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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jan 30 2012 9:11am
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*** Tribal Apocalypse: Weeks 54-55 BE ***
There and Back Again

 Welcome back to the Tribal Apocalypse world! It happened at last: the 2011 Invitational was held, our best players clashed, an insane amount of decks were shuffled (due to the crazy rules of the event, 32 different decks have been played during the tournament), and one true conqueror emerged from the ashes to claim the throne. Please everybody bow before the 2011 Tribal Apocalypse Champion, #3 seed of the event, former #4 of the Hall of Fame Ranking, the Eclectic King, record holder for most wins with different tribes... ladies and gentlemen...

 That's right, NemesisParadigm, #1 seed and Highest-Ranked player of 2011, made it to the final round, but failed to go Grand Slam and grab the title of Champion too. And the final round itself was insane, due to a tragic misunderstanding between me and Blippy. And then... but wait, let's just stop here for the moment. Because first we have to take a step back in order to cover what happened a week before, during Tribal Apocalypse 54 BE. I know, who cares. Well, the Top 4 players of that event do! Especially since it's the event that put Owain at the top of the current ranking. The run for the 2012 title has already begun!


I know that nobody ever uses Enclave Cryptologist in Merfolk decks, but I like her!

  • Date: January 14
  • Attendance: 26
  • Rounds: 4
  • Special Rules: none (Grudge Match between AJ_Impy and NemesisParadigm, see below)
  • Top 4: Owain (Merfolk, undefeated); raf.azevedo (Beast, undefeated); Lord Erman (Wall, 1 loss); Nagarjuna (Faerie, 1 loss)
  • Special Prizes: Endangered Prize to vantar6697 (Wolverine, which got him an additional tix for being featured for the first time) 
  • Tribes: Angel, Ally, Beast, Centaur, Cleric, Elemental (x2), Elf (x4), Faerie (x2), Human, Knight, Merfolk, Mystic, Shaman, Vampire (x3), Wall (x2), Wolverine, Zombie, Zubera

 This was actually a good week, with a big attendance, lots of new players, and a grand total of four Elf decks being almost entirely wasted by "lesser" tribes (the first Elf deck was mayure's at 5th place; none of the others managed to finish with a positive score). The three Vampire decks were neutralized as well, so a bad week for "safe" players, and a big smile on everybody else's face. The other two players with 1 loss were DirtyDuck, who run his own version of Wall-Drazi, and sadisteck, who scored a nice result in the money range with his long-standing Zubera deck. Let's have a look at the top decks (as usual, if you don't give your deck a name, I'll do):


 We already knew this deck, Owain played it several times in 2011, ending 1st place for the first time only at the December 31 event. And now he's first again, and this means he's currently the top player of the 2012 ranking. Merfolk is a classic tribe that for some reason wasn't very popular in 2011, and Owain could play it blind (this time making cry Vampires, Elves and both the Faerie decks). Will the fishes be a major player this year? By the way, do you know how much does this deck cost? $9.86, islands included. (But if that makes you feel nervous, you can always replace Force Spike with Force of Will). A great argument against people who think budget players can't do much at Tribal Apocalypse.


 One of the Top 8 players of 2011, raf.azevedo scores here a 2nd place with a new tribe, Beast, but a strategy already tested with some success, Living End. It's not a groundbreaking idea, but it feels nice to have around all those cycling guys from Alara, who admittedly don't have too many homes.


 Lord Erman is a legendary player, deckbuilder and PureMTGO writer who doesn't need to be introduced at all (but if you want to know him better, here's the brilliant Winter.Wolf's interview with the guy). What we have here is a Wall deck which, for once, doesn't take the Eldrazi route. In fact, it takes a totally different approach, choosing to exploit the obvious defensive nature of the Walls to build a truly amazing parade of planeswalkers! There's 1-of of 10 different planeswalkers across three colors, making this a deck which is truly different at each game. It looks so much fun that I can't help but feel the urge to take it for a ride myself! The Wall base is very varied too, including 4 each of the card-advantage walls only (Wall of Omens and Wall of Blossoms, of course), then having fun with things like Wall of Razors and Ageless Sentinels. The removal suite is neat (Wrath of God to clear the ground before the walkers, and Oblivion Ring to deal with single threats), but the fun part is really never knowing which planeswalker will be the star of the next game. Great idea, Erman, and a way to prove that even fun decks can be awesome. Did I mention that this deck is fun to play?


 Finally, another well-known, extremely competitive tribe which, weirdly enough, never collected a single Hall of Fame point last year. It took Nagarjuna to break the Faeries for the first time, even if just as a shell for a Splinter Twin combo deck (which will earn Nagarjuna a Modern Eurodrive! tournament too). (Yeah, Blippy is everywhere).

 The real highlight of the week was a side event, though: the Grudge Match between AJ_Impy and NemesisParadigm. Here's the backstory: about a month ago (and precisely during the December 3 event), after losing due to the abuse of the Grove of the Burnwillows/Punishing Fire combo ("a good consistent non-tribal win condition in a tribal deck", in Nemesis' words), AJ issued a challenge to Nemesis: to fight him while using a deck where the only win condition are the tribal creatures. As the challenged, Nemesis responded by requiring for AJ to use a singleton deck, since AJ's deckbuilding style often features a lot of full playsets for consistency (Nemesis, on the other hand, as revealed in his interview, is an avid 100 Card Singleton player). Here's what the two dueling gentlemen brewed in the end:


 A nice congregation of all the best Angels for AJ...


 ...and a solid Knight deck for Nemesis.

 The challenge took place while the other players were competing in the regular rounds (so both AJ and Nemesis didn't play in the normal tournament), out of 3 matches. The decks were actually balanced enough, but AJ managed to win the first 2 matches, both with a 2-1 score. Nemesis took the third, again with a 2-1 result, so the final score was 5-4 in favor of AJ, who therefore won the challenge (and 2 tix), obtained satisfaction, and conquered 10 Hall of Fame points (the difference in the score) and bragging rights against Nemesis for all of 2012.


Meet Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. Aren't we cool?

  • Date: January 21
  • Attendance: 16 (25 for Hall of Fame purposes)
  • Rounds: 4, single elimination
  • Special Rules: a different deck has to be used every round, according to special rules (see below)
  • Top 4: Ayanam1 (Golem, Human, Merfolk, Shapeshifter); NemesisParadigm (Cleric, Vampire, Wall, Druid); DirtyDuck (Treefolk, Cat, Wall, Dauthi); _Kumagoro_ (Ooze, Scout, Elf, Avatar)
  • Special Prizes: none
  • Tribes: Avatar, Cat, Cleric, Dauthi, Drake, Druid, Elf (x3), Faerie, Gargoyle, Golem, Human (X2), Knight (x2), Kor (x2), Merfolk, Mutant, Ooze, Scout, Shapeshifter, Treefolk (x2), Vampire, Wall (x2), Warrior, Zombie, Zubera

 So, here we are. This is actually complex to chronicle, but I'll do my best. First of all, the concept was to have the Top 16 players of the 2011 Hall of Fame ranking battling each other in a single elimination tournament with seeds, in order to establish the Four Horsemen of the Tribal Apocalypse, and the Ultimate Tribal Champion. The qualified players were the following ones: 

  1. NemesisParadigm
  2. _Kumagoro_
  3. Ranth
  4. Ayanam1
  5. mihahitlor
  6. DirtyDuck
  7. Mr Slippery 39
  8. raf.azevedo
  9. AJ_Impy
  10. ScionOfJustice
  11. Nagarjuna
  12. endless_nameless
  13. james mcaliney
  14. hg20010
  15. SBena
  16. fliebana

 Unfortunately, six of the players weren't available for the event: Ranth, mihahitlor, Mr Slippery 39, endless_nameless, james mcaliney, and hg20010. Their places were taken by available lower-ranked players, so the reworked seeding was as follows: 

  1. NemesisParadigm
  2. _Kumagoro_
  3. Ayanam1
  4. DirtyDuck
  5. raf.azevedo
  6. AJ_Impy
  7. ScionOfJustice
  8. Nagarjuna
  9. SBena
  10. fliebana
  11. gbagyt (ranked at #19)
  12. milegyenanevem (ranked at #20)
  13. Owain (ranked at #23)
  14. Lord Erman (ranked at #24)
  15. Malum (ranked at #48)
  16. apaulogy (not ranked in 2011)

 This resulted in this initial table for Round 1:

 Let's see how everything went down, round by round, shall we? (You can find the official tournament breakdown here, anyway). Since there's no room to publish all the decks, and most of them were already featured in previous articles anyway, I'll link them wherever I can.

Round 1

 Special Rule: for the first round of the tournament, the players couldn't use a tribe ranked among the Top 16 Tribes of 2011, i.e. one of the following: Elf, Goblin, Human, Wall, Cat, Vampire, Wizard, Construct, Elemental, Dragon, Shaman, Plant, Merfolk, Ally, Spirit, and Myr.

 The Top 4 seed had an easy start. NemesisParadigm's Cleric deck defeated apaulogy's Drakes (appearing for the first time in a Tribal Apocalypse event). As a #2 seed, I got the other lowest-ranked player, Malum, and my Ooze combo deck overcame his Zombies. Unfortunately, Lord Erman didn't show up, so Ayanam1 got a bye here. Finally, in a more balanced fight, DirtyDuck relied on an aggressive Treefolk deck (featuring 4 Berserks and 4 Primal Bellows) to repel Owain's Warriors (a mono-red burn, quasi-Goblin build).

 Elsewhere, raf.azevedo's Living End Mutants defeated milegyenanevem's Zubera deck; AJ_Impy's recently celebrated Gargoyle deck wasn't enough to stop gbagyt's Treefolks (making AJ the first top player to prematurely leave the tournament ); SBena's Knight deck lost to Nagarjuna's Splinter Twin Faeries from previous week (see above); and ScionOfJustice had a Kor Quest for the Holy Relic mirror match with fliebana, ending up on top (the deck was SBena's specialty, but he was forced to save it for Round 2).

 Here's what the tournament table looked like at the end of the first round:

 As you can see, the only result to overturn the seed order was gbagyt's win against AJ.

Round 2

 Special Rule: after a quasi-Endangered icebreaking round, now it was time to bring the heavy artillery to the field. For the second round, the players had to use one of the decks they achieved their best result with during a 2011 event.

 Table 1: NemesisParadigm vs. Nagarjuna. Nemesis had to choose among his 1st place tribes, Artificer, Wall, Plant, and Vampire. He went with this latter, the Halloween winner (a fast and lethal Goblin Bombardment/Kalastria Highborn build), saving Wall-Drazi for the semifinals. Nagarjuna's options were Vampire, Giant, and Human (all 2nd places, as he was the only surviving player with no 1st placements). The Human deck he ran was a strong Armageddon/Knight of the Reliquary build, yet not strong enough to overcome Nemesis' wicked bloodsuckers.

 Table 2: DirtyDuck vs. raf.azevedo. Dirty had no choice here:his Cat deck was his only eligible option for the round (he ended 1st place two times with it, on Weeks 30 and 45). On the other hand, raf might choose between Dragons and Elves, and took the Elf route, albeit as yet another variant of his beloved Living End strategy, this time with Bloodbraid Elf as the enabling centerpiece: kudos for avoiding more trite Elf combos, but it didn't pay off, as the zoo-like Cats are simply too quick and reliable.

 Table 3: Ayanam1 vs. gbagyt. Ayanam1 had more options than everyone else here, having four different 1st places tribes to choose from (Nemesis had four too, but Wall and Plant amounted to the same deck in the end): Human, Golem, Lhurgoyf, and Treefolk. Golems were already spent for the first round (although they didn't actually get to fight), so Human was the choice here, fielded against gbagyt's only option, Knight (from his only 1st place, back in Week 12), a classic multicolored (Knight of Lost Alara)/Knight of the Reliquary/Wilt-Leaf Liege build. A surely powerful aggro brew, which still was no match for Ayanam1's combo deck: the Legacy porting of Aluren.dek, a.k.a. the deck that gave Ayanam1 his very first victory at the first attempt in Week 14, causing some complains at the time due to its high power level (it's worth noting that Ayanam1 never used the deck again after that, always changing tribe between tournaments). This is an interesting deck from before this series of article, but I'll publish the list within Ayanam1's interview (coming soon).

 Table 4: _Kumagoro_ vs. ScionOfJustice. My options here were Shaman or Scout. Both tribes would result in combo, Tooth and Nail, or Genesis Wave, or Recurring Nightmare for the Shamans, Valakut for the Scout, this latter being the most reliable one (giving me a win on Week 27). Scion could bring either Endangered Week winner Archon (Week 48) or his Elf deck from the Elf vs. Goblin event of Week 50. Unfortunately for him, my Slagstorms kept preventing him to assemble his Viridian Joiner/Umbral Mantle/Ezuri combo, while the Scouts (plus the biggest, honorary scout, Primeval Titan) quickly enabled my Valakut one.

 So, the tournament table after Round 2 was like this:

 So, the first four seed players all made it to the semifinal. It looks like the Hall of Fame is really a reliable measure of a player's success, after all! Too bad Ranth wasn't there to claim his spot among the Four Horsemen! (But I'm glad for DirtyDuck, of course. His placement was deserved).

Round 3: Semifinal

 Special Rule: the third round was the less restrictive; the players might use any tribe they like, as long as they didn't already use it in a previous round. It was a chance to use another strong deck of theirs, with more available options than in Round 2.

Table 1: NemesisParadigm vs. DirtyDuck. And here came the Wall-Drazi. Except not just by his usual runner, Nemesis: Dirty brought it, too! A possible meta-call that resulted in a Wall-Drazi showdown. And you can't outwall the Wall Lord, Dirty. Experience, confidence, or just the Walls recognizing their master, gave the win to Nemesis. The #1 seed did it, it was in the final. Waiting for...

Table 2: _Kumagoro_ vs. Ayanam1. Another meta-call decided this match, but the other way around. Ayanam1 knows me well (we also teamed up in 2HG tournaments for a while), and he knew I was going to play a combo deck again. So, he chose a Merfolk deck with 4 Force of Will, 4 Daze and 4 Counterspell, and just waited for my Elf Dream Halls deck to try to seal the deal, stopping it in its tracks every single time. I hate him for this, but I hate myself more for not having made a counter-meta-call. Oh well, I'm just glad I make it so far.

 Here's the final look of the tournament table, with the two finalists, seed #1 and #3:

Round 4: Final

 Special Rule: and here's where all hell broke loose. When I devised these rules, I meant to have the players bring to the final round tribes who they never used before. Since it wasn't possible to track exactly which tribes a single player ever registered into Tribal Apocalypse, we went with "never went Top 4 with" (that is: a tribe they hadn't already brought to success). That's what I kept saying in these articles: the players must use a tribe that they never placed in the Top 4. However, our almighty showrunner Blippy, who of course has the final say over everything, worded it in the forum announcement and in the spreadsheet as "a tribe that never placed in the Top 4". My idea was to force the finalists to show off their deckbuilding skills, as well as their playing skills, by creating an entirely new deck for the occasion. Limiting the choice to tribes that didn't achieve a Top 4 result in 2011 meant to severely restrict the possibilities, since 60 among the most powerful tribes scored at least one Top 4 result last year. I sincerely didn't notice Blippy's wording, and he didn't notice that I was putting it in another way in my articles. Which apparently are what Nemesis and Ayanam1 based their decks upon, because they started battling with two decks that Blippy immediately recognized as illegal, stopping the match after a couple of turns. And  forcing the finalists to come up with two new decks in 10 minutes.

 I have to admit this was actually an interesting twist. Selecting an eligible tribe and building a deck in a hurry isn't an ideal feat for Magic deckbuilders. And yet, it's something that somehow bring out a different skill, some sort of fast thinking.

 Nemesis concocted this Druid deck, with the Seismic Assault/Life from the Loam combo backed up by the Druid's land-recover ability, and featuring the very Grove of the Burnwillows/Punishing Fire interaction that triggered the Grudge Match with AJ (see above).


 While Nemesis rapidly identified both a shell within which to operate and a feasible tribe to enable it, Ayanam1 had more issues in finding a feasible tribe. After some frantic minutes, he went with a somehow very weird colorless Shapeshifter deck (a never-before-seen tribe in Tribal Apocalypse), which exploited a Cloudpost mana base:


 I said "which exploited", but I actually should say "which was supposed to exploit", because being in the hurry Ayanam1 forgot to include some serious win condition, like some Eldrazi; or other big, colorless threat; or even a simple Fireball-like burn spell (which the Moxen would allow: they were actually there for this purpose alone). What he didn't forgot to include, though, was Chalice of the Void, which along with the interaction between Wasteland, Glimmerpost and Crucible of Worlds, caused a truly insane game 1. After a (long) while, the battlefield looked like this:

 Please note the three Chalices with 1, 2, and 3 counters, de facto blocking everything from Nemesis' deck except the Green Sun's Zeniths. As well as Wasteland, which is brought back each turn by Crucible of the Worlds to kill both the opponent's Grove of the Burnwillows and its own Glimmerposts, thus triggering huge lifegain every second turn. Also noteworthy, yet in a negative way, are the 47 mana Ayanam1 was able to generate at that point (turn 27!), with the deck utterly lacking any single way whatsoever to put them to use. The Shapeshifter creatures are too weak to be able to cause enough damage, and Nemesis managed to sneak a Seismic Assault into the field, and to bring back some lands once in a while via Zenith, so to burn the occasional shifter out of existence.

 It was actually Nemesis' obstinate persistence to stay in this game that will cost him the match. As much as it was hard for Ayanam1 to seal the deal, it was almost impossible for Nemesis to overturn such a degenerate board state. When he finally conceded, the clock was already running out of time. He managed to win Game 2 quickly enough (with Ayanam1 failing to reproduce the lock from Game 1), but with just a few minutes left for Game 3, this is how the match ended:

 Ayanam1 will have occasion to comment on this match during the upcoming interview. It was definitely a strange, strange final. The other final match, awarding the 3rd and 4th placements, saw two more functional decks, as the match was played after the end of the main final, so the players had some more time to think.

 I actually just chose an eligible deck I used once (in Week 33), ending up with a 2-1 result and the Endangered Prize (but no Top 4 placement). It's an Avatar build, with a strong reanimator theme enabled by Avatar of Discord and reinforced by Demigod of Revenge's ability, which just calls for Buried Alive's help.


 Dirty brought a Dauthi deck, another tribe who only scored an Endangered Prize (by NansiBoy in Week 20), and nothing more. Dirty's take clearly emphasizes the Shadow keyword by including a Stoneforge Mystic package, with Liliana of the Veil as a strong backup.


 I've actually some regrets about the match, since I won Game 2 after being close to win Game 1; what stopped me was only my Urborg being destroyed by Dirty's own copy, right before I was hitting Living Death mana (a Wasteland already slowed me down the turn before). What makes me angry is that I didn't actually need Urborg, I could drop a safer land (which I had in hand), and to be honest, this deck could have easily avoided non-basic lands entirely (I reworked it that way now, Stalking Vengeance alone isn't strong enough to be worth the risk). Dirty's deck was badass, anyway, so at least I lost to a worthy opponent. (It would have been funny if I ran my Soltari deck, which is very similar; but I never really tested it, since I don't really like to play with Swords and Stoneforges, it's just that tribes like Dauthi and Soltari seem to ask for it).

 Well, that's all for today. See you around, and in Tribal Apocalypse, and, if you want, every Wednesday after the downtime (say, 8:00 PM GMT) for some tribal tournament practice. I'll be the one with the green horse. 


It should be pointed out that by AJ_Impy at Mon, 01/30/2012 - 10:53
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It should be pointed out that I played a lot of Commander back in the day, and was notorious for doing some utterly ridiculous things in the format. I am no stranger to singleton, despite my preference for consistent decks.

Gbagyt's treefolk that upset the seeding was an excellent aggressive build, using such shenanigans as winning one game with a double-berserked creature to trample over for lethal, and a Dungrove Elder with a Blanchwood armour to outpace any chance of removal in the other.

Another excellent article by Paul Leicht at Mon, 01/30/2012 - 13:36
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Another excellent article Kuma, and a 2 for 1 in this case. I didn't get to watch the grudgematch but as one of AJ's testers I can tell you his singleton Angels deck is insanely hard to play against. The sweepers, and more sweepers! Very difficult partially because even though you know the deck's threats are all one-ofs they come like a torrent one after the other, always threatening mayhem.

That final match with Ayanam and NP was full of tension because I kept screaming at my monitor, "Concede fool!" Thinking NP would need the time to win games 2 and 3. I was a little mad with Ayanam for choosing a stall strategy but it does make sense vs a plodding grinder strategist like NP. Get him caught up in his complex shenanigans, frustrate him a little and watch his time run out. In the long run a brilliant plan. Even so I was wondering if Ayanam would ever start his perpetual life gain engine as he teased NP into thinking he had a chance in that game by foregoing his lifegain cycle for a few extra turns. (Sac wasteland, eat a post, replay post with Crucible, get back wasteland next turn, and repeat ad infinitum, since NP had no way to do massive amounts of damage to keep up.

A correction by the way. The last horseman is Pestilence not Conquest (which means the same thing as War).

Overall I think the Tribal Apocalypse has evolved quite a bit as a weekly event and thanks to Blippy for continuing to help it thrive and thanks to you and Vantar for doing the archival work. That I haven't done well in the events I've attended recently is a tribute not only to my own bad performances but also the brutal and unforgiving nature of this event. It is great to see so much variety and skill brought to bear for so small a prize. People really have done an outstanding job of making TA a competitive tourney.

"The last horseman is by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 01/30/2012 - 22:30
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"The last horseman is Pestilence not Conquest (which means the same thing as War)"

Ha-ha! I was expecting for someone to say that! :)
No, Conquest is the correct First Horseman as even the Wikipedia article thoroughly explains. You can clearly see that from the Victor Vasnetsov paint I featured (and disfigured): the first one has a white horse, a king's crown, and a bow, and it's a warrior just like the second one (with the sword), and in some interpretation it's actually a righteous figure, not evil. In the evil interpretation, the First Horseman represents the distress of being under the yoke of enemy occupation (not necessarily through bloodshed), something fairly common at the time the Revelation was written, while the Second Horseman represents the mass slaughter/blood spilling (red horse) coming from War (or specifically, civil war).

Pestilence is not mentioned in the Revelation, it has been entirely made up in popular culture, especially in the uber-famous Albrecht Dürer's woodcut. Probably because the difference between Conquest and War was too subtle and not flashy enough (and when the Revelation lost its allegorical and political values to become something more of a Hollywood blockbuster's imagery).

Anyway, I like that the Horsemen have mounts bearing 4 out of the 5 colors of Magic, and kinda thematically fitting. Too bad there's not a Blue Horseman. That would probably be Bureaucracy.

Ah, well I guess my take was by Paul Leicht at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 00:31
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Ah, well I guess my take was the more modern literary (Piers Anthony for example) references and not the Book of Revelations. Not being able to read Greek means not being able to tell what that book really says so I'll take your word for it on the translation.

I'm not familiar with the woodcut, link?

The 5th Horseman is Time. A very blue attribute imho.

Here's Dürer's woodcut. I was by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 13:03
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Here's Dürer's woodcut. I was trusting sources about him using the Pestilence iconography, but now that I look at it, that one with the bow looks like Conquest again to me. It would seem hard to buy "rider with a bow" as the representation of pestilence.

Great call about Time.

Good to see my embarassments by ArchGenius at Mon, 01/30/2012 - 20:39
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Good to see my embarassments covered for all to see. In the last round of the Championship I was just trying to draw my Vigilantes which never showed up. Glad I looked foolish for wasting so much time trying for that. I've never been the fastest player around, but my performance in the last round is just plain sad.

It's been a really rough month....

Don't be too hard on by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 01/30/2012 - 22:16
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Don't be too hard on yourself, I think you both embarassed yourselves enough in the final round. If anything, Ayanam1 even more, since he built a deck without a win condition. :)

Agreed. Also Marcus wouldn't by Paul Leicht at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 00:15
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Agreed. Also Marcus wouldn't have been there at the end if he wasn't clearly one of the best players in the format. A stressful finals fraught with mistakes is not unexpected and I am sorry if my commentary seemed harsh. It is far easier to see stuff from the sidelines than when you are facing down an opponent.

I figure it was probably something akin to tunnel vision and that happens to everyone once in a while.

You got three rounds further by AJ_Impy at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 02:46
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You got three rounds further than I did! In the tournament of the best of the best, you beat all but the clock, and were damned close at beating that, too.

fantastic stuff, not sure by JustSin at Mon, 01/30/2012 - 21:04
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fantastic stuff, not sure where to start lol I guess I'll start with the fact that I love the tournament idea and the way you covered it, it was great and the brackets were a great add as well

I did like the idea of forcing players to use a different deck every round, I did think the ideas were clear and great, but I also loved the fact that they had to kind of build on the fly.. I think there are a lot of great ideas that could be worked into the challenges of each round for the future, lot of potential

following those lines I think that druids deck is killer! it may have lost, but I think the synergies are great, I love decks using Tilling Treefolk and Cartographer

now all the great stuff I do have to add a personal note, I am a little disappointed to see how much combo there was, I'd rather not start the debate over deck strength etc, but I remember when I was a regular and there was a lot built on tribe strength and synergy and you rarely saw people working in those tournament deck combos such as halls, splinter, aluren, etc... no offense against LE, but seeing a deck where almost all non-creautres are walkers just seems like such cheese.. I maybe alone in this, but I'll always cheer for the deck where the creatures bring the abilities to the table and not the tournament combo someone managed to squish into a tribal shell

Thanks (to everyone else too) by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 01/30/2012 - 22:28
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Thanks (to everyone else too) for the good words!

Glad you liked the mad rules. And yeah, Tilling Treefolk is a great guy, I remember using it for an Astral Slide tribal deck. Anything that's able to bring back lands that way is nothing to sneeze at.

As for the Great Debate About Tribal (which somehow boils down to Aggro vs. Combo), we could go on forever. I'm a combo player myself, I like combo decks and I think they're the best expression of deckbuilding, so I'm totally biased here. But I have to say that I would and do lament the abundance of decks where, yeah, the win condition may be the tribal creatures, but everything they do is swing hard and fast, and all the abilities they bring to the table is "let's pump each other some more to hit even harder". That, in my opinion, becomes really old really quick. Your mileage may vary, of course.

If I may make a stand for the by AJ_Impy at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 02:49
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If I may make a stand for the third corner of the triad, I'm quite fond of the control side. Every creature a potential gamewinner by itself, and enough devastating sweepers to kill an army.

Of course Control is Combo's by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 13:08
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Of course Control is Combo's BFF. I was including it in the anti-aggro rant by default.

I do sit on the control side, by JustSin at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 10:06
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I do sit on the control side, when I talked about creature abilities it was things like Faceless Butcher or even Chittering Rats I had in mind.. as much as I dislike combo, those tribes with 4-5 lords are a very close second in my list of "not fun"

C'mon, combo is fun! :)The by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 13:23
Kumagoro42's picture

C'mon, combo is fun! :)
The only thing a combo player must avoid is running the same combo deck again and again. That becomes super-boring for both the player and his opponents. If you're a true combo player, and not just someone who tries to exploit a strong combo to win easier, you want to change anyway, or at least rotate the decks on a frequent basis. In my experience, the first time I go off with an elaborate combo, people who never saw it before are deeply fascinated. Of course, a well-known combo or the same combo week in week out would become an annoyance very fast.
(This is a subtle warning to Nagarjuna for his Splinter combo deck: stop before people will hate your guts! :P)

Also, it's just like for the serial killers: two cards are an interaction, to be combo there need to be at least three cards involved.

I guess the discussion of by Paul Leicht at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 14:15
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I guess the discussion of what is combo is really more of an argument over semantics. And who cares?

The real question is what to do about it if anything. There has always been a tension in Tribal between super Aggro and super combo with very little room for control. The only time control had its way was when Aether Vial was allowed. After the banning of Moat control hasn't seen a decent standing since. Not to say it is unplayable, and I know some players have managed to do well with control but for the most part it is left out in the cold.

The other two parts of the game dominate too much. And that isn't because the decks aren't available to play but that is what people like. People like goblins. People like Dream Halls Conflux (myself included.) I happen to love control, but control doesn't often win for me in this format. At least not at the TA level. Sure in JuFF, control does fine thrashing ill conceived decks right and left.

The problem for control is that it is primarily a creature format with 20 minimum in each deck. Sometimes more. So whatever control strategies you have must fit that criteria. Far easier to play 20 goblins + burn, or elf combo, or 20 odd ducks and your I win now combo. Can't stuff your deck with both counters and board control. Unless you find a tribe that does these things.

Also legacy in general is broken. Without sideboarding there are a myriad of strategies that can be used with impunity. Fires/Grove? fits into any number of tribes. And it even looks innocuous until you lose to it.

This isn't a complaint by the way. I love the format. I just think it is complex enough that people forget its essentially broken nature. There is no fixing it. Play it, love it, or don't. The rest is merely trading words back n forth. Sure stuff might get banned. (Why on earth is Moat banned still???) And sure the actual decks might change. (But really does it matter if the tribe is endangered if the shell is a well worn legacy deck?)

This is the reason I've only shown up a few times last year. (And lost miserably with "fair" decks.) I have little urge to play the decks that people have played for years in various forms. Even Walldrazi was only new in its use of the annihilating legends. Before that it was WallBurn or something else ridiculous. Still love the format, still brew decks for it but I am finding Modern and Standard to be more entertaining on a competitive level.

I prefer to go the board by AJ_Impy at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 16:39
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I prefer to go the board control route: You know your opponent will be playing twenty creatures, so use that to your advantage. Countering is principally helpful against combo, control and 'one big threat' decks, weak to getting swarmed.

Precisely my point. Without by Paul Leicht at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 17:45
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Precisely my point. Without sideboarding counter decks are relatively neutered and so control is primarily relegated to white variants.

White, black, red and by AJ_Impy at Wed, 02/01/2012 - 04:57
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White, black, red and colorless, by my count, not including fish archetypes which are easy enough to shoe in with free counters.

Fish is primarily an aggro by Paul Leicht at Wed, 02/01/2012 - 12:12
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Fish is primarily an aggro strategy (play dudes, play lords, smash face) so aggro control at best. Red and Black elements tend to be more disruptive and murderous than controlling. Not to say they can't fill those roles but White does it best without counters (cheap exilers, and a huge variety of sweepers including exilers). Blue does it best with counters of which most are not creatures though there are some.

Colorless wasn't included in my selection since it goes into anything including white decks. Yes I guess that means that white isn't the only good control "color" but my point is still valid. A whole slice of magic is negated just by the format.

I am not saying this is wrong either. Just noting it. This why blue control decks are scarce in the format. You have to run creatures that counter or run only counters and hope you don't need to deal with board situations that get past your counters. It can be done but people don't seem to enjoy being put into that position. Not to mention that many people who are drawn to the format in the first place actively frown on counters.

I agree with most of what you by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 02/02/2012 - 03:48
Kumagoro42's picture

I agree with most of what you say here.

We must not forget the broken aspect of the Legacy base. In fact, I thanks several Gods that WoTC does NOT support Tribal Wars with official tournaments: that would attract the REAL Spike players (the Spike approach you can see in some of the players here? That's like being pure Timmy compared to what we would see within regularly scheduled Premier Events). And they would come to TribAp too, or their lists would influence what your average TribAp player would play.

And it's true the sideboard helps combo (btw: we're talking about combo in the aftermath of the Invitational, which was a single elimination event played between the most motivate players. I believe the breakdown for normal events doesn't see Combo as the other half ot the sky from Aggro. Not by a long way).

But think about what would really happen if we had a sideboard. Everybody would pack hate against basic combo strategies (graveyard, heavy artifact shenanigans). That would make this type of decks hardly viable anymore. Except for players with true Legacy high-budget collections (and the fact that a budget players in TribAp can win a torunament, or go 2-1, or at least win nearly as much as a 2-1 player with the special prizes, is an important factor to be assessed). So you would either try to port a Legacy deck with Force of Will to enable and defend your turn-3 win, or you would be redirected to the same old, same old of burn Goblins and such.

Bottom line: to me a Tribal Wars with sideboard would be infinitely more boring and frustrating than it is now.

An aside: the reason I don't like Standard very much is that Standard is a format that become solved again and again, every fourth week of the month. At any given time, you can try and brew creative decks, but you know you should play one of those 2-3 tier-1 decks or be crushed by them. The only redeeming quality is that the format shifts, with new sets being added over the course of the year, and the pro lab continuously developing new ways to beat last month's tier-1 decks, if it's possible (and not always it is, look at what happened with Caw-Blade). But all these shifts are often too fast and go above your head if you aren't up-to-date. And they involve a lot of weblisting too.

Nice by grapplingfarang at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 04:29
grapplingfarang's picture

First off, awesome coverage of the event. Looks like it would of been a lot of fun. I agree with Kum and AJ that combo and control are needed. For me the fun of the format is seeing the crazy things that are needed to make these decks work with restrictions. If combo ever completely takes over the format, sure that will get boring, but it doesn't look like it is close to that. The same could be said for aggro when half the decks are goblin aggro/burn. Variety is what makes the format fun.

Sir, you speak truly by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 01/31/2012 - 13:05
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Sir, you speak truly enlightened words.