Magic: the Gathering


Tribal Wars Commander: Rules and How it Works

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Here is a summary of the shared ideas from many groups of people who are simply escaping the standard Commander! Get to know more about the Tribal Commander!

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translated by Joey Sticks

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Greetings, friends and comrades of this shared paper addiction! We will talk today about a tendency in Magic groups, mostly Commander, the Tribal Wars. Let's start with the basics.

What does Tribal mean in Magic?

“A deck that has sixty or more cards, and a least a third has to be creatures of one only type. Examples of types of creatures include elfs, goblins, soldiers, zombies and wizards”

- Besamat

This definition considers different formats from the linear 60 cards, the important thing is keeping the proportion of 1:3 creatures and putting as bans and permissions all cards from the format to play.


Keeping that in mind, many groups of Commander players tried to adapt these definitions to the game in many groups I frequent, many adapting rules which was followed by many discussions and votes on some of the game's Commander peculiarities.

Understanding Tribal Wars

Main points discussed in the scene about rules

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By watching the many groups I frequent, some that even have regular tournaments, most discussion points are as following. These rules vary from group to group, and are available to change in some votes.

1- The Use of Shapeshifters - some groups prohibit or limit their use

2- Combos: there are groups that forbid it, but usually they are restricted to one piece of the Tribe's combo or one percentage of Tribe key cards, other groups place a limit on the number of interactions for each loop

3 - Commander: some groups limit the commander to a direct synergy to the tribe or a being of the tribe

4 - Creatures: in the groups I frequented, they had to vary from around 20 to 30 tribe creatures in the deck

5 - Creatures count as tribes when recognized as tribes at Thematic decks don't count (i.e.: barriers, artifacts, creatures, enchantment, etc)

6 - Banned cards are usually the same as the format

7 - Noncreature cards (artifacts, lands, planeswalkers, instants, sorcery, etc) which create tokens of the chosen tribe count for the minimum tribe requirement;

8 - Sideboards are not allowed

But why these variations and adaptations to the game?

This is more of an answer to the growing power level and the values that accompany it. When you limit a deck to a tribe, usually the value and the possibility of "unanswerable plays" are reduced, making matches more pleasant and mostly, in theory, cheaper decks.

So these are not competitive players, then?

No, they are players that bring to this competition a focus point less "pay to win" with less games won at turn 1 or 0 and more answers and smart interactions.

This limitation forces decks to be more prepared in terms of answers, negotiation and game resilience.

Why different rules than the usual Commander?

Because in case they don't exist, in practice there is nothing from keeping you from playing with combos, finishing always with the same plays – which can exist, but is not the main objective.

It is also to avoid that frustration of playing against a tribe and being finished only by another thing such as a 2 card interaction. Another reason is to also keep the power level around somewhere that allows the interaction of all participants and healthier game.

Examples of Decklists

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A promising future

Just like Commander 100, keep in mind the great quantity of players through SpellTable and big championships that are happening in those groups, I believe this movement won't stop here.

I know players exclusive to this format. Tribal is a movement that is set to grow, has a good value, a nice power level and good playability. A format that for sure will surprise you.


If you have the setup, don't waste any more time and come play!

- Article: What is Spelltable?link outside website

- Article: 30 tribes to play with!link outside website


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