Welcome everyone to the Deck Spotlight series, where we are going to explore top-tier, meta defining decks and give some left field brews a deserved glance. In this article we will be dissecting Skeleton Tribal. Wait, what? Today we have a Halloween special for in the Spotlight, and there is nothing more fitting than Skeletons.
Skeleton Tribal? What does that even mean
This deck is built around Bone Colossus, the apex Skeleton in TES:L. So naturally we’re gonna shove every Skeleton in the game (Except Nahkriin, Dragon Priest, its just not good enough) into this deck. There are 8 different Skeleton cards in this game: Deadly Draugr, Deathless Draugr, Ancient Lookout, Dark Guardian, Grim Champion, Imprisoned Deathlord, Restless Templar, and finally Bone Colossus. Skeletal Dragon gets to act as our honorary Skeleton, so in total that makes 27 cards. So in a similar vein to Goblin Tribal, what else is going to be put into this deck?
There are three cards in particular that will help us decide what else can be included. The first two are fairly straight forward and don’t require much explanation; Grim Champion and Imprisoned Deathlord. Grim Champion wants creatures to die as much as possible, so I have included two Stronghold Eradicators. These push for creature combat, have a big body and have alternate uses, so they get to be included. Imprisoned Deathlord is an absolutely horrible card on its own. The trick is, if you silence the Deathlord it removes its downside so you can attack freely with it. As such, we have three Shadowfen Priests. These would probably be included anyways, but with the added Deathlord synergy it becomes an auto-include in my eyes.
The last card that will decide the remaining bulk of our deck is Ancient Lookout. It is a Skeleton on its own, and spawns more Skeletons over time. That sounds awesome! But how do we do that? Well, we need Dragons. So very much in Skyrim fashion, the final version of our deck will be heavy invested into both Draugr and Dragons. Skeletal Dragon was already included, but we have complimented it with three Shearpoint Dragons, two Spine of the Eldersblood and Nahagliiv. Now while I’ve moaned about Nahagliiv before, I still feel like he deserves a slot here simply because this deck doesn’t have access to a card of that caliber. Stats-wise it’s the biggest card in the deck, and we’re not running too many Guards so he gets to act as our brick wall. Now while 9 total Dragon cards aren’t very many to constitute Dragon synergies, I have still included Woodland Lookout. As a 3 Magicka 3/4 he’s fine on his own, but giving this deck access to life gain can be extremely handy in dire situations, so I’m playing two copies of the Wood Elf.
The remaining ten slots will be filled in with good stuff. We are playing a Midrange Endurance deck, so Wind Keep Spellswords and Young Mammoths are naturally included. To help out with the curve, Dragontail Savior will fill out the two-drops. Finally, Tazkad the Packmaster will round this deck out, acting as our haymaker punch in the late game.
As you could probably expect, this deck isn’t top tier. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its good matchups. Control decks are favored for Skeleton Tribal, as most of your creatures are fairly resilient or have Last Gasp abilities for additional value. Bone Colossus is a huge beater in these matchups and can give you a sizable advantage. With certain draws, Ramp decks can also be defeated easily. Again, Bone Colossus is very important, as well as Tazkad and Grim Champion to go over their creatures.
Other Midrange decks are, for the most part, unfavored. Some of the more durdle-y Midrange decks like Item Battlemage/Sorcerer or other combo-y decks like Market Archer are favored for Skeleton Tribal. The rest of the Midrange decks (Assassin, Archer, ect.) are unfavored for a couple of reasons. Mainly, you have no real way to gain board advantages. If you have a Wind Keep Spellsword, Young Mammoth, Restless Templar draw and your opponent stumbles, you might be in for a good game. Otherwise your Skeletons aren’t as adept at contesting board states as regular Midrange creatures like Murkwater Shaman or Daggerfall Mage, and the Dragon package is too unreliable to expect to gain an equal amount of value off of those synergies. The upside is that Skeleton Tribal’s late game is actually pretty good, with Skeleton Dragon, Bone Colossus and Tazkad, so entering late game grind fests or top-deck wars can end up with Skeletons on top.
Aggressive decks are unfavored for Skeletons. Most aggro strategies are just too quick and going under you before you can properly stabilize and start making impactful plays. In order to win games against aggro decks, Deathless Draugr and Wind Keep Spellsword are vital in helping contest the board. The Dragon cards get to really shine in these matches, as both Ancient Lookout and Woodland Lookout can play important roles against aggro decks.
With one more expansion, I would love to revisit this deck. There is some good stuff here, like Bone Colossus and these decent Midrange creatures of Grim Champion and Restless Templar. However, in its current form, this deck isn’t extraordinarily powerful. At the end of the day, it looks like a Ramp Scout deck with half the Dragons and Ramp removed and replaced with some average Skeletons, even though that wasn’t the plan initially. My original version of this deck was more of an “Undead” Tribal list, where I simply crammed most of the Undead creatures into a Mono-Endurance deck. And hooo boy was that deck bad. This new Skeleton version at least has a cohesive strategy, even if it needs to share space with a couple Dragons. With the rumored expansion in the pipeline, these Dragons could be given the boot for some sweet new cards, and this deck could be an outside-the-box brew like Dwemer or Stealer of Secrets. So with this, Skeletons gets to join Dwemer, Spriggans and Goblins in my “Please give us more cards because these decks are cool and fun” Club.
There we have it, Skeleton Tribal. As usual, remember to hit me up on Twitter if you have any comments/suggestions. We have a Numot Gaming Twitter now as well, so don’t forget to follow that too. Thank you all for reading, and see you next week~~