November is always a busy month for me. With the oncoming darkness of winter in Minnesota on the horizon and the endless preparation for the holidays, I often find myself overbooked. This week I want to keep it simple and to the point. So, let’s discuss a few existing creatures types I wish appeared more often in Magic: the Gathering.

Tribal is a part of the average Magic player’s lexicon—the general idea has existed since Alpha’s printing of Goblin King, Zombie Master, and Lord of Atlantis. The basic idea is to find creatures with a shared creature type and play them together. I think the idea is tied similarly to people’s love of factions, as seen during our trips to Ravnica, Tarkir, and Alara. Tribal is another way within Magic to find a sense of identity that’s not singularly tied to a color.

For better or worse, not all creature types get the same attention. In the case of today’s article, I feel that imbalance is to the detriment of Magic. Some tribes presently only work on certain planes—Myr and Aetherborn, for example—while others were designed with a philosophy that is too restrictive to modern Magic Design to bring back with the same one-to-one identity. The former problem just means that we need to return to these worlds and infuse the game with a handful more of these creatures. I focus on the latter today, an imaginary crisis Wizards has created for themselves by simply trying to remain too puritanical with some of their design space.


Slivers as a tribe are a when, not an if, to return to Magic. The tribe itself is uniquely Magic, not necessarily taking influences from any other part of folklore or fantasy. First seen in Tempest, Slivers are a hivemind that share traits with all the other members of the species in the vicinity. I discovered the tribe when I first started playing Magic as they were being showcased in Legions, and further looking at the backlog of cards with the creature type enthralled me to no end. Their looks and effects are unique; but without having to see every single card in the tribe, I completely understood what their thing was.

For understandable reasons, we didn’t see their return in Dominaria. Slivers come with a lot of baggage, especially in design. A lot of care needs to be taken to design a set with their existence in mind. There is almost always a cycle of five at each rarity, and depending on the set they may be allied or enemy colored. While I appreciated their appearance in Magic 2014 and Magic 2015, I think we need a reappearance in a non-Core set to allow for the exploration of mechanics that push the boundaries of what a new player should be expected to follow. Since they were seen in Future Sight, we’ve had so many mechanics that I would like to see explored on the body of Slivers like Unearth, Infect, Prowess, Improvise, and Mentor. Maybe the best place for them might be a few cycles sprinkled into a Commander product. In any fashion, I would love a return.


It is unfortunate that many of the Rebels in Magic are not Modern legal, although I doubt many people would feel that a Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero deck would really do much to the metagame of Modern anyway. My desire for this creature type to show up again has less to do with the “recruit” mechanic they had in Mercadian Masques and more really thinking that Rebel is a cool type to slap on a creature. While it would allow for old school Rebels to recruit newer ones, I believe that like how Wizards modified Allies to mke them less parasitic, Rebels could take a new mechanical identity as well.

I could have sworn we were going to see the type return in Aether Revolt, where the typing could have signalled those revolting against the Consulate of Ghirapur. But unstandably, rebooting a tribe’s mechanical identity might have been too complex for the Standard they had already designed. The creature type does require some level of technological advancement to make sense within a world. On a plane such as Innistrad or Amonkhet, rebels sound out of place. But on worlds like Kaladesh, Ravnica, or some parts of Dominaria, I could see the case being made that they would bring a good sense of flavor to a world, telling the audience something bold or subtle about the place we are visiting.


In all fairness, Wizards threw the Ninja fans a bone with Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow in this year’s Commander product. But that doesn’t really balance the fact that we visited a Japanese-inspired plane for an entire year and only have twelve black-bordered Ninjas in the history of Magic. If there is one tribe where I am willing to separate my expectations of any future developments of it from the dozen cards we have thus far, Ninjas would be it. I get that the Ninjutsu and saboteur effects linked to each ninja thus far makes for a limited design space and that while cool, Ninjutsu can be complex to understand when you first encounter it. But it would be fair to remove the link between the creature type and some of the mechanical tropes boxing it in. Like Rebels, the typing doesn’t work in most contexts, but I would rather see Ninja tribal used over something like Assassin tribal with Scarblade Elite.

While I don’t want to relegate every one of my topics today to “just make some in Commander,” I could live with that. But I do think there is a player base for Ninjas that never got to see things like the Kamigawa block in their present day and only know them as old cards. With modern design sensibilities, I think we could get something far better than what we have to work with right now.


This one is kind of cheating, because changeling is not actually a supported creature type within Magic. But as all creatures with the changeling mechanic on them were Shapeshifters, I suppose what I really want is more of those. It’s possible from a design perspective that changelings do need a certain amount of space within a set, but I don’t see that to be true. To me they are the Rosetta Stone of tribal.

Some creatures within a set that are just all creature types provide interesting design space that would at least make it so that people had more options when they try to make tribal decks out of less supported tribes. I was around for Mistform Ultimus—I thought it was a really cool design that carried over five years later when we saw Lorwyn. While I may not have loved the world at the time, I loved the concept of an entire race of creatures that could be any creature type.

I don’t believe the bulbous look of the changelings is mutually exclusive to the changeling mechanic, but would understand if that visual marker in the art is needed to tie the creatures together across the game’s history. Frankly, I would just like to see a few more of these creatures show up from time to time, still retaining some level of “specialness” while also being adapted to the current world of Magic by stapling keywords like Prowess and Menace to a body, possibly as a subset of the shapeshifter tribe that aren’t just Clone.


Long time readers should have seen this coming upon seeing the title of the article. Samurai are a tribe I’ve wanted to see return to the game since the last time we saw them in Saviors of Kamigawa. Just like Ninjas, Samurai had the keyword Bushido directly connected to each of its 36 creatures. This evocative keyword name has proven to be too flavor-specific and so strongly connected to Samurai that Wizards has never revisited the tribe. Sadly and almost inconceivably, we’ve never returned to Samurai—not even in the Planechase expansion that touched on Ninja. That is too bad, because Samurai represent skilled warriors who have so far been mechanically tied to a combat ability that works both aggressively and defensively.

In Mark Rosewater’s article this week he talked about the idea of going back to Kamigawa as fairly improbable. So in lieu of that I would like to say: Wizards, I don’t care how you get Samurai back into the game. Kamigawa is the not the hill I choose to die on, but it is a pre-established world, with whom the story took place thousands of years ago in the narrative. Not only will the set not be following the broken environment of Mirrodin Block Standard, but you have fifteen more years of experience to better understand how to design around that world. But if you don’t want to go back to Kamigawa, please just find a plane you can populate with Samurai and Ninja and print that plane as an expansion or a Commander/Battlebond product.

Samurai are an interesting creature type and a nice change to the usual creature classes that run the gambit. I know that there will always be some group that will hate whichever direction Wizards picks for the creature typing within Magic, but I don’t think it would be so much to ask for new infusion of the Kamigawa creature types as sub-classes to things like Warrior and Assassin tribal.

This is not meant to be a condemnation of what Wizards has given to the player base in the last few years. I think since the Commander product came into existence a lot of niche things have come to pass that wouldn’t have if it had to go through Standard legal set. Creature types can be one of the last things that many people consider when they’re looking in a Magic card. But even if I don’t identify as much of a Melvin, it is something that’s important to me and that I have faith Wizards can do better than they might have with some of these creature types.

I will be taking my day of rest next week and enjoying Thanksgiving, so I will see you again in two weeks.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the EDH community, and streams on Twitch in his down time. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks. Join him for a stream at on Tuesday nights.

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