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Against the Odds: Tamiyo Tribal (Modern, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 191 of Against the Odds. Last week for our Against the Odds poll, we revisited one of our most popular themes: planeswalker tribal! In the end, a planeswalker with a new War of the Spark printing came out on top, in Tamiyo. As such, we're heading to Modern today to play a deck with every Tamiyo ever printed. Tamiyo is a unique planeswalker in that it doesn't have a super-solid theme that ties together the three different versions, other than most care about creatures in one way or another and all of the Tamiyo ultimates are quite powerful. The end result is a Tamiyo Tribal deck that's looking to use creatures to ultimate various Tamiyos as quickly as possible and then use those ultimates into a game-winning, flawless victory–generating combo kill! What's the best way to build around Tamiyo in Modern? What are the odds of winning with Tamiyo Tribal?  Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Tamiyo Tribal

The Deck

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As I mentioned in the intro, Tamiyo is a tricky planeswalker to build a tribal deck around. While all three versions of Tamiyo are powerful, there isn't really a unifying theme that ties them all together. Tamiyo, Field Researcher wants creatures on the battlefield to draw us cards and then has a great Omniscience plus Concentrate ultimate. Tamiyo, the Moon Sage is sort of a controlling Icy Manipulator with an ultimate that allows us to reuse all of our spells, while Tamiyo, Collector of Tales doesn't have an ultimate but gives us a way to dig through our deck to find our other Tamiyos or get them back from the graveyard, if one happens to die. After a bit of brewing, I realized that—by far—the sweetest and most powerful thing we can do with our Tamiyos is to ultimate them as quickly as possible. The combination of Tamiyo, Field Researcher's ultimate and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage's ultimate is pretty insane, allowing us to cast spells from our hand for free an infinite number of times since they keep returning from the graveyard to our hand. So what's the best way to ultimate our Tamiyos at lightning speed? 

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When it comes to ultimating our Tamiyos fast, our main plan is Evolution Sage, which allows us to proliferate whenever a land enters the battlefield. If you look back on Tamiyo, Field Researcher and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, you'll see that we need to give them three or four extra loyalty counters to ultimate them the turn they come into play, which means we need roughly four lands to enter the battlefield if we have an Evolution Sage in play. Thankfully, the Modern card pool allows us to cheat a bit thanks to fetch lands, as each counts as two land drops and allows us to proliferate twice. As such, ultimating either of our Tamiyos the turn they come into play is pretty easy: we play a fetch land, crack a fetch land, use Knight of the Reliquary to sacrifice a land to tutor up another fetch land, and crack that fetch land as well, giving us a total of four Evolution Sage triggers. We then simply add four counters to our Tamiyos and use their ultimates to combo off and win the game.

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After ultimating our Tamiyos, we can win in any number of ways. All of a sudden, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales +4 draws us four cards since Tamiyo, the Moon Sage's emblem returns them from our graveyard to our hand, which means we can eventually just drown our opponent in card advantage and win with our random creatures. However, we have a much more fun plan as well. If we can ultimate both Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Tamiyo, Field Researcher, we can cast all of our cards for free, and whenever one of our cards goes into our graveyard, it returns to our hand. This means that we can use Cryptic Command to bounce all of our opponent's permanents one by one while also drawing through our entire deck (which we can then play for free)! The end result is our opponent will have zero permanents while we'll have our entire deck on the battlefield!

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Apart from our combo pieces, we have Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise to accelerate into our planeswalkers. With just a single mana dork on Turn 1, we can play Evolution Sage or Knight of the Reliquary on Turn 2 into one of our Tamiyos on Turn 3 to start working toward our Tamiyo ultimate plan. The mana dorks are also an important part of our backup plan, which involves tutoring up Gavony Township to put counters on our random creatures and then proliferating them with the help of Evolution Sage to turn our random 0/1s into meaningful threats.

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Otherwise, we have a couple more spells to slow our opponent down in Remand and Path to Exile, along with Snapcaster Mage to recast them from the graveyard. Together, these cards help make sure we stay alive long enough to draw our Tamiyos and, with a bit of luck, ultimate them as well. They all work well with Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, giving us cheap interactive spells we can get back with Tamiyo's 3 to deal with yet another threat.

The Matchups

Tamiyo Tribal is, beneath everything else, mostly a midrange deck, so the matchups are often more dependent on our draws than anything else. Ideally, we'd avoid super-removal-heavy decks that can easily kill our combo creatures and clear the way for our opponent to attack our Tamiyos. Against fast combo, we have a chance in game one thanks to our counters, but things get better after sideboarding when we can bring in Damping Sphere, Stony Silence, and Surgical Extraction, depending on the matchup. Meanwhile, against aggro, we have early-game blockers and removal, although we can struggle with decks like Burn or 8 Whack that can get off to blazingly fast starts. That said, when we have hands that allow us to play a three-drop on Turn 2 into a Tamiyo on Turn 3, we have a chance against just about any deck in the format.

The Odds

All in all, we went 3-3 with Tamiyo Tribal, giving us a 50% match win percentage, which is fine but slightly below average for an Against the Odds deck. More importantly, we actually pulled off the double-Tamiyo ultimate infinite Cryptic Command a few times, which was as spectacular as it sounds. We also learned that Tamiyo, Collector of Tales is really effective against discard-based decks and can beat 8 Rack all by itself if we can get it on the battlefield before our opponent manages to Thoughtseize it from our hand. The synergy between Evolution Sage, planeswalkers, and Knight of the Reliquary was also impressive, and we should probably explore it more in the future in a non-tribal planeswalker deck. In the end, this leaves us with a deck that is middling in terms of level of competitiveness but with some super-sweet combo turns and a surprisingly high chance of pulling off a flawless victory, leaving our opponent with zero permanents on the battlefield before we finally finish them off!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Next week Modern Horizons will hit Magic Online, which means we'll be playing a lot of Modern for the next month or so. As such, this week we're going to hit up Standard one more time. Which of these cards should be build around in Standard next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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