Tribal Knowledge: Maggots. (Ew.)

JMS jumps aboard the six-legged bandwagon and builds a competitive insect deck for the online Tribal Standard format. Do these creepy crawly underdogs have what it takes to swing with the Humans and the Spirits? Read on to find out!

First, the good news: I’m finding Tribal Standard games to be slightly easier to find online. I’m also

seeing lots of different account names playing Tribal, which shows me that people are trying out the format. New folks in

the Forums are making themselves heard, and I’ve received several testimonials that I’ve piqued their interest

and that they intend to try out Tribal Standard soon. These are all mere seeds, but they may yet grow into a robust,

healthy community.

The bad news: I still rarely see more than one or two Tribal Standard games at any time. I think the paragraph above

would balance out my pessimism except that I also notice that not a lot of people are reading my articles. The total

number of Forum views on each thread is small, and in the “rank order” that StarCityGames does at the bottom

of the page, my articles seem to be in the cellar.

Now, it’s hard not to have an ego-based reaction here. I spend hours on each article and it would be nice to

know people are actually taking the time to read them. I also know that Casual/Multiplayer articles are buried on the

StarCityGames page, so the audience is going to be smaller by mere placement. I don’t want either my ego or excuses

to cloud the facts, though: Interest in the topic of Tribal Standard is minuscule. If I felt that my articles were

receiving progressively more hits, I would see reason for hope. My gut tells me the opposite may be true, that Tribal

Standard was a curiosity for a brief moment that’s rapidly losing steam. I hope that the next several weeks prove me


What do I need to do? Add cheesecake?

Thankfully, those actually reading my articles are finding them helpful, fun, and are speaking up in the Forums. Last

week produced a good amount of discussion about Coldsnap’s influence, both in general and to my previous decks

specifically. There’s even a Thrull deck for your amusement, so check it out.

In terms of Coldsnap, the big card I seem to have overlooked is Skred, which might fit into both my Goblin and Wizard

deck. I’m sure others will surface, too, as the cardboard and online community sinks their collective teeth into the

new set. Probably sometime before the set’s online release, I’ll revisit what cards I think will get played in

Standard Tribal.

Picking An Underdog

Coldsnap isn’t here until next month, though. I’m not going to wait for a new crop of Yetis and

Humans to make decks when there are so many tribes I have yet to explore. I had committed to looking at a smaller tribe,

and look at a smaller tribe I shall. Let’s limber up and check out the category I’ve called the

“Underdogs,” those tribes trapped just above minimally-legal.

Right now, here are the tribes available as Underdogs: Advisor, Knight, Wurm, Giant, Golem, Insect, Ninja, Plant,

Archer, Scout, Vedalken, Viashino, Zubera, Angel, Cat, Drake, and Illusion. As I said in my first Tribal article, these are small tribes. In

the world of Standard, my guess is that most people in that world would live their whole lives never seeing members of one

of these far-flung communities. If an Underdog tribe raised an army for war, it would be a mythical event.

As I look at the tribes available in this category, I see a bunch of subcategories that either heighten or dampen my

interest. For example, there seem to be what I would call “sub-tribes,” or tribes that are simply consumed by

a larger tribe. Why would I make an Advisor deck when every single Advisor is Human? Why make a Zubera deck when

they’re all Spirits? With the exception of Court Hussar, all Vedalken are Wizards. With the exception of

Burning-Tree Bloodscale and Stormscale Anarch, all Viashino are Warriors. Making a deck with one of these tribes feels

silly to me, and unnecessarily limiting. Until these tribes are injected with some unique character, I don’t see me

making a deck here.

Three tribes contain creatures too uninteresting for me to touch. Wurms are just big, Green, armless fatties. Scouts

are the opposite; Too tiny to matter without any redeeming qualities around which to build a deck. Drakes are usually

nothing more than Blue vanilla fliers. I have seen one cool Wurm deck online, piloted by GamerLich, which used Greater

Good to fuel his deck. That’s a very clever twist on an otherwise uninteresting bunch of critters. Still, I’m

not tempted to make a Wurm, Scout, or Drake deck.

Two tribes I like a lot are Angels and Illusions. Both of these tribes have enough solid creatures that do interesting

things to fuel my deckbuilding imagination. The only problem, really, is that each will receive a big boost with Coldsnap.

Angels will get Adarkar Valkyrie, one of the most fun cards in the set. Illusions, meanwhile, will get the

very-Tribal-friendly Krovikan Mist (not to mention Adarkar Windform and Phobian Phantasm, neither of which I would use but

which swell the overall number of Illusions). As a result, I don’t see rushing into any Angel or Illusion decks when

in a month I’ll have fun, new deck centerpieces.

That leaves eight tribes out of seventeen to consider seriously. Half of these tribes sound quirky and cool, but

don’t quite come together for me. Giants have Hammerfist Giant and Oathsworn Giant, but they’re so dang

expensive and necessitate including cards like Hill Giant. This is also a tribe looking to Coldsnap for key pieces.

Besides, I ran into Chris Millar online who was working on a Giant deck.

Golems are also expensive, and I’m not quite sure what to do about them except to include Auras, thanks to Thran

Golem. I think there’s a cool Golem deck to be made, but I personally have a hard time figuring out how to do it.

Archers are missing something to reliably give opposing creatures flying (I had high hopes for Soratami Cloud Chariot,

but it only works on my own critters), and without such a trick they’re underpowered. I tried Oathsworn Giant. It

wasn’t pretty.

I really like four Cats – Savannah Lions, Pride of the Clouds, Leonin Skyhunter, and Skyhunter Prowler – as the basis

for a deck, but after that I have to go off White and Blue for either King Cheetah or Sabertooth Alley Cat. As a result, I

feel like Cats are one card away from contention (I’m not convinced that card is Arctic Nishoba, either).

Fun tribes, these four, but either I’m not quite ready for them or they’re not quite ready for me.

That leaves four tribes, any one of which would make for a deck I’d enjoy playing. My reasons for not choosing

Ninja are partly because I’ve already made a Ninja

deck, and partly because I’m tired of Ninjas in Standard.

I like the Knights currently available, but I’m not terribly interested in making a White Weenie deck right now.

Like Angels and Illusions, maybe I’ll revisit Knights once Black ones are around thanks to Coldsnap.

Plants have an absolutely outstanding base with Vinelasher Kudzu, Shambling Shell, Vulturous Zombie, and Utopia Tree.

If I hadn’t seen over a dozen Plant decks online already, I would definitely be making one. Since Plants seem

commonplace online, I’m turning to the only tribe left:


Making A Pest Of Myself

Like Cats and Plants, Insects have four strong cards that hang together well. They are:

Giant Solifuge – Okay, sure… It’s no Ball Lightning. On the other hand, I’ve seen Giant

Solifuge win games almost single-handedly in my Bloody Goblins deck. A Mono-Red deck can likely remove blockers more

easily than an Insect deck, but I still think this guy is awesome even if all he does is remove a creature and deal a

couple points of damage.

Grave-Shell Scarab – It’s a 4/4 body that can block, kick ass, and never die. An undying beatstick is

always welcome, especially when I also have the option of effectively cycling it for one.

Nantuko Husk – The Husk is obviously a strong creature, but it needs support to become a powerhouse. Looking

at the other Insects on this list, I don’t see that kind of support other than the cool synergy with Gleancrawler.

If I can find room for a token-producer in my non-Insect slots, that would help Nantuko Husk immensely.

Gleancrawler – Six mana for a 6/6 trampler is great, but it’s that other ability I really enjoy.

Self-sacrificial abilities like, say, Grave-Shell Scarab, get silly quickly, or if I happen to have a sacrificial outlet

of my own, like, oh, I don’t know… Nantuko Husk. Gleancrawler also makes Giant Solifuge a lot scarier. In other

words, my other three Insects love them some Gleancrawler.

Four goodies, to be sure, but I saw four goodies on the Cat list before screeching to a halt. The remaining Insect

list is more promising, but it’s a head-scratcher. Plague Beetle is too small to matter. Mortipede is fragile and

expensive for the cost. Giant Cockroach is a vanilla 4/2 for four mana. Finally, Moonwing Moth is both underwhelming and

completely outside of my established colors of Black and Green. There are so many recent Insects I would love to use –

Broodhatch Nantuko, Bane of the Living, Ironshell Beetle, Nantuko Shade, Twigwalker, Phantom Nantuko, Nantuko Tracer,

Nantuko Elder, Gigapede. I would wet myself if I could use Nantuko Vigilante. Alas.

I’m choosing Mortipede, although I’m not happy about it. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I like Mortipede. The problem is that my list of

Insects is very top-heavy on mana and thus slow. Mortipede is just another top-heavy, slow addition to my deck without

adding much of anything. In fact, Mortipede might be attacking before the rest of my deck, which makes its Lure effect

awkward. If my deck is humming, I suppose it provides an every-other-turn challenge for my opponent with Gleancrawler on

the table (activate, attack, recast it the next turn), but that also sounds clunky. Still, it’s better than anything

else I’m seeing in my options.

As an aside, why are Standard’s Insects so huge? I realize that these are only the Insects that a planeswalker

would summon during a battle, but shouldn’t more insects be the size of Plague Beetle or Xantid Swarm? The fact that

I’m making an Insect deck and can’t find anything reasonable under three mana just seems wrong.

The nucleus of my deck is:

4 Nantuko Husk
4 Mortipede
4 Giant Solifuge
4 Grave-Shell Scarab
4 Gleancrawler

Not bad, but as I said, the mana requirements there hurt my eyes. Assuming twenty-four land, that leaves me sixteen

cards to try to make this nucleus functional.

My first concern is mana, and I would like to have as many creatures as possible to feed Nantuko Husk. The two best

mana-critters in Standard are Sakura-Tribe Elder and Birds of Paradise, so those two are heading straight into my deck.

Sakura-Tribe Elder not only thins a land from my deck, but it’s also a cute trick with Gleancrawler. I suppose I

could use Elves of Deep Shadow instead of Birds, but I’ve found flying is often relevant in chump-blocking

scenarios. I also would like to avoid damaging myself when possible since my deck looks s… l… o… w.

Do I stop there or keep going via Kodama’s Reach, Civic Wayfinder, Golgari Signet, etc.? If I’m playing

twenty-four land, four Birds, and four Elders, I’m sure as heck hoping that I can handle the mana for a deck that

tops out at six mana. Still, I’ll be watching my games closely to see if I’m too slow to compete.

I suppose it’s a requirement that all Standard Green/Black decks add Putrefy. Artifacts aren’t nearly as

problematic as they used to be, but it’s still too powerful and versatile a spell for three mana to exclude.

Holy bajeezus… I only have one card left! This has been my experience with Tribal Wars decks; the whole deckbuilding

experience is fraught with trade-offs. No matter how long I stare at Mortipede, it doesn’t become Nantuko Vigilante.

This means I have holes to fill in my deck, and possibly too many for a single card slot.

Here is the list of contenders for that final spot in my Insect deck. Luckily there are only – gulp! – twelve

cards I’m seriously considering.

Bottle Gnomes

It’s easy to forget that Bottle Gnomes is currently Standard-legal because it hasn’t appeared in any

tournament decks and because Gnomes are a non-legal tribe. If my deck is slow, though, it provides an easy-to-cast life

pad while slowing down my opponent’s attack. There’s sexy synergy with Gleancrawler, as well. Unfortunately,

my deck wouldn’t be able to really take advantage of Bottle Gnomes other than Gleancrawler.

Carven Caryatid

Speaking of defense, there are few creatures as stout in Standard Tribal as Carven Caryatid. Three mana for a cantrip

2/5 defender is something I could often pull off Turn 2 thanks to Birds of Paradise, and the Caryatid falls into my

primary color. Later in the game, it’s good Husk food or can set up a Husk-Gleancrawler cycle to draw cards.

Crime / Punishment

The allure here is versatility. Punishment provides a catch-all solution – albeit an expensive and slow one – while

Crime is devastating at random times. My deck can easily splash White thanks to Birds and Elder, so the third color

isn’t a barrier. The real question is whether this card helps my deck survive at all or whether it’s yet

another expensive bomb. Still, I like Crime / Punishment’s effects a lot more than Bound / Determined’s for my


Golgari Guildmage

It’s an early body, and once my deck is humming both abilities should be relevant. I’m just not sure how

much either ability adds to my deck. After all, my creatures are big enough without +1/+1 counters and they can often come

back into play without the Guildmage. Redundancy isn’t a bad thing for a deck to possess, but I wonder if big

critters and reanimation are the features of my deck that deserve duplication.

Grave Pact

The mana once again makes my eyes shrivel, but any deck with Sakura-Tribe Elder, Nantuko Husk, Mortivore, Grave-Shell

Scarab, and Giant Solifuge can take enormous advantage of Grave Pact. In a format based on creatures, cards like this (and

Last Gasp, Seal of Doom, and Swallowing Plague) become a lot more attractive in the maindeck. It’s hard to imagine a

deck that Grave Pact wouldn’t devastate.

Indrik Stomphowler or Naturalize

As you know, I’m sucker for flexibility and the ability to deal with whatever my opponent throws at me.

Faith’s Fetters makes me unusually happy, for example. If I don’t use my last slot to combat artifacts and

enchantments, there is a danger of losing to the random Worship, Glare of Subdual, or Loxodon Warhammer. Although the

common wisdom would suggest using Naturalize, I’m also a sucker for avoiding dead cards in my hand. Indrik

Stomphowler is always a useful card and sometimes a game-winner. Five mana makes me wince, of course.

Last Gasp

As I said, it’s a lot safer to play maindeck Last Gasp in Tribal Standard than regular Standard. I’m

wracking my brain, but I can’t think of a single deck against which this card would be useless. The question,

really, is whether my precious last card should go to spot removal when I already have Putrefy in the deck.

Nezumi Graverobber

It’s quick and a heavyweight when put into a deck that can generate five to ten mana. The fact that I can

sacrifice my own creatures for some useful effect is a bonus. Mortipede, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Giant Solifuge look a lot

sweeter with Nighteyes the Desecrator on the table, which is another point in its favor.

Plague Boiler

Believe it or not, I’ve never used Plague Boiler in a deck. This is mostly because I’ve been writing

“Building On A Budget” since Ravnica debuted, but it still feels odd. Reset buttons are great, especially when

your fat creatures show up after the world has gone “BOOM!” and/or your creatures can rise up from

the grave. I have both advantages in my deck. Of course, using Plague Boiler would make me want to use either Golgari

Signet or Kodama’s Reach instead of Birds of Paradise.

Seal of Doom

The reason I like Seal of Doom slightly more than Last Gasp for my deck is that after the third turn, it’s going

to be a real pain to do anything but tap out while my deck swings into action. Seal of Doom can sit there while I’m

casting Giant Solifuge, Grave-Shell Scarab, and Gleancrawler on consecutive turns. Again, there’s the question of

whether or not spot removal is what I want for my last card slot, and there’s also the question of how many decks

I’ll face with all-Black creatures. If the answers are “yes” and “not many,” then I think

I’m set.

Swallowing Plague

Like Punishment, Swallowing Plague is slow defense for my slow deck. The good news is that it’s a double whammy

defense thanks to the lifegain, and – as I’ve said repeatedly today – it’s unlikely to be a dead card against

any Tribal deck. My gut tells me that Crime / Punishment is not only more versatile but also able to handle a larger

number of threats, but I’ve been on the receiving end of too many game-swinging Plagues to overlook it.

Vigor Mortis

If I care about bigger creatures and reanimation, then Golgari Guildmage is preferable because it is easier to cast,

reusable, can attack and block, and interacts well with both Nantuko Husk and Gleancrawler. Nezumi Graverobber might also

get the nod over Vigor Mortis. I mention it here because it’s a spell that makes me immeasurably happy and that I

try to fit into all manner of Black/Green decks.

Of these dozen options, I am most drawn to Grave Pact, Crime / Punishment, and Carven Caryatid, in that order. My

hesitancy about Grave Pact links directly to its mana cost, which is tough on its own much less in a deck already plagued

by wonky mana. Is my deck too slow with Grave Pact in it, especially with no lifegain? Is the Pact’s effect

debilitating enough to counterbalance my deck’s lack of enchantment removal?

At least theoretically, I feel reasonably sure that yes, my deck is slow, but the mana-acceleration can give me big

bodies to defend against all but the most aggressive of decks. As for the lack of enchantment removal, I’m trying to

decide what enchantments cripple me. Normally I think about what my deck would do if my opponent dropped Worship (note

that I’ve only seen one Tribal deck – a White/Blue Knight deck – ever actually play Worship against me). Thanks to

Grave Pact, I think I simply focus on winning the war of attrition until he has no creatures left. Faith’s Fetters,

Pillory of the Sleepless, Pacifism… I can sacrifice my own guys if they are so afflicted. I don’t think I could

outgun Glare of Subdual without multiple Pacts, but that’s the only enchantment that comes immediately to mind that

cripples me. On the other hand, I can imagine a whole host of decks I’ve faced that would wilt before Grave Pact. So

okay. I’ll give the Pact a try and see what happens.

What would you choose? Are there cards you would consider that I haven’t put on my list? Is my logic faulty? Is

Grave Pact suicide? Speak up in the Forums and let me know how you would have built (or have built) an Insect deck. For

me, here is where I landed:

The deck’s name is what it is because I’ve started thinking of the deck as “grave-related

insects,” which to me are maggots. Every time I look at the name, I think “Ew.”

Tokens, Tokens, Everywhere

I was really ready for this deck to flop. The individual cards are powerful, but they’re all so expensive and I

just can’t tell how well they hang together. This, as they say, is why we play.

One of the things I’ve become self-conscious of recently is that people can’t seem to replicate the

results of my decks. My many preconstructed experiments at mtg.com ended with impressive winning percentages, and yet

people have consistently e-mailed me to let me know that their experience with my decks has been sub-par. An easy answer

is that I’m an überplayer, but I know that’s false. I think I’m better than the average online

Casual Decks player, but am I really that much better than my audience? That doesn’t feel right. I’m not sure

quite why I seem to gel with decks of my own creation, but I definitely, positively don’t doctor my results or gloss

over losses. What you see in my game logs is what happened to the best of my notes.

I say this because the next ten games are ridiculous.

Game 1: Black/Red Rats

He started off with a Ravenous Rats (taking Grave-Shell Scarab… ha!), then another Ravenous Rats (taking the card I

least like in the deck, Mortipede… ha!), while I played Sakura-Tribe Elder. My Elder blocked his first Rats, then

fetched a third land so I could play Nantuko Husk. On my next turn I found an Overgrown Tomb, which allowed me to play

Grave Pact. He played his own Husk, and when I blocked it with mine, he sacrificed the second Rats, so I sacrificed my

Husk to kill his via Pact. I then drew and played a second Husk. He played Nezumi Graverobber, but for some reason removed

my dead Husk instead of my dead Scarab. The next turn I dredged, played, and sacrificed my Scarab, drawing a card and

killing his Rat. The Scarab came back on my next turn, followed my Gleancrawler. My opponent groused about not having a

Mountain, then played one to Wrecking Ball my Gleancrawler. On the next turn he cast Hellhole Rats, but I responded to its

ability by killing it with my last card in hand: Putrefy. On the next turn my Scarab stomped in for the win. He showed me

a hand with three more Hellhole Rats and another Wrecking Ball.

(Wow that game log is confusing, even to me)

Game 2: Boros Humans

I was a step too slow in this game. He played Bushi Tenderfoot, Veteran Armorer, and Thundersong Trumpeter while I

played two chump-blocking Sakura-Tribe Elders followed by a Nantuko Husk. Because of his Armorer, my Elders didn’t

kill anything, so when I dropped Grave Pact I was forced to sacrifice my Husk right away to stay alive. Another Husk and

Mortipede cleared his side of the table, but he got in one hit with a 4/2 Loxodon Hammer-wielding Armorer. Boros

Swiftblade showed up, so I used my last card in hand–Putrefy–to kill it. He played his last card the following turn,

another Swiftblade. I was at four life and had one turn to draw something useful. I drew Llanowar Wastes, and that was


Game 3: Green/Black Spirits

This was a long game. He started off with Loam Dweller while I had Birds of Paradise, Sakura-Tribe Elder, then

Grave-Shell Scarab. I stupidly wasted a Putrefy on his Dweller thinking that he might be too slow for my Scarab, but he

quickly built his mana and dropped two Primordial Sages and a Keening Banshee to kill my newly-cast Mortipede. We played

standoff for awhile, him at six life and me taking two a turn from the Banshee. I attacked with a Gleancrawler, killed off

some blockers, then played a second one to bring the first back. I did that twice more to whittle down his forces, but he

played Thief of Hope and my life was getting low. He drew a ton of cards, then killed my living Gleancrawler with his own

Putrefy. I played Mortipede, attacked with it and my Scarab to knock him to two. My second Mortipede was my only hope, and

thankfully his fist full of eight cards held no answers for him. I won at one life.

Game 4: Mono-White Foxes

What a game. I hit him down to thirteen life with Nantuko Husk and Mortivore before he set up Samurai of the Pale

Curtain to counter my Grave Pact, then Kitsune Blademaster to counter my one-toughness guys, then Eight-and-a-Half Tails

with two Pious Kitsune. Up, up, up his life climbed, all the way to one-hundred and forty. He had one less card in his

library, though, so I was seeing if he would get nervous and start attacking. Sure enough, he charged in with his

Blademaster and Samurai. I couldn’t believe my luck. I blocked the Pale Curtain with Giant Solifuge, and I could

almost hear the “Awwww… Hell” echo in my opponent’s skull. The Samurai died, and immediately my two

Sakura-Tribe Elders sacrificed themselves to fuel my two Grave Pacts. A Nantuko Husk (one of three on the table) killed

himself as well, clearing his side of the table of creatures. After that I started attacking for twenty a turn,

sacrificing a Grave-Shell Scarab whenever my opponent dropped a creature. Down, down, down his life dropped until I won.

Game 5: White/Black/Red Thrulls

Yay, Thrulls! His two Mourning Thrulls were hitting me while I was attacking with Nantuko Husk. Giant Solifuge forced

him to hold back a Thrull, which I killed with Putrefy. Absolver Thrull showed up next, which kept my Grave Pact in hand.

My Solifuge ran over his Absolver Thrull, then a second Solifuge hit the table to run over his haunted Mourning Thrull.

Now I had clearance to play Grave Pact, but I drew a third Giant Solifuge. Two attacks and a Putrefy on his Ostiary Thrull

later, I had won.

Game 6: Black/Red Rats

Hellhole Rats scare me. At one point he had two Nezumi Cutthroats and a Nezumi Graverobber while I was holding three

Grave-Shell Scarabs, Gleancrawler, and Putrefy. He hit four mana. I was acutely aware that I wouldn’t discard a

Putrefy if he played Hellhole Rats, which meant I would be taking five damage. Thankfully he didn’t play a Hellhole

Rats the entire game. Graverobber died to Putrefy. I could handle one hit of Okiba-Gang Shinobi (discarding two Scarabs),

and pretty soon my Black fatties outgunned his little guys.

Game 7: Green/Red Warriors

Goblin Cohort had me thinking it was a Goblin deck, but when Sosuke, Son of Seshiro appeared I figured out what was

happening. Thankfully, Putrefy killed Sosuke the turn after it came into play. Chalk this game up to the power of Grave

Pact. I had two Nantuko Husks, two Giant Solifuges, a Grave-Shell Scarab, and a Mortipede. He tried two Cohorts, Skarrgan

Pit-Skulk, and a second Sosuke, but I was able to kill them all thanks to the Pact. Most of all, I was getting a lot of

two-for-ones as my creatures died taking down his blockers. The card advantage was too much for my opponent, and one

activation from a Mortipede put him out of his misery. I won at eighteen life.

Game 8: Black/Blue Horrors

Comedy Al brought a very cool deck. As far as I can tell, it was mostly built around Abyssal Nocturnus and discard

effects like Lore Broker and Delirium Skeins. I came out of the gates quickly with Birds of Paradise, a bunch of land, and

Grave-Shell Scarab. Al was land shy, getting a Lore Broker that I killed with Putrefy, and Nocturnus. He found a second

Broker and played Delirium Skeins, and in response I killed his Horror with Putrefy. I played Scarab number two, forcing

Al to block with both his Broker and a second Nocturnus. After that my two Scarabs went all the way. A late Vigor Mortis

on his discarded Gleancrawler showed me another trick from Al’s deck. Unfortunately, it was too late to save him.

Game 9: Green/White Spirits

I busted out with Birds of Paradise, Nantuko Husk, and Giant Solifuge. He had Petalmane Baku, then Waxmane Baku, then

Glare of Subdual. At the end of his turn, I offed his Waxmane with Putrefy, and for some reason he decided not to block my

Solifuge with his Petalmane. I knocked him to two life, then played Mortipede. My opponent tapped out for Oyobi, Who

Splits the Heavens, but it was too little too late as my Insects swarmed in for the win.

Game 10: Blue/Red Wizards

He started out with Goblin Flectomancer while I had Birds of Paradise and Mortipede. Psychotic Fury on his

Flectomancer killed my Mortipede, so I followed it up with Grave-Shell Scarab and Nantuko Husk. My opponent was

stockpiling creatures, including a second Flectomancer, two Wee Dragonauts, and two Thought Couriers. Thankfully he

wasn’t drawing instants, so I was only getting plinked by his Dragonauts. I played Grave Pact, then Giant Solifuge,

and my big guys started the attack. My second Pact was Remanded, but the combination of my Scarab, Nantuko Husk (first

eating Birds of Paradise and eventually itself), and my Giant Solifuge combined with Grave Pact to whittle his forces to

nothing. He played two chump-blockers in a row for my Scarab, but when he finally topdecked land I was able to attack for

the win at four life.

Flawed Paradigm showed up to watch this game, and while I had Husk and Pact on the table asked, “Do you have

token producers in that deck? You should fit them in somehow.” I answered, “For what? Putrefy? Pact? Birds?

Elder?” We talked back and forth for awhile, and then he suggested I replace Putrefy with Scatter the Seeds. His

reasoning was that if Grave Pact is working, I never need other creature removal. I agreed that artifacts didn’t

currently scare me, and that it might be worth a shot.

9-1 is a fantastic start, but I have to admit that I got lucky. Many of my opponent’s decks were quirky or

suboptimal even for the Casual Decks room, and many of my opponents made game-changing mistakes. Above all, the deck felt

clunky. I knew I was holding Nantuko Husk back from greatness, but I didn’t realize how fully I would feel it during

games. The deck was as slow as I feared, and did almost nothing early to stave off my opponent’s attack.

I decided to give Flawed Paradigm’s suggestion a try, along with swapping a Forest for a Swamp (I frequently

found myself unable to play Grave Pact on the fourth turn). I also tried Fertile Imagination for awhile at his behest, but

I found that sometimes Fertile Imagination was useless in hand and Scatter was always welcome. As a result, I ended up

with this deck:

My conclusion after twenty odd games and a very high winning percentage: Grave Pact is silly in Tribal Wars. Any Black

deck that can use it, should, and this deck can take advantage of it more than most.

Of course, I want to know what you think of the deck, what your own Insect decks look like, and where you

think I went astray. Coldsnap has exactly zero Insects in it, but if there are other Black or Green cards you think might

fit, I’d be happy to think about them. In other words, you should speak up in the Forums and give me some feedback.

“Pop,” a.k.a. Future Sight, has officially begun its first wave of names and flavor text writing. As a

result, I’m taking a brief hiatus from my Tribal Standard articles. When I get a writing break, I’ll jump into

a bigger tribe and start exploring. In the meantime, speak up in the Forums and, if you haven’t yet, try out

Standard Tribal!

Think hard and have fun,

(Currently StudentDriver on Magic Online)