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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Oct 12 2012 12:48pm
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the PRE where even a supernatural wolf might be an underdog.

 That's it, Werewolf won the first Underdog Week, the event where only the lesser tribes were allowed. Meaning all the tribes eligible for the three regular prizes: Endangered Prize (50 members online or less), Semi-Virgin Prize (3 appearances in the tournament or less), and Up-and-Coming Prize (never achieved 1st place). So, the tribes lacking in size, popularity, success. The results saw four very straightforward decks at the top, two aggro, two reanimators.

  • Event Number: 2.40, Week 92 BE
  • Date: October 6
  • Attendance: 15
  • Rounds: 3
  • Special Rules: Underdog Week
  • Top 4: romellos (Werewolf, undefeated); mihahitlor (Soltari, undefeated); Nagarjuna (Imp, 1 loss); Ranth (Imp, 1 loss)
  • Special Prizes: Endangered Prize to romellos (Werewolf); Almost Virgin Prize and True Underdog Prize to _Kumagoro_ (Troll); Up-and-Coming Prize to mihahitlor (Soltari)
  • Tribes: Avatar, Basilisk, Bringer, Fungus, Horror (x2), Imp (x2), Kirin, Snake, Soltari, Troll, Werewolf (x2), Zombie
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 And with this weredeck, Bulgaria-born, Turkey-resident romellos become our most successful player ever (congrats, man!), beating even the legendary NemesisParadigm with 8 overall 1st places.


 Can I say this deck is very by-the-book? Of course, this isn't a bad thing, you may also say that it's a perfect build, indeed. Still, I look forward to less play-it-safe and more inventive concoctions, especially in a week where most of the top decks had a frugal, level-headed approach.

 Will someone be ever able to stop romellos' march of triumph, anyway? Well, maybe another European champion, Slovenian mihahitlor. Who actually ended 1st place (reaching NemesisParadigm's 7-win mark himself) with his Soltari deck, then lost the final showdown.

by mihahitlor - 2nd place (1st place before showdown), Up-and-Coming Prize
4 Soltari Foot Soldier
4 Soltari Monk
4 Soltari Priest
4 Soltari Champion
4 Mirror Entity
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Path to Exile
4 Honor of the Pure
4 Spectral Procession
3 Beckon Apparition
19 cards
4 Marsh Flats
17 Plains
21 cards

Soltari Champion


 See what I mean with frugal? Nothing here is wasted or whimsical in the least. Of course, this is how you win tournaments, isn't it? The Honor of the Pure/Spectral Procession package has been theorized by mihahitlor in the past as one of the most powerful weapons in the monowhite aggro's arsenal. Beckon Apparition is a good meta-call, particularly with all the pure reanimator builds that were around this time.

 Speaking of reanimator builds, and back to finding the anti-romellos, maybe it'll be the guy who's still leader of the 2012 ranking (although by just 23 points now), German Nagarjuna (yeah, I'm into nationalities this week. Because, go Europe!). Naga ended 3rd place with this Imp deck:

by Nagarjuna - 3rd place
4 Putrid Imp
4 Skittering Skirge
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Deepcavern Imp
4 Fledgling Imp
2 Scion of Darkness
1 Griselbrand
1 Spirit of the Night
24 cards

Other Spells
4 Entomb
3 Buried Alive
4 Exhume
3 Animate Dead
2 Reanimate
16 cards
20 Swamp
20 cards

Spirit of the Night


 And another Imp deck (repeating the double Imp success of three weeks ago) was piloted by the first American to be featured here, Ohio-resident, tribal veteran Ranth:


 The only difference here is in the finishers (plus Naga is using Animate Dead as a third reanimating tool after Exhume and Reanimate). I applaud the use of good ol' Spirit of the Night: I've always been a fan both of him and of Cliff Nielsen's art. It appears the group of 5 Imps (over the 27 existing online) is pretty much consolidated. I said once that these Imp-based reanimator decks looked too much focused to me, since redundancy is aplenty in there: we have up to 24 discard spells/engines, and pretty much everything the Imps do is putting stuff in the graveyard (the only exceptions are Skittering Skirge, and partially Stinkweed Imp). It seems that I was wrong in doubting them, and this mad consistency wins the race, as after an unfortunate first showing, this new Imp archetype is doing extremely well. Kudos to the little flying urchins and their pilots, then. Successfully piloting a straight reanimator build isn't as easy as it seems.

  As for myself, finally back on the prowl after a long absence due to hosting, I managed to make 5th place, with a Troll deck that was a True Underdog build (belonging to all three categories of Underdogs). I was actually surprisingly ranked first after two neat 2-0 scores in the first two rounds, then lost 1-2 to romellos and got somehow pushed out of the Top 4. Poor Trolls, they didn't even think to be that strong, and they did end deprived of any glory (well, except the glory of be the first winners of the True Underdog prize):


 But the tournament had an entirely different moral winner. Arguably the most respected deckbuilder in this format, once again proving where his legend came from: here's Britishman AJ_Impy doing a classic AJ_Impy thing, a landless Avatar build, the very one for which he very vocally asked for the possibility of including 4 copies of Progenitus, here making his official comeback after a long banning (Singleton events excluded). Yes, the Soul of the World has returned.


 The key for this wonderful example of Magic engineering is this obscure, forgotten card from Odyssey:

That's the kind of thing only Mr. AJ Richardson is able to dig out

 In AJ's own words: The landless avatar deck. It lives or dies on Chrome Mox: Aggressively mulliganing into one can be successful as the video below shows. The deck runs twelve wrath effects of zero or one mana, of which the most decisive is Restore Balance, which also purges lands and hands. Between Sunscour, the moxen and the other suspend cards, the deck can easily engineer positions where the opponent is set back to nearly nothing, whilst we have a "fully" developed board. Following that up with a Death's Shadow at a low life total ends the game in two or three turns. The more spectacular win condition is actually casting the other tribe members via Charmed Pendant, using Brainstorm and Sensei's Divining Top to have one 5-color Avatar as the top card and one in hand. The pinnacle is doing this with Progenitus.

I have always had a fondness for decks without lands: Even before MTGO existed, I was running moxen and Kobolds on M:tG Interactive Encyclopedia's online area. I built landless affinity decks, landless storm, landless reanimator, you name it. Back in 2007, I put three of these decks in a PureMTGO article. When Progenitus and Child of Alara came along in Conflux, they brought the number of 5-colour Avatar creatures up to four, which was just about enough critical mass to ensure you could always stick one on a Chrome Mox. Charmed Pendant was the final piece of the puzzle: A consistent way of generating enough to cast, provided you could stick a tribe member on top of your library. I wrote about my first version of the deck back in 2009, here. The current incarnation trades in reliance on pitch spells from the original for better deck stacking and miraculous removal. You tend to take a lot of damage whilst waiting for things to unsuspend, and Death's Shadow makes that a feature rather than a bug.

 Here's the mentioned video, where AJ battles fliebana's Basilisk deck in Round 1:

 A lesser feat that I still consider very important was achieved by bdgp009: the Kirin challenge has been won! (Details below.)


 The deck did more than required, achieving a 2-1 score (with a bye) that ranked it at 6th place (ahead of slug360's Fungi and Chamale's Horrors). And it was a very budget-friendly build, where I believe every card costs less than 2 tix (except Bolas, that's about 4). People were theorizing abstruse combos to make the Kirins work (and in the meantime, nobody was  even attempting it). It turns out was just a matter of finding some ways to play the dorkish Dragons, and pilot them well enough without being too unlucky in the matchups.

 Here's a match where bdgp009 also unlocks the "Superfriends!" achievement, activating the ultimate of three different planeswalkers against AJ:

 On other achievement news, both the Imps deck were eligible for "Black Friday" (winning match with a monoblack deck with no removal/disruption); Nagarjuna was the first one to claim it. AJ_Impy got "It's a Hard Life" (winning a match after a mulligan down to 2 cards), and Chamale achieved a win via Mortal Combat with his dredge deck.


 Also known as: how much do the Top 4 decks cost? As of October 12, 2012, here's the answer (MTGO Traders prices; the cheapest version of each card is always used; basic lands count zero):

  • 1st place, romellos's Werewolves: $251.68 (nonland cards: $34.68)
  • 2nd place, mihahitlor's Soltaris: $42.08 (nonland cards: $25.12)
  • 3rd place, Nagarjuna's Imps: $35.80 (nonland cards: $35.80)
  • 4th place, Ranth's Imps: $104.80 (nonland cards: $28.26)

 A pretty budget-friendly week: if you took out the two copies of Wasteland from Ranth's deck, every deck would be below $50 except the first one. And even there, as is often the case, the vast majority of the cost boils down to dual and fetch lands. The tribal bases are particularly negligible: Werewolf: $1.94; Soltari: $4.48 (due to Mirror Entity); Imp: $1.20.


 "Jack of all trades, master of none, certainly better than a master of one." The 5th installment of my audio/video deck tech series puts this old saying to the test as I examine the elusive Midrange archetype.  Eschewing a focused game plan, Midrange decks champion raw card quality, incremental board advantages, flexible answers, and an ability to adapt on the fly to their opponent's strategy. Not to be confused with aggro-control decks, which may play different roles at different stages of the game but largely maintain a single game plan, Midrange decks are designed to play entirely different roles from game to game. If the opponent is playing the beatdown deck, they become the control deck. If the opponent is playing control, they attack with resilient and powerful creatures. If the opponent is playing combo, they use their suite of disruption to stall the opponent long enough to take him out. Yet this flexible approach has been heavily criticized by top tournament players over the years for trying to do too many things, and consequently doing nothing particularly well. How has it fared in Tribal Apocalypse? In this video I discuss two examples of Midrange strategies that were successful: one fairly typical Midrange deck, and one that may challenge your idea of what a Midrange deck can be. I also take a brief look back at the early origins of the archetype in the Rock and Junk lists of the old Extended format.

 Tribal Apocalypse decks: Doran Rock (Treefolk) by Ayanam1 (1st place on TribAp 49, December 10, 2011); Rebels by apaulogy (3rd place on TribAp 57, February 4, 2012). Bonus deck: PT Junk by Gerard Fabiano (53rd place in PT New Orleans 2001, Extended format).


 Just to remind you of a few things:

 The Rules: we now have a page with all the rules listed, so we won't have to repeat all of them before any tournament. Yay for time saving!

 The Watch List: some particular, archetype-defining cards have been put in a specific Watch List, giving them Annoyance Levels based on how frequently they show up and their degree of success. Once a card gets to Level 3 or more, I'll recommend it to Blippy for banning until the following year. So far, with 9 cards on watch, the situation is as follows:

 The Tribal Achievements: Clan Leys, which is in charge of any Special Prize, has launched and is handling the Tribal Achievements: a way to have fun within Tribal Apocalypse, challenge yourself to do all kinds of strange MTG feats, and make some tix in the process. You can find the complete list of achievements here on the Hall of Fame. 29 unlocked, 21 to go. Remember to call in me or vantar6697 as a witness (start with the one that's NOT playing in that moment) before moving on in case of an In-Game or Endgame achievement. It's not needed for Deckbuilding achievements, you just have to declare them.

 The Virgin Prize has ended! And the last tribe standing was... drum roll... Mongoose! Now, this lead to two things: 1. the award has been replaced with the Semi-Virgin Prize (briefly knowns as the Almost Virgin: it sounds better this way), for tribes that've been played no more than 3 times (current list is here); and 2. Mongooses becomes the protagonists of a new, dedicated prize that will remember forever that you all neglected them despite Nimble Mongoose being featured in high-profile, tier-1 Legacy decks. From now on, The Mongoose Pride Prize will award 1 tix (at SBena_Bot) to everyone who'll just... play Mongoose. That's right, you just have to play them and you'll get 1 tix, till the end of times. Well, there's just one clause: you have to win at least one match with them within the event. Let's show them all what the mighty Herpestidae can do, shall we?

 The Topical Prize is rotating! As we are returning to Ravnica, we say goodbye to Avacyn Restored's star tribes, Angel and Demon, and we embrace a whole new set of tribes for the Topical Prize, effective starting from Event 94 on October 20. It's five tribes, each representing a different guild as portrayed in their relative keyrunes: Bird (for Azorius), Elemental (for Izzet), Devil (for Rakdos), Insect (for Golgari), and Wolf (for Selesnya). You don't necessarily have to play them in their guild's colors, but that gets bonus points for style and topicality.

 The Hamtastic Award: the 2nd edition of the Biodiversity Prize dedicated to the memory of Erik Friborg (and worth 5 tix on SBena_Bot) went to slug360 for running these 10 different tribes in a row: Rogue, Snake, Advisor, Spirit, Bird, Construct, Mutant, Demon, Human, and Fungus. Congrats!

 The Kirin Challenge has been awarded! At last, someone managed to be the first player to win a proper match (no bye, no opponent forfaiting) with a Kirin deck featuring 4 copies of each of them. Actually, bdgp009 cheated a little, with my own complicity: his deck wasn't technically a Kirin deck, since he had 4 other Spirits in it (nothing really relevant, though). He asked me if he could during the week, and I said yes because I really couldn't stand more weeks of this challenge. We shouldn't have accepted the deck in the Underdog Event either, that was a little mistake again: as for an established rule (section f, Tribal Identity), if you have 20 or more of two different creature types, the one defining the tribe of the deck is the most featured one. Honestly, I would have accepted anything to get the damned Kirins out of  the way! And now, it's the turn of the much better Nephilim! Play a playset of them all in a deck, no Changeling creatures allowed, and win 1 proper match (no byes, no forfaits), and you'll steal 1 tix from me.

Aren't they amazing?

 Videos: Send me replays of your games, please! Don't know how? Read this quick guide in 6 easy steps and start saving your tribal feats for posterity!

 What's Next: the upcoming Tribal Apocalypse events (every Saturday at 17:00 GMT) of the Blippian Era are:

  • 2.41 (Week 93 BE), on October 13: regular tribal. Hosted by me.
  • 2.42 (Week 94 BE), on October 20: regular tribal. Hosted by Vantar. Topical Prize switches.
  • 2.43 (Week 95 BE), on October 27: Halloween Special. Hosted by me. Like last year, only the Spooky Tribes are allowed.
  • 2.44 (Week 96 BE), on November 3: Underdog Week. Hosted by Vantar. Check the link for the last changes in the list.

 See you all in the Tribal room!


Just a small note my deck by Ranth at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 15:52
Ranth's picture

Just a small note my deck didn't qualify for the Black Friday achievement due to Sheoldred, else I or DirtyDuck would have unlocked it 9 weeks ago :p

Right. You should have used by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 18:53
Kumagoro42's picture

Right. You should have used Spirit of the Night! :)
I see you dropped Griselbrand for Reya, btw?

By complete accident as i had by Ranth at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 23:28
Ranth's picture

By complete accident as i had changed what computer i was using from the previous time i had played imps and had no updated the list on the desktop so i regged with the "old" list that didn't have that change and was stuck using it.

Random stat by Ranth at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 16:17
Ranth's picture

I know Vantar likes doing random stats ect.
So i got one for 'em if he gets the itch and has the time.

Average points gained per event attended.
Since obviously not every player attends each event it would be an interesting statistic to track to see.

I would have been pretty good by RexDart at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 16:29
RexDart's picture

I would have been pretty good in that statistic until this past month. Either I'm just having poor luck, making a few poor game decisions out of fear, or doing these deck techs is making me veer away from my usual deckbuilding styles too much.

BTW, if anybody has an opinion on the shorter length of my video this week, let me know. I thought based on view counts that people preferred it to be kept around the 11-13 minute mark. I don't think I could really get it under 10 minutes and still talk enough about both the theory of the decks and the decklists themselves.

The only thing I have to sey by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 19:04
Kumagoro42's picture

The only thing I have to say about your latest video is that, to me, midrange isn't an archetype, it's a playing style. You can do midrange versions of other archetypes. Like, you can do a midrange reanimator (I know I always do), rather than a fast combo reanimator like the ones in this article. If I were you, I would have just called this entry Rock, and focused on the way that particular deck became an archetype adding different colors and techs.

On the length, I don't mind longer podcasts, but that may be just me: when I decide to listen to something, and need to put myself in the right mindset for that, I want for it to be worth the experience, and 30 minutes is a short enough chunk of my time for that. TV producers have known that for a long time, that's why sitcoms are 30 minutes. Of course that might not apply to Internet (whose multimedia content are usually shorter) and most people that aren't me. (Or MaRo, since his podcasts do last 30 minutes indeed).

I don't think my by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 17:19
Paul Leicht's picture

I don't think my recommendation of all swamps kirin was all that abstruse but perhaps it might be a bit more expensive to pull off. :D Congrats to the numbered name guy who pulled it off.

I don't rememember that, what by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 18:52
Kumagoro42's picture

I don't rememember that, what was it?
I was referring to some debates in the Tribal room, and people I know planning to do an Enduring Ideal Kirin deck. :)

Very straight forward really: by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/12/2012 - 19:33
Paul Leicht's picture

Very straight forward really: Bayou, Scrubland, Badlands, and Underground Sea or if you're missing some duals you can sub in appropriate shocks instead. Then you add in Corrupt, Tendrils of Corruption and other swamp enhancer/enablers and of course fetches.

It would be churlish of me to by AJ_Impy at Sat, 10/13/2012 - 05:15
AJ_Impy's picture

It would be churlish of me to harp on about the spirit deck. I enjoy challenging myself, and I was satisfied with how the landless deck performed. I don't necessarily have shenanigans every week, but some shenanigans now and again is healthy for the event. Now that I've got the mull to two or less win under my belt, I need to aim for the mull to three...

And hopefully complete a by Paul Leicht at Sat, 10/13/2012 - 09:00
Paul Leicht's picture

And hopefully complete a match in your favor with 0 mulligans for a novelty. :D

Yeah, I didn't like it myself by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 10/13/2012 - 10:07
Kumagoro42's picture

Yeah, I didn't like it myself that the Kirin deck was actually Spirit, but after all, there were just 4 Spirits more and none of them were really relevant. I mean, it's not that he added 4 Bloodghast to perform some broken combo, Dreamcatcher and Enemy of the Guildpact are fairly innocuous (and rarely played). Of course, your deck was possibly the one that Enemy made sense against. :)

It's impossible to have a by AJ_Impy at Sat, 10/13/2012 - 10:43
AJ_Impy's picture

It's impossible to have a changeling-free Kirin deck over 60 cards in any case. I wouldn't have minded losing to Kirin, it's just unfortunate that he managed to get three of his singleton planeswalkers on the field at once.

Or possibly fortunate for by Paul Leicht at Sat, 10/13/2012 - 14:27
Paul Leicht's picture

Or possibly fortunate for him?

It's possible with 61 or 62 by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 10/13/2012 - 17:16
Kumagoro42's picture

It's possible with 61 or 62 cards. But I didn't even realize that deck was SEVENTY CARDS! bdgp, you're insane! :)