The Tribal Throwdown — Building the Surprise Entrants, Part Two


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 (Zombies, Elves, 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 the second batch of these entrants, and discuss them in some detail.

Let’s take a look!


• To read the intro to The Tribal Throwdown, click here.
• To read about the first surprise entrants, led by Brion Stoutarm (tribal Giants), Daghatar the Adamant (tribal Warriors), and Kodama of the South Tree (tribal Spirits), click here.

Now, this was one that I figured the guys wouldn’t see coming. I knew going into this that one of the surprise entrants would be Insects; my only real question while building the deck was, should I play mono-green (to use Thriss, Nantuko Primus as the commander), GB (for Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest), or RGB (for super old school Xira Arien)?

In the end, the lure of playing Beacon of Creation was just too much:

Mono-green Bugs decklist:

General (1)
Thriss, Nantuko Primus

Creatures (33)
Scute Mob
Caustic Caterpillar
Woodland Changeling
Broodhatch Nantuko
Loam Larva
Adaptive Automaton
Phantom Nantuko
Unyaro Bees
Nantuko Mentor
Caustic Wasps
Nantuko Shaman
Nantuko Vigilante
Yavimaya Ants
Saber Ants
Nantuko Disciple
Giant Caterpillar
Nantuko Calmer
Symbiotic Elf
Giant Dustwasp
Game-Trail Changeling
Stag Beetle
Ant Queen
Deadly Insect
Phyrexian Swarmlord
Symbiotic Beast
Hornet Queen
Symbiotic Wurm
Living Hive
Giant Adephage

Token-making spells (4)
Trigon of Infestation
Carrion Call
Beacon of Creation
One Dozen Eyes

Card drawing (8)
Overwhelming Instinct
Lead the Stampede
Collective Unconscious
Shamanic Revelation
Warriors’ Lesson
Evolutionary Leap

Disenchants (5)
Desert Twister
Stomp and Howl
Gleeful Sabotage
Consign to Dust
Rain of Thorns

Overruns (5)
Gaea’s Anthem
Beastmaster Ascension
Triumph of the Hordes

Other spells (4)
Primal Order
Make a Wish
Bee Sting

Land (40)
Blighted Woodland
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
37 Forest


As a tribe, mono-green Bugs are not flashy or complicated. They just want to swarm the board with tons of Insect tokens, cast an Overrun effect, and end people under a swarm of bugs.

One thing I found was that by going mono-green, I got to run some quality token-generating cards, like the aforementioned Beacon of Creation, Hornet Queen, Saber Ants/Broodhatch Nantuko, and so forth. Bugs that constantly make more bugs is a great game plan, and should lead (hopefully) to many swarming wins.

My favorite part of this deck? The Swarmyard that I finally have a use for, of course! I’ve had one for years and nowhere to use it, so now I finally have a place for it.

The major issue with this deck, of course, is its lack of removal, (and that’s not really something I could do much with in mono-green). I have a ton of Disenchant effects, but killing creatures? Can’t do it, have to kill off the player instead, heh. Portal card Bee Sting is literally my only effective way to kill a creature, and that’s pretty bad.

This deck will end up being quite simple and effective, and I like how it shaped up.

So, those are the four surprise entrants I have built thus far for our tribal tournament (Insects, Warriors, Spirits, and Giants). I have several more planned, so I wanted to take a quick look at what else we could do.

Once again, these were the strange tribes that I found that had a large number of tribe members:

62 Drone
95 Demon
41 Mercenary
53 Kor
41 Kavu
67 Archer
48 Elephant
48 Advisor
82 Wurm
29 Wolf
51 Vedalken
44 Skeleton
116 Scout
233 Rogue
41 Orc
27 Ooze
81 Ogre
29 Nomad
34 Imp
81 Illusion
193 Horror
47 Plant
28 Boar
44 Mutant
71 Hound
31 Barbarian
65 Berserker
101 Artificer
127 Construct
42 Djinn
77 Drake
31 Dryad
39 Minion
63 Minotaur
85 Monk

It’s going to take me some time to sit down and plan out what I can build, but these are basically going to be the criteria.

-Does the tribe have a general with that creature type?
-Do I own all the cards for the deck?

So long as the answer to both is yes, then I’ll be looking at that tribe as one to build as a surprise entrant.

Looking at the list, here are a number of frontrunners:

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave:
This would be tribal Plants. Plants surprised me, having a whopping 41 members of the tribe in black-green (that’s a huge number for a little-used tribe!) Skullbriar is certainly a worthy general as well, being an excellent way to general-kill people.

Zurgo Helmsmasher:
Zurgo was nearly the general of our tribal Warrior deck (it ended up being W/B, and for a long time, I considered splashing red just for Zurgo). If I was to build Zurgo, he’d be the general for the Orc tribe. There are 40 Orcs in Mardu colors, and Zurgo is easily the hardest one for people to stop.

This is one of the more potent generals we can go with, and is excellent at general-killing players. He also happens to be an Assassin, which is the tribe I’d be building him around. There are 45 Assassins in Grixis.
(Now I admit, the main reason I’d want to build this tribe is to use the copy of Scarblade Elite that I’ve had sitting around for years, but still. Assassins are cool!)

Arjun, the Shifting Flame:
If the many wins of the Bird tribal deck, and Isperia the Inscrutable from our EDH Battle Royale events have taught us anything, it’s that occasionally, having a tribe of flying creatures will sometimes just win multiplayer games by being unblockable. If I build Arjun, I’d be building tribal Sphinxes (there are 28 in blue-red), and surprise surprise!, they all have flying!
This deck would be quite slow and likely bad, but could end up surprising people just due to the power of the flying keyword.

Karona, the False God:
This is an ambitious one, but one I’m quite tempted to try to build — five-color God tribal, with Karona as the leader. With the release of Amonkhet, there are now 25 God creatures, who all have one major selling point: they are all indestructible.
This is a huge ability in a tribal tourney, letting me build the deck around Wrath of God effects! I could kill people off with Gods at my leisure once all their creatures are dead. This would be a very tricky deck to get right, but I am quite tempted to try to do so.

Tolsimir Wolfblood:
This one’s simple enough: Tribal Wolves (no Werewolves allowed!) Tolsimir even pumps all the Wolves, and makes one himself, making him an especially effective general. There are 29 Wolves in G/W, and playing this tribe would let me use cards like Predator’s Howl, Howl of the Night Pack, and Raised by Wolves, which are hilarious and fun. It’s not a good tribe, but it might work.

So there you have it, that ends our quick look at the first four surprise entrants for The Tribal Throwdown. I’ll be going over the rest of the surprise entrants at a later date, and I’m definitely looking forward to building them!


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