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Werewolf Tribal Update | Innistrad: Crimson Vow | Budget Commander

Back when Innistrad: Midnight Hunt was released, I made a huge update to my Werewolf Tribal Primer: the set was a howling success for Werewolf fans, finally throwing us a bone with a true alpha commander in Tovolar, Dire Overlord, along with many other treats. But fortunately for us, that wasn't the end of the Werewolf Tribal support cards this year! Innistrad: Crimson Vow has just come out and despite being a Vampire themed set, the sweet Werewolf hits keep coming, enough to warrant a new update to my primer!

So here's a mini-update ranking all the best new cards from the set for Werewolf Tribal under Tovolar, Dire Overlord along with my reasons why. I will start with the betas, the alphas, and then the coveted packleader, my pick for best Werewolf card from the set:

The Betas

First are the cards that I'll happily run in a lower budget version of the deck: they fit nicely with the deck's game plan of beating our opponents into submission with combat damage, either by coming down early to start drawing cards off Tovolar, Dire Overlord, or providing some nice utility to our tribe.

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The first is the goodest lil' boi, Packsong Pup. It's a 2-drop that starts off as a 1/1 and comes with no evasion or meaningful utility, but it grows into a noticeable threat and helps us curve into Tovolar. It's true utility is its cute factor: what cold-hearted monster would kill a Pup? Either it survives and finishes off your opponents, or it dies and you go John Wick on its killer.

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Howling Moon comes with a very low power floor of just giving a single creature +2/+2 each combat, not even trample. The power ceiling can be quite high though, making up to 3 wolf tokens per turn cycle is very nice. I'm expecting it'll only make 1 wolf per cycle, but I could be undervaluing it. Either way it's a solid way to put some damage through and get more wolves on the battlefield — good for a 3-drop.

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Weaver of Blossoms is basically a bad Scorned Villager, coming out a turn later and while it's a bigger creature it doesn't have vigilance. Still, having additional mana dorks isn't bad, especially when they have the right creature type to benefit from our tribal synergies.

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Next are the 4-drops, which are pretty crowded in Werewolf Tribal. The front side of Ballista Watcher is pretty bad: sure, you can pick off a random utility creature like Birds of Paradise, but you have to spend 3 mana and tap it, not great. The backside is more interesting though: removing blockers is great in an attack-focused deck and you don't need to tap it anymore so it can still swing. 3 mana is still a lot to activate but it's still a great ability to have to push damage through and close out games.

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A better 4-drop though is Child of the Pack. Child has a better front side, letting you spend your mana making Wolf tokens, progressing the deck's gameplan while making it less painful for you to skip your turn not casting spells to switch day to night. The backside is better too, since it has trample and buffs all your creatures for no mana. 

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The final pseudo 4-drop is Wolfkin Outcast. The front side is quite beefy if unremarkable, but the backside is pretty sweet, offering the tribe resiliency to board wipes. Sure, not having our board wiped would be preferable, but drawing a bunch of cards will at least help us recover instead of being sent home with our tails between our legs.

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The final and probably strongest beta is the 5-drop Volatile Arsonist. Menace and haste are super useful to get in there and draw cards off Tovolar. The front side can pick off mana dorks and the backside can pick off bigger utility creatures. Plus it effectively swings for 7 damage which is respectable. If the tribe wasn't so full on top-end cards then I might rank this higher.

The Alphas

Alright, now that we've chewed on the filler cards, it's time for the main course: the alphas. These are the cards that I strongly recommend making room for in any Werewolf deck, even the blinged-out versions. They are the top competition for their respective slots.

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Leading the alphas is Ascendant Packleader. It's a 1-drop so its main purpose here is to draw cards off Tovolar, Dire Overlord. It doesn't have evasion or useful utility, but it starts as an alright 2/1 and can slowly grow into a bigger threat as we cast our more expensive creatures, which helps us keep attacking with it. Good 1-drops are so hard to come by in this archetype so it's notable that Ascendant is one of the best.

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Moving up to 3-drops is one of my favorite cards from the set: Cemetery Prowler. This Wolf is a sweet mix of repeat graveyard hate and mana discount that I love, plus a 3/4 for 3 isn't too bad. Having a tribal way to shut down graveyard strategies is so strong, and exiling a creature means our creature-heavy archetype gets heavily ramped. What more could you want from a 3-drop?

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Ill-Tempered Loner is such an exciting card for the tribe: it makes blocking a nightmare for opponents because any blockers' damage can be utilized as creature removal or just aimed at people's faces. It also synergizes well with the fighting werewolves like Tovolar's Packleader or Ulrich, Uncontested Alpha, or becomes a straight-up win condition if you have a board of creatures and cast Blasphemous Act, sending all that damage to our opponents' faces.

The Loner is a card that either turns games around or outright wins them. It's definitely one of the best 4-drops in the tribe.

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In a tribe already full on 6-drops, Avabruck Caretaker manages to stand out by being hard to deal with, pumping our creatures, and then flipping to make our entire board immune to targeted removal. Our opponents either have a board wipe to deal with us or we're going to kill them in a hurry. It's still not as good as Tovolar's Huntmaster, but it's definitely up there.

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Yes, another 6-drop to talk about! Hollowhenge Overlord is an amazing tribal finisher, instantly doubling your army with wolf tokens that benefit from all the tribal buffs. Flash means you can skip casting spells on your own turn, guarantee'ing that day will turn to night if necessary, and you can surprise the table on the end step before your turn. The wolf tokens desperately want haste, but we're in Gruul so it shouldn't be hard to give them that.

It's a bit annoying that this is yet another great 6-drop, but it's certainly worth considering a slot.

The Packleader

Now that we've covered some of the best new cards that I highly recommend adding to your Werewolf deck, I have one more card that is so good that I demand you make room for:

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Howlpack Piper provides everything that Werewolf Tribal desperately needs: it lets you dump all your creatures on to the battlefield, usually at a huge mana discount (especially if you're running a bunch of 6-drops), all while dodging any potential countermagic. As a cherry on top, Piper lets you play out your hand without casting anything, guaranteeing that day becomes night at the start of the next turn. But wait, there's more! Whenever the Piper flips into Wildsong Howler it puts another creature into your hand. And since you might switch between day and night multiple times per turn cycle this can a ton of card advantage. 

The only minor issue with the Piper is that sometimes you'll want to use the Piper's activated ability while it's night on your turn, which is a bit awkward. But on the flip side, if it's night on your turn and you have werewolves out then you're probably winning anyway.

Howlpack Piper is my pick for the single best card from Crimson Vow and one of the greatest cards in Werewolf Tribal. It's a staple. Run it, love it.

That's All, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed this quick update on Werewolf Tribal. I'm not going to redo my primer or anything, but hopefully, it will serve as a guide on which cards will best suit your own list.

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