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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
May 04 2021 12:00pm
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STRIXHAVEN: SCHOOL OF MAGES

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 Strixhaven: School of Mages is the spring premier set styled after the "magical school" genre – fortunately incorporating more varied and more college-oriented tropes, and not just the expected, obligatory references to Harry Potter. It's a bottom-up set with a multicolored mechanical identity based on the five enemy pairs, which are flavored as the five colleges of the Multiverse-renowned Strixhaven University: Silverquill (white-black, eloquence), Prismari (blue-red, art), Witherbloom (black-green, natural sciences), Lorehold (red-white, history), and Quandrix (green-blue, mathematics). Each college has its own "mascot", a creature type that the students are taught to summon. Respectively, they are Inkling, Elemental, Pest, Spirit, and Fractal. Inkling and Fractal are brand new subtypes, but they don't appear on cards (the first Fractal debuts in Commander 2021, which shares the same setting with Strixhaven). Pest returns with a second card after ten years.

    

 Aside from the mascots, Strixhaven includes very few tribal elements and in fact sees a high fragmentation of creature types. However, the topic of a school of "mages" naturally lent itself to a focus on the five color-coded spellcasting classes, i.e. Cleric, Wizard, Warlock (which gets its bigger boost since its creation), Shaman, and Druid. This is contrasted by the almost entire absence of the "fighter" classes, with Soldier and Warrior unusually getting only one new member each. The spellcasters get mechanically batched together for the first time on Mentor's Guidance.

Among the minor tribes, other than Pest, significant is the return of Eye, which had not been seen (no pun intended) in black border since Time Spiral.

 Anyway, let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the main focus is on all the Constructed applications (though Limited is occasionally touched upon), the tribes are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 280 (+5 duplicated basic lands)
  • New cards: 274
  • New creatures: 128
  • Reprinted cards: 6
  • Reprinted creatures: 1 (Grinning Ignus)
  • New Legendary creatures: 22
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 6
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 0
  • Creature types affected: 60
  • Tribes with more than 5 additions: Human (+33), Wizard (+21), Cleric (+17), Warlock (+16), Druid (+15), Shaman (+14), Spirit (+12), Bird (+8)

Advisor: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 59, online: 50

 Related Tribes: Bird, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Advisor sounds like a job that one would expect to find well-represented in a college campus, but there's actually only one relevant new addition to the subtype, the owl-person (they're known as "Owlins") who works as Strixhaven University's guidance counselor, Mavinda, Students' Advocate. She's a neat three-drop flyer that can grant flashback to one different spell in our graveyard every turn, which includes the opponent's turn as well. The idea is using the ability for protective spells and combat tricks, which is already enormously valuable, but in the very late game, the eight-mana tax on removal might become affordable, especially in potentially grindier formats like Commander.


Avatar: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 78, online: 75

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Archaics are giant, benign creatures of great arcane wisdom that roam the plane of Arcavios and occasionally provide cryptic advice to the students who seek them out. Being colorless makes them more enigmatic, and marks a new instance of colorlessness for creatures that are neither artifacts nor Eldrazi (there have been only eight more cases so far). Wandering Archaic specifically is a powerful five-drop with a sort o "super-ward" ability. In fact, every instant or sorcery our opponents cast while we control the Archaic might as well have a tax of two mana, because if that's not paid, we'll copy them for free. That can slow down their development immensely and, for one thing, it makes especially hard for them to counter our spells. The group-hug sorcery on the back is probably only useful in Commander, but the front is a pretty good disruption play, bound to result in value one way or the other.


Bat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 22, online: 20

 Related Tribes: Eye

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This thing is a Bat, which I guess is good for the tribe, but we all know the more relevant creature type is the other, more unusual one. It's also our first brush with learn, the mechanic that best define Strixhaven's school setting. It's sheer card advantage grafted on an spell or permanent – in this case, on a small one-drop flier that can be useful to sneak some point of damage early on before chumping or being sacrificed – but its general effectiveness strictly depends on the number of available choices, i.e. the existing lesson cards. Right now there are 20 of them, covering an array of basic effects, from removal and land-fetching to card-drawing and token-making. All colors are represented, with hybrid options for the "Summoning" cycle, and a few lessons are even colorless. So a degree of mechanical flexibility is already there, but it remains to be seen if it'll be enough to justify what essentially amounts to the loss of sideboard slots.


Bear: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 26, online: 20

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I'm convinced this card is a Bear only as an excuse to make that pun in the flavor text (it's a design lead by Mark Rosewater, after all). It's a solid Limited player, nothing more.


Beast: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 424, online: 415

 Related Tribes: Fungus

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Three Beasts with completely different colors and inclinations. Brackish Trudge is a decently-costed self-returning threat, based on the lifegain synergies that are at the center of the Witherbloom pair. Kelpie Guide is a tapper/untapper from Quandrix, mostly good in Limited, but also offering a type of effect that the tribe is not usually given, although in a color that's far from the tribe's favorite. Relic Sloth is pure Limited fodder, but has its dignity.


Bird: +8

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 282, online: 269

 Related Tribes: Advisor, Cleric, Illusion, Shaman, Spirit, Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Other than the mythic Advisor Mavinda, the Bird's most prominent new member is one of the deans, Shaile, Dean of Radiance from Silverquill. The front hosts a strong two-drop that keeps growing every subsequent creature, while also being able to threaten a bit of damage in the air, thanks to vigilance. On the back, Embrose, Dean of Shadow also traffics in +1/+1 counters, but with more flexibility, since the creature that receives his boost also has to survive two damage, which means opposing one-toughness creatures can be killed on sight. Additionally, Embrose works as a Midnight Reaper for creatures with counters. The theme is specific but not too narrow, and the two faces work well with each other, reducing concerns of drawing multiples. All in all, one of the most effective deans. Speaking of which, Bird technically are also represented on the back of Kianne, Dean of Substance, with the excellent Imbraham, Dean of Theory, but of course the back face of a modal double-faced card doesn't really exist anywhere except the battlefield and the stack.

 

 The other rare Bird, Dream Strix, is a bit of a mixed bag. It has a high power for a flyer of its cost, but it pays for it by getting the Illusion mechanic that kills it when targeted. When it happens, it learns, but it's not the most efficient way to access the lessons.

 On the bright side, most of the remaining Birds are very good in Limited, being reasonably costed flyers with useful ability, like Frost Trickster as a strictly better Frost Lynx that's somehow still common; the aggressive tactical beater Combat Professor; the Prismari big spells enabler Spectacle Mage; and the warded midrange finisher Owlin Shieldmage.


Cat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 221, online: 214

 Related Tribes: Cleric

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Well, this is magecraft at its closest to heroic, because the kind of instants and sorceries to be cast or copied in a deck that runs a two-drop "bear" like Leonin Lightscribe is clearly an aggressive, go-wide build filled with combat tricks and protection spells that target our creatures. However, the mere fact that the Lightscribe triggers off removal too is what makes us take particular notice. This guy looks like a serious contender for that two-mana spot in aggro lists.


Cleric: +17

   

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 470, online: 445

 Related Tribes: Bird, Cat, Dwarf, Elephant, Human, Kor, Spirit, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Strixhaven is, both flavorfully and mechanically, all about spellcasting, and Cleric is the spellcaster characteristic creature for white, so it naturally gets one of the largest spotlights, particularly linked to the Lorehold College, where the religious aspect takes the form of a devotion towards the ancestors. As a result, both the mythic, Hofri Ghostforge, and the member of the students cycle, Quintorius, Field Historian, are cards designed for Spirit tribal, an do very little to help their class. On the other hand, two rare MDFCs work well with the tribe, at least in its more aggressive iterations. The already discussed Silverquill dean, Shaile, Dean of Radiance, is a Cleric that drops early on and improves the board more and more in the following turns (unfortunately, the Lorehold dean, Plargg, Dean of Chaos, despite having a Cleric on the back, is himself a Shaman). Selfless Glyphweaver is an answer to mass removal along the lines of Selfless Spirit; the latter is better positioned on the curve and has a secondary role as an evasive beater, but the Glyphweaver on his part provides a sweeper for the late game through his back face, even if it looks more like something that has only relevance in Commander-like formats.

  

 A simple new Cleric that is bound to have an impact on Constructed aggro lists is Blade Historian, especially because, as a Human, he gets fetched by Winota, Joiner of Forces, potentially creating a lethal strike out of nowhere. Extremely noteworthy is also Elite Spellbinder, the card that bears the effigy of reigning World Champion Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. It's close to being a white Vendilion Clique, disrupting the opponent's hand while ensuring a threatening amount of evasive damage. Notably, the affected card maintain the tax even if the Spellbinder is dealt with, and the acquired information about the hand is always crucial. Being white, it doesn't need flash as much as a blue creature would, and makes for a generally strong turn-three play that severely impacts the mid-game.

 More rare Clerics: Silverquill Silencer has the potential to provide a bit of card advantage, although in game one it's not easy to make the correct call without looking at the opponent's hand in some other way; it remains a solid three-powered two-drop. Strict Proctor is a hate card for ETB effects, if probably a less appealing one compared to Hushbringer. Radiant Scrollwielder might be slightly too expensive for the lists it wants to be a part of, but its upsides are excellent, turning all our burn spells into Lightning Helix with flashblack. Finally, Venerable Warsinger has a valuable recursion ability, if perhaps too dependent on its actual chances of dealing combat damage to the opponent – trample helps a little, but a more radical form of evasion would make the ability much more effective.


Construct: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 131, online: 130

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Vociferous Codex, nicknamed Codie, is a sentient tome that resides at Strixhaven University (Harry Potter has the hat, after all). Its inherent quirkiness is reflected by its rule text, which identifies Codie as the centerpiece – or even more appropriately, the commander – of a build that tries to win entirely through nonpermanents, capitalizing on the fact that at least one spell per turn will get cascade when filtered through Codie's activation. It's probably more zany than effective, but it's also probably easy to accommodate and potentially fun to play.

 The other Construct is nothing much, even in Limited, but it makes for a nice piece of world-building, depicting the way Strixhaven's library is managed by these giant, mechanical librarians.


Crocodile: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 26, online: 25

 Related Tribes: Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: No glory for the Crocodiles in Strixhaven – they weren't a particularly good fit for the setting, anyway. As far as Hill Giant's improvements go, Moldering Karok at least is given two relevant keywords.


Demon: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 121, online: 118

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Strixhaven's approach to the Demon tribe is simultaneously classic and novel. The latter aspect is embodied in their colors, as these are now two of the only four green Demons in existence (the other two are Rakshasas from Khans of Tarkir, so partially Cats). On the other hand, the concept of big Demons asking for sacrifices in order to function brings us back to early Magic eras. They're also reminescent of Doomgape, Daemogoth Titan for the size, Daemogoth Woe-Eater for the fact that it doubles as temporary blocker that is turned into value by sacrificing it to itself – and of course in both cases, they're four-drops, so a much smaller investment. They're free sacrifice outlets, synergies wonderfully with Pests and Witherbloom strategies in general (they dwell in Sedgemoor Bayou, the place where the Witherbloom campus is located, which is also where those two Crocodiles live), and the Woe-Eater in particular has a intra-set combo with Tend the Pests. Overall, two solid new inductees into the demonic club.


Djinn: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 52, online: 51

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Djinn crosses the 50-member threshold thanks to a trio of very playable new members of increasing rarity. The common Waterfall Aerialist is a high pick in draft because of ward making it resilient. Maelstrom Muse is a midrange beater that ramps us into big spells. And then there's the double dean MDFC for the Prismari College, with Uvilda, Dean of Perfection doing a sort of suspend impression for instants and sorceries (the spells aren't ultimately free, but they also don't need to be cast right away), and the Efreet Nassari, Dean of Expression stealing a spell from the top of each opponent's library at every upkeep. None of these new Djinns is really essential, and they all skew decidedly midrange, but they can all do some work if allowed to shine. The lack of flying on Uvilda and Nassari is a bit disappointing, though.


Dog: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 88, online: 84

 Related Tribes: Plant, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Dogs continue their tribal growth after last year's transformation from Hound, and they indeed look less and less like hounds in their depictions these days, for better or for worse. These two in particular are flavorfully quite peculiar, being, respectively, a Ghost Dog (but not of this kind) and a Plant that somehow takes the form of a Dog, of all things. Now, for their merits: the uncommon Stonebinder's Familiar is a one-drop that grows over time, but not fast or reliably enough to be really effective. Whereas, Bayou Groff, for being a mere common, has the insane potential of dropping as a 5/4 on turn two. One way to accomplish this feat is by renouncing to keep around the 1/1 token generated through Lovestruck Beast, for instance, but we might also run one-drops that we don't mind sacrifice, like Eyetwitch. Being a faster five-powered beater than Steel Leaf Champion is quite the accomplishment, even taking the requirement into account.


Dragon: +5

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 215, online: 213

 Related Tribes: Elder

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Among the most eye-catching mythics of the set are the Elder Dragons that represent the founders and namesakes of the five Strixhaven colleges. Their nature and abilities contribute to a definite "Commander-oriented" feeling Strixhaven might often elicit – not for nothing the format was once called "Elder Dragon Highlander". Noteworthy is also the fact that, with the exception of the blue-red member, all the cards in this cycle mark the first time that the respective color pairing produces a Dragon.

 Shadrix Silverquill is perhaps the most intriguing of the lot. He has the stats and cost of a midrange beater that can swing for four evasive damage, but he also generates two triggers per combat phase, chosen among three different options. Except there's a twist, which is what makes it intriguing: one of the two effects must target another player than ourselves. When on a multiplayer table, this clearly becomes a keen political instrument. When we're battling one-on-one, things might ge awkward, but a fair amount of strategic thinking remains involved. Of course providing the player we're attacking in the air with a flying token appears extremely counterintuitive, so the "safest" choice should be giving them a free card while we increase our board presence or our overall damage capability. There's also the case when the opponent won't have anything to put +1/+1 counters on, although that's still probably the most powerful option for us, since at the very least we're controlling a double striker. As noted, Shadrix is truly a fascinating creature.

 By comparison, Galazeth Prismari looks tamer and more predictable. He's cheaper, less threatening, and accompanied by a Treasure token that we can just tap for mana rather than sacrifice it (we can't do both at once because Treasures require tapping when sacrificed, unlike Gold tokens). In fact all artifacts are made into mana rocks by Galazeth, which is a quiet ability with some minor ramp potential.

 Beledros Witherbloom is the only female Dragon of the group, and also the most expensive. She has the Verdant Force ability that automatically creates one token during each player's upkeep. It can get out of hand quickly, and these are also Pests, so they give life when they eventually hit the graveyard, an occurrence that a deck running Beledros is probably equipped to facilitate. Her body is a bit slim for her cost, and annoyingly exposes her to death by spells dealing four damage. The last ability is what's going to make her or break her, though, since it essentially means Beledros can double our land-based mana, or even triplicate it if we activate the ability in the opponent's turn as well (and more if we're in multiplayer, sort of a Wilderness Reclamation on demand), provided we're willing to relinquish ten life again and again. Which, for sure, might be its own strategy, and massive lifegain is something black-green is very much doing in its Witherbloom identity. Beledros can even basically be seen as costing Phyrexian mana, since we can easily plan to pay the life right away and netting a 4/4 token-making flyer in the process. The competitive viability of the whole plan has to be proved, but converting life into mana is not something we should dismiss lightheartedly – Channel, anyone?

 Velomachus Lorehold is the other top-end member of the cycle. He's also the one who hit the hardest and right away, while still maintaing a defensive stance and gifting us a free spell per attack, so the value is sky high, and we don't have to wait to grab it. Impressive is Velomachus's middle name, but this kind of curve-topper in white-red has historically always had some difficulty in finding a proper home. He could maybe be a one-of to fetch with Magda, Brazen Outlaw, if unfortunately not in a deck where the Treasure-crazy but very monored Dwarf is the commander.

 Finally, Tanazir Quandrix is arguably the most heavily linked to a build-around theme, namely the use of creatures made of +1/+1 counters (which is a Quandrix thing with the Fractals). You want to drop Tanazir onto a board where his ETB effect is as impactful as possible, albeit it's really unfortunate that Stonecoil Serpent won't be able to benefit from it, due to its protection. The mechanical Snake still gets the full advantage of Tanazir's other ability, which also synergizes with counters-heavy creatures but it's not targeted. Generally speaking, "+1/+1 counters matter" has its ideal homes in Golgari, Selesnya or Abzan, due to Winding Constrictor and Conclave Mentor; but Simic (or, if you will, Quandrix) can still make a lot of sense for the strategy.


Drake: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 89, online: 88

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Well, Drakes are always struggling to find new members that aren't just filler, and while Needlethorn Drake might be seen as just another Limited fodder, if a good one at that, it's also a very solid turn-two play that eventually trades with almost anything and can deal some evasive damage in the meantime. By now we've learned not to ask too much from the tribe, and although green isn't exactly its favorite color, nor one that's usually expected to be available so early on in a Drake deck, maybe the release of this simple but effective two-drop can change the tribe's whole perspective.


Druid: +15

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 217, online: 213

 Related Tribes: Bear, Dryad, Elf, Human, Merfolk, Rhino, Treefolk, Troll, Turtle, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Druid is the spellcaster class that's characteristic of green, so it gets wide representation in Strixhaven. The tribe has an intrinsic issue of being more often than not a subset of Elves, at least at the highest competitive levels, so it's hard to evaluate what any new Druid brings to the tribe specifically. We see a number of new rares among these additions, and the Witherbloom honor student Dina, Soul Steeper is a Druid – but she's more importantly a Dryad, the same way Kianne, Dean of Substance is once again overshadowed by being an Elf. And we have a rare Troll and a rare Treefolk in the druidid ranks as well, and they'll be better served if discussed in relation to their other tribe. We can mention the two Human Druids. Dragonsguard Elite is a powerful application of magecraft, with the potential of growing very big very quickly in the dedicated deck, especially since she can double her counters in the late game. I'm not sure a deck running a green two-drop is also one that includes many instants and sorceries, but if that deck exists, Elite will have a place there, possibly as its win condition of choice. Along the same lines, Witherbloom Apprentice provides recurring life drain in any black-green build with magecraft synergies, and gets online soon enough; it makes for a serviceable, if unexciting member of the Apprentices cycle, and a valid companion for Dina.

  

 The Druid that wasn't meant to be: Lisette, Dean of the Root has a very impactful "lifegain matters" ability, but alas, her druidness isn't accessible for tribal purposes; she's just the other face of Valentine, Dean of the Vein. I'm detecting a pattern where all the backface deans appear to be more powerful than their colleagues on the front.


Dryad: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 41, online: 39

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The five students that are used as poster boys and poster girls for the colleges of Strixhaven encompass several humanoid races, some of which curiously has no other representative in the set. This is the case of Dina, a young Dryad who was rescued and sort of adopted by Dean Lisette when she was still a kid (actually, I'm not sure what the lifespan of a Dryad on Arcavios is, but Lisette is human and not too old, so Dina must be the age she looks). She's a very cool-looking character with a couple of abilities that interacts winningly with everything Witherbloom is trying to accomplish, particularly when it comes to gaining life in increments of one, which makes Dina as effective as Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose. In fact, the primary source of life for a Witherbloom cards are the Pest tokens, and Dina is able to sacrifice them without external help, thus fueling her own trigger and turning into more of a threat in the process. A well-designed card for a well-designed character. Tribe-wise, she's also the very first black Dryad (a second one, Willowdusk, Essence Seer, is featured in Commander 2021), which could be an issue, because it requires a splash. On the bright side, the Dryads include a few high-profile members that are capable of gaining life.


Dwarf: +5

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 87, online: 79

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Shaman, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Alongside several solid Limited cards, Dwarf receives a new rare in the form of the burn-friendly Cleric Radiant Scrollwielder, and a mythic with Hofri Ghostforge. Hofri, an archaeologist and professor of spiritual studies at Strixhaven U, doesn't really care for other Dwarves, as he's largely conceived as a tribal lord of Spirit decks, giving his ghostly friends a considerable boost on the board, including the always crucial universal haste, and recurring them from the graveyard in the form of token copies. Problem is, a five-mana white-red creature is nowhere near anything a typical Spirit build would consider playing – they're usually white and blue and topping at three mana. Hofri isn't even a good commander for them, since you really don't want to build Spirits without access to blue. This said, the lord element might be a red herring. Hofri is able to recur anything from the graveyard, and will turn those creatures into Spirit tokens which will get his bonuses, so Hofri's package is able to sustain itself to a degree within any build. Lorehold is, after all, shifting the concept of Spirit towards ground-based creatures with bigger bodies, better suited to exploit trample.


Efreet: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 22, online: 21

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Efreets, which are the fiery red counterpart to the aerial blue Djinns, lose the chance to have a dean among their proper tribal ranks, because the powerful spell-stealer (Nassari, Dean of Expression) is just the back face of, not coincidentally, the Djinn Uvilda, Dean of Perfection. This leaves us with only Efreet Flamepainter as a new member, but that's also a rare with an impactful ability, potentially letting us cast up to two instants and sorceries from our graveyard, which combos with Prismari self-pitching cards Elemental Masterpiece, Creative Outburst, and Magma Opus. Granted, the Flamepainter has to manage a connection, which might require help, since she has no evasion and drops in the mid-game. But it's a game worth playing.

 By the way, the Prismari identity of elemental artists and dancers is pretty great, and really differentiates them from the Izzet's mad scientists, tapping into an entirely different facet of blue-red.


Elder: +5

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 29

 Related Tribes: Dragon

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The five Dragon founders are also Elders, so that's a boost for a tribe that usually increases through full cycles, so can have a hard time finding five creatures to field without involving too many colors. At the current state of affair, the most populated color pair for Elders is still black-red with five members, but Strixhaven has at least brought several other pairs to four.


Elephant: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 60, online: 59

 Related Tribes: Cleric

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Loxodon Quintorius is Lorehold College's honor student, and Hofri Ghostforge's field assistant. Like his mentor, Quintorius works with Spirits, but for the same casting cost, his bonus is much less impressive and his graveyard-based token-making effect requires an external way to be enabled, through either exiling, recursion to hand, or reanimation. It's the nerfing price to pay when a card shows up at uncommon rather than mythic, I guess.


Elf: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 439, online: 426

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Despite counting two rares, I don't expect any of these new Elves to have much impact on the tribe. Bold fashion statement aside, Kianne, Dean of Substance is really slow ramp; her tokens are pricey and their size isn't much relevant until the very late game; besides, exiling cards off the top of the library is only acceptable if we plan on drawing into another copy of the Quandrix dean to have access to her colleague Imbraham to get those cards back. On a more encouraging note, Accomplished Alchemist appears to be a legitimate application of the "lifegain matters" mechanics that Strixhaven has aggressively moved to green. In Standard, it comboes winningly with Food tokens, as each of them will neat one extra mana, and in a dedicated build, this can grow the Alchemist's output to truly massive amounts. The Great Henge and the overlooked devotion card Setessan Petitioner are great with the Alchemist, too; unfortunately, all of these are going to rotate out of Standard in the fall, and I'm not sure our big-butted four-drop mana dork will have what it takes to matter elsewhere. Maybe in Pioneer?


Elk: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 23, online: 22

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is a very serviceable Elk that nicely plays into all kinds of lifegain synergies; but still nothing Oko is going to write home about.


Eye: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 3

 Related Tribes: Bat

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Remember the Evil Eyes? The original one from Legends was called back by Time Spiral twelve years later, and then the tribe went dormant for fifteen years (oh yeah, Time Spiral was closer in time to Legends than we currently are to Time Spiral, can you believe it?). Now they're back – possibly as a preparation to accommodate the Beholders in the Dungeons & Dragons crossover that releases this summer? – and they're not "evil" anymore, though they're still monoblack. In fact, Eyetwitch has nothing in common with its tribal predecessors, and it's just a nice one-drop flyer with learn capabilities. Is it the dawn of a new era for the Eyes, or will we have to wait another decade to get the fourth member?

 


Fox: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 29, online: 27

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Mila, Crafty Companion is the first mythic Fox ever released, but she owes the honor uniquely to being Lukka's latest companion (i.e. the latest creature Lukka tricked into thinking he actually cares about them), which translates into another modal double-faced creature card with a planeswalker on the back, a formula we had first seen in Kaldheim with Valki, God of Lies. Talking of the Mila's side, it looks like she would have caused more excitement in Stanard if she was printed during the War of the Spark era, because she clearly expects to be played as part of a superfriend deck. And you need a serious number of planeswalkers out at once to put her first static ability to good use; if you just have the one, the opponent will just have to keep the extra loyalty point into account when attacking it, which might be annoying, but not particularly ground-breaking. The second static ability is more generically useful as a Shapers' Sanctuary effect. But if we disregard the planeswalker protection and focus on the incidental card draw, we end up in a card that might be worth in a white aggro deck (the two white symbols in her cost also support this idea), although scarcely impactful on turn three. But then, a build of that nature doesn't really care about Lukka on the back, a double-red-costing six-drop that's entirely aimed on discarding big creatures to reanimate them temporarily. Even the Terror of the Peaks ultimate doesn't really fit White Weenie. VIce versa, the Big Red list that wants Lukka as a centerpiece woudn't know what to do with Mila, since it probably generates very few target-worthy permanents to begin with. Maybe this dissonance is meant to represent the fact that their bond is a delusion on Mila's part, and Lukka's once again willing to callously exploit their friendship and then get rid of her? When will these companions learn?


Frog: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 29, online: 28

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Yargle fandom notwithstanding, the Frog tribe still count only three cards of rarity higher than uncommon – the last one being The Gitrog Monster in Shadows over Innistrad five years ago. So it's not really surprising to find just two barely pickable Limited cards with the Frog subtype in Strixhaven. Unwilling Ingredient is flavorful and has some merit, connecting early on for some incidental damage and then becoming sacrifice fodder, as its name implies, and producing post-mortem card advantage. But in the same set, Eyetwich does all these same things more assuredly and efficiently.


Fungus: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 45, online: 44

 Related Tribes: Beast

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: After the big boost in Dominaria, the Fungi have only seen a handful of new entries, but for the most part they cemented black as their secondary color, something that was strangely overlooked in the tribe, which has had a single monoblack member for years: after all, a Fungus seems the natural product of the marriage between green and black. And Brackish Trudge nicely combines Golgari's interest in graveyard recycling with Witherbloom's passion for lifegain. Is the result any good? It's okay. The power is threatening and the recursion cost is small, but still a far cry from the automatic self-resurrection onto the battlefield of something like Silversmote Ghoul, even if the Trudge's return condition is less demanding and easier to set up turn after turn.


Gargoyle: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 29, online: 28

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This guy could have been decent if it was more aggressively costed. As it is, it's not even really viable in Limited. Speaking of Gargoyles, it's curious how to date almost half the tribe is still of the "blood and flesh" variety (16 artifacts, 13 non-artifacts), despite the fact that the term originates with the architectural figures, and even when used in a fantasy setting, most of the time it maintains the concept of monsters that are made of or turn into stone (even the 1990s Disney show included that idea).


Golem: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 123

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Artifact creatures aren't at their best in Strixhaven (and there's not even the excuse of being colorless, since they could have easily made colored ones instead). Golem is on par with its fellow artifact tribes. Reflective Golem tries to propose a reverse Precursor Golem deal, but it's just clunky. A positive note: Golem is the second largest tribe, after Horror, for which all the existing members are available on MTGO.


Horror: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 207

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: And here's the biggest tribe that's entirely online. It's the one good thing I can say about Horror at this juncture, because Mage Hunter is kinda meh, especially for being the monstrosity everyone in Strixhaven fear so much as one of their enemies' "most powerful tools". I mean, it's a nightmare for storm players, I guess (although, a Grapeshot sequence can just kill it first, so it'd just require a storm count four points higher). But other than that, it's a below-curve 3/4 beater that can occasionally cause some loss of life, but it's patently ridiculous against aggro. Maybe such an important element of the story should have warranted a rare?


Human: +33

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 2529, online: 2346

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Druid, Monk, Shaman, Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: For all the attempts at diversifying the apperance of Strixhaven's students and staff, Humans are still a large share of the population (to be fair, there's definite diversity among the Human depictions, but that's the answer to a different concern). Apparently, what's to blame is the players' allegedly strong need for identification with the little cards they move around during a game of Magic.


Illusion: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 88, online: 83

 Related Tribes: Bird

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Since when Mirage's Skulking Ghost was color- and type-shifted into Planar Chaos's Gossamer Phantasm, the downside of being allergic to targeting became the signature of the Illusion tribe, or at least of its more aggressively styled members (the obscure Mirozel from Exodus previously had a variant of the wording). Dream Strix doesn't surpass the most explosive cost/body ratios produced by this setup, like the common Illusionary Servant. It allows for abilities to target it, though, an improvement already in place the last time we've seen an Illusion of this kind, which was Labyrinth Guardian out of Amonkhet. It also learns when its fate comes, an outcome almost guaranteed, since it's very hard to have it end up in exile rather than the graveyard. The package might not be rare-level, and the lack of a sideboard in Tribal Wars reduces learning to a mere instance of rummaging (which can still turn excess lands into gas anyway); but it's still a welcome second three-drop that threatens three evasive damage in Monoblue Illusion Aggro.


Kor: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 73

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Shaman, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Professor of Symbology is a neat application of learn, almost on par with classic straighforward white early value drops like Thraben Inspector. For the rest, the Kors of Strixhaven doesn't impress. Their Pledgemage is one of the worst in the cycle, and Thunderous Orator is the kind of creature that becomes better if you're already winning the game, which never seems particularly great.


Lizard: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 59, online: 57

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This guy might just be a semi-playable Limited card, but at least the Lizards can brag about the fact that at least one of their humanoid members is working as Strixhaven University's Hall Monitor. Yeah, I'm afraid the Lizards aren't used to brag about much.


Merfolk: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 242, online: 239

 Related Tribes: Druid, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Merfolk doesn't get many new members in Strixhaven, but at least they're a common sight in draft. Soothsayer Adept is a valuable pick for every deck that runs blue, being able to stop early aggression and sculpt the hand, while Quandrix Pledgemage is hands down the best of the namesake cycle, with some degree of Constructed potential. The rare Torrent Sculptor is a midrange beater meant for a specific deck that routinely sends expensive instants and sorceries into the graveyard during the first three turns. Its back face is the perfect enabler for the front, and plays well with the same Strixhaven cards Efreet Flamepainter cares about, namely Elemental Masterpiece, Creative Outburst, and Magma Opus.


Minotaur: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 92, online: 91

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The setup for this Minotaur's impulsive drawing is a bit convoluted, but not improbable – by the time a five-drop attacks, there are going to be a few instants or sorceries in the graveyard, and putting them back can easily turn into an additional bonus. The main issue is that it's, in fact, a five-drop, and not one that's particularly adept at anything else.


Monk: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 90, online: 87

 Related Tribes: Monk

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The quantity of +1/+1 counters synergies in Stixhaven is a large number, and after a while it's hard to feel excited about the umpteenth card that maximize the counters we happen to have lying around on our team. Dueling Coach could have maybe be interesting as a rare with better casting cost and activation cost. Plus, Monk is not the right tribe for this theme, especially in white, where there's only Alharu, Solemn Ritualist from Commander Legends.


Ogre: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 93, online: 88

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I'm aware this is not going to matter in the least in Constructed, but it's still a very playable five-drop with haste plus a relevant secondary ability for when there's not a free path to connect on the ground. Also, kudos for not turning it into a painfully obvious Hagrid reference (I know Hagrid is technically a half-giant, but Giant isn't in the set, so Ogre feels like the closest tribe they could have used).


Orc: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 64

 Related Tribes: Shaman, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Orc gets a few new members of note, if not exactly unforgettable. The most well-rounded is Rootha, Mercurial Artist, the Prismari representative of the students cycle, a repeatable Fork effect for Fork mana, and an efficient blocker in the meantime. Her applications might be narrow, but in the right build she'll make for a welcome enabler. Plargg, Dean of Chaos is similarly specialized. He's a two-mana rummager, which is already okay, and then he can cascade into nonlegendary cards of mana value three or less. The activation costs five, though, so it's probably going to take over our entire turn, at least until the very late game, so the "chaos" aspect of it all might be too prominent to prove competitive. And co-dean Augusta on the back isn't a particularly strong complement to Plargg either, being mostly a convolute way to get our team an anthem and pseudo-vigilance.

 Of the two hybrid-colored Orcs, Prismari Pledgemage is an excellent early blocker for Limited, while Elemental Expressionist has a magecraft ability that seems hard to exploit consistently – blue-red isn't the sacrifice pair, and answering removal with an instant of our own won't always be feasible. These creatures with quadruple hybrid symbols (they compose a lowkey cycle) are pretty great at enabling devotion, though, so there's that. Also, the Expressionist is, weirdly enough, the only creatures that's able to create the 4/4 Elemental tokens that define Prismari College but it's almost entirely assigned to the cure of noncreature spells – and the Elemental tribe isn't even present in the set with cards of its own.

 


Pest: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 2

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: The woundrous tale of the Pests finally reaches its second chapter, after ten long years. I can't really say anybody was waiting for this development, because I'm sure most people had even forgotten Mirrodin Besieged's Signal Pest actually had Pest has a creature type, like we were still in the 1990s, when if a creature was called "Floral Spuzzem", it'd have "Spuzzem" in the type line. And to be fair, these new Pests that function as mascots for Witherbloom College (and ingredients for their witchy concoctions) have nothing to do with their Mirran predecessor. Only one of them is an actual card rather than a token, but it's enough to make Pest the smallest tribe to include a legendary, a mythic, and a lord – which is pretty insane (even more insane: Commander 2021 has already beaten this record!).

 Blex, Vexing Pest has an entertaining back story, and it's a fairly playable card, if perhaps a bit underwhelming in the mythic slot. He trades well with his three-powered body, gains some life, and has a one-shot Sylvan Library trigger on the back. He can command a black-green deck based around the various tribes that comprise the "Pests" batching – and that's an interesting group, although it makes you think why Pest isn't just a batching to begin with. Also, shouldn't Rabbit be among them? Rabbits can be a nightmare for farmers and are considered outright vermin in many countries. Anyway, there aren't Insects, Snakes, or Spiders in the set for Blex to lead, and only one Bat, but Pest tokens are plentiful, especially through combos like Sedgemoor Witch and Plumb the Forbidden. And elsewhere, Blex can certainly find go-wide builds in search of an anthem – Scute Swarm decks, just to name one.

 


Phoenix: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 27, online: 26

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Obligatory Phoenix (is that a thing now?) uses the learn mechanic as enabler, which is not a stupid idea. You do something you're already extracting value from, and as a byproduct you get your Phoenix back. Sounds like a good deal. Retriever Phoenix isn't the biggest of its kind, and not very fast to drop from hand (of course we can always discard it, like Arclight Phoenix taught us), but has haste, and learns herself when we first cast it, so it's already a two-for-one. The tribe has definitely seen much worse specimens in the past.


Plant: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 53, online: 49

 Related Tribes: Dog, Wall

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: There are quite a few one-drop Plants to sacrifice to that weird vegetable Dog on turn two, so fast aggro might become a viable approach for the tribe, strangely enough. If not, there are always defender members like Overgrown Arch to remind us of the inherent nature of the greenery: static but beneficial, with a lot of potential interactions. In this case, we're in the presence of a sturdy lifegain strategies enabler and a lesson learner, all rolled into one neat foliage.


Rhino: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 38

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Many humanoid animals showed up in Strixhaven, to make the school feel more whimsical, I guess. This Rhino is not the most memorable, and it could just have "other creatures you control have trample" instead of that double clause (after all, Nylea's Forerunner comes with that woring for five mana, and it's a common). But in most circumstances it has the very same effect, since creatures don't need trample when they're blocking, and most green beaters have power equal to their toughness. It's just the excuse for a cool take on the idea of a "symmetrist" (and a wicked pun in the flavor text), so sort of a top-down design in a way. Plus, it gets reach as a bonus, for whatever reason.


Serpent: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 40, online: 39

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Not great as a new Serpent, but perfectly fine as a win condition in Limited.


Shaman: +14

   

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 420, online: 415

 Related Tribes: Bird, Dwarf, Efreet, Human, Kor, Lizard, Minotaur, Ogre, Orc

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: As red's spellcaster class, Shaman has a conspicuous presence in Strixhaven, even if it's the less represented of the five spellcasting types, and gets only two thirds of the new additions Wizard gets. In typical red fashion, most Shamans are focused on early aggression and/or conditional card advantage. Flamescroll Celebrant is a two-drop with firebreathing that damages the opponents when they activate abilities that aren't mana abilities, and has a Silence on the back. Conspiracy Theorist can rummage when he's attacking, but also allows to cast any discarded spell until end of turn, and not just those that end in the graveyard due to his rummaging. Both Celebrant an Theorist swing for two on turn three, and so does the self-replacing Illustrious Historian, the sometimes unblockable Prismari Apprentice, and the already covered Plargg, Dean of Chaos, which is another way for red decks to improve the quality of their hand, and later dig for a random small spell from the top of the library. The same white-red deck that's interested in casting Revel in Silence from the back of Flamescroll Celebrant might also want to exploit the services of Augusta, Dean of Order, the other face of Plargg that can just translate into a way to make our creatures more effective in combat.

  

 The Efreet Shaman Nassari, Dean of Expression unfortunately resides on the back face of Uvilda, Dean of Perfection, so he doesn't count for the tribe. Efreet Flamepainter does, just as she did for her other tribe. Do Shamans have a better time helping her connect to cast free spells from the graveyard? Probably, since they're a much larger tribe with more tricks up their sleeves. On the other hand, Rootha remains a cool card that doesn't fit too well within a tribal deck, since she wants to be surrounded by as many instants and sorceries to copy as it's possible to pack into a list.


Soldier: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 698, online: 640

 Related Tribes: Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Going to prove how little Strixhaven cares for the fighting classes, the only Soldier in the set is this forgettable vanilla two-drop. And we can indeed just forget about it.


Specter: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 25, online: 24

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Another solid filler pick for Limited with a mana sink that has its relevance in the late game. Nothing more, nothing less.


Spirit: +12

   

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 498, online: 491

 Related Tribes: Advisor, Bird, Cleric, Dog, Dwarf, Soldier, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Spirits on Arcavios mostly take the form of the ghost of the ancestors (this probably derives from the Hogwarts ghosts in Harry Potter, albeit none of them appears to dwell in a painting). The Clerics of the Lorehold College search for them while excavating ancient ruins, and communicate with them. Which is why the Spirit lords in the set are red-white Clerics like these three.

  

 The rare Spirits are also Clerics, namely the recursion engine Venerable  Warsinger and the ETB hater Strict Proctor. Both are okay. The former is a bit harder to set up, the latter is a flying hatebear that has better competition as a sideboard card, even in Standard.

 Spirits of lesser rarities incorporate a "leaving the graveyard matters" theme, which we had already seen with Quintorius, Field Historian. It's very flavorful, but isn't declined in very interesting ways. All the common and uncommon Spirits in the sets are strictly for Limited, and not even exceedingly high picks in draft, like the conditional "retrievers" Pillardrop Rescuer and Returned Pastcaller.

 One peculiar aspect of Strixhaven's Spirits is that moving them out of their typical white-blue pairing and into white-red made the average specimen a non-flyer with higher power than toughness, as exemplified by the mascot token.

 


Squirrel: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 5

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: With Squirrel enthusiast Mark Rosewater's behind-the-scenes help, the woodland rodents continue their triumphal march back into black-bordered Magic – and not just when the mythology at hand makes it convenient. Scurrid Colony is a simple implementation, but does its job of being a strictly better Grizzly Bears, and has good synergies with ramp decks, particularly in Limited. With its printing, the tribe has reached the point where it can field 20 creatures for Tribal Wars without resorting to changelings. Huzza!

   


Treefolk: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 76, online: 74

 Related Tribes: Druid, Warlock

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: As amazing as it sounds, (Gnarled ProfessorSTX) is the most effective Treefolk of its cost range, power-wise. Previously, the tribe's four-drops competitors only included Canker Abomination, which is only larger if our opponents control no creatures while it enters the battlefield, while Unstoppable Ash and Flowering Lumberknot require another creature to function, and Abominable Treefolk and Dauntless Dourbark depend on specific board states (though, to be fair, both are probably going to be bigger than the Professor in most circumstances). That makes this fearsome member of Strixhaven's faculty a pretty formidable four-mana beater, coming with trample and built-in card advantage in the form of learning.

 The common Treefolk is also somewhat noteworthy, as arguably the best representative of the Pledge cycle. It's a force to be reckoned with in Limited, where a 5/5 aligns favorably against most of what usually has to face. In addition, the magecraft trigger helps its color pair's lifegain synergies. I won't go as far as saying Witherbloom Pledgemage has a life beyond Strixhaven drafts, even just in Treefolk tribal, where it'd have to compete for the five-mana slots with an essential lord like Timber Protector. But it's certainly way better, in its simplicity, than your regular Limited filler.


Troll: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 43, online: 42

 Related Tribes: Druid, Warlock

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The two green Trolls from Strixhaven might have an appreciable impact on the tribe as a whole (the black one is just low-rate Limited filler). Augmenter Pugilist is a perfectly playable three-drop 3/3 trampler that might turn into an 8/8 later on, and has a cool, if not even necessary, alpha strike-enabling trick on the back – perhaps a way to turn our entire team into an army of 8/8 tramplers. It's also flavorfully neat to have Quandrix as the college that include athletes, because that's green's physical prowess coupled with blue's mental discipline.

 As for Honor Troll, he gives the tribe his own Angel of Vitality. Of course he couldn't be a flyer, but he's vigilant, and for the rest it's almost exactly the same. The lifegain-enhancing ability interacts favorably with everything from Witherbloom, and it's in general a good tool for green to suddenly have, and a special boon when combined with Accomplished Alchemist.


Turtle: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 22, online: 20

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Archelos, Lagoon Mystic from Commander Legends was the first instance of "turtle people" in the game. Strixhaven's need to include mages of different shapes and sizes offers the occasion to continue the trend with Quandrix Cultivator. The card is a direct descendant of the old Ondu Giant from Rise of the Eldrazi, but our Quandrix-colored Turtle improves on the blueprint by having more power, and especially by fetching the land untapped, which is a crucial element of the re-design. Of course the mana requirement in the cost is steeper than the original's single green, but overall, it just dictates the use within a deck that's base blue-green; in such a build the hybrid mana symbol and the generic mana symbol amount pretty much to the same thing. It's huge for the tribe to have its own Solemn Simulacrum, one that doesn't draw a card upon death but makes for a more sizeable presence on the battlefield after the ramping it's done.


Vampire: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 261, online: 257

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Druid, Warlock

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Vampires have a dean within their ranks thanks to Valentin, but his MDFC's major point of interest is actually Lisette on the back, and double green doesn't make it easy to cast her in a Vampire build – even if she would be properly enabled there, due to the tribe's frequent incidental lifegain. The only other rare is Callous Bloodmage, which is a robust modal card. Most of the times he'll either be a 2/1 body with an accompanying Pest, or a more expensive Dusk Legion Zealot. So far it doesn't look incredibly flexible, but the graveyard hate as a third option is what makes it attractive, because it's something that doesn't always matter, but when it does, it can win us a game.

 The two commons are efficient three-drop beaters for Limited, subscribing to two different general strategies (lifegain and magecraft), while the uncommon, Tenured Inkcaster, is a bit too expensive to be an effective Hooded Blightfang for "+1/+1 counters matter" decks – let alone within a tribe that already has Sanctum Seeker.


Wall: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 135, online: 114

 Related Tribes: Plant

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: It's strange to me that none of these Walls represents the school itself. Excavated Wall is one of the ruins the Lorehold College explores. It's a stricly better Steel Wall, but I wouldn't count that as an accomplishment. Overgrown Arch has more things going on, and even if it can't exactly compare with all-time great two-drop green Walls like Wall of Roots and Wall of Blossoms, it actually comes close, thanks to the combination of card advantage through learning, and its clean enabling of lifegain synergies.


Warlock: +16

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 27

 Related Tribes: Bird, Human, Treefolk, Troll, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Warlock growth project keeps going at a breakneck speed. In fact, I might be tempted to think the only reason they were unexpectedly introduced as the black spellcaster class back in Throne of Eldraine was to guarantee each color would have a characteristic "mage" for Strixhaven.

 On top of the two rare Vampire Warlocks, the more prominent new members are all Human, most notably the master villain of the piece, Extus, Oriq Overlor. The dark lord is, appropriately enough, the only multicolored creature in the set sporting a color identity unaligned with the five colleges. On the front, he's a white-black four-drop that swings for four, but via double strike, which makes him more dangerous the moment he would acquire one or more of those +1/+1 counters that go around these days. In his presence, every instant or sorcery we cast, or copy thereof, carries a Raise Dead spliced onto it. All this said, the big spell on the back is a bit weird. It creates a hasty 3/6 Avatar token that deals three additional damage as an attack trigger (to each opponent, so it might go up in value in multiplayer, which is perhaps the environment it was designed for). The more intriguing fact is that it could double as sacrifice outlet, although there are many available that do more than just discounting your token. At the end of the day, it feels like Awaken the Blood Avatar was put there primarily for flavor reasons, since it's what Extus does in the story. Regardless, Extus remains a powerful creature just going by his front only.

  

 Looking at the rest of the Human Warlocks (which sadly don't include Embrose, Dean of Shadow, as he's constrained on the back side of the Bird Cleric Shaile, Dean of Radiance), we find a few additional goodies. Sedgemoor Witch is, hands down, the best application of magecraft – or at least the one that's easier to enable, more consistently strong, and clearly positioned as the centerpiece of a specific gameplan. The latter being Black-Green Sacrifices, using the Pests created by the Witch to fuel a massive Plumb the Forbidden, which in turn will recreate all the sacrificed Pests (or essentially will turn any sacrificed fodder into a brand new Pest), since magecraft is triggered by each copy separately. On top of this, the Witch is a three-powered creature with menace, already ensuring a fair deal of damage on her own, and there's even three extra life to pay when the opponent tries and target her with removal. A great package, all the way through.

 A powerful effect is also the one handled by Oriq Loremage, who can fetch any card to the graveyard by just tapping himself. The implications of this ability are countless (you can fetch a reanimation target, a self-returning critter, a spell with flashback, and so on and so forth), even if the Loremage's casting cost is not entirely compatible with highly competitive formats. At the very least, though, he could thin the deck by removing lands, and in some cases he could turn into a threat by growing big enough – although I feel like instants and sorceries are the least likely targets and would require a specific build-around.

 Killian, Ink Duelist is the honor student for Silverquill College, as well as Embrose's own son. This young Warlock takes the form of an aggressive two-drop with relevant keywords that makes spot removal easier to cast. Or, I guess, Auras and combat tricks, if Killian is employed in that kind of deck. For the same mana value, Silverquill Apprentice is similar, but much less intriguing, unless involved in some kind of storm build, which I would deem pretty unlikely; she's a good card for Limited, though, and the same applies to the three-drop Shadewing Laureate (even if her ability isn't too easy to casually trigger) and, to a lesser extent, the four-drop Spiteful Squad.


Warrior: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 802, online: 785

 Related Tribes: Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: As with Soldier, the design team for Strixhaven seems to have purposely include singleton instance of the fighting classes just to show them at their most insignificant. I mean, this guy can tap to enhance the power of attacking Spirits. He doesn't even care for other Warriors. And there's a reason I didn't even mention him when examining the set's Spirit synergies. The last time a monored Spirit mattered was... Simian Spirit Guide! (Okay, I'm lying, it was Eidolon of the Great Revel, but that's still not a card you'd ever include in a Spirit tribal build. And also still full seven years ago).


Wizard: +21

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 806, online: 788

 Related Tribes: Bird, Djinn, Frog, Human, Kor, Merfolk, Orc

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Unsurprisingly, Wizard is Strixhaven's pièce de résistance. The tribe is pulled in all kinds of directions in the set, which makes it quite difficult to evaluate these new additions as a whole. Take the mythic, Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios. She's an extremely powerful Wizard, well worth the title of most accomplished mage on the plane. If Sedgemoor Witch is magecraft at its most accessible, Jadzi is the larger-than-life application, capable of basically casting and/or putting onto the battlefield our entire deck, at least if combined with infinite generic mana. So on one hand, there's this ginormous power, but on the other hand, she's a freaking eight-drop! What Wizard deck is actually interested in a eight-drop? Then scratch that, she's the payoff for a ramp build, and her back side works perfectly with that, pouring lands onto the battlefield (with great synergy with spells that fetch lands into our hand, like Cultivate or Nylea's Intervention), and possibly returning to hand afterwards, so we can still have access to Jadzi. And the opponent will have a hard time getting rid of her, because she can return to hand.

  

 So Jadzi's great, but does she care of being a Wizard at all? No more than Imbraham on the back of Kianne, Dean of Substance, I would say. Arguably less than Uvilda, Dean of Perfection, with her suspend-but-not-really ability, which doesn't look like something that fits any tribal deck too well.

 Quandrix College is the more "wizard-y" of them all, emphasizing the scientist side of the blue spellcasters. The college's poster student Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy, a little genius girl, is conditional ramp that turns into card-drawing in the late game. Quandrix Apprentice is the magecraft version of Nessian Wanderer. Biomathematician enhances Fractal tokens. Manifestation Sage creates a big Fractal, and he's good friends with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling (he provides enough devotion to wake her up, she flickers his ETB effect). Do all of these go into the same blue-green Wizard concoction, with ramp spells enabling the Apprentice's magecraft, so that Zimone can drop lands on the battlefield, to ultimately draw card to create bigger Fractals? It's possible, but I'm not sure all of this is going to be a thing anywhere. Just like I'm not sure if Archmage Emeritus is a combo piece for storm decks, or else it's just a superficially good magecraft application that's ultimately more convoluted than just casting a four-mana draw spell and call it a day.

 A few new Wizards even take the role of White Weenie aggro! What are we going to do with those? Clever Luminancer has even the potential of dealing a fair amount of damage, and Star Pupil is basically a non-artifact modular creature, totally at home in any aggressive +1/+1 counters deck featuring Conclave Mentor, Wildwood Scourge and such.

   


Wolf: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 58, online: 54

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is a perfectly fine little Wolf that can immediately attack if the path is open, or grow when it gets the occasion. Maybe three mana are one too many for its stats, and red is a minority color in the tribe these days, but all in all, it's not terrible. Doesn't it look like it should be a Spirit, though? Like, what's an actual Wolf doing in a library? And why is it luminescent?


Wurm: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 93, online: 88

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Pelakka Wurm redux! Compared to its predecessor, Bookwurm costs one mana more, gains four less life, but draws us a card right away. And it comes back, which is not irrelevant. Not bad for an uncommon. The punny flavor is also great – there's some strange stuff in Strixhaven's library.


Zombie: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 473, online: 466

 Related Tribes: Crocodile

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This Crocodile is a Zombie just because it hails from Witherbloom. It's actually surprising "the undead creatures of Sedgemoor" aren't represented more widely – in fact, they're only represented by this Karok and maybe that one Specter? Also, what about it makes it a lifelinker? Is it being a Crocodile? It's the tears that do it?


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


BEST IN SHOW (Dragons & Deans aside)
(click on any them to go to their review)

  

  

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THE DEANS
(click on the front face of any of them to go to their review)

 

 

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THE HONOR STUDENTS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

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THE APPRENTICES
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

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THE PLEDGES
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

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KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS