I am not its master. We are of the same pack. – Ulrich, Krallenhorde Alpha
There are some Commander fans who have been chomping at the bit for a legendary Werewolf to make an appearance ever since we first found out we'd be returning to Innistrad. I was not one of those people. To me, the mechanic that triggers Werewolf transformation seemed cool and flavorful for duels but way too random and chaotic for a group game. I envisioned not playing any spells my turn in order to get my Werewolf to flip, and then the opponent next to me playing two spells on their turn to flip it back. The power inherent in Werewolves tend to be invested in its back side, so it just seemed like an exercise in frustration to have multiple opponents who have the power to flip your Werewolves back into puny Human form.
Then there's the whole thing of having to keep track of what your Werewolf looks like on its other side, and paying attention to whether or not your opponents play zero or two or more spells in a turn to trigger transformation. It just seemed like a lot of hassle without reliable payoff.
Still, I too was intrigued to find out what a legendary Werewolf might look like if Wizards of the Coast decided to make one. So when I heard about Ulrich of the Krallenhorde I eagerly checked out both sides to see what our potential new Commander might bring to the table.
People hoping for some sort of tribal boost were definitely disappointed. Ulrich apparently isn't interested in being a “lord” of his tribe. He's interested in making a creature large and in charge – including himself if need be. And when he gets wild, he wants to fight. But he has a code: no creatures that are on your side, and no Werewolves.
Though he doesn't have explicit tribal synergies, his daylight side actually works pretty well with the ebb and flow of how Werewolves play out in multiplayer. Like I mentioned above, the daylight side of Werewolves tend to be unimpressive, so a +4/+4 boost to one of them can help it jump into the Red Zone with purpose. That happens the turn you cast Ulrich, but also on other turns when an opponent caused daylight to trigger.
Sure, your nighttime beasts may have turned back into their small Human form, but Ulrich's flip trigger means you can make one of them +4/+4 larger. And the transformation into the night side happening over again means you can fight and likely kill something each time that happens. A 6/6 isn't a slouch at fighting. So when I think about it, Ulrich's abilities take what I saw as a drawback in playing Werewolves in Commander and at the very least mitigate it, if not turn it into a benefit.
Add to that these crazy Werewolf Horrors that transform into Eldrazi Werewolves – permanently – and I was suddenly intrigued by the notion of building an actual Werewolf Commander deck!
Bring on the Night (Were/Wolves Matter)
Cavern of Souls, Mayor of Avabruck, Waxing Moon, Full Moon's Rise, Moonlight Hunt, Moonmist, Howlpack Resurgence, Ulrich's Kindred, Silverfur Partisan, Urza's Incubator, Mana Echoes, Deathrender, Quicksilver Amulet, Door of Destinies, Belbe's Portal, Cryptic Gateway, Obelisk of Urd
In addition to regular tribal inclusions like Urza's Incubator, Obelisk of Urd, and Door of Destinies I really like Belbe's Portal and Cryptic Gateway here since they allow you to put Werewolves onto the battlefield without actually casting spells so you can potentially get the night trigger and flip them. I also included Quicksilver Amulet and Deathrender for more ways to get Werewolves on the battlefield without casting spells.
There are a surprising number of decent Werewolf support cards too. Waxing Moon is a new card from Eldritch Moon and is sure to be a great combat trick. Howlpack Resurgence is also a sweet combat trick that sticks around. Moonlight Hunt is an extremely flavorful creature kill spell. And I like that, even though Ulrich's Kindred and Silverfur Partisan aren't Werewolves, they provide great support for the tribe (pack).
In addition to Ulrich of the Krallenhorde, there are a couple of other Werewolves that have enters-the-battlefield triggers (Huntmaster Of The Fells, Smoldering Werewolf, and Sage of Ancient Lore), so I included Conjurer's Closet as a way to retrigger those when they're helpful. Nim Deathmantle is another way to potentially bring a Werewolf back from the dead into daylight.
Speaking of Sage of Ancient Lore, its night side Werewolf of Ancient Hunger is a multiplayer powerhouse—like Multani, Maro-Sorcerer, but instead of shroud you get trample and vigilance! If I ever get to sacrifice it to Greater Good and bring it back with Nim Deathmantle, I'll be living the dream.
Running with the Pack
Kessig Prowler, Village Messenger, Reckless Waif, Wolfbitten Captive, Lambholt Pacifist, Ulvenwald Captive, Duskwatch Recruiter, Scorned Villager, Hinterland Hermit, Shrill Howler, Conduit of Storms, Daybreak Ranger, Lambholt Elder, Kruin Outlaw, Hermit Of The Natterknolls, Geier Reach Bandit, Tangleclaw Werewolf, Smoldering Werewolf, Mondronen Shaman, Instigator Gang, Huntmaster of the Fells, Afflicted Deserter, Vildin-Pack Outcast, Sage of Ancient Lore
I was actually surprised that there are now so many Werewolves in red and green that I needed to cut some from the list. Some of these are much better than others, but all are at the very least decent when they're transformed. There are quite a few that only cost one mana, so I've adjusted my manabase to cut down on the lands that only produce colorless mana.
Werewolves take up a lot of slots low on the mana curve, so I didn't have much room for regular mana acceleration outside of Sol Ring and my new Commander favorite Cryptolith Rite. I did however find room higher up the curve for Mana Reflection and Zendikar Resurgent, mainly so I could transform Eldritch Moon Werewolves into these beauties:
Now if that's not gorgeously horrific, I don't know what is!
Arlinn's not technically a Werewolf and doesn't directly support the tribe, but she's a planeswalker who's a Werewolf in the storyline, so I found room to include her.
I like the flavor of Neglected Heirloom and the fact it transforms when the creature it's attached to transforms, so I included it here. I just wish the equip cost on its backside wasn't quite so expensive.
All right, so without further ado, here's my Werewolf Commander deck, featuring Ulrich of the Krallenhorde!
- 1 Afflicted Deserter
- 1 Conduit of Storms
- 1 Daybreak Ranger
- 1 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 1 Geier Reach Bandit
- 1 Hermit of the Natterknolls
- 1 Hinterland Hermit
- 1 Huntmaster of the Fells
- 1 Instigator Gang
- 1 Kessig Prowler
- 1 Kruin Outlaw
- 1 Lambholt Elder
- 1 Lambholt Pacifist
- 1 Mayor of Avabruck
- 1 Mondronen Shaman
- 1 Reckless Waif
- 1 Sage of Ancient Lore
- 1 Scorned Villager
- 1 Shrill Howler
- 1 Silverfur Partisan
- 1 Smoldering Werewolf
- 1 Tangleclaw Werewolf
- 1 Ulrich's Kindred
- 1 Ulvenwald Captive
- 1 Vildin-Pack Outcast
- 1 Village Messenger
- 1 Wolfbitten Captive
- 1 Basilisk Collar
- 1 Belbe's Portal
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Conjurer's Closet
- 1 Cryptic Gateway
- 1 Deathrender
- 1 Door of Destinies
- 1 Neglected Heirloom
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Obelisk of Urd
- 1 Quicksilver Amulet
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Urza's Incubator
- 1 Cryptolith Rite
- 1 Full Moon's Rise
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Howlpack Resurgence
- 1 Mana Echoes
- 1 Mana Reflection
- 1 Rancor
- 1 Zendikar Resurgent
- 1 Deglamer
- 1 Moonlight Hunt
- 1 Moonmist
- 1 Savage Alliance
- 1 Unravel the Aether
- 1 Waxing Moon
- 1 Word of Seizing
- 1 Blasphemous Act
- 1 Creeping Renaissance
- 1 Seasons Past
- 1 Verdant Confluence
Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein
I'm wondering if anyone else saw the name Ulrich and immediately thought of the pseudonym used in the movie A Knight's Tale, especially the spectacular way he was introduced by his squire?
“Behold my lord Ulrich, the rock, the hard place!”
So how do you like my Werewolf deck? Is there anything I'm blatantly missing? How would you build it differently?
And keep those “mailbag” style questions coming to my email inbox: starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com. I'll be gathering some together and answering questions and starting some discussions soon.
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
Commander write-ups I've done (and links to decklists):
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice ( new player-friendly)
Uril, the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)