Tribal Thriftiness #12 – Let The Rope-Shaking Commence

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Thursday, February 28th – Obsidian Battle-Axe has certainly gotten a lot of press and has been seeing play in Standard. Today, Dave explores how each of the races with Warriors can use Obsidian Battle-Axe to beef up into… the Ultimate Warrior! Or, at least, a pretty good Warrior.

Before we press on with our look at Morningtide’s tribal equipment, a quick “moment in the life of” … uh … moment. I had a great opportunity last week. The missus and I took in a sneak preview of “Inspiring Impressionism” at the Denver Art Museum – a very nice exhibit that explores the links between Impressionist painters and the Dutch and French Masters that preceded them. Impressionists like Monet, Manet, Renoir, and Degas; Masters like Titian, Velazquez, and even Botticelli – all represented. If you live near Denver (or near Seattle, where it travels this summer), definitely check it out. Bring that smidgen of high class into your life. Even if you aren’t interested in art, it’s amazing to see.

(The missus has a Masters in Fine Arts Administration and Museum Curation, but initially I could have cared less about art. I was always bored by it in school, looking at paintings in books. But after seeing a few pieces in person over the years, it’s amazing the difference “being there” makes.)

Now that I’ve added some class to this column, let me remedy it in a single paragraph header:


When I was in junior high school, I was a huge pro-wrestling fan. (To be fair, I still am a fan to some extent, although the Internet has changed how I keep up with the stories and shows.) As a kid, one of my favorite guys was the Ultimate Warrior. He was huge! He was unstoppable! He would run to the ring and shake the ring ropes!

Of course, now I know he’s a frickin’ loony, but as a kid? He was the be-all and end-all.

Today’s Warriors are much the same in my eyes. The power! The speed! The unfailing energy! With Morningtide, the Warrior tribe has been pulled together into a formidable, WWE-Championship-winning machine.

And Obsidian Battle-Axe is the belt, the thing that makes it all worthwhile. Okay, so I ran out of wrestling-related clichés. So sue me. But Obsidian Battle-Axe is probably the best of the tribal equipment, and as such, it has a lot of tribes looking to use it: Elves, Giants, Treefolk, Goblins… heck, there are 86 (!) Warriors in Standard right now, in every color and casting cost. Everyone can play with Obsidian Battle-Axe!

(A quick aside: the Battle-Axe is perfectly good even in a deck without Warriors – the +2/+1 and haste are more than worth the three to play and three to equip. The only thing that keeps it from being a stand-out is the existence of Loxodon Warhammer. So I’m just looking at tribal Warrior decks, where the free equip makes a difference.)

I Already Did a Santa Joke Somewhere, So… Uh… Elves

Since Elves also have the tribal Warrior lord from Morningtide (Bramblewood Paragon), it seems like that should be where we start. Elvish Warrior decks (not to be confused with Elvish Warrior cards) did well at a Grand Prix Trial in Japan, where there were three decks in the Top 8, including this deck by Takahito Nakajima:

The deck is obviously great, and geared to work well with Obsidian Battle-Axe, but some of the rares are a little bit out of the price range – Thoughtseize is $25 now, and Profane Command and Chameleon Colossus are both over $10, not to mention the lands. How do we build this deck so that it doesn’t cost close to three hundred dollars?

To start with, let’s look at the creature base. The Elf contingent is pretty strong here: 4 Bramblewood Paragon, 3 Civic Wayfinder, 4 Imperious Perfect, 4 Llanowar Elves, 1 Wren’s Run Packmaster, and 4 Wren’s Run Vanquisher. All Warriors, except for the Llanowars, and all commons and uncommons except for the singleton Wren’s Run Packmaster ($4). If you didn’t get one at the Lorwyn Pre-Release and you don’t want to shell out the four bucks, that’s okay – the deck won’t miss it, and you can probably replace it with the fourth Wayfinder. Mirri isn’t that expensive ($3), but I’d like to try another Morningtide Warrior in her place (along with the Colossi), and add in three Winnower Patrols. The 3/2 for three mana is good stats to start with, and you should find plenty of ways to trigger his Kinship ability and grow him even larger.

Sudden Spoiling also isn’t expensive ($2.50), but I’d rather see that in the sideboard. We need to replace the Commands and the Thoughtseizes, and Lorwyn has a good Elf-based option in Eyeblight’s Ending, and the Elf-like Nameless Inversion. Two Nath of the Gilt-Leaf will give us a little bit of the discard element that the original deck had, and he’s a Warrior on top of that.

Rare Cost Summary:
Nath of the Gilt-Leaf ($2.00 x 2 = $4.00)

Rares you might add if you got ‘em include Gilt-Leaf Palace and Llanowar Wastes, which will make the mana much smoother, and Chameleon Colossus, a big Elf Warrior that looks more like a salamander, but who am I to judge?

Giving Your Opponent the Cold Eye

But Bramblewood Paragon isn’t the only Warrior lord out there, oh no. Lest you forget, Coldsnap also brought us a Warrior lord, even though she’s not a Warrior herself: Lovisa Coldeyes ($1.00). She doesn’t play very well with other Human Warriors, because there are only a handful, and they had no tribal support in Lorwyn – but she plays with all the other Red tribes, and that means Giants, Elementals, and Goblins can use her as well.

Lovisa also duplicates the haste feature of Obsidian Battle-Axe, so you can cast multiple Warriors in one turn and not be required to equip each of them with a different Battle-Axe in order to press your advantage. This ability is probably better suited to the Elementals and Goblins, since the Giant Warriors tend to be more expensive.

Rare Cost Summary:
Lovisa Coldeyes ($1.00 x 3 = $3.00)

The deck takes all the cheap Goblin Warriors and aims to play them out as quickly as possible, attacking where the openings appear, and then crushing the opponent once Lovisa comes to the party. I particularly like Bloodshot Trainee, since when he comes into play and picks up a Battle-Axe (or hangs around Lovisa), his ability is both turned on and hastily available. Nice!

When it comes to the Elementals, no one benefits more from the hastiness than Nova Chaser ($4). No one likes having gone through the trouble of producing a 10/2 trampling attacker, only to have him be handled by some Sorcery on your opponent’s turn. But the Elemental tribe has a good number of other worthwhile Warriors to play with:

Rare Cost Summary:
Lovisa Coldeyes ($1.00 x 3 = $3.00)
Vengeful Firebrand ($1.00 x 4 = $4.00)
Nova Chaser ($4.00 x 2 = $8.00)

Ceaseless Searblades is the big guy in this deck, and you should be able to pump him through the roof with the activated abilities of Flamekin Brawler and Vengeful Firebrand (which will make both of them big at the same time) and Soulbright Flamekin (who will let your big boys trample over and will generate more mana to keep pumping them with). The Elemental tribe is filled with cool interactions like this, and this deck wants to take advantage of them where it can.

For the Giants, I think going away from mono-colored might be the way to go, simply because Morningtide also gives us the awesome Axe-fetching Stonehewer Giant ($2.50). One Stonehewer Giant plus one Axe means he can attack the turn he comes into play, and fetch himself out a second one in mid-combat! That would be awesome to actually do. I’d also like to use Boldwyr Heavyweights ($1.00), since in all honesty nothing that your opponent is going to get is going to stand up to a 10/9 or 10/10 trampler. Well, except Shriekmaw. And Venser. And Riftwing Cloudskate. But other than those! It’ll be a great Timmy moment. Brion Stoutarm ($4.00) tops the price curve and gives you a finishing flinger.

Rare Cost Summary:
Lovisa Coldeyes ($1.00 x 3 = $3.00)
Boldwyr Heavyweights ($1.00 x 4 = $4.00)
Stonehewer Giant ($2.50 x 4 = $10.00)
Brion Stoutarm ($4.00 x 2 = $8.00)
Deathrender ($3.00 x 2 = $6.00)
Arena ($1.00 x 2 = $2.00)

… surely the most junk rares in a deck that I have built so far. Since your creatures are so expensive, Deathrender provides you a measure of protection should one of them die – and being able to fetch it out with Stonehewer Giant with combat damage on the stack makes for a nasty surprise. The Arenas will help you deal with ground stalemates, since your Giants should be able to handle any other creature in one-on-one combat.

The Sulfurous Blasts are a necessity, since your creatures don’t start coming down until the midgame.

Ancient Ampitheaters or Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forges[/author], again, are welcome additions if you have them; I am a big proponent of making the manabase as smooth as possible, and those will definitely help.

Until next time!