July 31, 2017

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Tuning up your tribal deck

Have you brewed up a tribal-themed deck yet? This year’s Commander decks are each going to be tribal, so let’s start thinking about some cards that work well with a unified team so that we can tune them up as soon as we get our hands on them!

I expect the spoilers for these decks to come out any day now so some of these may already be in the decks, but I’ve already got my eye on a few of these just in case they aren’t. And since we’re still wondering about which tribes will be represented in the new set of decks as I submit this article, I’ll be talking about general tribal strategies that aren’t tied to a specific group. Colours notwithstanding.

No matter what your tribal theme, I’d suggest putting one or all of these colourless cards in your deck. Tribal deck staples, if you will.

Urza’s Incubator was already in the Boros Commander precon. Giants Tribal was a sort of theme with it, but despite the deck being largely full of duds, it gave us a reprint of this valuable card.  If it makes most of your cards cost two less, that’s basically a second Sol Ring in the deck. At least that deck paved the way for this tribal year!

Door of Destinies has a way of turning any tribe into a pack of true beasts. Tribes full of smaller creatures tend to have greater numbers, so this door ends up working overtime. If your group of choice is largely bigger bodies, they shouldn’t need to get too much bigger to become insurmountable. Belbe’s portal is a tribal card better skewed towards a tribe of larger creatures. Playing them out at instant speed for a mere three generic is a pretty great deal if they typically cost five and up.

Let’s get our team onto the battlefield! Call to the Kindred is a bit of a risky play by being an aura, but if we can make it stick, with a dense amount of our represented tribe, this will certainly pay us back in some free creatures. As long as we get one, we won’t be down a card.

Descendents’ Path will hit less often, but is much better at sticking around. It’s also in a colour that tends to pull lands out of its deck, increasing the odds of a hit. I also want to mention Riptide Shapeshifter here. Firstly, it’s a creature, which means that unless our tribe is “shapeshifters”, it won’t be invited to the family reunion. But that’s exactly why I’m mentioning it. Even in a fully tribal deck, there’s often one or two utility creatures outside the clan, and this shapeshifter can either add to our expected team, or guarantee a specific one of those outsider utility creatures.

I expect the amount of tribal decks to go up, so these cards get tricky, but here are some cards that benefit us for having a unified creature type while punishing others for spreading around the gene pool.

Grave sifter benefits us greatly as the tribal deck. Our opponents will always get to choose their one best card, but we deal in volume! In a similar fashion, Harsh Mercy puts creatures in the graveyard, instead of taking them out. If we’re feeling really confident we’re the only one running a tribal deck, we should be running Patriarch’s Bidding. Fingers crossed the creature types named don’t cross over in each opponents’ graveyard!

If, after the new tribal precon Commander decks come out, your meta becomes stacked with tribal decks, there are a few cards that punish the tribal player. An-Zerrin Ruins, besides raising the question “Who or what the heck is An-Zerin?”, really keeps down one player’s deck if they like attacking or tapping.

The aptly named Extinction doesn’t just keep a tribal opponent’s board tapped, it gets rid of it entirely. And just in case nobody brings their tribal deck, Standardize ensures that any one of these cards won’t miss a single creature. It could even be a way to turn any deck you have into a “tribal” deck the hard way. The really, really hard way.

What tribal cards are you hoping are included in the new Commander decks? Ones you know you’re going to add whether or not they’re in there to begin with. Let me know in the comments below!