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Against the Odds: Squirrels


Hello everyone, and welcome to episode thirty-five of Against the Odds. First off, thanks to all of you for voting in last week's poll, which ended up being the closest of all time. With nearly five thousand votes cast, Squirrels in Legacy beat out Zada, Hedron Grinder/Silverfur Partisan in Standard by a single vote! Werewolves in Modern came in third and will return for another shot at glory. Eerie Interlude and Shared Fate (which was surprising, because I've had a ton of people request a Shared Fate deck) came in at the bottom and will be dropped from the ballot. As such, this week, we have a very special challenge—trying to make some of Magic's smallest and cutest creatures work in one of Magic's most powerful formats!

We'll talk more about Squirrels in a minute, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel.

Against the Odds: Squirrels Deck Tech

Against the Odds: Squirrels Games

The Deck

When I sat down to build a Squirrel deck, one big problem came up: there just aren't many Squirrels in Magic. We also ran into this problem in Modern when we tried to build around Swarmyard and found literally zero legal Squirrels in the format. When we go back to Legacy, things get a little better, but not by much. There are only two creatures with the type Squirrel (Squirrel Mob and Krosan Beast) in all of Magic, and there are nine cards that make Squirrel tokens, ranging from unplayable jank (even by Against the Odds standards) like Nantuko Shrine to my favorite 1/1 for six mana, Nut Collector. As a result, to actually win with a Squirrel deck, our best bet is to combo off with Squirrel Nest

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Squirrel Nest is pretty simple. You enchant a land, and then you can tap that land to make a 1/1 Squirrel token. While Squirrel Nest forms an awesome, infinite two-card combo with Earthcraft, Earthcraft is banned in Legacy, so we need to add an extra card to the mix to build our own Earthcraft

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Step one is Intruder Alarm, an enchantment that untaps all creatures whenever a creature enters the battlefield. With a Squirrel Nest on a land and an Intruder Alarm on the battlefield, we are halfway to building our own Earthcraft. All we need is something worth untapping whenever we make a Squirrel token to go infinite. 

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Enter Arbor Elf, which can tap to untap a Forest. With a Squirrel Nest on a Forest and an Intruder Alarm on the battlefield, every time we tap our enchanted Forest to make a Squirrel token, we get to untap our Arbor Elf, which allows us to untap the Squirrel Nested Forest and repeat the process again and again. Eventually, we'll have an army of Squirrels (which, according to Squirrel Mob, is still an army). The problem with this combo is that it's slow: we have to play an Arbor Elf, wait an entire turn, and hope it doesn't die to Lightning Bolt.

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The good news is we do have a way of pulling off the infinite combo without Arbor Elf by using creaturelands. Dryad Arbor is likely the best because we can find it with a fetch land at the end of our opponent's turn, which eliminates the "wait-a-turn" problem with Arbor Elf. We simply enchant the Dryad Arbor with Squirrel Nest, and then, with an Intruder Alarm on the battlefield, every time we tap Dryad Arbor to make a Squirrel token, it untaps, allowing us to go infinite. The problem with the Dryad Arbor plan is that it not only gets disrupted by Lightning Bolt and other instant-speed removal spells, but by Wasteland as well. 

Mutavault is a more resilient way to pull off the combo, since we can use the Swarmyard to regenerate Mutavault (which is technically a Squirrel). However, it does have the Arbor Elf issue of having to sit on the battlefield for a turn to combo off. 

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One of the downsides of the combo is that that the Squirrel tokens do not have haste, which can lead to use getting blown out by something like Abrupt Decay on Squirrel Nest, plus Pyroclasm, Ratchet Bomb, or Toxic Deluge. That's where Squirrel Mob comes in. If we can get a copy of Squirrel Mob on the battlefield before making infinite Squirrel tokens, we can give the Squirrel Mob infinite power and toughness, which can allow us to win without letting our opponent untap. 

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Green Sun's Zenith is the card that holds everything together, allowing us to search up our Dryad Arbor (as a one-mana Rampant Growth), our Arbor Elf/Voyaging Satyr, our Squirrel Mob, or one of our other Squirrel cards. 

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Since we are playing Green Sun's Zenith, and because we are a Squirrel deck, it felt wrong not to include the other Squirrel-token-generating Green creatures in our deck. The issue with all of these cards is that they are extremely fragile. Four-, five-, and six-mana plays that die to Darkblast typically aren't playable in Legacy. That said, in the right matchup, it's possible that we make a bunch of Squirrel tokens with Squirrel Wrangler, pump them up with Deranged Hermit or Nut Collector, and win without comboing off. 

The Matchups

All in all, Squirrels doesn't seem to have many good matchups in Legacy. We don't really have enough interaction to beat fast combo decks like Storm, Reanimator, or Infect. We can't beat more removal-heavy decks like Miracles, Delver, or BUG, and unless we get a nut draw, we aren't fast enough to beat decks like Zoo or Burn. On the other hand, at least based on the matches we played, it felt like slower decks without much interaction, like Eldrazi and MUD, are our best matchups. While I'm not sure I'd call either of these matchups good, it did feel like we at least had a chance of winning. 

The Odds

All in all we won one in six matches—good for a 17% match win percentage—and three of thirteen games, making our game win percentage 23%. These numbers feel about right for the deck. We were completely overmatched in a lot of the matchups, especially against the combo decks that have the ability to kill us on turn two or three. Squirrels aren't really playable in Legacy. 

That said, Wizards has an easy way to make Squirrels playable in Legacy by unbanning Earthcraft. While I have no idea how good or bad this decision would be, I have a hard time imagining that a Squirrel Nest combo would suddenly be better than all of the other broken combos that are already in the format. On the other hand, I haven't really thought through what else Earthcraft might break in the format, so maybe it's a bad idea. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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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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