Monday, November 14, 2016

A Different Kind of Tribal

Ah yes, water does beat paper...

Hello everyone. It's been a long time. You are probably wondering where Dan and I have been for the last month. We've been training. We went up into the mountains where we found the ancient mystics and trained with them to become better Magic players. We stood under waterfalls with our decks to test our resilience. We shuffled decks for hours to improve our dexterity. We read ancient texts of the ancient alpha players to learn how to deck build. We threw boulders off cliffs because throwing stuff at other stuff is fun.

It is through all this training that I came upon a new deck. I want to say I built this deck but in reality, this deck built me. I have built lots of decks of all different calibers but this is my masterpiece. If I were to leave this world, this is the legacy I would want to leave in the Magic community.

Before undergoing all of my training, I had been meaning to build a new Commander deck for some time. I currently have three commander decks and was looking to play something new and mix it up a bit but I didn't know what I wanted to build. I wanted some sort of theme but I didn't just want to do a creature tribal because there are hundreds of different tribal decks for each creature type. I needed something different and weird, but still somewhat competitive. After some reflection and meditation it came to me to me in a dream. I already had the idea for this deck years ago, but didn't realize it was there.

Let's back track to 5 years ago. I was in college and Skyrim was just releases. All of my roommates and myself bought it and we played it nonstop. Even when we got bored with it we never really stopped playing it, just took extended breaks. About a year later it was time for me to start playing Skyrim again but I didn't know what I wanted to do in this play through. I had done magic, I had done stealth, and I had done straight up combat. I decided to play as a pacifist. I would see how much I could do in the world of Skyrim, and how many problems I could solve without violence. I also decided that my character was a pacifist because he was a scholar and felt that everything could be solved through discussion and knowledge. So as I journeyed through Skyrim trying to complete quests, I would also collect any texts that I could get my hands on. I read these to gain more knowledge and kept an expansive collection in my house in Whiterun.

It was during my meditation in temple that this story spoke to me. So I present to you:

Ain't No Holla Book Girl (Book Tribal)

The idea was that every card in this deck has books in the art. Now I'm using the term "book" pretty fast and loose because some art has scrolls, and some art just has pages of paper, but scrolls are just roll-y books, and pages are book-y pieces so it all counts.

Now the first step in creating this deck was figuring out who my commander would be. I ideally wanted it to be three color because I had no idea how many cards I would actually find with books in the art so the more colors, the more it gave me to work with. I also felt Esper would be the best because Orzhov and Azorious cards would probably have a lot of books/scrolls/papers in them. Sydri, Galvanic Genius was Esper and she had a book or two in the art, but I didn't want this to turn into an artifact deck. I wanted it to be it's own deck. So Sydri was out. I continued on looking through all the different three color commanders. I then found Nicol Bolas the creature. He's pretty mediocre for an 8 cost with having to pay UBR every upkeep but damn, he had a lot of books. It'll be rare that he hits the battlefield, so he'll just have to watch all his book-y subjects do work for him. Despite this, he was perfect and he was the one. Grixis book tribal it was.

Now with the commander on lock, it brought upon the daunting task of finding cards with books in them. The downside was that there is no advanced search that is advanced enough to type in "blue, black, and red cards with books in the art," but the upside was that I had so much time to kill I could just go through all blue, black, and red cards in existence scouring through the art. Now in the provided deck list I'm not sure what art it will show, so if it shows something that doesn't have books in it, be sure to check alternate art before coming at me saying there aren't books. I promise there are. I fucking checked.

"Well why didn't you include card X in book tribal? It has books in the art!"

To answer this question to all book art cards that didn't make the cut: I wasn't feeling it. There are plenty of cards that are just better than what I have but I built this mostly on a budget. I say mostly because there are a couple money cards in there that I got through trades of bulk rares I didn't care about so I didn't really pay anything for it. Demonic Tutor is the perfect example. That card is strictly better than a lot of what is in here but I wasn't willing to drop $40+ for my book tribal, especially because I'm not even sure how competitive this will be. Actually, yes I am, it will not be competitive. That's okay though, it's really more for fun and doing silly shenanigans than anything. Do you think a hardcore competitive deck would run Goblin Games? Probably not. I mean, every deck should probably run it, but most don't.

Let's talk about what this deck does do though. It ended up having a lot of weird synergy. To no ones surprise "books" in terms of Magic is synonymous with card draw and scrying. So it does a lot of that. There are a couple of targeted draw spells that work great with cards like this:

I will never complain about a paper cut on my hands again

This card is the only real win condition this deck has. I can still hit with creatures, sure, but there isn't anything in here that's too insane as far as creatures go. I plan on just drawing everything and scrying through everything until I find that one answer I need. "What answer is that?" Good question because they are few and far between. I'll just shoot you for two and make you draw two with Sing in Blood and then you take two extra on your upkeep from Price of Knowledge. That's about all I got. Pass turn.

There may not be a lot of ways to win, but there are a lot of ways to be annoying. They're just so happened to be a lot of wizards in here because turns out wizards like books. Who knew? With the wizards working together you get cards like this:

Papa Wizard here to counter everything

And cards like this:

All I read was "Azami, Lady of Cylinder Books"
The beauty of these two cards is that they can tap themselves for either of these abilities. And since these aren't tap abilities, you can do this the turn they hit the battlefield since summoning sickness doesn't affect these. That way if you're hurting for wizards you at least have these cards themselves to draw you cards or try and counter a spell. There are a plethora of other Wizard's though so hopefully you can draw lots of cards, or make sure their spell gets countered by making them pay 1 four or five times. Use that in combination with this guy:

Ah yes, Aphetto, the man who made Pinocchio
Now you can untap all those wizards you just tapped to draw a card and tap them again to draw another card. "Why wouldn't I just tap Aphetto Alchemist to draw a card?" Well I guess you could do things the easy way, but if I wanted to do things the easy way I wouldn't have built book tribal. You can however, use him effectively to untap cards like this:

I don't care what he looks like, an atlas is a book and I'll probably miss land drops.
or this:

Scroll is book. I needed damage.
These are two cards that do tap that would be great to untap and tap again. Dropping three lands a turn seems okay, and being able to shoot for 4 when you have no other use for you mana also seems okay. I guess there is the possibility that your opponent tries to destroy target tapped creature and you just go "NOPE" as you untap whatever they target only to fall pray to a much bigger scheme you could not have foreseen. At least your one dude lived.

The other "win condition" in here is this:

I'm never going to sacrifice this. I just want to see how many study counters I can get.
When I play this deck for the first time in a play group, I'm just going to hope that I look non-threatening enough to the point where everyone ignores me. Sure I'll play a creature here or there that people want dead, but I anticipate that. I also hope that people will have to board wipe other creatures and just fill everyone's graveyard. Then near the end game I drop this bad book and and get everyone's creatures. Will they all get board wiped? No doubt. I reckon I won't even get to do much with any of the creatures, but it's about sending a message. Don't underestimate the power of knowledge and study counters.

I haven't actually played this yet but I sure am excited to. I don't plan on winning but I can only imagine how good it will feel to draw, scry, and search for everything in my deck. I could also go into more detail about the accidental synergies in this deck, but to keep on theme I feel you should explore and learn for yourself what they happen to be. I will ultimately deck myself in most games but I have accepted that and wait for it with much anticipation. There are some improvements that can be made and I may swap some cards around as I play this because it turns out cards with book art are all like $0.50.

I'm sorry we've been gone for so long. I know the Magic community hasn't even noticed the disappearance of team Heavy Salami but we're coming back with a vengeance. I have a super janky, non-budget, standard deck in the works that I'll introduce you too. We may have some new things in the works or we may just play a lot more Magic. We're sorry we were quiet but we never left you. Check back later this week for another article. Probably. Who knows really?

Have your own Commander brew you want to share? Want to tell us how much you missed us? Want to ask us who we are and ask why were talking like people should care? Want to have a slumber party via skype? Let us know in the comments or send us a message!


  1. Glad to read back from you guys. I really enjoy the blog and will look forward for that sweet new standard brew. Keep the content coming!

    1. Same here! I missed my heavy salami!

    2. dont worry bby, we're coming back. Gaige has stopped traveling for work, and I've (dan) been playing around in some new formats and deck space to get a lot of new material!

  2. Love the book tribal. Jalum Tome will always have a place in my heart even if the power level is, strictly speaking, shitty.

    1. I went through several passes eliminating cards to get me to 100 and Jalum Tome made it further in the process then it probably should have...

  3. Good thing I checked my junk email, because I would've missed this otherwise. (Also didn't know why my notification was put in the junk inbox, but oh well.)

    Anyway, glad you guys are back.

    1. it was probably in your junk folder because we are hot garbage at mtg

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