Choose A Creature Type

In the world of Magic: the Gathering, a vast selection of creatures inhabit the multiple planes of the Multiverse, and much like we do in our world, they tend to flock to creatures of a similar kind. These are what we refer to as tribes. Tribal synergy is a concept that has been present in Magic for a very long time, well before cards with the actual card type of Tribal were ever a thing and is a fundamental deck building strategy at this point in the game’s development. And while the card type of Tribal has essentially taken it’s last breath, the idea behind tribal decks still has a long life ahead of it. Wizards of the Coast enjoys playing off of specific creature types. The idea that devoting yourself to a specific tribe yields greater and greater rewards as a game plays out is not only fun, but also a supported strategy. There will always be Elves decks. There will always be Goblins and Merfolk, or as we colloquially refer to them Fish. Even more obscure tribes such as Elementals and Treefolk will always be viable, as well as those that are more expansive–spanning more than one creature type–such as Soldiers, Knights, and Wizards will always receive support from the designers at Wizards of the Coast.

In my experience, almost every player has a favorite tribe. Whether it’s a major tribe–such as Elves, Merfolk, Goblins, or Zombies–or a more obscure, minor tribe like Wizards, Saprolings, Treefolk, or Soldiers, everybody has a favorite tribe for one reason or another. Maybe it’s the flavor of the tribe itself, perhaps its the tribe that fits into their favorite color, or they simply love the way that the cards play out, but every player has a tribe they love above all others. For myself, that tribe is and will always be Elves. For some of my buddies, Merfolk take the cake, and one friend of mine just loves him some Treefolk. And we can’t forget the Tribe that out Tribes all Tribes. The most Tribal Tribe of all the Tribes ever to call themselves a Tribe: Slivers.


Elvish ArchdruidLord of AtlantisGoblin WarchiefTimber ProtectorCaptain of the WatchCemetery ReaperSliver LegionSliver OverlordSliver Queen

Tribal decks are playable in almost any format, and are played in every format as long as they’re supported. The idea cycles in and out of standard, the most recent standard “tribal decks” being included in the Innistrad block, where Werewolves, Spirits, Zombies, Vampires, and even simple Humans ran amok, backed by cards such as Diregraf CaptainDrogskol CaptainStromkirk Captain,  Immerwolf, and even Mayor of Avabruck despite his Werewolf personality. These cards, as well as others from the same block, played off of the idea of playing and controlling permanents that shared a type with them, and while some of the Tribes were undoubtedly better than others, players tried them all. Now, however, Standard lacks that tribal flare, but other formats remain supportive. In Modern, we see Elves make a splash from time to time in the form of either aggro or combo decks, and Merfolk has found a rather comfortable place in the format. In Legacy, the big three–Elves, Merfolk, and Goblins–see competitive play. But we’re not here to talk about those formats! We’re here to talk about Commander. And the fun thing about Commander is that it is what I consider the “Choose A Creature Type” format.

Almost every Tribe in the game can be played in Commander, save those so obscure that they haven’t seen much print. And while each has their own tools to utilize, such as their own Lords and other Tribal effects, there are a few cards that need to be included in almost every Tribal deck. These cards are staples, fitting into any Tribe of your choice, and playing a major role regardless of what you choose.

  • Cavern of Souls:             Staple land, anti-control, produces any color necessary.
  • Adaptive Automaton: Flexible Lord effect, colorless to cast, receives benefits from other Lords.
  • Brass Herald:     Provides card advantage, another Flexible lord, colorless to cast.
  • Door of Destinies: Cumulative anthem effect, gets out of control quickly.
  • Urza’s Incubator: Significantly lowers costs of all creatures in your Tribe, slightly expensive, but the benefit pays off.
  • Coat of Arms: Another Cumulative anthem effect, typically ends games.
  • Cryptic Gateway: Cheats creatures into play, usable at instant speed, gets around counter spells.
  • Konda’s Banner: Solid Equipment for your Commander, not horribly expensive to play or equip, pumps all other creatures in your tribe

Konda's Banner


As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to leave your comments, feedback, and ideas in the comment section below, and keep looking forward to new content in the near future.



Evan Erickson

Author: Evan Erickson

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