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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Apr 25 2012 10:58am
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*** Tribal Apocalypse: Weeks 66-67 BE ***
Winds of Change

 Welcome to a very hasty installment of... Tribal Apocalypse, the Tribal Wars PRE that... time is fleeting this week, something's wrong with my... have a lot of things to talk about and lots... so, better hurry before my...

  • Event Number: 14 (2012), 66 (all-time)
  • Date: April 7
  • Attendance: 14
  • Rounds: 3
  • Special Rules: Endangered tribes only (50 members of less)
  • Top 4: romellos (Werewolf, undefeated); mihahitlor (Assassin, undefeated); gbagyt (Mutant, 1 loss); _Kumagoro_ (Sphinx, 1 loss)
  • Special Prizes: none
  • Tribes: Assassin, Demon, Devil, Elder, Mutant, Ouphe, Rebel, Samurai (x2), Specter, Sphinx, Werewolf (x2), Zubera
  • Virgin Tribe: Ouphe by DirtyDuck

 Event 66, ah, those were the times! So nearly last month! When the first two ranked players were... exactly the same of the previous time! This never happened before. And they were using different decks, this being an Endangered Week and all. 

 

 So, congrats to romellos for scoring his second win, and for having done it consecutively and with his signature tribe (so far): Werewolves. In my last article I've been called on for not judging the decks on the basis of their creativity level. Well, is this deck very original? No, sir, it is not. I mean, the tribal base is well-known, and elsewhere it just features 4 blades and the dreaded and trite Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows control package, rounding up its card count with the absolutely obvious Swords to Plowshares, just to be safer. (In order to find a not-so-frequently-seen card worth of the spotlight, I had to go with Yavimaya Hollow.) But in spite of all this, is it tremendously effective and efficient? Yes, sir, it is. No infamy in that, even if this would never be my style, or some other people's style. Is this Tribal Apocalypse's current style, though?

 Well, mihahitlor's change to his Assassin build seems to confirm that it kind of is.

 

 The Assassins are all about killing creatures. And what do the additional non-tribal cards do here? Well, they are stuff like Gatekeeper of Malakir, Skinrender, and a bunch of removals. You can never have too much firepower, right? And it pays off, of course. Here the spotlight goes to Nihil Spellbomb, especially because it hints at the awareness that graveyard strategies should never be allowed to run rampant within any meta. And I say so as a frequent graveyard player.

 More interesting is the Simic Mutant deck by gbagyt (who, again, was among the Top 4 the previous week: these guys are on a streak!)

 

 We saw this tech at least once before (don't know if it was gbagyt again: he's pretty adept at changing tribes, he scored placements with Treefolk, Soltari, Artificer, and Elf this year alone): the Graft mechanic means some of the creatures are actually 0/0s with a trigger putting counters on them when they enter the battlefied. So, Mirrorweave will very likely turn all the opponent creatures into 0/0s without counters, therefore into nothingness (in addition to doing other cool things like interacting with Echoing Truth, or with the very Simic couple Lorescale Coatl/Brainstorm). Fun deck. Every deck featuring Experiment Kraj has to be fun, after all. Take that, Spikes only playing with Dark Confidant-level critters.

 But getting back to graveyard strategies and me, here's the return of my good ol' Sphinx deck, a.k.a. my own take on efficiency (and also a homage to Winter.Wolf, since Sphinges are one of his favorite tribes too.)

 

 It's the deck I played more often in these two years, netting me four Top 4 results (two third places, two fourth places). So, it appears I wasn't being very original either. Let's find something different in this Specter deck by Unfabulous, then.

 

 Not that the Specters are an especially versatile tribe: they just force the opponent to discard stuff by flying over their land-based armies. But at least Unfabulous thought of a quite original way to exploit this (rather than, you know, The Rack or Liliana's Caress): Noetic Scales is a great, unsung card, and the fact that in this build it's tutored up by an exotic spell like Clutch of the Undercity (which can also take the singleton safety measure Consuming Vapors) just adds more points to its non-boring score. Perfect efficiency be damned, of course.

 Finally, the only Virgin Tribe of the week (actually, both weeks: are you people giving up already? And where are the Kirin decks? I'll still pay the 1 tix prize for them!) was Ouphe by DirtyDuck:

 

 The ineffable Ouphes have some great members among their ranks (first of all, Kitchen Finks), but Dirty here focused mostly on Gilder Bairn as a way to help a vast array of planeswakers to build towards their ultimates. Nice take on a Superfriends deck. (Something's wrong with the list, though: I don't see any way to cast Dusk Urchins.) Meanwhile, justcanceled was playing Elders again (I created a monster!), this time with Timesifter as a way to mill extra turns out of the old, old dragons. But, apparently, with no luck at that.

 

WEEK 67: ANOTHER DAY IN TRIBALTOWN

 

  • Event Number: 15 (2012), 67 (all-time)
  • Date: April 14
  • Attendance: 20
  • Rounds: 4
  • Special Rules: none
  • Top 4: grapplingfarang (Wall, undefeated); morpphling (Human, 1 loss); _BIG_BROTHERS_ (Elf, 1 loss); SBena (Knight, 1 loss, tied for 3rd place)
  • Special Prizes: Endangered Prize to AJ_Impy Masticore
  • Tribes: Centaur, Construct, Elemental, Elf (x5), Human, Knight, Kor, Masticore, Merfolk, Mutant, Rogue, Soldier, Spirit, Vampire, Wall, Wizard
  • Virgin Tribe: none

 Ok, this was a weird week, tainted by the fact that an unsettling grand total of 5 Elf decks (of which four were the unbelievably tiring Elfball; kudos to RexDart for at least trying a Fauna Shaman/Vengevine build instead) are really too much for a 20-player event to not feel totally overwhelmed. It's not that they monopolized the Top 4 or anything (only _BIG_BROTHERS_ managed to pilot his Elves to a third place), but they surely created that feeling of repetition and proliferation of the same broken deck for which Wizards of the Coast has been known to ban cards. It's not really about power level, it's about not turning every game into a deja vu. More on that later.

 Elsewhere, things weren't much more interesting either. SBena grabbed another Top 4 placement (tied for 3rd place with _BIG_BROTHERS_) with his powerful, not-so-weenie Knight deck (the list was roughly the same as two weeks before, and managed to beat the Isochron Scepter-fueled Wizards that romellos lead to victory in that very occasion). On other white supremacy news, this lightning-fast and very budget-friendly Human deck by morpphling took 2nd place:

 

 Other successful decks were mihahitlor's red Elemental burn featuring Price of Progress (and where pretty much every card had "lightning" or "spark" in the name), and DirtyDuck's recently seen Kor Breakfast build, with 1 loss each. At the end of the struggle, the only undefeated contender was a Wall build by grapplingfarang, a longtime tribal player who finally scored his first, well-deserved Tribal Apocalypse win (also the first for the Walls this year) thanks to the Charbelcher combo, which was at least something never featured around these parts in the last two years (at least, not at the top spots):

 

 The deck was hated with a passion by pretty much everyone who witnessed its uncanny consistency, and to be honest, Goblin Charbelcher is very worth of a banning in the same way Painter's Servant was (or actually Grindstone; more on that later). But this deck is still interesting to me because it shows how you can build a tribal deck with just 1 land (the one that makes the Charbelcher 1-card combo really deadly). The deck features pretty much all the possible (well, all the most effective and viable) green/red/colorless techs to generate mana without using lands, and if things go south (for instance, if you happen to draw into the lonely Taiga, as I don't see a way to shuffle that back into the deck), there's Empty the Warrens as a classic storm-style plan B.

 Final deck of the day, the Masticore brew from AJ_Impy (who was expected to play Manticore next!), a nearly-Virgin, totally-Endangered tribe.

 

 Gibbering Descent, that's the kind of card you want to see in a healthy, imaginative metagame. I was running a very old (Construct) deck, dating back to before the Blippian Era, and I had a colorless showdown with AJ in the last round, when both of us couldn't go 3-1 anymore. I remember my Constructs battled AJ's other Constructs back then as well, when Blippy was not a community mogul yet. My All Is Dust were almost useless again (just a little bit less, even if Gibbering Descent didn't even show up unfortunately), but this time the Cloudpost engine proved to be more reliable (or just more lucky) than the Cabal Coffers engine.

 And now, let's talk about some juicy topics. Because it's...

CHANGING TIME!

 

 First hot topic: let's see if the structure of the Tribal Apocalypse month has room for improvement. Major disclaimer from this point on: I'll propose stuff, we'll debate on the comment section, then every decision will be ENTIRELY UP TO BLIPPY (a.k.a. our one and only event runner, BlippyTheSlug). I've absolutely no decision power here, let's make this clear.

 Ok, so what we are currently doing is this: first week of the month we have an Endangered Week, where only the tribes with 50 members or less can be played (according to our Complete Creature Types Reference Table); the following three weeks are classical recipe Tribal Wars tournaments; and once in a while, there's a Special Event. You can see from the calendar in the Hall of Fame (section 2012 Events) that there are/were 8 Special Events planned for 2012:

  • the Invitational ending the previous season, which took place in January 21;
  • the festive Halloween, Christmas, and New Year events (October 27, December 22, and December 29, respectively);
  • plus other four events assigned to the months with an additional Saturday to spare: the first happened on March 24, when we had the Springtime Celebration with Tribal Two-Headed Giant;
  • the second will be in June 9, celebrating Event 75 of the Blippian Era with another Tribal Duel on the lines of last year's Elf vs. Goblin (meaning players will have to build a deck for each tribe and play them both): the very timely Angel vs. Demon;
  • September 22, Harvest Celebration: Fattie Week (rules still to be defined, but it will link into my ongoing Encyclopedia of Fatties)
  • December 1, Winter Is Coming with Tribal Commander One-on-One (I'm planning a specific article to try and come up with rules for this one)

 This was just to sum things up, but the issue here isn't about the Special Events at all, it's about the Endangered Week having somehow become a bit worn-out. Let's face it, as a fixed, returning event it lost its charm. So, how can we shake things up? In either of two ways: by starting rotate Endangered Week with another type of non-regular event every other month; or by adding a second non-regular event within the month (let's say, in the third week of each month). So, this is the first question of the poll I'm officially asking you to answer in the comments:

     A. Would you like better to alternate between Endangered Week and a different, bi-monthly event to be defined (see later), or to add a second returning non-regular event in the course of each month, thus leaving just 2 regular Tribal Wars events per month?

 This clearly raises the question of what exactly should we add as an alternative in either case. There have been suggestions, but I want to summarize my thoughts on what a returning event should be like, as written in last article's comment section. I'm thinking of:

  • something that you should be able to easily explain to a new player who comes without having read the announcement (so nothing too arcane, like "you need two decks, one with Angels, one with Demons, and there's a bunch of banned cards")
  • something easy to build for the casual player even at the last minute (so, not Heirloom, or something that says "you must have a planeswalker set in your deck", because that would be elitist)
  • something not too banal but also not gimmicky for the sake of a gimmick
  • something that feels specific to the Tribal format and that describes a different aspect of the Tribal world

 The first things that came to mind was to just use a different card pool rather than Legacy, for instance Modern, or Standard, or Pauper. I leave it on the table, yet I believe this isn't the right path to find an alternative to Endangered Weeks, since it doesn't feel like it will be too much different than regular weeks, either in power level or required budget (both things that Endangered somehow tries and cares about), or even as the resulting decklists. Besides, if you want to play a tribal deck within, say, the Modern format, you can just play a Modern PRE. It already happens, and mihahitlor's Kithkin deck even got 1st place in Eurodrive! at least once. Standard would be a nightmare of mirror matches, and I don't even want to entertain the idea. It's also insanely expensive, since the hot Standard cards are always the most overpriced ones. Pauper would somehow give us an outlet for relatively cheap decks, but let's face it: Pauper is a cutthroat, Spike-friendly format. Also, there are tribal decks that are already tier-1 in regular Pauper events, like Goblins. Sure, we can ban them, but what's the point in switching to a format that still needs to be tweaked in order to make it worthwhile?

 At this point, we should ask ourselves why we did create Endangered Week to begin with. And the answer is just: to see something different played out once in a while. To encourage to try different tribes and different cards. So, that's what we should keep in mind when choosing an Endangered alternative. And I think among the suggestions there was one in particular that could be really fun, while also being straightforward, easy to build, and the perfect road to the goal of an improved variety: Tribal Singleton (backed up by JustSin, who didn't start playing yesterday!) I'm not thinking of 100-card singleton here, although that's still a possibility. Doing it with 100 cards would cause a lot of the smaller tribes to be left out, though, since you would need 33 different tribal members; not to mention that even tribes reaching that quota could end up being discarded because not enough of the members are good enough, thus switching the focus more and more to the largest tribes, a.k.a. the usual suspects. All in all, I'm more excited at the prospect of just using 60-card, regular tribal decks with the simple restriction that every non-basic land card can't be featured more than once. This way, we should definitely see some number of cards that would be hardly considered otherwise, even within power tribes like Elves and Goblins (which would still be strong, but at least a bit fresher this way). So, next question is:

     B. Would you like to play 60-card Tribal Singleton as an alternative to Endangered Week (in either one of the two ways envisioned in Question A)?

 There was another suggestion that I really liked, as proposed by Winter.WolfDouble Tribal. If I got it right (Paul, correct me if I'm wrong here), it should be something like that: you play with two tribal decks mixed together, giving birth to a 120-card minimum, 2-tribe decks where there are 40 tribal members that have to be from two different tribes. To avoid cheating or discussions about what happens when you have shared members within the two tribes, I would just say that you have to give Blippy two separate lists, both of which must be Tribal legal on their own right, and then you play by shuffling the two decks together into a mega-deck, where obviously you can't end up having more than 4 copies of each card, so you have to build the two lists accordingly (it's also up to you to build them in a way that make the mixing as smooth and functional as possible). Now, this is a bit of a gimmick, I'll admit, but it's also easy to improvise (just pick two of your decks sharing the same colors and blend them together), and at the same time challenging to master. It's something I'd really want to try at some point. It might be more suitable for a Special Event, so I ask Blippy here if he feels like we can add one down the line to host this experiment. But I also want to let you vote on this:

     C. Would you like to play Double Tribal as an alternative to Endangered Week (in either one of the two ways envisioned in Question A)?

 And, of course:

     D. Would you like to play something else not mentioned in the previous questions as an alternative to Endangered Week?

 Finally, let's talk about changing Endangered Week entirely. The original idea was born out of a simple concept: let's make an event where the same old, same old broken tribes cannot be played. Let's give some space to Ninja, or Hellion, or Spider, or Ooze. That's still important, but we now have a better tool to define which tribes are overpowered than just going with "the number of available members" (which then had to be fixed via bannings, because some tribes, like Ally or Eldrazi, are super-strong even if they have fewer members). Thanks to the Hall of Fame, we now know which tribes performed better during the history of Blippian Tribal Apocalypse. Rather than defining the "weaker tribes" as the tribes with fewer choices, isn't more fitting to just refer to the top tribes in the Hall of Fame as the non-Endangered? Let's say the Top 16 Tribes, for instance. So, Endangered Week becomes the week where you just can't play with these Top Tribes. It's also simpler to get, since you just have to read the list of the 16 tribes you can't play with, then just play whatever you like that's not in the list. And if a tribe suddenly becomes dominating in Endangered, well, it will get to the Top 16 eventually, this way banning itself in favor of some other, less problematic tribe. There are currently 45 tribes not allowed to take part in Endangered Weeks (including 6 that are Endangered but banned: Ally, Artificer, Eldrazi, Kor, Myr, and Rat; Demon is also going to lose Endangered status after Avacyn Restored will kick in). Some of them are hardly scary, though, like Spellshaper, or Ogre, or Drake. Those should actually be the kind of tribe we want to encourage, rather than forbid. Maybe turning this into the Top 16 tribes of the Hall of Fame will not be enough, so we can go with Top 32 instead. This will have to be decided by Blippy. Either way, I'm asking you as the last question of this makeshift poll:

     E. Would you like to replace the mechanism of Endangered Week from "tribes with 50 members of less" to "tribes not featured in the Top XX spots of the all-time Hall of Fame"?

 Hope we will have some good feedback in the comments to help Blippy take a decision.

 I have another hot topic to discuss now, but since this is already beginning to feel huge, I'm postponing part of it to the next Diary of the Apocalypse (hopefully later this week). Because I'm talking of a really, really sensitive subject here, that is...

BANNING TIME!

 I wanted to comment and review what's in the current banned list for Tribal Apocalypse, but I will do that next time. Let's focus on what it's NOT in that list, and should be, instead. First, let's try and define the best criteria to ban a card. I strongly believe we should follow Wizards of the Coast's lead on this regard. What WotC is doing lately, and especially within the Modern format, is essentially this: you don't ban a card because of its power level; or better, that's not what triggers the banning. Such a trigger is caused by a card being everywhere; or, worse, fueling a deck that begins to be everywhere, giving birth to a corrupted meta. So, the real issue is not that a card is too good sometimes. It's that it's so good at any given time that everyone wants to use it (because everyone wants to win in competitive events). The archetype using that card becomes not just a strong, tier-1 deck, but the deck you keep seeing again and again, until you either play it too, or get bored and quit. This kind of dynamic happens with different figures and results within a restricted meta like our tribal event as well (which is still large enough to have probably a couple hundred players potentially involved, given that we had 77 players acquiring Hall of Fame points in the course of 68 events). And when it happens in such a limited environment, it's even more annoying and potentially harmful.

 That's an argument that will have more relevance next time, when I'll argue about some of the cards we have currently banned. But it should also be a guideline in deciding about the cards I'll mention now. And I'll start by mentioning two build-around-me cards that won as much Tribal Apocalypse events (including one of the two covered in this very article): Aluren and Goblin Charbelcher. Well, according to what I said above, I don't think they should be banned. Yes, they're pretty powerful, and the decks you build around them are consistent and hard to beat. But that's not enough. In a vacuum, these decks could be Top 4 every single week. In reality, they haven't been played more than just a couple times (Aluren won Ayanam1 an event last year, and he just played it again in the Invitational as one of his best-ranked decks; then DirtyDuck played it in the Two-Headed Giant event). The truth is that these are very specialized decks, and players will not start playing them massively. If they will, we can discuss the issue again. For now, I'd just consider them on watch.

 

I'm watching you, jerks!

 The same thing can be said of another card that has been specifically proposed for banning (by AJ_Impy, who I invite to elaborate on his reasons in the comment section): Isochron Scepter. Admittedly, it's a less specialized card than the previous two: you don't need to build a whole deck around the scepter, adapting a tribal base to it; the scepter just needs a package (4 of them and 4 instants like Silence, or better Orim's Chant, or even just Lightning Helix or Counterspell, make for a killer addition to any deck). Still, we didn't see a proliferation of scepter decks so far. There have been some. And recently, romellos won an event with a Wizard deck featuring it, but then just switched to other deck ideas (and won again twice!); the same is true for Goblin Charbelcher: grapplingfarang didn't use it again in the following event, despite the brilliant victory documented in this article. Kudos to both of them. This is exactly how potentially broken cards should be treated: not abusing them again and again and again until everyone gets annoyed, but just occasionally. Losing to a strong, broken combo deck once in a while might also be interesting, it makes you learn something new if you didn't know that combo, and remind you of the possibilities of this game anyway, which is good, pushes you to try different approaches. Yet losing to the same combo deck every other week is maddening, and makes you want to quit the event entirely. It's just about having a bit of common sense.

 So, I wouldn't say we have a scepter problem right now (I faced a scepter deck just once myself, and beat it), but I wait to read AJ's take on it. In the meanwhile, there's another, really rampant combo I came around to see as a problem. This one:

Punishing Fire 

Oh my God, enough with this stuff!

 Some time ago, I had a discussion in the Tribal room during an Apocalypse event with someone (I don't remember who) who was vehemently asking for the banning of Punishing Fire after it was officially banned in Modern. Back then, I wasn't in favor of applying to Tribal Apocalypse, which is a Legacy environment, the same considerations you can do for Modern. Legacy has a lot of deadlier interactions than this one, after all. But like I said above, it's not really about the power level, it's about the overwhelming presence of a card or combo. And Punishing/Grove has become truly overwhelming: we are at a point where every deck that can feature it will do. It's a powerful tech, but more than everything, it's annoying to see it constantly, wreaking havoc on a regular basis and with ease. So I now strongly endorse the banning of Punishing Fire (Grove of the Burnwillows is just a dual land, it's harmless otherwise) for the same reasons Stoneforge Mystic have been restricted to Kor and Artificer decks.

 And what's even more annoying? What's the most annoying thing in Tribal Apocalypse, like, ever? I know that you know the answer: it's good ol', freaking, damned Elves. But it's not the fault of every single Elf out there, no. It's just the fact that a lot of players don't mind to be that guy and play some version of Elfball. Again, it's a beatable deck. But it's so awfully consistent that more often than not, you either are equipped to stop it, and manage to draw into your solution quick enough, or you'll lose by turn 5. The numbers are pretty clear: Elves are the most successful tribe in Tribal Apocalypse, with 1541 Hall of Fame points, which is almost the SUM of the points of the second and third tribes together (Goblins and Humans). I think it's time to stop this trend by force, and I believe there's enough of a general consensus on this that it's not even a matter of deciding IF we should ban some key Elfball cards, but WHICH ONES. I'd say this guy is at the top of the most wanted list:

You broke my balls, Ezuri! You broke my balls!

And I'd add at least one of these as well, or both:

 

 Taking these out, the orphaned Nettle Sentinel and Viridian Joiner (or Devoted Druid) wouldn't do much. Up to Blippy to decide, and to all of you to voice your opinion and press a chloroform-soaked rag over the mouth and nose of every Elf player in the meantime. When this will be done, playing Elves (and against Elves) might become fun again. Because, you know, they will still be strong. Just not the ubiquitous fun-suckers they are now.

 Blippy is also worrying (down in the forum, that nobody reads anymore since when you don't have to post the decklists there) about this upcoming card from Avacyn Restored:

 I might be wrong, but I don't see this as a bad thing for Tribal Wars. Let's see what the consequences of its introduction will be:

  • everybody will play 4 of them in every deck. Not so relevant per se: it's just a land, it will just become the sixth basic land of Tribal decks
  • upside: every deck will have 4 bonus dual lands. This means that if this land will be relatively inexpensive (and everything under 10 tix will qualify as inexpensive, since it will work as a dual land), budget players will see their decks nicely improved. I can imagine the happiness of sadisteck's Zuberas, for instance. Unless it will turn up to be an insanely priced chase rare for some reason (I can see it having a serious impact on Modern and maybe Standard), it will work as a veritable people's helper.
  • downside (for the meta): permission decks will have a bad time from now on, because countering tribal creatures will become impossible. But is this really a concern? How many permission-heavy decks we usually see in Tribal? And it's not that you can use this land to protect your combos. You can't cast Aluren or Goblin Charbelcher with this. Or Entomb, or Show and Tell, or what have you.

 I definitely want to see it on the field before judging it (preemptive bannings are never a good thing), but for now, I'm more excited than alarmed. Just in case, we can work on some ruling to prevent abuses. Like: you can only choose the creature type of your main tribe, not trying to protect off-tribe creatures like Titans and such (if you drop one of these and declare a different type, you must either concede the game or be forced to not use the land at all). We'll see.

 And that's (almost) it. Before wrapping up, in the forum Blippy is proposing a new kind of prizes. I quote: "Plague Bounty: If a Tribal Apocalypse Event has 20% (1 in 5) or more ONE TRIBE decks, a bounty of 1 ticket credit for defeating a ONE TRIBE deck, to be taken from the overall prize pool." It sounds nice, even if it's not that frequent a case. The promised tickets might be too much, though: if 5 tribes over a total of 20 keep losing each round, the prizes will surpass the pool. But it's another of the things you'll need to comment upon! Let the discussion begin!

65 Comments

Scepter locking, I got a bit by AJ_Impy at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 11:17
AJ_Impy's picture

Scepter locking, I got a bit concerned after facing three or so different scepter decks across a week in the format. It's not an unbeatable card, and my concerns were not immediately realised, but it's one that should be watched for now.

Whatever by apaulogy at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 12:19
apaulogy's picture

The reason I stopped playing this "contest" is because of the amount of ban and/or elf/goblin whining that takes place here. So I have decided to take my toys and play elsewhere because I don't particularly like banning cards because people whine. Plus, every card that you ban makes Elves or Goblins better. You have to ban whole tribes in order to achieve what you are trying to accomplish.

Here is my summary of the conundrum that Tribal players face:

On the one hand, you can bring a "fun deck" with no shoehorns, no brokenness, etc and just lose to Elves or Goblins because you actually just made a bad vanilla deck.

On the other, you are working on a budget and you bring Elves or Goblins, based on efficacy and availability.

OR you bring something reasonable with a Fire/Grove, Aluren, Scepter, Charbelcher, etc etc etc....that has a shot against both the bad decks and Elves/Goblins...

Any way you slice this, a fun tournament it does not make for someone. Everyone has their own idea of what this tournament is supposed to be. Some believe this to be a 'gentlemen's tournament' where there is a tacit understanding that you can't shoehorn or play Goblins or Elves. Some believe it to be "just a tournament" with prizes on the line, "win at all costs" etc...

Your proposed banning only make Elves and Goblins better...I am sure once raf.azavedo shows up with his Living End deck that people will bitch about banning that again too...(roll eyes), then people will want to ban more Eldrazi Legends, etc ad infinitum. So I suppose if you are going to continue to play in this you just have to suck it up and either play Elves/Goblins or lose to them with your bad gentleman deck...

BTW- You ban Ezuri and people jam Champions, Archdruids, and Overruns and the ilk...Banning Ezuri does not stop the fact that Elves have brokenly fast mana and decent draw engines. Elves can still spam up the battlefield after multiple sweeps.

If anyone disagrees with this, well, that is your prerogative, but I just typed this editorial for something to think about. I am not going to post anything further here because I don't care to argue about it. I get my fill of whining from my children, thank you very much.

Have fun with this guys...

I want to answer this first by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 15:49
Kumagoro42's picture

I want to answer this first because it saddens me. I saw you playing Momir Basic in the Anything Goes room last Saturday during Tribal Apocalypse and I hope that was not a way to make a statement, because THAT would be childish, man. :) But I got there was something that upset you, and I'm sorry. I hope you'll read this anyway.

I thought my point in the article was clear, but probably it wasn't. I'm not wishing for this to be a "gentleman's tournament". No more than WotC is wishing the same for Modern. The banning has nothing to do with the power level. Broken cards in Legacy? Probably a couple hundreds? Nobody is trying to make a list of them to ban them all. Probably my point will be clearer next article when I argue about UNBANNING cards that are currently banned.

We ban cards that make too many games look the same (currently, it's just Punishing and a couple of Elfball cards). In Legacy, this is unacceptable. It's not Pauper. It's not Standard. And yet, of course the Elves will still be strong! I said so in the article myself! And that's the reason the disarming of Elball specifically is acceptable and healthy. Whining doesn't have a role in this (and to be honest, whining about banning is still whining, you know?). Meta engineering has. Meta engineering isn't a simple thing, WotC guys, who do that for a job, still make mistakes a lot of times. But it something you have to do in this game, it's been clear since Alpha. This game is BASED on the meta. You don't leave it alone, like you don't leave the plants in your garden alone because you don't like trimming. They will just die.

Also, forgive me, but the "if you are going to continue to play in this you just have to suck it up and either play Elves/Goblins or lose to them with your bad gentleman deck" is (bitter) nonsense. You just have to look at the statistics: 21 events were won by non-Elf non-Goblin tribes. And that with Elfball (and in part, Glimpse of Nature Elfball) still in the field. I went undefeated with Scouts twice in regular tournaments. With different builds of Shamans, at least four times. With Oozes in regular tournament too. Were there gentleman's decks? No, sir, they were certainly not. But they weren't the same decks every time using the same cards every time. Because that's what seriously makes people quit the tournament: boredom.

1. I wanted to play against by apaulogy at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 17:54
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1. I wanted to play against someone in tribal between rounds. I don't have tribal decks, but I thought some of my new friends there would have a momir avatar and want to throw down.

2. Read comments below. "Gentleman's tournament" is tacitly implied and not pushed by you specifically. Sorry if it seemed like I was talking about you. I actually think you are quite thr pragmatist when it comes to these discussions...

3."if you are going to continue to play in this you just have to suck it up and either play Elves/Goblins or lose to them with your bad gentleman deck"- apaulogy

this was a conclusion that I drew based on my own opinion and largely why I won't play any more. You are def. allowed to disagree, but this is my opinion based on statistic. You can use your decks as an example of things that don't lose to Elves/Goblins, but you are a decent player/deckbuilder who actively thinks about how to foil problem decks and you have a collection (that you have earned through blood sweat tears) that supports a good player/deckbuilder too. If you look at the big picture though, you will find the winningest tribes to be Elves then Goblins and then prob Humans. It is due to the fact that they are abundant, they have sweet abilities, and that it doesn't take much thought to pilot them correctly...

I am choosing to not play any more because of this idea that I am probably going to bring a deck that people hate, one way or another. I want to win, but not at the expense of making grown ass people cry and not have fun. There are plenty of other tournament where I can smash and not give a shit about what the other person thinks....I can just shrug into a "Should have brought a better deck", "Should have played around it", or "Still had all these" depending on how trollish I am feeling....

In random order: - Who gives by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 19:33
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In random order:

- Who gives a shit about whiners? People complains about everything: elves, goblins, oozes, drakes (it happened: "Gilded Drake is sooo broken!"), their jobs, the government, the weather. So what? That's the human nature, it will always be

- Who gives a shit about people complaining about your decks when you know that you're NOT doing anything wrong (like, never changing your deck a single time because you just want to win)? Which is what you were doing, if you ask me. I consider you a valuable player, even as a Spike, a I will fight to bring you back precisely because your Top 4 placements read like this: Pegasus, Rebel, Goblin, Werewolf. If you let the complainers push you out, you let them win. You let them make you do what they want.

- So, Elves are the most successful tribe, followed by Goblins, followed by Humans. So what? Big surprise! This is tribal, and these are the strongest tribes due to how they have been supported in the course of the years. What's wrong with that? But trust me, your statistics aren't right: Elves have all those points, sure, and yet the week where there were 5 Elf decks over 20 players, only 1 of them made Top 4. The other four? They didn't even end in the money. This means they weren't beaten only by the strongest players. Everybody was beaten by Elves at least once, everybody beated the Elves at least once. Again, it's not about the power level, it's about the frequency.

- You're wildly underestimating what people consider a "success". We are (i.e. Blippy is, I'm doing what I can) building this event so that winning might not be the only way to "success". AJ brought Manticores last Saturday. Regular event, with Elves and whatnot. He ended in the money. He got the Endangered Prize. He got the Virgin Prize. Therefore, he made more tix than the undefeated players. Now, tell me, playing Manticores and teaching a lesson to everyone isn't "success"? Because to me, it is. And yet he didn't win all the matches. There are people that play for very different reasons than going undefeated. They can't care less what Elves are doing elsewhere. They just don't want to meet the same deck again and again, because losing to different decks isn't as boring as losing to the same weblisted deck.

- "There are plenty of other tournament where I can smash and not give a shit about what the other person thinks....I can just shrug into a "Should have brought a better deck": I really don't understand what you can't do it in Tribal Apocalypse. Is rightfully giving a shit in Tribal any different than in Modern or Standard?

I play to win.I don't care by apaulogy at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 21:05
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I play to win.

I don't care about prizes. They are nice motivators, but secondary to me.

Modern and Standard award preparedness and understanding the way your cards interact with each other, other decks etc... This is how metagames are born.

Seems this style is not the "will of the council", and I like familiarity.

The only reason I won with Goblins is because I had essentially a Storm deck in a permission light field. Same with Pegasus, I just shoehorned SFM + Batterskull. Werewolfs had Fire + Grove and Assault Loam Engines.

Just saying, I was playing things I was familiar with.

So play to win. Who's saying by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 23:07
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So play to win. Who's saying you shouldn't? Everybody does. I do. My way, but I do. AJ does. His way, but he does.

I really don't understand what are you trying to say here. What Modern and Standard do that we're not doing? What anything of this has to do with you saying that didn't like your decks being complained about? Do Modern and Standard prevent complaining? I don't think so, I played Standard 2-man queues and met people who made a fuss because I had rogue cards in the sideboard which allowed me to win, yet they weren't "what my archetype should run". I swear the mentality of competitive Standard players is maddening. Last time I played Modern, a guy complained because my (absolutely subpar) Sarkhan/Doubling Season deck was "cutthroat" and "something that should be in a 2-man queue, not in a PRE". But are we really going to take these complaints seriously? Are you?

What's the "will of the council"? Seriously, I don't understand. There's only Blippy here, a guy who spends all his weekends to make people play in various PREs. The fact that he listens to me and others, and I ask people for opinions doesn't mean there some kind of oligarchy, or players who get listened to more than others.

And the only reason you won with those decks is because you played them. It's hard to win with a Pegasus deck if you don't play with it.

To clarify for Apaulogy about by Paul Leicht at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 03:54
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To clarify for Apaulogy about the will of the council remark as I see it: He feels there is a group of players whom he respects/likes and wants to be respected and liked by that disapprove of his deck styles. I disagree but I can see how he might get that impression based on some of the backlash he has received in the past over the way some of his decks play. Imho apaulogy took those remarks far too harshly but being sensitive myself to friends remarks I can see why.

I get it. It's weird how I by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 12:48
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I get it. It's weird how I always miss all this behind-the-scenes stuff playing out.
So, someone feels pushed away from something by aggressive remarks from a group of other participants. Friends or not friends, oversensitive or not, it looks like a case of mobbing to me.

I respect and like apaulogy and his decks. I just wish it was enough.

this is kind of a ridiculous by JustSin at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 19:22
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this is kind of a ridiculous post... while I agree that there is always going to be someone complaining about something you're basically saying that if I don't show up with a shoehorn deck that I shouldn't show up at all... forcing a broken combo into this format isn't fun for everyone and further you argue that anyone who disagrees with you is a whining child...

I didn't say that at by apaulogy at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 20:55
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I didn't say that at all.

this criteria is for myself and why I am not showing up. If anyone wants to follow suit, bully for them.

Reading is tech.

whatever man I can see what by JustSin at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 23:46
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whatever man I can see what you wrote and its attitudes like yours that had me stop showing up to tribal, but you know I'm gonna let you have the last word because unlike you when I say I'm done with an argument I'm done.

Oh my God, guys! Now I have by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 12:49
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Oh my God, guys! Now I have to fight to bring YOU back because of the opposite issue? You guys want me dead! :)

My thoughts by BlippyTheSlug at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 12:22
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A) I'm down with changing up the first week of the month to a "rotating" set of "restrictions", be it 2, 3 or even 4. Doing it twice a month isn't going to happen. I'm a senile old crank with enough on my plate already.

B) Yes

C) Yes

D) TBD

Re: Bannings

Cavern of Souls: Leaning towards letting it play at this point.
Punishing Fire, Ezuri, Heritage Druid, Umbral Mantle, Elvish Archdruid, Nettle Sentinal: on watch.
Goblin Charbelcher, Aluren: we'll see. (personally I thought Wallbelcher was cool)
Plague Bounty: seems silly after thinking about it more, for what you said.

A) Ok. I agree, it was just by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 16:41
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A) Ok. I agree, it was just suggested to me by a couple players who really like to play Tribal in non-regular fashion.

Don't ban both Heritage and Nettle, Nettle alone does nothing. Is either one of them.

Plague Bounty: I had an idea on those lines earlier: what about punishing the mob/sheep mentality instead? Like this: when there are 4 or more decks with the same tribe (easier than a percentage, since 4 is already 20% most of the times, you'd need 25 players to go up to 5, and that rarely happens and makes no real difference), all the tix won by one of the decks are shared between all the decks. This way a weak player will be tempted to copy the tribe of a strong player next time (or just go with one of the hot tribes): this way, even ending with 0 wins, he will still gain tix. But what's important is that a strong player will be discouraged to play a tribe that might be too popular, because that would mean share his winnings with other people. This will encourage top players to seek different things.
What do you think?

I'll write this at the end of every comment now: I DON'T WANT TO BAN ALUREN AND CHARBELCHER! On watch is fine (but I doubt they will ever go out of control, Aluren has been around for a full year and only played 3 times). But I used them to make a point about power level not being the only relevant aspect in banning.

Im with AJ on by Paul Leicht at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 13:24
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5

Im with AJ on Scepter...certainly a watch list candidate. My thoughts on the Fires/Grove engine. It is overpowered compared to say Swords To Plowshares + Path to Exile but it isn't overpowered vs the format. It is as you said quite annoying to see it as an auto include in any green red deck. I think the pairing of that set of cards with Loam/Assault is over the top broken. And my feeling is ban both loam (as much as I love the card, it is becoming ubiquitous) and punishing fires.

Charbelcher is singularly op and I have been wondering when someone would abuse it. Grap's version is imho perfect within Tribal Wars' strictures and barring a really bad hand (no spirit guides or moxen post double mulligan or no charbelcher at all) I suspect it will always win if the belcher sticks. This is merely a matter of drawing Belcher and sculpting a hand to play it and go off. Yeah it is possible to hit a taiga before lethal has been achieved but its not very likely. My verdict: Ban it the next time someone wins the event with it.

Aluren is not in the same league. Despite being an awfully nasty combo you have a lot of moving parts and multiple ways to disrupt it. Granted the combo is relatively quick and a patient player can again sculpt a perfect hand before going off but there are still dangers to be had. More so than Charbelcher. Even though I hated losing to it in the 2hg tribal event I can see the deck falling down and not performing. My verdict: keep an eye on it and things like Dreamhalls/Conflux but don't make a big deal about it until someone starts dominating the top 8 with it.

Elf Combo (Not 'Elfball' as that has to do with fireball combos and is more the progenitor of this archetype.): There are other enablers besides Heritage druid that make this a speedy and deadly combo if the player doesn't lose their mind going into infinite draw loop zone. Which I have seen happen though not in recent memory. Ezuri seems like it is less good if you take out Priest of Titania and the other high mana producers. Verdict: Ban Priest, Heritage, Gaea's Cradle, and the tap 2 elves to produce a mana of any color guy. This still leaves players the option of playing Copperhorn + Ezuri and other slower ways to win with Elf Combo.

I agree about not making a by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 16:35
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I agree about not making a big deal about power cards. It's not the point. Even Charbelcher: before that should be considered a problem, it has to do more than win once or twice, maybe by a single player. Somebody mentioned raf.azevedo's Living End (and my own Living Death, btw, that probably got unnoticed only because I play every single week with a lot of different decks, some of them bad, some of them not). Well, nobody should touch Living End because a player consistently use it (not even winning all the times). It would be a problem if we were seeing 2-3 Living End decks every week. But we're not. So, it's fine. It's like one of raf's favored weapons. I like if players try to find their voices, rather than just copying, say, Dark Confidant/Snapcaster/Meddling Mage/Swords to Plowshares decks.

I kinda answered about the bannings in the other comment. Heritage and the "tap 2 elves" guy are the same person. :) Maybe you were thinking of Archdruid? And I'm not in favor of banning a card like Cradle, that a lot of different decks and tribes use, just because a strong deck abuse it (while nobody else really does: it's strong, it generates a strong effect, that's not abuse). On the other hand, Punishing is transversal, it doesn't characterize a particular tribe (that's part of the whole point, actually). And the Elf pieces are just a way to push Elves in different directions, and hopefully reduce their overall number a little.

But no comments about Double Tribal? :) It's going to be a thing, apparently! In my ruling, did I get it like it was envisioned by you?

The tap 2 elves to produce 1 by Paul Leicht at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 16:40
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The tap 2 elves to produce 1 mana of any color guy is NOT heritage druid. I am just forgetting his name at the moment. Stupid elf is stupid. :)

Double Tribal as I had it originally set a higher bar to match in 25 of each tribe (Because it was a big deck and 33% seemed low) but otherwise its correct.

Ah, yeah, Birchlore Rangers. by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 20:00
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Ah, yeah, Birchlore Rangers. :)

Of course, as the creator of the format, you're going to be the Master of Ceremonies in every Double Tribal event (I don't know what that would mean, but it's cool :)

Until not so long ago, I was by mihahitlor at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 13:36
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Until not so long ago, I was convinced that elves decks are really overpowered and would've been perfectly fine with banning what I consider three key "combo elves" (Priest of Titania, Elvish Archdruid and Heritage Druid), but lately I've realized that they are just not that hard to beat if you pack enough cheap spot removal and know which creatures you really need to eliminate (mass removal is also fine in control builds as a complementary solution, but it might be too slow to rely solely on it).

So my new stance on this issue is that I am not in favor of banning any elves. If the matchup proves too difficult for majority of decks it's likely because those decks are far from optimally prepared for Tribal format. You're playing against decks with at least 20 creatures - this means the obvious strategy is to bring a lot of removal (unless you intend not to interact with your opponent and win fast with whatever combo/whacky strategy you have in mind, but then it's kind of silly to complain if your opponent manages to do his thing faster) and you'll also be automatically fine against elves.

Not to mention that in every tournament there are many decks that are harder to crack that an average elf deck. Any deck by Ayanum, NemesisParadigm, Romellos or any other player who play strong decks is tougher to beat. So the problem here is not so much the power level of an average elf deck, but rather players being sick of the elves because they are so prevalent. Which I don't think is a good argument for bannings. Rather, it suggests at nonresponsive meta.

Grove of the Burnwillows/Punishing Fire tech, on the other hand, is harder to battle since it requires more specific solutions which aren't as universally good (with a few exceptions like Wasteland, Vindicate etc.). Still not sure about the ban, but I wouldn't be against it.

***

Answers to the questionare:
A.) I would prefer having only 1 special events in a month.
B.) C.) double tribal seems like a fun event.
E.) I'm not really sure about permanently changing definition/rules of Endangered event, but I am not against it.

The power of elf combo is not by Paul Leicht at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 13:40
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The power of elf combo is not in question. It is a consistent winner. But that isn't the point of banning the key cards. The point is to cut down on the number of people clinging to tried and true.

Sure, it is powerful - but by mihahitlor at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 13:56
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Sure, the deck is powerful against average Tribal deck - but there is a way to effectively stop it. Combo elves fall apart against decks with lots of cheap removal (and a pilot who knows what to target), which is a strategy that's also good against majority of other Tribal decks, so you don't have to plan specifically for elves to have an OK matchup against them.

If the point of the banning is to cut down on the number of people clinging to tried and trie, then I am also against it.

Thank you, Paul! I'm starting by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 16:14
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Thank you, Paul!
I'm starting to think my point wasn't clear at all.
Banning only for meta consideration (and nobody says cards can't be unbanned at some later point, when the steam is off), not power level.
It's not about "let's make people beat the elves". That's not going to happen. You want to beat the elves specifically, you just do that in a lot of ways. Nobody will help you with that.
And that's why your proposal on the other post is too radical: mana lords are too important for Elves to function as Elves, you leave them alone so people will just start doing decks that exploit that mana boost in other directions than "Elfball" (meaning with this what came from that progenitor = the attempt to lock the game in those specific ways).
As mihahitlor noted, it's not so hard to just kill a mana lord. They are the fuel of the engine, but not the engine we are trying to disarm. Let have Elf players find other, hopefully less ubiquitous (and not weblisted) engines, that's fine.

Long story short, to me consistent winners are fine as long as they are not always the SAME consistent winner in most games (and it's not even about who ends up Top 4, it's about the average player not facing the same deck/combo in three tournaments straight).

Comments... by romellos at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 14:56
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You can beat elves with strong removals as we are playing legacy tribal, there are tons of them but people usually dont play that much spot removals.
Regarding Watch list: Ezuri is not that bad, but Heritage Druid is a little broken, but ban is a serious thing.
And i think one of the Punishing Fire or Grove of the Burnwillows should be banned. As this combo dies when you ban Punishing Fire, but you can re-use Punishing Fire even without Grove effeciently.
And also Scepter can be on the watch list as you can abuse it, the way you want. But if it's not used every week it can one of that some pain that you know it's there but Ok at some point. But in the end it's artifact and can be easily destroyed (even you lock oppenent). A lot of people are playing with sort of different artifact or enchantment removals. So it's not that bad when you compare it with Punishing Fire.

it seems significantly wrong by JustSin at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 15:03
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it seems significantly wrong to me that a tribe with a "lord" is "endangered"

We may change the term then. by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 15:58
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We may change the term then. :P
Anyway, it's still true in the current definition of Endangered, some of the tribes with less than 50 members have lords (Kobolds, anyone?).

Cumulative, short answer:- I by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 16:20
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Cumulative, short answer:

- I do NOT endorse the banning of Aluren and Goblin Charbelcher. Until there's not a proliferation of them (and I don't think there will ever be), they are just cards potentially annoying that still should be left alone like the other 200 potentially annoying cards in Legacy. The only difference is that they have been successfully played around here, and noticed.

- I think Ezuri is "bad" not because is stronger than Heritage Druid (which is also "bad"), but because it's the way 8 Elf decks over 10 choose to win. Let have them find another way.

- First poll answers mean people like Double Tribal too? That's awesome!

I've been reading for awhile, by ryanraze at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 16:20
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I've been reading for awhile, but never joined an event, and I always thought this was almost a gentleman's tournament.

I think it's a shame that some people are incredibly focused on winning vs. having fun. I think the tribal format is easily one of the most enjoyable, but outside of nihilistic dictatorship of what's legal/not legal; we have to rely on people to not be dicks about it.

Can't someone just say, "No elf decks, no goblin decks, no broken combo decks"? I guess that leaves too much to interpretation though.

As soon as Prizes are on the by Paul Leicht at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 16:44
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As soon as Prizes are on the line some people will play to the absolute letter of any rule so you have to be specific and dictatorial with rules. Ambiguity breeds contempt in this case.

There HAVE been times when the Apocalypse was just a bunch of us having fun with wacky ideas. Unfortunately those times are behind us for the most part. It is just a fact of life that everything changes and not always for the better.

The thing Kuma is trying to do is at least make the changes interesting.

I've played in the Tribal by KaraZorEl at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 17:00
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I've played in the Tribal event now and then, and mostly I find something else to do with my Saturdays because I hate seeing Eldrazi. To me, this IS about power level. In Legacy, it's stupidly easy to cast an Eldrazi with the Cloudpost/Vesuva set up and any legendary Eldrazi being legal just makes me not want to play. It's gotten to the point where I will just concede to an Eldrazi on the stack. Does that make me a bad sport? Maybe...but I hate the tribe so much that I refuse to play in an event where I can see them regularly.

With that being said, there are some "normal" beatdown decks that want to get a lot of creatures out. I don't have a problem with those. But the combo decks seem to beg players to use Force of Will, which really isn't okay by me. I believe bannings should be done by power level and consistency. Charbelcher looks like an amazingly broken card, and I'm rather glad I didn't have to play against that.

For me, it will always be about fun. Non-interactive combo decks just aren't that fun to play against- at least, I haven't found that they are. I don't know what the solution might be, but for the present, I don't know if I can play at these events because the power level is just too high.

And yet, Eldrazi never won a by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 19:48
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And yet, Eldrazi never won a single event. And never ended 2nd place too. And never ended 3rd place too. :) They just have three 4th place placements by fliebana.
They have been played 15 times in the last 57 events (and that includes the Drones). It's more likely to meet Zubera than Eldrazi.

Sure, Nemesis used to have Ulamog as a finisher in Wall-Drazi. But it's not that Bligthsteel Colossus would be too much different in that deck (interactions with Karakas aside).

This is just to say that sometimes our experiences trick our perception.

That's certainly true, but I by KaraZorEl at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 21:13
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That's certainly true, but I don't go by what wins and loses. If I see Eldrazi, I just concede and go on to other things.

Yep, but what I'm saying is by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 23:08
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Yep, but what I'm saying is that it's really, really hard you'll see Eldrazi. :)
You can look at the Tribe Popularity Survey vantar6697 is maintaining: this year, 16 events, 318 registered decks, 1 Eldrazi.

It's like not going to the U.S. because you fear to be attacked by bears. :)

You know, I have half a mind by KaraZorEl at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 00:50
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You know, I have half a mind to make a Cloudpost deck just to show you how broken it can really get. :p

Go ahead! I badly lost with a by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 12:53
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Go ahead!
I badly lost with a Cloudpost deck in the second tournament I talk about in this article. But that doesn't mean it's not powerful.
Also, there's A LOT of powerful things that TribAp players aren't playing. Ayanam1, for instance, is a player who often likes to remind us which broken stuff we're forgetting about.

Last bear I saw was in the by Paul Leicht at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 11:01
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Last bear I saw was in the Catskills in the 70s. Though a funny story: My dad who worked with kids from the South Bronx and sometimes ex-Offenders took a group of us out to Bear Mountain along with some colleagues and one of the adults came running back to our area screaming his head off that he saw a bear. Of course there haven't been any bears on Bear Mt years before that so it was very amusing for everyone else, though some of the kids got scared.

Nice analogy though :D we DO have some bears left, mostly in protected areas and rarely in very wild areas.

I just started participating in this by Misterpid at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 17:18
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Even though I've only played in the tournament twice, I'll throw in my thoughts.

A) I do like the idea of an alternating theme for the first week of the month. If Endangered has gotten stale, some kind of change might go over well. Having a regular rotation might be the answer. Maybe having Endangered every other month if people really like that theme and rotate what gets played in the months between Endangered tournaments. Right now I would think that keeping just one specialty themed week per month would be the best option.

B) I like the idea of Tribal Singleton more than Double Tribal, but I'd be willing to give Double Tribal a shot.

C) I haven't tried Double Tribal yet, but if it turns out to be fun I could definitely see it as an alternative to Endangered or included in some kind of rotation.

D) I need to spent more time in the environment to really ome up with a good variant sugggestion.

E) Maybe change the requirements on what is Endangered (switch to a number lower than 50).

Bannings/watchlist

I do like the idea of the watch list. There are definitely cards that people know are overpowered. If they aren't being abused on a consistant basis, then they don't need to be banned - a watch list lets people know that every time they abuse one of these cards it gets the card that much closer to being banned.

I can see Punishing Fire getting banned for all of the obvious reasons, but I haven't seen enough to know whether or not it's really skewing the format. I haven't played against an elf deck yet so I can't really comment on what does or doesn't need to be done there.

If spell countering isn't a big part of these events, I don't think that Cavern of Souls needs to be banned. Take out the protection from countering and it's just another land that can produce multiple types of mana. There plenty of other less expensive options to play over Cavern that do basically the same thing (if not more). However as someone mentioned on the WotC forum, Riders of Gavony could be an issue and might need watching.

Riders of Gavony (2WW)
Human Knight

Vigilance
As Riders of Gavony enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
Human creatures you control have protection from creatures of the chosen type.
3/3

Thanks for sharing your by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 04/25/2012 - 19:57
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Thanks for sharing your opinions!

Yeah, Double Tribal is a bit of an enigma right now, but it seems people are liking the idea. I chatted with Blippy earlier, it's more or less confirmed that we'll try the monthly rotation between Endangered (in some form), Singleton and Double. Next month (May) will still have an Endangered event, though.

I didn't think about writing down and publish an actual watch list to discourage abuse of your favorite broken cards, but it's a good idea. We can definitely do that.

I don't know if Riders of Gavony will be that bad. Protection from creatures isn't this big a deal. It just paints a big target on them. I can see them heavily played in both Human and Knight decks, though. We'll see.

Riders of Gavony is on my by AJ_Impy at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 05:43
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Riders of Gavony is on my 'get this and break this' list for the format: Rendering your creatures unblockable and untargettable by your opponent's tribe is very powerful. However, my feeling is it is not unstoppable: One bolt and he's gone, one path and he's gone, Punsishing Grove and 5 mana gets rid, wrath gets rid. If your tribe relies on creature-based removal like assassin, then yeah, might be tricky. On the whole, a good card for the format, a good finisher for aggressive knights or humans, but bolt bait.

My thoughts exactly. Also, by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 12:56
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My thoughts exactly. Also, Allies have a guy that does possibly more (protection from a color in your turn), and it's obviously always there in Ally decks, but there's not dozens of Ally decks per event because of it.

So much by grapplingfarang at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 07:13
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5

Wow, I was going to leave a comment last night, but was in a hurry so wanted to wait until today. The comments section sure blew up since then. I have a few things I wanted to talk about.

-About Wallbelcher itself: The main thing that I noticed while playing this was the same thing I noticed in Classic or Pauper or any other format with a heavy amount of combo decks. To many people are worried about the actual kill condition that they do not worry about the set up for the combo. The actual key card in the deck was Wall of Mulch. Wall of Mulch allowed me to set up and protect myself before drawing a huge amount of cards in the turn that I wanted to try for a kill. The deck did have a pretty high power level though. When I came in I was happy that I felt I was going to crush the silly elf decks, but figured a Wizards deck or something of that nature would make easy work of me.

-As for not bringing the deck again, I try to not ever bring the same deck or same tribe again. What the format is to me is a fun distraction between tournament rounds where I can try to brew something up for wierd ideas or fun interactions that I would not be willing to take into a Daily Event. Then the tournament itself is to see how the deck or the ideas actually worked out. I am not blaming anyone if they want to take the same deck to the tournament every week. Not everyone has access to a collection like mine, or maybe they just have a lot of fun playing that deck, or maybe they are trying to win and that is what makes them have fun. If so, great, do whatever makes you happy. I use the format for brewing mostly, some of those will be powerful, some will be horrible (like the Crab mill deck I played not long ago.)
Before I got far in making Wallbelcher, I was really curious if a card like Goblin Charbelcher had any place in the format with the tribal restriction. My first thought was that Spirits would be the way to use it, but then I checked out the Wall of Mulch engine and changed my mind. Brewing it up gave me something to do for the week in between rounds. Do what you enjoy though, this event is basically for fun. If you have fun trying to go for first place everytime, go for it. If you want to play something whacky, go for it. I'd think the draw of a tournament like this is that it costs nothing to enter so you can feel free to enjoy it how you like. I think one of the main things people need to remember is that how you enjoy the tournament is not necessarily the right way for everyone to enjoy it.

Another draw for the tournament for me is to fight against the meta. I feel like some of the levels of complaining about a few of the decks/archetypes gets way past a point of being based in reality. If I can make something that wrecks a deck that is heavily complained about, and show that it is not so bad, I feel great about that. It usually does not work how I think it will though. At the end of one of the rounds with Wallbelcher, my Elf opponent was having a bit of a temper tantrum in the game chat. As soon as the game closed, I saw the event chat, at the same time, had a different player having a temper tantrum about Elf decks?!

One last thing about how I view the general nature of this tournament. I don't make decks hoping specifically for a 4-0, I just want to see how much I can get certain ideas to work and have fun. This does not include "playing casually" though. If I have a wasteland out, and someone plays a Karoo land, I am always going to play it up and put them behind on lands. Despite viewing this tournament as something for fun, I can not bring myself to play badly to match opposing bad plays.

-All the stuff between Kuma and Apaulogy: I am kind of divided between you two on the different points. I think that discussing things that need to be banned has to happen. WOTC does not pay a whole lot of attention to this format, so the bannings need to be discussed sometimes to keep the format fresh and fun. On the other hand, a lot of times people want things be banned before they even put effort into beating them.

I do agree with Apaulogy that the main drawback of a tournament like this is the constant whining. I understand that is the nature of a PRE like this. Some people will use it to brew up whacky decks, some just want to game with friends, and some are here because they want to play tournaments but do not have the confidence to play WOTC sanctioned Tournaments. Sometimes a clash of these type of players is going to lead to a blowout. Someone does not need to be bragging about a blowout when this happens. Also, when someone says they do not care to much about winning, they should back that up by not getting really upset when someone that does wins a lopsided game. Some basic respect for how others play would go a long ways in increasing good attitudes during Apocalypse.
I know one of the cards I am looking forward for this format is Misthollow Griffin. Making a deck (which will probably not be very good) abusing interactions between Misthollow Griffin, Mtenda Griffin and various effect sounds like a lot of fun. Yet, I worry that I will hear a lot of whining about the deck regardless of how good it is simply due to using 4x Force of Will. I'd hope that people realize that cheesy or expensive does not necessarily mean not fun.

About the bannings themselves:

-Heritage Druid: This one seems a bit Pointless to me to be honest. Sure, it leads to explosive starts, but Elf players can get almost the same effect from Birchlore Rangers (and that can give them black mana if they want to go for Tendrils of Agony Kill.) If one card is to be banned from Elves, I think Nettle Sentinel is the card as it enables an engine with both of these.

-Umbral Mantle: I really do not support this banning. Sure it can be a powerful combo, but without it's combo pieces it can be fairly useless, and people can easily remove the creature they attempt to equip it to. This is also not a well known card and Tribal is basically the only format that it can be used competitively.

-Punishing Fire: I am really torn on this one. On one hand I feel like it is like Stoneforge Mystic. If I am using a deck with red that is not hyper aggressive, why would I not use the combo? It doesn't disrupt my decks synergies, and gets rid of many of the problem cards in the format. With those thoughts I think of course this card should go, having something that should always go into a color isn't a good thing. On the other hand I don't think banning it is a good idea right now. A huge amount of the event chat/comments in Diaries of the Apocalypse are complaining about Elves. Is banning the very best card against those decks the right thing to do?

-One more thing as my post was kind of whiny, and there was something very positive I saw. In the last Apoc Kuma and someone else played for first place. I thought this was great and a long time coming. Going Undefeated and not getting first place kind of sucks. I know that the problem with this is just how busy Blippy is, and this adds even more to his schedule. Hopefully something can be found to incorporate it more though? Maybe some sort of challenge system could be added? I would think something like if two people are undefeated, one of them has the option of immediately challenging the other undefeated player for first place as soon as they are done with round 4 (not when the actual round ends.) If the other player denies the challenge, then the challenger gets first. If it is accepted, they play for first place. Another option might be to just not keep track of first place, but only keep track of Undefeated and One Loss players. It is not a good feeling at all to go undefeated and see you did not get first on tie breakers.

I agree on modifying the by AJ_Impy at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 07:41
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I agree on modifying the current rank structure to undrefeated and one loss. The tiebreakers, whilst laudable, tend to add an artificial gloss to proceedings.

Agree that it would better to by mihahitlor at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 09:03
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Agree that it would better to not differentiate between undefeated players (and players with 1 loss) based on the tie brakers, especially for the purpose of leaderboard. Different points for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place instead of for "undefeated" and "1-loss" create much unnecessary variance IMO.

Not sure about the challenging system, since it would result in more 1st places for zealous players over the ones who don't really care (assuming that the zealous player is less likely to challenge 2nd place player when he himself finishes first). I would be for it, but only if the final battle was mandatory.

Mandatory Final Battle by grapplingfarang at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 09:46
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I agree somewhat about a mandatory final battle. Really the challenge system just came to mind as something that sounded quick, and I think quick is one of the main things that would be wanted. My fear with a mandatory final battle is if it basically extends the whole tournament by a round. That is exactly what I wouldn't want to Suggest. Blippy puts in a hell of a lot of work in one day hosting Eurodrive, Apocalypse, SNM, which averages about 12 round or so? I wouldn't want to have to tack on one more.

Maybe the final battle could be just a single game, since it would not affect prizes, and it would go much more quickly? Or maybe just going Undefeated and One loss would be better than worrying about rankings? I'm not sure, but I liked how it went with the final battle last week, so I am throwing things out there. I think that not having people out of first place and undefeated would be a good thing.

He did drop SNM from his by Paul Leicht at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 10:58
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He did drop SNM from his roster of PRES to run so there is that.

Some more thoughts... by BlippyTheSlug at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 11:16
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I passed SNM on to another host so I could have time to open up Where Angels Fear To Tread on Sundays. Also, I've found I really enjoy having Saturday afternoon/evening with nothing to do. Anything that impinges on that newly found freedom would be frowned upon by yours truly.

As far as "rankings" in Tribal Apocalypse go, they are there purely as a by-product. I do not have any plans to institute any kid of ranking system. The ONLY thing I care about is whether a player went x-0 or x-1, or if the tribe played qualifies for Virgin or Endangered. Anything like 1st, 2nd, etc, is meaningless as far as any "official" results go.

So any playoffs that want to occur after the event, players are welcome to do so, but those types of things would not be monitored by me.

Blippy said what I was going by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 15:27
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Blippy said what I was going to say: the Hall of Fame was sort of a private initiative (mine) to add statistics and juice to the event. When the Blippian run of this tournament started, for some reason the prizes were given based on DCI rankings, and that was deeply unfair. After changing that to what Wizards of the Coast itself does for Swiss events without Top 8 (Swiss drafts, for instance), that is giving prizes based only on the number of matches won, the tournament didn't need anything else to properly function.

Even now, the tournament could perfectly exist without the Hall of Fame. It relies more on the Creature Type List (for Endangered Prizes) and on vantar's Tribe Popularity (for Virgin Prizes). The only official use of the Hall of Fame to date has been the Invitational early this year.

When I first envisioned the Hall of Fame, the DCI rankings seemed the best way to do it: again, it's the official way. Top 8 are calculated this way in every Swiss tournament. A further showdown being not viable for time constraint reasons, that was it. And it makes sense anyway: it's not true that every undefeated player performed the same. A player who went 2-0, 2-0, 2-0 has definitely proven to do better than a player who went 2-1, 2-1, 2-1. Hell, this latter even lost more games than a player who went 2-0, 2-0, 1-2.

So there's that. And yet there's a case where your ranking is somehow decided on something you don't have control on: your pairings. Especially the pairing on Round 1: if your Round 1 opponent is one who's going to lose every other match, your ranking will be lower. It's still a true meter of performance: players who beated more worthy opponents did better than you. And yet, you can't choose your Round 1 opponent, or any other opponent (you might have the same bad luck by being paired down in a following round).

And that's why, yes, in these cases we will do exactly what grapplingfarang suggested, something I first tested last week when romellos and I both had the same percentage of games won. He was 1st place only in virtue of "better" (as in, stronger) pairings. So I challenged him for the first place, he accepted, we fought (and I lost). I'll recount and define this in the next article, but it's still something Blippy will not have to care about. Also something that will not happen so often, but when it does, I think it's right and interesting to settle it this way.

Great post, grappling. I try by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 15:05
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Great post, grappling.

I try to not ever bring the same deck or same tribe again. What the format is to me is a fun distraction between tournament rounds where I can try to brew something up for wierd ideas or fun interactions that I would not be willing to take into a Daily Event.

You, sir, are now the poster boy for the Spirit of Event Award.
And I'm really thinking of an award for this (I'll discuss it with Blippy). Like, if you bring 10 different tribes before repeating a previously played tribe, you get a (still-to-be-defined) prize. I know for people with big collection the meager tix we can offer wouldn't be so relevant, but glory and being recognized for excellence in a field is probably an incentive for everyone. We all like to be lauded for what we do, right?

Another thing I wnat to support: police/punish the temper tantrums. I usually ignore them, they're mostly caused by the stress of the competition, but if it becomes an issue that pushes players away and somehow discredits the event, that's bad and needs to be fixed. Gentleman's tournament should mean ACTING like a gentleman when you interact with your opponent during and after the games, NOT with the cards on the battlefield.

You make very good points about the proposed banning. Truth is: I'm not good in judging these kind of things. I support your suggestion about Nettle Sentinel (which is pretty useless outside the combo anyway), keeping Birchlore and Heritage.
Also, I had thought about Umbral being just a creature-based infinite mana combo like dozens of others, and I'm fine with keeping it. But all in all, the goal here is to break the same old, same old Elf decks and push Elf players towards other interactions, and Umbral Mantle is the type of no-brainer thing that it's been seen too much.
The same is true for Ezuri, like I wrote elsewhere.

I see the conflict about Punishing, and you're right in your final wondering. But there's a reason we're bringing this out AT THE SAME TIME we try to have Elves less of a constant presence (because, let's face it: players who only play Elves for those combos will more likely either stop playing, or switch to other tribes than finding a way to mend the wounded Elves). So the two bannings, made at the same time, should balance each other out.

I answer about the undefeated/1 loss thing below.

Do cards necessarily have to by grapplingfarang at Thu, 04/26/2012 - 15:50
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Do cards necessarily have to be banned? Could they be suspended? WOTC tries to only do bannings on the 21st of each quarter so they have to be very sure. Being that scheduling isn't that strict, could cards just be suspended instead of banned? Something like...

Due to the abuses of the last couple months and forcing its way into a huge number of decks, Card X has a 2 (or maybe 4, not sure on good length) week suspension from Tribal Apocalypse. When the 4 weeks is up, the deck can go back into the card pool, back onto the watch list, or onto the banned list depending on how the metagame reacts in it's absence.

-Also thanks for the words about the spirit of the format. Honestly, I'm sure I would of probably broken that if I was playing as often as I was in the fall, but with chasing down QP's this year I don't get to play as often, (I really don't think people want to play against someone triple queuing during Tribal Apoc.) I'd also credit AJ Impy and an old tribal league called World of Kedoria for a lot of my attitude about the format. I ended up winning the league with a really linear Elemental sligh deck, but was still a little jealous that AJ had a much more versatile build to do interesting things with while I was just turning guys sideways and sending burn to the face.

You and I are really thinking by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 04/27/2012 - 19:00
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You and I are really thinking on the same lines here, because I had the same thought about suspensions yesterday! The length has to be greater than 2 weeks, but I believe something like that could work, if Blippy agrees (I can keep count on the suspensions for him). Sometimes, make a hot card lose steam a little bit is the right answer: players who abuse it will find some other stuff to do in the meantime, and maybe after some months, they will not be so eager to get into the now un-suspended card again. Or if they will, at least it will be after a period where that card wasn't there, so the result will be that the tournament will not feel clustered, on average.
Worth thinking about.