Ryan Grainger | 27th November 2018
Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Tribal Tuesday!
So last week we looked at the most off-the-wall Rat tribe and had a go at brewing a super combo style rippling deck in commander/EDH! Being able to potentially play 30 rats in one turn has got to have last weeks Tribal Tuesday the wackiest, combo style deck we’ve made. Whilst scrolling the tribes of the Magic Universe, looking for potential candidates, I remembered a tribe in standard that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t covered. I thought, if I forgot about the tribe, there’s a good chance that other people have. So we’re heading to standard to try out an easily overlooked tribe, and that is the Saproling tribe!
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 Saprolings!
Saprolings are an interesting tribe to cover. In lore, Saprolings are cultivated fungus and plant-based lifeforms and are usually created by Thallids or Treefolk. Saprolings also seems to be a variety of different small plant-based creatures, rather than one species. In the game, Saprolings are exclusively tokens which is what makes them so interesting to cover. I knew from the get-go that wouldn’t be able to be Saproling exclusive in the deck, but we could definitely keep the theme of Saprolings throughout. And knowing from the start the style of the deck we would be making, more the brew fall in place quite easily.
I will admit, making a token tribal deck made quite nervous, with Goblin Chainwhirler still floating around it could spell disaster. However, since Ravinca, the token killer has seen a serious decline of play so it’s probably the best time for the Saprolings to come out from the forest.
The door-opener for this deck and any other green based deck has to be the return of Llanowar Elves. Being able to cast spells one turn early allows for great tempo wings which is what a lot of tribal decks thrive on. If they don’t remove this guy early on, they may never be able to catch up with what you’re doing.
What do we do with this extra mana a turn early? We start making ourselves some Saprolings. To follow the curve, we want to be playing cards like Saproling Migration and Yavimaya Sapherd. Saproling Migration is a huge card because of the kicker, having the option for an early play and another for a late game top deck is insane. Being able to make 2 tokens for two mana is fairly standard in the format, but being able to double the amount later on with kicker is a huge help to our game plan. The Yavimaya Sapherd also comes with a Saproling, giving us another two bodies on the board which makes single targeting burn spells quite useless against the swarm.
Following the curve from these plays, we’ve got another token producing spell, Spore swarm. Whilst slightly disappointed this card isn’t called “surprise Saprolings”, it is one of the only ways to produce creatures at instant speed. Being able to punish an opponent’s greedy attacks, or make Saprolings on the end step ready for a big beat next turn provides lots of flexibility for the game. Plus, once they’ve seen the card once, there’s a good chance we can bluff it by holding some mana open.
As previously mentioned, Goblin Chainwhirler is still around, plus some sweepers. These can ruin any poor fungus’ dreams of having a Saproling army. So how do we combat these? That’ll be where the Lords come in. The first one is a simple 2 mana lord Sporecrown Thallid, a single one of these will put our Saprolings out of Whirler range, and anymore past the first will buff them even further. Playing an early Saproling Migration into the Sporecrown Thallid will often be advantage enough that the opponent will never catch up
The big payoff lord, and where we start to see the game plan come together is Tendershoot Dryad. Whilst, not a direct lord, he’ll be making a Saproling every upkeep which requires an immediate answer unless people like facing down an endless horde of plants. The Dryad also helps his own goal and our game plan, which is to hit ascend. Once we have the city’s blessing, Saprolings get +2/+2. This on top of making Saprolings each upkeep will soon make an army that’ll quickly close out the game or stall long enough until our eventual win. Remember, neither the Thallid or Dryad are legendary so anymore past the first will only continue to grow the Saproling army.
Like every deck, we often need a backup plan in case fungus beat down no longer becomes a valid win condition. This is where we turn into a slight aristocrats style deck and start draining the opponent. Slimefoot, the Stowaway, the legendary fungus not only provides a Saproling mana sink late game, it also punishes any sweeper by draining life when Saprolings die. This often provides a difficult situation for the opponent where its either take combat damage from the tokens or kill them and still take damage. On the same vein, we also have the Poison-Tip Archer, will he doesn’t gain our life or make Saprolings, the deathtouch can be a big deal when facing down huge creatures on the other side of the board.
Having our secondary colour in black also gives us access to the best removal in the format. Whilst we did lose the likes of fatal push, Cast Down and Vraska’s Contempt will often deal with the formats biggest threats. 2 copies of vicious offering also turn extra Saprolings into -5/-5 to take down threats like Lyra’s. Let’s not forget the standard legal Assassin’s Trophy, we also run two of them to have all permanents covered!
The deck can go in two directions, the aggressive flooding of the board thanks to an early Llanowar Elves and get in early beats and hopefully win before the opponent can get anything going. Or it can play the long attrition game where we eventually flood and overwhelm. It’s knowing when to which from one strategy to another which will provide the results. If you’re a fan of token style decks, this one is definitely for you.
As always, 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!