Tribal decks with bad tribes are a good idea, right?


The Way of the Samurai, or, How I Learned to Quit Worrying and Love Bushido

Kamigawa is a great block. Not in the sense that the cards in it are actually any good - the block was incredibly underpowered overall (with a few hilarious exceptions that are generally the only cards anyone these days even remembers from Kamigawa) and it was rife with parasitic mechanics that don't play well with cards from out of block (and weren't all that hot in-block if we're being completely honest here) - but from a flavor perspective it was amazing: there was some great (and for a lot of the spirits, rather disturbing) artwork, neat creature types, more legendary creatures than the set called Legends, and some pretty cool ideas mixed in with the ill-conceived mechanics and badly over-costed cards the sets are infamous for.

One of those creature types is Samurai - ever since I learned of their existence I've had the idea to make an EDH deck centered around them A) because I thought they seemed cool, and B) because I'm the guy in my meta who designs things like "tribal werewolves EDH"; the appeal of a deck based around creatures that pretty much nobody else would ever be running was rather high.

I set about actually making a list for it not long after I built my first couple of EDH decks, but it was a purely mental exercise since I started playing Magic around the beginning of 2014 and therefore didn't own pretty much any of the cards I'd want to put in it, and couldn't justify the expense. At the time I think I had Anax and Cymede as the commander, mostly because I already had a couple of those and to keep the price down a bit if I ever did get around to building it, so there were a lot more heroic enablers kicking around the list. It was also pretty crap overall - playtesting it against the other decks I'd built amply illustrated just what a horrible idea it was, but I loved it as an unachievable concept anyhow.

Then Journey into Nyx was spoiled and I saw what Iroas, God of Victory did, and he pretty much immediately took over as the general because dang. Reworking the deck around the new general changed it from a sub-par R/W heroic deck (that used purposely terrible creatures) to an actually pretty decent R/W creature-based aggro deck with much better support for the still purposely terrible creatures it used, now that there was no point in running various cards I'd included originally just to trigger heroic.

With Iroas at the helm the pile o' samurai tested much better against my other decks, and I'd continue to tinker around with it from time to time, but it was still firmly entrenched in my personal "decks I'd really like to build but probably never actually will" mental filing cabinet for the same reason it always had been from the start - I was looking at having to purchase pretty much the entirety of the deck apart from some of the lands and a couple other spells, and the list, while not extravagant, was also not particularly cheap.

It wasn't until I picked up a couple of the pieces I needed for the deck via trades that I finally broke down and went line by line to find out exactly what it would cost to build and which cards in it were the ones driving up the price, and lo and behold, I discovered that with some minor modifications to the list I could get pretty much the entire deck (less the cards I already had on-hand that would be going in it) for a grand total of $60. And so I did, and this moved from the realm of the hypothetical into the realm of decks that actually exist.


The Bonds of Bushido are Strong - What's in this deck and why

I could have just made a typical tribal deck, albeit one with an oddball tribe, throwing the various members of my chosen tribe in with the obligatory support mechanisms one expects from tribal decks and making the best of a bad starting point, but that wasn't nearly silly enough for me, so I made a tribal deck that not only used samurai (not a particularly well-regarded tribe in Magic to begin with), but also one where well over half of the non-land cards in it are all from Kamigawa block. Even though that's not a good idea. Especially because that's not a good idea, that's what makes it so much more amusing you see.

Why intentionally make my deck worse than it needs to be by shackling myself to a block of bad cards? Well it's quite simple: I like silly theme decks and winning isn't really the point of this format (and if you think it is, you don't really understand EDH and I probably would not enjoy playing with you at all) - victory is hollow indeed if it comes at the expense of whimsy and fun.

With that said, even I'm not whimsical enough to run 3 of the samurai I could be in these color combinations ( Takeno's Cavalry and Sokenzan Renegade are just staggeringly bad, while Sokenzan Spellblade is massively over-costed with an ability that is almost always useless by the time I would be casting it), but I am whimsical enough to only run off-tribe creatures if they are legendary themselves; only samurai get to be non-legendary in this deck, because reasons.

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Since I was swapping Taurean Mauler out of my werewolf deck, where it had been acting as my "20th" werewolf, in favor of adding an actual transforming werewolf now that they printed a bunch more, I had an extra "samurai" that was ridiculously better than some of the ones I'm forced to run now for lack of options, so I've cut Silverstorm Samurai and technically maintained my on-tribe creature count, yay.

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