Let's just get this out there right away: I am not a squirrel guy.
Yes, when asked, I've been known to profess a love of squirrels. Rather loudly. Most everyone at my Unstable release tournament can confirm that, and many people at Gencon last year can also confirm that I am rather loud.
However, I don't have a squirrel deck. In my play group, John is the squirrel guy. He has a Deranged Hermit deck that does all sorts of fun squirrel shenanigans. The deck even includes a Gaea's Cradle. There is no doubt; John loves squirrels.
What I love is Squirrellink. The idea of a creature that spawns more of the same creature just by doing damage sounds fun. If the creature was the Lord of Lynx and had Lynxlink, I would be just as interested. The Prince of Puppers with Houndlink would be good. The Baron of Bovine with Cowlick would be... well okay, that would be way better! Although you get my meaning, the fact it is squirrels is just fine. Squirrellink also makes the lack of vigilance irrelevant. If you tap the Earl and do four damage, you'll have four untapped Squirrels there to protect you!
Obviously the creature I'm talking about is Earl of Squirrel. This Unstable card could easily jump to black-border land. I don't think it is too outrageous an idea. Swing with the Earl and get four squirrels. Other creatures do things that are far more terrifying than that!
While the idea of Squirrellink led me to the Earl of Squirrel, the second ability hooked me completely. All of your creature tokens are Squirrels in addition to their other creature types. This means that you can simply add the Earl of Squirrel to virtually any token deck! Or more interestingly for me, you can put a bunch of different token producers and the Earl of Squirrel will bring them all together! While many decks are limited by the type of tokens that are produced, an Earl of Squirrel deck has no such issues! Mycoloth would make Saproling Squirrels. Secure the Wastes provides White Warrior Squirrels at instant speed! Sylvan Offering makes Treefolk Squirrels and Elf Warrior Squirrels for you and a friend!
Given that, I thought I would look at putting together a deck that abuses both the Squirrellink and adding Squirrel to all the tokens' creature type. First off, let's make some Squirrel tokens!
Up the Damage
If the Earl makes a Squirrel for every point of damage it does, then it makes sense to increase the amount of damage it does! I reached out for Fireshrieker and Grappling Hook first. Giving the Earl of Squirrel double strike just means that you are getting double the Squirrels. One swing with the Earl means eight Squirrels sitting on the battlefield. If you really want to get stupid, run Alpha Status on the Earl as well! Even without a single other Squirrel on the battlefield, the Earl would do four damage from the first strike and create four Squirrels. On the regular damage, Alpha Status sees the four squirrels and gives the Earl +8/+8 so it will do 12 damage, making a total of 16 Squirrels for the next combat. At that point, even if the Earl died, you still have 16 Squirrels to pump or just swing with on the next turn!
None of this even considers regular combat trick spells. Might of Oaks (especially the one with the squirrel in the picture!) gives +7+7, which just means seven more Squirrels.
It should also be remembered that the Earl of Squirrel doesn't have to attack. If someone attacks you, the Earl can block and also do the damage needed to make Squirrels, so don't think you have to swing blindly into blocks that will kill the Earl. It may be worth it to do so, but adding a ton of token creatures can be all the deterrent you need to discourage opponents from coming your way.
Upping the Earls
While one Earl of Squirrel can be powerful, more Earls is downright terrifying! Blade of Selves is built for Earl of Squirrel. The Earl is not a legend, so you can get all the token copies from the Blade! If you have three opponents, you'll end up with three Earls. That means the Earls each get +2/+2 from the other Earls. When they hit, they each do six damage, so you'll end up with 18 Squirrels. Heaven forbid the opponents that can't deal with an Earl equipped with a Blade of Selves on the next turn, since all those Squirrels will be getting +3/+3 from the token Earls! With this being a 60-card deck, you can even run multiple Blades in one deck. An Earl of Squirrel with two Blades will make four copies of itself, meaning that all of them get +4/+4. Forty squirrels from one combat!
Helm of the Host takes a little longer but may work even better. You only get one copy of the Earl at the start of your combat, but if the battlefield is already at a point where your Earl won't survive, you can just send the copy on kamikaze missions. You will get four Squirrels every turn, and that is a worst case scenario. Opponents will be forced to deal with your ever-growing number of Earls since they pump each other and produce more tokens!
A Token Defense
The other option is to just up the token count. Earl of Squirrel essentially pumps every token type, so go to town! I've already mentioned a few options but I thought I would throw in a few that I don't see as much. Aura Mutation is instant speed enchantment removal that gives you some Saproling Squirrels as a bonus. Druid's Call seems like fun as it is the inverse of Squirrellink in that you get the Squirrels for the damage the creatures takes. Finale of Glory is a new one that gives you a serious bonus if you spend twelve mana. With this being a Green deck, hitting the ramp to do that doesn't seem impossible.
Any good token deck understands that 1/1 tokens simply aren't good enough. Even 2/2 tokens are pretty rough. You want bigger tokens. I have been singing the praises of Divine Visitation for months and it would be glorious in this deck! You would be getting 4/4 flying vigilant Angel Squirrels instead of mere 1/1 squirrels. As long as the Earl is around, your flying Angel Squirrels get a bonus so they are 5/5 flyers instead. Forget about everything I've mentioned before and picture just the Earl and Divine Visitation in play. What could you do with four Serra Angel Squirrels after the Earl swings in even once? Now picture any of the previous ways I've mentioned to pump up the Earl or copy the Earl. 18 4/4 Angel Squirrels?!
However, when it comes right down to it, Cathars' Crusade is still king for this deck! When the four Squirrels enter the battlefield, they all see each other and give each other +1/+1 counters. This means they all come in as 5/5 creatures. And that is assuming no other shenanigans were had! Remember that Fireshrieker that paled in comparison to the Blade of Selves? When the Earl does four damage with first strike it makes the four creatures, but with the Crusade, it would get +4/+4 on regular combat. That will give you eight more Squirrels and eight more +1/+1 counters on every other creature you control on the battlefield. This is a truly nutty squirrel play.
After all of this, I finally opted for this build:
Squirrellink| Casual | Bruce Richard
- Planeswalkers (1)
- 1 Huatli, Radiant Champion
- Enchantments (15)
- 1 Parallel Lives
- 2 Alpha Status
- 2 Divine Visitation
- 2 Doubling Season
- 2 Growing Rites of Itlimoc
- 3 Cathars' Crusade
- 3 Smothering Tithe
While I've already talked about most of the cards in the deck, I never mentioned Huatli, Radiant Champion. Huatli is everything you want in this deck! Her +1 ability should push her well into the range that allows you to play her ultimate on the next turn. Her -1 takes an Earl of Squirrel from a pedestrian 4/4 Squirrel into a 9/9, assuming you have four Squirrels on the battlefield in addition to the Earl, and that is only asking for a single attack. Her -8 ability gives you so much card draw you may end up drawing your entire deck. If four Squirrels enter the battlefield, you may draw four cards. If eight enter the battlefield, you may draw eight. Given the scenarios we've already mentioned, drawing a full grip of cards should be common with Huatli's emblem out.
This particular build doesn't include any of the mass token producers. While the big spells that make a ton of token creatures are fun, I was far more enamored with the idea of abusing Squirrellink by making the Earl of Squirrel bigger and bigger. Once I realized that I wanted to do that consistently, it was easy to drop the other spells by the wayside. This isn't saying that Cryptolith Rite after a Sylvan Offering into a ridiculous Secure the Wastes doesn't sound like a ton of fun! This is saying that Earl of Squirrel allows for all kinds of deck options and ideas! I encourage everyone to jump on board and build something amazing!