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