Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Tribal Decks in Magic?
Many Magic themes emphasize certain creature subtypes, employing cards that boost all units in a given faction. While an individual goblin or merfolk might not present a huge threat, they quickly overwhelm foes in swarms, rewarding you for devoting to their clan.
10 Best Subtype Support Cards
Most subtypes possess specific supports, but today we'll examine spells that can boost any tribe. Many of these are colorless, letting you fit them into any deck—which reign supreme? These are the ten best subtype supports in Magic: The Gathering!
- Radiant Destiny
- Adaptive Automaton
- Path of Ancestry
- Alpha Status
- Shared Triumph
- Urza's Incubator
- Coat of Arms
- Cryptic Gateway
- Herald's Horn
- Cavern of Souls
10. Radiant Destiny
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3
Unlike many of today's spells, Radiant Destiny requires color, but it's only a small dose of white, making it available to several tribes. When Destiny enters the field, you pick a subtype, and any creatures you control (even ones you cast later) with that subtype get +1/+1.
Additionally, Destiny's ascend trait gives you the city's blessing once you control at least ten permanents (counting itself). As long as you have it, your selected subtype also gains vigilance, letting your squad swing without tapping.
A staple in my own white tribal decks, Destiny is also today's cheapest card, costing well under two dollars!
9. Adaptive Automaton
Like Destiny, Automaton requires three mana, lets you select a subtype, and buffs your other creatures of that type by +1/+1. His colorless nature suits any deck, and he himself gains the selected bloodline; Automaton won't boost his own stats, but he'll empower other clan-based effects you employ.
8. Path of Ancestry
Despite entering tapped, Path of Ancestry is a powerful force in commander format. Once it's refreshed, it taps for any color in your commander's identity—and since your deck can only include these hues, Ancestry can tap for any color you need.
Additionally, when Ancestry's mana is spent casting a creature that shares at least one subtype with your commander, you get to scry one, skillfully manipulating your upcoming draws. Try using Ancestry alongside multi-color factions like dragons or slivers that can exploit its versatile mana.
7. Alpha Status
This aura only needs a pinch of green and boosts a creature by +2/+2 for all other troops (even opposing ones) that share a subtype with it. This works great on common subtypes like human, elf, or wizard, and it's especially devastating on a changeling—since they possess all subtypes, Alpha Status strengthens them by +2/+2 for every other creature on the field!
6. Shared Triumph
For one less mana, Triumph offers the power of Radiant Destiny—+1/+1 for a chosen subtype—without the extra fluff. That's a powerful boost, especially considering the early period Triumph debuted in; just note that it can potentially strengthen enemy soldiers as well. But in timeless formats like EDH, the chances of you facing the same devoted tribal deck are slim, making it a negligible drawback.
5. Urza's Incubator
Incubator accepts any mana and, like many of today's spells, has you select a subtype when it arrives. From there, creatures of that subtype cost two less mana, an enormous discount that lets you quickly play your strongest cards. Just remember the effect only discounts colorless slots and can benefit opponents, but it's a great way to field expensive aces like dragons or eldrazi.
4. Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms presents a risk; it needs a hefty fee of five mana and can empower all creatures. Arms grants them +1/+1 for each other unit (including opposing ones) that shares at least one subtype.
Ideally, try using Arms when your opponents aren't running tribal decks to avoid accidentally boosting their army. But if push comes to shove, you can always use removals or field wipes to dissipate their bonuses.
3. Cryptic Gateway
Cryptic Gateway offers an interesting way to play creatures for free. All you need to do is tap two creatures you control that share a subtype with the creature from your hand, and—presto—it's fielded, no mana required.
This works great for gimmicking legendary eldrazi onto the field using their spawn tokens, and it can also help play expensive goblins, wizards, or humans using their weaker brethren. As icing on the cake, you can use the effect at instant speed, saving your play until the right moment.
2. Herald's Horn
Herald's Horn is very similar to Incubator, offering an artifact that accepts any three mana and chooses a subtype. That faction only receives a discount of one mana, but only you reap this benefit, preventing opponents from capitalizing on your artifact.
Additionally, you can look at and reveal the top card of your deck during your upkeep, and if it's a creature with the selected subtype, you may place it into your hand. Cheaper creatures and card advantage in one—what's not to like?
1. Cavern of Souls
Unlike Path of Ancestry, Cavern of Souls enters untapped and ready to use. You pick a subtype when it arrives, and it can tap to provide any color of mana for a creature of that type. Additionally, that creature can't be countered, a fierce defense against counterspell-focused blue decks.
And even if you need to play something else, Souls can also tap for a single colorless, giving you wiggle room to run some mismatched cards.
The Best Subtypes in Magic
Today's spells can boost about any faction, and I particularly recommend them alongside powerful groups like wizards, elves, goblins, vampires, and merfolk. Boosted by one another, numerous inexpensive spells can prove more deadly than high-cost ones, and players using this strategy can include fewer lands in their deck since they don't need as much mana.
Remember that today's cards are useful deck-building tools since you can easily switch them between themes. For now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of subtype-supporting spells, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill