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Against the Odds: Cats & Dogs (Standard)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 247 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had our first Core Set 2021 Against the Odds poll, and we had a super-clear winner in Rin and Seri, Inseparable, which nearly doubled up second-place finisher Brash Taunter, with 38% of the more than 10,000 votes cast. As such, we're heading to Standard today to play some Cats and Dogs! In reality, our deck is mostly Cats (although we do have a few Dogs as well), but the power of Rin and Seri, Inseparable is that every time we cast a Cat, we get a 1/1 Dog token, which then turns into removal with Rin and Seri, Inseparable's activated ability. How good is Rin and Seri in Standard? Can the Cat tribe, with the help of its natural enemy Dogs, compete in the format? 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: Cats & Dogs

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The Deck

While the name of our deck might be Cats & Dogs, in reality, our deck is mostly Cat tribal since there are a lot more Cats (and better Cats) in Standard than there are Dogs. That said, we often end up with a lot of Dogs on the battlefield thanks to Rin and Seri, Inseparable and the one actual Dog we have in the deck. While building the deck, I briefly considering trying to be a true dual-tribal deck, but curving Charmed Stray into Pack Leader into Feline Sovereign is super clunky. As such, our main plan is to go wide with Cats while also producing a bunch of Dog tokens with Rin and Seri, Inseparable, use various Cat lords to power up our creatures, and then finish the game with Rin and Seri, Inseparable's activated ability.

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Rin and Seri, Inseparable is the de facto leader of our deck. Since most of our creatures are Cats, once we get Rin and Seri, Inseparable on the battlefield, almost all of our creatures come with the kicker of a 1/1 Dog token, which offers a board full of chump blockers to keep our life total high and eventually turn into damage with Rin and Seri, Inseparable's activated ability. 

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Outside of Rin and Seri, Inseparable, the most important creatures in our deck are our Cat lords Kaheera, the Orphanguard and Feline Sovereign. The easiest way for our deck to win is to curve out with Cats, play these lords to buff them, and beat our opponent down before they start exiling our board with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or sweeping it away with a wrath. Both lords come with some additional upside. Kaheera, the Orphanguard pumps our Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Beast tokens, while Feline Sovereign occasionally blows up a random artifact or enchantment on our opponent's side of the battlefield.

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Next up, we have a bunch of mutate Cats. Apart from being solid, on-tribe creatures, Regal Leosaur, Cubwarden, and Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt offer some sneaky extra upside by allowing us to (essentially) have extra copies of powerful legends like Rin and Seri, Inseparable or Kaheera, the Orphanguard on the battlefield by mutating on top of them to change the name. As such, we can technically get up to four copies of Rin and Seri, Inseparable (or, at least, of Rin and Seri's triggered ability), making it so every creature we cast makes a ton of tokens. It's also important to note that Rin and Seri, Inseparable triggers when we cast a Cat or Dog, and mutate creatures are cast even if they are mutated, so they come with the bonus of making Rin and Seri tokens. Apart from shenanigans, Regal Leosaur offers a ton of damage when it mutates by pumping all of our tokens, Cubwarden makes tokens to benefit from our lords and Regal Leosaur, and Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt give us a bit of removal at the top end of our curve.

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Rounding out our Cats are a couple of curve-filler Cats. Charmed Stray is pretty mediocre, but Cat one-drops in Standard are really bad, so it's actually the best option for our deck. Meanwhile, Bronzehide Lion offers solid stats on a two-drop and gets even better with the help of our lords.

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While we're mostly a Cat deck, we also have a Dog in Selfless Savior, which not only gives us another one-drop but also helps to protect our most important creatures, like Rin and Seri, Inseparable and our Cat lords, from our opponent's removal by sacrificing itself to make them indestructible. If we happen to have Rin and Seri, Inseparable on the battlefield, Selfless Savior also gives us a Cat token, and two 1/1s for a single mana is a pretty solid deal.

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Finally, we have a bit of card advantage and additional creature pumping. Vivien, Monsters' Advocate is mostly in our deck because it allows us to draw cards by playing creatures from the top of our deck, although the Beast tokens it makes with its +1 offer some nice value, and being able to use the −2 to cast Rin and Seri, Inseparable and tutor up a Cat lord for free is quite powerful. Icon of Ancestry is basically an additional Cat lord that can also draw us Cats in the late game. Meanwhile, Return of the Wildspeaker is mostly in our deck to be a bad Overrun, allowing us to pump all of the 1/1 tokens Rin and Seri make into 4/4s at instant speed and potentially kill our opponent with one big attack. But occasionally, we do use it to draw four or five cards if we have Rin and Seri, Inseparable or some big Cats buffed by our various Cat lords on the battlefield.

The Matchups

In general, our deck is really solid against aggro and midrange thanks to its resilient creatures, a ton of token production to fight through targeted removal, and lifelinking creatures, and we have at least some chance against control thanks to our ability to get off to fairly fast starts and punish our opponent if they stumble or don't find a wrath. On the other hand, Cats & Dogs is a slower aggro deck, which means we're unlikely to be able to literally kill our opponent by Turn 4 or 5, which means decks dedicated to ramping into Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or comboing off with Wilderness Reclamation can be a problem (although we did beat Simic Ugin Ramp during our matches).

The Odds

We played five matches with Cats & Dogs and ended up winning four, giving us an 80% match win percentage and making Cats & Dogs shockingly solid and very above average for an Against the Odds deck. That said, we did benefit from the matchups we ran into, at least to some extent, beating Simic Ramp, Dimir Mill, White Weenie, and Izzet Phoenix, while losing our one match to Temur Reclamation (in a match that didn't feel especially close). Overall, I was surprised by how competitive Cats felt in Standard, at least against the second tier of the format. Can Cats & Dogs consistently beat Temur Reclamation or Bant Mythic? Maybe not, but it does seem to be somewhere between good and great against the rest of the Standard meta. Rin and Seri, Inseparable itself was solid, offering a big body and a way to flood the battlefield with tokens, but being able to curve Cats into multiple lords was even more essential to picking up wins. Much like last week's Five-Color Shrine deck, Rin and Seri Cats & Dogs was way better and more powerful than I thought it would be, but I'm not sure it can be truly competitive in Standard because the top couple of decks in the format (Bant Mythics and Temur Reclamation) are so powerful and punishing, while Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is also a blowout if we can't kill our opponent before it hits the battlefield.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

The Against the Odds poll is now on YouTube! Click here to vote for next week's deck!


Anyway, that's all for today! 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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