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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Dec 13 2011 2:46am
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 *** Tribal Apocalypse: Week 48 BE ***
Biodiversity is the key

 Welcome back for your weekly reportage of Tribal Apocalypse! (You can find all the previous articles in the series here).

 The event held Saturday, December 3 was, as each first TribAp event of a new month, an Endangered Week (only tribes with 50 available online members or less were allowed; this is as good a time as any  to remind you of both the Complete Creature Types Reference Table and the Tribal Apocalypse Tribe Popularity Survey: vantar6697 and I are doing some maintenance to both the lists these days, namely some checking and adjustments of the math for the tribes, since it turns out something doesn't add up. But it's nothing that will actually influence the legality of the special events, so don't worry). (I know nobody really worries about these things, it was just to say).

 We witnessed an amazing diversity among the top decks this time, even for an Endangered event, with an unprecedented winner. But before diving into the meat of the things, it's...

Announcement Time!

 WoTC just did it, by renaming some of the rooms like they were the sections of some sort of kid show with muppets, so I can do it too: I proudly announce the institution of the Tribal Apocalypse Tournament Practice Room! (Except it's exactly the same room, so just type /join tribal if you want to get there). Starting next week, every Wednesday after the downtime, let's meet in the tribal room for some serious deck tuning in view of that week's Tribal Apocalypse event (so with the same deck legality enforced that week, therefore we'll start with the Elves vs. Goblins shenanigan). I'll be there for at least one hour, and if there will be enough people at that point we can do a 8-player single elimination impromptu tourney, and the winner will get... absolutely nothing! That is, apart from a tiny amount of glory and the awareness that his/her deck kinda works (well, for three matches in a row, at least). So, it's like a 8-player queue with no prizes, a really long queue and no guarantee it will ever fire. Isn't it amazing?

 This said, and before pointing you to the end of the article for some updates about the upcoming holiday specials and next year's Tribal Apocalypse Hall of Fame Invitational, let's finally see which very unusual tribe ended up first place for the first time in the very last Endangered event of this first year of Blippy's regime.

 

 Hey, isn't this the same ScionOfJustice's Archon deck that won Endangered Prize last week? Yes, it is (and the name of its pilot is very fitting indeed). And despite not performing so well in a regular week (as in "not winning a single match"), it went gloriously undefeated this time, losing only one game throughout the 3 rounds of the tournament, thus giving a vigorous boost to Archon's ranking in the Hall of Fame. The only change from last week is a lonely Wrath of God over an equally singleton (Sensei's Diving Top), but I wanted to publish the deck again as a tribute to this rarely seen yet fearsome tribe. Flavor-wise, the Archons of MTG seem to borrow elements from both the Gnostic entities with the same name (roughly akin to angels) and the equally homonymous high magistrates from ancient Greece. (Of course, for some of us, the name Archon only means this). So, to honor this victory, let's parade and review the 4 existing Archons in the game.

Archon of Redemption Archon of Justice Vengeful Archon 

Archon of Redemption Archon of Redemption: Archons aren't fast creatures, that's for sure. The "fastest" one of the bunch comes in Serra Angel range of cost, pushing the Archon deckbuilder into mid- to late-game territory. The Changeling creatures needed to fill the tribal base only partially solves this issue, and the first obstacle of the deck (which remains probably the biggest) is the necessity to survive until late turns. Archon of Redemption, while coming with one point less of power compared to Serra Angel, greatly helps the survival side of things by turning every flying creature in the deck (i.e. all the Archons and the aptly-chosen flying Changelings) into life-gain. ScionOfJustice himself had to note how this turned up to be a decisive factor during the matches.

Archon of Justice Archon of Justice: a favorite of every Bant Pod player, Archon of Justice (fist seen in Eventide, recently reprinted in M12) is a nice tactical card. A decent flyer, this time with exactly the Serra Angel's ratio between cost and P/T, it doubles as an ultimate removal if killed, making it both a great defensive element and a plan-wrecker for the opponent, which is forced to trade 2-for-1 with him most of the times.

Vengeful Archon Vengeful Archon: with this one, a totally overlooked rare from M11, we definitely enter in the late-game zone. Don't get me wrong, it's probably the weaker of the Archons, since it requires a large quantity of mana to properly perform. Yet, if you can get it on line, its ability might be a game-ender, since it prevents you for receiving damage from any source (essentially, the opponent would have to be able to inflict you more damage than your available mana, bringing as much damage to himself in the process), while in the meantime it's able to swing for 7 flying damage.

 Blazing Archon: this is the oldest one (from Ravnica) and arguably the most powerful. All the Momir Basic players know very well that if you happen to hit this one when trying for a 9-mana dude, it means very likely good game, since it entirely shuts down the opponent's combat phase. Still, 9 mana is a ludicrous quota in a competitive format, so this is the epitome of Archon.dek's issues: as you find yourself with 8 ridiculously costed creatures in the deck, the odds of having to endure a very clunky start aren't low.

 As I already noted last week, ScionOfJustice's approach to the Archons is a straightforward one. He didn't try any real trick to have those Blazing Archons out in the early turns (like, say, a reanimation suite), except for two copies of good ol'/just reprinted Quicksilver Amulet. In the forum, Scion thanks the amulet for its services, and I can see how a Turn-5 Blazing Archon is far from a bad thing. That's still a pretty mid-range strategy too, and surely the amulet is kind of a cumbersome card (yet the Flash-inducing, counterspell-bypassing aspect of it is not to be ignored or underestimated). The deck also features 2 mana accelerators in the form of Commander-favorite Coalition Relic, which is a fine card but again it strikes more as a mid-range enabler, since it takes up your whole Turn 3 only to give you 2 mana on Turn 4 (in fact, I usually like Mind Stone better as a mana artifact, when mana fixing is not an issue). The true key of the deck is the control suite, then: some good removals, and especially the full set of Ghostly Prison plus the singletons Windborn Muse and Magus of the Moat, all of which, along with Archon of Redemption's life-gaining, might be able to buy enough time for the bigger Archons to come, and also connect nicely with the attack-stopping ability of the ultimate Archon itself.

 The 2nd place deck, also undefeated, was raf.azevedo's Mutant deck, a tribe which before this event was still marked among the unplayed ones in the Tribe Popularity Survey, but only for a lack of data confirmation: another Mutant deck had been spotted in a recent week, yet dropped before Blippy was able to mark it down; therefore, there was no special trigger this time. (What special trigger, do you ask? Well, you keep playing previously unplayed tribes and you will know). It looks like the Mutants really defies recording, because I'm missing the decklist for raf's deck, I didn't see any of his matches, and I can't contact him as I'm writing this. So, raf, please upload the decklist to the forum and I'll publish it in next week's article. Mutant isn't a common tribe for sure, and I'm very curious to see a winning approach to it. (I made a Graft-based Simic Mutant deck some time ago, but "winning" wasn't exactly what it was doing).

 Coming to the 2-1 decks, SBena ended up 3rd with a tribe he had already played a few times now during past Endangered Weeks.

Rebels of the Mercadian: The Quest for Lin Sivvi
SBena
Creatures
4 Zealot il-Vec
4 Amrou Scout
4 Aven Riftwatcher
3 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
3 Big Game Hunter
3 Blightspeaker
21 cards

Other Spells
4 Honor of the Pure
4 Swords to Plowshares
3 Bound in Silence
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Gideon Jura
1 Day of Judgment
16 cards
 
Lands
4 Marsh Flats
2 Scrubland
3 Isolated Chapel
8 Plains
4 Swamp
2 Tectonic Edge
23 cards

 
Amrou Scout

 

 Rebels got a huge boost from the Masques block coming online, doubling their available number and completing their ranks (the same goes for the other two Mercadian-specific tribes, Spellshaper and Mercenary). SBena was planning to include Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero (over the honestly awful Blightspeaker), but by the time the event was held, he wasn't able to find a copy of it. The deck fully exploits the Rebels fetching abilities, also featuring the Rebel enchantment Bound in Silence as a fetchable Pacifism. Aven Riftwatcher, star of many Pauper White Weenie decks, provides both life-gaining and evasive power, while Big Game Hunter becomes another powerful instant-speed, uncounterable removal under the right board conditions.

 At the last of the Top 4 spots we find another well-oiled player/tribe team: endless_nameless and the Leviathans.

 

 I don't know if endless_nameless has to deal with many sea monsters during his real-life job as an airline pilot, but within the MTGO world he surely loves them very much (then again, so do I), and has already scored two 2nd places thanks to the mighty marine behemoths. This deck has a very classic feel (nothing says "I was already playing in 1998" more than using full playsets of both City of Brass and Ancient Tomb), and it's interesting to note how it adopts pretty much the opposite approach of ScionOfJustice's Archon deck: weighed down by a worrying number of essentially unplayable fatties, endless_nameless chose to play around the issue, thanks to the two cheapest put-directly-onto-the-battlefield spells available, namely Show and Tell and Eureka (plus a couple of Defense of the Heart, which is especially effective in Tribal). The former is a well-known Legacy staple of unquestioned power, and it's further enhanced by the presence of some fast mana accelerators: both Elvish Spirit Guide and Noble Hierarch are clearly not there to help paying for the prohibitive cost of the Leviathans, so much as to enable a frightening Turn-2 Show and Tell. The perfect battle plan here seems to be dropping a Grozoth this way, then having it call for all its 9cc friends, then using Eureka the following turn to seal the deal with a shitload of big tramplers with Shroud. While chronologically older (it dates back to Legends, no less), Eureka is essentially an advanced Show and Tell. Yet it's way more dangerous, and I myself have a conflicted relationship with it: it's the type of Timmy card I like, but every time I try to use it, terrible things happen. My streak of horrible Eureka-related incidents was topped the one time I used it within a green Elemental deck, going off at Turn 3 to drop this:

Thorn Elemental Thorn Elemental Thorn Elemental

 Avenger of Zendikar 

 ...only for the opponent, who until that moment didn't play a single creature, to drop this:

Bogardan Hellkite  Bogardan Hellkite

 After that, I switched to more accelerators and Dramatic Entrance. (And from Thorn Elemental to Tornado Elemental, of course). True story.

 But enough with my traumatizing memories, let's complete the 2-1 decks review, shall we?


  5th place, Jeketerri, Werewolves. I've nothing to say about them, since I still have to try and build a Werewolf deck (and I'm just glad in MTGO I will not have to deal with card sleeves). I like for this deck to work some copies of (Broodbraid Elf) in there: while you're a fast aggro in Gruul colors, why not add the veritable Hero of Jund? Please also notice that I'm starting to name these decklists my own way (in this case, I can't help but citing the title of that Neil Jordan's masterwork about shapeshifting wolves and other folkloric things). Feel free to complain, but given the lack of ANY names for most of the decklists, I refuse to keep calling them "Archons!", "Leviathans!", "Rebels!" and such. These chronicles may use some embellishment.

 We stay in Gruul for the 6th place too, a Kavu deck by our #1 Hall of Famer, NemesisParadigm.

 

 NemesisParadigm wrote a long commentary on his deck's performance in the forum (kudos to him for that! Follow his example, kids!), which I just slightly edited and include here in its entirety (there's also an interesting part about using non-tribal win conditions in tribal decks).

 "The basic idea is to use Seismic Assault and Life from the Loam along with Punishing Fire to never run out of gas and provide constant firepower. Thunderscape Familiar allows you to recycle Loam for one mana, Kavu Predator naturally works well with Punishing Fire and Burnwillows. Flametongue Kavu is natural removal, Kavu Climber is there for more card advantage, and Kavu Titan is an early game beater and a late game threat. 1st round was against AJ_Impy's Scarecrows. First game I couldn't get much of anything going and I was steam rolled. In games 2 and 3 I realized that my creatures didn't have much chance of doing anything against his Grim Poppets, Reaper Kings, Mystifying Mazes, Brittle Effigies, and most likely All Is Dust. So I focused mainly on filling the graveyard, dredging up lands and controlling the game with my graveyard with the hope that AJ didn't have any graveyard removal. That strategy worked a bit too well, and I believe I upset AJ quite a bit by daring to use good consistent non-tribal win conditions in a tribal deck. Admittedly, I used mostly damage against him, but I still take time and think about the tribes I associate with non-creature strategies, like Seismic Assault. It's not simply a matter of taking any random tribe and adding it to a non-creature strategy. AJ then challenged me to make a tribal deck that has its tribe as its ONLY win condition. Of course I realize that this type of challenge only makes me more susceptible to AJ's classic strategy of board sweepers and anti-creature cards like Wrath of God, All Is Dust, and Gideon, but oh well, I'm game for that type of challenge."

 A quick (?) comment about this: I've been on record hating the Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows combo very much. But not because to me it's something a Tribal deck shouldn't rely to; only because it's cheap (inventive-wise; money-wise it's the opposite of cheap, Burnwillows is currently 60 tix the playset!), and way too easy to pull off, since it's assembled passively. I don't think a deck who uses the tribal element as its only win condition is better or worse (or, you know, more "tribal-like") than one that doesn't. Some tribes are natural win-cons; other tribes are natural enablers of seemingly unrelated win-cons. It's actually not so hard to build a deck with the former type of tribes, since they usually already set most of the deckbuilding strategy for you. Also, it's debatable what "using the tribe as a win-condition" really means. If it means "attacking with your tribal creatures for lethal damage", that's just like saying, "build tribal aggro decks or tribal control deck with finishers". But I think Walls fully enable the win condition of Wall-Drazi.dek as no tribe else could do, so that's the Wall tribe doing its best and being exploited the most, even if you will not see the Walls inflicting the damage themselves. As a personal taste, I like better when the tribe is not an army, but a village of crafters who build up the victory in clever ways, and this obviously has to involve non-tribal cards. Of course, nobody likes a tribal deck where the tribe does nothing, and where the player just has to put up with having 20 semi-useless cards in the deck. Or at least, I hope nobody likes that.

 Resuming NemesisParadigm's chronicle: "2nd round was against Living End Mutants (here's my missing deck by raf.azevedo - Editor's note). My main strategy against this type of deck is to start dredging Loam as soon as I can to get some bodies into the graveyard to fight against the cycled hordes. It worked in one game, but in the other two I didn't mulligan aggressively enough to do that and I was toasted by turn 4-5 each time. 3rd round was against Werewolves. My deck basically excels at fighting them, with Punishing Fire and Life from the Loam providing me with ample ways to transform the Werewolves back to Humans or preventing them from transforming in the first place. Yet, if I were to play this deck again, I would add some kind of graveyard removal to the deck."

 Nemesis then ends his comment with some words about the deck he's most notorious for, Wall-Drazi, and his in-game behaviour. "On another note, I heard that KaraZorEl stopped to play Tribal Apocalypse in part because of my Wall-Drazi and Plant-Drazi decks. This made me very sad. I play to win. I play to have fun. I find playing strong strategies to be quite enjoyable and I want my opponents to bring strong decks and strategies as well. I'm not out to punish new and budget players, and I don't want to discourage anyone. I don't talk much in game because I'm usually multi-tasking while I'm playing. I don't believe I've ever been rude or mean to anyone, but if I have been in any perceptible way, I apologize. I spend a lot of time thinking about Tribal and finding fun decks to build, but I don't want to be considered a tyrant."

 I will only say that every player with such an impressive record as Nemesis (who has 884 points in the Hall of Fame, while the runner-up player, which currently happens to be me, got the weirdly palindromic score of 488) inevitably end up collecting some hate along the road. My only, humble advice to him is maybe to rotate the decks a little more. Players especially hate when they have to face the same powerful deck again and again, for many weeks in a row.

 Last of the 2-1 decks: "Samurai, by Valamyre" (that would be perfect as a name for a men's fragrance. I would buy it).

 

 The mono-white approach to Samurai (as opposed to the more common Boros one, which gave RexDart some gratifications in a couple of past Endangered Weeks) translates into a nice, very flavorful "Konda's War Brigade" (too bad for the lack of Konda's Banner and Eiganjo Castle). Konda himself is a strong creature, but at 7cc he's a bit overcosted, and this deck doesn't seem to have any means to cheat him into play or accelerate into hardcasting him (plus, 20 lands? Oh my!). Call to Glory is a great combat trick, and I like to see a full set of Disenchant for a change, since too often the players forgot how much they might have to deal with dangerous artifacts and enchantments, even in Tribal. I don't entirely get Trepanation Blade, though, as it doesn't seem to really combo with anything (certainly not with Samurai of the Pale Curtain).

 Well, that's it. As usual, I'd like to remind you of the many upcoming Tribal Apocalypse Special Events (never get tired of them!).

 

  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, which will be held on December 31) will challenge each other to a single elimination mayhem featuring a crazy set of special rules devised to challenge our best players (and yes, to prevent Nemesis to just run Wall-Drazi all the way to the final round). Every round, the players will have to bring different decks, as follows:

  • 1st round: Each player must use a tribe which is not listed among the Hall of Fame Top 16 Tribes (as of December 31).
  • 2nd round: Each player must use a tribe with which they achieved their highest ranking in a 2011 Tribal Apocalypse event.
  • 3rd round: Each player must use a different tribe from the previous 2 rounds.
  • 4rd round: Each player must use a tribe they have never used in a 2011 Tribal Apocalypse event.

  And remember: what happens in Hall of Fame Invitational stays in Hall of Fame Invitational.

6 Comments

ISD DRAFT by BOBBAKAKE at Tue, 12/13/2011 - 04:36
BOBBAKAKE's picture

IDK What this is but its not isd draft!
draft ISD draft!

Considering that the Elves vs by ArchGenius at Tue, 12/13/2011 - 11:56
ArchGenius's picture
5

Considering that the Elves vs Goblins event is this weekend, we really should have the special banned list up by now. Don't you think?

Off the top of my head I'd suggest Absolute Law, Perish, Tivadar of Thorn, and Tivadar's Crusade to start with. Blue Elemental Blast and Hydroblast could be a problem too. I think banning anything that says "red" or "goblin" from the elf deck and banning everything that says "green" or "elf" from the goblin deck should cover pretty much everything completely abusive.

Isn't it a little late to be by Paul Leicht at Tue, 12/13/2011 - 16:46
Paul Leicht's picture

Isn't it a little late to be asking for bans now? The game is this next weekend.

Perhaps, I'm just going off by ArchGenius at Tue, 12/13/2011 - 17:22
ArchGenius's picture

Perhaps, I'm just going off of the advertisement for the event.

>>
- 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.
>>

If there is going to be a specially banned list, it needs to be done ASAP.

Re: banned for Elves vs Goblins by BlippyTheSlug at Tue, 12/13/2011 - 20:21
BlippyTheSlug's picture

It's a little late, and I haven't given it as much thought as I should have. :(

'I think banning anything that says "red" or "goblin" from the elf deck and banning everything that says "green" or "elf" from the goblin deck should cover pretty much everything completely abusive.'

This sounds good, and I'm going to go with that. I'll go post it now.

EDIT:

50th Event Special - Elves vs Goblins

Each player will need 2 decks: an Elf deck and a Goblin deck. First player listed in pairings plays Elves, 2nd player plays Goblins.

Banned:

Elf Decks - any cards that have the words "red" or "goblin" in their abilities.

Goblin Decks - any cards that have the words "green" or "elf" in their abilities.

Other bonuses (TBD) may be presented. I am still working on getting "promos" for this event.

No Most Endangered prize.

The week has been pretty by twinsiel12 at Fri, 05/02/2014 - 19:59
twinsiel12's picture

The week has been pretty eventful. They will have to get involved with it. - Mission Maids