The Term "Tribal" Is Being Replaced By "Typal" In Magic: The Gathering
Creatures have had creature types that help give them personality, flavor, and mechanical reasoning since the very start of the game 30 years ago. As creatures of certain tribes became more and more developed, strategies began to develop around them, and many have spawned archetypes and decks - Many of which have devoted players. That said, this hasn't stopped WOTC from abandoning the term tribal in favor of the much less appealing "typal." Today, I'll cover the change, why it happened, and what it means for the game moving forward.
Tribal Is No More... It's Now Called "Typal"
Creature cards in Magic: The Gathering have a sub-type in addition to being a creature called its creature-type. For example, a creature could be a human knight, a vampire, a zombie, or countless others. These creature types lend the characters depth, flavor, and personality and help to flesh out why the card does what it does.
If a card can return from the graveyard after it dies, it makes sense that it would be a zombie. Not only does this add an extra layer to the game in terms of immersion, but it also helps to explain why a card can do what it does. As tribes acquire more pieces and develop strengths and weaknesses, decks built entirely around them emerge. And for the record, these are some of the most popular decks in Magic - Especially for more casual players.
Why The Change?
So, why take something that wasn't broken for 30 years and "fix" it now? Well, it seems to come from a place of political correctness. Mark Rosewater stated in his "Lesson Learned, Part 4" article (where he discusses his takeaways from each MTG set he's worked on - Link here) that concerning Ixalan, he "ended up making the call to have four factions, each with its own typal reward." Until now, that's not a term we've heard used to describe creature types.
He gave this short reasoning behind the change for the classic term: "We've stopped using the word 'tribal' in R&D as numerous consultants have stressed that it carries negative connotations, so we now use 'typal' to mean creature type mattering mechanically."'
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Expanding on this from my own thoughts, I take it that this refers to the word Tribe or Tribal being offensive to Native Americans. Some feel the term undermines Native Americans and our sovereignty as a Nation. As well as perpetuates Natives as primitive people and comes from a time of colonial racism. If you're Native American, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
I've never seen or heard players express problems with the term in Magic specifically, but that doesn't mean people don't have them. If I had to guess, I would say WOTC is aware of the general connotations of the term and is taking a preemptive approach to avoid problems in the future. After all, we've seen them remove art from old MTG cards on the gather website that they feel aren't up to their standards. For example, Searching for any of the following cards, you'll see the image below.
- Invoke Prejudice
- Stone-Throwing Devils
- Pradesh Gypsies
What Does This Change Mean For The Game Moving Forward?
Honestly, probably not too much. After all, players can still use the term Tribal if they want. The only in-game difference it could make is if cards that mention Tribal by name (such as) get reprinted in the future. If they do, they might say "Typal" instead. Besides that, I can't see it making much difference for the game overall.
There you have it, my friends - Abandoning the term "Tribal" for "Typal," why the change happened, my thoughts on why the decision was made, and what it means for the future of Magic: The Gathering. Comment and let me know how you feel about the changes and if you'll use the new term or keep Tribal. Until next time, take care.