A/N: Tribal Terrors will be analyzing different creature types in order to determine whether the creature type and its respective tribe is playable. In this series we will not be exploring more known tribes such as: merfolk and goblins, but will be looking into the less supported tribes and seeing what can be done with them. At the end of the article I will provide some ideas to improve the playstyle of the tribe if it does not have a lot of support already. Additionally this series will not account for universal cards that are beneficial to all tribes such as: Cavern of Souls and Stoneforge Masterwork – but we will discuss some useful cards that are in the tribes colors.
So without further ado, the first creature type we will be taking a look at in Tribal Terrors is none other than foxes!
First let’s take a look at what foxes bring to the table, how the color they are in generally affects the game, and what cards can synergize with their tribe.
Most Foxes are white creatures with very low to the ground mana costs. Being in white gives players who are using foxes access to powerful removal spells such as: Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile, their low mana costs allow a pilot to play such spells effectively – while also filling the board with creatures. Multiple foxes also have protection abilities in order to prevent creatures you control from being destroyed; however many of these abilities are mundane and have little to no use. To make up for this being in white allows for artifact and enchantment tutoring with Enlightened Tutor and Idyllic Tutor. With enhancements such as: Cathars’ Crusade and Honor of the Pure, a simple board of foxes can be turned into a powerful force. Additionally white cards such as: Increasing Devotion and Angelic Accord can create tokens in case your fox army isn’t quite enough to keep your opponents at bay. Finally cards such as, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion can wipe the board as well as give creatures flying and a power boost.
What about typical abilities foxes have?
A majority of Foxes are also Samurai and have the Bushido ability. Bushido is an ability that increases the power and toughness of a creature that has it whenever said creature is blocked or blocks. Bushido is a relatively weak ability that doesn’t see much play due to the fact that it requires a creature to block. If a player has a creature with Bushido that is strong enough to survive an attack from an opponent’s creature, odds are that the opponent won’t attack as this would guarantee that their creature is destroyed or that nothing will happen and tapped a creature for no reason. Bushido does activate when the creature with Bushido blocked; however, the creature will be doing only slightly more damage and none of that damage will be dealt to the opponent. That is, unless you have Trample; however, no Foxes that have Bushido actually have Trample, and white as a color has very few options to give creatures Trample. The exception to this would be Vulpine Goliath, but it’s green and doesn’t match up with the rest of the Foxes. Bushido can be useful at times, but compared to other abilities, it’s nothing special.
Now let’s get into some of the actual fox cards and what they do.
The Basic Creatures
Arctic Foxes: It’s ability isn’t reliable enough for it to be played, as not that many people use snow-covered lands. Maybe run in the sideboard; however, there are better cards that can take its place.
Devilthorn Fox: A 3/1 beater for two mana is good. Devilthorn Fox doesn’t get Bushido, however, it’s definitely the fox that needs it the most. Having only one toughness means is Devilthorn Fox is ever blocked by a creature that has more than zero power; it’s a goner. Run if a beater is necessary, but most of the time other foxes can last on the battlefield longer and end up dealing more damage.
Filigree Familiar: While Filigree Familiar isn’t white, it still increases the player’s life total and the player can draw a card once it dies. This supplies foxes with some much needed card advantage and is appreciated in all fox decks.
Kitsune Blademaster: First strike is good, as it allows Kitsune Blademaster to kill creatures that block it before those creatures can kill him. He also has Bushido, which combos well with First Strike since he gains +1/+1 when he’s blocked. Always run when using foxes.
Kitsune Bonesetter: He would be a good card; however, white doesn’t have the best draw power and a player will most likely be using every card in their hand when playing Kitsune. He’s situational at best and is mediocre when compared to other creatures.
Kitsune Dawnblade: Being able to tap a creature when coming into play can be useful so that other creatures can attack and get off damage; however, it takes away from Bushido. Kitsune Dawnblade still has Bushido, but it isn’t that much better than other Foxes for its high converted mana cost of five.
Kitsune Diviner: Tapping a Spirit isn’t useful if your opponent has no Spirits. Don’t run unless you are playing against a mono Spirit deck.
Kitsune Healer: Preventing the next one damage to be dealt to target creature or player is an okay ability that can save you in a pinch from burn abilities. Kitsune Healer’s better ability prevents all damage dealt to a target legendary creature. This can help Autumn Tail, Kitsune Sage when attacking, as well as combo with Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo to prevent damage for a turn. Run in all Kitsune decks.
Kitsune Loreweaver: This ability would be better if it increased power and toughness instead of just toughness. Kitsune Loreweaver’s ability helps him block attacks as he doesn’t have to tap to activate the ability; however, white decks don’t have the best draw power and the mana used to activate his ability would be better used to get a fox onto the battlefield. He’s not perfect, but can be helpful in the early game.
Kitsune Palliator: Kitsune Palliator is basically a slightly more useful Kitsune Healer, except without the ability to prevent all damage to a single legendary creature. She has a lower mana cost than Kitsune Healer and is able to stop most board wipes that lower a creature’s toughness to zero. She can also save another fox in a pinch when that fox blocks, but the opponent’s creature’s power is to high. She’s more useful than a majority of her fox kin even though there are other white cards that do her job better.
Kitsune Riftwalker">Kitsune Riftwalker: Kitsune Riftwalker isn’t a helpful card. Sure, he’s immune to Spirits and Arcane spells, but nothing else. He doesn’t support other Foxes and he has a high mana cost for a 2/1, when a player could just run Devilthorn Fox which is better since Devilthorn Fox is a 3/1. Only run him if you’re going up against an opponent that uses mostly Spirits and Arcane cards.
Pious Kitsune: Most likely one of the best foxes. Even if a player isn’t running Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Pious Kitsune still gives whoever controls him one life per turn. If Eight-and-a-Half-Tails is in play, players can rack up even more life. He helps Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant and Serra Ascendant get going as well as making yourself harder to beat. Run him in all fox decks.
Samurai of the Pale Curtain: She can be useful against regenerator and revival decks and is a solid 2/2 for only two white mana. She’s pretty self explanatory and should be ran often.
Silverchase Fox: Enchantment removal is always handy to have. Using four mana to use Silverchase Fox is a bit costly; however it can attack and block as well so it’s well worth the cost.
Silverstorm Samurai: Probably the only creature with Bushido that actually takes advantage of the ability. If a player has enough mana, they can Flash in Silverstorm Samurai during combat to block an attack, which in turn activates Bushido. For six mana, the ability isn’t worth it. Silverstorm Samurai could have just been a 4/4 instead of a 3/3 with Bushido and be so much better. It’s worth running, but it doesn’t see much use.
Split-Tail Miko: She’s not as good as Kitsune Healer or Palliator, but she has a lower mana cost. Unlike Kitsune Healer, she prevents the next two damage instead of just one. She does need one white mana to activate this ability though. She can be useful in the early game, but drops in usefulness once Kitsune Healer or Palliator get onto the field. There is no reason not to run her, unless you use better non-Fox options.
Vulpine Goliath: Unlike all of the other foxes, Vulpine Goliath is green instead of white. If it were white, a player could use Sensei Golden Tail’s ability to give it Bushido and it would have increased damage when being blocked by creatures since it has Trample; however, it’s green so don’t use it.
Eight-and-a-Half-Tails: Eight-and-a-Half-Tails easily blocks spells that target your creatures, which can cause some decks to lose all viability. For only three mana per spell, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails protects your foxes and other permanents from other cards. Even though he can’t protect things from effects like Wrath of God, he should still be run in every Kitsune deck – especially since he combos well with Pious Kitsune.
Kitsune Mystic/Autumn-Tail, Kitsune Sage: Autumn-Tail can be a bit of a hassle to get up, but he’s the strongest Fox in terms of raw power. He can move around enchantments from creature to creature and he can even steal enchantments from your opponent’s creatures and add them to yours.
Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo: Not only can Opal-Eye redirect damage towards himself, but he can work with Kitsune Healer to negate that damage completely. He can’t attack due to Defender; however, he makes use of Bushido by being a nice 1/4 wall for only 3 mana. Especially useful in those decks that choose to run Kitsune Healer.
Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant/Rune-Tail’s Essence: Gaining life is simple thanks to Pious Kitsune and players can prevent damage dealt to themselves with the help of the Kitsune Healer, Kitsune Palliator, and Split-Tail Miko. Once Rune-Tail’s Essence comes in, creatures no longer have to worry about taking damage and can attack freely a majority of the time. This card allows Bushido to be used to its fullest and can prevent burn abilities that an opponent may use to get rid of your creatures.
Sensei Golden Tail: Sensei Golden Tail’s training counter ability is useless on the outside, as all it really does is give other creatures Bushido. However this can be useful for Devilthorn Fox and other non-Samurai creatures as they can be powered up with Coat of Arms and Door of Destinies; however, Sensei Golden Tail can normally only make a single creature a Samurai per turn. This setback causes the Coat of Arms and Door of Destinies strategies to slow down tremendously, especially since Sensei Golden Tail is the only fox with this ability. He’s also only a 2/1 so he’s vulnerable to burn destruction, but he can be protected from damage thanks to Kitsune Healer.
Patron of the Kitsune: As the only Kitsune support card, Patron of the Kitsune only slightly helps foxes, but is still a wonderful card. Gaining one life whenever a creature attacks is useful, as it makes the controller of this card slightly harder to kill, while also getting life up in order to use Rune-Tail’s Essence. Patron of the Kitsune can be played easier due to its Fox Offering ability, but sacrificing a creature is not usually recommended. It’s still worth running due to its healing ability, but as Fox support it doesn’t do much and can really be used in any white deck.
How to Improve
Even though Foxes have protection abilities with Kitsune Healer and Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, they still fall flat compared to other white creature types due to the fact that they lack power and wide range protection abilities. An enchantment that could increase the amount of power and toughness that is gained through Bushido would be incredibly helpful for foxes, as well as another Enchantment that would activate Bushido whenever they attacked. Abilities to gain card advantage, besides Filigree Familiar, would be nice for Kitsune Bonesetter, but white in general doesn’t have the best card advantage and the other three Kitsune Clerics do Bonesetter’s job better. Lastly, Kitsune Diviner and Riftwalker both have abilities that are useful towards Spirits, which is surprising considering there are no other fox cards that take advantage of this. If there was a card with an ability to turn cards into Spirits, Diviner and Riftwalker would most likely see more play.
Overall, foxes are slow and frail. Most attempt to prevent damage to their controllers and other creatures, but there are other cards that do their jobs better and faster. High powered foxes are a pain to get onto the battlefield, and even when they are on the battlefield, they can’t truly shine without being blocked due to Bushido. Foxes have multiple ways to gain life, which is useful for stalling an opponent out; however, this strategy is almost necessary for Foxes to work as they can’t deal significant amounts of damage without help from other creature types. Multiple fox creatures also have high mana costs for what they’re capable of and other, more powerful white creatures can be used instead. Foxes can still be played in a deck; however, they should be supported by other card types, such as humans and angels instead of going off on their own.
But what do you think? Have you ever tried playing a fox tribal deck? Want us to write about any specific tribes? Feel free to leave any question, comments, or concerns in the section below.