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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Of Commanders Colors and Tribes – Tribes and Classes

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under FAQ, In-Depth FAQ, Strategy

Back to their roots

Continuing from the alternate way to build EDH decks, we had looked into building EDH decks with Commander Color. The method involves choosing a General just for the color or colors you like to play. Each color has its own field of specialty and capabilities with some overlapping properties. Adding on to Building EDH decks as per Commander Color, it is very similar to choosing colors to play for normal variant decks. Many of time, the Generals chosen for this kind of decks do not have any interactions or anything to do with the whole deck theme or Play Style, and most often not even summoned at all. Expanding on that, for today article we will look into the benefits of building around the Tribe of the Commander.


Commander Tribe:

Era of a New Tribe

Tribal theme is a famous theme in MtG. From the heydays of the Rebels which led to the banning of their de-facto leader Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero in Mercadian Block format, to the combo-ish Elf Ball, there had been many Tribal decks which dominated in normal variant. A lot of players, including myself with Reaper King & Scarecrows, also do that in EDH as it sometimes opens up very innovative game play. This is especially so with the way EDH decks are built as you pack your decks with all sorts of cards according to the Tribal theme. A lot of these Tribal decks do not go with the “Go Big” rule in EDH, as the incredible synergy between each card gives you tremendous power which is not possible in normal variants.


Think Big, Think Out of the Box:

My Precious My Precious…….

A general rule of thumb when choosing a Creature type for your deck is to consider the card pool available for the chosen Creature type. Ask yourself the question, how many cards can I put into the deck from the Tribal group? Many of times when we build Tribal decks for normal variant, we are very much restricted by the deck size of 60 cards. There is only so little cards you could put in. But in EDH, you have a total of 99 cards to consider. Minus off part of it are Lands, usually about 38, you still have 61 slots of cards to contribute to the Tribal theme, and due to the restriction one card per deck except for basic Lands. The choices sort of become more that way. So in a way, Tribal also encourages us to “Think Big” but the “Big” here refers more to the numbers instead.

Ever the Reason Preventing a Card from Entering a Deck…..

What about casting cost you may ask, what if I put that spell into the deck and can’t cast it. Well, casting cost is always a problem regardless of the format but in EDH, games are usually longer. Multiple players are involved, unless you prefer 1 on 1, many of times most people will spend most of their early turns building up mana too. Some Tribal cards sound good on the ability but casting cost is too high for normal variant. But in EDH, you will get there as everyone will be building up their mana. And if you play your politics right, which is vital in EDH, you might even get some help from your opponents when you cast that spell.


So when you play a Tribal theme with a large card pool, you actually have more choices as the cards work with each other. Due to the synergy, a lot of cards will not end up as dead card in the hand. The synergy you get out of these cards sometimes could prove so devastating that you be wondering should you even considers it in normal variant. After all EDH decks are built with only one card per deck (except for basic Lands), so here is where all sorts of Tribal themes combinations shine even more as multiple card combos are possible. We don’t normally get to see three or four cards combos in normal variants. Most of us won’t even know its coming till it happened.

“Ya messes with me, Ya messes with the Family.”

Take for example, Corpse Harvester. Where in normal variant, you could only put so many Zombies into your deck therefore limiting its usefulness in the deck (3BB and 1B, Tap, sacrifice one Creature for a Zombie and Swamp to your hand is still consider slow in normal variant), but in EDH you are spoiled with choices with the way EDH decks are built. When you activate its ability, you are getting a Zombie for the situation as you packed deck with all sorts of solution Zombies, at the same time getting a Swamp to boost your mana. That effectively makes it a tutor and a mana booster at the same time. Another good example would be Cryptic Gateway. If every single Creature you have in your deck is the same Creature type, you don’t even have to worry about the casting cost. Just tap two already on the battlefield and dump the big guy in. Imagine just tapping two Eldrazi Spawn tokens and putting Kozilek, Butcher of Truth onto the battlefield.


Have a look at these Creatures.

Card Description

Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor

Each Cephalid you have now is a solution to a permanent as you tap it down with Aboshan’s ability.

Ancestor’s Prophet / Master Apothecary

Normal damage become less effective against you and your Creatures.

Aphetto Grifter / Azami, Lady of Scrolls / Supreme Inquisitor / Patron Wizard

Answers to permanents through tap down; card advantage; exiling problems from your opponent’s library; countering power; all through having more Wizards on your board.

Birchlore Rangers / Heritage Druid

All your Elves are mana acceleration the moment they enter the battlefield.

Captivating Vampire

Creatures no longer pose as a problem to you as long as they do not have Hexproof or Shroud.

Catapult Master / Catapult Squad

Combat tricks through Soldiers.

Drowner of Secrets / Lullmage Mentor

Milling and countering through Merfolks.

Dwarven Bloodboiler

Each Dwarf you have is now a +2/+0.

Gilt-Leaf Archdruid / Seton, Krosan Protector

Land screw one opponent or mana ramp through Druids.

Gravespawn Sovereign / Zombie Trailblazer

Reanimation through Zombies and color screwing non-Black opponents.

Shieldmage Elder

Works both ways either by preventing damage by Creatures through Clerics or damage by spells through Wizards.

Skirk Fire Marshal

Takes out everyone at the same time or those who are half dead.

Voice of the Woods

Provide more meat to your army.


The Followers shall advance with a Good Leader.

All of these cards gain more power as you play more Creatures of the same tribe, resulting in advantage over your opponents. This is what we meant earlier as “No Dead Card”. Essentially with the above cards, every Creature you played within the Tribal theme add on to the power of the above Creatures. Most of the above Creatures do not even see light in normal variant, but in EDH, some of these are really power house. Therefore it is important to line up Creatures abilities when you go for Tribal theme. A lot of combos in EDH decks could involve more than two cards, sometimes going up to as much as four cards or even more. Thinking out of the box will let you catch your opponents off guard as seemingly harmless Creature you put onto the battlefield suddenly win you the game when the others join in.


Every Tribal Deck Should Have One of These:

Ride on to Victory with your Commander

Due to the fact that all cards in EDH decks must share the same color identity of the Commanders, there may be cards which fit the Tribal theme but not the color identity. So we turn to Artifacts and Lands for more help. The below cards works fine with any Tribal theme, and is a good add to all Tribal EDH decks as you could put them into any Tribal decks regardless of the color identity and Creature type too. 

Card Desription

Adaptive Automaton / Brass Herald

Both act as lord to the chosen Tribal group.

Belbe’s Portal

Anything that skips the casting cost to put your Creatures onto the battlefield is welcome in EDH. This also allows you to put a Creature in at any time and avoid counterspells.

Cavern of Souls

Protect your Tribal Creature spells.

Coat of Arms

A great political tool since it benefits everyone.
Cryptic Gateway The power of dropping a big guy onto the battlefield for free at any time. Also allows you to avoid counterspells.
Door of Destinies Now almost every card in your deck pumps up your army. It is to be noted that you only need charge counters for it to work. If you put a charge counter on it with Coretapper, you still get the bonus.
Konda’s Banner Since this is EDH, and if you go full Tribal, every Creature in your deck is also going to share the same color with your General which will be the Legendary Creature the banner is going to be on.
Urza’s Incubator Normally this would not make a difference in normal variant, but reducing 2 off almost all the spells in your deck is a great deal in EDH.



As a summary to the article, you could see that besides building around the Commander, one could also build around the Commander Color(s) or Tribal group(s). Building around the General colors means that you use that chosen General just for the color(s) it has, playing with what each colors plays best and according to your needs. Tribal theme on the other hand is both fun and strong, especially so if the Tribal group has a large pool of cards. Synergy is strong between each card so the chances of drawing dead cards are much lesser. So maybe now you should try and have a look at the possibility of Tribal in your EDH decks and incorporate Tribal theme into your decks. Thus with that, we come to an end for the whole article of “Of Commanders Colors and Tribes”, till next article…


This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.


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