Trying Tribal: An Introduction to 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. The fun 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 of the Coast push to make creatures “good,” Tribal Wars is growing to be a stronger format.

The Rules


Basic Theory of Tribal Wars


The general idea of the format is to flex your creative muscles. When making a deck that is, at the very least, 20 or so creatures, you have to be mindful of how you build the decks. Of course, there are some tribes that are stronger then others. Certain tribes are going to need less spell glue than others. Tribes like Elves, Merfolk, Goblins, Soldiers, and Zombies come to mind.

It’s 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. It’s an aura enchantment for creatures that costs 2W or 2 mana of any color and 1 white mana. It gives your creature protection from other creatures and draws you a card when it comes into play. This means the creature can’t be blocked by creatures, can block creatures and not take damage, and not be affected by abilities from other creatures.  It’s a pretty strong little 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.

Let’s Try to Make a Deck


I’ll start with the tribe we all know and love, Elves. It is one of the fastest strategies in the Tribal Wars format. This comes from the overabundance of cheap mana producing creatures the tribe has alongside really powerful lords. For those of us who do not know, a lord is a creature that offers a buff to creatures of its tribe. A fine example would be Elvish Archdruid. He gives all other Elves +1/+1 and he can tap for one green mana for each Elf you control. Pretty powerful right?

So what would be the essentials of an Elf Tribal Wars deck?

  • Lords:  I use Elvish ArchdruidEladamri, Lord of LeavesImperius PerfectElvish Champion, and Joraga Warcaller. Eladamri is great because he grants my Elves shroud and forestwalk. The downside is he does it for my opponent’s Elves too. That is the same downside to Elvish Champion; who grants all other Elves forestwalk and +1/+1. Since we don’t expect to have the same tribes go against each other, we can assume this isn’t the worst thing. Imperious Perfect gives Elves you control +1/+1 and can make 1/1 Elf Warrior tokens. I mainly use her as just another lord and rarely use the second effect. Joraga Warcaller is one of the best lords in the deck. He has the ability Multikicker for 1G which means when you cast him, you can chose to pay that amount as many times as you’d like. For each time you Multikick Joraga Warcaller, put a +1/+1 counter on him; Elves you control get +1/+1 for each counter on Joraga Warcaller. You can see how that would get out of control.
  • Mana Dorks: Elves bread and butter is their mana dorks. This is a term for cheap creatures that tend to be 1/1’s and can tap to produce some type or amount of mana. I run the classic Llanowar Elves alongside their thug cousins, the Fyndhorn Elves. Just check out those daggers the Fyndhorns are brandishing. Finishing off the list is Priest of Titania. She is an Elvish Archdruid without giving the buff.
  • Support: We start off with Sylvan Messenger, who allows me to get more Elves to my hand. I decided to run Seeker of Skybreak to allow me to really turn out a lot of mana. Viridian Shaman gives me the ability to remove problem artifact and enchantments while still being a creature. Ezuri, Renegade Leader allows me to grant my Elves Overrun as many times as I have the mana for it.

This is what the finished deck list could look like:

When it comes to other Tribes in green there is the popularity of Beasts and Druids. On one hand you have Beasts who are your typical big and stompy Tribe. They can get out of control real quick and are well supported by cards like Krosan WarchiefTriumph of FerocityContested Cliffs, and Wirewood Savage.

In Druids you want Gilt-Leaf ArchdruidIchneumon DruidKamahl, Fist of Krosa , and Yavimaya Elder. Druids is another fast mana Tribe that has some really cool tricks up its sleeves. A great deal of people are always caught off guard by Gilt-Leaf Archdruid and having the Overrun effect in Kamahl, Fist of Krosa is pretty sweet too.

For Tribal Wars one of the best support cards to come out of green is Alpha Status. It gives enchanted creature +2/+2 for each other creature on the battlefield that shares a creature type with it. Another card that is pretty good is Abundance. Once you hit your key amount of lands, you can use Abundance to guarantee you hit your spells. And if you are behind on lands, it will help you hit lands. My final suggestion is Creeping Renaissance. This card will help you deal with board wipes and targeted removal. Best part? It even has flashback.

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Amanda Stevens

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