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Against the Odds: Werewolves


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode forty of Against the Odds! Last week on our poll, Werewolves in Modern crushed it, coming in a full 10 percentage points above Legacy Donate and Modern Myr Incubator (both of which will return for another shot at glory on this week's poll)! As a result, today we are heading to Modern for one of the most flavorful but also straightforward Against the Odds decks we've ever played: Werewolves!

We'll talk more about Werewolves 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: Werewolves Deck Tech

Against the Odds: Werewolves Games

The Deck

Honestly, there's aren't too many ways to build Werewolves in Modern. I thought through a few options like Leyline of Anticipation so we could flash in our Werewolves at the end of our opponent's turn and have more control over when they flip, Aether Vial to get Werewolves on the battlefield without casting a spell, and main deck Blood Moon and fast mana to mimic the Legacy Werewolf Stompy deck we played on stream a few weeks ago, but in the end, I went with the simplest and most elegant option: tribal Werewolves with an aggressive curve, a bunch of lords, and a smattering "Werewolves-matter" cards in both the main deck and sideboard. As such, this isn't really a combo-focused Against the Odds where we get crushed in a bunch of games while we're trying to assemble some four-card combo; instead, this is more of a "do Werewolves have what it takes to compete in Modern" Against the Odds!

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The biggest problem with Werewolves is variance; because of their flip design, they are the very definition of high-variance cards. We have a total of 10 different Werewolves / Wolves in our deck, and nearly all of them are underpowered and over-costed on their front side. The good news is they are above the curve once they flip, plus even in underpowered mode, they still benefit from various Werewolf synergies. 

Huntmaster of the Fells is the one Werewolf that is truly above the curve whether it flips or not, and if it sits on the battlefield for a while flipping back and forth, it can take over a game all by itself by creating an army of Wolf tokens, gaining us life, and damaging our opponent. Duskwatch Recruiter and Geier Reach Bandit are nowhere near as strong as Huntmaster of the Fells on their front side, but they are passable. Duskwatch Recruiter is a Grizzly Bear with the upside of generating card advantage, and at least Geier Reach Bandit has Haste, which allows it to close out a game off the top of the library, while our other Werewolves would sit around waiting to get hit by sorcery-speed removal. 

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Next, we have a bunch of Werewolf lords and pseudo lords. Immerwolf works great with a flipped Geier Reach Bandit (a combo that causes all of our Werewolves to enter the battlefield, immediately transform, and stay transformed) and every card in our deck except Huntmaster of the Fells, which really want the ability to flip. It also helps us push through damage by pumping our team. When it comes right down to it, we are sort of a big aggro deck. While flipping gives us some ability to compete in the late game, closing out the game quickly is certainly plan A. 

Mayor of Avabruck is very powerful, but it has more variance than you'd think because, unlike Immerwolf, it isn't guaranteed to pump all of our creatures, since the front side of Mayor of Avabruck only pumps unflipped Werewolves (also known as Humans). The other downside of Mayor of Avabruck is that it's only a 1 / 1 for two, so it dies to everything (Electrolyze killing Mayor of Avabruck and something else is especially painful). The good news is that a flipped Mayor of Avabruck is a must-kill threat, giving us a free Wolf token every turn. 

Finally, we have Instigator Gang, which is is fairly bad on its front side when it's a slightly worse Hill Giant attached to an Orcish Oriflamme, but amazing on the back side when it attacks for 8 damage with Trample and pumps our team +3 / +0. Basically, it's another way to pump up our attacking creatures and (hopefully) close out the game early, but being a four-drop that dies to Lightning Bolt is a hard sell in Modern. 

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Daybreak Ranger is very matchup dependent. When its front side can snip down Delver of Secrets or Lingering Souls tokens for free, it's very good, even though its only a 2 / 2 for 3, but in more controlling matchups, it's just too low impact and expensive for its mana cost. Kruin Outlaw is similar, being expensive on its front side but a major threat when it flips around into a double-striker that gives out entire team Menace

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You can't be a true aggro deck without one-drops, and luckily for us, Werewolves have a bunch, so we get the full four copies of Reckless Waif and Wolfbitten Captive. Unfortunately, they are only 1 / 1s for 1 until they flip (although Wolfbitten Captive can get in some free damage by threatening the pump ability). Even if they don't flip, they still give us the potential for some aggressive starts where we have multiple one-drops into multiple lords, which is often enough to close out the game by Turn 4. 

The Matchups

Over the course of our record-setting nine matches, our deck really struggled with two things. Most importantly, we have an incredibly hard time beating fast combo decks. Things like Burn, Infect, and Ad Nauseam are just a turn (or two) faster than we are. In these matchups, which come down to an uninteractive race, we are often just a tiny bit too slow to close things out before our opponent kills us. The second issue is decks that are overloaded on removal, especially two-for-one removal. A good example of this was our very first match against UR Delver, where our opponent just played a million copies of Electrolyze, Forked Bolt, and Lightning Bolt until we had nothing left. That's the downside of playing a deck full of creatures that die to everything. 

On the other hand, we seemed to have a decent matchup against some other aggro decks and picked up some wins against interesting brews like BUG Training Grounds and Turbo Fog. Having access to both Blood Moon and Choke in the sideboard also helped us steal some wins against Dredge and Grixis, while Shatterstorm gives us a fighting chance against Affinity and the Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek combo. 

Basically, the upsides of our deck are that our sideboard is really strong in some matchups and we are fairly consistent at killing on Turn 4 or 5 if we don't face too much disruption, but we have problems in matchups where our sideboard is lacking, in matchups where our opponent can kill us kill us on Turn 3 or 4, or against decks that have a ton of efficient removal backed by card advantage. 

The Odds

Overall, the odds were pretty solid for an Against the Odds deck, with Werewolves winning 10 of 20 games (50% game win percentage) and 5 of 9 matches (55.55% match win percentage). Come to think of it, this puts Werewolves among the most successful Against the Odds decks of all time. While we ran into some really weird matchups, we did manage to beat some tier(ish) decks in Dredge and Grixis Foundry, but then we lost to things like Eerie Abzan and got crushed by Burn and UR Delver. All in all, I have no idea how representative our percentages are to the long-term power of the deck; even though we got in more games than normal, the sample size was still super small. Thaat said, I think Werewolves showed enough that if you want to test out the tribe on Magic Online or at an FNM, you have the green light and can expect to steal some wins every now and then. 

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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