“Transform all Humans” is easily one of my favorite pieces of rules text ever. (It doesn’t quite approach the awesomeness of “Curse of the Fire Penguin consumes and confuses enchanted creature,” but what does?) At first, Moonmist seems to just want Humans that can transform. Sadly, it’s a bit pickier than that. The second line of text reveals that it wants Werewolves and Wolves as well. Fortunately, Innistrad provides a healthy suite of Human Werewolves to choose from. Here are the cards I selected:
3 Village Ironsmith
4 Daybreak Ranger
4 Instigator Gang
4 Kruin Outlaw
4 Mayor of Avabruck
4 Reckless Waif
3 Brimstone Volley
3 Full Moon's Rise
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Hanweir Watchkeep
3 Ancient Grudge
4 Arc Trail
1 Full Moon's Rise
Mayor of Avabruck is the lord of the Werewolves, and is an automatic include in this deck. Its front face will make all your meek little Humans slightly more threatening, and its other side will turn your Werewolves into true monstrosities. As if that isn’t enough, Howlpack Alpha gladly pumps out a 3/3 every turn as well. Not that these Wolf tokens are exempt from the damage-prevention effect on Moonmist, but they unfortunately do not get the bonuses from Full Moon's Rise.
With so many tiny creatures in the current Standard environment, Kruin Outlaw is already an okay creature on the Human side, thanks to First Strike. Turn it over, however, and it turns into a double-striking beast that will devour two creatures or hit your opponent for 6. In addition, Terror of Kruin Pass gives evasion to all your other Werewolves, making your opponent unable to block more than one or two of the creatures that come his way.
Reckless Waif is the 1-drop of the deck, a thoroughly unimpressive 1/1. Until it flips, that is. Then, it turns into a gigantic 3/2 for 1 mana, ready to beat down on your opponent like Wild Nacatl. All your opponent has to do is miss his turn-one play, and you’ll be tearing into his life total 3 points at a time.
Village Ironsmith may not seem like much, but it fills a crucial spot on the curve, giving you another 2-drop for those games in which you don’t draw Mayor of Avabruck. If you manage to transform it, you’ll get a hefty +2/+0, resulting in a creature that will tear through most defenses. Between tokens from both versions of Garruk and Golems from Blade Splicer, there are quite a few creatures in the current environment that Ironfang will deal with much better than the intimidating Gatstaf Howler.
Daybreak Ranger happily shoots down any Inkmoth Nexus that’s foolish enough to come your way, and when it transforms, it will shoot down just about anything. Getting a 4/4 out of your 3-drop is pretty good already, but Nightfall Predator’s Fight ability makes it able to take down most of the creatures that might otherwise stand in your way. It can even team up with a burn spell or another creature to take down anything from a Primeval Titan to a Wurmcoil Engine.
Instigator Gang, like most Werewolves, has a fairly mediocre body on its front face. However, the free Orcish Oriflamme will often get in an extra 1 or 2 damage. Wildblood Pack will turn that 1 or 2 extra damage into 3 or 6, and will attack for 8 all on its own. It’s large enough to take down any creature that stands in its way and still get through for at least a couple damage. If this creature transforms, the game will almost always end in short order.
Moonmist is the key card to make this deck work. The games in which you draw it are going to go significantly better than those in which you don’t. It immediately transforms all your creatures without the need to wait for a turn without spells, and makes it impossible for your opponent to come out ahead in combat. Note that it can be used in a pinch on your opponent’s turn to unexpectedly kill attackers and prevent any damage that would get through.
Full Moon's Rise give all your creatures a small power boost, and grants them Trample as well, making life much more difficult for decks like G/W Tokens. It can also be sacrificed to save your creatures from a Day of Judgment or Slagstorm. If you play this the turn before your opponent has enough mana to cast a sweeper, you shouldn’t have to worry about overextending.
Geistflame is still a very efficient way of killing pesky blockers, and can be cast on your opponent’s turn without the risk of transforming any Werewolves back to their Human forms. With creatures like Inkmoth Nexus, Viridian Emissary, Stromkirk Noble, and various tokens running rampant in this environment, Geistflame is very well positioned to deal with many of the threats you’ll face.
Brimstone Volley can take out a creature if it becomes necessary, but its main purpose is to finish off your opponent by hitting him for 5. Between the heavy creature count in the deck and removal like Nightfall Predator and Geistflame, it shouldn’t be difficult at all to make sure you have Morbid active when you need it.
Kessig Wolf Run is the land for the Werewolf tribe, although you’ll more often see it siding with the Phyrexians. It does its job very well here, helping to close out games and giving you something to do when you don’t want to cast any spells. Although the pumping power of this land is fairly small here compared to decks using Primeval Titan and other ramp spells, it will still greatly help your chances of winning games that go long.
The fourth Full Moon's Rise comes in to help you out against decks that play sweepers. It’s very important to get one of these on the field before your opponent gets to 4 mana; otherwise, a Day of Judgment might come in and wreck all your fun.
Arc Trail is very good against token decks and other strategies that play a lot of very small creatures. Killing two creatures for 2 mana is always a very powerful play.
Incinerate comes in for Geistflame against decks that don’t play many 1-toughness creatures. It can be used to kill larger threats, or just go straight to your opponent’s dome. The upgrade is invaluable when trying to close out a game against a control deck.
Ancient Grudge is so effective at dealing with artifacts that Red decks often splash Green just to include it. Since this deck already plays both colors, it seems like an obvious sideboard choice.
Hanweir Watchkeep helps to deal with aggressive decks. It can’t be killed by most burn spells, and will stop most creatures in their tracks. It also transforms into a beastly 5/5 that will almost always take two cards to deal with.
W/U Illusions – Game 1
I lost the roll and kept a hand of two Forests, a Mountain, Geistflame, Daybreak Ranger, Full Moon's Rise, and Moonmist. My opponent opened with a Seachrome Coast and a Phantasmal Bear. I drew a Daybreak Ranger, played my Mountain, and killed it with Geistflame before passing the turn. My opponent played a second Seachrome Coast and cast Lord of the Unreal. He passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played a Forest, and cast Full Moon's Rise before passing the turn. My opponent cast Ponder, then paid 2 life for a Gitaxian Probe. He attacked for 2 with Lord of the Unreal, then played Moorland Haunt and passed the turn with 2 mana open. I drew Brimstone Volley, played a land, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and attacked with Lord of the Unreal, and I cast Brimstone Volley on it. He countered it with Mana Leak, and I took 2. He passed the turn. I drew Geistflame, played a land, and cast Daybreak Ranger. It resolved, and I passed the turn. My opponent cast Ponder, choosing to shuffle, and then played a second Moorland Haunt. He attacked for 2, which I took, and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played it, and attacked with Daybreak Ranger. My opponent flashed in a Snapcaster Mage, giving Mana Leak Flashback until end of turn. I cast Geistflame on the Snapcaster before he could block with it, and he took 3 damage. I passed the turn without attempting to cast another spell, and the Mana Leak remained in his graveyard. My opponent played Gitaxian Probe, peeking at my hand of Daybreak Ranger and Moonmist. He then dropped me to 12 with Lord of the Unreal and passed the turn. I drew Mayor of Avabruck and cast it. It resolved, and I attacked for 4 with my Daybreak Ranger. My opponent dropped to 11 to kill it with Dismember. I cast my second Daybreak Ranger and ended my turn. My opponent exiled his Phantasmal Bear to make a Spirit token during my end step. On his turn, he played another Gitaxian Probe, then put a Seachrome Coast onto the battlefield tapped and cast Phantasmal Image, choosing to copy his Lord of the Unreal. He passed the turn. I drew another Daybreak Ranger and cast it. I then passed the turn. My opponent cast Vapor Snag on my first Daybreak Ranger, and I used it to kill his Spirit token in response. He then passed the turn. I drew Reckless Waif and cast my Daybreak Ranger again. My opponent countered it with Mana Leak. I cast Reckless Waif and passed the turn. My opponent cast Delver of Secrets and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played it, and cast Moonmist, leaving me with a 5/3 Merciless Predator, a 4/3 Howlpack Alpha, and a 6/5 Nightfall Predator. I attacked with everything, and my opponent made a token with Moorland Haunt and blocked with everything to survive at 3 life. I passed the turn, making a Wolf token with Howlpack Alpha. My opponent drew his card and conceded.
+4 Arc Trail
I took a mulligan and kept a hand of Mountain, Rootbound Crag, Kessig Wolf Run, Reckless Waif, Village Ironsmith, and Moonmist. My opponent opened by playing an Island and casting Ponder. I drew a Mountain, played it, and cast Reckless Waif before passing the turn. My opponent played an Island and cast Phantasmal Bear, then Delver of Secrets. He passed the turn. I drew Arc Trail, played my Rootbound Crag, and killed both creatures. I then attacked for 1 with Reckless Waif. My opponent paid 2 life for a Gitaxian Probe, played an Island, and cast Lord of the Unreal. He passed the turn. I drew Full Moon's Rise, played a Mountain, and cast Village Ironsmith. I passed the turn. My opponent played another Island and cast Phantasmal Image, copying Lord of the Unreal. He then cast Phantasmal Bear and passed the turn. I drew Daybreak Ranger, cast it, and played Kessig Wolf Run. I then passed the turn. My opponent played Glacial Fortress, then cast Gitaxian Probe. He attacked with Phantasmal Image and Phantasmal Bear, and I took 8. He ended his turn. I drew a Forest, played it, and cast Moonmist. I killed off Lord of the Unreal with Nightfall Predator, then dropped my opponent to 14. I passed the turn. My opponent put a Seachrome Coast onto the battlefield tapped and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played it, and cast Full Moon's Rise. My opponent countered it with Flashfreeze. I attacked with everything, and Phantasmal Bear blocked Merciless Predator. I activated Kessig Wolf Run for 1, the Bear and Predator traded, and my opponent dropped to 6. I passed the turn. My opponent cast Lord of the Unreal and passed the turn. I drew a Forest, played it, and attacked with both creatures. Lord of the Unreal blocked Ironfang, which I pumped by 4 with Kessig Wolf Run, and Phantasmal Image blocked Nightfall Predator. Ironfang killed the Lord with First Strike, dropping the Phantasmal Image down to 3/3 and dropping my opponent to 1. Nightfall Predator killed the Image, and I passed the turn. My opponent drew his card and conceded.
This deck turned out to be much more difficult to play correctly than I had anticipated. Figuring out when to use Moonmist often entails trying to determine what your opponent’s next two or three turns might look like, and what you might draw off the top of your deck. In addition, choosing whether to play spells or hold off to transform your Werewolves relies almost entirely on how many spells you think your opponent might be able to cast on his turn. If you’re looking for a fun deck that rewards practice and play skill, this is a great one to try out.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @Twinblaze2, or simply leave a comment below.