Tribal Laboratory: Vanilla Company

Pat Cook
November 22, 2017

Modern is a place of wonderful interactions and complex abilities and effects. This deck is a beautiful foil to that idea, a tribal deck of creatures with no abilities.

What exactly is an ability? 

  1. Abilities
  • 1. An ability can be one of two things:
  • 1a. An ability is a characteristic an object has that lets it affect the game. An object’s abilities are defined by its rules text or by the effect that created it. Abilities can also be granted to objects by rules or effects. (Effects that do so use the words “has,” “have,” “gains,” or “gain.”) Abilities generate effects. (See rule 609, “Effects.”)
  • 1b. An ability can be an activated or triggered ability on the stack. This kind of ability is an object.

Let’s take a card iconic to modern, Tarmogoyf.


Tarmogoyf’s ability defines it’s power and toughness, a characteristic of the card.


Devoted Druid’s ability creates an example of the second ability which puts an object on the stack.

What we’re looking for are creatures with no abilities whatsoever, which I and many lovingly refer to as, Vanilla. Why do we want to use vanilla creatures? Because they are big boys! They have huge bodies at an undercosted rates generally and that is what I want to draw upon. 

Alright, let’s take a look at my list!:

Vanillla CompanyPat Cook Birds of Paradise Kalonian Tusker Leatherback Baloth Noble Hierarch Watchwolf Woolly Thoctar Copperline Gorge Forest Plains Razorverge Thicket Stomping Ground Temple Garden Windswept Heath Wooded Foothills Collected Company Lightning Bolt Secure the Wastes Muraganda Petroglyphs Domri Rade


The main creatures of this list are Leatherback Baloth and Woolly Thoctar, or as I like to call him, Big Woolly.

2 mana 3/3’s, 3 mana 5/4’s and 3 mana 4/5’s oh my! For 3 mana, 9 total stats is preeeetty good. Leatherback Baloth is no stranger to modern, starring in a lot of budget Mono Green Stompy lists, but Big Woolly is a bit hard to player requiring 3 mana, that’s really where Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch shine, not only fixing your mana, but being able to play one of these two big monsters on turn two is quite powerful.They have abilities, but are worthwhile because they add consistency. 

Our vanilla package allows us to run one of my favorite cards in magic, and it’s a spicy one. Muraganda Petroglyphs.

Muraganda Petroglyphs  is a simple card, for 3 generic and a green mana, it gives all of our creatures with no abilities +2/+2. our 3/3’s become 5/5’s, our 5/4’s become 7/6’s and our 4/5’s become 6/7’s. If this card hits the turn after a strong collected company, or even a secure the wastes on 3, it can put a lot of hurt on your opponent. Be careful of the Tribal Ability-less Mirror, because this card does effect both sides of the board. 


Collected Company gives us a ton of value, allowing us to have super swing-y turns where we’re putting 18 points of stats in play for 4 mana at their end step. Our bargain beaters get even stronger with the inclusion of Collected Company. To give us a little more value, i’m also running 2 copies of Domri Rade.

Domri Rade is a powerful card, with a large portion of our deck being creatures, his +1 has the potential to be “Draw a card”. His -2 ability allows us to clear paths for our big guys, fighting their often weaker creatures.

The deck is meant to be a stompy style deck, play a guy, attack, pass. The Collected Companies and the Secure the Wastes are there to give the deck some reach as well as some form of resilience. I excluded my sideboard from this list, because the sideboard of this should really be shaped by your local meta, and what you think you will face a lot of. Having white allows you to play powerful sideboard cards that ruin opponent’s day such as Rest in Peace, Stony Silence and Leyline of Sanctity, just to name a few.



There are some cards that you could swap in to change this deck to your style of play, if you want to play less of a stompy style, you could put it Grizzled Leotau and one or two of Gavony Township, to give the deck a more grind-y playstyle.


While I don’t expect what I like to call Vanilla Company to be tearing it up in the Top 8 of any GP’s, I think it’s a fun alternative to the traditional stompy deck, that I’m sure will wow your opponents at FNM or your local game store’s weekly modern tournaments.

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