Sift Through Sands - Kangee and Ruhan

Wes Stuckey • September 19, 2022

Giant's Grasp | Art by Ilse Gort

Head in the Clouds

Hello, Magic fans! Enjoying the delights of Dominaria United? The cards in Legends sparked a lot of inspiration for decks when I was getting into Magic, and seeing a healthy number of them reappearing with an updated power level is so exciting! Dominaria definitely has that "classic Magic: the Gathering" feel, and what's more classic than tribal decks? In this week's Sift Through Sands, we'll be looking at two combat-focused tribal decks: Kangee, Aerie Keeper Birds and Ruhan of the Fomori Giants.

Our Picks

Kangee and Ruhan aren't the most popular choices for tribal decks, each representing a large tribe with few commanders. Kangee comes as a janky late drop pump spell, boosting our Birds to lethal damage, while Ruhan's chaotic attacks give us a dangerous early threat in a tribe that tends to be high mana value. Birds and Giants alike want to amass a force of dangerous creatures, with our Birds getting incrementally more threatening, while our Giants are bombs for later in the game. Let's start with Kangee!

You Can't Stop Storm Crow

Commander (1)
Artifact (9)
Creature (37)
Enchantment (7)
Instant (4)
Sorcery (5)
Land (36)

Playing Kangee

The objective of this deck is to play Storm Crow as quickly as possible. We will never be upset to see it. Jokes aside, early-game drops like Storm Crow, Judge's Familiar, Watcher of the Spheres, and Cartographer's Hawk all get us moving. As classic of a strategy as there is, getting a lot of cheap fliers in play can start to make our opponents sweat as they hope to find their own. We want to continue strengthening our flock, with anthem effects like Aven Brigadier and Gravitational Shift or by profiting from using them as chump blockers with Soulcatchers' Aerie.

Our best Birds come in the form of legendary creatures, with Commander Eesha, Kangee, Sky Warden, Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker, and Major Teroh being notable. Thrummingbird carries the deck's reliance on incidental counters, making our commander and Tine Shrike more dangerous alike. By this point, our force of Birds includes small fliers and these more dangerous threats as we begin to snowball.

Being so focused on creatures, our deck utility comes with wings. Aven Mimeomancer converts The Ur-Dragon to a manageable size, Aven Mindcensor disrupts combos, and Keeper of the Nine Gales helps us with removal. Our ramp package includes plenty of mana rocks that tap for multiple mana, like Thran Dynamo and Worn Powerstone, keeping us ahead of the curve in order to play more Birds and let Kangee compound their threat with plenty of feather counters. Most importantly, The Raven's Warning lets us pull our second Storm Crow into the game (if it's okay with your playgroup, of course).

The Birds here want to win by building up a low-mana-cost force and boosting them, which works well early game. Ruhan, unlike Kangee, doesn't have as many early game threats. However, the critical setup needed to keep us in the game comes in our first few plays, especially when our curve is high. Let's take a look at our list:

Giant Steps

Commander (1)
Artifact (11)
Creature (29)
Enchantment (11)
Instant (9)
Sorcery (4)
Land (35)

Playing Ruhan

Giants they might be, and giants they are. With their size comes a mana value weight that we need to consider, especially with our lack of reliable land-based ramp. However, Preordain, Glimpse the Cosmos, and Invasion of the Giants help us out, sifting through our deck for the right cards. Our ramp comes in the form of cheap mana rocks, allowing us to curve into Ruhan and friends. Utility spells and countermagic, such as Stubborn Denial and Prismari Command, help keep us in the game as well.

Our support Giants are important plays. Aegar, the Freezing Flame, Thryx, the Sudden Storm, and Calamity Bearer are all welcome sights. If we have trouble with mana, Mindwrack Liege helps us drop in Frost Titan or Sunrise Sovereign much faster, and it does a lot of work in this list. As we approach late game, we want to have combat boosts, like Ferocity of the Wilds, Glory of Warfare, and Fervor, to help us pack a better and faster punch.

We want our Giants to hit hard and to make the ground quake as we cast them. Realm-Cloaked Giant, Cyclone Summoner, and Thundercloud Shaman all make quite an impact. To close the game out, Brion Stoutarm, Surtland Flinger, and Levitation work to make sure we pack a punch no matter what, and ideally letting us deal large amounts of damage from attacking and tossing a Giant at an opponent.


Tribal Quest

Tribal decks can be multifaceted, with some leaning towards thematic combo decks and others being a variety of aggro strategies. In each of our decks, we need to have a tribal glue to support the shortcomings of picking from a narrower field of creatures. The following cards are in both lists:

As neither of our lists include green, and both need lots of mana to work well, many of these cards work to get us that mana. Outside of our rocks, Herald's Horn, Mistform Warchief, and Dreamscape Artist are essential ways to get that mana. Call to the Kindred makes it easier to match faster decks by getting us more creatures, and Kindred Discovery keeps us ahead in the card advantage game. Including useful Changelings, like Unsettled Mariner, is a powerful tool as well. Tribal decks can be explosively powerful, and recent cards like Reflections of Littjara help tribes that occur in color identities that aren't always creature-focused compete.


That's all for now! Now that we're through, I want to hear about your tribe of choice, and I want to know why you like it! Did you think about building Spike tribal like a younger me? What do you think makes tribal decks so endearing in this complicated game we play? Let me know in the comments and I'll see you around. Thanks for reading!



The untenable Wes Stuckey is the jankiest Magic player to roam the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (their first brewed deck was Blind Seer "old cards"). By day, they work in circulation at one of the city's many great libraries. By night, you can find them slinging spells, running campaigns, and listening to music with friends and the cat.