Friday, September 17, 2010

The Tribal Wheel 3.0: Underworld

Welcome back to From the Gauntlet: Tribal Wheel 3.0 edition! Two weeks ago, I talked about the Overworld and its ideology. Today it’s the Underworld’s turn. That’s right, the bad boys. The tribe that isn’t afraid to play dirty. Like the last Tribal Wheel, I am going to talk about the mentality of the tribe, and how the mechanics of Underworld cards show the complexity of the tribe itself.

But, before all that fun stuff, for those of you who don’t know, I completely stole this idea from Mark Rosewater. He is the head of R&D for Magic: the Gathering, and who wrote over 20 articles to flesh out each color of Magic. They all help put together the “Color Pie” which explains what each color is, and what they can and cannot do. It is the basis for my “Tribal Wheel” series. While I don’t have the insider’s know-how of TC Digital’s R&D, I have had quite a few discussions with the designers there, and I’d like to consider myself somewhat of an authority when it comes to many aspects of Chaotic. Although I do steal the name, I can’t live up to what it represents. Mark Rosewater is the top guy over at R&D. He has spent more than a decade working on Magic and probably knows the game better than anyone else on the planet. I can’t match that with Chaotic. I’ve just been a player happy to run my mouth for the past three years. This is nothing but my own observations about the tribes.

Unlike last time where I just blurted out all of the Underworld’s mechanics, I am going to make comments about Underworlders to start to identify them, and under each of these comments I’ll bring up mechanics that support these characteristics. See? Middle school English comes in handy when you want to write an article about a card game.

Here are some general characteristics of the Underworld tribe:

Underworlders are, on average, strong

It’s obvious, but important to note. No tribe has as many high energy Creatures as the Underworld has. Go ahead and look, the Underworld has the most Creatures with 60 or higher energy. The Overworld comes in a close second, but Underworld has a clear lead. Underworld is a master of Fire, the power element. From the very beginning of Chaotic, the Underworld was the best at maxing out fire damage. If you want to have the highest damage per attack output in your deck, go with fire, and if you want to use fire, no one is better than the Underworld.

Underworlders are violent and destructive

You might even say that they are 'reckless'. Underworlders go on tantrums from time to time. They are full of emotion. This theme is very pronounced throughout their cards. They have Mugic that breeds emotion. Song of Fury is a perfect example of their use of raw emotion. They understand the power of rage, and use it well.

Recklessness is a mechanic that says a lot about the Underworld. Don’t confuse it with Warbeasts’s recklessness. They are two totally different things that represent two separate themes. Recklessness is an extent of the emotion theme. They’ll do anything for a higher damage output, even if I it means fighting with an uncontrolled rage. Underworlders love big things that can smash.

They like to destroy things. Underwolders have more than 10 cards (not counting Underworld themed battlgear) that get rid of battlegear from the board, or benefit from having them in the discard pile. If there is something they want to smash, they will. End of story.

I mentioned earlier how the Overworld has a protective theme. They have effects that grant their Creatures bonuses if Creatures are on their side of the board. Underworlders have the exact opposite. Surprising, right? Kaal thrives in an aggressive deck. Underworlders have no problem bringing the fight to you.

Underworlders are selfish

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Survival of the fittest means that sometimes Creatures don’t make the cut. If you can benefit from their weakness, why not capitalize on it? Underworlders have a habit of…well sacrificing their own Creatures. In other games, this isn’t as a big of a thing as it is in Chaotic. Your Creatures are your life. When they are all gone, you’ve lost. So, when an Underworld sacrifices one of their own, you better hope it’ll be enough to get a lead or else you’ll be even more behind.

Underworlders like to mess with you

I have been painting the Underworld up until this point to be full of big selfish brutes. While it is true that there are quite a few of them (and that they are pretty darn good at what they do!) there is another side to them. They can be pranksters at times, if you think about some of their abilities. They have a myriad of abilities that have no purpose but to mess with their opponent. Have elements? Well not any more. Want to gain those elements back? Too bad. Need some healing? Maybe next time.

The very first way Chaotic explored this was through the Intimidate mechanic. Flavorwise, it shows how scary these Creatures are. To the point where other Creatures fighting them can’t fight as well as they normally can. This also demonstrates how they like to mess with their opponent. What better way to mess you up than to lower your stats and mess up your attacks?

Phelphor is a great example of this. Sure, he turned out to be a weird M’arrillian squid thingy, but he came out as an Underworlder first. Anyway, Phelphor has the ability to move your opponent’s Creatures. This is a great example of an Underworlder playing a joke. Think of it like the Cinnamon Switch prank. Your opponent thinks he has his Creatures the way he wants them, and then unexpectedly, Creatures switch places and he gets something that he didn’t bargain for.

Direct damage

Now you might be thinking, why didn’t he bring up dealing damage? Why wouldn’t it be one of the first things he said? If the Overworld has the market cornered on healing, why wouldn’t you bring up how the Underworlders like to deal damage to other Creatures? Now, you’re right, I didn’t say anything about dealing damage up until this point for two reasons. One, it fits into several of these categories. It shows off their raw power the Underworld possesses, how violent they are, and even to a degree how they want to mess with you and your army. And second, it is by far the most important traits about the Underworld. When talk about a powerful burn deck, you are probably thinking of Zamool burn right off the bat, not an Enre-Hep burn deck (that would even have to use an Underworld card to set it off properly).

Underworlders want to hit things, blast them, and burn what remains. They are in it for the kill. If an Underworlder doesn’t destroy a Creature in combat, it failed. That’s all there is to it. Underworlders live for the fight.

Above all things, this column was originally designed to write about decks. Talking about the Tribal Wheel is something that is completely unrelated to this, but something that I enjoy writing about. However, I also enjoy writing about decks:


1 2 3

4 5


1. Agitos, Eloquent Motivator/Bimowercycle

2. Zamool/Dread Tread

3. Lord Van Bloot/ Drilldozer, Customized Rig

4. Chaor/Mipedian Baladeer’s Flute

5. Agitos, Eloquent Motivator/Bimowercycle

6. Kopond, High Muge of the Hearth/Mipedian Balladeer’s Flute


2x Consuming Cacophony

2x Cannon of Casualty

1x Roar of the Mob

1x Searing Symphony


2x Castle Bohdran

2x Bodal’s Arsenal

2x Castle Momark

2x Illusionary Lake

2x Pouril Forest


2x Flashwarp

2x Shadow Strike

1x Invader’s Tactics

1x Primal Smash

2x Ash Torrent

2x Daunting Bravery

2x Dry Liquid

2x Gear Grind

2x Rustoxic

2x Charge of the Brave

2x Prowl Strike

That’s right! Another Zamool burn deck! It’s true that it is yet another burn deck based around Zamool, but there is a lot more going on than just engage with Zamool and then blow up the entire board with Mugic cards. First off, notice the most important part of this deck: the *Dread Tread. This, combined with several elements will keep you in control throughout the game.

The Early Game

If your opponent goes first, you can choose who does what. There is a reason why we have more than one Agitos in the deck (well, there are two, but we’ll get to that soon). If you want to get Zamool right off the bat, go ahead. If you want to protect him, go for it. It may even be a good idea to make your opponent attack Agitos to keep your fighters safe. Both are viable strategies, depending on what you are playing against.

This deck really shines if you get to go first. Sac on (or two, if you really need it) Bimowercycles and have Zamool jump to your opponent’s Mugic casters. Unlike Zamool, most Mugic casters can’t fight in combat, and they are even more hindered if they can’t play anything. So, you don’t have to waste your burn on them. If it really gets down to it, by all means, but don’t waste your Mugic by just playing them as soon as you enter combat. Let your attacks deal some damage and save your limited Mugic. However, feel free to burn out some of your opponents other Creatures that aren’t a part of combat. Guess what? Your first turn isn’t done. I hope you saved one squishy Mugic caster on the field for Zamool to finish off. By using Dread Tread, you save quite a lot of damage by having Zamool kill two Creatures himself instead of wasting Mugic to burn them from a distance. I said the Underworld doesn’t mind having to bring the battle to their opponent, right?

The End Game

The mid game is nonexistent. Not much happens, and since this deck will probably kill 2-5 Creatures in its first turn means we just skip over it. You have three fighters to beat what’s left of their army. It shouldn’t be too hard; you have a solid attack deck that you can manipulate since you should have a huge Creature advantage over your opponent at this point.

Card Choices

Here is the reasoning for using the cards in this deck over others:

1. Agitos, Eloquent Motivator. I usually use Ulmar in my burn decks for his high damage output and his endgame utility, but for this build I felt that controlling the board early on was more important. Having two gives my Creatures Intimidate Power and Courage 40, which makes winning challenges almost a certainty.

2. Castle Momark. This card is amazing for this deck. After the first turn, you should have a Mugic caster that isn’t doing much, or is out of Mugic counters. If a fighter or, heaven forbid, Zamool, you can easily bring him back. Not to mention you will be wiping your opponent’s board clean of weaker Mugic casters to sacrifice so they don’t benefit nearly as much.

3. Illusionary Lake. This is a card that I try to squeeze into a lot of decks that aren’t focused on water. You always should get initiative except for Invisibility abilities, and if your opponent is using water, you have a chance to really cripple them while this is face up on the field.

4. Bodal’s Arsenal. You always want to sac some of you battlegear early on in the game, so you will always have a battlegear and an unequipped Creature.

And that’s a wrap! We are 40% done with the Tribal Wheel 3.0. Stay tuned for more decks and blog posts. And, like always, stay Chaotic!


Anonymous said...

That's a really interesting deck you made there. A unique twist to the simple Zamool burn deck. The only thing I see wrong is that Zamool is a decent creature in battle, but he is by no means good. If some opposing creature has Defender for example they could pretty easily take him out and you'll have to waster your burn on that creature. Then is the fact that if you're actually going to fight 2 creatures with Zamool you'll have to be ready for it to use burn at will as well as have the proper attacks to deal with them, especially if they have gear that allows them to fight. For example a Meek creature with Husk Armour and Melody of the Meek will be very likely able to deal with Zamool and your only choice then would be to burn that creature before the match begins, in which case if they had a second Melody would be able to cast it in response, either stopping you from destroying their creature or at least making you waste a bit more of your burn than you wanted to.

Anyways, it's an interesting deck, and it's nice that you're not simply making the molded decks that are out there already and are at least giving them a twist.

Keep up the great articles!

Anonymous said...

Finally something that focuses on the UW... huh, I never realized how much we love to mess with Creatures.

- Bionicle00 (Dedicated UW Fan)

Anonymous said...

you did a good job telling people how evil underware monsters are :P

keep up the good work.

-from the overworlder guy

Occasus said...

While defender is a bit of a problem, there is a 20% chance that you get a poril forest as your first location which will free you there. Otherwise, go ahead an burn it. You have nothing to lose in doing that, and you would end up burning several creatures anyhow.

You can also burn in response to any funny business (like that Melody of the Meek) that they want to play.

Occasus said...

So do you guys like this format, or the last format for these articles?

Jwcool said...

this format is gr8! Underworlders are the toughest, strongest, and meanest tribe out there, and you showed how they do thing perfectly. Great job, Occasus. ;)


Anonymous said...

Not original at all.