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Against the Odds: Treefolk Tribal (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 102 of Against the Odds. We had a second-chance poll last week, and after a close fight with Rogue Tribal, it was Treefolk Tribal sneaking out the win by just a couple of percentage points! As such, we are heading to Modern this week to see if Treefolk have what it takes to compete in the format. While some individual Treefolk see fringe play in Modern (mostly Doran, the Siege Tower), remember: we're building Treefolk Tribal, not a Doran deck. The upside of Treefolk as a tribe is that they are all pretty huge for their mana cost, with 5/5s for three and 8/8s for four, although this size comes with a challenge: Treefolk are pretty much just big creatures. Is playing huge midrange threats good enough in Modern? Let's get to the video and figure it out, then we'll talk more about the deck.

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Against the Odds: Treefolk Tribal (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Treefolk Tribal (Games)

The Deck

One thing I realized while building Treefolk is that there really aren't too many ways to go about it. Unlike some other tribes, Treefolk don't really have many tricks; instead, they are just bigger than everything else. I tried out a Mono-Green build, but it was pretty much a disaster, so we ended up Abzan in the end, which not only allowed us to play Doran, the Siege Tower as a Treefolk lord but also good removal, discard, and sideboard cards not available to a mono-green build in our utility slots. 

Treefolk

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The basic plan of our deck is to play big, undercosted Treefolk and then use our Treefolk lords to make them even bigger. Timber Protector is the only true lord of the Treefolk tribe, and while it is a bit expensive at five mana, it's also a 4/6, which is pretty big. Giving everything indestructible can be a nice upside, although the fact that most of our Treefolk are big enough to survive combat anyway makes it a bit worse than you might think.

Doran, the Siege Tower might not look like a Treefolk lord, but that's how it plays in our deck. Rather than being built around high-toughness creatures like a more traditional Doran deck, we're just playing all of the best Treefolk available. Thankfully, Doran, the Siege Tower works well with other Treefolk, making things like Treefolk Harbinger and Bosk Banneret into 3/3ss and Timber Protector into a 6/6. We also have a single Metallic Mimic to help fill our our curve (two mana is a weak slot for Treefolk) and to give us an additional pseudo-lord.

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Dauntless Dourbark is the most powerful creature in our deck, often being a 7/7 or 8/8 trampler for just four mana, which is about as big as it gets in Modern. Apart from a single Cavern of Souls, every land is either a Forest or a fetch land to find a Forest, which means we are doing everything possible to maximize the potential of Dauntless Dourbark. Since we're playing so many Forests, we also take advantage of Dungrove Elder, which isn't as big as Dauntless Dourbark but still grows pretty large while also being resilient, thanks to hexproof. 

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Bosk Banneret helps us ramp into all of our bigger, more expensive Treefolk while also ending up a 3/3 once we find a Doran, the Siege Tower, which isn't a horrible deal for two mana. Meanwhile, Treefolk Harbinger is a one-mana 3/3 when we have a Doran, the Siege Tower, while also helping us smooth out our mana by tutoring a land or one of our more important Treefolk to the top of our deck. Having Treefolk Harbinger also means we can play some silver-bullet Treefolk, including Heartwood Storyteller, Wickerbough Elder, and Lignify in the sideboard, along with a couple of main-deck targets. 

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As for our main-deck tutor targets, we have one Unstoppable Ash and one Sapling of Colfenor. Unstoppable Ash is weird. It's basically a 5/5 trampler for four mana (assuming we can champion something like a Treefolk Harbinger), which can become a 10/10 trampler if we have Doran, the Siege Tower and our opponent chooses to block. Meanwhile, while Sapling of Colfenor is pretty slow, it's the best Treefolk option for gaining some life against aggressive decks. Since most of our creatures have more toughness than power, we can end up gaining three or even five life when we get lucky enough to hit a creature on the top of our deck when we attack with Sapling. While three or five life isn't a ton, it can be enough to shift the race in our favor. 

Utility Cards

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Nylea, God of the Hunt is in our deck to give our Treefolk trample. While our Treefolk are huge, apart from Dauntless Dourbark, they are all pretty easy to chump block. Nylea, God of the Hunt gives us a way to turn our 3/3s for one and 5/5s for three into real game-ending threats, even through our opponent's blockers. Otherwise, we spend the rest of our non-Treefolk slots on four removal spells (two Fatal Push and two Path to Exile) along with four discard spells (an even split of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek). The removal is helpful in forcing through damage, while the discard gives us a slightly better shot against combo, which is a miserable matchup for Treefolk.

The Matchups

The matchups for Treefolk are actually really straightforward. We typically have great matchups against creature-based aggro and midrange decks because our creatures are so much bigger than our opponent's creatures. Treefolk Harbinger and Bosk Banneret give us good early blockers for things like Goblin Guide, and then as the game goes along, our Doran, the Siege Tower and Dauntless Dourbark tower over whatever creatures our opponent is trying to win with. On the other hand, our combo matchup is amazingly bad. While we can play huge creatures at three, four, and five mana, decks like Storm and Ad Nauseam (among others) really don't care how big our creatures are because they are just going to take advantage of the fact that we have very minimal interaction to combo kill us before our huge creatures matter. 

The Odds

All in all, we got in a massive seven matches and won three, good for a 43% match win percentage, along with winning seven of 16 games (44% game win percentage), which makes Treefolk Tribal about average for an Against the Odds deck. The frustrating part of the deck is that it was feast or famine. We either crushed creature decks, with our Dauntless Dourbark towering over Leonin Arbiters and Tarmogoyfs, or got absolutely destroyed by Infect and Storm, where we were mostly left just crossing our fingers and hoping that our opponent couldn't kill us until Turn 5 or 6. 

As for Treefolk, there are two big hurdles keeping the tribe from being truly competitive in Modern. First, the tribe in general is expensive and slow. While the creatures are powerful, just being a huge three-, four-, or five-drop isn't necessarily good in Modern (which is why we don't see cards like Verdurous Gearhulk showing up in the format). The second problem is that Treefolk don't get any tricks. One of the things that makes tribes like Merfolk and Spirits playable in Modern is they have creatures that act like spells in Cursecatcher, Mausoleum Wanderer, and Spell Queller, Treefolk don't have anything along these lines, which often left us in a position where we were just a turn or two too slow, since we couldn't disrupt what our opponent was doing.

The bottom line is that Treefolk seems to be a fun, semi-playable tribe for Modern. If you like jamming really big, above-the-curve threats, they are a fine option to play for fun, but they will struggle with some of the faster combo decks in the format, where being big just isn't enough.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

As a bunch of powerful colorless cards are leaving Standard, let's honor their memory by playing a wacky artifact in Modern! Which of these cards should we build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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