rab some opaque sleeves and get ready for some full moon action! Innistrad introduced double-faced cards to the Magic universe. The Werewolves in particular involve a new and exciting level of game play, encouraging opponents to not cast spells like Ponder on turn one. Today, I'd like to push the transformation mechanic to its limits and play as many Werewolves as I possibly can.
Full Moon's Rise | Art by Terese Nielsen
Full Moon's Rise makes this deck possible. This card reminds me of Fires of Yavimaya in a lot of ways. Historically, three-mana enchantments that give all your creatures haste are not that exciting, but Fires of Yavimaya had a trick up its sleeve. It could be used as a pump spell whenever its controller drew a redundant copy, needed to "counter" a removal spell, wanted to win a combat scenario, or swing for lethal. Full Moon's Rise is a decently impressive mass-pump effect, and giving your creatures +1/+0 and trample makes it very difficult for an opponent to devise a game plan that involves chump-blocking. Much like Fires of Yavimaya, Full Moon's Rise takes it to another level. Did your opponent just cast a Day of Judgment or Slagstorm to kill your whole team? Well, then it might just be time to sacrifice your two-mana enchantment and regenerate everyone. It can also be used to "counter" spot removal much in the same way Fires of Yavimaya was.
Reckless Waif can put people in some awkward spots when cast turn one on the play. "Do you have a one-mana spell?" If your opponent doesn't, then they'll be getting attacked by a 3-power creature on the second turn. That's Legacy stuff. It's just nice to have access to one-drops at all in a deck like this. One of the things that makes me love Werewolves in Constructed is that you can just keep passing the turn to your opponent, forcing them to cast a spell or lose the game. In Limited, everyone is planning to tap out all the time anyway, but in Constructed it's a trial by fire.
Mayor of Avabruck is two-mana lord for all of our creatures. I'm obviously going to play four copies of this, but it's worth noting how powerful this can be in the late game. It's a one-card army that can take over the game entirely by itself. It's usually correct to bash into a 2/2 with your Mayor on turn three when you have a Moonmist in hand to transform it into Howlpack Alpha, even if you have a three-drop you can cast in your hand. The Wolf you get on your end step will make up for having not played anything and the static presence of the Mayor will force your opponent to deal with it immediately or lose the game.
Daybreak Ranger is my favorite card from Innistrad. It's likely that creature mirrors will be commonplace at some point during this card's standard legality. When and if that happens, this will be one of the best cards in standard. It's right up there with Gideon Jura in the creature crushing department.
Gatstaf Shepherd is a card that I probably wouldn't have looked at if it weren't for Limited games. This card is very strong. It's unfortunate that the most popular deck in Standard, Wolf Run Ramp, plays a lot of green creatures, because in most environments Gatstaf Howler is an unblockable 3-power creature for two mana.
Kruin Outlaw isn't very impressive before it transforms into Terror of Kruin Pass, but once it does, there's a lot of beef to be reckoned with. First of all, your opponents need to double-block everything. Considering we're playing a decent amount a spot removal, that's going to be just about impossible. Opponents are going to spend a removal spell on this guy immediately or lose the game.
Moonmist is the best trick a deck like this could hope for. It's kind of like a Zealous Persecution, for any of you who played Standard a few years ago. The "prevent all combat damage" clause is really relevant, and the ability to transform your team at instant speed is very scary for any opponent.
Incinerate is the best burn spell in Standard, especially for a deck like this. Cards like Geistflame may be better for control decks or decks packing Chandra's Phoenix, but when you're trying to race with creatures it's nice to have something that can dome an opponent for 3.
Speaking of doming opponents, Brimstone Volley is one of the beefiest burn spells we've seen in quite some time. Dealing 5 damage for three mana is extremely impressive. Sometimes you'll even have both copies in your hand and be able to kill an opponent from 10 life.
Here's the decklist once we mash it all together:
Copperline Gorge and Rootbound Crag may be somewhat difficult to acquire. They're not entirely necessary here, but they certainly make the mana a lot better. I'd replace them with an even split of Forests and Mountains if I were unable to find four copies of each.
I played a few games with the deck to see how it fared against some of the more popular decks in the standard metagame:
I won the roll and kept Reckless Waif, Gatstaf Shepherd, Full Moon's Rise, Incinerate, Copperline Gorge, Kessig Wolf Run, and Mountain. I played my Copperline Gorge, cast Reckless Waif, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and passed the turn. I flipped my Reckless Waif into a Merciless Predator, drew a Moonmist, attacked for 3, played my Mountain, cast Gatstaf Shepherd, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Rampant Growth and passed the turn. I drew a Forest, played it, cast Full Moon's Rise, and attacked for 7. My opponent played a fourth land, cast Solemn Simulacrum, and passed the turn. I drew a Mayor of Avabruck, cast it, and attacked with both my creatures. My opponent blocked the Merciless Predator, and I cast Moonmist. My opponent took 8 damage. I made a Wolf on my end step and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Primeval Titan, searched up some lands, and passed the turn. I had lethal on board and an Incinerate in hand, so it wasn't really close.
I kept Mayor of Avabruck, Kruin Outlaw, Instigator Gang, Moonmist, Rootbound Crag, 2 Mountain, and Forest. My opponent started off with a Llanowar Elves and passed the turn. I drew a Brimstone Volley, cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent played another Forest and cast Dungrove Elder. I drew a Forest, cast Mayor of Avabruck, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Rampant Growth and a Birds of Paradise, attacked for 3, and passed the turn. I drew another Mayor of Avabruck, attacked for 1, played my land, cast Kruin Outlaw, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Kessig Wolf Run and tapped out to cast a Primeval Titan, searching up a Mountain and a Forest, then attacked for 4 with Dungrove Elder and passed the turn. I drew Full Moon's Rise, played my land, cast Instigator Gang, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with everything, and I accidentally pressed f2 and missed my declare blockers step. My opponent activated Kessig Wolf Run, and I died. It didn't really matter, because my opponent had me crushed that game anyway and I would've had to chump-block with my Instigator Gang to survive at all.
I kept Reckless Waif, Mayor of Avabruck, Kruin Outlaw, Moonmist, 2 Forest, and Mountain. I played my Mountain and cast Reckless Waif. My opponent cast a Birds of Paradise and passed the turn. I drew a Copperline Gorge, played it, cast Mayor of Avabruck, attacked for 2, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Mountain, cast Dungrove Elder as a 1/1, and passed the turn. I drew Incinerate and attacked with both my creatures. My opponent blocked the Mayor of Avabruck, so I cast Moonmist for the veritable blowout. My opponent took 4, and I made a Wolf and passed the turn. My opponent played a Kessig Wolf Run, cast Solemn Simulacrum, searched for a Forest, and passed the turn. I drew Full Moon's Rise, cast it, and attacked with my team. My opponent chump-blocked the 3/3 Wolf token and took 9 damage. I played my land, made another Wolf, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Primeval Titan and searched up some Forests. I sent Incinerate to the face, untapped, drew a Brimstone Volley, and attacked with my team. My opponent was dead on board.
I won the roll and kept Reckless Waif, Full Moon's Rise, Incinerate, Brimstone Volley, Copperline Gorge, Forest, and Rootbound Crag. I played Copperline Gorge, cast Reckless Waif, and passed the turn. My opponent played an Isolated Chapel and passed the turn. I transformed Reckless Wait into a Merciless Predator, drew a Mountain, played my Forest, cast Full Moon's Rise, and attacked for 4. My opponent played a Seachrome Coast and passed the turn. I drew a Kruin Outlaw, played Rootbound Crag, and attacked for 4 then cast Kruin Outlaw and passed the turn. My opponent cast Think Twice on my end step. My opponent cast an Oblivion Ring and removed my Merciless Predator from the game. I drew a Moonmist, cast it, and attacked for 8, then played my land and passed the turn. My opponent played a Swamp, cast Dismember (without paying any life) on my Terror of Kruin Pass, and passed the turn. An Incinerate on the end step and a Brimstone Volley on my turn was good enough to steal the game.
My opponent mulliganed to five on the play. I mulliganed and kept Copperline Gorge, 2 Reckless Waif, Incinerate, Mayor of Avabruck, and Gatstaf Shepherd. My opponent played a Glacial Fortress and passed the turn. I drew a Forest, played Copperline Gorge, cast Reckless Waif, and passed the turn. My opponent played another Glacial Fortress and passed the turn. I transformed Reckless Waif into Merciless Predator, drew Full Moon's Rise, and attacked for 3. My opponent cast Dismember and went to 16. I cast Gatstaf Shepherd and passed the turn. My opponent cast a main-phase Think Twice and passed the turn without a third land. I drew Moonmist, cast Mayor of Avabruck, and attacked for 3. My opponent played a third land and used the flashback on Think Twice, again during the main phase. I drew Full Moon's Rise, cast it to play around Day of Judgment, attacked for 6, and passed the turn. My opponent played an Isolated Chapel untapped, and cast Day of Judgment, I sacrificed the Full Moon's Rise to regenerate my team. I drew a Mountain, played it, cast Moonmist, and attacked for lethal damage.
The deck did very well in the few matches I played. Two of the four games I won were a result of a turn-one Reckless Waif on the play that couldn't be answered. Another game was won by my opponent being on the play with five cards. Further testing is definitely needed if you want to play this deck in a tournament, but it's definitely a good start. I never got a chance to play with a lot of the cards that seem especially exciting, so I'd be interested to see how the deck fares for anyone who chooses to build it.
Double-faced cards are one of the new and exciting things that make Innistrad such an interesting set. A lot of these cards are very strong in Constructed, and I'm looking forward to a bright future for cards like Daybreak Ranger / Nightfall Predator, Mayor of Avabruck / Howlpack Alpha, and Garruk Relentless / Garruk, the Veil-Cursed.
Nightfall Predator | Art by Steve Prescott
As always, be sure to hit the forums or shoot me an email with questions or comments. I'm especially excited to see what rogue decks you might have come up with.