Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Budget Commander: Moonfolk Tribal | Control Combo | $50, $100, $200

Budget Commander: Moonfolk Tribal | Control Combo | $50, $100, $200


$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Building the Best Moonfolk Deck!

I've covered a lot of jank/meme decks here on Budget Commander. Bear Tribal. Elephant Tribal. 6 CMC Tribal. Each time I take the meme seriously and show you how to make the strongest version of it possible. That's always been my schtick with these articles: build the strongest deck possible within our restrictions. But there's one meme that I've avoided tackling in an article ... until now.

Moonfolk Tribal.

I've had an irrational love for Moonfolk Tribal for a while now. Kamigawa is one of my all-time favorite blocks, and while I've tons of success building decks around other mechanics from the set, like Ninja Tribal under Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, and Arcane/Spirits under O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami, I've never won a game with Moonfolk Tribal yet on Commander Clash. And it hasn't been a lack of trying! I've made at least four attempts at Moonfolk Tribal, all failures. But I've learned a ton from my mistakes, and now I'm ready to go over this underappreciated tribe in detail.

 

The Goal

We want to accomplish three things with this deck:

  1. Play all 13 Commander-legal Moonfolk.
  2. Win the game using Moonfolk.
  3. Make it as optimized/powerful as possible.

So let's do this! Let's punish our opponents in the name of the moon!

 

What Are Moonfolk?

Moonfolk are a tiny tribe from Kamigawa block. Here's the full list of Moonfolk cards legal in Commander not counting changelings (Erayo, Soratami Ascendant is banned):

Loading Indicator

Just 13 cards. There's only a single direct support card for the tribe: Patron of the Moon. That's not a lot to work with, but at least there's a lot of room to brew. And if you really want to include all the non-changeling moonfolk, the planeswalker Tamiyo, the Moon Sage is a moonfolk, so for added flavor you could run all versions of her and perhaps some of her flavor spells like Imprisoned in the Moon.

All Moonfolk are blue flying creatures, each sporting one ability that you activate by paying mana and returning lands from the battlefield to your hand. The activated abilities range from being decent (Meloku the Clouded Mirror), to severely overcosted (Soratami Mirror-Mage), to incredibly situational/bad (Moonbow Illusionist). By themselves, these cards are pretty awful. Even the few moonfolk that have decent abilities (Soratami Savant) are not worth running on their own because the activation cost -- lots of mana and bouncing your lands -- is just too steep.

But fear not! This article will show you how to turn the drawbacks into our greatest strengths! We're going to turn these janky moon/bunny humanoids into game-winning powerhouses! PRAISE THE MOON!

 

Showing The Power of the Moon(folk)!

Despite being crappy cards by themselves, moonfolk have a lot of potential when backed up with the right cards. We're going to support them various ways, but the big two will be: 1) mitigating the ability cost 2) turning land bounce into an advantage.

Mitigating Ability Cost

A lot of the moonfolk's abilities are actually legit, they just cost too darn much. If we mitigate the cost then these abilities get quite good. We can mitigate the cost two ways.

The first way is lowering the mana cost of the abilities. Currently there's only three cards that do this: Training Grounds, Heartstone, and if we splash for green there's also Biomancer's Familiar. They're all fantastic in our deck and should be included if you can afford them. Paying 1 mana to counter a spell with Soratami Savant is waaaaay better than paying 3!

The second way is to run cards that let us play more than one land per turn. The only official moonfolk support card, Patron of the Moon, does this for us, but there's at least four other options in blue as well: Pendant of Prosperity, Scaretiller, Terrain Generator, and Walking Atlas were the ones I could find. Splashing green lets us run way more, however: Burgeoning, Exploration, Sakura-Tribe Scout being some of the most notable ones.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Land Bounce Advantages

Bouncing our lands to activate our moonfolks' abilities usually sucks. It's not a problem if we didn't have a land to play on our turn, because then we can immediately replay the land we bounced and there's no problem. For example, if we don't have a land to play for our turn, tapping and bouncing an Island to activate Meloku the Clouded Mirror then replaying the land made us a token at no net mana loss, which is neat. But bouncing three lands to activate Soratami Mirror-Mage, for example, is just bad news. It sets us way too far back in mana.

We've went over how to mitigate this drawback, but we can take it a step further by turning our land bounce into an advantage!

There's a few ways we can turn our weakness into a strength. All of these cards are FANTASTIC when paired with land bounce and ways to play additional lands per turn:

  • Land ETB Triggers. Lands entering the battlefield trigger a bunch of sweet cards. There's an entire keyword dedicated to lands entering the battlefield, landfall, such as Retreat to Coralhelm and Roil Elemental in Blue, and many others like Lotus Cobra if we splash other colors. There are also lands that have ETB triggers, most notably Mystic Sanctuary, which can do degenerate things like giving you infinite turns when paired with an extra turn spell like Time Warp and any land bounce card.
  • Low Land Rewards. There are a bunch of cards that are super powerful if your opponents control more lands than you. Surveyor's Scope and Isolated Watchtower are great value in a Blue deck, and if you splash White then you get access to even better stuff like Land Tax, Oath of Lieges, and Weathered Wayfarer.
  • Land denial. If you want to be mean, you can play land denial cards that barely affect you but devastate your opponents. In Blue we've got everyone's favorite, Storm Cauldron, and other denial stuff like Sunder and Ward of Bones. White is super good at this though: bounce all your lands then hit 'em with a Magus of the Balance or Armageddon!

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Other Synergies

While there's only a single moonfolk tribal support card, 12 out of the 13 moonfolk happen to share a second tribe: wizards. And unlike moonfolk, there's a ton of wizard tribal support cards, like Azami, Lady of Scrolls, which work wonderfully with our moonfolk and increase the power level of our deck. However, I won't be going too deep on wizard tribal support in this article since I want to focus on the moonfolk tribe, not the wizard tribe. There are also generic tribal support cards, like Kindred Discovery, which can be useful, but with only 13 total moonfolk they're less useful here than in more robust tribal decks.

Another potential synergy is flying support. All the moonfolk fly, so cards that support flyers, like Gravitational Shift, can turn our creatures into stronger threats. I don't think this builds off the tribe's true strength, however, which is the activated abilities, so I won't be focusing on flying support here.

For this article at least, my version of Moonfolk tribal will focus primarily on supporting their activated abilities, and everything else will be secondary.

 

Choosing Our Moonfolk Commander

We've went over what Moonfolk Tribal does and how to maximize their potential. Now we need to pick a suitable commander for our tribe. The commander must be blue and should help maximize our tribe's abilities. With this in mind, my top three picks are Patron of the Moon, Chulane, Teller of Tales, and Tatyova, Benthic Druid

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Patron of the Moon is the most obvious Moonfolk Tribal commander. It does exactly what we're looking for: mitigate our tribe's weakness of land bounce and turn it into an advantage with powerful, repeatable land ramp. It's also undoubtedly the most flavorful moonfolk commander, being the literal patron of the tribe.

Patron of the Moon lets us quickly, cheaply, and consistently put back on to the battlefield lands that we bounced with our moonfolk's abilities. That alone is worth choosing it as our commander, but it only gets better. Patron lets us quickly recover from purposely bouncing our lands to maximize the value from a Surveyor's Scope, or mitigate the downside of a Storm Cauldron. But the absolute best card to pair with Patron is Amulet of Vigor, which untaps the lands that Patron is putting on to the battlefield, turning its ability into ramp and enabling some combos.

Here's a basic rundown of the combos:

Patron of the Moon + Amulet of Vigor + any land bounce (Meloku the Clouded Mirror) + any mana doubler (High Tide) + a wincon (Sunscorched Desert).

Here's the example combo in practice:

  1. Cast High Tide
  2. Tap an Island and Sunscorched Desert for 3 mana.
  3. Spend 2 mana to activate Meloku the Clouded Mirror twice, returning both lands to your hand and floating 1 mana.
  4. Spend the 1 floating mana to activate Patron of the Moon, returning the lands to the battlefield, pinging an opponent when Sunscorched Desert enters the battlefield, and untapping the lands thanks to Amulet of Vigor.
  5. Repeat the process for infinite ping.

There are a ton of variations of this combo, such as replacing Sunscorched Desert for a Hedron Crab for infinite mill, or replacing Meloku the Clouded Mirror and Sunscorched Desert for Soratami Mindsweeper and a second Island plus Heartstone also for infinite mill. You can even replace Patron of the Moon and Amulet of Vigor with Walking Atlas and Retreat to Coralhelm to achieve the same effect!

The second basic combo is super simple: Mystic Sanctuary + any extra turn spell that doesn't exile itself when cast (Time Warp) + any land bounce (Meloku the Clouded Mirror).

Here's how it goes:

  1. Cast Time Warp.
  2. Play Mystic Sanctuary, putting the Time Warp from your graveyard on top of your library.
  3. Take your extra turn, drawing and casting Time Warp again.
  4. Tap Mystic Sanctuary for one mana return it to your hand with Meloku the Clouded Mirror.
  5. Play Mystic Sanctuary, putting Time Warp back on top of your library. Boom, infinite turns!

As you can see, Patron of the Moon is no joke. This bunny abomination will end you.

 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Chulane, Teller of Tales is my other favorite Moonfolk Tribal commander. While he's certainly not as flavorful/thematic as Patron of the Moon since he's not at all associated with the moonfolk tribe directly, Chulane brings a lot to the tribe that you simply don't get with Patron.

First is the card itself: Chulane is an insane value engine. Whenever you cast a creature spell, you draw a card and may put a land card from your hand on to the battlefield. So just like Patron, Chulane mitigates to drawback of bouncing lands by letting you play additional lands, but Chulane's version is a mana-free trigger and it draws you a card in the process! All you have to do is cast creature spells! In a vacuum I'd say Chulane, Teller of Tales' ability is much stronger than Patron of the Moon's, though it does come with a stricter deckbuilding restriction since you must play a bunch of cheap creatures to maximize its value.

But even more enticing than Chulane's trigger is the fact that he gives our deck access to both Green and White, allowing us to run even more cards that can support our tribe such as Biomancer's Familiar, Land Tax, and Burgeoning! With all these additional cards to play with, we can easily fill out our moonfolk deck with synergy cards to really maximize the tribe's potential.

Chulane, Teller of Tales also combos a whole bunch of ways, the most notable being with Cloudstone Curio.

Here's one example combo with Cloudstone Curio. All you need is Chulane, Teller of Tales, Cloudstone Curio, any land in hand, a 1cmc creature on the battlefield, and a 1 cmc creature either on the battlefield or in your hand:

  1. Tap a land for mana, floating one mana.
  2. Play the land in your hand, returning the tapped land to your hand with Cloudstone Curio.
  3. Use the floating mana to cast the 1cmc creature in your hand, triggering Chulane, Teller of Tales, drawing a card and playing the land you bounced.
  4. Cloudstone Curio triggers when the land and 1cmc creature enter the battlefield. Tap the other land for mana and return both it and the other 1cmc creature back to your hand.
  5. Repeat this process for infinite draw.

Eventually you can win with Laboratory Maniac or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Or you can add Altar of the Brood and Elixir of Immortality for infinite mill. Or you can add Lightning Greaves or Concordant Crossroads to give your creatures haste, and if your 1cmc creatures are mana dorks like Birds of Paradise and Arbor Elf then that's infinite mana.

There's other combos as well: Aluren plus any creature cmc 3 or less that bounces itself to its hand like Shrieking Drake or Whitemane Lion gives you infinite draw and extra mana from the lands you'll be playing. If you have a bunch of mana dorks (or Earthcraft) and a way to untap them like Intruder Alarm or Great Oak Guardian you can tap all your dorks for mana, bounce a creature with Chulane, Teller of Tales, then recast it, untapping all your dorks and drawing a card. That's another infinite card draw combo with extra mana generation.

You might have noticed that none of these popular combos involve moonfolk, and while they are very good combos, we are specifically looking to win with our moonfolk. For some reason there hasn't been a lot of brewing with Chulane Moonfolk combos so I humbly submit one of my own.

This moonfolk combo involves Chulane, Teller of Tales, Meloku the Clouded Mirror, any 1cmc creature, and Cloudstone Curio on the battlefield:

  1. Use Meloku the Clouded Mirror's ability, tapping a land for mana and bouncing it to hand, creating an illusion token.
  2. When the token enters the battlefield, use Cloudstone Curio to bounce the 1cmc creature.
  3. Tap another land for mana. Play the land in your hand and return the tapped land back to your hand with Cloudstone Curio, floating 1 mana.
  4. Use the floating mana to cast the 1cmc creature, drawing a card and playing the land.
  5. Repeat step 1 for infinite card draw and infinite tokens.

There might be more Chulane moonfolk combos out there. If you can think of any please let me know!

Keep in mind that Chulane, Teller of Tales can run all the same combos that Patron of the Moon does. It's just that they're in the 99 instead of having a piece in the command zone.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Finally, we arrive at Tatyova, Benthic Druid. While Tatyova isn't directly related to our tribe like Patron of the Moon is, nor does she have access to White like Chulane, Teller of Tales does, I believe Tatyova is overall the strongest Moonfolk Tribal commander, if your goal is to win specifically with tribal cards.

The biggest reason why I think Tatyova is the best is that, like Patron of the Moon, she is a key combo piece when trying to win with Moonfolk. Take any of the Patron combos listed above and replace the infinite finishers like Sunscorched Desert and Hedron Crab with Tatyova, Benthic Druid, and you'll draw infinite cards and gain infinite life. From there you can do whatever you want: win with Laboratory Maniac, mill everyone out with Blue Sun's Zenith, it's all good. She slots just as easily into our combos as Patron, which is something we can't say for Chulane (unless I'm wrong!).

Combos aside, Tatyova is straight value in the deck, drawing us a TON of cards passively for no mana investment, which is amazing. She's stronger than Patron during non-combo situations for sure.

Also unlike Chulane, Tatyova doesn't restrict our deckbuilding. All she cares about is lands entering the battlefield, which we want to be doing anyway. We don't have to cast a bunch of creatures like Chulane requires of us. This is great because we can focus entirely on making Moonfolk look as good as possible, instead of having them as a background theme.

But like Chulane, Tatyova crucially gives our deck access to Green, so we have all the goodies that Patron of the Moon decks lack: Biomancer's Familiar, a ton more Walking Atlas variants like Sakura-Tribe Scout, better landfall payoffs like Avenger of Zendikar, and so on. Tatyova doesn't give us acces to White, but if we're splashing a color Green is obviously the best one and we'll have more than enough sweet cards to fill out our deck.

 

Which Is The Best Moonfolk Commander?

Honestly, it depends on what you're looking for.

Patron of the Moon is the more flavorful/thematic option since it's directly tied to our tribe. It has numerous win conditions that involve our tribe. However, it's harder to fill out our entire deck with thematic/synergery options in Mono Blue.

Chulane, Teller of Tales is incredibly powerful: the card itself is stronger and you gain access to both Green and White to help fill out your deck. But you really have to go out of your way to focus on moonfolk in a Chulane deck instead of winning with easier, more powerful options available to Chulane. You also have to run more creatures than a moonfolk deck typically "needs" to run, which again might pull the spotlight away from our tribe.

Tatyova, Benthic Druid is my pick for the overall strongest Moonfolk Tribal option. She brings a ton of value to Moonfolk Tribal without pushing the focus away from the tribe, instead supporting and strengthening what we already want to be doing. 

 

Patron of the Moon Game Plan

For this article, we will be brewing around Patron of the Moon! We are a Control deck looking to police the board with a variety of removal while we ramp, draw cards, and tutor key cards. Once we're ready, we close out the game with one of our combo finishers.

You might like this deck if ...

  • You want to play tiny underdog tribe that has hidden potential
  • You like unique strategies
  • You want to play a Control deck

You might NOT like this deck if ...

  • You want to play a stronger, better supported tribe
  • You want to play an aggressive deck
  • You don't like combo finishers

If you can't get enough Moonfolk Tribal and want to see how the deck would be built under Tatyova, Benthic Druid or Chulane, Teller of Tales, please let me know in the comments section! 

With the intro out of the way, let's get brewing!

 

CARD OPTIONS

Here are all the card options that I feel are worth mentioning when building a Patron of the Moon deck. The sample decklists are all constructed from these big ol' lists of options! These are not deck lists!

Last week I put the deck lists first and then the card options after. This time I'm switching the order around. Please let me know which order you prefer!

 

Lands

Since we're Mono Blue, most of our lands will be basic Islands, which are fantastic for us and also save us money in our budget lists. However, there's a ton of utility lands to consider!

Our deck is all about bouncing our lands for value. This means that lands with beneficial enter the battlefield effects can be re-used whenever we want to. We can rearrange the top of our library with Halimar Depths, gain life with Radiant Fountain, and deal damage with Sunscorched Desert. The best of these though is Mystic Sanctuary, which is great returning any instant or sorcery we want back to the top of our library and is also a key piece in taking infinite turns.

Being able to bounce our lands also lets us take advantage of weird cards like Isolated Watchtower and Sheltered Valley. We can also speed up replaying our lands with Terrain Generator.

There's also generic good card options like Tolaria West as a tutor.

Loading Indicator

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Ramp

All the generic mono blue ramp options, like Sol Ring and Sapphire Medallion, are solid options here. But there's a bunch of ramp choices that are specifically useful in this deck.

Since we're bouncing a bunch of lands to our hand, cards that let us play additional lands per turn work wonders here. Walking Atlas, Ghirapur Orrery, and Pendant of Prosperity are all sweet ways to replay our lands as quickly as possible. Because we can always bounce more lands, Surveyor's Scope is an all-star in this deck, often ramping us three lands for just two mana.

Loading Indicator

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Card Draw

Being in Blue means we have a huge variety of top quality card draw options to choose from. Staples like Recurring Insight, Treasure Cruise, and Rhystic Study are all great here, but there's a bunch of fun moonfolk-specific choices as well.

Since we're running a bunch of flying wizards, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Winged Words, and Chart a Course are all efficient card draw that pair nicely with our tribe. We're running lots of islands so Flow of Ideas works well here too. Finally, Kefnet the Mindful is kind of like an honorary moonfok, drawing cards, and optional land bounce. 

Loading Indicator

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Tutors

Our deck is a combo deck, so tutors will be essential to help us assemble our combos. Which tutors you should run depends on what you're looking to tutor up.

Any important artifacts, like Amulet of Vigor, can be tutored up with cards like Fabricate, Whir of Invention, and Tezzeret the Seeker.

Instants/sorceries can be found by Mystical Tutor, Spellseeker, and Personal Tutor.

Transmute cards are also powerful options depending on what combos you're running. Tolaria West finds Mystic Sanctuary. Dizzy Spell finds Amulet of Vigor. Muddle the Mixture finds Illusionist's Bracers or either piece of the Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter combo. Drift of Phantasms finds Cloudstone Curio.

Loading Indicator

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Recursion

We want a few ways to get back combo pieces that end up in our graveyard. Blue is good at getting back instants/sorceries like with Bond of Insight but pretty bad at getting back anything else. Still, we have some options:

Loading Indicator

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Removal

As a Control deck, we're looking to run a higher than average amount of removal. Blue is great at this since we've got creature removal (Rapid Hybridization), bounce (Chain of Vapor), board resets (Devastation Tide), and countermagic (Counterspell). It's harder for us to stop artifacts/enchantments, but we can always run colorless wipes like Oblivion Stone.

The most flavorful removal spell is, of course, Imprison in the Moon!

I've also tossed in a bunch of stax cards into this removal list: Storm Cauldron, Sunder, Mana Breach, etc. These are powerful when paired up with cards like Patron of the Moon or Walking Atlas + Retreat to Coralhelm to offset the land bounce for ourselves while putting our opponents way behind. However, stax isn't always well received in playgroups so I advise caution when adding them to the deck. The sample lists will NOT be running any stax cards.

Loading Indicator

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

 

Deckbuilding Checklist

Alright, now that we've gone over the card pool we're working with, it's time to talk about how we craft the deck. As I often explain in my Budget Commander articles, every time I build a rough draft of a deck, I make sure I have a certain amount of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. This is my general checklist of minimum requirements:

  • 50 mana; lands and ramp, usually a 37–13 split
  • 10 sources of "card advantage;" I use this term loosely but am mostly looking for card draw or any spell that nets me 2+ non-land cards in hand / directly into play
  • 6 targeted removal, split between creature / artifact / enchantment removal
  • 3 board wipes; creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less
  • 2 recursion
  • 2 flexible tutors
  • 1 graveyard hate; since you need to keep Graveyard decks honest 
  • 1 surprise "I Win" card; something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup

The remaining deck slots are filled with whatever cards fit the deck's theme and add to the overall synergy. That's always my starting point, which is then tweaked to suit the individual deck's strategy and further tweaked with playtesting. I always find it immensely useful to figure out some quick ways to improve the deck in question.

Now that we've covered the deck's goal, the cards we're going to building with, and have a check list of cards that we'll need, let's build the sample decks!

 

$50 List

The first list starts at just $50 USD at the time of writing this article. We are a Control deck first and foremost with a lot of instant-speed answers to any threats we come across. All our moonfolk can be activated at instant speed, so it makes sense that we'd run additional instants like Spell Pierce, Engulf the Shore, and Fact or Fiction so we can always have access to tons of options each turn. 

We have a few ways to close out the game. The first way involves combos. Here are a few of the combos that we're running:

Loading Indicator

 

$100 List

Doubling our budget allows us to focus on strengthening our combo finishers. We spent almost half of our increased budget to pick up Amulet of Vigor, which enables pretty much all our combos with Patron of the Moon.

We've also added both Walk the Aeons and Time Warp, which allows us to take infinite turns with Mystic Sanctuary and any of our land bounce cards. 

To assemble our combos more consistently we've started to add some tutors like Expedition Map to fetch Mystic Sanctuary and Whir of Invention to find Amulet of Vigor or Illusionist's Bracers.

Loading Indicator

 

$200 List

Finally, the $200 list can afford all the key cards for the deck and most of the best tutors to find them. We've added Training Grounds to our deck along with the final best extra turn spell, Temporal Manipulation. Not only can we take infinite turns with Mystic Sanctuary, we can now also do it with Archaeomancer plus Riptide Laboratory

While it may look like a dorky casual deck, this Moonfolk Tribal list is absolutely cutthroat, boasting dozens of ways to combo out and win the game.

Loading Indicator

 

That's All, Moonfolks!

What started as a meme article ended up being far more competitive than I'd have ever imagined. I hope you enjoyed my take on Moonfolk Tribal! Honestly, I'm pretty pumped to explore them further under a Tatyova, Benthic Druid, but I understand that Moonfolk Tribal is kinda a niche thing and perhaps one article is enough. Please let me know what you think!

I haven't chosen what to cover in the next Budget Commander yet. Yarok, the Desecrated and Depala, Pilot Exemplar are still on my shortlist since I said I'd do them eventually. I've also been intrigued with the suggestion to do Toshiro Umezawa. But suggestions are still open! I'll pick something soon, but having a backlog of commanders that I'm hyped to cover is always great motivation, so keep those suggestions coming! Thanks for reading!


More in this Series

Show more ...


More on MTGGoldfish ...

budget commander

Budget Commander: Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle | Artifact Graveyard Control/Combo | $25, $50, $100

commander clash

Commander Clash S7 E24: Battle of the Bands | Ghost vs. Muse vs. My Chemical Romance vs. Ween

pioneer

Pioneer Peak: Bant CoCo (Pioneer, Magic Online)

vintage 101

Vintage 101: Back in a Flash


Next Article