Wizards of the Coast is out of the office for the Thanksgiving holiday and will return with new articles beginning Monday, November 26. In case you missed it (and even if you didn't), what follows is the article that ran in this slot last week. Have a great weekend, happy Thanksgiving vacation to our United Statesian audience, and we'll see all of you Monday!
Kelly Digges, editor of magicthegathering.com
By now you probably know that Lorwyn Constructed play was designed with very definite, linear, tribal themes in mind. Each of the several tribes has a unique flavor, building power via synergies and raw numbers, each deck truly a more significant object than the sum of its component cards. While the past couple of weeks we have looked at a variety of largely non-thematic builds—from black-green midrange Garruk Wildspeaker, to big green-red Garruk Wildspeaker + Fertile Ground, to the latest blue counterspell deck from Resident Genius control specialist Guillaume Wafo-Tapa—to date, Swimming With Sharks has touched only lightly on the tribal decks made possible by this great new set. This week, we correct that, and focus on the new set's local heroes, the tireless tribes of Lorwyn!
7th Place - Alaska
I think Josh Beck's Top 8 deck from Alaska States is a good example of a modern Lorwyn Goblins deck. Unlike most of the main Goblins decks of years past, Lorwyn Goblins are both black and red. Red has always been the main Goblins color, but the black splash becomes very thematically relevant as the tribe moves into graveyard-based card advantage, gaining bonuses for watching one's fellows fall into the abyss, &c.
The main source of raw card advantage is of course new card Wort, Boggart Auntie; this big 3/3 is more than a polychromatic Hill Giant. Under her watchful eye, the Goblins deck is capable of recycling in-theme cards, both Goblin creature cards and Tarmogoyf's new best friend, Tarfire (both a Shock [and tribal instant] and a Goblin!). Nameless Inversion is a nice addition to this deck... Cards with changeling are Goblins, so Nameless Inversion has a natural synergy with Wort, Auntie's Hovel, or in a pinch, Boggart Harbinger.
Some of the best Goblins in Standard are not from Lorwyn, so not surprisingly, this deck plays the classics... Mogg Fanatic (one of the best one-mana creatures of all time, Goblin or no) and Mogg War Marshal (best friend to non-Goblin Greater Gargadon). On the other hand, the tribe has a lot of punch... maybe not as much as during Onslaught Block, but a lot nonetheless. Knucklebone Witch is extremely scary in the early game, kind of the Goblins equivalent to Arcbound Ravager; effective in many or even most non–lost cause situations, in an attrition fight, Knucklebone Witch is pure gold.
The Goblins deck play very well in-tribe, and extends its friendliness to Greater Gargadon. Mogg War Marshal is just too good with Greater Gargadon (if you suspend the Gargadon on turn one and follow up with Mogg War Marshall you can still attack with two 1/1 Goblins on turn three if you are clever... you just get a bonus of one turn)... This deck has a couple of additional ways to generate tokens, one being the incomparable Siege-Gang Commander. Both Siege-Gang Commander and Mad Auntie are absolute murderers with a large number of tiny Goblins in play.
Probably the highest-profile of the Lorwyn tribes in tournament play to date, Elves allow for many different directions in design.Dan Cato
1st Place - Michigan
Dan Cato's first place deck from Michigan is the version we discussed a few weeks ago in Too Many Archetypes! Dan's is a pretty middle-of-the-road Elves deck. It runs the maximum number of elvish one-mana accelerators, has a little card drawing in Masked Admirers, has a little discard in Thoughtseize, and will suffer no nonblack creature to live.
With some very slight tuning, your Elves can move in very different directions... Check out Ben Scoones's deck, first place at Cambridge, UK: Ben Scoones
1st Place - Cambridge
Superficially very similar to Cato's, Scoones has a crazy number of discard spells by comparison. He also has another "Wren's Run..." card next to the stock four-pack of Wren's Run Vanquishers (Watchwolf, eat your heart out). Out of the board is another talented Elf, the Tarmogoyf-murdering Thornweald Archer.
From sunny Florida (where I will be next week) comes Conrad Jackson's meta-Elves: Conrad Jackson
1st Place - Florida
Who is that in the main? Riftsweeper is a member of the Elves all-star squad... A devourer of Ancestral Visions and Aeon Chroniclers, more-or-less a two-mana Flametongue Kavu. Why is white an interesting metagame call? Oblivion Ring main can fight other Elves decks' planeswalkers... but out of the side, is there anything you would rather have Elves-on-Elves (when you can assume no one can block even if they could)... but Pollen Lullaby? Race you!
There is only one reaction to seeing Flamekin Bladewhirl... What kind of deck can I make so that I can play that?
Here is one solution, James Cole's from Gravesend, UK:James Cole
8th Place - Gravesend
With more than twenty main-deck Elementals, James has a solid shot at being able to play out any Flamekin Bladewhirls that mysteriously appear in his opening hand. Looking at a deck like this one, you end up seeing tons of cool cards that you never even knew were Elementals. Timbermare? Really? That's a pretty awesome, and synergistic, finisher.
Incandescent Soulstoke is a very dangerous opponent. Unless you fancy 10 or even 11 straight to the brains, don't let it live. Come to think of it, don't let your opponent untap with Smokebraider on turn three. That could be positively disastrous in more than twenty different ways.
The most dangerous White Weenie team since Rebels, Kithkin seemed like the tribe to beat pre-Champs. They did not show up in the numbers some (including yours truly) expected, though the little, um, kin did procure a first place at New Mexico States, thanks to Sean Inoue:Sean Inoue
1st Place - New Mexico
This deck is very straightforward; we'll forget for a moment that neither Knight of the Holy Nimbus nor Tarmogoyf are Kithkin and look at most everybody else. Cenn's Heir is the Kithkin equivalent to Goblin Piledriver; watch this heir when Block rolls around. Gaddock Teeg was, pre-Champs, the scariest mother lover in Dominaria... Shriekmaw seems to have held him down for the most part, but Mystical Teachings and Cryptic Command still hate him for sure. Goldmeadow Stalwart is like Flamekin Bladewhirl... but white. Knight of the Meadowgrain is probably the best white two-drop in the storied history of insane 2/2 creatures for WW. Wizened Cenn plays Crusade.
Of the many sideboard cards, ranging from "fairly annoying" to "absolutely horrifying for fatties" the most exciting seems to be old standby Thrill of the Hunt. The Kithkin, especially with their green splash, seem like a squad that exists purely on creature efficiency. Thrill of the Hunt helps to keep these great creatures in play when some terrible person wants to brawl, trump, or remove one of them.
Treefolk? Were there really Treefolk-themed decks that performed well at States and Champs? I found it hard to believe for a moment, until I remembered that the Poorlash deck that I myself almost played is a very Treefolk-esque sort of a deck. In Saskatchewan, two slots over from Ryan Rusaw's Poorlash (which we discussed in Too Many Archetypes!) is Curt Lorge's:Curt Lorge
5th Place - Saskatchewan
Curt preserved a good many of the Poorlash elements, snipped a card or two from the main deck, and found room for the maximum number of Treefolk Harbingers. What do these do? Well, once you have Garruk Wildspeaker or certainly Gauntlet of Power, what's the card you most want? Verdeloth the Ancient, of course! Curt has eight.
... And Lorge's wasn't even the most folksy Treefolk deck that we found.Matthew House
4th Place - Yeovil
Matthew House from Yeovil, UK ran four Treefolk Harbingers to get oneVerdeloth (bullet style) but more than made up for it with additional Treefolk. Battlewand Oak and Timber Protector join the lineup. Rootgrapple seems like a great card for dealing with planesalkers, and has definite velocity with all the Treefolk in this deck. Heck, Matthew even uses artifacts that turn into Treefolk!
The Merfolk may seem small and inoffensive at first blush, but their tribe has a long and storied tradition of ruining the day for supposedly more powerful decks... And no Merfolk team before Lorwyn has had access to Silvergill Adept.Greg Wilder
1st Place - Alabama
This listing belongs to Greg Wilder, 2007 Alabama Champ.
Eight "pump" Merfolk really improve the offense to this deck, but to be honest, most of the current Merfolk already have fine bodies for their prices; you can't really argue with 1/1 for one, 2/1 for two with a special ability, &c.
Special mention does have to go to the deadly Riptide Pilferer... This is usually a sideboard card, and a scary one for most blue decks. Greg has three main... and thanks to Lord of Atlantis, Riptide Pilferer ain't never gettin' blocked. Aquitect's Will is the perfect cantrip complement for this deck due to the Merfolk synergy with Islandwalk, making Riptide Pilferer or any of the Merfolk that much more deadly in non-blue matchups.
The only thing I find strange about Wilder's listing is that Sygg, River Guide is missing (especially as he has the white splash with Adarkar Wastes and Tideshaper Mystic). Sygg seems like one of the most exciting Merfolk available in Standard, an awesome beater with Aquitect's Will and an Eight-and-a-Half-Tails at the same time. All of Wilder's white is out of the sideboard: defensive hosers against opposing creatures in Condemn and Teferi's Moat, and Oblivion Ring as catch-all defense and of course planeswalker suppression.
We've actually gone over Faeries two weeks in a row now, for Dan Schmidt's first-place deck from South Dakota, and again with Robert Jacko's blue-green version from the Grand Prix–Krakow Top 8. Instead of re-hashing a lot of the same language, here are three more first place finishers from international Champs...Stephen Murray
1st Place - ReadingAkihito Shinya
1st Place - NagasakiSatoshi Akai
1st Place - Saitama
|Itching to put your favorite tribe into action? A special Tribal Wars in-store event December 1st kicks off a month of tribal battles in the world of Magic. Throughout the month of December, Magicthegathering.com will be compiling results from players around the world, tracking the victories for each tribe. For more information, visit www.wizards.com/tribalwars and get ready to battle!|
I was not originally very gung-ho about Faeries, but a chat with Zvi Mowshowitz set me straight on this tribe. Faeries might be the most tempo-oriented linear squad in Lorwyn, with (up to, potentially) the eight-pack of 1/1 flying creatures on turn one. Faeries are hard to kill: their Scion of Oona has flash and operates as a two-for-one Counterspell (with bite!) against removal; they can therefore hold a lead with the best of beatdown decks. Faeries are highly customizable: In these three decks alone, we have main deck Sower of Temptation and Wydwen, the Biting Gale; non-Faerie Shadowmage Infiltrator; or even Terror (and that's not even considering a whole different color combination like we saw last week!). Silly as it seems to say out loud (or type), Faerie Conclaveis a Faerie (or can at least become one)! I think you'd be surprised how many close games you win because the opponent didn't count on Conclave + Scion of Oona, probably setting up a Psionic Blast to the head.
Like the Merfolk, Faeries seem like poor combat creatures but, practically speaking, nothing could be further from the truth; it's not that Faeries don't fight well... they refuse to fight. The entire tribe comes down at instant speed, flies, and (largely) just refuses to block. Mistbind Clique does wonders in terms of grabbing a game the other guy thought he was going go win, suddenly a green-style body with a blue-style position on (or rather hovering above) the board. With so many flash spells (including Scion of Oona), Faeries is extremely hard to race.
Hopefully this article was helpful in introducing some of the tribes of Lorwyn, what they can do, and what a winning deck from the recent States and Champs looks like (at least as a starting point). Moving forward we will return to Magic Online as Standard and other competitive Constructed formats return to the forefront, and before you know it, we'll have the World Championships to talk about. Until then...