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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Tribal Tribal Primer | All Tribes In One Deck | Big Kaldheim Update

Tribal Tribal Primer | All Tribes In One Deck | Big Kaldheim Update

Big Update Time!

With the latest set, Kaldheim, bringing lots of sweet new changelings and tribal support, now is the perfect time to update my favorite article that I've ever written: Tribal Tribal (also known as Everything Tribal). This article will cover all the information found in the original with the added benefit of 2+ years of new additions and playtesting, since it also happens to be my most-played deck in recent years.

Here you'll find:

  • an introduction to Tribal Tribal
  • card options for every single aspect of the deck
  • sample deck lists for the Tap/Untap and Combat versions of Tribal Tribal
  • my own personal Tribal Tribal list at the bottom of the article

Boundless Possibilities!

Tribal Tribal is one of the most open-ended, modular, flexible decks you'll ever come across. It's the most Tribal deck any deck could possibly be. The deck can be broken down into two parts that go together like peanut butter and jelly.

The first part of the deck, the peanut buttery base, consists of changelings, creatures that are every creature type at all times. This ability was first introduced in Lorwyn block with cards like Mirror Entity, later revisited in Modern Horizons, and now most recently in Kaldheim, fleshing out the concept of changelings and giving us a ton of fun tools to work with. These provide a creamy rich base of endless possibilities for us to build upon.

Then we add the jelly sweetness to the deck: tribal support cards! Which ones? ALL OF THEM! Our changelings are all creature types at all times, so all tribal support cards benefit them! Generate tons of mana with Harabaz Druid, draw cards off Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, blow things up with Reaper King, and steal things instead with Gilt-Leaf Archdruid! All in the same deck! The beauty here is that all those cool tribal lords that are stuck collecting dust in a small ignored tribe suddenly have a spot in this amazing melting pot of a deck called Tribal Tribal!

There's hundreds of tribal support cards for you to mix and match with your changelings, more than you could ever fit into a deck. And since tribal synergy is one of the most popular things in Magic, you can be sure that the list of tribal support cards will grow larger with every new set release. That means you'll always have plenty of tribal cards to choose from, no matter what your budget. This is a level of variety you just can't find anywhere else.

Unlimited variety can be overwhelming, however, and obviously just throwing a bunch of lords together at random can lead to an unfocused deck. So this article will also cover two archetypes for Tribal Tribal -- Combat Triggers and Tap / Untap Shenanigans -- that narrows the card pool, making a more manageable and focused deck out of it.

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You might like the deck if ...

  • You want to play a super unique modular deck
  • You want a deck that has a ludicrously large card pool to work with
  • You want a home for your cool tribal support card from a small ignored tribe
  • You like decks that play differently each game

You might NOT like the deck if ...

  • You want a focused tribal deck
  • You prefer linear decks that play out similarly each game
  • You find too much variety overwhelming
  • You dislike inconsistency

Choosing Your Commander

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My original primer had Morophon, the Boundless as the deck's commander, and it's still a great choice: it's a changeling so it's the most thematic choice for a changeling deck, it offers powerful ramp and is a key piece to enable various combos, and its 5C identity allows you have to maximum flexibility on how to build the deck.

However after playtesting it a bunch, I realized that I wasn't getting a lot of benefit from Morophon being in the command zone as opposed to the 99: while powerful, Morophon costs a whopping 7 mana to cast, which meant that for a large part of the game I wasn't getting any value from it and it was difficult to recast it once it died. So I ended up moving Morophon into the 99 and replacing the commander with The Ur-Dragon:

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The Ur-Dragon has an even higher cmc but that's totally irrelevant: it's all about that crazy good eminence, baby! The Ur-Dragon makes all our Dragon spells cost 1 less to cast while it's chilling in the command zone! You don't need to ever cast the commander to get insane value out of it! Eminence is wild.

Also keep in mind that this cost reduction applies to all Dragon spells, not just creature spells, so not only do all our changeling / dragon creature spells all cost 1 less to cast at all times, but our tribal instants / sorceries like Crib Swap and Blades of Velis Vel cost 1 less too! This actually enables some infinite combos as well, such as combining the eminence cost reduction with Haakon, Stromgald Scourge + Morophon, the Boundless + Blades of Velis Vel to cast Blades for free infinite times to give our creatures infinite power -- but I'm getting ahead of myself! Point is, I feel that The Ur-Dragon, while less flavorful, is a more powerful commander for the deck than Morophon, the Boundless.

The are many other viable and powerful commanders for Tribal Tribal: you can choose to go full-on archenemy and glass cannon with Reaper King in the command zone, or be more Sliver-focused and go The First Sliver, or drop some colors and do Moritte of the Frost! It all works and it's all awesome. For this primer, however, I will cover the 5C version of the deck led by The Ur-Dragon.

The Changeling Core

Changelings are the foundation of this deck: they are every creature type at all times, making them the perfect blank canvas for all our tribal support cards to paint on. I recommend including 18-25 changelings, depending on how much card draw and tutors you run.

For selecting which changelings to include, the two most important criteria for ranking changelings are:

  1. The casting cost (lower = better).
  2. How much utility it brings.

When comparing changelings with no real utility, cheaper is always better, since their primary purpose is to fuel tribal support cards: Universal Automaton is way better than Chameleon Colossus, for example.

Having the changeling keyword is also important as it benefits from a ton of synergy in the deck and makes changeling cards much stronger than they first appear. For example, Blades of Velis Vel and Volatile Claws may look roughly equal to each other in a vacuum, but Blades having changeling means it costs 1 less thanks to The Ur-Dragon, can be tutored up with Sliver Overlord, and can be cast from the graveyard with Haakon, Stromgald Scourge, making it far superior.

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Examples of the best changelings would be:

  1. Morophon, the Boundless's ramp and combo potential makes its high cmc worth it.
  2. Mirror Entity's ability to turn our entire board into changelings and act as a finisher is amazing.
  3. Masked Vandal doubles as sweet removal when needed.
  4. Realmwalker is sweet card advantage, letting you play creatures off the top of your library.
  5. Unsettled Mariner's protection has been a lifesaver for me.
  6. Shapesharer and Amoeboid Changeling's utility have come in clutch.
  7. Universal Automaton costs 0(!) mana with The Ur-Dragon, so it's a free changeling.

And the single best non-changeling changeling has to be the new addition from Kaldheim: Maskwood Nexus. Nexus turns all of our non-changeling tribal support cards into changelings so they all benefit from each other! With Nexus on the battlefield, an Ingenious Infiltrator would trigger the Reaper King when it enters the battlefield, would be indestructible thanks to Knight Exemplar, can be cast from the graveyard by Haakon, Stromgald Scourge, etc. Plus Nexus pairs wonderfully with The World Tree, letting us dump ALL our creatures from our library directly into play!

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Tribal Lands

Since we're a 5C deck, the vast majority of our land slots must be devoted to generic mana-fixing. But there's some room for tribal spice as well!

There's actually a lot of tribal lands that can help out or mana-fixing, with the sweetest inclusion being a new one from Kaldheim: The World Tree! It acts as amazing fixing in our deck and doubles as a finisher, either putting all our changelings into play or ALL our creatures if we have Maskwood Nexus on the battlefield.

We also have access to a ton of incredibly powerful utility lands, like Swarmyard for creature protection or Griffin Canyon to untap a changeling. While having a few of these in your deck can be awesome, just make sure you aren't running too many colorless lands or you might have trouble consistently casting your spells.

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Tribal Ramp

Just like our lands, since we're a 5C deck we'll need to lean heavily on mana-fixing options so we can consistently cast our spells. Generic goodstuff like green land ramp (Farseek) and mana rocks (Chromatic Lantern) are going to provide a solid foundation for this deck. However, there's tons of sweet tribal stuff we can use as well!

There are some amazing tribal mana dorks that can take full advantage of our changelings: Harabaz Druid and Priest of Titania tap for insane amounts of mana and Gemhide Sliver / Manaweft Sliver turn all our changelings into Birds of Paradise! Outside of mana dorks, Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign provides a sweet discount to our changelings while drawing tons of cards and Rooftop Storm lets us cast all our changeling for free!

One of the best new tribal ramp cards in the deck though has to be Magda, Brazen Outlaw: any time our changelings tap we get a treasure token! Not only is this insane ramp but Magda can use those treasures to tutor up any artifact or Dragon card, which is usually Maskwood Nexus or Morophon, the Boundless, or if we just wanna go big then grab Hellkite Courser, putting The Ur-Dragon into play!

Behold, mana:

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Tribal Removal

Okay, now we're getting to the spice! There are a TON of powerful tribal removal spells we can build with!

The single best removal in the entire deck has to be Reaper King: every changeling that enters the battlefield comes with a Vindicate. That's bonkers! But beyond that there are SO MANY sweet removal options to choose from: wipe the board of non-Army creatures with Widespread Brutality, steal creatures with Peer Pressure and Sliver Overlord, counter stuff with Spellstutter Sprite, blow up artifacts and enchantments with Qasali Slingers and on and on. It's so easy to mix and match based on what you like and your budget.

Here's some of the best tribal removal options I could find. It's far from an exhaustive list though so feel free to let me know if there's some other spice to add!

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Tribal Card Draw

As explained earlier, Everything Tribal is like a peanut butter jelly sandwich, with changelings being the creamy peanut butter base and tribal support cards the sweet gooey jam on top. You need both the peanut butter and the jelly together for it to work. If all you've got are changelings but not tribal support cards to make them good, or vice versa, the deck doesn't really work. That's the biggest flaw of the deck.

One of the best ways we can mitigate inconsistent draws is by simply drawing a TON of cards so we always have what we need in hand. Luckily we have tons of spicy tribal card draw options: we can draw cards through combat damage with Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, tap to draw cards with Sea Gate Loremaster, or draw cards on our upkeep with Graveborn Muse. My favorite of the bunch though has to be Liliana's Contract, which is already solid card draw on its own but is also trivially easy to win the game with as well! Our changelings are demons, after all!

I approve of this card draw:

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Tribal Tutors

There's a ton of tribal tutors out there. I did my best searching for them with this Scryfall filter, but I'm certain I missed a few.

My pick for strongest tribal tutor has to be Sliver Overlord: it's no secret that Slivers is one of the strongest tribes in general and Overlord can repeatedly fetch up a ton of useful slivers like Gemhide Sliver and Sliver Legion. Not only that, but Sliver Overlord is one of the few tribal tutors that can fetch any card with the sliver creature type, allowing us to fetch tribal noncreature spells like Crib Swap and best of all, Shields of Velis Vel! So we can use Sliver Overlord to fetch Shields of Velis Vel, turning all our opponents' creatures into slivers, and then gain control of all of them with the Overlord! It's ridiculous!

We have some other powerful tribal tutors as well. Just like Overlord, Higure, the Still Wind can snag even noncreature ninjas if we want, important utility ninjas like Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, and can make our ninjas/changelings unblockable.

There's even two entire tribes whose sole schtick is tutoring more of their tribe: Rebel and Mercenary. Most of them aren't great on their own, but two standouts include Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero and Cateran Summons. All of these get much better if you build your deck around tapping and/or activated abilities such as with Training Grounds and Myr Galvanizer, however.

Here are some of my favorite tribal tutors that I found:

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Tribal Recursion

There's so many amazing tribal recursion options to choose from, but the absolute best one has to be Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. It requires building around since you can only cast it from your graveyard, not your hand, so cards like Entomb / Jarad's Orders / Wargate are needed, but it's worth it: with Haakon on the battlefield, not only can you cast any Knights from your graveyard like Knight Exemplar or changelings like Mirror Entity, but Haakon can also cast tribal instants like Crib Swap to repeatedly exile threats or Blades of Velis Vel, which together with The Ur-Dragon and Morophon, the Boundless lets you cast Blades infinite times for infinite power.

Here's some of my favorite recursion options:

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Tribal Protection

We have quite a few powerful ways to protect our board state from removal. We can stop targeted removal by giving our board shroud (Scion of Oona) or hexproof (Lord of the Unreal). And we can protect ourselves from most board wipes by making our stuff indestructible (Knight Exemplar). Or do both with some extra utility with Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate!

If there's sweet stuff I missed, please let me know and I'll add it:

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Tribal Buffs

The most popular thing tribe support cards do is buff your tribal creatures so they hit better, harder, faster. We can give our team haste with Rushblade Commander and Goblin Warchief, take to the air with Cloudshredder Sliver or Khorvath Brightflame, give 'em double strike with Sylvia Brightspear, and pump them into huge beaters with Sliver Legion and Coat of Arms. If you're interested in winning through combat damage, Everything Tribal can easily do it!

These are the best ones that I found:

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Focusing Our Deck: Tap/Untap vs. Combat Triggers 

With a massive card pool consisting of all tribal support cards ever printed, the hardest part of building this deck is cutting down to just 99 cards. Personally, I've never struggled as much to cut down to 99 cards with any other deck like I have with Tribal Tribal.

The only way to get all the way down to 99 cards is by narrowing your focus on what exactly you want your deck to do. Pick a theme, then for every card you're considering, ask yourself, "does this card support my theme?" If not, then you can safely cut it. Not only does this shrink your card pool to something much more manageable, but it also makes your deck stronger, since focused decks are stronger decks.

There's obviously a ton of themes you can focus on for Tribal Tribal, but for the sake of my sanity I'm only highlighting two themes here that are generally opposed to each other.

Combat Triggers

This version of Tribal Tribal is looking to rush into the red zone early and often. By focusing on attacking, we are rewarded with powerful attack triggers (Utvara Hellkite) and combat triggers (Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow). To really push this theme we want haste to attack immediately (Goblin Warchief), evasion to get around blockers (Cloudshredder Sliver), and double strike to double up on combat triggers (Sylvia Brightspear). Additional combat steps (Godo, Bandit Warlord) and extra turns (Notorious Throng) also means more combats which means more triggers!

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Tap/Untap Shenanigans

Instead of tapping our creatures to attack, we can tap them to activate abilities. Manaweft Sliver and Gemhide Sliver let our creatures tap for mana, Captivating Vampire lets us steal our opponents' creatures, Gilt-Leaf Archdruid steals lands, and Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero tutors any Rebel/Changeling in our deck. To really maximize our value from tapping, we can cheaply untap our board with Myr Galvanizer and Merrow Commerce

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Putting It All Together

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 ratio of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. My general ratio is:

  • 50 mana; lands and ramp, usually a 37–13 split
  • 10 card draw; cards that net you 2+ cards in hand
  • 8 targeted removal; split between creature / artifact / enchantment removal and countermagic
  • 3 board wipes; creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less
  • 2 graveyard recursion
  • 2 flexible tutors; higher budgets I recommend more 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

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.

$150 Tap/Untap Tribal Tribal

Alright, let's do some sample deck lists!

This version of Tribal Tribal focuses on powerful tap abilities such as:

We also run various ways to untap all our creatures to get even more value out of these tap abilities with Myr Galvanizer, Seedborn Muse, and Merrow Commerce.

The deck eventually wins by stealing all of our opponents' permanents, blowing up everything with Reaper King, Haakon combos, or a Mirror Entity alpha strike.

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$150 Combat Tribal Tribal

This version of Tribal Tribal is focused on the combat phase, generating tons of value with stuff like:

The deck has ways to enhance our attacks further with cards like Cloudshredder Sliver and Sylvia Brightspear. Eventually the deck wins through combat damage, blowing up all opposing permanents with Reaper King, or Haakon combos.

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My Personal Tribal Tribal

Finally, here you can always find an up to date version of my personal Tribal Tribal deck. This is the combat version, though I'm interested in picking up a Tap/Untap "sideboard" for the deck to change it on the fly.

The main difference between this and the sample deck list is lands: it's boring, but fetchlands + dual lands makes the deck a bit faster, though it's not a big of a difference as you'd think. The biggest nonland card difference is Sliver Overlord, which costs a whopping $20 but is worth it as a repeatable tutor and theft card.

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Thanks For Reading!

Tribal Tribal is my favorite deck and I hope you enjoyed reading about it! If there's any sweet tribal spice I missed please let me know and I'll add it to the deck. I'll be back with more Kaldheim content soon!

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