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Against the Odds: Arlinn Tribal (Modern)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 310 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a poll featuring the return of one of the most popular sub-series on Against the Odds: Planeswalker Tribal. In the end, Arlinn took home a pretty easy victory. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if it's possible to win some games with a deck featuring every Arlinn in Magic! What does Arlinn Tribal look like? What are the odds of it winning some matches?  Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Arlinn Tribal

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The Deck

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Arlinn is a unique planeswalker to build a planeswalker tribal deck around for two reasons. First, there are only three Arlinns in all of Magic, which is the minimum number required (by our very subjective rules) to qualify for a planeswalker tribal deck. This means that the maximum number of Arlinn cards we can have in a deck is 12 (we have 10, with Arlinn, Voice of the Pack being a two-of rather than a four-of). With some planeswalkers—like Jace, Nissa, Sorin, and Garruk—you can literally fill an entire deck with planeswalkers and lands. This isn't really an option for Arlinn Tribal because there just aren't enough Arlinns in existence, which means we need more support cards than some other planeswalker tribal decks do.

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Second, Arlinn might be the closest thing we have to a tribal planeswalker. Every single version of Arlinn cares heavily about Wolves and Werewolves—making Wolves, turning into and helping us flip Werewolves, and pumping Wolves and Werewolves—which means it's pretty obvious what direction we should go with our support cards: play a bunch of Werewolves. The upside of this plan is that cards like Tovolar, Dire Overlord, Kessig Naturalist, and Mayor of Avabruck do a great job of supporting our Arlinns. The downside is that we occasionally have games that are more about our Werewolves (for example, where we just play a bunch of Werewolf lords and win by beating down) than we do about our Arlinns themselves.

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As far as our Arlinns themselves, Arlinn, the Pack's Hope is the most powerful of the bunch, mostly because it can steal wins by coming down as a hasty 5/5 trampler if it's night. Arlinn Kord is also solid, offering Wolf tokens, creature pumping, and removal. Meanwhile, Arlinn, Voice of the Pack is pretty underpowered for Modern. If we can get it on the battlefield, it does work like a Wolf and Werewolf lord, adding a +1/+1 counter to all of the Wolves and Werewolves that enter the battlefield. But six mana is a lot for Modern, which makes it difficult to get it on the battlefield in a lot of matchups.

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Supporting our Arlinns are a bunch of Wolves and Werewolves, with basically all of them being lords in one way or another. Both Kessig Naturalist and Mayor of Avabruck become Wolf / Werewolf lords if we can flip them, while Immerwolf is always a lord. These cards work really well with our Arlinns because all of our Arlinns can make Wolf tokens (to be pumped by the lord) and Arlinn, the Pack's Hope can turn into a Werewolf. A 5/5 trampling, hasty indestructible is pretty scary, but it's even better when it's a 7/7 or 8/8 thanks to our various lords!

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Tovolar, Dire Overlord isn't technically a lord (despite what its name suggests), although it is a strong payoff for a deck that can make a bunch of Wolf tokens and has a bunch of other Werewolves, offering card advantage, a way to flip Kessig Naturalist and Mayor of Avabruck, and the ability to pump our Wolves and Werewolves once we flip it. It's probably the strongest non-Arlinn card in our deck, and it would be silly to leave it on the sidelines in a deck full of the tribes that it cares about.

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Rounding out our creatures are two mana dorks in Ignoble Hierarch and Noble Hierarch. For a while, I considered playing some one-drop Werewolves instead but decided the mana dorks would be better for two reasons. First, the one-drop Werewolves are pretty bad, and doubly so in a powerful format like Modern. Second, and more importantly, the Werewolf one-drops made the deck feel too much like Werewolf Tribal rather than Arlinn Tribal. Ignoble Hierarch and Noble Hierarch help us get our Arlinns on the battlefield faster, making them better support cards for our primary plan, even though it is a bit awkward that they don't have relevant creature types.

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Last but not least, we have Blood Moon...for flavor purposes. What makes a Human transform into a Werewolf? A full moon like Blood Moon, of course! As such, we're not playing Blood Moon because it can lock our opponent out of the game and give us free wins, or because it's one of my favorite cards in Magic, or because it's really good in Modern at the moment. No. We're playing it for flavor purposes to flip our Werewolves, and you'll never get me to admit otherwise.

The Matchups

The hardest matchup for Arlinn Tribal is fast, spell-based combo. We just don't have many tools to stop decks like Belcher or Storm from going off. While our Arlinns and Werewolves do offer a fairly fast clock, it's generally not fast enough to race the unfair decks in the format. On the other hand, having a bunch of Arlinns is solid against control, and against creature decks, we've actually got a pretty solid suite of Werewolves that allow us to compete with our opponent's threats.

The Odds

All in all, we finished a surprising 4-2 with Arlinn Tribal, giving us a 66.7% win percentage and making the deck above average for Against the Odds. Our two losses came to combo, with us losing to Belcher and Vizier Druid Combo (although this last one might be my fault for not mulliganning for more removal) but taking down Hammer Time, Bring to Light Scapeshift, UW Control, and a spicy Dagger Burn brew. In general, the deck felt surprisingly competitive, and both Arlinn, Voice of the Pack and Arlinn Kord felt solid (although, disappointingly, we never managed to resolve a six-mana Arlinn). Most importantly, we didn't just win by janking our opponent out with our very flavorful Blood Moons. While we did get a couple of Blood Moon wins, most of our wins were because of our Arlinns and their Werewolf friends!


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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