Tribal Laboratory: 3 Drops

Pat Cook
March 01, 2018

Hello and welcome back to my lab, today i’m taking a look at some of the strongest creatures in modern, and they all happen to be at a very powerful converted mana cost: 3. 3 is just early to the point where people will have trouble dealing with them right away, and just late enough to the point where they’re highly impactful with their power and toughness, and their abilities. Obviously, due to the open and opinionated nature of the cards in this list, there are a few ways to build this deck. A pretty obvious version would be a simple collected company version. I have a very very simple example list I drew up here:

Tribal 3 DropsPat Cook Eternal Witness Geist of Saint Traft Goblin Rabblemaster Kitchen Finks Knight of the Reliquary Mantis Rider Reflector Mage Savage Knuckleblade Simian Spirit Guide Tireless Tracker Breeding Pool Forest Island Misty Rainforest Plains Stomping Ground Temple Garden Windswept Heath Wooded Foothills Collected Company

This deck list is very simple, as many creatures as possible, with nothing else. Just collected company and creatures. This list of creatures is what will form the base for other versions of this deck. I’ve not included black, the five different colors made the mana very bad, if you’re going to play a tribal 3 drop deck, you’re going to want 2-3 base colors and a splash. In my version i used a Green and White base with Red and Blue splashes. Blue and red are powerful, and add many creatures like Mantis Rider and a personal favorite, Savage Knuckleblade. Reflector Mage and Geist of Saint Traft, are powerful blue cards that help take over the game. Playing Geist of Saint Traft early on can win by himself.


One of the most powerful creatures in modern is not really a creature at all, but more of a one time lotus petal. Simian Spirit Guide is for our purposes, a way of improving and filling out our curve. Turn one we don’t play anything, (I decided to be very strict this time around and not rely on mana dorks such as Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch, although they’d be very good for this archetype) and turn two, Simian Spirit Guide, also known affectionately by many modern players as “Mana Monkey”, allows us to play a 3 drop on turn 2 and turn 3 and then a collected company on turn 4 or 3. If you play a version with Birds or Hierarch, Simian Spirit Guide isn’t as good, but can still lead to some explosive starts!

Recently we got some new toys in modern, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf, cards i would consider 2 halves of the same coin. Unbanning both is going to have some interesting effects on Modern. A fun version of this deck plays Bloodbraid Elf instead of Collected Company, along with less creatures allowing for more room for noncreature spells. Since every creature in our deck is a 3 Drop, we’re getting maximum value out of our cascade trigger. Kolaghan’s Command and Blightning are both very very strong 3 converted mana cost spells that work very well with Bloodbraid Elf. I want to continue the 3 converted mana cost theme with the instant and sorceries so my noncreature suite could include Hero’s Downfall, Maelstrom Pulse and Dismember.


A fun combo that works with Bloodbraid Elf is cascading into Spell Queller, exiling Bloodbraid Elf on the stack. When the Queller dies, we get to cascade again, getting another free 3 drop creature!

Unfortunately, there are many creatures with 3 converted mana cost so there’s a lot of material to work with, the two strategies that i’ve sort of laid out are just ideas that i decided to explore further after doing research in this topic, (I looked at a gatherer list of all 800+ 3 converted mana cost uncommon, rare and mythic rare creatures).

I looked at an Abzan list, consisting of Doran the Siege Tower and a bunch of Fiend Hunter Effects. Due to the nature of Fiend Hunter’s effect most of them have large toughnesses, perfect for Doran.

I also looked into a Troll Ascetic deck, abusing Varolz, the Scar-Striped. Dumping cards into your graveyard and then scavenging counters onto an unkillable Troll Ascetic!

Being a 5 color archetype, you get access to all the most powerful sideboard cards in modern, but a few really stood out when i was looking into this tribe, let’s take a look:

Izzet Staticaster and Anger of the Gods are two cards that are very good at clearing your way of lower to the ground creatures, leaving a path for  your heavy hitters. Since cascade is a cast trigger, Bloodbraid Elf will drop after Anger’s bomb goes off!

Being a value deck, 3 Drop Tribal often has trouble dealing with two decks, Storm and Tron. For storm we want to stop them from comboing, and that’s where Eidolon of Rhetoric comes in. Go ahead, play your one spell! Tron and Eldrazi Tron are the deck that we want to bring in a personal favorite of mine, Fulminator Mage! Blowing up their important land, and then Surgical Extracting it or playing K-Command off your bloodbraid into Fulminator Mage to your hand and making them discard, is pure value. Just what we want!

With all these delve creatures laying around, my last specific sideboard card that i like is Big Game Hunter. This guy loves hunting down Delve creatures and Death Shadow, he’s a very powerful tempo creature!

Thank you very much for exploring 3 Converted Mana cost tribal with me in modern. As always if I forgot a super strong card that helps this tribe or even if you just think that my ideas were cool be sure to let me know in the comments!

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