It’s no secret, I’ve always liked Magic tournaments. The thrill of doing well is a natural high, and it’s always fun to see who can do the best.
We have a tribal EDH tourney called The Tribal Throwdown coming up on the horizon, where we’ll be smashing the various tribes of MTG (Goblins, Merfolk, etc) together to find out who is the best tribe, and which tribe will come out on top.
As I’ve done for each of our other tourneys, I’ve built a number of surprise entrants for this one. Today, we’ll be looking at these entrants, and discuss them in some detail. Let’s take a look!
A QUICK HISTORY:
As a MTG tournament player at heart, I have always had a spot in my heart for tournaments. I love the excitement of doing well and the thrill of competition, and it’s always been a blast to compete when I can. Hence, every year for the last five years, my little EDH playgroup has hosted a massive EDH tournament between our decks, to crown a champion. This tournament is called The EDH Battle Royale, and this year marked the fifth time we have done this. It’s both casual and highly competitive, and we look forward to who winds up champion each time. This tribal tourney will be following in the footsteps of the Battle Royale events (on a much smaller scale).
Five years ago, roughly around the fall, in the big lull between the fall big set and the February expansion, I set up a swiss-style tournament between all of our EDH decks that I called “The EDH Battle Royale.” The concept was simple: To find out which EDH deck would prove to be the best of the best, from among 32 of our decks in a massive tournament.
That first battle raged fiercely for three-quarters of a month, and when the dust cleared, Sedris, the Traitor King was our ultimate winner of the first ever EDH Battle Royale event. Since that initial tourney, we have done the Battle Royale event four more times, and each time, it’s been a ton of fun.
Now, with a tribal tourney on the horizon, the question looms: which Magic tribe will prove to be the strongest in EDH?
As it turned out, I had some secret tribes put together that wanted their chance to shine in the event!
THE CURRENT ROSTER:
Going into this event, these were the tribal decks that everyone knew about:
Krenko, Mob Boss – tribal Goblins
Darien, King of Kjeldor – tribal Soldiers
Ezuri, Renegade Leader – tribal Elves
Gisa and Geralf – tribal Zombies
Azami, Lady of Scrolls – tribal Wizards
Kangee, Aerie Keeper – tribal Birds
Olivia, Mobilized for War – tribal Vampires
Kaseto, Orochi Archmage – tribal Snakes
Horde of Notions – tribal Elementals
General Tazri – tribal Allies
Sliver Legion – tribal Slivers
Zirilan of the Claw – tribal Dragons
Karona, False God – tribal Angels
Kaalia of the Vast – tribal Angels, Demons, and Dragons
Prime Speaker Zegana – tribal Merfolk
Heliod, God of the Sun – tribal Clerics
Derevi, Empyrial Tactician – tribal Squirrels
Just looking at the list of decks, there are some tribes that stick out to me as potential favorites to win the whole thing: Goblins, Zombies, and Elves. WotC has really pushed these tribes with powerful spells and Lords over the last few years, so I could easily see one of these decks winning it all.
Joel was the question mark going into this event. His work schedule is erratic at best, so we’d have to plan around doing the event without him. With him, we’d need to have 36 decks, cut to a final four; without him, we’d have 27 decks, cut to a final three. Either way, since we only had 22 decks between me, Darby, and Brianna, I had to start building some decks (5 if it ended up being just the three of us, or 9 in case Joel could make it).
Time to get brewing!
I wanted to make sure that any of the surprise decks I built were quite different from this roster of tribes; the surprise decks had to have tribes that no one would expect, or tribes that no one would have built themselves.
So what did I end up building?
BRAINSTORMING THE SECRET ENTRANTS:
The first thing I did when I sat down to build some secret entrants was to pull up Gatherer, and figure out what odd, off the wall tribes had enough tribe members to build a deck around. I kept my list simple; if the tribe had at least 25 creatures, then I could build a tribal deck around it (supplemented by the changeling creatures of Lorwyn if needs be).
These were the odd creature types that I found, who randomly have a ton of creatures printed with their creature type:
48 Advisor (this is one of the ones I found most surprising)
116 Scout (again, a huge and surprising number)
47 Plant (this one was hilarious to me for some reason)
Some of these numbers, I found really surprising. Considering the Monk creature type has only really been emphasized since Khans block, it has a huge number of creatures (85!), especially when compared to something like Barbarians, who have a measly 31 members, and have been around basically since the dawn of Magic.
I knew going into my brainstorming session that I’d want some of these random tribes to be part of the tourney. To eliminate some of the options, I wanted tribes that also had a potential general with that creature type as well.
It turned out that there were several options. Now having said all that, what did I end up building?
One thing I said as soon as we decided to do a tribal tourney was that I wanted to build a tribal giants deck. Back in the day, I greatly enjoyed drafting R/W Giants in Lorwyn block (and to a lesser extent, in Modern Masters 1), so I’ve always had a soft spot for the large oafs.
R/W Giants decklist:
I really feel that this deck has a good chance at making a run at the tribal title. There are several Giants that just happen to also double as Wrath effects (Giants like Desolation Giant, Thundercloud Shaman, or Bloodfire Colossus), making this deck play like a slower, more controlling deck than the others in the tourney. I’ve added a number of on-theme Wraths and spot removal, making this deck even more defensive.
The control elements should really give this deck a leg up on the other tribal decks (especially the ones with smaller creatures, like Goblins or Elves), and in theory, I should be able to control them long enough to start dropping Giant after Giant.
As a concession to the very high casting costs of the various Giants, I’ve included a number of mana rocks. Hopefully, this will be my early game, letting me accelerate to big Giants earlier than I’d normally play them.
If the game stalls out, I even have a great lategame, thanks to Brion Stoutarm. I can just throw Giants to kill people!
I like this deck’s chances in the tribal tourney. What did I build next?
ORZHOV WARRIORS, “NO-GREEN ALLOWED”:
This next deck is a strange one, but is pretty cool. When Khans block came out, I was highly impressed to see all of the tribal Warrior support in white, black, and to a lesser extent, red. Between Chief of the Edge/Chief of the Scale, we now had viable Warrior Lords in W/B to pump the tribe, and with Raiders’ Spoils, Warriors now even had on-theme card drawing!
The only issue with the tribe was the general. I originally had this tribal deck slated to be Mardu, W/B/R, but I found that the red cards really diluted the deck (and honestly weren’t really needed anyway). I found that I just wanted the deck to be W/B, but there were no strictly W/B legendary Warriors… or were there?
B/W no-green Warriors decklist:
Another very simple and no-nonsense deck, this one just wants to play early Warriors and start pulverizing your face. There are lots of removal spells, recursion and card drawing, to keep the beatdown going.
I got around the lack of W/B general by using Daghatar the Adamant, and just ignoring the green mana in his activation cost. Make no mistake, the deck’s color identity may be W/B/G, but there is no green allowed here!
One thing I considered doing with this list was going even more aggro, with one-drops Tormented Hero, Vampire Lacerator, and Dragon Hunter. I’d be able to shave lands from the deck, and kill people that much faster. For now, I don’t trust the deck with less than 38 lands, so I’ve left it as is for the time being.
I like this deck a lot, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in action in the tourney. Straightforward aggro is a good way to kill off slower decks like the Giant deck (above), or Brianna’s Angel deck, or Darby’s Eldrazi deck, etc.
What else did I build?
This is a tribal deck that I’ve had put together off and on for the last few years, built mostly around awful Kamigawa cards. It won a round in one of the EDH Battle Royale events, so I’ve never been quite able to bring myself to tear it apart (awful as it may be).
Here’s the most recent list, in all of its awful ‘glory’:
Kodama's mono-green Spirits decklist:
It was really saddening for me that we went back to Innistrad in Shadows Over Innistrad (a block with Spirit tribal cards), but the only green Spirit that I got to add was Pack Guardian.
There’s nothing really much to say about this deck. It just wants to curve out with early Spirits, hit an Overrun effect, and hope to kill someone. Then repeat for as many opponents as necessary. (This is a terrible gameplan and rarely works by the way, which is why this deck isn’t in my normal rotation of decks; the deck has little to no way to react to opposing cards, so more often than not it just rolls over and dies to any threatening opposing card.)
I have this deck back together as a last resort for this tribal tourney; if we cannot get enough decks together, I’ll sub this one in in the last place.
I really hope it doesn’t come to that, though. Playing Kamigawa cards as your main strategy is awful.
So there you have it, those are the first few surprise entrants for The Tribal Throwdown!
I am looking forward to seeing how my EDH tribal decks perform against the other decks, and I can’t wait to see exactly which tribe can run the gauntlet and win the championship. In subsequent articles, I will be going over the various games that we play in this tournament; what wins, what loses, any epic plays made, and our ultimate victor. This should be a very fun and exciting event!
Which tribe will reign supreme in EDH? It’s time for us to find out!