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Budget Magic: Free Chandra Tribal (Pioneer)


Hey there, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're playing another free-on–Magic Online Pioneer deck: Chandra Tribal! Originally, the deck came from viewer Pie4Man, although I made a few small updates along the way. The idea is to play as many Chandras as possible, which allows us to play payoffs like Chandra's Regulator, Light Up the Night, and Chandra, Acolyte of Flame. We've even got a copy of Mirror Box so we can keep multiple copies of the same Chandra (or, perhaps even more powerful, Chandra's Regulator) on the battlefield at the same time. Can a free build of Chandra tribal compete in Pioneer? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Chandra Tribal

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The Deck

Chandra Tribal is a midrange superfriends deck. The goal is to play as many Chandras as possible, power them up with cards like Chandra's Regulator and Light Up the Night, back them up with as much removal as possible, and hope we can ride our planeswalkers to victory!

Chandras

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On one level, most of our Chandras are similar, offering some sort of removal plus card advantage and a potentially game-winning ultimate. Because of this, we often don't care which Chandras we have on the battlefield— we just want as many as possible. 

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That said, each Chandra offers a different upside. Chandra, Fire Artisan is great with Light Up the Night since removing loyalty counters deals damage to our opponent, doubling up our Light Up the Night flashback damage in a weird way. Chandra, Pyromaster is good at sniping small creatures. Chandra, Torch of Defiance kills bigger creatures while also ramping us, which can be helpful for getting to our best finishing Chandra, Chandra, Flamecaller, which offers a super-fast clock thanks to its hasty 3/1 Elementals and a pseudo-sweeper with its –X. Finally, Chandra, Heart of Fire is our best Chandra if we find ourselves empty handed, drawing us three cards with its +1!

Chandra Payoffs

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The next logical question is, why play so many Chandras? For it to be worth it, there needs to be a payoff, and thankfully, we have a few. The first is actually another Chandra: Chandra, Acolyte of Flame. While we often use it to flash back removal spells with its –2, the first zero ability of adding a loyalty counter to all of our red planeswalkers is great with our other more powerful Chandras, allowing us to rush toward their often game-ending ultimates. 

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Payoff number two is Chandra-specific: Chandra's Regulator. The artifact allows us to double up loyalty abilities from our Chandras for just one mana, which can be incredibly powerful, giving us massive amounts of card advantage, mana, and damage. It also allows us to loot, which is especially helpful in a deck with a ton of redundant legendary permanents. If we have too many of the same Chandra, Chandra's Regulator can loot them away, although we'd rather just have a Mirror Box on the battlefield so we can play all the Chandras we want. Speaking of Mirror Box, it might be even better with Chandra's Regulator than with our Chandras. If we can get multiples on the battlefield, each Chandra activation is devastating, which should allow us to overwhelm our opponent quickly with value.

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Our last Chandra payoff is Light Up the Night, which technically works with any planeswalker but is pretty clearly a Chandra card, based on the flavor and art. It's a fine removal spell in the early game, and then it becomes our best finisher later since we can flash it back from the graveyard for just four mana, remove a bunch of loyalty from our Chandras, and usually deal somewhere around 10 damage to our opponent's face (and more if we have Chandra, Fire Artisan or a ton of Chandras), which hopefully will be enough to close out the game.

Other Stuff

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Otherwise, our deck has a ton of removal, with Chandra's Triumph being an all-star once we get a Chandra on the battlefield, and Mazemind Tome for more card draw and filtering in the early game. The original build had Reckoner Bankbuster in place of Tome, but I think that Mazemind Tome likely is better in Chandra tribal since we don't really have creatures to crew the Vehicle.

Wrap-Up

Record-wise, Chandra Tribal wasn't great. In fact, we didn't actually win a match with the deck, although we did do some interesting, fun things, and most of our matches were incredibly close. In a lot of ways, it felt like the deck was cursed, in the sense that anything that could go wrong did go wrong. All this is to say, while the deck is probably not super competitive, I don't think it's literally a zero-win deck. With a couple more breaks, we easily could have won a few of our matches. 

We did run into a couple of issues with the deck. The first was that we really struggled against creaturelands. We had several matches where we'd use our removal and Chandras to clean the board, only for our opponent to have a creatureland left over and use it to snipe all of our Chandras, locking us out of the game in a weird way. The ideal solution is probably Alpine Moon, which would also help against Lotus Field combo, although it's too expensive to keep the deck free on Magic Online. Another easy option would be Field of Ruin in the mana base, and it might be right to do both.

The other issue we ran into was closing out the game quickly. The one Chandra that doesn't fit under the budget is Chandra, Awakened Inferno, which is one of the best finishing Chandras and the best Chandra against control decks with lots of counters. Here again, we often were able to stabilize the board, but our Chandras hitting for two damage here and one damage there was so slow that our opponent would have time to draw a way to get back into the game. While Light Up the Night is a great finisher, it can also be inconsistent if we can't stick a few Chandras. I'm not sure what the best solution to this problem is, but I do think that a faster clock for finishing the game would help the deck a lot.

So, should you play Chandra Tribal in Pioneer? I think, competitively, the answer is no, at least at this point. While the deck feels like it has potential, we just couldn't win with it. Even though I really like the deck and it's fun to play, it's hard to recommend a deck that goes 0-5. On the other hand, the deck is free to play with card-rental programs on Magic Online, so Chandra Tribal offers a lot of potential as a for-fun option (or as a brewing challenge because the deck really did feel close to being competitive). Basically, this isn't a free-on-MTGO deck that I'd recommend for grinding your win into a collection, but it is shocking that a deck with 14 planeswalkers (including several that see play in multiple formats) is so cheap you can play it for free. So, if you like superfriends and are looking for a not-super-competitive casual option, Chandra Tribal could be a good one!

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For our non-budget list, things stay mostly the same, although we get one huge addition in Chandra, Awakened Inferno, which we hope will solve our finisher problem while also greatly improving our matchup against control decks thanks to its uncounterability. Otherwise, we get a few sideboard updates and an upgraded mana base, with Field of Ruin to deal with those pesky creature lands, Den of the Bugbear for our own creatureland, and Shatterskull Smashing for even more removal. These changes definitely improve the deck, although by just how much remains to be seen. If you have some idea on how to improve Chandra Tribal in Pioneer, make sure to let me know in the comments!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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