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.
Well, over the summer, we ran our first-ever Tribal Throwdown tourney, where we smashed the various tribes of MTG (Zombies, Elves, Merfolk, etc) against each other to find out who is the strongest tribe, and which tribe would come out on top as our champion.
This is going to be a quick recap article, and I’m going to highlight just which tribe ended up being the best. Let’s go!
• 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.
• To read about the surprise Insect tribal deck, led by Thriss, Nantuko Primus, click here.
• To read about the surprise Horror deck, led by errata’d Horror legend Morinfen, click here.
As with my other tourneys, this was a quick single-elimination style tournament. We started with 27 tribes, then whittled them down to 9, then down to a final 3.
(Actually, to be more correct, we started with four players’ worth of decks, which was going to cut down to a final 4. One of our players had to withdraw early on, however, so I had to redo the tourney to be three player.)
These were the tribes I had built for this tourney:
Krenko, Mob Boss – tribal Goblins
Ezuri, Renegade Leader – tribal Elves
Gisa and Geralf – tribal Zombies
Darien, King of Kjeldor – tribal Soldiers
Zirilan of the Claw – tribal Dragons
Azami, Lady of Scrolls – tribal Wizards
Kangee, Aerie Keeper – tribal Birds
Olivia, Mobilized for War – tribal Vampires
Horde of Notions – tribal Elementals
Sliver Legion – tribal Slivers
General Tazri – tribal Allies
Kaseto, Orochi Archmage – tribal Snakes
Kodama of the North Tree – tribal Spirits
Brion Stoutarm – tribal Giants
Morinfen – tribal Horrors
Thriss, Nantuko Primus – tribal Insects
Daghatar the Adamant – tribal Warriors
Going into this event, I thought that I had a pretty sweet lineup of tribes to work with, with some sweet surprise decks which I built just for this event (Horrors, Giants, Warriors, and Insects).
Of my list, I expected the Goblins, Elves, and Zombies to do the best (they have had the most tribal support printed for them by WotC over the years), with Slivers and Allies being my dark horse potential winners.
This was Darby’s lineup:
Of Darby’s decks, I liked Cats and Eldrazi’s chances the best. His Cats had a lot of quick creatures backed up by a general who just so happened to be a powerful Overrun effect; whereas the Eldrazi had several Wrath effects, and if they could force a longer game, would just dominate due to sheer power.
And finally, Brianna’s arsenal of decks:
Heliod, God of the Sun – tribal Clerics
Prime Speaker Zegana – tribal Merfolk
Derevi, Empyrial Tactician – tribal Squirrels
Kaalia of the Vast – tribal Angels/Demons/Dragons
Karona, False God – tribal Angels
I honestly didn’t think going in that any of Brianna’s decks would fare that well; they were all built for slower, grindier games, so I was certain that they would get run over by the faster tribes.
So how did the tourney end up going? Let’s take a look!
As always, this was the longest part of the tourney, and we saw plenty of upsets.
Match 1: Kaseto, Orochi Ascendant (Snakes) vs. Azami, Lady of Scrolls (Wizards) vs. Daghatar the Adamant (Warriors)
The poor Snakes are killed outright by a Warrior attack, who use a surprise Jazal Goldmane to pump the team. From here, the Warriors are able to use Blood-Chin Fanatic to gun down Wizards, winning our first matchup in this rebooted tourney.
Match 2: Jazal Goldmane (Cats) vs. Morinfen (Horrors) vs. Brion Stoutarm (Giants)
After the Horrors were eliminated by Giants, Cats wasted no time in using the underappreciated cat planeswalker Ajani, Caller of the Pride to gain a large advantage over the Giants, adding +1/+1 counters to Jazal and eventually using Ajani’s -3 ability to give their general flying and double strike, crashing through the air for 30+ general damage and the win.
Match 3: Zirilan of the Claw (Dragons) vs. Kodama of the South Tree (Spirits) vs. General Tazri (Allies)
Everyone considered this match a huge upset, as Kodama led the Spirit tribe of Kamigawa to victory, thanks to several team pump spells.
Match 4: Krenko, Mob Boss (Goblins) vs. Kaalia of the Vast (Angels/Demons/Dragons) vs. Karona, False God (Angels)
This match was an incredibly quick one thanks to Shared Animosity, letting Krenko win in a mere six turns!
Match 5: Gisa and Geralf (Zombies) vs. Thriss, Nantuko Primus (Insects) vs. Marrow-Gnawer (Rats)
This match ends quite abruptly, as the Rats use an In Garruk’s Wake to wipe both opponents’ boards at once, and killing them both in one attack.
Match 6: Prime Speaker Zegana (Merfolk) vs. Heliod, God of the Sun (Clerics) vs. Kruphix, God of Horizons (Eldrazi)
Clerics suck, and Eldrazi were far too slow. That was the story of this match, as the Merfolk washed them away easily.
Match 7: Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Squirrels) vs. Ulrich of the Krallenhorde (Werewolves) vs. Sliver Legion (Slivers)
A match that should have been a very one-sided slaughter in the Slivers’ favor was overturned by one card from the Werewolves: the great multiplayer equalizer, Insurrection, which let Ulrich kill both foes in one turn.
Match 8: Olivia, Mobilized for War (Vampires) vs. Ezuri, Renegade Leader (Elves) vs. Horde of Notions (Elementals)
This match was won by a key Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen, as the Elves were able to chump block a massive 13/13 Olivia for just enough turns to kill the Vampires, after the Elementals had already been run over.
Match 9: Darien, King of Kjeldor (Soldiers) vs. Kangee, Aerie Keeper (Birds) vs. Thelon of Havenwood (Fungus)
This was mostly a non-matchup, as neither Soldiers or Fungus had effective ways to stop flying creatures, and the Birds killed them quickly.
We had several interesting matchups going into the quarters, and I very much expected this to lead to a finals match involving Goblins vs. Elves.
Naturally, there would be several upsets here as well.
Quarterfinal Match 1: Daghatar the Adamant (Warriors) vs. Jazal Goldmane (Cats) vs. Kodama of the South Tree (Spirits)
The Cats showed once again why having an Overrun in the command zone is so strong; they waited until both opponents were tapped out, then a large end of turn White Sun’s Zenith combined with Jazal’s pump ability let them pounce on both foes, killing both handily.
Quarterfinal Match 2: Krenko, Mob Boss (Goblins) vs. Marrow-Gnawer (Rats) vs. Prime Speaker Zegana (Merfolk)
I had joked with Darby going into this match that if he could win with his Rats, he could set up a potential finals match of Cats vs. Rats vs. Dogs (Werewolves) in a battle of the food chain; sadly, Brianna had other plans.
It was the mighty Goblin tribe that were upset here; they were able to kill off the Rats with Kyren Negotiations, but each time they tried to cast Krenko, the Merfolk had a counterspell waiting. One Inundate to clean up the Goblin tokens and a few Lords later, and Brianna’s Merfolk had won this match, taking us all by surprise!
Quarterfinal Match 3: Ulrich of the Krallenhorde (Werewolves) vs. Ezuri, Renegade Leader (Elves) vs. Kangee, Aerie Keeper (Birds)
The Birds and Werewolves got some hits in early on while the Elves set up, but eventually Ezuri hit play, and once again we got to see just how powerful an Overrun effect is on a general, as the Elves killed both opponents with ease.
What a strange finals match we had set up. Two of my personal favorites to win the whole thing, Zombies and Goblins, were eliminated early on, with Brianna’s Merfolk killing off the Goblins in a close match.
We also each had a personal stake in the finals, as we each had one of our own decks to back. Who would reign supreme?
Finals: Darby’s Jazal Goldmane (Cats) vs. Brianna’s Prime Speaker Zegana (Merfolk) vs. Ezuri, Renegade Leader (Elves)
Each player started out strong, with tons of early creatures that could only stare at each other. The Cats made a play to run away with the game, trying to play the tribe-wrecking Umezawa’s Jitte; unfortunately for them, the Elves had an answer in Nullmage Shepherd.
Two Lords come into play for the Merfolk: Merrow Reejerey and Merfolk Sovereign, and the Merfolk start taking potshots at Elves using an unblockable Thada Adel, Acquisitor, slowly stripping the Elves of all useful artifacts.
Knowing time is short (the Merfolk have him on a short clock), the Elf player gets a Skyshroud Poacher and Ezuri into play; the Poacher is key, as he’s able to search up an Elvish Champion, giving the Elves forestwalk (and conveniently, the Merfolk deck is blue-green). Ezuri is able to kill the Merfolk player literally a turn before Zegana would kill him.
From here, it is mostly academic. The Cats have been drawing the Equipment half of the deck, so they don’t have any blockers for the Elves. Two big Overrun turns later, and we have our first tribal champion!
Conclusion: So there you have it! The winner of the Tribal Throwdown, besting 26 other tribes, and our reigning tribal champion, is Ezuri, Renegade Leader and the Elves! Throughout the tourney, they were certainly regarded as one of the favorites, and they proved just why!
I found it highly interesting that two of the tribes in the finals were ones who had an Overrun effect stapled to their general. If we end up running this tourney again next year, I am interested to see if this continues.
Elves: One scary bunch of tree-huggers!