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Against the Odds: Chatterfang Squirrels (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 293a of Against the Odds. Last week, we had our first Modern Horizons 2 Against the Odds poll, and we had a clear winner in the end, with Chatterfang, Squirrel General treeing the competition, besting Braids, Cabal Minion by 7% of the vote. As such, we're heading to Modern today to play with one of Magic's most popular (but perhaps least powerful) tribes: Squirrels! For most of Magic's existence, Squirrels have existed in the realm of silver-border cards. In fact, before Modern Horizons 2 came along, the only Squirrels in Modern were two draft-chaff commons (Scurrid Colony and Helica Glider), Toski, Bearer of Secrets, and combo-y enchantment Squirrel Nest. As a result, our deck today is about as close to a Modern Horizons 2 Block Constructed deck as you can get, as we lean heavily on Magic's newest set to provide the tribe members we need to support Chatterfang, Squirrel General. Does Modern Horizons 2 mean it's finally time for Squirrels to compete in Modern? How good is Chatterfang, Squirrel General itself? 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: Squirrels

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The Deck

One thing I've learned over the years of making Against the Odds is that meeting viewers' expectations is important. In theory, Chatterfang, Squirrel General could show up in some random, decidedly not squirrely token deck thanks to its bad Doubling Season ability, but I'm pretty sure that when people cast their vote for Chatterfang, Squirrel General, they were really voting for Squirrel tribal. While I experimented with some other builds (keep your eyes on the YouTube tomorrow, hint, hint), my main focus was making the best Squirrel tribal deck possible.

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While the Squirrel tribe itself might be a bit lacking in Modern-legal members, Chatterfang, Squirrel General itself is the perfect leader for the tribe. Most of the Squirrel cards in existence (and pretty much all of the good ones) make Squirrel tokens. With a Chatterfang on the battlefield, cards like Deep Forest Hermit, Verdant Command, and even Squirrel Sanctuary become surprisingly powerful, allowing us to flood the board quickly with 1/1 Squirrels thanks to Chatterfang's token-doubling-ish ability. Then, later, we can cash some of these small critters to kill our opponent's things (with 15, we can even take down an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn!) using Chatterfang's last ability.

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The other interesting aspect of Chatterfang, Squirrel General is that it is a mass-sacrifice outlet for Squirrels. For just a single mana, we can sacrifice any number, which allows for some Aristocrat-like sacrifice synergies, to the point where the one non-Squirrel creature in our deck is Blood Artist, with the idea being that if we can make enough Squirrel tokens, we can play a Blood Artist and immediately sacrifice our board to (hopefully) drain our opponent out of the game.

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What else can we do with a bunch of underpowered 1/1 Squirrels? Use them to power up Chord of Calling to find some spicy one-ofs! While Chord of Calling is a solid card in general, it's especially strong in decks that can flood the board with creatures. And if there's one thing I can say about the Squirrel tribe, it's that there are a lot of them. Thanks to Chord of Calling, we can play one Toski, Bearer of Secrets and one Realmwalker for card advantage and one Mirror Entity as a finisher, and still find them consistently. Plus, if we don't have Chatterfang, Squirrel General or some of our other powerful Squirrel payoffs, we can use Chord of Calling to snag them as well.

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The other way we can take advantage of Chatterfang's ability to make a ton of small Squirrels is by making them less small. While technically not a Squirrel itself, Deep Forest Hermit might be the most powerful card in our deck, making four 1/1 Squirrels when it comes into play (or eight 1/1 Squirrels if we have Chatterfang, Squirrel General on the battlefield) and also working as a Squirrel lord as long as it stays in the battlefield (which isn't that long because of vanishing). With a Chatterfang on the battlefield, a single Deep Forest Hermit adds a massive 18 power to the battlefield, making it—by far—our best way to close out the game. We also have Squirrel Sovereign as a two-mana lord and one copy of Chitterspitter, which seems sweet in our deck since it can both make Squirrel tokens and pump Squirrels, but in reality, it often proved to be too slow for Modern. Together, these cards give us a bunch of ways to turn our small 1/1 Squirrel tokens into more meaningful threats.

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Finally, Verdant Command and Squirrel Sanctuary round out our deck and help to support our go-wide token plan. They are just okay by themselves (although Verdant Command does have some flexibility, exiling Vengevines and reanimation targets from our opponent's graveyard and gaining life against aggro). But both become pretty above the curve with a Chatterfang, Squirrel General on the battlefield, with Squirrel Sanctuary making two 1/1 tokens for one mana and Verdant Command making four for two at instant speed. 

And that is basically the deck. Our primary plan is to make as many 1/1 Squirrel tokens as possible with the help of Chatterfang, Squirrel General and then finish the game, either by pumping our Squirrels with Deep Forest Hermit, Squirrel Sovereign, and Mirror Entity or by sacrificing them all to Chatterfang with a Blood Artist on the battlefield.

The Matchups

In all honesty, I'm not sure that Squirrel Tribal has any good matchups in Modern. It's pretty slow against combo and aggro, and it's not especially resilient to the sweepers that control brings to the table. On the other hand, assuming we don't get comboed out quickly by our opponent, we do have a shot in most matchups, mostly because sticking a Chatterfang, Squirrel General and following it up with a Deep Forest Hermit is enough to win a lot of games on the spot!

The Odds

All in all, we went 1-4 with Squirrels, giving us a 20% match win percentage and making it one of the least competitive decks we've played a while. While we did pick up several game wins along the way, being able to string together two wins in a match proved to be challenging. On the other hand, there is good news: Chatterfang, Squirrel General itself was extremely powerful, and the tribe didn't seem that far away from being competitive. Remember, we're basically working with one set, while our opponents have 20 years of cards at their disposal. Even though Squirrels might not be more than a fun, funny casual tribe at the moment, they could end up being pretty solid given another set or two of support, mostly thanks to their powerful general Chatterfang!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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There's still a bunch of sweet Modern Horizons 2 cards we haven't explored yet. Let's cross another one off of our list next week, but which one? Click here to vote!.

Conclusion

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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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