Eldritch Moon is out in its entirety, and the set looks fun. I played a R/U Fliers deck at the Prerelease that topped out at three Wretched Gryffs and a Mirrorwing Dragon. It was an absolute blast, and despite losing in the first round, I went undefeated the rest of the day.
The set also looks pretty amazing for Commander. Splendid Reclamation is going to be an all-star in all sorts of graveyard decks, while emerge creatures are going to be absurd in Animar and Rakdos decks. Zombies got one of their best cards ever in the form of Cryptbreaker, and even Wizards got some support in the form of Docent of Perfection // Final Iteration. Add in the fact that Angels finally got a Commander with tribal synergies and I'm very happy with Eldritch Moon.
Ever since the Underworld movies, I felt the impetus to take a stance in the whole Werewolves vs. Vampires rivalry. I was always adamantly pro-Werewolves. Vampires represent the soft bourgeois, whereas the Werewolves represented the hardworking proletariat. Vampires sipped blood in their mansions; Werewolves worked hard for their sustenance.
This stance led me feeling a bit dejected in the realm of Commander as there were easily half a dozen good Vampire-tribal legendary creatures, but not a single one for werewolves. I'm glad to see that has finally been corrected with Ulrich of the Krallenhorde, whether or not his abilities leave us lupine-sympathizers wanting.
Luckily, his abilities seem to pretty aggressive and he is in the right colors for an aggressive deck. Here is my mob of lycanthropes:
Werewolves and Werewolf-Friendly Cards -- 17
Fight! Cards -- 5
Aggro Cards -- 20
Ramp -- 8
Card Advantage -- 7
Funsies -- 2
Removal -- 4
Lands -- 36
I tried to focus on the aggressive nature of Werewolves. Perhaps I overdid it, but I liked the idea of multiple combat phases and being able to Overrun my team with cards like Pathbreaker Ibex and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa.
I wish there were more playable Werewolf cards, but barring an unturned stone somewhere, the ones I left off seemed rightfully left off.
I tried to play to both sides of Ulrich to the best of my abilities. For the power boost enters-the-battlefield effect, I tried to give my creatures trample reliably with cards like Nylea. For the transformed side, I tried to follow its theme with fight-based creature removal.
My main issues with the deck are the card advantage package and the creature package. Am I missing some good card draw in Gruul colors? Am I missing some no-brainer brawns for the creature base? I should mention now that my budget is about $50, so cards like Greater Good and Craterhoof Behemoth are a bit out of my budget range, unless there are few alterations.
I am glad the Werewolf fans have a legendary creature to build around. Hopefully when we revisit Innistrad in the future, we'll get a couple more options and catch up with those pesky bloodsuckers.
Well, I said in my last article that it was only a matter of time before I took Ulrich on, and after we got multiple submissions for the Uncontested Alpha, I knew I'd have to do one of them. I'm still not sure if Ulrich is actually good or not, but this is where we get to find out.
As is, Dina's list is halfway between a Werewolf tribal deck and an R/G aggro deck that happens to have some Werewolves in it. I'll try to tilt the balance toward the former a little more, in addition to upping the power level of the deck in general.
Normally ramp is one of the best things you can dedicate slots to in a Commander deck, but here's the thing: you're playing a fast aggro deck, and you don't have many cards that need a lot of mana. Some ramp is fine, but I'd rather dedicate your early game to playing good attackers. Wood Elves and Farhaven Elf are the worst of the ramp spells you had, so they're getting cut.
As a consequence of this deck not wanting much in the way of ramp, I'm cutting some of your most mana-intensive cards. Wolfbriar Elemental requires a huge mana investment in order to be relevant, made doubly difficult for you because red mana can't be used for the multikicker cost.
Giant Adephage gets cut at the same time because it's a seven-mana investment for an off-theme creature. Admittedly Adephage can take over a game on its own, but it's so slow that I can't justify it.
Fight is easily the best removal available for your deck, but Magus of the Arena comes with two problems. First, you have to tap the creature that you want to fight, which removes one of your attackers for the turn. Second, your opponent gets to choose the creature you're fighting. Most of the time, that means you'll either be destroying an endless stream of tokens or feeding your creatures to something Lord of Extinction-sized. Magus is also rather mana-intensive and won't go online until after your opponents have already had time to set up their defenses.
Nylea, God of the Hunt is in the deck to give your team trample consistently, but almost every pump effect you run already does that. Some of the Gods are amazing, but in my experience Nylea has never really done anything.
Hydra Omnivore and Dragonlord Atarka are perfectly fine attackers, but I'm changing the ratios to increase the number of Werewolves and synergies with them. If we're just looking for aggressive creatures, it's soon going to be more beneficial to play more lords instead of individually powerful cards. Losing the Hydra in particular hurts, but in the end it'll be worth it.
Huntmaster of the Fells takes up a full third of your budget, but it's worth it. Gaining life is far from relevant, but repeatedly making Wolf tokens is pretty great for this deck, and there will usually be some utility creature worth killing. In a lot of ways Huntmaster is a miniature version of your general.
Adding Immerwolf immediately after Huntmaster of the Fells might seem a little strange, but I wanted to highlight the fact that Immerwolf is worth running, even though it's slightly dissynergistic with Huntmaster and your general. Werewolves are strong enough on their back side that it's absolutely worth giving up even the best transformation triggers in order to lock your team into their night form.
One of Dina's main questions when submitting was whether she'd missed any good Werewolf enablers. Surprisingly, I found that two of the best ones available weren't on the list. Kruin Outlaw grants you entire team menace while packing a hefty punch of its own. It's an ideal tool for forcing damage through in combat.
Mondronen Shaman, on the other hand, comes at the problem from a different angle. Dealing two to an opponent whenever they cast a spell might not seem like much, but it'll incentivize your opponents to cast single big spells instead of several smaller ones to avoid racking up large amounts of damage. Additionally, your opponents will be incentivized to leave your Werewolves in their night state so that they won't be the only ones taking damage for casting spells. It's far from a certainty, but in these colors it's one of the best guarantees that your Werewolves will stay savage.
Silverfur Partisan and Spirit of the Hunt are debatable choices. They're both here to act as semi-counters to various removal, whether that's targeted spells for Silverfur Partisan or damage-based sweepers for Spirit of the Hunt. If either of those are few and far between in your area, it would be worth replacing them with Werewolves that have good damage-to-mana ratios like Grizzled Outcasts or Gatstaf Arsonists.
For the last three slots I wanted to lower your curve, so I picked the most aggressive one- and two-drop Werewolves. Reckless Waif can come down early enough that it'll easily flip and stay that way for several turns, hitting for three the whole time. Lambholt Pacifist and Kessig Forgemaster have the same likelihood to transform early, but they also have stats that mean they can at least trade with everything you're likely to see in the first five turns of the game, which will make them more likely to actually get through for damage. This deck always wants to be on the attack, so lowering the curve will serve you well.
I've already said that you don't want a ton of ramp, and Explosive Vegetation falls on a place in the curve where you really want to be playing creatures.
Momentous Fall and Life's Legacy are both fantastic card draw spells, but you really don't want to sacrifice any creatures in order to use them. There are better options out there, if you look just a little higher on the mana curve.
Chandra's Ignition is getting cut for a similar reason. Wraths are good precisely because they cripple decks like this one, and even though you can set it to leave some of your creatures alive, Chandra's Ignition usually won't do that and wipe out your opponents' battlefields.
Soul's Majesty is one of the best one-shot card draw spells printed, and while it doesn't pad your life total like Momentous Fall, you get to keep your best creature. Since it's hopefully rare that you'll need the life, I'll take that tradeoff.
I know she's a Werewolf flavorfully, but Arlinn Kord doesn't do all that much that you're interested in. Her best mode for you is her back side's team buff, but when you're looking to turn your entire team sideways every turn, I'd rather not have Planeswalkers that get left vulnerably open.
Garruk, Primal Hunter isn't a planeswalker, not really. A common joke about the card type is that they turn into super-sorceries with Doubling Season out, but this Garruk is most often a sorcery, as it'll usually be correct to cast him and immediately use the minus three. He's harder to cast than Soul's Majesty, but he has the added benefit of still working if they respond by killing your best creature.
You had Strionic Resonator listed under “funsies,” and I'm inclined to say that's because it doesn't do all that much for you. If you could still use it to copy the transform trigger and flip your best Werewolf back to the night side after it transforms to the day side, I'd be all for it, but they closed that loophole with the release of Shadows over Innistrad. All it's really here to do is copy Ulrich's triggered abilities, and we can do more with a card slot than that.
Door of Destinies and Eldrazi Monument let you magnify the force you have on the battlefield and make even your smallest creature a threat to the Godsires of the world, either by making them massive or impossible to kill and evasive. Eldrazi Monument also nullifies any non-exile Wrath, which is something that this deck desperately needed. Admittedly, Door of Destinies takes a while to build up steam, but the potential to give your creatures +8/+8 or more is worth it.
It's unusual to be saying this in a tribal aggro deck, but haste isn't a great keyword to give your creatures. Absent shenanigans with Geier Reach Bandit, your creatures aren't going to be in Werewolf form when they first come down, and in general it won't be worth attacking with them. Besides, there's a better enchantment we can play in the three-mana slot…
Shared Animosity grants you an exponential boost in damage that correlates to the number of attackers you have. When it comes to surprise boosts of damage, this is one of the best cards for turning an unimpressive board position into a lethal attack. I've used it in several of my own decks, and it's always overperformed.
Elemental Bond is another piece of strong card advantage and joins Soul of the Harvest and Garruk's Packleader as ways to chain creatures into more creatures. These cards are the ones that will grant you your most explosive draws, so it's worth playing even the ones that don't come with bodies attached.
Putting it all together, here's the finished decklist:
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Afflicted Deserter
- 1 Bane of Progress
- 1 Breakneck Rider
- 1 Cult of the Waxing Moon
- 1 Daybreak Ranger
- 1 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 1 Geier Reach Bandit
- 1 Gruul Ragebeast
- 1 Hellkite Charger
- 1 Hermit of the Natterknolls
- 1 Huntmaster of the Fells
- 1 Immerwolf
- 1 Instigator Gang
- 1 Kessig Forgemaster
- 1 Kruin Outlaw
- 1 Lambholt Elder
- 1 Lambholt Pacifist
- 1 Mayor of Avabruck
- 1 Mondronen Shaman
- 1 Pathbreaker Ibex
- 1 Pyreheart Wolf
- 1 Reckless Waif
- 1 Sage of Ancient Lore
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Siege Behemoth
- 1 Silverfur Partisan
- 1 Soul of the Harvest
- 1 Spirit of the Hunt
- 1 Thunderfoot Baloth
- 1 Ulrich's Kindred
- 1 Ulvenwald Tracker
- 1 Wolfir Silverheart
- 1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
- 1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
- 1 Xenagos, God of Revels
- 1 Door of Destinies
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Mage Slayer
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Berserkers' Onslaught
- 1 Elemental Bond
- 1 Full Moon's Rise
- 1 Howlpack Resurgence
- 1 Shared Animosity
- 1 Warstorm Surge
- 1 Zendikar Resurgent
- 1 Hunter's Insight
- 1 Moonlight Hunt
- 1 Moonmist
- 1 Bow of Nylea
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Decimate
- 1 Ezuri's Predation
- 1 Hunter's Prowess
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Overwhelming Stampede
- 1 Rampant Growth
- 1 Soul's Majesty
- 1 World at War
And the additions, sorted by price:
The changes add up to $48.35, just under the $50 budget that Dina had. As always, Dina will receive $20 in store credit to StarCityGames.com® to help with the changes. This might be enough to consider getting that Craterhoof Behemoth or just bring down the price tag on this deck.
Overall I'm pretty happy with where this deck wound up. Werewolves aren't a particularly deep tribe, but red and green have enough support cards for aggressive decks that even the limited numbers still pack a heavy punch. Besides, who doesn't love the picture of a pack of bloodthirsty Werewolves following a Goat into battle, even if that Goat is Pathbreaker Ibex?
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