Best Standard 2022 Tribal Decks: Angels, Elves, and Goblins

Rampage of the Valkyries Art by Billy Christian
Rampage of the Valkyries Art by Billy Christian

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to do something a little different for Standard 2022. Instead of going into full detail about just one list per article, we’re going to do 3 mini guides for 3 lists instead!

So if you’re still interested in the though process behind the build, those explanations will still be available and if you just want some lists, this will be more helpful than a regular deck guide!

With that, each deck will definitely get less attention than it would from a normal deck guide so if one (or multiple) of the lists are particularly popular, I can go back and break it down like I did with Izzet Dragons or Mono Green.

I’m looking to put lists together that have a common theme for each of these articles. Where better to start than the top 3 Tribal decks of the format? Angels, Elves, and Goblins have all surprised me in terms of how well they played out compared to how I expected them to do.

Better yet, all 3 have very different play patterns as well giving you a new play experience with each deck you try! You can also see how they line up against other decks in our latest Standard 2022 metagame tier list snapshot:

For clarity, the first list I’ll be posting for each deck will be the base I started with and the second would be the updated version (assuming there is an updated version). Let’s get started.

ANGELS

Righteous Valkyrie Art by Chris Rahn
Righteous Valkyrie Art by Chris Rahn

One of the most popular tribes in Historic and Pioneer, Angels never really made a splash in Standard. Admittedly, I didn’t even realize that Angels had much support until Arne Huscenbeth put together this spicy number on stream for Standard 2022.

2022 Arne Angels 

Creatures (12)
4
Youthful Valkyrie
3
Resplendent Marshal
4
Righteous Valkyrie
1
Legion Angel
Spells (16)
3
Emeria's Call
2
Flunk
4
Vanishing Verse
3
Soul Shatter
4
Starnheim Unleashed
Enchantments (8)
1
Rally the Ranks
4
Firja's Retribution
3
Rampage of the Valkyries
Lands (24)
4
Brightclimb Pathway
2
Hive of the Eye Tyrant
9
Plains
4
Shineshadow Snarl
5
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (3)
3
Legion Angel

The game plan with this deck is quite straightforward. You’re looking to either control the opponent’s board while beating them down with a threat or two or just curve the opponent out. I was skeptical at first as this deck was playing mostly cards that have never seen any play in Standard. I figured the concept was cool, but it seemed too clunky to really go anywhere.

Well, I would say that I was quite wrong. The deck performed way better than I expected on ladder and both game plans were consistent and powerful. I figured that this deck may be privy to drawing “the wrong half” of the deck, but I found that to be hardly the case.

My favorite part about this deck is that it matches up extremely well against creature decks, especially Monogreen which has been terrorizing the ladder. The combination of plenty of removal, huge creatures, and top end that heavily impacts the board like Rampage of the Valkyries and Starnheim Unleashed is a winning recipe for beating creature decks.

This deck can struggle a bit against Control decks, but just having a lot of high impact creatures is quite helpful against those strategies as well, even if they are challenging.

All that said, I knew Arne had a great base and it just needed a few tune ups to suit my liking. Here’s the version I’ve been playing with.

2022 Orzhov Angels v2 

Creatures (12)
4
Youthful Valkyrie
2
Resplendent Marshal
4
Righteous Valkyrie
2
Legion Angel
Spells (16)
4
Emeria's Call
1
Flunk
2
Power Word Kill
4
Vanishing Verse
2
Soul Shatter
3
Starnheim Unleashed
Enchantments (8)
4
Firja's Retribution
4
Rampage of the Valkyries
Lands (24)
4
Brightclimb Pathway
9
Plains
4
Shineshadow Snarl
7
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (2)
2
Legion Angel

Now this was more my speed. Realistically I changed very little, mostly just moved some numbers around. I mostly just shaved some cards that were clunky and/or underperforming (Resplendent Marshall underperforming, Starnheim Unleashed clunky) and replaced them with cards that I have liked (another removal spell and Rampage of the Valkyries).

The main difference is that Arne played Flunk and I play Power Word Kill. His argument was that Power Word Kill missed a lot of important creatures thus he didn’t want it. I can’t really disagree with that assessment, but I found being able to use your removal spell on turn 2 was more important than potentially missing on something later in the game. It’s quite rare Flunk can kill something on turn 2 which is extremely awkward in a deck that already has some issues with being clunky.

Speaking of changes, I heard murmurings of putting in Professor of Symbology to help out against the Control decks, but I personally don’t love the idea. 

The Good Professor itself is relatively low impact compared to the power level of the rest of the deck, and although it would likely help out the Control matchups a bit, it would be less effective against the creature decks compared to your other options. I understand the logic that if you already have good creature matchups why not give up a little to help control, but I think that’s somewhat flawed logic. You would play this deck as it has such a good creature matchup, the last thing I want is to hedge more against a bad matchup just to find yourself losing more to the decks you’re supposed to beat.

In fairness, having more proactive 2 drops would be nice as this deck only has 7 proactive two mana plays (Youthful Valkyrie and technically Starnheim Unleashed) with 7 removal spells which can be proactive plays depending on the matchup. If you really want to play with Professor, I would cut the Resplendent Marshal, a Power Word Kill, and a Soul Shatter as Izzet’s popularity is waning a bit.

Angels has mostly flown under the radar (get it), but it has quickly become one of my favorite decks and it may be one of the most underrated decks in 2022.

ELVES

Canopy Tactician Art by Ekaterina Burmak
Canopy Tactician Art by Ekaterina Burmak

One of Magic’s oldest tribes, Elves got a lot of support with the release of Kaldheim, but was unfortunately nowhere near breaking into Standard since it lacked the support. However with 2022, it seemed more tenable as the power level of the deck more matched the format. With that in mind, I made a preliminary list for Standard 2022 to see if anyone could make anything of it.

Golgari Elves - Standard 2022 

Planeswalkers (3)
3
Tyvar Kell
Creatures (25)
4
Jaspera Sentinel
4
Tajuru Blightblade
4
Elvish Warmaster
4
Skemfar Avenger
2
Tajuru Paragon
4
Harald, King of Skemfar
3
Skemfar Shadowsage
Spells (4)
4
Power Word Kill
Enchantments (4)
4
Harald Unites the Elves
Lands (24)
4
Darkbore Pathway
10
Forest
4
Necroblossom Snarl
6
Swamp
Cards (60)

Despite me making the list, I was worried that Elves still wouldn’t be good enough to compete. You have some real bangers in Elvish Warmaster, Skemfar Avenger, and Harald Unites the Elves. However, by the same token we’re playing some real skeptical cards as well. Tajuru Blightblade in Constructed? Whack. Skemfar Shadowsage? A little suspect at best. I won’t deny anyone’s misgivings with the suspected power level of the deck, but much like many other decks I’ve tried, it played out much better than it looked.

Standard 2022 is a format with few Control elements like counterspells and board wipes. Furthermore, it’s an exclusively Best of One format (barring you’re playing in one of the many tournaments for the format) which really pushes the proactive themes of the format. With that, a lot of decks are looking to gain board advantage and then run away from there. So a deck that can get on the board quickly while also ramping is quite the powerful strategy, something Elves is quite good at doing.

The original list played out decently as some cards work better than expected and some cards seriously underperformed.

Unsurprisingly, Harald Unites the Elves has been busted. Immediately recurring an Elf into 2 back breaking abilities is functionally the entire reason to play Elves. Skemfar Avenger also worked well as advertised since it helped alleviate Elves natural weakness to single target removal. Harald, King of Skemfar was also unsurprisingly solid in the deck. I know I played a lot of copies, but Skemfar Shadowsage did perform better than I expected, even if it’s a sad version of Shaman of the Pack.

Tyvar Kell was surprisingly bad for me as it was relatively low impact for a 4 drop despite it being designed to work well with Elves. The +1 just felt mostly irrelevant as you don’t want to attack with the buffed Elf to help protect Tyvar and the 0 was just medium. The ultimate is obviously great, but it came up so rarely as either it died before then or the game was already over. Second, the Power Word Kill wasn’t bad, but it felt more prudent just to be proactive. With that, I tuned up the list and came up a more proactive version that leveraged the deck’s strengths better.

2022 Golgari Elves v2 

Creatures (32)
4
Jaspera Sentinel
4
Tajuru Blightblade
4
Elvish Warmaster
4
Sculptor of Winter
4
Skemfar Avenger
3
Harald, King of Skemfar
2
Realmwalker
4
Canopy Tactician
3
Skemfar Shadowsage
Enchantments (4)
4
Harald Unites the Elves
Lands (24)
4
Darkbore Pathway
4
Necroblossom Snarl
10
Snow-Covered Forest
6
Snow-Covered Swamp
Cards (60)

The main changes were the additions of Canopy Tactician, Realmwalker, and Sculptor of Winter.

So for Canopy Tactician, it’s a lame reason, but I honestly forgot this card existed. Damn you supplementary products! Nevertheless, Tactician is excellent in this deck as both a Lord and a means to make a lot of mana. There really isn’t a much better card we could reasonably ask for barring Elvish Archdruid.

Realmwalker was a late addition as I initially designed Elves to be more of a midrange deck rather than an all in creature deck. However, with the new list playing a whopping 32 creatures, I figured Realmwalker would allow me to double spell in the late game often enough to warrant it’s inclusion.

Sculptor of Winter isn’t insane or anything, but it was definitely nice to have a more proactive 2 drop. Furthermore, since this deck uses it’s mana very well, having 8 mana dorks really leverages your advantage when you manage to take it or when you’re on the play. 

Although it may seem like the perfect card for the list, I’m opting not to play Circle of Dreams Druid, also known as Gaea's Cradle on a stick. Although this may seem like an amazing card in Elves (and don’t get me wrong, it is powerful), the casting cost is a bit prohibitive and the deck is already rather good at dumping it’s hand onto the board anyway. It’s not that I think this wouldn’t be good or anything, but rather it’s unnecessary.

If you disagree, I would try to build this list in a way to use that excess mana a bit better. You would probably need more Realmwalker and perhaps even Tajuru Paragon to give yourself more to do.

There’s not many 2022 decks that can flood the board as well as Elves, so if you enjoy this type of strategy, I highly recommend this deck.

GOBLINS

You See a Pair of Goblins Art by Aaron Miller
You See a Pair of Goblins Art by Aaron Miller

A tribe just as old as Elves, Goblins is another supported tribe in 2022. That being said, unlike Elves, it’s actually using cards from the Arena Base set to fill out it’s roster. If you’re unfamiliar with what I mean, this article explains it well.

The list I first saw was from Tobi Henke, and some of the choices seemed very dubious.

Alright Tobi. Raging Goblin? Tin Street Cadet? Now you’re just messing with us. Getting Goblin Trashmaster is definitely helpful from the Base set, but this deck looks a bit like a meme.

Well, I was wrong, oh so very wrong. This deck is legitimately strong. Even the Raging Goblin and Tin Street Cadet have been extremely strong for me as getting on the board quickly in a deck with 12 lords and Showdown of the Skalds is really important.

I tried a few alterations to Tobi’s list, but honestly I just kept coming back to the original version barring 2 small changes: I added an extra Plains and shaved a Den of the Bugbear for the final Showdown of the Skalds. Here’s the exportable version.

2022 Boros Goblins 

Creatures (26)
4
Fireblade Charger
4
Goblin Javelineer
2
Raging Goblin
4
Tin Street Cadet
4
Battle Cry Goblin
4
Hobgoblin Bandit Lord
4
Goblin Trashmaster
Spells (2)
2
You See a Pair of Goblins
Enchantments (8)
4
Rally the Ranks
4
Showdown of the Skalds
Lands (24)
1
Den of the Bugbear
4
Furycalm Snarl
11
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway
4
Plains
Cards (60)

This deck functions similarly to Elves in terms of always looking to curve out, but this deck looks to grow tall rather than wide. As I said before, this list has TWELVE effects that pump our Goblins in Rally the Ranks, the new Hobgoblin Bandit Lord, and Goblin Trashmaster. All these lords make all our 1 drops which would be anemic by themselves into extremely potent threats.

Although not a lord, the new Battle Cry Goblin can function as a pseudo lord with it’s activated ability. Similarly, we have the new You See a Pair of Goblins which is either an instant speed Dragon Fodder or a Trumpet Blast which provides some nice utility. 

We wouldn’t bother playing White if we only got Rally the Ranks, despite it being a good card. Well good thing we get to play Showdown of the Skalds which is one of the best cards available in Standard 2022. In a deck with a relatively low curve, Showdown is extremely potent to both provide the deck with additional cards and also buff your team. 

I figured I was underestimating this deck, but I went on a pretty nice tear with it going 7-1 in Diamond only losing to the mirror. I’m not sure what Tier this deck will end up at, but it’s definitely worth a try if you can spare the wildcards and want to rank up quickly. The game plan of deploying a bunch of dudes into a bunch of lords is extremely potent, especially in a format where removal is sparse and board wipes are near non-existent. 

Thank you for reading! What other topics should I cover in the List Compilations? Let me know in the comments!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, GW Company in Historic, and Temur Koma in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

13 Responses

  1. JayDead says:

    This is fun. Thanks! There send to be a mismatch between the golgari v2 list you posted and what you wrote about. I don’t see canopy tactician or realmwalker in the posted list.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      That’s weird as it looks fine on my end. Here’s the list if it’s still not showing up properly!
      https://www.streamdecker.com/deck/FWfSvDHmf

      • JayDead says:

        It looks fine now. An earlier version that I saw as v2 still had 1 Tyvar and 2 Lloth. That sounds really interesting, too, but clearly not what you were writing about.

        Anyway, thanks for all the content I always enjoy your articles and deck quides.

      • JayDead says:

        It looks great now. I am playing it (badly, it seems) right now.
        The earlier version I saw for v2 had 2 copies of Lloth and 1 Tyvar. That also sounded interesting, but clearly not what you wrote about.

        • DoggertQBones says:

          Yeah that was an earlier version of the deck, maybe it didn’t save over properly? Appreciate the feedback!

  2. Kalessin#33378 says:

    Loved this article. I was tinkering around goblins myself without getting my grip on it and find the white splash solution brilliant. I’ll try it a.s.a.p.

    I’d love seeing a cleric tribal around here. I played one with some sucess for some months (got me to mythic twice) but doesn’t seem to find its foot now. Also: I guess you’re also writing something on the party mechanic. You trashed me on the Arena yesterday with one of those! 😀

    Also, I think your article on budget decks for starting players would merit an update for the 22 meta, guess lot’s of new players would appreciate that.

    Thanks for all your work!

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Appreciate the feedback! You caught me as Party is going to be an upcoming article, but there’s a good chance I’ll do more tribes as well! Great point with the budget 2022 decks, I’ll definitely be taking a look into that.

      • Kalessin#33378 says:

        Well, I can say that you curved out perfectly and going on the draw was disastrous for me that match. So I’m looking forward to reading that article.

        Btw, I’m playing the goblin tribal now… wouldn’t it benefit from top-curving Blade historian? I’m finding that Showdown of the scalds sometimes slows my motions while attacking. The double punch provided by the historian may well close the game on the spot.

        • DoggertQBones says:

          Yeah Party is super brutal on the play as your advantage snowballs really hard. Blade Historian seems really good in this deck as well and you can definitely try it over Showdown. My contention is that Historian will miss out on the lord effects so it can be more easily killed which is brutal for such a large investment, but obviously curving out into Historic is likely going to be better than curving into Showdown.

  3. Zafarion says:

    I was playing a mono red version of goblins and I think that adding the white cards can really improve it, but I guess that trashmaster is such an awfull lord and I suppose spending wildcards on it doent’s worth. There’s a great goblin from arena base set that costs cmc4, put one 2/2 and two 1/1 and I think it’s much better than transhmaster, as this deck has already a lot of ways of pumping the goblins.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I think Trashmaster is better than it looks but I agree its not amazing. The White has been very helpful as Showdown is busted and Rally is both great and a much needed 2 drop

  4. KRich says:

    These are pretty cool decks and I have played against them and usually fair pretty well against them with my Golgari control (Lolth and Skeleton Swarm) Dimir control is usually my worst match-up. Flunk is a pretty underrated removal especially with so many angels, demons, and dragons it tends to be a dead card more times than not. That is also why I also run Baleful Mastery I am ok with my opponent drawing a card if I am putting a good threat into exile. If I can hold on longer crippling fear works even better when playing tribal yourself.

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