Tribal decks are popular in Magic, especially in casual playgroups. Entire Magic sets have been designed with an emphasis on creature tribes, such as the Lorwyn and Shadowmor blocks. More recently, Innistrad was designed as a gothic horror set, but had a tribal sub-theme. Tribal decks extend beyond kitchen table Magic. Goblins, Elves and Merfolk have all had showings in Standard, Modern and Legacy.
All tribes are not equal in the Multiverse. With 45 Myr cards in the history of Magic (from Mirrodin block, Scars of Mirrodin block, and one from Future Sight), Myr have a restricted card pool. Myr Galvanizer, Myr Superion, and Myr Turbine are all great cards that give strength to this smaller tribe, and it’s possible to smash together all 45 Myr into a Commander deck. A 100-card, Myr Battlesphere of death, working together to roll over the competition.
Finding a Leader
The biggest drawback to a Myr Commander deck is the commander. Similar to the Werewolves of Innistrad, there is not a legendary Myr. But to include ALL the Myr, the deck needs to have a five-colored general. Eleven five-color legendary creatures exist. Three of them are Slivers, which obviously do not fit with a Myr tribal deck, and Scion of the Ur-Dragon is similarly unhelpful. Horde of Notions is best with a deck filled with Elementals. And Child of Alara destroying the Myr time and time again will just lead to a state of self-induced, table-flipping, rage. Not casting the general prevents this rage, but that is not a direction one should choose. Five legitimate options remain:
Progenitus: The “Soul of the World” has protection from everything. That’s nice. But it does not lend itself to a mechanical or flavorful connection to the Myr. The ability to cast Progenitus is nice, but a commander should add more to a deck than being “castable.” Additionally, Progenitus can be defeated. Wrath effects, like Day of Judgment and Damnation, send him back to the command zone where he requires 12 mana to join the party again.
Cromat: Possibly the most color intensive creature on this list. He is easier to cast than Progenitus, but all of Cromat’s activated abilities require two different colored mana to use. The versatility he offers is more of an illusion due to his mana requirements.
Atogatog: Atog creatures eat things and get bigger. Atogatog eats Atogs. The other red Atogs eat artifacts, so there is potential synergy here. A protected Atogatog can become a voltron-style, one-shot kill. Unfortunately this also involves a one-sided wrath. If Atogatog did not take out the last player, the defenseless position results in easy-pickings for the surviving opponents.
Karona, False God: Karona is an interesting choice. She can boost the Myr army, turning a 1/1 into a 4/4 attacker and helping to end the game quickly. Karona does have commitment issues, and she will travel around the table leaving the Myr defenseless for a large portion of the game. The potential aggressiveness this Commander provides results in her getting the silver medal.
Reaper King: Beign the easiest WUBRG creature to cast gives the Reaper King a huge advantage in an artifact heavy deck. The ability to pay colorless mana or colored mana helps the deck stay loose on color requirements. The King turned General also has two non-mana related upsides: turning the myr into myr-scarecrows transforms a lowly mana-myr into a Vindicate-on-a-stick, and the Reaper King being a “Legendary Artifact Creature” gives him a connection to all of the myr.
All the Myr
The list includes all of the Myr in Magic’s history. Literally, ALL THE MYR. This leads to some easy cuts if you want to make this into a more powerful but less flavorful deck. Potential cuts include Brass Squire (there are only two pieces of equipment), Parasitic Implant (a bad removal spell for four mana, and possibly the worst card in the list), Ichorclaw Myr and Plague Myr (two 1/1 creatures with infect are extremely unlikely to get 10 poison counters on any one opponent).
All five types of mana are needed, but because all but one myr requires colorless mana, it does not always matter when we have the colored mana, or in what order. This is the perfect place for the Tenth Edition dual lands, also known as the Pain Lands. Coming into play untapped and only taking a point of damage when a colored mana is needed make these the perfect lands for a semi-five-color deck. They are also cheaper to buy than a lot of other dual lands.
One of each basic land is also included. This is a weak attempt to fight against Blood Moon and Ruination players. The two colored mana-producing bounce lands from Ravnica are also included. This can get awkward in an opening hand with only bounce lands, but is usually a non-issue. The extra colored mana they produce also helps cast Reaper King for closer to five mana than 10 mana.
The Door to Nowhere
Door to Nothingness gives a fun, casual, tribal deck a way to eliminate the biggest threat at the table, and only costs one card slot, and some focused mana. The Door causes an opponent to lose the game, an important distinction in a format that is frequently played with more than one opponent. “Target opponent loses” cards can effectively serve as a secondary or tertiary strategy in Commander decks.
This deck will result in some sideways looks and puzzled stares aimed in your direction. Five-color decks can range from irritating to very scary. This deck is a lot more innocent. If able to use the politics and play skill to be one of the last two remaining, Door to Nothingness will turn the game from an “almost there” into a “win from nowhere.” This is a fragile strategy, which fits the five-color, artifact heavy tribal deck.
The current list only has one way to use Door to Nothingness more than once. Myr Retriever can return a used, or destroyed, Door back to your hand. The Door can be made into the focus of the deck by adding additional artifact recursion. Open the Vaults and Roar of Reclamation bring all artifacts from all graveyards back to the battlefield. Bringer of the White Dawn brings one artifact from your graveyard to play on the beginning of your turn.
Probably the best option is Trading Post. The options Trading Post provides, including returning any artifact to your hand, can let Door to Nothingness pick off multiple players. Life gain, token producer, sacrifice outlet, artifact recursion, card draw all on one card. This card will likely become very popular in Commander decks, especially artifact-heavy decks.
The potential for Door to Nothingness to blow out the leader is there, but it has drawbacks. The Door comes into play tapped, which gives your opponents an opportunity to Shatter, Smelt, or Acidic Slime it away. Although 15 mana can be spent in so many less fragile ways, eliminating an opponent seems like mana well spent. These weaknesses make what could be a hate-inspiring card, a fair “I win” card.
Some Commander games can last a long time, often with one player in a dominant position, and the rest of the table struggling to stay alive. This deck can punish the player that should have won 45 minutes ago. Imagine the following scenario:
On an opponent’s end step cast Door to Nothingness. Untap the Door and the mana artifacts during the next turns untap step. During upkeep tap the artifact mana and appropriate lands for WWUUBBRRGG. Eliminate that guy! (Optional: the rest of the table cheers.)
There are a few cards in this deck that can be invaluable, the difference between the first player out and the last one standing. One of these cards is Xenograft, which allows you to choose a creature type (“Pro Tip”: Choose scarecrow) and all creatures become the chosen type. With Reaper King in play, all the 1/1 myrs are now 2/2 myr-scarecrows. Any time a creature enters the battlefield under your control you destroy any target permanent. Myr Propagator becomes, three mana and tap: Destroy target permanent. Myr Battlesphere becomes seven colorless mana: destroy five target permanents, and oh yeah, put five creatures into play. Myr Incubator can decimate the board. Myr Turbine: tap destroy target permanent. When the pieces are in place it can get out of hand. When Demonic Tutor is drawn mid or late game remember Xenograft.
The smart money has aggressive decks as either red or green creature decks or maybe a black and green infect deck. But the right draw can turn these Myr into a swarm that is hard to hold off. Myr Turbine constantly pumps out a creature (or searches up a combat altering one). Myr Superion summoned with a pair of mana myr. Or the aggro loving Myr Galvanizer. Pump the myr, attack with them; untap them with the Galvanizer, allowing the attacking myr to be tapped again with the Battlesphere. Aggro might be a bit of a stretch as a lot of these cards cost five or seven mana to cast but early mid-game can frequently become end of the game.
There are a number of cards played in Commander that cause the entire table to groan. Primeval Titan, Consecrated Sphinx, Armageddon, the list could go on. This deck has a similar card that most people have never heard of: Naked Singularity.
A five-color deck that basically uses colorless mana laughs with this card. Ironically this card has little effect on the ever present non-basic lands, but any basic lands, or lands with basic sub-types, are often turned into colorless lands. Monocolored decks are most affected by this effect. If a deck led by Omnath, Locus of Mana has all forests in play they will only tap for black mana. This mana will not pump Omnath, will not stay in his mana pool, and will be quite infuriating!
A game-halting state can be achieved if this is played after an opponent plays Blood Moon (or Magus of the Moon). All non-basics become Mountains that tap for blue mana. (Another “Pro Tip”: NEVER do this with an island-less mono-blue player at the table. The game will finish before Naked Singularity’s upkeep trigger needs to be paid.)
By making all of your non-lands indestructible, Darksteel Forge laughs in the face of Creeping Corrosion and the like. Nine mana to cast is steep, but definitely possible with the mana myr and multiple-mana producing lands. The actual cost is just more than $9, which would make it one of the most expensive cards in the deck. But it’s worth it if a copy is available.
The more scarecrows in the deck, the better Reaper King becomes. Scarecrone is the first Scarecrow to add to the mix. Imagine this dream scenario — Reaper King, Xenograft, Myr Turbine, and Scarecrone are all on the battlefield, tap Myr Turbine, destroy target permanent, pay 1 mana, sac the new myr and draw a card. Doing this multiple times by adding an Unwinding Clock to the table will quickly change the deck from an innocent Myr tribal deck into the table’s No. 1 target.
Changelings in tribal decks are encouraged by some, but loathed by many. A few changelings added to this deck gain advantage from the Reaper King’s power and toughness boost as well as his triggered ability. They also gain the boost from Myr Galvanizer, and don’t die to Shatterstorm. Chameleon Colossus, Changeling Titan, Mirror Entity, and Taurean Mauler are all top options.
King of the Myr
This fun-packed, occasionally powerful deck is a blast to play. Convincing the table this is a tribal deck and not five-color goodstuff or aggressive Affinity is not always the easiest until the fifth or sixth myr comes into play. Then the myr will slowly build an army that can take out an expecting opponent with an army of myr or an unexpected Door to Nothingness. Reaper King gives the deck some versatility, and when combo-ing with Xenograft he becomes a must-deal-with threat.
What do you think of the deck? Is it too all-in on the tribal theme? Are there better cards for the non-myr slots? Are decks with a limited card pool (such as this tribal deck or the Standard Glissa deck) interesting? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Magic is a great game, and talking about it can be as much fun as playing.
Tom Lloyd III
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