Ryan Grainger | 13th November 2018
Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Tribal Tuesday!
So last week we looked at birds as a tribe in commander/EDH and it may have been the most successful one yet! I had so much fun writing that article, the deck has moved right to the top of my buy list! For this week, we’ve completed the cycle of formats I’ll typically be covering so we’re returning to modern to try our hand at building a competitive Knight tribal deck!
A quick reminder for anyone new to the series, Tribal Tuesday is all about checking out some of the overlooked tribes in magic history and having some fun brewing in different formats. With that out of the way, let’s get onto the Knights!
Knights have been one of the stable figures in all fantasy/ medieval stories and are a favourite throughout, with the coat of arms, a sense of nobility, their code of chivalry and badass representations in movies. Plus, if you cut off an arm, it’s only a scratch! They’re invincible!
Like most decks we’ve seemed to cover, Knights have been in Magic since its conception. The most iconic knight cards, Black Knight and White Knight, we’re introduced in Alpha and our a become of simplicity and representation of the Knight tribe in Magic: The Gathering. In the game, most knights are typically white or black, although some colours have found their way onto other knight cards over the years. Like all tribes, Knights share some characteristic, first strike is the most common ability found among Knights. Some Knights have double strike, flanking, and protection, a few knights ride steeds with flying as well. Being, typically, human as well, Knights aren’t large creatures either, usually having a modest stat line of 2/2.
When I sat down to build this deck, I remember a long time ago playing on MTGO, facing against a Black knight deck using Haakon, Stromgald Scourge to recur knights and even Nameless Inversion. I thought this was super sweet and tried to recreate a similar deck (maybe you guys should have a go and share with us?) but I just couldn’t come up with something that felt right in the modern format. After looking at some of the Knights I wanted to include and seeing a lot of white mana symbols and seeing the strength of white weenie style decks in the recent standard pro tour, I decided on that as a direction to go in!
Here is the brew! https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/11-11-18-mono-white-knight-tribal/
Benalish Marshall was the card that solidified me into a mono-white build. Having 3 white mana symbols isn’t always tough to achieve, but the power of this card made me want to be able to play in on turn 3 without any exceptions (other than not having one in hand). Tribal decks often thrive with more lords, and this card is a free, extra lord if you’re playing white, plus it’s a knight itself! An obvious inclusion to the deck.
keeping on the theme of lords, for now, Knights may actually have one of the best lords currently. As we saw in our Giant’s episode, for a lord to give more than just the standard +1+1, they often have to have some slight downside, which is usually a pretty high mana cost. However, Knight Exemplar only has a CMC of 3 and gives other Knights indestructible, arguably one of the best keywords for a tribal deck like this one. Facing down a large Goyf? Block with a 2/2! Against large creatures with no keywords, this can be backbreaking for them, and if you ever manage to get two out, you’re in business for the rest of the game!
A coincidental upside of running Knight tribal is that they’re all human, therefore I thought an inclusion of Champion of the Parish was a must. Although not technically a knight himself, the turn one play was too good to pass up. Being able to curve out well and continually grow our threats is exactly what the deck wants to do. It also still gets pumped up by some of our other non-knight-specific lords which are also nice.
History of Benalia has blown its way onto the standard scene and this deck might be the perfect fit to introduce it into modern. For us, it makes Knights for two turns which can easily be pumped up from our lords and on the third turn provides another buff for all of our knights and often is the win condition. It may seem slow to pay 3 mana for one 2/2 to start off with, but trust me if you’ve played or seen the card in action before, you’ll know it’s power.
Where would White weenie decks be without their planeswalker overlords? Probably still around but they definitely help. Ajani is the new one on the block from M19 and I believe fits perfectly. It pumps up are small creatures which is exactly what we want to happen, it can recur some fallen knights from the graveyard and can make endless small creatures if we manage to make it to the ultimate range. Gideon is the true knight planeswalker though as he actually makes knights. He can also ultimate straight away which is fantastic as it’s essentially another lord to add to the list of many that we have. All in all both these guys can make our small knights into something much bigger than people will have to find answers for!
Whilst we’re often trying to work on our own game plan, often there will be times where we just have to answer something on our opponent’s side of the board. With Path to Exile we can kill most creatures in the format that we don’t want sticking around and keep ourselves ahead on board. I also found out that whilst we may be able to deal with creature based decks quite well, we do lack against combo pre-sideboard. That’s where blood moon comes in. One of my all time favourite cards, this can sometimes be a complete got-ya card when people aren’t expecting it and shut down people’s ability to play their combo pieces. At the very least it may buy us some time whilst we build our board full with Knights!
The play style of the deck is very similar to other white weenie decks in the past. We start off by playing powerful early game creatures, trying to get ahead of the board and as we transition into the mid-game, try and make those small creatures more powerful with the use of lords and pump effects. Keywords like the first strike improve greatly the more powerful the creature’s power, and fortunately, it appears quite a lot on some of our knights. This means we can quite often come ahead of other creature based decks, as the first strike kills before they even get a chance to deal damage back. If creature decks ever take over the meta, this may be a deck that could creep up in popularity.
As always check out the deck list as there’s some smaller things I couldn’t fit into the article and thanks for taking the time to read, anything I missed? And as always, what tribe should we cover next, got any underloved favourites? Let us know!