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Going Tribal

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With the recent changes to Standard, there have also been major changes to the power levels of the various tribes. Some, like Merfolk, are pretty much irrelevant now, while others, like Humans and Werewolves, have gotten a big boost. The big question is whether a tribe-based deck can be a Tier 1 deck in the new environment. There are six tribes that currently seem pretty interesting in Standard:

Vampires

Stromkirk Noble is one of the best 1-drops in the format. It takes over for Goblin Guide in Red Deck Wins. It’s also the focus of the new Red-based R/B Vampire archetype. It’s especially exciting if you happen to run into a Human deck.

One of the biggest changes to R/B Vampires is that it no longer requires double or triple of a specific color of mana early. Previously, the best 2-drops were all bb. The best 2-drops are now Bloodcrazed Neonate and Vampire Interloper. The 3-drops are still a critical part of the archetype: Crossway Vampire and Rakish Heir. With Lightning Bolt gone, the new 4-drops are also pretty exciting, especially Olivia Voldaren. I’d still build Vampires similar to the deck I mentioned a couple weeks ago, though:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

4 Bloodcrazed Neonate

4 Child of Night

4 Crossway Vampire

4 Rakish Heir

4 Stromkirk Noble

4 Vampire Interloper

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

2 Brimstone Volley

3 Galvanic Blast

4 Shock

4 Vampiric Fury

[/Spells]

[Lands]

10 Mountain

5 Swamp

4 Blackcleave Cliffs

4 Dragonskull Summit

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

The deck should be tuned according to what deck types you expect to be facing the most of. If you expect lots of Blue control decks, you probably want four Volleys and care less about the 1-mana burn spells. Perhaps you should run Adaptive Automatons instead of Shocks. Volt Charge is also better against control, because you might be able to add counters to some of your Vampires. If you’re going to be facing Red Deck Wins or White Weenie, the Shocks are important and you might want Arc Trails instead of Volleys. Your sideboard should feature Black removal and perhaps some hand destruction.

Goblins

The loss of Goblin Guide is a big hit to Goblin decks, but they still have some decent options. Spikeshot Elder and Goblin Arsonist are reasonable 1-drops, Goblin Wardriver is solid at 2 mana, and you still have Goblin Chieftain at 3. If you include Kuldotha Rebirth with some artifacts and then some Goblin Grenades, you can make a pretty dangerous deck:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

4 Goblin Arsonist

4 Goblin Chieftain

4 Goblin Wardriver

4 Spikeshot Elder

4 Memnite

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

4 Goblin Grenade

4 Kuldotha Rebirth

3 Chimeric Mass

3 Darksteel Axe

4 Panic Spellbomb

[/Spells]

[Lands]

22 Mountain

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

The Memnites and Masses give you seven ways to set off a turn-one Rebirth. The Axes give you additional targets for Rebirth and also combine nicely with the Elders. The Spellbombs can draw you a card when you Rebirth, or they can serve a fine role in an aggressive deck even without the Rebirths. The deck is a little vulnerable to Arc Trail, but with luck, the Rebirths and Masses will help.

Elves

Elves have taken a huge hit with the change. Vampires took a big hit, but at least the new set hooked them up. Unlike Merfolk, however, Elves have just enough pieces left to make some people think that maybe they could work. Like most tribes, they took a big hit at 1 mana, which is the most important part of a tribal curve. They still have Llanowar Elves and Copperhorn Scout, though, which helps. With Viridian Emissary at 2 and the likes of Elvish Archdruid and Ezuri, Renegade Leader at 3, they can still fill out the curve okay. The closest I’ve come to making it work is to use Carapace Forger and a bunch of artifacts:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

4 Carapace Forger

4 Copperhorn Scout

4 Elvish Archdruid

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Viridian Emissary

4 Adaptive Automaton

2 Ezuri, Renegade Leader

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

4 Darksteel Axe

4 Flayer Husk

4 Mortarpod

[/Spells]

[Lands]

22 Forest

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

With Metalcraft, the Forgers become serious heavy hitters for 2 mana. The Mortarpods give your mono-Green deck some removal, but you’ll definitely want to sideboard four Dismembers. The struggle with tribal decks is finding a way to make them Tier 1, as most are Tier 2 at best. Elves will definitely be looking for a boost from future sets.

Myr

Obviously, Innistrad hasn’t helped them, but they didn’t lose anything in the change, either. Myr also have a major weak spot at 1 mana, but after that, they do some cool stuff: Myr Sire, Perilous Myr, and Myr Galvanizer. They’re especially good if you use them with White: Origin Spellbomb, Myrsmith, Shrine of Loyal Legions, and Master's Call. I’d build it like this:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

4 Myrsmith

4 Myr Galvanizer

4 Myr Sire

4 Perilous Myr

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

4 Master's Call

4 Intangible Virtue

4 Tempered Steel

4 Origin Spellbomb

4 Shrine of Loyal Legions

[/Spells]

[Lands]

16 Plains

2 Buried Ruin

2 Phyrexia's Core

4 Inkmoth Nexus

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

Given its lack of turn-one plays, this deck is surprisingly close to Tier 1. The Myr Sires, Perilous Myr, and Master's Calls are great against beatdown, and Tempered Steel pretty much wins the game against many aggressive decks. This deck can also give control lots of problems. A turn-two Myrsmith, Shrine, or Virtue can get a major threat past a Mana Leak. A Shrine or a Steel can be pretty much must-counter spells. Inkmoth Nexus becomes a major threat with a Steel. The enchantments, Sires, Shrines, and Inkmoths make the deck resist Day of Judgment well. The deck has great sideboard options with Dispatch, Oblivion Ring, Day of Judgment, and Timely Reinforcements.

Humans

Humans might be the closest to Tier 1. One of the main reasons is the quality of the 1-drops: Champion of the Parish, Elite Vanguard, and Gideon's Lawkeeper. Unlike most tribes, it has options in almost every color: Avacyn's Pilgrim, Grim Lavamancer, Azure Mage, Onyx Mage, etc. Having the best 1-drops makes White an obvious choice for Constructed, and the 2-drop enhancers make Green the next best choice. A couple weeks ago, I listed a mono-White Human deck; this is how I would make it G/W:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

4 Champion of the Parish

4 Elite Vanguard

4 Fiend Hunter

4 Gideon's Lawkeeper

4 Hamlet Captain

4 Mayor of Avabruck

4 Skinshifter

4 Adaptive Automaton

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

4 Bonds of Faith

[/Spells]

[Lands]

10 Plains

5 Forest

1 Gavony Township

4 Razorverge Thicket

4 Sunpetal Grove

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

Another reason that Humans are so strong is the versatile creature control: Lawkeeper, Hunter, and Bonds can stop almost any creatures, but aren’t dead cards if your opponent isn’t playing creatures for you to deal with. This deck should also consider sideboarding Oblivion Rings and Timely Reinforcements.

Werewolves

Innistrad is all about this tribe. It has gone from being a complete nonfactor to being an interesting R/G deck thanks to the new set. It may only have a single 1-drop, but it’s got a strong suite of 2-, 3-, and 4-drops. I might try something like this:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

4 Daybreak Ranger

4 Gatstaf Shepherd

4 Mayor of Avabruck

4 Reckless Waif

4 Village Ironsmith

4 Villagers of Estwald

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

4 Brimstone Volley

4 Moonmist

4 Shock

[/Spells]

[Lands]

5 Forest

9 Mountain

2 Kessig Wolf Run

4 Copperline Gorge

4 Rootbound Crag

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

Of course, any R/G deck in Standard with creatures needs Kessig Wolf Run, but it’s also nicely thematic in this deck. Daybreak Ranger is the card Brian Kibler has been raving about on Twitter and Facebook, so it might be harder to get four of them. Day of Judgment is probably the scariest card for this deck to face. If you expect decks with lots of small creatures, you might want to replace the Volleys with Arc Trails, but I expect lots of U/W and U/B control decks.




I suspect Goblins, Humans, and Myr are the closest to Tier 1. The Goblin deck is fast. It can kill by turn three if starts with a turn-one Rebirth. The Human deck has an incredible suite of 1-drops, excellent 2-mana options, good 3-drops, and versatile creature control. The Myr deck is actually probably my favorite (followed by the Goblin deck.) It has great tools against both control and aggression, it does really powerful things with great synergy, and I love its sideboarding options. It appears that some of the most popular decks are going to be Red Deck Wins, U/B control, and Titan Ramp. I think with some tuning and good sideboarding, the Myr deck and probably the Goblin deck can likely be made to do well against all three.

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