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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Mar 16 2012 8:36am
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*** Tribal Apocalypse: Week 62 BE ***
Everybody Hates Elves

 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse (click to find out everything you'll need to find out about the tournament).

 Now I'm going to tell you about an Elf. This Elf wanted to join a tournament, so he asked to be registered. "No," said the tournament, "no thank you. If I let you in, your one combo will annoy the shit out of all the other players, and the annoyance of an Elf combo is death for a tournament." "Now, where," asked the Elf, "is the logic of that?" For Elves would try to be logical. "If I annoy you, you will die, I will have no tournament to play in." So the tournament was convinced to allow the Elf in. But, just in the middle of the rounds, he felt a terrible nausea and realized that, after all, the Elf had started comboing out. "Logic!" cried the dying tournament as he started to be deserted, taking the Elf down with him. "There is no logic in this!" "I know," said the Elf, "but I can't help it. It's my character."

 So, it seems we have a bit of an Elf problem (or I want to think that we have because I always love to badmouth them). It's like with the moles in your lawn. You keep calling pest control, the moles keep coming back. Or you don't even call pest control because they're just little cute creatures after all, and they're part of the natural cycle, and they've been created for a purpose, and they're cute. With Elves it's just the same. Except they're not even so cute.


A typical Elf player, as perceived by its opponent

 At the end of the tournament, some of the proposed solutions (from the angry non-Elf mob) included creating a regular side event for all the Elf and Goblin decks to be segregated into; or banning the Elf tribe altogether; or have the Elf players wear a hat that says, "I'm a stupid Elf player. Kick me." I, for one, would rather suggest to just start using more sweepers (something Goblin decks can do too, but Elf can't), since an unprotected creature-based combo can't be too hard to beat, and going control is always the right way to shape an (on the verge of becoming) degenerated meta. So, don't lose hope, guys: just play these cards and you'll be good, and not just against Elves:

Wrath of God  Pyroclasm

 One thing I can do for the cause myself, instead, is to take some of the glory out of any Elf accomplishments in my chronicles. For instance...

  • Event Number: 10 (2012), 62 (all-time)
  • Date: March 10
  • Attendance: 28 (record attendance!)
  • Rounds: 4
  • Special Rules: none
  • Top 4: _BIG_BROTHERS_ (Elf, undefeated); Ayanam1 (Wizard, undefeated); ThyShuffler (Elf, 1 loss); Nagarjuna (Treefolk, 1 loss)
  • Special Prizes: Endangered Prize to ScionOfJustice (Archon)
  • Tribes: Archon, Assassin, Cat (from Round 2), Crab, Demon (only for Round 1), Druid, Elf (x7), Goblin (x3, one of which only for Round 1), Human (x2), Insect, Merfolk, Ogre, Spike (from Round 2), Treefolk, Vampire (x2), Wizard, Wolf, Zombie (x2), Zubera
  • Virgin Tribes: Spike by One Million Words (highest-ranked); Wolf by romellos; Crab by grapplingfarang; Ogre by milegyenanevem

 So, from now on, I'll call everyone who's playing elves, "that guy". This week, the 1st place was achieved by that guy _BIG_BROTHERS_, a new that guy who played combo Elves (with Biorhythm and Staff of Domination) because that's what those guys usually do when they're new. That guy ThyShuffler was playing combo Elves as well (and we had another 5 of those guys too: see where the mole analogy came from?), and he ended 3rd place. Now the Elves have attained 28 Top 4 placements (of which 9 were 1st places) amounting to more than 1400 Hall of Fame points over 62 events. But they're still mostly boring clones of the same Elfball archetype. And this settles the Elf part of the tournament. Now on the interesting stuff.

 Ayanam1 ended up undefeated again (he's really filling the shoes of last year's NemesisParadigm, as far as the sheer number of positive results is concerned), with a Wizard deck featuring the still super-powerful yet rarely seen anymore Isochron Scepter/Orim's Chant combo lock:

 

 The rest of the deck isn't particularly original, since it just includes all the most powerful Wizards of 4 colors (with Delver of Secrets and  Snapcaster Mage being the latest friends of the combo, but that was hardly a discovery), and a bunch of other classic instants to be imprinted on the scepter for more recurring mayhem. But hey, we know that Ayanam1 will never play this deck again (and we thank him for that), so it's all good.

 The one missing color from Aya's deck is the only color of Nagarjuna's one:

 

 I like Treefolk very much (as I love green more than any other color, even if it's being tainted by those guys). Yet I rarely play them because I feel like their lists are locked on just two not-so-different, fixed sets of tribal bases, depending if you play with Doran or not. Naga, being the all-time 5th ranked player that he is, tried to shake things up a little, with a build that move the balance down from midrange to early turns. We have the very early Treefolk Harbinger and Bosk Banneret as the utility creatures that make the backbone of the deck, and the curve is topped at 4 mana, with no Timber Protector or any other high cost member. This allows for the interesting tech of Edge of Autumn, alternatively drawing cards or fetching Forests for Dungrove Elder and Dauntless Dourbark to grow bigger. I don't know how much this is effective, but it's surely different, and absolutely flavorful. Another cool touch is Green Sun's Zenithing a single Bellowing Tanglewurm for an unstoppable alpha strike versus non-green decks. The global intimidating wurm should definitely see more play, as it's a green creature that spells "you win the game" as few others do in Tribal. Likewise, Prey Upon is the green removal that tribal decks should learn to feature more, since in some cases it triggers unexpected side effects (try it with a Phyrexian Obliterator, you will never do without). All in all, though, I feel like Leaf-Crowned Elder is screaming to be included in this deck: it costs 4, and its effect, which makes me single it out as the most powerful of all the Treefolks, not only doesn't require mana, but it also allows you to play stuff for free.

 The following placements (here the complete proceedings) belonged, respectively, to gbagyt, with an Azorius-colored Human deck with Geist of Saint Traftthat guy argyris, with you-know-what; mihahitlor, who took his Assassins for a ride outside Endangered Week; and DirtyDuck's trusty Cats with Tarmogoyf and all (yet the felines haven't performed at their highest levels since a while; and the other Cat specialist, Ranth, has been missing from the tournament entirely. We miss you, man!).

 Last but not least, we had a solid 3-1 result from AJ_Impy too, who after the Lich attempt of two weeks ago was brewing Zombies again, with their tanks and their bombs, and their bombs and their guns.

 

 Here's a description of the deck and its adventure from AJ himself: "The basic principle was 'How many ways can I break Gravecrawler? With the answer being "lots". Turning it into "B: put a +1/+1 counter on this creature" (Carrion Feeder), or "B: this creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn" (Nantuko Husk), or outright winning the game with Deathbringer Thoctar, Vengeful Dead, or Diregraf Captain alongside Phyrexian Altar. On top of that, it's a 2/1 for 1 which you can play from your graveyard. Swinging in and dodging removal is also tech. A delicious combination of incremental advantage, synergy, and instant-win combos on a delicious beatdown base. The deck name is after the Cranberries song. I faced a gauntlet of two Elves, one Goblin, and Punishing/Grove Wolves. Only lost to generic Umbral Mantle Elves with Ezuri (that would be ThyShuffler's ones — Editor's Note).

 As for me, I had a weird showing with an Insect deck that I knew needed fixing, but for which I didn't get any real indication, since I first lost to DragonWarrior2's storm Goblins, which managed to combo out on TURN 1 (and only against me, apparently), then to NO_Life's Zombie deck that essentially went Dark Ritual into Phyrexian Crusader into Dark Ritual into Zombie Master giving swampwalk to the Crusader. For two games straight. Good for them, but not a lot of data to collect for me. In the middle of these very short matches there has been an epic-length one versus the Archon deck that earned ScionOfJustice the Endangered Prize.

 

 Scion already used this deck last year, even going as far as winning an event with it, and it's surely not an easy customer. In virtue of the strange happenings I experienced this time, I decided to run my Insect deck again next week (something I never did before, I believe), so I will talk more diffusely about it in the next article, but suffice it to say that I wasn't expecting this kind of stalling potential, and at some point I had to kill a Blazing Archon with a single Necropede taken back and forth from the graveyard via Recurring Nightmare. That was a long and painful process. Then I had dozens of Hornet Queen tokens pumped by Oran-Rief, and a Gaea's Cradle to pay for a Ghostly Prison, while simultaneously having to deal with the rebound potential of a Vengeful Archon. But I was coming thru, when... I timed out. Good games, though.

 Finally, let's have a parade of the Virgin Tribes of the week, just to give evidence to the fact that people DO actually try to break those unplayed tribes (still 44 to go!) on a regular basis, even within a week where more than one third of the registered decks where Elf or Goblin. By the way, there was also a record attendance of 28 players this week (surpassing the 26 previously achieved last year on June 18, and this year on January 14 and again on February 11). So there's also that to be accounted for when analyzing both the Elf proliferation and the record four Virgin Tribes in a single event. The highest ranked one of them being Spike, by MTG Legend One Million Words.

 

 This deck is similar to the one I had proposed, but with more Gaea's Cradles, more different types of Spikes, and Elves rather than Walls as accelerators.

 After his good result with Werewolves, romellos tried the non-anthropomorphic variety:

 

 His Wolves are pretty much a simple aggro base (with Watchwolf standing out as one of the best vanilla creatures ever), enhanced by  Immerwolf, Mayor of Avabruck, the Punishing Fire combo, and a bunch of blades. Simple yet potentially effective.

 Life was harder for grapplingfarang, trying a Crab build instead:

 

 The chosen path was the milling one, playing into Hedron Crab's ability with cards like  Archive Trap, the less usual Sanity Grinding, and the brand new Increasing Confusion, plus of course two different flavors of Jace. Milling looks like a difficult strategy to pull off when your tribal base is pretty much just vanilla blocker, though. It's not that among the other 6 available Crabs there was amazing stuff, anyway, but I for one would have liked better Chromeshell Crab and Wormfang Crab. And I surely can't forgive grappling for neglecting the classic, classic Horseshoe Crab combo with Hermetic Study (or Viridian Longbow, to be safer). Not to mention Opposition.

 And in the end, we also saw an Ogre deck, if a bit underwhelming:

 

 Most of the Ogres here are pretty much just vanilla beater, supported by a lot of burn spells and some unusual cards like Nightbird's Clutches. Unfortunately, milegyenanevem didn't take any clue from Eibon's proposed Ogre build, which featured the cool combo with Drooling Ogre, Mirrorweave, and cheap artifacts (and O-Naginata is really an equipment that seems made for the Ogres), and also a favorite of mine that I think every red Ogre deck should include: Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs. All in all, a tribe that might deserve further appearances now that has been taken out from the Virgin list.

 Speaking of which, here some more of...

THE TRIBES YOU ARE NOT PLAYING

 So, as far as the unplayed tribes go, there are 44 eligible types left (other 29 only count 1 or 2 members, so it's up to Blippy to establish if a deck with 12 to 16 changelings will be a Shapeshifter deck, as per rules, or if it will be deemed acceptable on account of the Virgin Prize). Of these, the largest are Spellshaper (which with 56 members isn't even an Endangered Tribe), Mercenary, Djinn, and Serpent. I'm actually pretty sure AJ played Djinn last year, but probably the record went lost so Djinn are free to be, ahem, "deflowered" again.

 I'm not gonna show you a suggested decklist this time, but just mention what it's arguably the weirdest creature type of all, since it shouldn't even be a subtype to begin with (more of a supertype, like Snow). I'm talking about Elder. Yes, as in Elder Dragons, a.k.a. these five, old, mostly embarassing dorks from Legends:

   

Back when Nicol Bolas was still a nerd, before he decided to lose weight and wear contact lenses

 What's baffling is also why this type survived all the way to our days, since there have been other legendary dragons since, and with the only possible exception of Nicol Bolas, all of the new ones are more powerful. And yet these are still the "elder" ones, for no discernible reason, other than probably for having been printed in 1994. They're also comically unbalanced, Legends-style: how they could think that rampage (and by the way: they gave rampage to a blue-based creature!) or +0/+2 to your untapped blockers was on a par with having the opponent discard his entire hand?

 It looks very hard to build a deck around all of them together: it would be a pentacolored deck where every creature requires 6 colored mana of 3 different colors, with all the possible combinations. A true mana fixing nightmare. And reanimation/cheating into play wouldn't be so easier too, as they just die if you don't pay their crazy upkeep cost. It might be the only Dragon deck where resolving a Dragonstorm doesn't accomplish much, as they all die before getting a chance to attack! And yet I imagine there are some nostalgic types out there who are already feeling all warm inside at the thought of playing with these pieces of Magic history again. And since I will be very happy to actually see such a weird deck in Tribal Apocalypse (yet not very happy to be the one playing it, mainly because I really don't want to put all these stinkers in my collection), I will give 1 bonus tix out of my pocket to the first one (or the best ranked one) who will bring an Elder deck to a regular event, using all the 20 Elder Dragons (no changelings!) with the (terrible) art from Masters Edition 3, and managing to win at least one match with it (I'm essentially paying for the 20 dragons, since they cost 0,05 tix each). Who's up for the challenge?

 Until we'll find out, I'll see you in the Tribal Room (also, check out the rules for the Two-Headed Giant Springtime Special on March 24)!