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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Jun 08 2016 12:00pm
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Welcome back to the Modern Flashback Series! There is much to say here, so let's impose some class!
 
While Lorwyn focused on race/species-based tribal interaction, Morningtide took advantage of the relatively recent shift to race and class-style creature types by focusing on class-based tribal interactions. Even though races and classes have general associations (as I'll cover in a bit), this still adds another layer of things you have to care about on the cards. Combined with all the activated abilities on the battlefield in Lorwyn Block limited (stuff like Silvergill Douser and Kithkin Daggerdare), non-enfranchised players couldn't figure out what was going on—there are stories from Wizards about players at their employee prerelease just giving up and leaving because they were so confused. As such, Wizards needed to eliminate this kind of complexity (board complexity) from lower rarities, so there weren't as many of those kinds of effects on the board at the same time. Combined with the elimination of comprehension complexity after the craziness of Time Spiral, this led to the new design paradigm at common known as “New World Order”. However, that won't show up in design for a little while longer, so let's get back to the fairytale world.
 
Inspired Sprite Bramblewood Paragon Thornbite Staff
Class Tribal:
Along with the eight races, there are eleven classes throughout Lorwyn block. Five of these are focused on in Morningtide, five more get rare lords, and the poor Scouts get left out. Of the five tribes, they can be matched generally with certain tribes:
Class Primary Race(s) Secondary Race(s) Primary Color(s) Secondary Color(s) # at Common # Total
Rogue Faeries, Goblins Merfolk Black Blue 18 27
Shaman Elementals, Goblins Treefolk, Elves Red, Green Black 16 42
Soldier Kithkin Faeries, Merfolk White Blue 14 23
Warrior Elementals, Elves, Giants Goblins, Treefolk Red, Green White 26 53
Wizard Merfolk Faeries Blue White 10 35
Looking at the numbers, the first thing that pops out is how many more Warriors there are than the other tribes. However, there's less Warrior tribal than some other classes: just the Banneret, counter lord, and Equipment all five get, along with two Kinship creatures and Boldwyr Intimidator below rare. Conversely, Wizard has far fewer creatures than the other tribes, but it gets multiple cantrips, Inspired Sprite at uncommon, and four Kinship creatures. However, since class tribal is only in Morningtide, you can't focus on it, though it can guide your choices (for example, Kithkin Soldiers might be better than other Kithkin, and Changelings get even better).
 
Winnower Patrol Squeaking Pie Grubfellows Waterspout Weavers
Kinship:
Kinship is the main tribal component of Morningtide, and is nice since it plays well with both race and class tribal. Each of the thirteen major tribes has at least one Kinship card, though Shaman has a slight emphasis with five of the twelve total Kinship cards. The Kinship triggers are all very powerful (except for Mudbutton Clanger, which should almost never be played), which is important, since even in a perfect deck it'll miss around 40% of the time. Since it relies on the top card of the library, it also has a nice interaction with Clash.
 
Latchkey Faerie Morsel Theft Stinkdrinker Bandit
Prowl:
Prowl is a mechanic designed specifically for Rogues, though it bleeds into Faeries and Goblins as well. It benefits a lot from evasion, so the Faerie cards are generally much better (though a Pestermite can still trigger Prowl on a Stinkdrinker Bandit). The question is how much you want to warp your deck around Prowl—sure, Prowling out Morsel Theft and Latchkey Faerie is great, and Nightshade Stinger and Prickly Boggart are good ways to enable Prowl, but those cards aren't that good on their own. I'm sure there's a great deck that goes fully into Prowl, but I'm not sure I'd try it on my first run.
 
Burrenton Bombardier Earthbrawn Swell of Courage
Reinforce:
Reinforce is a very simple way to fit in combat tricks into the set, but it's more than that. First, most of the Reinforce cards are very strong, with a good rate on the spell itself as well as on the Reinforce cost. Second, Reinforce is uncounterable, just like Cycling and Channel (though they still can respond). Finally, the five class lords are unique in that they give their effects to any creatures with +1/+1 counters on them, so they work very well with Reinforce (and other counter effects, like Incremental Growth.
 
Meadowboon Spitebellows Walker of the Grove
Evoke:
Evoke gets a couple of important tweaks in Morningtide. First of all, it doesn't appear at common—presumably since the “greater Elementals” don't have classes they were prioritized less. Second, while Lorwyn's Evoke creatures all had enters-the-battlefield abilities, the Morningtide Evoke creatures all have leaves-the battlefield abilities. This means Evoking isn't strictly worse than casting the creature normally, and thus the Evoke cost can be the same as the mana cost, or even more in the case of Reveillark. This makes the choice between Evoking and casting much more interesting.
 
Cloak and Dagger Recross the Paths War-Spike Changeling
Returning Mechanics:
Not much else has changed with most of the other mechanics. The Tribal type is the same as always, though it appears on a cycle of Equipment tied to the classes, and is mechanically used to make non-creature Prowl spells. Champion appears on a couple rares, and some allow you to choose from one of two creature types to champion (either a race or a class). Clash's main appearance is on a cycle of uncommon spells (and Titan's Revenge) where you get the spell back if you win the clash (and thus cutely known as “clash-back” spells). The Changeling creatures are slightly bigger and more powerful by themselves, and are more important than ever now that there are two axes of creature types to benefit from.
 
As we're focusing on drafting tribes rather than color pairs, there isn't much of a recap to do on the archetypes, especially since the big-picture goals of each tribe haven't changed. I am going to make a slight tweak—Morningtide has only 150 cards (50/50/50) and I'm splitting into more groups than normal (eight races and the non-race tribal stuff), so I'm going to combine the common and uncommon listings.
 
Wolf-Skull Shaman Hunting Triad Lys Alana Bowmaster
Elves:
Elves wanted to swarm the board in Lorwyn, and nothing much has changed there, especially at uncommon with Wolf-Skull Shaman and Hunting Triad. Lys Alana Bowmaster is also surprising as one of the few non-Kinship tribal aspects at common in Morningtide, and it easily takes out Faeries (though it's hurt by the lack of Elf Instants, considering Faeries mostly play at instant speed).
 
Dewdrop Spy Fencer Clique Violet Pall
Faeries:
Faeries continue to get efficient fliers, as Dewdrop Spy, Fencer Clique, and Latchkey Faerie are all decent cards (and both Dewdrop Spy and Fencer Clique have added benefits with Clash). Violet Pall is also a great removal spell, especially since it makes a Rogue for Prowl. There also just aren't bad cards—the worst Faerie might be Nightshade Schemers, and that's still a 3/2 flier for 5 in black.
 
Lunk Errant Boldwyr Intimidator Wandering Graybeard
Giants:
Yes, that is only five cards and one non-Changeling common—where are the rest of them? Both uncommons are decent, though the most important cards for the archetype are the Changelings. Maybe Giants are supposed to go harder into a class (probably Warriors, based on Boldwyr Intimidator) than other tribes?
 
Squeaking Pie Grubfellows Prickly Boggart Stinkdrinker Bandit
Goblins:
Wow, the Goblins are completely awful in Morningtide, especially since there aren't any ways to bolster the engine (though Squeaking Pie Grubfellows does bolster the card advantage theme somewhat). Instead, there are a lot of aggro creatures, as well as support for Rogue synergies. I guess the Goblins archetype needs to lean on the Rogue synergies more in Morningtide, but the best ones are all blue—I see problems in the future for Goblins.
 
Stonybrook Schoolmaster Ink Dissolver Mothdust Changeling
Merfolk:
While Goblins moved away from their engine aspects, Merfolk fully embraced them, as Stonybrook Schoolmaster is a great thing to tap, while Ink Dissolver is a good supplement to a Drowner of Secrets mill strategy. However, the most important addition isn't even a real Merfolk—Mothdust Changeling gives Merfolk a common tapper, making the engine much more consistent while providing a body. Merfolk also benefit most from Wizard tribal, as Stream of Unconsciousness and Sage's Dousing fit into Merfolk's gameplan while triggering Ink Dissolver if necessary.
 
Kithkin Zephyrnaut Burrenton Bombardier Cenn's Tactician
Kithkin:
Kithkin gets one of the biggest boosts from Morningtide, as other than Burrenton Shield-Bearers all of the Kithkin aren't only playable, but fantastic. The real payoff is Kithkin Zephyrnaut, as 2W for Serra Angel at common is insane even if you get it only half the time, and it isn't like a (Gray Ogre) is a completely awful worst case. Reinforce helps the tribe a lot, as while Burrenton Bombardier and Swell of Courage are great purely on the rate of either side, even lowly Mosquito Guard is fine as either a one-drop (that works well when pumped) or as a combat trick. Speaking of great one-drops, Cenn's Tactician might not have a great lord ability, but when you're getting it free on a Chronomaton that can also pump your other creatures, that doesn't matter (and it's not like it's completely meaningless). Finally, Ballyrush Banneret and Order of the Golden Cricket are both good two-drops—and then we've covered all seven non-rare Kithkin!
 
Weed-Pruner Poplar Bosk Banneret Ambassador Oak
Treefolk:
Treefolk continue to be focused on green, as there is only one common black Treefolk (though Weed-Pruner Poplar is decent) and one rare white Treefolk (because Wizards thought a 2/10 vanilla for 4 should be rare for limited I guess). There's also a surprising amount of Treefolk tribal, though neither Everbark Shaman nor Orchard Warden is groundbreaking. Instead, what makes Treefolk decent is pure efficiency, as Bosk Banneret is one of the best Bannerets (especially since Treefolk actually needs the cost reduction, unlike Kithkin) and Ambassador Oak is just a common 4/4 for 4.
 
Seething Pathblazer Sunflare Shaman Fertilid
Elementals:
Elementals changed the most from Lorwyn, as both sides of the tribe were altered in important ways. The Flamekin side wants to kill their kin with Seething Pathblazer and Sunflare Shaman, and even though it's a shift, they work well (especially since they're both activated abilities). On the greater Elemental side, I mentioned that Evoke has been taken out of common, but it's been replaced with a cycle of 0/0 creatures that enter with +1/+1 counters, then remove them for effects. While this is obviously meant to interact with Reinforce and the counter lords, other than Fertilid (which is great, especially in Elementals) and Floodchaser (which is good in Merfolk) the cards are sideboard material at best. However, the biggest problem with the greater Elementals is fundamental: they don't have classes, and thus don't interact with the rest of Morningtide. Sure, Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw are still great cards, but when you want to hit Kinship reliably, you want about half your deck to trigger it, which leaves very few spots for generically good cards (as Wizards didn't want to risk printing Tribal lands for obvious reasons).
 
Now for the stuff outside the eight races. There will be a bit of overlap from above, (as I'm not excluding Tribal, since it would leave out cards), but that isn't that important.
 
Pack's Disdain Weight of Conscience Obsidian Battle-Axe Swell of Courage
Non-Tribal:
Common Uncommon
The main cycle at common is the “chosen creature type” cycle, which ties together any tribe. Three of the five spells are removal spells, so keep track of what the value of a Pack's Disdain or Coordinated Barrage would be—at least all of the cards only count each creature for one point (except the awful Luminescent Rain), so you can just count whichever creature type your opponent has the most of (which is another thing you're expecting a player to do, though that's strategic complexity at least). A surprising number of “evergreen” cards make their debuts here, though none of Disperse, Negate, or Kindled Fury is spectacular here (though bounce is good against the “chosen creature type” cycle). Overall there's a lot of removal here: the three “chosen creature type” cards, Violet Pall (which I covered previously), Shard Volley (which is fine, since you probably shouldn't cast your removal early anyway), and Weight of Conscience (which is great, especially as an enabler for Merfolk).
 
Moving up to uncommon, the stars are the Tribal Equipment cycle, which are one of the real things pushing class tribal. They're all great with their tribes, though Obsidian Battle-Axe is playable even without that clause (which as discussed in the Class Tribal section, you're probably going to trigger a lot). Thornbite Staff is also good, though it's better with Deathtouch creatures than actual Shamans (and Moonglove Changeling combines both excellently). Other than that, the uncommons are pretty hit-or-miss. On the strong end, Swell of Courage combines Blaze with Overrun, Rivals' Duel will be a two-for-one against all but the best decks (and even then probably have the random Mulldrifter to fight with), while still being Prey Upon in the average case, and Hunting Triad is great even with just the Reinforce side (compare it to (Might Beyond Reason)). On the weak end, the “clash-back” spells are very safe (notably, Research the Deep is a Sorcery), and something like Stomping Slabs is a complete blank.
 
That's all for Morningtide, and even though it can be very complicated, don't let that scare you away. Instead, let the plane itself scare you as it changes over into darkness, as we enter the second half of this mega-block with Shadowmoor.
 
Vincent

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