Tribal Bible #1 – Advice on Planting Demons

Welcome to my new series, Tribal Bible, dedicated to exploring the murky depths of our new format, Standard Tribal. My goal is to provide insights on three decks per week, hopefully each with a different tribe. A slant towards quirky, small tribes should be expected – partly because smaller tribes are more interesting to me, and also because the more members a tribe has, the more paths there are to take.

Welcome to my new series, Tribal Bible, dedicated to exploring the murky depths of our new format, Standard Tribal. My goal is to provide insights on three decks per week, hopefully each with a different tribe. A slant towards quirky, small tribes should be expected – partly because smaller tribes are more interesting to me, and also because the more members a tribe has, the more paths there are to take.

First off, I’m going to do Advisors – while this technically also makes it a Human tribal deck, I’m going to choose to ignore that, because that fact was never involved in the thought process for the deck. While it does have 25 humans, 21 of them are Advisors.

This is primarily a fun deck. It is indeed capable of winning, but it isn’t consistent enough as to be something I’d take to a Premiere Event, especially with power tribes like Snakes and Spirits running around. However much having to pay four mana for Sosuke’s Summons might irritate a Snake player, it is unlikely to lose the game for him.

The good news is this; Advisor is apparently a translation from some other language which comes up in English as “screw with your opponent;” no joke. Michiko, Ministers, Bureaucrats, and Masako all screw with combat. Augustin screws with their spells, Teysa with their critters, and the Agent with their life total. Good times. If you draw Michiko early and protect her, you’ve got a unique strategy that opens up; sucker your opponent into dragging down your life total at the cost of their permanents, and then use Overrule or Azorius Herald to boost your life back up while you steadily drop more men. Eventually, they won’t have enough permanents left to stop you from winning, or will have to give up hitting you until they can deal with Michiko.

More good news; ten of your tribe could not give less of a damn about Faith’s Fetters – many of them have static abilities. In a way, this is like a Prismatic deck; how you play will depend very much on how you draw. Double Herald opener? You’re probably the beatdown. Augustin and a pair of Ministers? Probably the control.

Sky Hussar is great for keeping your hand size up, but it has a particularly nasty alpha strike trick in this deck; you can tap your tappers to nullify a small defence of your opponent’s, then play Hussar out to untap your tappers and let them join in the final swing. Plus, he’s a three mana 4/3 flier with Augustin out sending the mana taxes elsewhere, and that’s a hard deal to pass up.

The bad news: Your non-board control elements are lacking. Short of Overrule, any attempt at mass removal will succeed. Thankfully, our Advisor crew here doesn’t get out much and eats plenty, and thus the majority have big butts – of your 28 critters, only 11 fear Pyroclasm or Hideous Laughter.

Further, you have no actual removal of your own aside from Teysa’s ability, which you have no way of making tokens for (you know, Dovescape could be sort of good in here…) and thus are relegated to using tap effects to control the opposition. However, the bright side is that against Dredge critters, you’re probably better off tapping than killing.

Your mana is ugly. Very ugly. But I did try to design it to be flexible, so it usually sorts itself out; note the lack of double-symbol spells in here. That was entirely intentional and why Dovescape is not maindecked.

Your win conditions generally involve either Herald or Hussar evading the opposition, or lucking out with Shizo and giving one of your two power legends fear. Agent of Masks also technically counts, but it pretty unlikely to win the game on its own.

Note especially that you’re probably going to have a bad early game, but that’s expected. The lifegain in this deck is here to get you back into the game before it reaches a premature end.

Moving on to our next tribe, Plants is a four colour monstrosity of a deck the way that I’ve built it, but it does have one major thing going for it; it scores very well in board control.

Boom, boom, boom. Who knew Plants could be so bloody violent? Apparently these flora have a lot of anger towards the world to work out. The usual question I hear about this pile is, “why not Utopia Tree?” Very simple: as much as I would love to include it to fix my mana, it dies to everything – much of which I use in here. It dies to Pyroclasm, dies to Savage Twister, and possibly dies to Punishment. Dead things don’t fix my mana unless they’re named Riftstone Portal or Sakura-Tribe Elder (and just how does he get to be an elder if his primary skill is suicide? Explain that)…

Punishment is absolutely incredible in this deck – consider that you have no one-drops, no four-drops, your only three-drop permanent can be sac’d for a benefit, and Kudzu is your only two-drop permanent. You have nothing above five mana. Basically, unless you’re being hindered almost entirely by five-drops, you’re going to manage some very one-sided destruction here.

Speaking of one-sided destruction, this deck is positively ace at it – Kudzu is your only permanent likely to die to Pyroclasm, and that only for a brief time. Sprouting Phytohydra will simply replace itself, Phytohydra thanks you, Vulturous Zombies giggles and probably grows, and Shell will just put a counter elsewhere. Mostly the same story for Savage Twister – only the Vultures stand any chance of being annihilated, and probably not if you’ve used Pyroclasm first. A Twister with an active Phytohydra out is probably game.

And, of course, there’s the mini-combo of Phytohydra and Pariah’s Shield to keep you in the game almost perpetually if you can put them together, and Miren to sac any of your huge plants to if they’re faced with destruction that doesn’t care about size.

The good news: Many of your tribe members are immune to damage or benefit from it. All of your creatures grow in some fashion or another, so long games typically favor you. It’s possible to get some creatures positively gigantic over the course of a game, giving your opponent very big threats to deal with. This deck exists to punish decks with lesser amounts of board control.

Savage Twister is the definition of a cheap Wrath effect – good on a budget; uncommon; and, in this case, frighteningly one-sided. You only have two in here, so use them wisely, or feel free to cut the Pariah’s Shields for two more and another Punishment; in fact, you’re probably better off that way if you care about winning – this build is about fun interactions.

The bad news: The early game. All of it. Kudzu is your only early defence in the form of blocking, and if you haven’t drawn your mana acceleration, you’re going to have a very long early game. Pyroclasm exists to help you out here, and later serves as a Vulture/Phyto pump.

Protection from Red is bad for you in ways I don’t care to elaborate upon, due to their very bloody and graphic nature. Suffice it to say that anything with Protection from Red ought to be dealt with ASAP in any possible way, especially in combat.

You’re going to wish Sprouting Phytohydra was cheaper, because it’s your best ground-staller. Or, like me, you’re going to wish Carven Caryatid had been a Plant Spirit, which it by all rights should have been. Mutter. Maybe they’ll errata that.

Your win conditions here generally consist of large Kudzus on the ground, enormous Vultures in the sky, or very, very angry Phytohydras on what is likely to be an otherwise empty board after a good Twistering.

Also, don’t forget that there is a chance that Crime could win it for you too – I’ve managed to snag an Angel of Despair this way and use it to deliver my message of death to my foe.

Finally, tying together the utterly clever title for this week’s instalment, is Demons. Very, very kinky Demons (apparently), as this deck involves Scourges, Prisoners, Sufferers, Perverts, Defilers, Punishment, and Hideous Laughter. In fact, this sounds just like the dungeon at a local club I know… er… have heard about. Ahem. Moving on…

I could just as well have named this deck “Ball Measuring Device” because it does exactly that – it’s a deck full of high risk, high reward creatures and I make almost no effort to mitigate their drawbacks. Yikes!

That said, this deck is full of utter pain. Everything that you swing with is 4/4 or bigger and as such, they are also immune to Pyroclasm and Hideous Laughter, which will probably figure into your early game. You might like it to also consist of Carven Caryatid, but the mana is unlikely to support it before turn 4 or 5. Not to mention it single-handedly serves the purpose of requiring GG, RR, and BB from the deck’s manabase, but it’s there for a reason: not auto-losing the game to your own Razorjaw Oni.

Note, of course, that Razorjaw himself can help you smash past a deck sporting primarily Black critters, and thus can be beneficial. Once more, Punishment makes it into one of my Tribal decks and once more most of your permanents fall into a very narrow converted mana cost category; four and five in this case.

This deck is about smashing face, and smashing it hard before your own wicked hordes kill you themselves. It is a very, very Black deck and in many ways is my favorite – the deck itself reflects its tribe very well, and you actually feel like you are barely controlling these soul-devouring abominations that would just as soon disembowel you as your opponent, given half a chance.

The good news: Your men, as it were, are absolutely huge for their mana costs. The majority of creatures here put Green creatures to shame with their stats alone. What few things might exist that can successfully hold off your slavering fiends can probably be dealt with by Punishment, and damage-based removal is unlikely to assist your opponent – note that at least ten of your Demons will not die to Char alone, and Kagemaro can situationally be included in that category.

Speaking of Kagemaro, he’s a wonderful reset button and should be used as such. With enough cards in hand, he can take out just about anything, up to and including Simic Sky Swallower, although on the lower end there’s a chance he may also be one-sided, since apparently a diet of mortal souls makes for some fantastically ghetto booty. He is your go-to Demon.

The bad news: Your own deck. Seizan benefits your opponent before you, and joins Scourge of Numai in slapping you for two a turn. Razorjaw Oni can decimate your defensive options. Neither Yukora (the Prisoner? I thought that was #6…) nor Woebringer plays nicely with their buddies. And Rakdos is, well… Rakdos. He is going to wreck you when you swing with him… but if you connect, chances are you’ve just won the game. Tomb of Urami is included solely because of Rakdos: If you’re going to have to sac half your lands, may as well sac ’em all and get a large, evasive Demon token out of it, no? Prior to Rakdos, I’ve included Miren in the deck for you to get rid of a Demon whose drawback is becoming too painful to otherwise manage, as well as netting you a healthy chunk of life.

Your win conditions… well, in this deck, most anything will serve. Just overwhelming your opponent with a steady stream of undercosted fatties is a very possible win condition, as is Rakdos connecting with an attack. The sheer power of the brutes at your command is your weapon here. There is no subtlety, as Advisors recommends, nor any tricksy cleverness of the Plant persuasion – just sheer gory violence.

That said, if you decide to take any of these decks for a spin, or construct budget versions to tool around with, feel free to comment in the forums!

Signing off,
Rivien Swanson
flawedparadigm at gmaSPAMSUCKSil dot com
Flawed Paradigm on MTGO
GodOfAtheism just about everywhere else.