Kitchen Table Hero #3: Tribal Wars Strike Back


After I wrote Kitchen Table Hero #1, a player reached out to me about her local Tribal Wars league. I was pretty excited. The region I live in, none of the stores run a whole lot of casual events. There is two stores that do a Commander night and that is all. To hear there is a shop that has an established and thriving casual league makes me pretty full of joy. 

Tribal Wars as a League

Just as a reminder, here is a rundown of the official Tribal Wars rules:

This is a very strong set up for the backbone of the format. But for a league, this is really vague.  Especially how skeletal the ban list is.

Jordan, the player who reached out to me, hails from Masterwork Games. This shop put together their own rules and ban list together for what looks like a set up for a really healthy meta.

I’ll break it down the way they do.

The Rules

  • At least 20 cards must be of your chosen creature type
  • Maximum value of a single card in you deck cannot exceed $20 (TCG Player Median Price will be the reference point)
  • Final deck list must be submitted and no changes can be made during the course of the season
  • There is no sideboard
  • All decks must adhere to ban list. If caught using illegal cards, an immediate match loss will be given
  • League organizers have final say on card value & deck legality

I think the greatest part of Masterwork Games’ rules is the price point. Part of the concern I saw when I first introduced the format was that people would just play Legacy powered decks. With keeping cards below $20, it keeps players from playing certain Legacy cards. I think this greatly helps keep the decks at a casual level. Later in the article you’ll see two example of decks from the league and their overall price barely breaks $200. Which, to be fair, for a deck in a league you buy in to, those are pretty fair price points. I’ll be ending this article with a deck I would make in this league and keeping it in a good price area of $200 or below.

Banned Tribes

Sliver queen

  • Elves
  • Goblins
  • Merfolk
  • Vampires
  • Soldiers
  • Slivers
  • Faeries
  • Zombies
  • Beasts
  • Elementals
  • Blue Wizards
  • White Clerics

Once again, this is a great move. It addresses the concerns the community has about people playing “over powered” tribes. While I disagree with Elementals and Beasts making the list, I am okay with the concept as a whole. These are tribes with really good synergy, a lot of lords, and great tutoring effects.

Banned Cards


Overall, I am very happy with this ban list. I am sad to see Brass Herald on the list, but considering every tribe with a herald creature is banned, it fits. The Crowns were something I didn’t think about. But then I tested them out in a Tribal meta and they are absurdly strong. Also, I laugh at the Tivadar’s Crusade since Goblins are banned.

A look at a Boros Knights deck

Knight Exemplar


This is Jordan’s Boros Knights deck. For those who don’t know me, Knights is one of my favorite Tribes. Of course, thanks to Red Cast Wins I am known for my like of Elves. The first thing I noticed about this deck was the inclusion of the various “Sword of __” cards. Flavor wise, these cards make a whole lot of sense in a Tribal Knights deck. But to be honest, they are fairly slow to set up. The few times I’ve played Tribal Wars, the format was very fast and very curve oriented. I don’t know how I feel about taking the time to cast “Sword of ___” on turn 3. I’m not in this particular Tribal league, so it may not be as aggressive but I feel that they are lackluster.

As for the Tribal side of the deck, I like the overall list. The card I am not sure about is Student of Warfare. It gives you something to do when you don’t have a turn two play, but this build has a lot of turn two plays. So, I am not too sure what the plan is here. Kinsbaile Cavalier is a card that this deck would probably love to have. Double Strike is a pretty unfair keyword in a format with a lot of combat. I don’t know how strong Hero of Oxid Ridge is in the deck and how useful it’s ability is, but I think a substitution is in order.

The support cards seem just fine. Bonfire seems like just a blowout, but I have never been a fan of board wipes in Tribal Wars. Just feels lame. I do love the idea of Boros Charm and Brave the Elements. These two cards allow aggressive attacks and some pretty good block situations.

A Look at Vedalken Tribal

Etherium Sculptor


This is Jordan’s boyfriend’s Vedalken Tribal deck. Jeremy is currently 4-2 in the league and I can see why. To be honest, I am more okay with deck because of its flavor than anything else. Otherwise, I feel like this deck wins on the back of the artifacts in this deck. Which feels counter to the idea of Tribal. But I am a purist. Don’t listen to me on this end.

One of the neatest aspects of this deck is Training Grounds and Filigree Sages. Combine that with Grand Architect and you get a large amount of mana. Considering the cool artifacts the deck is trying to power out, this deck needs the mana generation.

I don’t know if I like Tezzeret the Seeker in the deck. It fits the artifact theme and gives you the ability to tutor out your artifacts and untap your ramp artifacts like Gilded Lotus and Khalni Gem. It also lets you untap the Seat of the Synod, which effectively makes him Garruk Wildspeaker. Also, be aware that with the exception of Vedalken Engineer, Vedalken Archmage, and Grand Architect are the only creatures that Tezzeret can’t tutor up. There is power in that.

I’ve never been much of a mono blue mage, so I don’t know how to improve this deck. I would have to play against it to make any suggestions on how to tool tip.

And Now a Look at Allies Tribal

Harabaz Druid


Originally I was going to make an Illusions deck, but then I realized that on of the key cards for this deck would Lord of the Unreal. Lord of the Unreal isn’t an Illusion. It was a done deal in my mind.  Who would be as fun and surprisingly strong? Allies.

Allies was supposed to be the fair version of Slivers. The curve of Allies is much higher than Slivers and instead of static buffs Allies have things trigger during enter the battlefield effects. Overall fun factor? I think everyone can agree Allies was pretty fun to play against and not as overbearing as Slivers.

If it hasn’t become apparent by now, one of my favorite cards in Magic is Conjurer’s Closet. Allies love this card. The fun of this deck is playing a creature a turn at worst and generating advantage as you go along. If the deck lands an a turn two Harabaz Druid followed by Halimar Excavator and the deck goes insane. The mill engine can be very strong. The rest of the cards are best described as incremental advantage gainers.

I tried to keep this deck’s budget as low end as possible. At $123, I don’t think the deck is out of people’s price range. The most expensive cards in this list are the Scars of Mirrodin dual lands and Cavern of Souls. How can you replace them? To be honest, I don’t think you should. Most of the budget versions of these lands come into play tapped. Which is bad. This deck needs to play creatures on their expected turn, if not sooner. Anything less than this and the deck becomes a pile of cool cards that do nothing.

Future of Kitchen Table Hero & Final Thoughts


For future editions of Kitchen Table Hero will continue to cover Tribal Wars on an alternating week set up. Next week will focus on cards you probably have never heard of that will be great in you Commander decks or casual 60 card decks. Eventually, I will be running a Tribal Wars contest and details will be posted in Kitchen Table Hero #5.

If there is no Kitchen Table Hero next week, it will because I will be at PAX Prime and having a blast. I will try to bring some form of casual Magic content. I will be attending a Lady Planeswalker Society draft night at Card Kingdom while I am in Seattle. So, maybe a write-up about how terrible I am at M15 limited.

I highly recommend that everyone give Tribal Wars a try. The format is a great place for innovation, flavor, and fun to combine. If you can, attempt to get a local shop to run a league. Here is a link to how Masterwork Games runs their league. If people like Commander nights/leagues, I can see this being a hit with the same crowd. Maybe I am wrong.

Until next time, keep slinging spells.