I had an idea and the results were a little surprising. I decided to go through my Cube and pull every bird-only card just to see how pathetic the bird tribe really was these days... and I ended up with a grand total of four cards. The "seven" I'm talking about in the title are the number of lesser tribes featured in this Cube. Before there were eight, but after discovering how few birds there were, I decided to put the birds out of their misery. In place of them, it came to my attention that soldiers were long overdue to get some love and were in desperate need of further defining of their tribal identity:
- Birds of Paradise
- Keeper of the Nine Gales
- Sootfeather Flock
- Seaside Haven
+ Captain of the Watch
+ Timely Reinforcements
+ Even the Odds
+ Lumithread Field
(The Birds of Paradise get the boot, but they're a small price for to pay the greater good.)
The idea was to include a soldier card in the Cube that would be worth first picking in the first pack and worth "going soldiers" for. That card is Captain of the Watch and make no mistake, unlike the zombies of the Cube, this would truly be a "Soldier Tribal Deck." White already had a pair of good token generators in Kjeldoran Outpost and Decree of Justice and hopefully, these changes put the token generation over the top and Tribal Soldiers can be a real deck. (The "zombie deck" is really just a Mono Black Control deck that features a few zombies to fill out the creature quota.)
In terms of design, it was important to include exactly one card in the entire Cube that would headline the tribe. This is important because if two or more players begin drafting soldiers, both players are going to end up with severely underwhelming decks. There just aren't enough of them to support more than one player. But now the idea is that if you draft the Captain of the Watch, "soldiers" are now suddenly worth considering. If you don't, then there are better options out there and soldiers aren't worth your time. All of this is by design and I hope it comes across when people naturally begin making their draft picks.
Let's talk about white.
The captain was appealing to me because white is already the color of Flicker, Otherworldly Journey, Parallax Wave, and Changeling Hero. Together with Lumithread Field, white is also the color of token-friendly options such as Shared Triumph and Mikaeus, the Lunarch. If you consider splashing, you have to start thinking about Venser, the Sojourner and Vesuvan Shapeshifter to help keep an endless stream of soldier tokens take over the field. And if you turn your attention to green, Alpha Status becomes an alternative win condition in a tribe that can spawn the most critters.
Hopefully, all of my ideas here make sense and these changes give soldiers a unique identity within the Cube.
(The birds won't be missed.)