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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Dec 02 2011 7:45am
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*** Tribal Apocalypse: Week 47 BE ***

 Welcome back to your weekly reportage of Tribal Apocalypse!

 Saturday, November 26 was a special date for the event. Like only a truly North Korean could do, we gathered to celebrate the 52th birthday of our leader host BlippyTheSlug, a.k.a. the Old Man Who Doesn't Look So Old When You Just Stare at His Messages in a Chat. All hail BlippyTheSlug! (This could lead us to explore the average age of Tribal players, some of whom look "very experienced" as well. A topic for another time, maybe. By the way, I'll turn 38 on December 7).

 The event's subtheme was, of course, Slug. Players were encouraged to enter the competition running Slug decks, supposedly being attracted by the shiny glitter of the tickets given as special prizes to the Slug players. More on that below. But first of all, slugs! Let's meet all of them, shall we?


 That's it, all the three of them. Also, a salute to the currently missing, non-online slugs:


 Yeah, I don't think we will see Rocket-Powered Turbo Slug coming online too soon. And with "not too soon" I actually mean "absolutely never, and even in that case, you will not be able to play it in regular tribal events since it's an un-set card". As for Giant Slug, well, it's a vintage slug from 1994, and a good blade-carrier since it can become, wait for it, unblockable. Yeah, just like this other black common creature from 2011:

 Except for the part where Giant Slug costs more to cast and requires you to spend 5 mana each turn in order to actually make it unblockable. But hey, it's a slug! And you can spend the mana in the opponent's end phase! And it can block! And it has the Legend symbol! (I can't wait for when they will make a very special Garbage Unforgettable Classics Edition set with all these beloved, sorely missed cards, as an unrefusable gift for all the accounts to take. And they will be all untradable, of course).

 Anyway, in his unspeakable magnanimity, Blippy gave all the participants a sumptuous gift, like a king with his subjects during the annual "I Love You Almost as Much as You Love Me" Festival. The gift was a honest-to-God copy of Molder Slug. Hey, it's a rare! Some of the participants, in return, gave Blippy a playset of this card:

In the picture, Blippy right after he just finished running the third PRE of the day (also, look at the flavor text)

 This said, let's start reviewing the Slug decks first. This one by SBena was the highest-ranked one, which earned him the 1-tix prize for, well, highest-ranked Slug deck (3-1 score, 6th place):


 Before commenting on it, let's first see the other prize-winning Slug deck (as the first deck which casted a slug during the event), by AJ_Impy:


 The two decks clashed in the final round, and AJ somehow raised controversy over the fact that SBena's deck didn't use all the available slugs and was, I'm quoting here, "the 2011 world champion's deck". Now, I don't want to pass as my countryman SBena's defender, since I actually like very much to (jokingly) bash on him, but the only difference between the tribal bases of the two decks turns out to be 1 Molder Slug replaced with 1 Woodland Changeling by SBena, and I'm not even sure it's a great move since Molder Slug is arguably the best slug, while Woodland Changeling, while faster, is just a Grizzly Bears in a deck that's not able to grant any kind of bonuses to it. Using 11 slugs and 9 changelings is barely legal for a Slug deck, but since the best ratio you can come up with in this case is 12-8 (which I would have suggested anyway, if only for the sake of a neat build), it doesn't seem so big a deal to me.

 As for the Kessig strategy, while I seriously doubt Junya Iyanaga would have won the title with Thermopod in the deck, here's the backstory: after losing several matches to my own Standard Kessig Wolf Run deck with his Tempered Steel deck, SBena just wanted to try and use the trendy tech in tribal. He needed a Gruul tribe for that: enter the Slugs, here's the deck. It's not that Kessig Wolf Run takes any special advantage from the Slugs, anyway; if anything, the opposite is true, since for one they don't have any member with Hexproof (the best Kessig tribe would probably be Troll, of course, but there's just a lot of better options than Slug, since there's a lot of better options than Slug for pretty much everything you might want to do with them).

 Then again, both Taurean Mauler and Chameleon Colossus are strong addictions to any deck, and the latter just loves Primeval Titan's ramping, so SBena's deck might actually be reworked to become a good Shapeshifter deck. The two decks share other similarities too, like Rampant Growth/Search for Tomorrow and the Lightning Bolts (which, granted, are never too surprising in a red deck). AJ's strategy also has a land front and center, with Raging Ravine charged with the task of resuming the pressure after the sweepers (Starstorm, All Is Dust) successfully cleaned the board. And kudos to AJ for coming up with a nice interaction for Molder Slug's strong artifact-hating ability: I always love when Spine of Ish Sah is put to good use, for as much hard as it often is to make its combos work.

 There were two other Slug decks registered for the event, Winter.Wolf's and vantar6697's. Let's review this latter because it gives me the chance to say something about tribal legality:


 Let's hear a comment from vantar6697 himself first (as posted in the forum): "Not sure how I ended up with 61 cards, I didn't notice that until posting just now. The plan was to stall with slugs then use Thermopod, Torchling, and Elemental Mastery to make a token swarm. This turned out not to be a reliable plan." Strategy issues aside, the main problem with this deck, as a Slug deck, is that... it's not a Slug deck! In fact, the count is 13 Shapeshifters and 12 Slugs, and the rule (which, I admit, was only stated during past events, and it's not written down in the Tribal Apocalypse's forum page yet) is as following: for a deck to qualify as a given tribe deck, it must features more members of the tribe than Shapeshifters, or the deck will count as a Shapeshifter deck. The tricky part here was probably the fact that some of the Shapeshifters (namely, Torchling) don't have the Changeling ability. On the other hand, all the Changeling creatures have the Shapeshifters type, so when working with Changelings one has to make sure the total Shapeshifter count doesn't exceed the given tribal creature count, or, even flavor-wise, it will be a deck where a larger number of Shapeshifters enlisted some other creatures to complete their ranks, instead of the other way around.

 To help determine what the hell a deck will be considered, tribal-wise, within Tribal Apocalypse, here's some FAQs:

  • Q: My deck has 61 cards and the only creatures are 20 Elves. Is that an Elf deck?
  • A: Of course. Why do you ask? Oh wait, was it because of the 61 cards? Well, according to the official ruling, at least one third of the cards in your deck must be creatures that share a single creature type. We usually say "20 creatures" because we usually deal with 60-card decks. But it's rounded down, so to actually need 21 tribal creatures, you would have to build a 63-card deck. And you don't want to do that, trust me.
  • Q: My deck has 60 cards, 22 Elves and 21 Goblins. What the hell is it?
  • A: It's still an Elf deck. Or better, it legally counts as both an Elf deck and a Goblin deck (actually the MTGO client doesn't care about how many times your deck qualify for the Tribal format, as long as it qualifies at least once), but for all the Tribal Apocalypse purposes (statistics, special events legality), the deck belongs to the tribe that's featured the most. So, the abovementioned deck will be legal in an event where you can only play Elf decks, but it will not be legal in an event where you can only play Goblin decks.
  • Q: My deck has 60 cards and 20 creatures, but all of them are Elf Druid. Is it an "Elf Druid" deck?
  • A: No, within Tribal Apocalypse that would be a Druid deck. It works like this: if all the creatures in your tribal base share two types, the tribe of the deck will be the one with less members (as listed in the Complete Creature Types Reference Table). The logic is that, even in real life, when looking at people/objects belonging to two different categories at once, you are more prone to define the group based on the characteristics of the less common category. For instance, if you are in Toronto and you see a group of mounted officers, you will not think of them as "Canadians", since that's not their most distinctive trait: there are millions of Canadians vs. just thousands of mounties. In the same way, there are twice as many Elves than Druids, so that would be considered a Druid deck. This, of course, is only true if there aren't other non-Druid Elves somewhere else in the deck.
  • Q: Ok, but what if there are 20 non-Druid Elves and 20 non-Elf Druids?
  • A: Damn you, kid! Can't you just build a normal deck, for God's sake? Anyway, if you end up having a deck that qualifies for two different tribes at once (or more, but I dare you to build such a deck!), with no overlapping whatsoever between the members, the "commanding" tribe defining the deck will be the larger one, i.e. the one with more members listed in the Reference Table. In this case, Elf.
  • Q: Let's talk Shapeshifters and Changelings. I can't even understand the difference!
  • A: Shapeshifter is a creature type: Clone, Morphling, Duplicant are all Shapeshifters. Changeling, on the other hand, is NOT a creature type, it's a keyword/ability from the Lowryn/Morningtide set. All the creatures with the Changeling ability happen to be Shapeshifters (of course, given how the ability works, they are also every other creature type; that's why, when building tribal decks, you are allowed to use them as a replacement for whatever you want them to be). For Tribal Apocalypse's purposes, Mistform Ultimus is considered to have the Changeling ability too, even if it technically doesn't.
  • Q: So, what happens if I put creatures with Changeling in my deck? It can still be a Whatever-My-Tribe-Is deck?
  • A: Only if the number of Changeling creatures doesn't exceed the number of the second most featured creature type. And since all the Changeling creatures are Shapeshifters, this second creature type can't be Shapeshifter, of course. Or to better say, when the total number of Shapeshifters in the deck is greater than any other type, that becomes a Shapeshifter deck, no matter what the Shapeshifters with Changeling were supposed to mimic. A special case is the Endangered Prize, i.e. the weekly prize for the deck using the tribe with less members. For a deck to be eligible for the Endangered Prize, it can't use more than 4 creatures with the Changeling ability (included, for this purpose, Mistform Ultimus). You can still build a deck with more than 4 Changelings to compete during an Endangered Week (i.e. the events at the beginning of each month where players can only use tribes with no more than 50 members, with some exceptions). But since Shapeshifter itself isn't an Endangered Tribe, you have to make sure your deck will not have more Shapeshifters than any other type.

  • Q: And what if I build a deck with exactly 10 Shapeshifters with Changeling and 10 other creatures sharing a type?
  • A: If you build such a deck, I'll hate you. And it will be considered a Shapeshifter deck just to mess with your evil plans.

 Phew, that was intense. Let's just cut this ruling crap, and let's speed up past the Slugs (pun intended) and into the actual Top 4 ranking. Remember how last week we had 3 Goblin decks placing within the first 4 ranks, yet none of them was able to grab the 1st place, which went instead to a tribe, Human, who had seen a lot of presence two weeks ago? Well, guess which tribe ended up at the top this time?

Heirloom Goblins
by Mupps84
4 Goblin Cohort
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Mudbrawler Cohort
2 Sparksmith
30 cards

Other Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Incinerate
4 Raid Bombardment
12 cards
18 Mountain
18 cards

Raid Bombardment


 By the way, we applaud the comeback of Mupps84, the Heirloom specialist who had already won a Tribal Apocalypse event back in January, in the occasion of the crossover with the Heirloom PRE. This time, his Heirloom Goblins proved to be fully capable of ending undefeated within a regular event too. Congrats!

 Equally undefeated but definitely non-Heirloom-legal is the 2nd place deck by grapplingfarang:

4-color Constructs
by grapplingfarang
4 Memnite
4 Phyrexian Walker
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Steel Overseer
4 Adaptive Automaton
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
3 Mox Opal
3 Springleaf Drum
3 Cranial Plating
4 Thoughtcast
4 Galvanic Blast
3 Dispatch
24 cards
4 Ancient Den
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Vault of Whispers
4 Great Furnace
16 cards

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

    Here's what he has to say about this Construct deck: "Really did not think this was going to bring me an undefeated record, the deck is very powerful (can get turn 3 kills) but very inconsistent and some games it will do almost nothing. Luckily these were spread out to one each match as I won each round 2-1. Fun deck, though, Cranial Plating, Tezz, and Steel Overseer can all do so much damage so fast, and I had 7 very good removal spells." The mentioned removals are all Metalcraft-enhanced, of course (Galvanic Blast, Dispatch), but to me the most interesting thing about this deck is the use of 4 colors as a backup for a colorless tribe. Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum act as both mana fixers and accelerators, while the unbelievably low casting cost of the creatures (do the math, they average an impressive 1.2!) allow for a minimal land base. As grapplingfarang mentioned, the deck has some good ways for turning those small, cheap dudes into fearsome threats, either by putting tons of counters on them or directly have them become 5/5 thanks to Uncle Tezz's artificer brilliance.

 The last two spots in the Top 4 were occupied, respectively, by Etriol and marcio costa. Etriol was piloting the same, powerful Human deck that gave him the victory last week, and while marcio was there as well, conquering the 4th place twice in a row, his Goblin deck saw some changes:

Burn Goblins 2.0
by marcio costa
4 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Goblin Guide
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
2 Goblin Cadets
2 Goblin Patrol
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
4 Forked Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
4 Fireblast
20 cards
20 Mountain
20 cards



 Interestingly enough, marcio reworked the burn department of his Red Deck Wins type of deck, replacing 3/5 of the spells. And I kinda hate him for that, because he Fireblasted his way through me in the final round, keeping my Goblin deck (which lost to Etriol too... and that's 3 times in a row for me! He's starting to become my archnemesis!) out of the prizes. Oh well, mine was the midrange Kiki-Jiki/Lightning Crafter deck already mentioned within these articles, so this matchup wasn't easy for me. I'm still happy because I was able to make an epic comeback while losing 73 life to 1 against Chonarox's Soul Sisters deck in Round 2. Good times. I actually decided to play Goblins only to honor Blippy's second most beloved tribe, but I'll call for Kiki-Jiki's services again during the upcoming Elves vs. Goblins Special Event on December 17 (more on that below).

 The last 3-1 record belonged to the 5th place-holder ThyShuffler with this Elf deck:


 Nothing especially new here, but it's worth nothing how this deck, despite the requisite Ezuri and the Umbral Mantle infinite combo, is somehow old-fashioned: all creatures, no Green Sun's Zenith or other fetching systems, no way to draw great quantity of cards to refill the hand (like Regal Force or even Sylvan Messenger). Just Elves and their uncanny mana producing skills.

 Very appropriately for a Slug Week, the Endangered Prize went to kind of a slow tribe (as even its pilot, ScionOfJustice, noted in the forum): Archon.

    The heavenly judges had already taken the prize once (when AJ_Impy took them for a ride back in April). Scion was working here with a "stopping the opponent's attacks" subtheme (Windborn Muse, Magus of the Moat, Ghostly Prison). It looks like it didn't work too much. Maybe the Archons would like better a discard-into-reanimation kind of strategy.

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


  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).

 Two more things before wrapping up. Keep an eye on the Tribe Popularity List compiled and maintained by vantar6697. You may want to try and break one of those unplayed tribes. Something good may happen if you do. Just saying.

 Also, a request: please, when posting your decklists on the forum, don't type all the cards and quantities yourselves. Just save the deck as a .txt using the client's option, then copy and paste it there. This way I don't have to re-type everything myself in the deck editor I use for these articles, which employs the same format of the client. Thank you! (Also, a comment about how the tournament went for you is always appreciated).


Man you'd think I didn't even by Paul Leicht at Fri, 12/02/2011 - 13:17
Paul Leicht's picture

Man you'd think I didn't even bring slugs to this event. :/

What do you mean? I mentioned by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 12/03/2011 - 08:43
Kumagoro42's picture

What do you mean? I mentioned you, but your decklist wasn't in the forum -- it wasn't requested to be, since it didn't get prizes. Vantar posted his own anyway, and I noticed that peculiarity so I wanted to talk about it. I didn't mean to exclude anyone. :)

"Q: Ok, but what if there are by Vantar at Fri, 12/02/2011 - 14:50
Vantar's picture

"Q: Ok, but what if there are 20 non-Druid Elves and 20 non-Elf Druids?
A: Damn you, kid! Can't you just build a normal deck, for God's sake? Anyway, if you end up having a deck that qualifies for two different tribes at once (or more, but I dare you to build such a deck!)..."

60 card Elf-Human-Dryad Tribal deck
4 Joraga Treespeaker
4 Fyndhorn Elves
4 Joraga Warcaller
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Dryad Arbor
4 Dryad Sophisticate
4 Vine Dryad
4 Shanodin Dryads
4 Rushwood Legate
4 Magus of the Candelabra
4 Simic Initiate
4 Magus of the Vineyard
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Martyr of Spores

As for my pseudo-slug deck, I only had 3 Molder Slugs before the event so I threw a Fire-Belly Changling in as a placeholder so I could do some test matches before the event stated. Unfortunately, I forgot to remove the placeholder when I added the the 4th Molder Slug. Had the placeholder card been removed as intended there would not have been a shape shifter majority, making it a valid slug deck.

Anyway, great article as always.

Now you have to run this deck by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 12/03/2011 - 08:45
Kumagoro42's picture

Now you have to run this deck in the tournament. :)

Now the real trick would be by AJ_Impy at Fri, 12/02/2011 - 20:52
AJ_Impy's picture

Now the real trick would be taking two tribes with identical numbers, running 11 each of both and 9 changelings. Valid pairings include barbarian/nomad, artificer/monk, dwarf/elephant/kor/viashino/centaur/berserker/lizard/spider (there are a LOT of 31-member tribes), ally/vedalken, bear/fish, horse/bat/crocodile, and quite a few at the lower end of the scale.

That was something both by Paul Leicht at Sat, 12/03/2011 - 00:33
Paul Leicht's picture

That was something both Flippers_Giraffe and I wrote about a while back. It is definitely a fun idea ....hybrid tribal. Tough to balance correctly though. Easy to make too weak to stand.

I would just come up with a by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 12/03/2011 - 08:48
Kumagoro42's picture

I would just come up with a rule where the "commanding" tribe will be the one listed first in alphabetical order. :P
You guys will not manage to mess up my (and Vantar's) statistics. :P