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Off-Kilter Standard Tribal Decks


Hello everyone. When I play Magic, I like to win. But, I also like to have fun. Some of my favorite decks to play to have fun and win with have been tribal decks. This week, I have a few tribal decks that you can use against your friends for fun or at your local Friday Night Magic tournament. Let's get started.

Selesnya Cats

The first deck I have for you this week features Cats. Having two cats of my own, I can tell you that cats can be both cute and ferocious. Let's get started by taking a look at the deck.

Kaheera, the Orphanguard
By beginning the game with Kaheera, the Orphanguard as your companion, you have a built-in deck restriction that limits you on the types of creatures you can include in your deck. However, offering five different creature types isn't really that much of a restriction, especially since Kaheera, the Orphanguard gives a +1/+1 bonus plus vigilance to each other creature that is one of those types. In my opinion, companions have always offered a bit of an unfair advantage, and Kaheera, the Orphanguard definitely reinforces this belief. This deck includes a back-up copy of Kaheera for you to cast in the event that your opponent deals with the companion copy.

Kaheera, the Orphanguard isn't the only means of boosting your Cats in this deck. Leonin Lightscribe offers a +1/+1 bonus to every creature you control when you cast or copy and instant or sorcery spell. This can allow you to attack with a little more ferocity than normal, but this deck isn't really built to take advantage of this magecraft ability. Alternatively, this deck is perfectly suited for the bonus provided by Feline Sovereign. Feline Sovereign provides a +1/+1 bonus to other Cats you control and offers protection from Dogs to them. While this protection may not be useful against every opponent, it will allow you to dominate when it is relevant. Feline Sovereign also offers you a repeatable way to destroy an opponent's artifacts or enchantments.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den is an important member of this team. With its ability that allows you to cast a permanent spell from your graveyard that has a mana value of two or less, you'll be able to return vanquished Cats to the battlefield, giving them the opportunity to use another of their nine lives in your defense. Since Lurrus is a Cat Nightmare, it will gain all of the bonuses that your other Cats receive, and since it has lifelink, Lurrus is a great target to give a +1/+1 counter to by targeting it with Animal Sanctuary's activated ability.

Mardu Dragons

Next, I have a tribal deck featuring Dragons, one of the most popular creature types in Magic. Let's take a look at it.

Goldspan Dragon
The Dragons in this deck are very impressive. Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge is a 5/4 with flying. Goldspan Dragon is a 4/4 with flying and haste. Velomachus Lorehold and Terror of Mount Velus are both 5/5, with a slew of abilities that help on both offense and defense. However, that impressiveness of these Dragons comes at a cost. The average mana value of just the Dragons in this deck is 5.5. That means you'd better have a plan of surviving long enough to cast these Dragons.

But, of course, this deck does have a plan. First, you have both Magda, Brazen Outlaw and Mire Triton as early creatures you can play. Mire Triton has deathtouch, which is a big deterrent to any attackers on the ground, and it provides you with two additional points of life when it comes into play. Magda, Brazen Outlaw allows you a means of creating Treasure tokens that you can use to cast your Dragon more quickly. To create a Treasure token, Magda will need to become tapped. Usually, this will be done by declaring her as an attacker, which might be difficult to do with her low stats. But this deck also has a plan for that as well.

Low mana value spells that offer a bonus in combat can help Magda stay alive long enough to create multiple Treasure tokens. Professor's Warning can either give a creature you control a +1/+1 counter or make it indestructible for the turn. Sudden Breakthrough allows you to attack into the threat of a much larger defender. By using it, Magda can destroy a defender with a four toughness and walk away unscathed. Also remember that these boosting spells don't have to be for Magda exclusively. They work just as well when you target a Dragon with them.

Simic Fractals

The final deck I have for you features a new creature type introduced in Strixhaven: School of Mages, Fractals. Let's check it out.

Tanazir Quandrix
Fractals are 0/0 creature tokens that come into play with a number of +1/+1 counters on it. There are a few different means of creating Fractals in this deck. The first is Kasmina, Enigma Sage. By using her -X loyalty ability, you can create a Fractal creature token with X +1/+1 counters on it. Normally you'll do this on the turn after Kasmina comes into play, because you'll want to boost her loyalty by scrying first with her +2 loyalty ability. By using a combination of these two abilities, you'll be able to create a small force of little Fractals.

Those little Fractals you created will get a boost when you play Biomathematician. When this Human Wizard enters the battlefield, you'll create another Fractal token and place a +1/+1 counter on each Fractal you control. This allows your little Fractals to become bigger threats. Another way you can create larger Fractals is with Manifestation Sage. You'll create a Fractal with a number of +1/+1 counters on it equal to the number of cards in your hand when Manifestation Sage comes into play. This will usually amount to somewhere between 3-5 counters. Finally, to create a truly huge Fractal, you can cast Body of Research. This Fractal will come into play with a number of +1/+1 counters equal to the number of cards in your library. Since this will likely be your largest Fractal, it will act like a lightning rod for any removal spells your opponent might have.

Biomathematician and Manifestation Sage are terrific targets for Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. With Thassa in play, ate the beginning of your end step, you'll be able to exile one of your creatures, and then return it to the battlefield. This is a great way to create Fractal tokens turn after turn and add +1/+1 counters to the Fractals you currently have on the battlefield. Another great way to add additional +1/+1 counters is by playing Tanazir Quandrix. This Elder Dragon allows you to double the number of +1/+1 counters on any one creature you control. This makes Tanazir Quandrix a great target for Thassa, Deep-Dwelling as well.

Wrapping Up

I find tribal decks to be fun decks to play. The decks I've shown you this week might not all have as strong of a tribal feel as they could, but I still consider them to be good tribal decks to try out. They all look both fun and powerful to me, and I can't wait to try each of them out.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends anywhere on social media. 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

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