Multiplayer Magic: Terrible Tribes

Having played Magic for the better part of the last 18 years, I’m amassed more than my fair share of cards. While I play multiplayer Magic almost exclusively now, it’s still weird to think that I only use around a 50th of my entire collection to play this game. That means tens of thousands of cards go completely neglected and while EDH allows the occasional oddity to come up, I was looking for a way to really delve deep into the heart of my collection.

Then I remembered years ago playing a multiplayer format called Tribes. A version of the rules can be found here but the general gist of it was, you had to pick a tribe and make a deck. Creatures had to be of the chosen tribe or related to it (so Angelic Wall could be in an Angel deck) and all spells were singleton. There was also a banned list including things like Extinction and Tsabo’s Decree.

Down the road, it became obvious that certain tribes were better than others – like Elves, Goblins and Zombies so a new rule was put into place: your tribe couldn’t be a popular one. As long as the Tribe had at least five creatures, it was fair game. So it turned into who could find the most obscure tribe and run with it. But this was years ago, back in 2001 originally – before Onslaught.

But there was still something about this concept I loved and I’ve decided to bring it back in a new form: Terrible Tribes.

Here are the rules:

  • Create a 60-card deck based around a single tribe (tribe must have a minimum of 5 unique cards)
  • Only creatures in the tribe or those that are directly related (example: Thelon of Havenwood is fine in a Fungus deck. Angelic Wall in an Angel deck is not)
  • Your deck can only be the colors of that tribe
  • Your deck must contain at least 20 creatures
  • No sideboards allowed unless using Wishes
  • All non-tribe cards and nonbasic lands are restricted to one per deck.
  • Banned cards include: Legacy Banned list, Peer Pressure, Extinction, Tsabo’s Decree, Engineered Plague, Relentless Rats, An-Zerrin Ruins, Unnatural Selection, and Circle of Solace.
  • Tribes cannot be: Goblins, Elves, Slivers, Merfolk, Zombies, Soldiers, Birds, Wizards, Faeries (in blue and black, green is acceptable) or Vampires
  • Changeling creatures cannot be used unless your tribe is Shapeshifter.
  • For added fun, pick really bad and underused tribes. Oracle wordings get final say on who is what.
  • As with any casual format, these restrictions are up to the discretion of your playgroup

This whole format was partially inspired by my recent fascination with Fallen Empires when I intentionally made decks of various creatures, like my Horrible Homarids deck. But since expanding the format, allowing 4-ofs of board sweepers like Wrath of God, Damnation and Day of Judgment made the games much less fun (especially against an army of indestructible knights!) so the singleton rule was added in.

So I knew I needed to make a new deck, and I did – Atrocious Antelopes!

Lands (23) Creatures (20) Spells (17)
4 Forest
5 Plains
Arctic Flats
Elfhame Palace
Krosan Verge
Mistveil Plains
Riftstone Portal
Selesnya Sanctuary
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Vivid Grove
Vivid Meadow
Wooded Bastion
Yavimaya Hollow
4 Emerald Oryx
4 Graceful Antelope
4 Grazing Gladehart
4 Totem-Guide Hartebeest
4 Trained Pronghorn
Armadillo Cloak
Armored Ascension
Asha’s Favor
Creeping Mold
Gravity Well
Mystic Compass
Nimbus Wings
Path to Exile
Serra’s Embrace
Shield of the Oversoul
Swords to Plowshares
Wrath of God

For those who prefer, here’s the deck on Tapped Out.

Part of the reason I made this deck was simply because I loved the card Graceful Antelope when it first debuted in Odyssey because it was such a weird creature type. Since then, several other additions (and one odd errata) allowing me to finally make an Antelope deck. Maybe I thought Aurochs got too mainstream?

The closet “combo” parts I have involve using Mystic Compass to change my opponents lands (and allowing me to be unblockable), searching for decent Aura cards with my Totem-Guides and just hoping I don’t get overrun by a flock of fliers. Is this deck perfect? Nope, but that’s part of the fun of this format because I don’t think these decks can ever become perfect.

Forcing players to run 20 creatures really makes for some interesting decisions for which 15-22 other spells they feel like running. Plus cards that don’t make sense anywhere else (I’m looking at you Mystic Compass) suddenly are given new life in this weird, quirky format that gives you a reason to rummage through your old cards.

I’m still working out some of the kinks of the format involving what cards count as what and where items get overpowering. If you try this format out, let me know how it goes. Maybe I’m just weird, but I think all Magic cards deserve a second look, even the terrible ones.