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Werewolf Tribal


After last week’s article on bears in Commander, tonight we’re honoring a tribe with almost as much fur and even more flavor: werewolves. Wizards of the Coast will soon release Feline Ferocity in Commander 2017, but it’s up to us to let the dogs out.

Your prey has entered the Kessig wilderness. They hear the howl of your gathering pack, but these mages do not fear. They scoff at your Commander, Ulrich of the Krallenhorde, believing their spellcraft too potent and your lycanthropes too weak in their human forms.

Werewolves suffer in all Constructed formats, where deck consistency prevents their transformation. In multiplayer it’s all but assured one of your foes will cast two spells a round, morphing your lupine hunters back into naked humans. You cannot count on having howl-ready werewolves on your own turn, not unless the full moon is out.

Even confident mages start to sweat when caught unawares under a Blood Moon. Track them by their fear scent, and at their first misstep, your howlpack will transform. Wolves will run. Saliva will trail from fangs. And as the pack closes in, every pair of eyes will flash red.

Your prey will groan and maybe cry at the unfairness of life in general and your mana-denial strategy in particular. Broadly speaking, you don’t want to slow the game down to a crawl. That’s not fun for anyone. Don’t cast Blood Moon on turn three. But if you have multiple werewolves out, it can give you massive advantage and allow you to clamp your fangs down on the throat of your prey and declare victory.

If you still would prefer not to play Blood Moon effects, this article will present a decklist without them (or as many werewolves). But also consider if Blue players have brainwashed you against a legitimate Red strategy. Mind mages themselves waste everyone’s time by countering critical spells and taking extra turns. And it certainly isn’t any better than Blood Moon when The Locust God player casts Sunder then Windfall.

As a leader of a howlpack, you must lull your prey into complacency then surprise them with a mana-denial card. The deck also plays more instants, to allow you to skip casting anything on your turn and force a werewolf change.

Ulrich?s Howlpack ? Commander | A.E. Marling

You should note a lack of two key transformation enablers, Yeva, Nature's Herald and Vedalken Orrery. The elf and the Vedalken artifact rubbed my Vorthos the wrong way. I tried to make the above list as flavorful as possible. Making your foes feel terrified of a Blood Moon and helpless under its glare is very in keeping with the horror genre. To be fair, surprising them with flash creatures is also flavorful. Add the jump scares if you wish.

The reason to play werewolves is flavor, not power. You had best love the underdogs enough to track spells cast each turn, unsleeve your fanged pets, and transform them all. This is not a popular or feared tribe, but that’s to your advantage. You likely won’t be targeted first. The powerful cards (Blood Moon) will be hidden in your deck.

The second list will focus less on Innistrad flavor and more on finding the werewolves that do the most work in multiplayer. More players means more turns and more opportunity to transform per round. Werewolves that generate mana, like Scorned Villager, are always good, but most of all we’re looking for lycanthropes with abilities that trigger upon transformation. Turns out, there are only three: Afflicted Deserter, Huntmaster of the Fells, and Ulrich of the Krallenhorde.

Commander players had been howling for a werewolf legend forever, but seeing Ulrich for the first time raised their hackles. True, if he had abilities like Immerwolf, he could’ve made other werewolves consistent, but what he does have is the best transform abilities. While the Alpha does not give direct bonuses to his pack, they play well with him. Breakneck Rider and Kruin Outlaw both grant him evasion in their werewolf forms, and Vildin-Pack Alpha can help him enter the battlefield ravenous.

The trouble is, you can’t count on any of them being in wolf form on your turn, not without disrupting your opponents’ mana. Without Blood Moon, this second list has to cut most of the werewolves. Instead, it focuses on making Ulrich a one-wolf scourge, as well as on synergizing his hefty +4/+4 bonus with other creatures with double strike.

Ulrich Says, ?Bite Me!? ? Commander | A.E. Marling

Ulrich hungers for haste, as that allows him to give himself the +4/+4 bonus and swing in for eight Commander damage, but he doesn’t want it from Lightning Greaves. Shroud stops him from targeting himself on subsequent turns. He wants power and evasion, but equipment like Sword of Feast and Famine also prevents him from becoming his most bestial self.

A final thought on the transformational HasCon promo, Grimlock, Dinobot Leader. The +2/+0 buff is not enough to make werewolves strong in Commander, though the inclusion of White would provide cards like Rule of Law.

Do you have an epic memory of playing with the flavorful werewolves in Commander or Limited? Share it in a comment.

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