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Tribal Off the Rails


Hi everybody! Now that Christmas is over, I'm hoping to have more time to play more actual paper Magic. Luckily for me, even though I haven't been able to play as much as I would like, other people haven't had that same problem. This week I have for you three decklists that are all based around tribes from Ixalan, but each of them includes something from Guilds of Ravnica that allows them to remain relevant in Standard.


The first deck I have for you is titled Vampire Attack. The creator of the deck, Erinoxe, indicated that it is based on the Vampire decks that they've played against on Magic Arena. Let's take a look at it:

Conclave Tribunal
This looks like a great start to a Vampire tribal deck in Standard. There are a few issues that need to be addressed, however. First of all, the sideboard only has 12 cards. That needs to be filled out to the full 15 for maximum effectiveness. In all honesty, a card like Ajani's Welcome wouldn't be a bad option to have for those games that you know will go long. Since there's a ton of creatures and creature token generators in this deck, you should be able to gain quite a bit of life from having it in play. But if there's a card that would work better based on your own meta, feel free to add that to the sideboard instead.

While I'm not entirely thrilled with Cast Down as the low mana cost creature removal for this deck, I love Conclave Tribunal being the catch-all. It's worth considering swapping Walk the Plank in for Cast Down if there's not much Merfolk being played in your area. Sure, you might be a little more vulnerable to Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger, but being able to destroy any other type of creature could be worth it. As it stands, legendary creatures like Lyra Dawnbringer and Ghalta, Primal Hunger could give this deck fits if you don't draw a Conclave Tribunal in time.

One other thing to think about would be swapping out Arterial Flow for a couple of copies of either Dawn of Hope or Divine Visitation. The sensible side of me says that Dawn of Hope could be used quite effectively in a deck like this that's built to gain a lot of life. The irrational side of me says that making a ton of 4/4 Angel creature tokens when Elenda, the Dusk Rose dies sounds like a ton of fun. Making these tough choices is difficult.


The next deck I have for you features some heavy-hitters from the Dinosaur tribe in Ixalan. However, Dinosaurs aren't the only sources of spice in this deck. Let's take a look at it:

Path of Mettle
Even though there's only one copy in the deck, Shalai, Voice of Plenty does a great job not only protecting your Dinosaurs by giving them all hexproof, but also acting as a mana sink later in the game. This can be used to make your Dinosaurs beefier by giving them +1/+1 counters.

Since many of your Dinosaurs has an enrage ability that's triggered whenever that creature takes damage, Path of Mettle is a terrific way to trigger them for your benefit. The deck is also running a full playset of Forerunner of the Empire. If you're able to get Forerunner of the Empire, Bellowing Aegisaur, and Polyraptor on the battlefield at the same time, you can make a massive amount of Polyraptor tokens. Just keep in mind that you'll be limited by the amount of toughness Bellowing Aegisaur has, but this can be repeated turn after turn as long as you play a single new dinosaur that turn.


The final deck I have for you this week looks to win in an unconventional fashion. Let's take a look at Merfolk Mill:

Drowned Secrets
For those of you not familiar with the term "Mill", it comes from the card Millstone. With that card, you could make a target player (usually your opponent) put the top two cards from their library into their graveyard. The Magic slang term "Mill" basically means to put cards from a player's library into their graveyard.

So, now that you know what mill means, how does this deck attempt to do that? The two main ways to achieve this are with Drowned Secrets and Psychic Corrosion. Every spell in this deck is a Blue spell, therefore once you have a Drowned Secrets in play, casting any of your spells will make target player (your opponent) mill their top two cards.

Psychic Corrosion costs one more mana to play than Drowned Secrets, but it mills your opponent for the same amount (two cards) whenever you draw a card. Naturally you will draw a card at the beginning of each of your turns, so you create a slow win condition without doing anything else. However, you can speed up that clock with the help of cards such as Curious Obsession, Chart a Course, and Seafloor Oracle. One thing to keep in mind is that drawing cards with Seafloor Oracle's ability is mandatory, so if your opponent is running out of cards in their deck and you are as well, you can ask them to count the number of cards remaining so that you don't attack with too many Merfolk and cause yourself to lose the game because you drew too many cards.

Because you might be able to draw extra cards each turn, this deck is playing a couple of copies of Reliquary Tower. This land allows you to have no maximum hand size, so it's a good land to put into play when you know hand size is going to be an issue.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, even though the Ixalan Block cards have been out for a while, when combined with cards from more recent sets, they still have the capability to perform well 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 mikelikesmtg@gmail.com. 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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