In a comment to the last article, Lord Erman reminded me that in order to call a deck X-blade you really need to have at least Stoneforge Mystic in there (and he's totally right). Also that he has been doing these blade builds recently only because they're fast to assemble when one has no much time to brew. Still, I'll be a bit of a critic interpreting the artist's work here, and I'll say this Bird decks is a nice way to go full circle and reunite big Jace, the Mystics and the blades with their long-lost best friend: Squadron Hawk. And Keeper of the Nine Gales, a.k.a. Tradewind Rider with wings, is a cool card, and takes full advantage of the best bird ever printed: Mutavault. Plus I played a great match against this deck during the tournament, and I had a lot of fun (and not just because I won!).


 This Zombie deck sees the return of 2-time Tribal Apocalypse winner (and my fellow citizen) SBena. After having dealt with all sorts of White Weenies, apparently SBena has now switched the focus to black-based tribes. In particular, here's a deck built around Grimgrin, the fun new zombie from Innistrad, whom some of you may recognize as the scary, overweight guy we all see during the logon. Grimgrin is a big fat threat that can hit the battlefield very fast (especially with Dark Rituals around), and is able to grow and destroy (he's like a slower, uglier Drana), but comes with an inherent limitation: he needs creature sacrifices to untap (and grow more). Being sacrificed to their evil uncle is the job of Diregraf Ghouls, while also Skinrender (which is part of a dynamic duo of removal-on-legs along with Fleshbag Marauder) can easily end up being eaten by the legendary dead fatso. Of course, the deck has also a simpler way to untap Grimgrin: with Minamo, School at Water's Edge, one of those Kamigawa lands you usually only see in Commander games. Finally, here's a interesting choice for a deck with blue mana: Jace, the Mind Sculptor. You gotta be kidding me! Am I the only one left that doesn't own a copy of it? I'm feeling peer pressure.


 And here's my deck, an improved version of the same deck I ran last week (I'm trying to focus a little bit more and learn how to play a deck before switching to something new). Adding Ghostly Prison to an Armageddon battleplan seems like a no-brainer, yet my brain apparently needed some time (and actual advices) to come up with that. It paid off, generally: I feel like this is a strong build, and I like the wolf sub-theme. As I already mentioned, I faced Etriol in the tournament, and his own Knights of the Reliquary liked my Armageddons a bit too much to work out (and I was never able to find a Swords to Plowshares or Oblivion Ring to deal with them). All in all, his build was superior and he plays better than me, so I'm not discouraged. This said, there's no way I'll play the same tribe three times in a row, so next Saturday expect some new, unfinished build I don't have a clue how to play yet.

 Finally, here's the Elf Deck that Caused a Banning:


 What happened is somehow curious: last week, grapplingfarang met (and actually beated) Felorin's version of the 2008 Extended Glimpse Elves archetype. And this week, here's grapplingfarang's own version of it, operating at a higher budget level and taking advantage of new techs like Green Sun's Zenith. This deck is even more classically Storm-oriented than what the 2008 deck might even be, using the original Storm finisher Tendrils of Agony over Time Spiral's Grapeshot, and a minimal land base with fetchable Gaea's Cradles. Despite only going 2-1 and not finishing in the Top 4, the whole and well-known "I'm playing a solitaire game while my opponent is watching me" aspect prompted our fearless runner BlippyTheSlug to decide towards putting back one certain card into the Tribal Apocalypse ban list (where it had been relegated in the distant past, then got out for mysterious reasons). I'm talking about the notorious draw engine of this deck, of course. This one:

 So long, Glimpse of Nature. So long, 10-minute turns where you just watch the opponent doing stuff and your only interaction is praying that he will do a wrong click. The Evil Elves are a bit less evil now. But just a bit.

 Lastly, I'd like to remind you of the many upcoming Tribal Apocalypse Special Events (they're near!).


- November 26: Slugapalooza. On the occasion of the 52th birthday of our fearless host BlippyTheSlug, each player entering the event will receive a Molder Slug for free, courtesy of the Slug-handler himself (yeah, he's planning to give gifts on his own birthday, because he's just insane that way). The first player who will cast a Slug of any sort will receive 1 bonus tix. The same goes for the highest-placed Slug deck.


  Ezuri, Renegade Leader

 - December 17: Duel Tribal: Elves vs. Goblins. On the occasion of the 50th Tribal event of the Blippian Era, we'll witness the Mother of All Tribal Battles. In order to enter the event, every player will need two decks: an Elf deck and a Goblin deck. The first player listed in the pairings for each round will play with his or her Elf deck, the second player will play Goblins. A special list of banned cards for the event is in development.


 - December 24: Christmas Special: Let It Snow. Each deck must contain white, red, or green cards only, and at least 1 card of each of those colors (for this purpose, multicolor and hybrid cards count towards each of their colors, but Transguild Courier is not allowed). Moreso, only lands producing white, red, green or colorless mana may be used. The highest-placed Snow deck (meaning a deck where all the permanents have the Snow supertype) will receive 1 bonus tix.


 - December 31: New Year Special: End of Days. On the occasion of the upcoming end of the world, this event will have no ban list. Take your Progenitus for a ride before it's too late. More details will follow.


 - January 21: 2011 Hall of Fame Invitational: Thunderdome Royale. The time has come. The Hall of Fame is no more a mildly interesting extravaganza that some guy is maintaining in order to keep his OCD at bay. Now it will be the way to achieve celebrity, power, and some big, fat card. And when I say "big, fat card", I mean it. I'll say no more. At the dawn of the second tribal season of the Blippian Era, the Top 16 ranked playes (as of the 52th and conclusive event of 2011, wich will be held on December 31) will challenge each other to a single elimination mayhem featuring special rules which will be announced at the right time. There will be only one! (Because, you know, it's single elimination).


A Couple Things by grapplingfarang at Sat, 11/26/2011 - 17:17
grapplingfarang's picture

Good article, keep up the good work on tribal coverage, just a couple things I wanted to comment on.

-About Glimpse of Nature....I was all ready to play the constructs deck that I played this week when I saw the announcement that Glimpse was on watch. After I was already tempted to play the deck, (I had played/discussed the deck with some and they did not seem to take combo elves to seriously, and I did not understand how people could complain about Walldrazi with that legal) I had to play this deck to try and show the power of it and push Glimpse over the edge. Although I did not 3-0 (the deck can fold to it's own mulligans sometimes,) I still think that it was the most powerful thing that could do in Tribal at the time, and would heavily favor it over Walldrazi, Cats, or Goblins.

-One card that I was curious if it has been discussed before, Stoneforge Mystic. Has this been discussed as something to be banned before? It seems like far and away the best creature in the format (and it is usually played off tribe). I am not sure it is to powerful, but it is just so versatile. Just throw some Stoneforges in a deck and pull up a sword with protection from opponents colors and the deck is instantly more powerful. I am just not sure how healthy this is for the format when it can go in almost every deck and people do not have access to a sideboard for artifact removal.

Thanks for sharing the story by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 11/26/2011 - 18:33
Kumagoro42's picture

Thanks for sharing the story behind your deck choice!

To everyone: please write something like that when you post your decklist in the forum, so I'll put it in the article!

Abour Stoneforge, I'm very conflicted. On the one hand, I agree with you, especially about the proliferation of the card as witnessed lately (TribAp has trends somehow, but after one year of consistent survey, we may have to draw some conclusions). On the other hand, I'm not entirely comfortable in adding more and more cards to our special banned list. We risk to turn it into Modern Tribal Wars.
Then again, I don't even like too much to see techs from current or just-rotated-out Standard dominate Tribal. But again, do we really want to ban Standard powerhouses/banned cards while playing in a Legacy environment? It doesn't feel right.
Plus, maybe the right move would be to keep Stoneforge and ban the entire Sword cycle, for the same reason Umezawa's Jitte is banned. (Batterskull alone can be fine, it doesn't paralyze monocolored tribes the way the swords do. And we can keep Stoneforge to tutor specific equipments for a particular strategy, which is strong but not broken).

There are answers to the by Paul Leicht at Sun, 11/27/2011 - 00:10
Paul Leicht's picture

There are answers to the swords cycle. They are certainly painful to play against and I wouldn't be that sad to be unable to play my one Sword of the Body & Mind but I think many players would be. I am loath to suggest more bannings. Especially when there is no ONE deck that just dominates with that strategy.

More on Stoneforge by grapplingfarang at Sun, 11/27/2011 - 15:40
grapplingfarang's picture

A little more on the subject of Stoneforge, and again I have taken a huge break from the format so this is just based on my experience...Stoneforge is not overpowered in any particular archetype, it is just very powerful in nearly every archetype. Again, this goes just by personal experiences, but I feel like a very big part of the metagame is off-tribe stoneforge and swords package attached to 20 bodies to carry the sword on. I am not sure this would warrant a banning, but it should definitely have attention called to it. If people were playing Kor or Artifacers I do not think I would see anything from them using the best one, but because it is so easily attached to any tribe and will make the deck better 95% of the time, I feel like it should have attention brought to it.

How do you feel about the 5 by Paul Leicht at Mon, 11/28/2011 - 00:48
Paul Leicht's picture

How do you feel about the 5 titans and wurmcoil then? Living Death? Dual lands are pretty ubiquitous too and without them the sketchy 3-5 color decks surely would falter.

There are literally hundreds of cards that are shoehornable into Tribal Wars. People will bring whatever degeneracy they can think of and afford and it is the rare person who plays for style points rather than just the win.

I have seen few stoneforge mystics in comparison to primeval titan and the unique Eldrazi. I have seen a lot of swords but that is probably because they tend to be a nice maindeck sideboard against certain archetypes and THAT is what makes TWL so hard and interesting. The lack of an actual sideboard means you have to predict the meta very carefully.

Swords help sidestep that a little. Are they bannable? No more imho than Moat was. That isn't saying much since apparently people whined until it was banned. So maybe if people make enough noises all the other objectionable cards will be banned as well.

I agree that Glimpse was one by ArchGenius at Sun, 11/27/2011 - 19:21
ArchGenius's picture

I agree that Glimpse was one of the most powerful things you can do in tribal. I mainly avoided it because it's best in elves and I don't like playing elves.

Stoneforge Mystic is not broken, and it is not great in every tribe. It's good in small weenie tribes. It's not so great in big creature tribes. Angels, Giants, and Dragons don't necessarily need equipment to make them better. Ramp decks don't really need them either.

Also, equipment can be dealt with reasonably well with Maze of Ith in any deck. Compared with everything else that has been banned, Stoneforge Mystic doesn't really compare. You are never going to win on turn 2 with a Stoneforge Mystic. It just makes for a strong turn 2 play.