Ryan Grainger | 18th December 2018
Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Tribal Tuesday!
So last week we looked at one of my favourite tribes in all off magic, and I know I say this a lot, but I do own that deck so that must count for something! It was super fun writing about a deck that I’ve played with multiple times rather than just theorycrafted, I felt like I could give some first hand accounts of how the cards play out! Of course the format was commander as well at it seems to be the format I always drift to whilst writing and playing! As we all should know by now (if you don’t, how?) the holiday season is upon us and the big day is only a week away, I wanted to do something fun whilst still keeping with the Tribal Tuesday theme. I started looking for Christmas related tribes, and whilst I found one with snow creatures and snow-covered lands, nothing really jumped out as a festive tribe. Then, an idea jumped at me, the holiday season is all about gift giving, so why don’t we use gifts as our tribe! I know it’s not a tribe in the usual sense, but people call the 12-bolt deck ‘lightning bolt tribal’ so I’m running with the idea!
I would also like to dedicate this paragraph to you guys, the reader. Whether you’re a fan of the Tribal Tuesday series, or any other of the articles that the other members post, it really warms us that there are people out there that enjoy reading our keyboard waffle. So I think I can say from the whole team, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and a Merry Christmas.
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 Gifts!
The most common type of a Gift card that I can think of is ‘Gifts Ungiven’. A stable in Storm decks to be able to start storming off, confusing anyone that doesn’t play storm as they combo off perfectly as in you choose the exact right cards for them. And even showing up in some reanimate style decks that pop up from time to time. This Gift will not do for us. The Holidays are all about giving each other gifts so I think the correct name for this deck would be ‘Gifts Given’.
The Gift Givers!
There aren’t many situations where we want to be gifting our opponent some of our permanents, however, there seems to be a very small niche where this is the case. So in what form will this gift giving appear in? Harmless Offering! If there’s a better card that does the same in the modern format, I would still pick this card, just look at the art! Whilst giving someone a permanent we control might seem harmless, there’s actually a few game-breaking ways to utilise it! Before we get onto that, let’s talk about the other gift givers!
The Bazaar Trader! Join me and raise a hand if, like me, you’ve never heard of this card before now! (It’s a goblin as well, I should have known about this guy!) Bazaar Trader is basically the Santa Claus of the deck. A Jolly? Goblin that taps to gift and artifact, creature or land. Whilst you do have to untap to be able to start gift giving, who would want to use removal on him? He’s giving them stuff! Bazaar Trader is a somewhat back up to Harmless Offering as it provides another way to gift and doesn’t gift enchantments, which as you’ll see, we want to do.
Don’t have a Trader or Harmless Offering in hand but still want to gift your opponent something? Say no more, I’ve got you covered. Akroan Horse gifts itself as soon as it enters the battlefield and as thanks for the gift, in return our opponent shall start giving us 1/1 white soldiers on each of their upkeeps. A fair exchange if you ask me. Whilst in theory this can just win us the game over many turns, we mainly use it as a stalling mechanic to perform one of our other combos. Don’t underestimate getting 2, 3 or 4 1/1’s a turn though.
The last Gift giver we have is Jace Beleren. He doesn’t give people something that we own, but he does let them draw a card which I’m sure people will agree is a more than acceptable gift in many situations. I was introduced to this Jace by Arran whilst playing Commander where he was referred to as ‘Party Jace’ and in all honestly, it’s just a nod of appreciation to him whilst also fitting the theme of this week, so we have a copy of him in here.
Are there any permanents that we would want to give away? Well, like the Akroan Horse, which is technically a gift giver and a gift, there are things that benefit us if the opponent controls them. Bronze Bomeshell does just that. For us, it’s a 4 mana 4/1 which isn’t the best, but can trade with powerful treats. When we feel like we’ve got our use out of the Bombshell or need a little extra damage, we can Gift it! It’s not something we usually want to use a Harmless Offering on, but Santa (aka Bazaar Trader) will be more than happy to Gift it away. After it’s gifted, it’s scarified by its new owner to deal 7 damage to them. Without any extra damage from modern mana bases, just three of these will win the game. I definitely won’t want to be opening one of these in a weeks time!
The next two gifts are more utility based rather than game winning. In modern, there are piles on piles of different strategies which what makes the format pretty great. For the creature based matchups, we have the Steel Golem. Another gift that Santa can give, it can completely shut down some decks, how can they beat us down with no creatures in play? For a more general lock, Aggressive Mining does the trick. Unfortunately Santa can’t gift enchantments, so we’ll have to use a Harmless Offering, but if our opponent are short on lands and we manage to get this combo off, they’ll be stuck on just the few lands they’ll have in play.
When I was a child at Christmas, I’d ask for a few small presents and the ‘main present’! So far, we’ve talked about the small presents, the main present for this year is Demonic Pact. This is an interesting card, each turn we choose one of the 4 option on the card, 3 of which are pretty powerful affects. The catch, we can only choose each option once, meaning we have to pick the 4th one eventually. What is the 4th option you ask? ‘You lose the game’! Taken straight from the Magic Rulings for the card ” Yes, if the fourth mode is the only one remaining, you must choose it. You read the whole contract, right?” Now, here is where the main combo comes in, we choose 3 options getting some serious value, and before we enter the 4th turn, we Gift the card to them with Harmless Offering, and on their upkeep, as the other 3 options have been chosen, they are forced to lose the game! Not-so-Harmless-Offering after all!
The rest of the deck is filled with usual Grixis coloured removal, counters and cantrips. Everything that we need to execute the combo and stay alive long enough to do our thing! This deck is everything we need during the holiday season. A perfect mix of gift giving, janky combos and fun!
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! And have a Happy Holidays!