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Tribal Throwback Brews


Hello, everyone! With everybody's eyes looking ahead to the cards being previewed from War of the Spark, it's the perfect opportunity to look backwards to see if there are any decks that could be fun to play that focus on themes from previous sets. This week, I have for you some decks featuring the tribes of Ixalan. Let's get started with the dinosaur tribe.

Domri's Dinos

Do you like playing large, stompy creatures? If so, then this deck is for you. Let's take a look at it:

Ghalta, Primal Hunger
In a few weeks, I fully expect a ton of decks to be playing more Planeswalkers than ever. What better way to deal with them than with a huge dinosaur that has trample. Ghalta, Primal Hunger can come down early as a way to disrupt your opponent's plans. Since it can't be effectively chump-blocked, you should be able to take out most any Planeswalker that your opponent is counting on to be in play. If you're not able to find Ghalta, Charging Monstrosaur does a pretty decent impression of her on a slightly smaller scale and since it has haste, it can throw a wrench into your opponent's plans before they know what hit them.

While I'm not completely sold on Rhythm of the Wild, I can certainly see its usefulness in this deck. Many of your creatures are big, imposing dinosaurs. Giving them haste can be all that's needed to turn a relatively midrange deck into a full-on aggressive deck. Once War of the Spark releases, I could see either Samut, Tyrant Smasher or Vivien, Champion of the Wilds being good additions to this deck. Samut gives all of your creatures haste and Vivien allows you to cast creatures as though they had flash.

Zegana's Merfolk

The next deck I have for you features the Merfolk tribe. If +1/+1 counters are your thing, you'll want to check this deck out:

Zegana, Utopian Speaker
The Merfolk tribe, the Simic, and creatures with explore all have one thing in common and that is a love of +1/+1 counters. If you're looking for a deck with a ton of triggers that allow you're creatures to get bigger as the game goes on, look no further. Every creature in this deck has the ability to get +1/+1 counters on it either through explore abilities or by using Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca's ability to add a +1/+1 counter to each Merfolk you control. Thanks to Zegana, Utopian Speaker, those +1/+1 counters will also grant the ability to trample, which the previous deck has shown can be pretty impressive.

A great addition to this deck from War of the Spark will be Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter. Not only does his -1 loyalty ability allow you to put a +1/+1 counter on any of your creatures, but his static ability allows all of your creatures with a +1/+1 counter to be tapped to create 1 mana of any color. With that potential for extra mana, there's a few ways you could choose to go. You could cast large creature spells with X in their converted mana cost, such as Hungering Hydra or Hydroid Krasis. You could take control of your opponent's creatures with Mass Manipulation. You could dump a huge amount of threats onto the battlefield with Kamahl's Druidic Vow. Or, if you're feeling super spicy, since the mana created can be of any color, you could burn your opponent out with a massive Banefire.

Dimir Pirates

Pirates are known for taking things that don't belong to them. That's exactly what this deck is looking to do. Let's take a look at it:

Hostage Taker
Hostage Taker has been a thorn in my side ever since it was printed. As a primarily aggro player, the creatures I put into play are generally inexpensive threats that pack a punch. With Hostage Taker, it's relatively easy to steal any aggressive threat and play it on the same turn, denying your opponent the chance to destroy Hostage Taker and get the creature back.

Not only does this deck steal things with Hostage Taker, but it also plays Thief of Sanity which has the ability to cast anything from your deck when it hits you. Since Thief of Sanity has flying, it can be difficult for low-to-the-ground aggro decks to block. That means that you'll likely be able to cast multiple of your opponent's cards, adding insult to injury when you beat them with their own cards.


The final deck I have for you features the Vampire tribe. But this isn't your typical tribal deck, since it also features a token theme as well. Let's take a look at the deck:

Hero of Precinct One
Hero of Precinct One can do a ton of work for you in this deck. Since a lot of your spells are multicolored, having a Hero of Precinct One in play will usually net you a few 1/1 Human creature tokens. If you happen to get out multiple copies of Hero of Precinct One, each will trigger and give you extra Humans when you do your normal game plan and cast your spells. If you also have Divine Visitation in play, those tiny Humans suddenly become 4/4 Angel creature tokens. Getting a few Angels in play can spell a quick defeat for your opponent.

Those Angel tokens can really get out of hand if you have Teysa Karlov in play. With Teysa, any creature token you have will get vigilance and lifelink. Even if the tokens you have are just Humans, giving them both vigilance and lifelink can make it so that it's no longer profitable for your opponent to attack you. Use that reprieve to continue building up your forces and attack your opponent with vigor. Once you're able to get them on their heels, victory should be well within your grasp.

Wrapping Up

War of the Spark is nearly here, but that doesn't mean that the cards from previous sets will no longer see play. These decks all feature tribes that have been in Standard for quite a while, and they can still pack a punch. Decks like these can continue to evolve when new cards are released, so don't be afraid to look through your older cards to see if you can find any sweet combinations you can take advantage of in Standard.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

- Mike Likes