Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Aug 13 2021 2:00pm

 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


 An issue with the tournament has emerged lately, and it's a bitter one to both experience and discuss. It has to do with an inherent problem of so-called "casual" formats (Commander most of all): the gap between the approach players take on the whole thing. There's always been a philosophical conflict between Spikes, who, legitimately, build the most efficient decks with the goal of trying and winning any given event, and those players who instead take a more relaxed, inventive stance. There's not one "correct" way to play Tribal Wars, but there's the fact that the clash between these two kinds of players is exacerbated when the first group becomes smaller and smaller. In the early seasons, an event had maybe 6 to 8 players who were bringing their A-game constantly week after week; and an equal number or more that was there only to showcase their quirky tribal concoctions, or prove a silly tribe can win at least one match, or clearing all sorts of special achievements that didn't necessarily involve winning.


 Now the amount of Spikes that regularly populate an event has decreased dramatically. It might sound like a good thing, but it's not. It's an ecological niche problem. Now those, say, two Spikes per tournament become sharks in a school of small fish. They bring a tank to a soapbox race. This has several ramifications. For one, the seasonal leaderboard (and you can see everything I talked about perfectly reflected in it) has ceased to have a deep meaning in years, since it stays pretty much frozen in place one quarter of the way in. The most pressing problem, though, is that non-Spike players, especially if new, are increasingly frustrated of losing the same way to the same people, week in week out. Granted, if there's only two Spikes, the chance of facing them in a given week is low; in fact, only three players per tournament must endure that. But those Spikes are not a statistical number; they're literally the same two or three players throughout an entire season or three. After a while, everybody else who's a regular has learned that if you face one of them, the match won't be just unbalanced, it would be a thoroughly negative experience. Because Magic is not a game where you can have good time when the disparity between decks is very large. When a tank is firing on the soapbox car, it's quickly over, before you can even call it a fight.


 What's the solution, then? Well, we never pondered about this issue specifically, and we may have inadvertently aggravated it with the actions of the Tribal Council regarding power cards, paving the way for efficient linear strategies to dominate unopposed. But beyond that, the concern is that, given the current minimal number of players with a proper Spike profile, any measure against them might feel like a personal attack. This said, there are a few things we might consider. Probably as reforms to be implemented starting next year.

  1. I could talk to the current batch of Spikes, convince them to change approach for the good of all. I'm not keen on this, despite being exactly what a kitchen table play group would do. It'd force me to do the same every time a potential new Spike joins the field. Which, by all means, I wouldn't have any qualms doing, but it feels like a patch that doesn't address the underlying issues and switch blame to specific people. Plus, there are different shades of being a Spike, we'd run the risk of weaponizing the middling approach.
  2. Given that the more you move back through the eternal formats, the wider the gap between competitive and casual becomes, we can try and tone down the impact of the Legacy pool on our monthly rotation. Underdog might be left as the only Legacy event, with proper Legacy relegated to a one-time special event.
  3. Or we could intensify the top players lockout. Now we only prevent top players from returning with the same deck and strategy for five registrations. Let's say we extend that lock for the entire season instead. You're a top player? (Something you have shown in previous seasons or during the current one once enough events have accumulated). Then you get access to a single win with Goblins per season. After a while, it'll become a Spike trying to engineer a win under increasingly harder restrictions. It could actually be a positive challenge. I won't pretend to understand a Spike's psychology (since it's very far from mine), but I would imagine repeating the same wins over and over again may become quite boring after a while.
  4. The most drastical idea: stop being a tournament at all. What to be, then? This requires the most work, admittedly. But we could be a weekly gathering of tribal players, doing some demonstration matches, with a rotating jury panel giving out ticket prizes for creativity and such. I don't know, some different form under which we can still play Tribal Wars but the Spikes won't perceive it as something to "win". Not via sher efficiency, at least.

 Preventing top players from winning tickets is something that has been proposed. It's surely another option, but I don't think it would change the scenery much. Spikes are after the thrill of the win, not the prize. The prize is the trophy, not the three tickets you earn by running  a 200-ticket list.

 I'm looking forward to hearing feeback about this, either on Discord or during events. Something will have to change next year. We had witnessed new players feeling enthusiastic at first, and then exasperated after a few weeks. This has to stop. If only because we're not here to service the ego of the few.


  • Event Number: Week 552 BE
  • Date: August 7
  • Attendance: 
  • Rounds: 3
  • Subformat: Underdog
  • Winner: Deonmag with Archer
  • Runner-up: Bandit Keith with Serpent
  • 1-loss: Generalissimo with Rat, ThyShuffler with Kobold, AJ_Impy with Pirate, Nagarjuna with Wurm
  • Dark Horse Prize: Takeoutree with Starfish
  • New Repopulation Award: lovetapsmtg with Cockatrice, Takeoutree with Starfish
  • Up-and-Coming Prize: Deonmag with Archer
  • New Kids on the Block Award: Takeoutree with Starfish
  • Tribes: Archer, Cockatrice, Devil, Kobold, Leviathan, Ooze, Pirate, Ranger, Rat, Serpent, Starfish, Wurm
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 Last week marked the very first event win of Archers, finally exiting the Unhallowed list! It cames through the efforts of Deonmag, for once leaving his beloved black undead tribes behind to embrace the fury of green.


 Of the other tribes ending in the money zone, I single out Pirate as the less frequent to do so. AJ_Impy's build was an extremely expensive one, due to the inclusion of hot cards like Ragavan and Prismari Command. But you gotta commit to the role! And Curse of Opulence was an incredibly flavorful inclusion, as well as a mechanically sound one.


 Here's another milestone, if of considerable smaller magnitude than Archer's. Starfish won a match! Takeoutree piloted the unlikely tribe to this accomplishment, so now only Beholder remains to clear for New Kids on the Block award. And this list wasn't quite as expensive as AJ's.


 Finally, a quick check in with everyone's favorite amorphous tribe, Ooze. In their last lineup, I dropped the not very synergistic Experiment One for the new Ochre Jelly from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. It seems to work better, despite my performance being subpar this week. Ochre Jelly has great interaction with Hardened Scales.



 Here's the prices of all the featured decks, courtesy of the Deck Pricer from mtgGoldfish (MTGO Traders prices as of August 13, 2021):

  • Deonmag's Archers: $19.62
  • AJ_Impy's Pirates: $526.04
  • Takeoutree's Starfish: $2.09
  • _Kumagoro_'s Oozes: $23.20

 The Top 10 Cheapest Decks that Went Undefeated

  1. -DiamondDust-'s Dinosaurs, $0.98, 2nd place on Event 539
  2. SirFalcon2008's Goblins, $1.54, 1st place on Event 389
  3. mihahitlor's Warriors, $1.95, 1st place on Event 233
  4. morpphling's Vampires, $2.25, 1st place on Event 285
  5. morpphling's Goblins, $2.35, 2nd place on Event 102
  6. JogandoPelado's Berserkers, $2.80, 1st place on Event 248
  7. kokonade1000's Berserkers, $2.95, 2nd place on Event 354
  8. MisterMojoRising's Beasts, $.3.01, 1st place on Event 484
  9. Gq1rf7's Goblins, $3.32, 1st place on Event 154
  10. Bandit Keith's Soldiers, $3.48, 1st place on Event 422

 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 Beasts, $3.01, 1st place on Event 484

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


 New, very long Generalissimo video this week... about his Birds from three weeks ago.

 Wait! Stop the presses! This just in! We also have the Show & Tell video for Generalissimo's games with Rats last week! We can also see my Oozes make an appearance in it.


 Just to remind you of a few things:

 The Dark Horse 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. Tribes currently eligible for the award: Beholder.

 The New Repopulation Award: Play all rounds of a Tribal Apocalypse event with a tribe that's been played only three times or fewer, and you'll get a 1-tix certificate from MTGO Traders. The list of eligible tribes is here (the leftmost column, from the end). Tribes that didn't exist before this season aren't eligible.

 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 five times before coming back to the undefeated one). This means a different tribe; in some cases, specific combo or archetype-defining cards will also be locked out. 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):

  • 11.32 (Week 553 BE), on August 14: Standard
  • 11.33 (Week 554 BE), on August 21: Modern
  • 11.34 (Week 555 BE), on August 28: Legacy

Check out the ban lists and the event calendar.
Next banned and restricted announcement: October 1.
Current watch list:
 Conspicuous SnoopCrippling Fear Shrieking Affliction.



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