Path to Casual #1 – Introduction to Tribal Wars

Howdy folks, Amanda here to tell you guys about Tribal Wars. Tribal Wars is a format of Magic: The Gathering that challenges the player to focus more on the creature aspect of the game than any other spell type. Another fun aspect of Tribal Wars is the fact that allows you to loosen up and delve into all the flavorful areas of MTG.  Instead of the focus purely being on the best cards to win the game, Tribal Wars is more about the best creatures to get you to the gold.  And with the “creature creep,” Wizards push to make creatures “good”, Tribal Wars is growing to be a stronger and stronger format. Below the fold are a  few rules for this format that I will share with you guys. Keep in mind, these are Wizards of the Coast‘s  rules.

Now there are a few additions to the rules I’ve seen floating around. One of the biggest ones is no Wrath of God or other creature board sweepers. The reason for this is pretty simple. How can you achieve anything in a creature based format if you drop a Wrath of God onto the board?

The next card widely accepted as breaking the format is Coat of Arms. While it is a great card in the grand scheme of tribal, think of it this way. Johnny is playing dragons while Spike is playing clerics. For those of you not in the know, clerics tend to fall into the weenie category. Low converted mana cost and weak power and toughness. So, Spike drops Coat of Arms turn 5 with 3 clerics in play. Johnny is for a world of hurt with his 1 dragon in play.

For those of you wondering why the deck has to be one-third creatures that share a type, there is a funny little joke I’ve heard. How many of you have heard of the card Battle of Wits? It’s a blue enchantment for 3UU or 3 mana of any color and 2 blue mana. Battle of Wits reads “At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have 200 or more cards in your library, you win the game.” Now, one of the stronger creature types in blue is wizards. We’ll get to why some other time. But apparently in the early days of tribal a lot of players, having fun with the flavorful format, would play a Battle of Wits deck. The old rules stated that you had to have at least 20 creatures that shared a type. So after these Battle of Wits decks won, players would ask “what tribe was it” and the deck wielder would produce out of his/her 250 card deck 20 wizards and call it a wizard deck.

Ok so at this point you guys probably want to know what the strongest tribes are. Well, right now that is pretty easy. For blue you are looking at faeries and merfolk. Although I am not so sure if the legendary Faeries deck is built to Tribal Wars standards. In green you are mainly looking at elves. I prefer to play beasts but that’s just because I like big green creatures. In red there isn’t much competition. It is hands down goblins. For black you got zombies. And in white its soldiers.

Now does this mean you can’t go and make an orc or a minotaur deck? No, it does not. Tribal Wars is all about fun and flavor first. Yes, you can make some beastly competitive Tier 1 tribal decks. But that doesn’t mean other tribes are not worth looking at. I’ve seen really strong wall decks out there.

Its all a matter of how much effort you put into the actual making of the deck. After all, spell support is crucial. If your deck has even a splash of white look into the card Unquestioned Authority. Its an enchant creature for 2W or 2 mana of any color and 1 white mana. It gives your creature protection from creatures. This means creature can’t be blocked by creatures, can block creatures and not take damage, and not be effect by abilities from other creatures. it’s a pretty strong lil gem.

Or using a card like Brass Herald. Many of you remember the Herald cycle from the Apocalypse set. Brass Herald works in a similar fashion to the rest of the cycle with the slight twist of letting you select the creature type you want to “herald” for. This is great if you are playing a sort of off the beat and path Tribe like Walls.  He also has the added benefit of being a lord. Yeah, sure he doesn’t buff himself like most lords from that era of Magic, but he’s not bad for a late game rally the troops. And if you’re in green or white, you are going to have some form of toughness boost to let him stay in play.

That is just a sliver of what you can expect from a Tribal themed article and I plan on delving into more so in the coming few articles. Until next time, keep it casual.

Amanda Stevens



About Amanda Stevens

My name is Amanda and I am a nerd. This fact will taint everything that will ever come out of my mouth. While I follow real world news, you would never know it. I prioritize most of my conversations around Magic the Gathering, anime, and League of Legends. Also, don't mention Green Lantern being gay to me, you will regret it.

Posted on April 12, 2011, in Articles, Path to Casual and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Good ol’ Tribal Decks. I was automatically drawn to them when I started playing. My first proper deck was a Vampire Deck. Then I built myself a Goblin Deck and then a Myr Deck. I just love the whole idea of different tribes fighting each other. What is your favourite tribe?

    • Good to know there are some people who even know what Tribal format is out there. Your question is a little loaded to be honest. People in the area have dubbed me the Elf player. Because since I made my way back to Standard when Zendikar came out, I was known as the kid playing Eldrazi Green. And this was pre-Eldrazi’s so there was no ramp to Emrakul. Just ramp out the Monument and beat face. Elves have always had a special place in my heart and I make Elf decks as if I got paid for it. But to be honest, my favorite Tribe is Knights. Mainly because flanking is a favorite mechanic/keyword of mine.

      Thanks for stopping in.

      – Amanda

      • I love this and its been forever since i have sat down and played a tribal game. I orginaly had a Ninja tribe deck back when the rule was 20 creatures over the 1/3 rule.

        It seems like to me a few tribes might stand out as being more powerfull then others. Knights goblins fearies and elfs stand out to me. is there any regulations on how to blanace this?


  2. Great first article! Seeing Brass Herald there takes me back to my wacky Golem Tribal semi-combo deck.

  3. Great reading! I’m looking forward to delving deeper into tribal matters.

    Be sure to feature Lorwyn, the golden age of tribal deck building. Any not so good supported tribe was suddenly beefed up with changelings.

    On favourite tribes: I really love the flashy ones, ie Faeries and Knights. They can come out of nowhere, the first of them flying over anything, the latter often being first striking challengers.

  4. I honestly had no idea this format even existed. I have an Elf deck that seems like it would be great. Basically, it uses mana ramp (Llanowar, Harbringer), lords (Imperious Perfect), and token generation (Elvish Promenade) combined with a splash of black for tribal removal (Eyeblight’s Ending) to create a really synergistic deck that beats most everything except decks with mass removal or lots and lots of cheap creature kill. I’ll see if I can find a decklist…

  5. Tribes. I love them. I could see myself becoming fanatical about a tribal game. Elves are by far my favorite tribe. I have been tweaking it for months now. There are even elvish tribal instants and sorceries! After the budget goblin deck article I’ve been making a stsndard goblin deck. I’ll be taking it to FNM if I can get the right cards in time. Stay tuned!

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