Tribal Bible #5 – Party of Five

Party of Five, as you may or may not recall, was a notoriously horrible American television show which aired long ago and was cancelled with extreme prejudice due to its utter inability to do just about anything right, insofar as actually being entertaining was concerned. Today, we are going to look over some things which have been similarly cancelled, or well should be. I refer to these as “Parties of Five.”

[Tribal Bible is a series maintained by Rivien Swanson. Tribal Bible covers a format known either as Tribal Standard, or Standard Tribal, depending on whom you ask. The rules are as they are for Standard, except at least one-third of your deck must consist of creatures that share a type, there are no sideboards, and Umezawa’s Jitte is banned from the format.]

No long title this week, sorry. Not because I couldn’t think of one, but more because this is a time of mourning. A time of loss, grief, and pain, and one that I feel is not well-suited for smarmy wit.

Party of Five, as you may or may not recall, was a notoriously horrible American television show which aired long ago and was cancelled with extreme prejudice due to its utter inability to do just about anything right, insofar as actually being entertaining was concerned. Today, we are going to look over some things which have been similarly cancelled, or well should be. I refer to these as "Parties of Five" – not tribes with exactly five members, necessarily, but tribes that just… well, fail, much like their namesake television endeavor. I thought it an appropriate departure from the norm for my fifth article.

As such, this article will also not follow the format of each of the previous ones; this one will instead lambaste these sorry sacks of manure any which way I see fit. Some of the failure could be my fault; maybe I didn’t support these tribes properly, or missed a card that would have had better synergy than ones I used, or perhaps I really should have used a land less or two to squeeze another good card in, but the fact is that each of these tribes has been an extremely unpleasant experience, akin to someone inserting a flamethrower into me rectally and turning it on.

Before we start and while we’re discussing failures, this article will also be my going away party for Block Kamigawa. I felt a special need to give this block the finger as it drifts off into the sunset due to its terribly unbalancing nature to this format. Now, in all fairness, Kamigawa was designed before this format was official (or perhaps even an idea at Wizards), and I respect and understand that. But I have plenty of other reasons to flip Kamigawa block the bird in general, pretty much every one including some combination of the words "Dragon", "Spirit", or "Legendary Artifact".

That’s a shame, because I loved Kamigawa block from a storyline standpoint. There was the slew of cool legends, nice cards to interact with them, and Green actually had a mechanic that gave it a possibility of card advantage. That’s a pretty big relief, since last I was ever told, it was supposed to be the second best at drawing.

But the gap was just too large – we had five mana 2/1s sharing block space with some of the most efficient critters for six mana ever, crap like Numai Outcast alongside ridiculously versatile cards like Sakura-Tribe Elder, and rares ranging from Hold the Line, Twist Allegiance, and One With Nothing to Umezawa’s Jitte, Gifts Ungiven, and Pithing Needle. I applaud Kamigawa block for having a large number of playable commons, almost unprecedented prior to Ravnica: City of Guilds, but the disparity in the rares is disgustingly incredible.

And before we totally abandon the theme of failure, let’s examine this particular maggot from the mind of Talen Lee (reproduced with permission):

Talen Lee (9:57:54 PM): Incidentally
Talen Lee (9:58:09 PM): X, T: Destroy target creature unless its controller pays X. On a creature. Thoughts?
Flawed Paradigm (9:58:28 PM): Cool, another way to have games decided by die rolls.
Flawed Paradigm (10:01:06 PM): Let’s make it an 0/1 for 1 colorless too. :op

The reason I shot it down so quickly is simply because there’s no way to print a fair reusable effect like that; if you price it between zero and three mana, it has a fairly decent chance of showing up before your opponent’s first critter does, especially if you’re going first (hence the remark about die rolls). Print it more expensively, and unless it also comes with a decent body (which this probably shouldn’t – something like this would need to be very vulnerable to removal and/or rare to not totally ruin Limited), it will simply be unworthy of Constructed and stupidly swingy in Limited – a definite bomb rare. Please don’t even consider it being not rare. Admittedly, this wouldn’t be a horrible one shot effect; a bit better than Disembowel in most cases, but putting it on a reusable permanent without at least requiring some kind of sacrifice on the user’s behalf would just be far too good, since it could very well lock someone out of ever keeping a critter that didn’t have protection from one of the permanent’s qualities or was indestructible or untargetable. Not fun. Hence, this idea is a failure – a fun one, but a failure all the same.

With that out of the way and setting the tone for the article, let’s carry on. One last note: all of these tribes were tried and considered failures long before Coldsnap was available. Not that it added much to any of these tribes anyhow. First up, we have:

Why Orzhova? Because it’s more likely to do damage than a Thrull! Why Sunhome? Well, Mourning Thrull powa, of course! How can you deny the beast that is Mourning Thrull? I at least have some excuse for this sad mistake of a deck, and that is the nostalgia of Fallen Empires era Thrulls led me to construct this unforgiving glimpse into the bowels of sucktitude.

There are only five Thrulls. This means you are playing 4 each of Mourning Thrull, Rakdos Ickspitter, Absolver Thrull, Ostiary Thrull, and Exhumer Thrull. Please note this means you get a two mana 1/1 flyer, a three mana 1/1, a four mana 2/2, a four mana 2/3, and a six mana 3/3. Yes, your two-drop is not only your most efficient body in the deck, it’s also your only evasive critter.

Every creature you have (aside from off-tribals) dies to Gasp, Helix, Ribbons, Char, Combat, dual Darkblast via upkeep-dredge, Sneeze, Fart, Cough, Blink, and Strong Breeze. Basically, anything. Oh, yes. And you’re forced into at least three colors (Red, Black, and White). Even if you chose to take this in a different direction, you’re still stuck in these colors. Please note this is the one combination of colors I can think of that causes me to be unable to recollect any decent tournament decks. My memory may be faulty, but eh.

Unless you intend to never actually cast Absolver Thrull or to use them as discard fodder for something else, you cannot safely play enchantments. This screws you out of at least four cards that might otherwise save these sad bastards; Shadow Lance, Faith’s Fetters, Pillory of the Sleepless, and Debtors’ Knell.

Mourning Thrull generally likes auras. Thanks to the above, however, it is very unlikely you can play any, so you’ll end up turning your eye to equipment. Sadly, the two best options are cards I am extremely hesitant to play casually; Lucksack Snorehammer and Jitte – which not only feels icky, but is of course well and thoroughly banned, as it quite deserves. Instead, I have chosen to include a mere three Sunforgers.

You may think that Exhumer Thrull gives you a couple of pseudo-extra men in your deck. Then you will kindly note that eight of your twenty men have Haunt and thus are unlikely to end up in the graveyard to be recovered. Also note that these are the eight with the best bodies. Keen. Further note that Cremate is becoming very popular in the format as an answer to Sosuke’s Summons – please note it also works just as well on your critters in response to Exhuming Thrull’s triggered ability.

Every time you play Ostiary Thrull, you’re going to wish he were a 1/4 like, say, Droning Bureaucrats. Also, you are extremely unlikely to untap with him still in play unless he’s in a Pillory (annoying, but okay) or wearing Fetters (damn). Savvy players might recognise this as an opportunity to use Absolver Thrull. Obviously this means you will never draw him in this situation unless you don’t have the mana to cast him and your opponent will Castigate you, even if they’re playing R/G tribal Shamen. (Curse you, Orochi Leafcaller!)

Anything with Protection from Black, White, Red, Instants, Non-Spirits, or much of anything at all will give you nightmares. Also, you have absolutely no way to deal with Simic Sky Swallower if anyone includes it in their deck.

In short, this pile is helpless, hopeless, and quite miserably sad. Once in awhile you will get the double-Ickspitter draw and your opponent for whatever reason will fail to remove them. This may, eventually, lead to you accidentally appearing to be playing a good deck and against similarly wussy tribes may even push you in the direction of a win. More likely than not, if you actually pull it off, you’re best off seeing a doctor to make sure you’re not suffering from hallucinations. Winning with this mess of a deck is like getting in bed with a supermodel; extremely unlikely, and your friends won’t believe you unless you took pictures.

As for this next deck, I have no real excuse. Maybe my lovely fiancée slipped me some kind of drugs the night before I unearthed this abomination of good deck construction from the deep tomb in which it lay, otherwise content to leave humanity in peace. I am fairly certain the Scientologists managed to use this deck to prove that we in fact deserve to be destroyed by some dark evil being that slumbers in a volcano. Worse yet, it’s entirely my fault. Humanity, you have my apologies.

Not even the mighty Urzatron can save this despairing pile of dung from festering in the disease-ridden pit of failure that it most certainly wallows in. If this deck were a video game system, it would be the Virtual Boy. If it were a ship, it would be the Titanic. If it were a school, it would be the JFK Jr. School of Aviation. And this is only beginning to set you up for the horrors ahead. Those who are pregnant or have weak hearts are advised to click the back button on their browsers immediately, without so much as a glance further down the page.

An even greater travesty is my decision to name this deck after the main character of a short series of quirky but entertaining films, which were not only far more successful than this disgusting pile of refuse, but also grossed more money than every card in this combined will ever gross for anyone, ever, in the entire future of mankind. Given the manabase in this deck, that’s saying something.

I think I’m to blame on this one, but I’m not quite sure. I tried to include cards that interact with each of the Golems; Might of the Nephilim for Transguild Courier (please note this card does exactly nothing with any other card in the deck, probably mistake #1), Moldervine Cloak and Infiltrator’s Magemark for Thran and Glass Golems, and Tunnel Vision to go along with Junktroller.

The plan, you see, is to get Walking Archive out with the Urzatron, so you can draw and play two or three Golems every turn and just overwhelm your opponent. Of course, this plan has flaws, like Walking Archive being a pain to put counters on until you assemble the Urzatron (not to mention your only realistic method of finding the Urzatron, even better), two of your creatures basically having Defender (if you Cloak up Junktroller to swing with it, you’ve already lost the game, match, and your dignity), Transguild Courier being just a Hill Giant with a fancy interaction, and Glass Golem dying to forms of removal not even yet printed. On top of this, expecting to draw two or three Golems a turn in a deck with twenty creatures exactly is already a pipe dream to begin with. The best part is that, even if you succeed, you still accomplish nothing because all of your creatures are ridiculously horrible.

I have never, in over forty games, managed more than two wins with this deck, and I’m not even sure I got a second one. I can only assume that I must have through sheer bloody-mindedness and bad luck on the behalf of my opponents, but I simply don’t recall it. Something tells me it had to do with Tunnel Vision, since that’s about the only realistic way of pulling off a victory with these miserable miscreants and misfits. You’d think Thran Golem would occasionally add a random win to the total, but generally he just sucked a three mana instant involving Black mana, the letters "-fy", and the word "destroy" on it in response to doing anything of value. This is probably because he’s the only card in the deck worth actually using removal on.

Even having admitted to the construction of this awful pile of vomitous putrescence has revoked any and all chance I ever even might have had for becoming a pro Magic player, Poker player, or political leader of any country in the world, not to mention the Nobel Peace prize. Because of this deck, I can no longer apply for a 9 to 5 job simply because I must admit to having committed a felony, so I hope you’re all happy now.

Finally, I am saddened to bring you a deck I had high hopes for, a tribe after my own heart, Rogues. I’ve always been a rogue deck designer, it’s by far the most fascinating aspect of the game for me. And yet… my boys failed me. They shouldn’t have, really. This deck is full of cards that have proven to be at least halfway decent over the course of time, but for whatever reason, they simply refuse to work well together.

At first it may seem to be a Rat deck, but there’s not quite enough there to make the cut – only fifteen rats, all included as a "toolbox" to use with Ratcatcher. The problem being that in order to be a toolbox, you have to accomplish something useful, which doesn’t happen often here. You’d think the Ninjas would be good at least, until you stop and notice that unless you have Nezumi Cutthroat out, none of your creatures are likely to get through unblocked except Ratcatcher himself. Oh, and that plan gets shot down if they play Black critters. Oops. The Flipping Nezumi Brothers and their acrobatic act would seem to some people to be good, and chances are they’d normally be right. However, with very little other discard in the deck (Okiba-Gang Shinobi, likely to get through once, tops), you either have to be playing a fool or representing a lot of board pressure to get that last card out of their hand (unless, of course, it is removal for Shortfang).

You might think that Nezumi Graverobber would be of some use to you, but without any mana acceleration at all, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll get one to live long enough to have reanimation mana until your opponent has about fifteen or so cards in their graveyard – if they let you live that long.

Please note that for some mystical reason, I have never actually drawn Putrefy unless my opponent’s critters consisted entirely of some combination of Simic Sky Swallower, Giant Solifuge, or Kodama of the North Tree. Similarly, I never drew Punishment when any such critters were present on the few occasions I actually had enough mana to remove them (nine, six, and seven for those playing along at home – remember, no acceleration!).

Sadly, this shambling pile of scatological description actually has the highest win percentage – if you can call it that – of any of these decks, simply because it is very skewed towards the "turn 2 make a dude, turn 3 Cloak it" play, and one of those dudes happens to be Silhana Ledgewalker, by accident really. It actually signed up for the deck’s tryouts as Silhana Starfletcher, but happened to slip on the wrong costume that day and showed up as Silhana Ledgewalker, a happy coincidence that has earned the deck probably ninety percent of its wins.

Also note that, unlike my previous uses of Punishment, this deck has permanents at every mana cost between two and six, and thus any actual usage of Punishment is almost practically guaranteed by Murphy himself to include the exact mana cost you have the most of on the board at the time. This is especially true if the game is a close one except for two- or three-mana cards on the opponent’s side, while your only out involves either Moldervine Cloak, Nezumi Graverobber, and/or Silhana Ledgewalker.

Lastly, the deck hates itself as much as I have come to hate it, and has proven that time and time again by causing the Dredging of Moldervine Cloak to dump important cards in the graveyard, often including one-ofs I have almost no way of retrieving, unless my opponent has fallen asleep or perhaps let their little dog/sister/ferret/pet rock play me or something and I actually get to flip and keep a Graverobber. If there is a Deck Doctor Kevorkian, this pile of blisteringly bad forsaken garbage is in sore need of an appointment.

Please note before you go, gentle reader, that both myself and the Surgeon General refuse to endorse these decks, their contents, or any likeness thereof for use by human beings in any way, shape, or form. I hereby absolve myself of any and all responsibility for any injury; physical, emotional, or otherwise, that you may suffer should you attempt to disregard our warning and attempt to use any of these decks for anything, at all, ever. Chances are you can’t even play them at most venues since each is registered as a lethally bad weapon.

Join me next week when we resume examining some creatures that do not, necessarily, suck. Hopefully this week has been an entertaining lesson for the lot of you. If you enjoyed it, sound off in the forums and I may occasionally do sequels to it!

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