My Love For Tribes
I started playing magic just after Mirage was released and within a few months I had built my first tribal deck. Knights. Through some unprecedented trading feat in which I probably lost a fair share of my playable rares, I had gathered four Zhalfirin Crusaders and a Sidar Jabari. RW Flanking accompanied by some burnspells won me a lot of games back in the day where my entire playgroup was still gawking at a Scaled Wurm.
I was hooked. Infected. Tribal Fever.
Tribes Are Easy
Years passed, in which many tribes found ways into my deckbox. Then came Onslaught block, which was all about Tribes. I was almost too much: it became too easy to build a Zombie deck with cards like Noxious Ghoul and Soulless One. Timberwatch Elves and Wellwisher are just nasty in a Multiplayer Elf deck.
But the true gems of this block were cards that promoted Tribal decks like Steely Resolve, Shared Triumph, Tribal Unity and of course the Cryptic Gateway.
Cryptic Gateway 5
Tap two untapped creatures you control: You may put a creature card from your hand into play that shares a creature type with each creature tapped this way.
"Actually, it is not a bad card..."
I am going to compare this artifact to another. You are not going to agree with this comparison. It may invoke anger you did not know you possessed.
I know one of the main reasons to play Aether Vial is because it is a solid one-drop which will really speed up your deck and allow you to keep mana available for counterspells. Furthermore, it's an ability so itís nigh-uncounterable (don't you just love Stifle?) and instant speed, which could provide some nice combat tricks.
The Gateway does this to, albeit you need two creatures in play and it costs a hefty five mana. But there are some upsides to this little gadget: you can use it to power out your greatest creations! Though not all tribes out there are suitable (Tapping two Polar Krakens to bring out a third, though fun, is seldomly going to be useful), many tribes range from lowely insects to monstrous entities.
Choosing a Tribe
Pick a tribe! Any tribe! (No, not that tribe)
Monkeys you say?
Letís see what we can do with monkeys (except for showing them mirrors and trying to learn something about human nature). The first thing this deck needs are big guns. This would have to be the Gargantuan Gorilla. This primate roamed the woods during Alliances and can still chuck trees around like it ainít no thing. Another alpha-male for this deck could be Ancient Silverback; a 6/5 regenerate. Though the Gargantuan Gorilla prefers cold, snow-covered Forests, I will have to include a small splash of red, so we can enjoy the banana-eating company of Mox Monkey, Kird Ape and Ravenous Baboons.
3x Ancient Silverback
3x Gargantuan Gorilla
4x Gorilla Shaman
4x Kird Ape
4x Ravenous Baboons
2x Simian Grunts
4x Uktabi Orangutan
4x Cryptic Gateway
4x Rampant Growth
4x Tranquil Path
16x Snow-Covered Forest
Four Rampant Growths are a must in this deck, to enable a turn four Gateway and to find either a scarce Mountain or a Snow-covered Forest (which, although covered in snow are still basic, ladies and gentlemen). Having faith in my monkeys to take care of opposing forces and trinkets, I just needed some enchantment removal. Tranquil Path is a personal favourite, but you could go for Tranquillity or Emerald Charm.
Getting into the spirit of it
As mentioned above, optimal use of Cryptic Gateway would utilize smaller tribesman to bring out the leaders of the pack. So what we need is to find a tribe which knows this kind of diversity. One that is well spread out over casting cost space. One which just had an entire block dedicated to them?
2x Blinking Spirit
4x Kami of Ancient Law
4x Kami of False Hope
3x Kira, Greater Glass-Spinner
1x Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens
3x Yomiji, Who Bars the Way
1x Yosei, the Morning Star
3x Ribbons of the Reikai
4x Claws of Gix
4x Cryptic Gateway
2x Kirtarís Wrath
4x Godsí Eye, Gate to the Reikai
3x Cloudcrest Lake
This is a deck I enjoy a lot. It has a lot of nifty little tricks, mostly thanks to the Cryptic Gateway. Obviously, you can use the gateway to bring out the bigger Spirits, but can also set up a neat lock. Tap two spirits to bring out Yosei, the Morning Star. Tap it and another creature, and with this ability on the stack sacrifice Yosei, the Morning Star to Claws of Gix. With Yomiji, Who Bars the Way in play, Yosei is returned to your hand. The Cryptic Gateway's ability resolves and you get to put Yosei back into play.
Recurring a Godsí Eye, Gate to the Reikai might set up quite a weenie hord. It is just too bad that Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens doesn't trigger on a Spirit coming into play..
Kirtarís Wrath was made for Cryptic Gateway (like Bedlam was made for Blinding Angel). It clears the board and gives you the most minimal requirements for dropping a big Spirit into play right before your turn starts.
Looking for the Combo
Little tricks are nice and all, but lets see if we really can abuse the Gateway. Let's see, tapping creatures is the cost and getting a creature into play is the effect. So basically we want something that will untap creatures when another creature comes into play. Intruder Alarm anyone? I am not going to provide a decklist for this one, because frankly, Intruder Alarm is no fun. It's just too combolicious and there are just some things (many things actually) that I won't touch.
But Scourge brought as another blue enchantment which untaps a lot of creatures. Faces of the Past. Combined with a sacrifice effect, this should allow you to put any number of creatures from your hand into your graveyard.
Hereís an example of an Elf deck:
4x Ambush Commander
4x Birchlore Rangers
4x Elvish Soultiller
4x Multaniís Acolyte
2x Quirion Ranger
2x Wirewood Symbiote
4x Wood Elves
2x Cryptic Gateway
4x Faces of the Past
4x Symbiotic Deployment
4x Tropical Island
What Cryptic Gateway adds to this deck, is being able to put your elves into play whenever you could play instants. This way, you can use this combo (technically this isnít a combo. At some point, you can probably get all elves on the table and probable give them +3/+3 a ridiculous number of times, but thereís no guarantee that the loop will sustain) and let this deck go off and the end of an opponentís turn.
The Combo Keeps On Coming
Would you play with Cryptic Gateway if it would have read ďTap an untapped creature you control: You may put a creature card from your hand into play that shares a creature type with the creature tapped this way. You know you would have. Unfortunately, without resorting to drastic measures this isnít possible. The silver lining? You can double all creatures in play.
Dual Nature 4GG
Whenever a creature card comes into play, its controller puts a token into play as a copy of that creature.
Whenever a creature card leaves play, remove all tokens with the same name as that creature from the game.
When Dual Nature leaves play, remove all tokens created with it from the game.
Now that now no creature is ever alone, we should try to find a way to abuse the fact that putting a creature into play with the Gateway will give you two untapped creatures. The first thing that came to my mind (which works in mysterious ways) is Fleetfoot Panther.
ďWith your combo in play, you play a Noble Panther. Two happy Noble Panthers start wreaking havoc and taking names (and playing the occasional mirror-game). Suddenly, a Black Mage has the audacity to draw upon his evil forces and scare your kitten to death! The both yelp for help and draw forth the Fleetfoot Panther, who returns one to the place all good things come from. The Fleetfoot checks his bearings and scans the horizon. Satisfied, he and his brother tell the Noble Panther it is safe for him to come out again. The Fleetfood sighs with pride, seeing the Nobles ones ready for action and return to the nothingness from which he came...Ē
Or something like that. Obviously, this Cat deck will need some way to deal with opponentsí tokens and who could resist the pun of using a Dogged Hunter? Itís just too bad Rashka, the Golden Cub wonít be in attendance, but rest assured the a Dual Nature will scare all other Legendary Creatures away as well. Letís see that decklist!
2x Dogged Hunter
4x Fleetfoot Panther
4x Glittering Lynx
2x Horned Cheetah
4x Krosan Vorine
4x Noble Panther
2x Aura Shards
4x Cryptic Gateway
4x Dual Nature
3x Swords to Plowshares
4x Elfhame Sanctuary
4x Krosan Verge
To conclude this article, a final deck which also uses Dual Nature. Torment gave us a lovely collection of creepy crawlies with fun Ďcome into playí abilities. To, temporarily, suck the life out of someone. The idea is to play enough of the Nightmare Horrors to kill an opponent in one turn. The Weird Harvest and the Phyrexian Rager should help you set up for this slaughter.
Keep in mind that the following deck will work only once. But sometimes, once is enough.
4x Faceless Butcher
4x Laquatus Champion
4x Mesmeric Fiend
4x Phyrexian Rager
4x Sakura-Tribe Elder
2x Soul Scourge
4x Cryptic Gateway
4x Dual Nature
4x Weird Harvest
(As usual, comments are appreciated!)