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Commander and Change: Ulrich of the Krallenhorde


I don’t know about y’all, but this preview season is making me a little . . .  crazy. Part of it is that I’m really excited about this set. There are a bunch of great cards, and I love what Wizards is doing with the story. But another part of my strange feeling can be best demonstrated with a story.

Several years ago, I was a commander player without a game. I’d moved away from my LGS where I’d learned the format, and the only shop somewhat near my house was a big tournament place with lots of Standard and Draft but not much by way of EDH. Every week, I’d dutifully pack a few decks and show up, hoping to catch a game. Occasionally I got lucky and actually played a Commander game, but more often I wound up joining a group of players who played multiplayer casual. There were 60-card decks, Highlander decks (I’d just shuffle my commander in and hope), and one guy with some of the wildest theme decks I’ve ever seen. One of them was a massive stack with one copy of every angel ever printed. It was five-color, of course, and ran nothing but angels and lands. That’s it. It was fun, funny, and a splendid example of complete devotion to a theme.

Scholars say legends of werewolves arose because wolves were the most important predator in Europe, and in Asia the equivalents are were tigers or wereleopards. In any case, they evoke the exact kind of terror we often want our decks to induce, so a card we EDH players have been clamoring for has been a legendary werewolf, and Wizards delivered with this guy.

Ulrich of the Krallenhorde
Ulrich, Uncontested Alpha

I mean, okay, right? It’s not un-strong. Granted, I’d have loved to see a creature version of Arlinn Kord, but we got Ulrich, who presumably gets his name from the French Code Lyoko series and the fan fiction it provoked. I’m sure deciding to build a tuned deck around this guy could lead to a strong pile, but I say we celebrate the deranged nature of werewolves. If the werewolves of Innistrad have gone mad, why don’t we?

Ulrich of the Krallenhorde ? EDH | Mark Wischkaemper

Normally here, we’d go through My Deck Tickled a Sliver to . . . 

What’s that?

It’s more than 100 cards, you say?

So it is. 150, actually. I did say we were going a bit crazy, didn’t I?

Here’s the theory. We’ve got a deck of 150 cards, led by the only legendary werewolf we’ve got, and every card (except for some of the lands) connects in some way to wolves or transformation. (The couple of outliers are the Gruul mana rocks and Firewild Borderpost, both of which werewolves would respect, don’t you think?) We set our commander in the command zone, shuffle the heck out of the deck, then, face down, remove 50 cards. They go back in the (oversized) box. We will have no idea which 99 remaining cards we’ve got, except that they’ll be themed to werewolves. This deck transforms every game.

We have every werewolf-based transform card from Innistrad and Shadows Over Innistrad, so really opaque sleeves are recommended. There’s a fair pack of them, at a wide variety of converted mana costs and abilities. Some are fairly mundane, just getting bigger when they transform, and some of them are really amazing, like Huntmaster of the Fells. The newest ones, from Eldritch Moon, have almost all been affected by Emrakul (werewolf’mrakul?), and they’ve got a different transformation trigger — we pay some mana and they transform, but then they’re stuck as their Eldrazi versions, which are reliably stronger, so that’s good.

Our non-werewolf/non-wolf creatures are Master of the Hunt, Master of the Wild Hunt, and Cult of the Waxing Moon, all of which make us wolf tokens. Wild Hunt even gives us a removal ability which works with a bunch of our other creatures. We can do a lot of damage with that guy if it works right. We’ve also got Hanweir Garrison, not because it’s a werewolf, but because it melds with Hanweir Battlements. Besides, pulling that off would be cool.

We’ve got a few nifty enchantments. Feed the Pack lets us go wide if our big guys can’t get there. Full Moon's Rise is a nice anthem for us, and can save us from a wrath effect. Wolfcaller's Howl is strong in a format with a lot of card draw, and Raised by Wolves can just get silly, considering how many wolves we’ve got running around. Parallel Lives had to be in the mix, because the flavor text is Ulrich’s first appearance back in Innistrad, and the wolf images are great.

We’ve also got three instants. Moonmist is a cool one-way Fog effect which still lets us hit pretty hard, and will transform any of our tame humans into their furrier forms. Waxing Moon can punch in some extra damage during an Alpha Strike. Savage Alliance, meanwhile, has a Werewolf in the artwork and gives us some much-needed removal – besides, wolves run in packs, right? So it makes sense they’d have an alliance, and they’re awfully savage.

Eldritch Evolution is a one-shot Birthing Pod on steroids which lets us do two important things. One, we can upgrade one of our creatures early, but, two, it also lets us look through our library! Since we won’t know which 50 cards we’re missing, it will give us some insight into what deck we’re working with. Howl of the Night Pack probably won’t make a ton, we’re not running that many Forests, but it should at least make us a few wolves, and do you get more flavorful?

Arlinn Kord is here, of course, with that quiet smile and wicked set of abilities. The other ‘walker hanging out is Sarkhan Vol (and his later version, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker). Arlinn is a Werewolf, so she makes perfect sense, but Sarkhan? He’s a dragon lover. The thing is, he’d respect the savagery and bestial nature of Werewolves. And he transforms! Can’t you just imagine him meeting some dude who turns into a hulking wolf, so he turns himself into a dragon? That would be awesome.

We’re running 59 lands, the vast majority of which are dual lands of some sort. We’ve also got some utility, and plenty of the lands come into play tapped, because we’re not likely to do much in the first couple of turns. Werewolves are expensive.

This is a flashy, themey deck which will be different every time it’s played, and it’s best played at the full moon. It’s probably not going to crush tables all the time, but if Werewolves are your thing, this is one way to do it. Plus, it’s crazy! Madness as an ability may be hard to make work, but we can be mad in other ways.

Did I miss anything? What do you want to do to make werewolves work in Commander? Would you ever consider playing a deck like this? Sound off in the comments!

Go crazy with Werewolves, and don’t worry about what isn’t in the deck that game, there’s always the next one!

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