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For tribal in a broader sense, see Tribal (theme)

Tribal is a card type first introduced in Future Sight, and expanded upon in the Lorwyn block.[1][2][3][4][5] Creatures and tribals share the same set of subtypes. Cards referring to specific creature types may also affect tribals.

Tribal has been coupled with Instants, Sorceries, Enchantments and Artifacts.


R&D no longer supports the tribal card type.[6][7] Mark Rosewater announced its death knell, when it wasn't used in Innistrad (which had a strong tribal subtheme).[8] He stated that tribal was problematic everywhere R&D used it because they couldn't go half in, which resulted in a lot of extra words for very little actual use.[9][10] On the other hand, mechanically caring about creature types is still very much alive.[11]

Tribal was seen last in Rise of the Eldrazi as a relevant mechanic. Tribal made a small reappearance on the test card Form of the Mulldrifter, in the Mystery Booster set. It made another small reappearance on the card Altar of the Goyf, in the Modern Horizons 2 set. Mark Rosewater then stated that special sets which can make use of retired mechanics can also make use of the tribal card type.[12][13]


From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (April 29, 2022—Streets of New Capenna)

A card type. Whether or not a tribal is a permanent depends on its other card type. See rule 308, “Tribals.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (April 29, 2022—Streets of New Capenna)

  • 308. Tribals
    • 308.1. Each tribal card has another card type. Casting and resolving a tribal card follows the rules for casting and resolving a card of the other card type.
    • 308.2. Tribal subtypes are always a single word and are listed after a long dash: “Tribal Enchantment — Merfolk.” The set of tribal subtypes is the same as the set of creature subtypes; these subtypes are called creature types. Tribals may have multiple subtypes. See rule 205.3m for the complete list of creature types.


The subtype for tribals is called creature type and shared with creatures.


  • Tribal is not a permanent type. However, a tribal card can become a permanent if another of its types allows it to do so.
  • Many Lorwyn cards refer to specific creature types. These cards may affect tribals, depending on what they say and what they do. For example, using "Goblin" as our creature type:
    • If a card uses "Goblin" as a noun (that is, without following it with a word like "card" or "spell"), it actually means "Goblin permanent." It can affect any Goblin permanent in play, including a Goblin tribal.
    • If a card says just "Goblin creature," it can affect only a Goblin creature in play. It can't affect a tribal.
    • If a card says "Goblin card," it can affect any Goblin card not in play, including a Goblin tribal card.
  • If a spell asks whether you control a Goblin, it's asking whether you control a Goblin permanent. It won't count Goblin spells you control (including itself).
  • If a card with multiple types has one or more subtypes, each subtype is correlated to its appropriate type.
  • When one or more of a permanent's subtypes changes, the new subtype(s) replace any existing subtypes from the appropriate set (creature types, land types, artifact types, enchantment types, spell types, or planeswalker types). It won't affect the subtypes from any other set, and it won't affect the permanent's types.
  • If a permanent ceases to be one of its types, the subtypes correlated with that type will remain if they are also the subtypes of a type the permanent currently has; otherwise, they are also removed for the entire time the permanent's type is removed.
  • The Onslaught card Artificial Evolution can change the creature types of a tribal.
  • Many older cards have received errata in the Oracle card database to work sensibly with tribals. For example, instant and sorcery cards can't come into play. If an older card was printed with a wording that allowed you to put a Goblin card into play, it now specifies that you can put a Goblin permanent card into play.


A considered indicator for Elf tribal

  • Tribal was featured as rules card 5 of 5 in the Lorwyn set.
  • There are 55 tribal cards, featuring seventeen creature types (Eldrazi, Elemental, Elf, Faerie, Giant, Goblin, Kithkin, Lhurgoyf, Merfolk, Rebel, Rogue, Shaman, Shapeshifter, Soldier, Treefolk, Warrior, and Wizard).
  • When tribal was being used regularly, R&D went from saying “Goblin” to “Goblin creature card” for non-tribal effects. After they stopped regularly making tribal cards they switched the template back as it’s less wordy.[14]
  • Early on, there was some exploration into other versions of the Tribal card type that used Tribal indicators in the type line of a card.[15]


  1. Mark Rosewater (October 1, 2007). "And the Rest". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (October 8, 2007). "Before and After". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Devin Low (September 28, 2007). "Mixed Doubles: Two Types and Two Keywords". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Devin Low (October 12, 2007). "Surprising Subtypes". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Doug Beyer (October 10, 2007). "The Flavor of Tribals". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (September 07, 2015). "Is there a chance we'll be seeing more tribal eldrazi spells?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  7. Mark Rosewater (October 24, 2015). "What about allowing elemental to be both a creature and non-creature subtype?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Mark Rosewater (September 19, 2011). "Scary Stories, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (July 9, 2015). "I think it's just that Tribal doesn't fit in the way Innistrad used.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Mark Rosewater (August 30, 2016). "Why did Tribal stop being used?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (September 09, 2015). "Are you guys done with Tribal?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. Mark Rosewater (May 18, 2021). "TRIBAL Artifact - Lhurgoyf??? Does this mean Tribal could return in the future or just that MH2 is allowed to use retired mechanics?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. Mark Rosewater (May 18, 2021). "Thank you Mark! I am very excited for a Tribal card :)". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  14. Mark Rosewater (October 30, 2021). "Hi mark id like to ask what guides a card saying...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  15. Aaron Forsythe (December 10, 2021). "This was some exploration into other versions of the Tribal card type from Lorwyn days". Twitter.