Hey there everyone! Unmistakable here with another segment of Tribal Unity! This week, I’m absolutely stoked to announce that this is our 100th article here on Rain of Salt! A huge thank you to everybody who has provided help or advice over the duration of this blog’s lifetime, we would definitely not still be here without all of you! In the spirit of celebration, I’d like to cover a tribe which is incredibly close to my heart: Treefolk!
Treefolk have been around for a long time, going back to Dominaria; it wasn’t until Lorwyn block, however, that we got an abundance of them worth writing home about – Magnigoth Treefolk is great, but can’t support his tribe like Timber Protector can.
It should come as no surprise to anybody that, save a few splashes, Treefolk as a tribe are primarily green, with a minor splash into black, and an even more minor splash into white (and red if you count Mirrorwood Treefolk and Foxfire Oak, but for sake of argument we shan’t). We typically see Treefolk decks in Green, Golgari or Abzan combinations because of this.
So, we have our trees and that’s all very well and good, but how do they characterise themselves as a tribe?
Even if you have never looked at a Treefolk before ever, it should come as no surprise that Treefolk love trees. And by which, I mean Forests! Many of the Treefolk interact with forests, be it like Dauntless Dourbark who grows with the amount of Forests you control, or like Seedguide Ash who actively seeks out Forests to grow your collection. This synergises extraordinarily well with the tribe, as most of the premium Treefolk are also very expensive on your mana, such as Woodfall Primus.
The Primus, coincidentally, captures the other side of the Treefolk tribe: they HATE noncreature permanents. Being primarily in green and partially in white, a lot of Treefolk find themselves either passively or actively hating on noncreatures, and anybody looking to play enchantress or an artifact based build may find themselves stalling while your Wickerbough Elder is growing itself, or are being threatened with putting themselves behind when you put a Heartwood Storyteller onto the field. If you happen to be running Aura Shards stabilising may be next to impossible for them and may stun them into Stony Silence; but with them being so all in on noncreatures this is just something they’ll have to Rootgrapple with personally.
As for win conditions, Treefolk have the benefit in the tribal arena of being absolutely huge organically; oftentimes you can put up a wall early on, and later crush combat through sheer Force of Wood. They’re aided in their stompy nature with the aid of resilient, gigantic creatures such as Lumberknot or Dungrove Elder, as well as the truly terrifying potential of a late game Dauntless Dourbark.
Lords and Synergy Picks
So you have your vision for a truly devastating March of the Ents, how do you support them?
First off, you’ll want the lords. Treefolk only have two true lords (one of which is Legendary, so I’ll cover him separately in a sec), but the other is Timber Protector. This guy represents one of the few kill-on-sight targets of the Treant army – making not only your big trees even bigger, but also indestructible, is a HUGE gear shift for the trees. Offering a great amount of board wipe protection (Toxic Deluge and Final Judgment still see you SOL, however), it also offers you the opportunity to swing with impunity, smashing any defenders aside as desperate chump blocks fail to stop you (just make sure you don’t overextend!). The latter detail, making your forests indestructible, may seem like flavour text (it quite often is), but it also has a surprising amount of flexibility. For one, it protects your lifeblood from destruction; Armageddon won’t be able to touch you, ensuring your Kalonian Twingroves survive the lock attempt. It also protects nonbasic forests, so it is near impossible to colour screw you with Strip Mine or Wasteland with this guy on watch, and you can continue to lean on Overgrown Tomb or Murmuring Bosk in your quest for more forests. Finally, while a niche case, there’s the Fendeep Summoner line. With both of these online, you can animate forest swamps such as Overgrown Tomb (or any forest with an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth active) and create 2 indestructible blockers out of nothing. While they’d be indestructible regardless (being Treefolk as well), the forests’ indestructibility is vastly superior when under pressure from instant speed land destruction (not always an issue in my experience, but Strip Mine makes an appearance every so often in my meta).
While that just about covers lords, allow me to introduce you to the MVP of tribal synergy in Doran: Steely Resolve. With a creature base as top heavy as the treefolk, having your threatening foliage cut down before it can grow is going to be a problem. Despite this, for the small price of 2 mana, you can enshroud your entire field gifting every Treefolk with the boon of being near uninteractible (unless somebody wants to pull that Wrath of God trigger). Oftentimes this little enchantment is the resilience you need to stabilise and start building to break down! While it IS symmetrical (your opponent’s Treefolk get in on the action too), this can work against them; notably, it stops enemy Great Oak Guardians going infinite with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker (I see you there Yami, you sneaky twin player). On top of this, Treefolk aren’t even remotely close to the most common creature type out there, the most common offenders in non tribal builds being Woodfall Primus or the occasional Deadwood Treefolk. Due to this, it’s often the case that you’re the only one benefiting, which is a ridiculous amount of value for just 2 mana.
While it may not be the most potent threat, I find myself being a fan of Orchard Warden. The bigger the booty, the sweeter the fruit – and your trees almost exclusively come with large rear ends. In an offensive meta (with lots of Mana Barbs effects or aggro decks, this creature can keep you hanging in there long enough to either naturalize the problem, or for the aggro decks to run out of gas. A deceptively powerful tech inclusion.
Sowing Salt – The top 3 Treefolk Commanders
So I’ve given you a rundown of tribal mechanics, focus and wincons, but how can you arrange it into a deck?
3) Verdeloth the Ancient – the aforementioned other Treefolk lord, Verdeloth is the OG Treefolk Commander, offering a huge benefit to your board and a late game mana sink in one package. He is a powerful ally to have on hand, and offers a static +1/+1 to your treefolk and saprolings (Though we’ll get onto that in short order); this allows you to pump your board for an alpha strike, or bolster your towering defences in anticipation. His second ability is tied to his ability to be kicked multiple times – for every mana paid after his cost, he gives you a saproling; this is then bolstered by his static buff, creating an instant board of 2/2s as big as you can pay for! This offers functionality to his static effect in both offense and defense, offering a lot of chumping power or small amounts of fodder to make favourable trades with. On the flip side, it offers an incredibly dangerous proposition with Overrun effects (or even the absolutely terrifying Coat of Arms) to just completely delete a player/table. He offers a tremendous amount of clout, and is a reliable friend to have on call from the Command Zone. However, I find his colour combination holds him back. While you can make a very convincing Treefolk deck with him (perhaps faster, because of the lack of need for fixing and ability to use Caged sun effects maximally), he is let down by his lack of flexibility colourwise. Without black, you miss recursion options like Patriarch’s Bidding or Reanimate, as well as valuable Treefolk such as Black Poplar Shaman or Thorntooth Witch. White offers primarily removal options, as well as one or two other valuable utility aspects as well.
2) Sapling of Colfenor – this is a beloved card in any Treefolk deck’s arsenal (except yours Verdeloth), and has a lot to offer a Treefolk deck. First off, they offer an additional colour to the deck, allowing you flexibility of options in terms of removal or recursion, as well. In addition to this, the splash of black allows some nonbasic ramp to set up combos with Cabal Coffers, allowing them to power out Treefolk in her own unique sense; while other trees offer black, the fact that they occupy only two colours allows the coffers to still be great even without an Urborg, Tomb of yawgmoth. As for the commander themself, they’re indestructible, allowing a sort of ‘fire and forget’ approach to getting them online, due to realistically only needing to cast once in a game. Secondly, their other ability absolutely fascinates me. Upon attacking, you flip the top card of your library – if its a creature, you gain some life, lose some life (hopefully less than you gained), and then add it to your hand. This is, needless to say, pretty huge. An indestructible commander that may draw cards (roughly around 33% of the time in a creature heavy deck, but that’s without top deck manipulation) on attack is quite the threat. The sapling itself doesn’t do all that much damage, but it’s existence artificially prolongs your momentum, perhaps long enough to secure a win!
1) Doran, the Siege tower – this should come as a surprise to no one (least of all my local meta), but I REALLY can’t get enough of Doran at the head of Treefolk decks. His colour combination is the most flexible of all Treefolk Commanders, allowing access to all GB trees while also allowing you to use the underrated juggernauts such as Indomitable Ancients and (to a far lesser extent) Oaken Brawler. He also allows access to the most Treefolk friendly boardwipes, Wave of reckoning and Retribution of the Meek. In addition to this, he’s the cheapest Treefolk in the command zone (with an easily respectable 5/5 body), allowing you to fill holes on your curve with your terrifying commander! Regarding the effective 5/5: his effect is also titanic for treefolk. Withcthe threat of a Doran drop previously innocuous trees such as Treefolk Seedlings or Indomitable Ancients become must-answer threats, and he massively improves the damage output of most bottom-heavy Treefolk by simply existing.
Now, being a tribe I have dabbled with (and still love to this day), it so happens (and regular readers of the blog may remember) I happen to have a sample decklist handy! Meet:
A list that has definitely benefited from the new Commander precons (Path of ancestry and Herald’s Horn were easy inclusions), this treefolk deck is a lesson in building up and knocking down; you build up an Orchard of trees, and knock down your opponents’ defenses! The imposing bodies and hard ramp of the treefolk army make them out to be a heady threat in the early-mid game, clogging the field to combat-based win cons, then delivering a powerful final swing when all resources (or attempts to uproot your forces) have been exhausted.
So, there you have it, guys! What do you think? Bark worse than their bite? Better than they get credit for? Be sure to let us know on Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, or Carrier Pigeon, and I’ll be back with another article soon! For now though, Unmistakable out.