Multiplayer Is An Art, Part 24: The Forest Whispers My Name

Somebody asked me to write about my wolves Tribes deck, curious as to how I had built it. Now, the deck is in constant state of flux – or at least the non-tribal part of it is – so I couldn’t really write about the deck. Furthermore, the non-tribal part is so taste-dependent and highlanderish that I can’t really do a good article about it, since there would be no real strategic reasoning behind the cards I chose for the deck. And yet that will not stop me.

I took a”take this IQ test” thread on my favorite Type I forum, where I hang out every day. My father is rather fond of all these kinds of test, and he is a very active Mensa member, attending all sorts of activities and such.

Now, recognizing me for the genius that I am, he wanted me to join Mensa, too – but I declined, saying that I didn’t see the benefit of joining. Furthermore, I refuse to take any of these kinds of tests. But he still wanted me to take the Mensa Admission test very badly, and I still refused.

Then he probably cracked or something, and he offered me to pay for the test, and drive me there and pick me up again. The test was in another province of the Netherlands altogether, and not that it’s such a big country, but that’s still quite a drive away, so offering me the test for free was his first attempt to tempt me…

His second attempt was far more effective.

“You’ll also get fifty euros if you take it.”

Well, that’s the sort of argument that makes me pay attention. (And makes your father, who’s a heckuva guy, pay euros – The Ferrett) As soon as people start offering substantial amounts of money without requiring me to do something really stupid, I start to like the situation. But once again, I had my principles, and I didn’t falter.

Then the second attempt at bribery came soon after…

“You’ll get an additional fifty euros if you get accepted into Mensa.”

Hmm, that adds up to a hundred silvery-golden coins, a nice afternoon in one of Holland’s four largest cities, the opportunity to drive the car a long, long way (I have no car myself, so on that front I am still parent-dependent), and probably a cup of coffee during the break in the test. With a biscuit, for it is some sort of elite organization – or at least they tend to present themselves as such, making luxury biscuits a staple at any event. This gave me about -8 on my Will save, but I think I might have even forgone the save – because, well, a hundred euros can feed a poor student for a few weeks. Hmmmm.

So the other day we drove off. I took the test, and on our way back we saw a very funny traffic sign. It was a common Dutch sign, but it had only one big arrow pointing ahead, and it said, beneath the arrow:”Ring.” This is not a strange sign after all – for in the Netherlands, roads that surround cities are called”Ring,” but I thought that it was funny because I had just seen The Fellowship of the Ring again, and I just know that the Nazgûl would have killed for such a sign.

A few weeks later, I got a letter from a psychologist, giving me some number and some percentages. I retyped it, forged an autograph, and, of course, changed the number. There was no need to change the percentages, if I might brag. I showed it to my father, and he, like, started to say:”This is very…. very… uncommon… for people that still… well… have friends and stuff.”

He passed it to my mother and she did a little scream. I laughed, gave them the real letter, and still got my money. Now he keeps bugging me to accept the Mensa invitation, but I keep declining. He is only going as far as to pay my contribution, which isn’t quite tempting enough…


I think I’ll write an article again, seeing how at least two of you have PM’ed me about them. This will probably be the start of it, even though it isn’t Magic-related.

Oh, and for you Dutchmen out there who are in for a lark, I still have the forged letter somewhere on my hard drive. I could mail it out to you so you can win a bet. It looks so savagely real – for, in fact, it is. If you’re nice, I might even mail a signed copy so you can really show it off, with envelope and all.

The internet connection is acting slow again, and I still haven’t spoken a word about Magic, except for that part where I said that this was such a non-Magic-related anecdote. But hey, here we are now, entertain us (and with the lights out, it’s less dangerous).

Somebody asked me to write about my wolves tribes deck, curious as to how I had built it. Now, the deck is in constant state of flux – or at least the non-tribal part of it is – so I couldn’t really write about the deck. Furthermore, the non-tribal part is so taste-dependent and highlanderish that I can’t really do a good article about it, since there would be no real strategic reasoning behind the cards I chose for the deck. (Well, there are of course the compulsory part where we add Disenchant, Naturalize, Serra’s Liturgy, and Vindicate, et cetera – but y’all are smart dogs, and I reckon that you’ve all learned the utility trick by now.) Mana bases are such an arbitrary commotion. Yes, I play all duals and multiple color non-basics available, and yes, I play stuff like Pendelhaven, Karakas and Yavimaya Hollow. And Volrath’s Stronghold. I’m not silly, nor are most of you. The only thing I have to say about lands is that you shouldn’t forget Gaea’s Cradle, because we will have a token generator at our disposal. But most of you would have thought of that, too, I can imagine.

You know why Aspect of Wolf isn’t going to be in the deck? Because the deck will only have about eight cards that count as forests. A maximum of +4/+4 to any creature with a very painstaking setup process is not exactly what I would ask when I was granted a wish by a generous succubus in mortal human guise. It’s a pity about the picture, though; that looked good.

Oh, and the deck hasn’t been receiving any new cards since, well… I guess there was this single Torment card in it, and there are no Odyssey cards in it, and nothing from after Torment, so it contains only old cards, and I made this sentence that has”since” in it but doesn’t contain any temporal indication. I hope it won’t get edited away, because I like weird humor like that. Word.

When the Miscreants fell dead,

She took to conjuring Spells in the cusp of the Night,

and the bestial Floor shook with terrible Life.

Queen of Winter, Throned

Yes, that’s one more thing – we also need conjuring spells, just in case our miscreants fall dead, too. Citanul Flute is a rightful staple in almost all of my tribes decks, but I never thought it was better than when it had the goodness I attributed to it while it served my Wolf deck. Wolves are cheap, and better when they are in their pack. The Flute is one of the few things that I will surely recommend to you.

…Oh! And do not forget things that you can sacrifice creatures or permanents to, for causing some pleasurable effect (or some displeasurable one), which is then only applied to your opponent. Because wolves are so small and fragile, they die all the time. And because the Master of the Hunt makes wolf tokens, you have quite a stock when all is well. So sacrifice effects are easily paid – and their effects are well worth it for cards like Attrition and Martyr’s Cause. Fanatical Devotion can also save your Master of the Hunt from most damage and destruction effects; you could consider it.

Oh, and for a lark, Grinning Totem is good. The deck will contain three colors, and some of your lands can even produce all five of them. In a format like tribes, some cards are played by everyone, ranging from Swords to Plowshares to Thawing Glaciers. The Totem can fetch them all for you. Need a creature dead at this instant? Grab their Terror. Need to do away with that Nevinyrral’s Disk? Grab their Vindicate. Grab the Vindicate and not the Disenchant, because Vindicate is better, and when you use it, they can’t draw it themselves. Is some guy’s Volrath’s Stronghold holding off yours? Grab their Wasteland or Dust Bowl and go for the throat. Grab their Citanul Flute if you have nothing better to do. Or grab their Living Death, if it’s worth it. Living Death should be in every tribes deck that can support it. It can easily be set up, and its effect is devastating as death itself.

For it is writ: I will cause the dead to rise and devour the living, I will give to the dead power over the living, that they may outnumber the living.

– The Necronomicon

I just bought one, but I didn’t read it, because I already read it about a year ago, when I borrowed it from a girlfriend, whom I had given a copy for her birthday. She offered me to have me borrow it from her; I didn’t give it to her so that I could read it. But I live in a monastery, so I figured that I should have some religious texts in my library. Well, I have Dungeons And Dragons: Faiths and Pantheons, but that’s not quite real-world literature. It is said that the Necronomicon is an elaborate hoax, too, but as long as it doesn’t mention too many Gods and give their Hit Dice and Armor Classes, then I am willing to pretend that the hoax accusation is just a hoax.

Wolves are spread through all five of the colors of Magic. There’s the green Dire Wolf, the red Heart Wolf, the white Tundra Wolf, the black Werewolf and the blue legend Kasimir, the Lone Wolf. So we could go rainbow and use all five of the colors… But if you look through the coolness factor of Kasimir the Lone Wolf, then you’ll find it is a very, very overcosted vanilla creature…

You see? So let’s drop this guy from our decks before somebody sees us having mental interaction with this card. And let’s drop Heart Wolf, too. He might be a blast in a dwarves deck, but there are other methods for making other players have sympathy for you. And for that, you won’t need a Heart Wolf to persuade the Dwarven tribes to profess their sympathy for you. Dwarves are a tad uncommon, anyway.

White brings us nothing more than just Tundra Wolves… On the creature front, that is. On the Highlander/utility front, it brings us love, peace and joy. And Wrath of God. White is in, because it is an empirical rule that the tribes decks with three colors tend to be the best. Only one or two colors make you miss some diversity and utility, and four or five colors make your mana base too unstable and unreliable.

Listen to them, the Children of the Night. What sweet music they make…

Dracula, the movie from 1994 or something

It all started back during the testex days, when everybody was trying to break Shard Phoenix with Forbid, or was trying to beat hard with Sligh, or was trying to combo away with Living Death and Tradewind Rider. Tempest / Stronghold / Exodus, thou art my favorite block format. But I was looking for a tribe to make. It would have to be an original tribe that nobody had thought of yet… But it also needed to be strong. And so I thought up giants, and they kicked wildly, made me to the finals of the tournament – and, in the hands of my brother, even won the whole thing altogether. I’ve played my wolves about eight times now, and they made the finals each and every time. But they never won.

But back on topic: I wanted something new after that initial success, because I suspected everybody would put some more large-creature hate into their decks. Retribution of the Meek, anyone? That card practically said”Kill all giants and Dragons, and leave all of your own creatures alone.” So I took to another deck. That one still wasn’t Wolves, it was Elementals.

Now Elementals die to Retribution of the Meek, too – but hey, one single new Thorn Elemental and you’re back on the track. And maybe you will have a horde of Verdant Force tokens that survive the retribution and then start to seek retribution for themselves. Or maybe you have some Time Elementals on the table. Or some Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Blizzard, Wave, and Flame Elementals in your hand. Or a Child of Gaea. Or a Maro. Or Subterranean Spirit.

The Spirit was just mean. I mean, it does a little Tremor when you tap it. Most tribes are very vulnerable to tremors. Two of them on the table make little Pyroclasms. Almost all tribes are vulnerable to Pyroclasms. Guess which tribe wouldn’t even notice the damage?

I guess that it isn’t hard to believe that this deck played both Show and Tell and Mana Vault, and that I was almost always glad to draw one before turn 3. Good times.

Turn one: Sapprazan Skerry.

Turn two: Tropical Island, Show and Tell.

Player one: I’ll put Elvish Bard into play.

Payer two: I’ll put Flametongue Kavu into play, take that.

Player three: Woo hoo! Are you sure that the Show and Tell was a good move? Here’s a Rootbreaker Wurm!

You: Verdant Force. Go. I get one token.

Hehe, and then a Time Elemental on turn 4 to control the board with. Good times. I should have traded for a Eureka back then, but Werner didn’t want to part with it. Shame.

The Elementals got in sixth, and the best five players would proceed to the finals. You might think that as the runner of that particular event, I could have bent the rules a little to let myself through to the last and most prestigious round… But if you think that, you’re a dirty cheater. Shame. On you. But the fact remains that I was once again looking for another deck.

So I built the tribe that I think is one of the best tribes out there: Shades. All your Swamps are +1/+1 boons to any of your creatures… Except to the 5/5 protection from white creatures, and except to the creature that taps to give any creature -x/-x, where x is the number of black cards you reveal from your hand. Dark Ritual was a Bounty of the Hunt in that deck. Bubbling Muck was a very scary sort of Overrun, because the huge bonus could end up on any of my creatures. And the deck was mono black; thus, it ran creature kill like it was run by Chem’Ali.

You know what Chem’Ali said? Nothing! Chem’Ali’s dead. Don’t worry, I’ll find a replacement.

I also built Protection Angels. I had nothing to do with those flashy large angels like Archangel and Seraph; just gimme all the Voices, Angelic Page, Serra’s Advocate and Serra Angel. Those are nine angels, making thirty-six creatures. Only four of those creatures are high-profile. But the Advocates and the Pages could wreak havoc in other player’s combat steps. Pump this, boost that. And if you don’t destroy my Serra Angel now, I will boost you again during the next turn. I block Shivan Dragon with the Voice of Law, and Verdeloth walks right into my Voice of All, which was set to green. When the Illusions player gets annoying, I kill him with the Voices of Reason that I seek out with my Citanul Flute. Hell yeah; protected beatdown. Those hits can come in pretty hard when they get boosted by two Advocates. It was the most innocent-looking tribe ever, but it rocked.

But just because it rocked didn’t mean that it was made out of stone. If my brother had only recognized Tethered Skirge’s life-loss ability as a good thing for him, then he would have won. He should have prevented a lot of damage to it by sacrificing all of his nine angels to his Martyr’s Cause. The Imp guy was at nine life, and there was this huge standoff. But there was nothing he could do to prevent his Imp from getting targeted nine times, so he should have died. My brother didn’t see the unexpected trick, so he lost, most unfortunately.

On the other hand, should he have won that one, too, then he would have already won two tribes tournaments, as opposed to my zero, and I would have to bear even more braggeries. Luckily, I can always say that he only wins because he gets my good decks, which are designed, assembled, and built by me, while I stick to the still good, but not best. But wolves?

Well, of course they’re best. They just get conspired against by jealous players. Humph.

The idea of the Wolves tribe came way back when I didn’t know all the cards yet. I was looking through the Magic Encyclopedia, awing at the awesomely flavorful cards that the peeps managed to make back then. And then my eye fell on this guy with antlers and wild manes, walking confidently and with a straight back between a pack of loyal-looking wolves. There was this ancient forest in the background, and the picture was just beautiful. Not a ray in sight. It was a real painting. Jeff A. Menges is one of my artistic heroes. He also painted Moat and Thawing Glaciers, all of which look”real,” look like real Magic cards.

The card I saw was the Master of the Hunt. And because back in those days, when unconditional token generators were limited to Icatian Town, The Hive, and Serpent Generator, his ability seemed awesome; I decided I wanted to build this wolf tribe. Master, thou art the King of howling Wolves.

Of Wolf and Men:

On through the new day’s mist they run, out of the new day’s mist they have come.

I could think of some more wolves that I wanted to play. Dire Wolves has this pretty picture of this savage wolf growling ferally at the person who would dare look at its picture. The ability might seem crappy – but in this deck, which is partially white, it comes down to a 2/2 banding wolf for 2G. And while Wizards disliked it a lot, banding is actually quite good. And the Wolves of the Hunt tokens that are made by the Master of the Hunt also have an even rarer form of banding – namely,”bands with other Wolves of the Hunt.” It might seem trivial, but Timber Wolves is also a bander. That makes for a lot of banders, some of which are disposable because they are only represented by glass beads. An entire wall of banders – a pack of them.

Try and charge into that! Whether you are a knight in shining armor, a demon whose claws are festering death or a serpent from the depths of the sea, resembling the dread Cthulu, you will always meet this wall of fur and claws, bristling with raking fangs and rending paws. In the end, the charger will perish, but not after having dealt all of his blows. But when the dust settles, it becomes clear that only one wolf has died. That one took all the blows for the rest of the pack. In the end, the huge horror or the well-honed hardened warrior perished while taking down with him only a single member of the pack. And that is the power of banding.

I hunt, therefore I am, harvesting the land, taking off the fallen lamb.

So I started out with Dire Wolf, Timber Wolves, and Master of the Hunt. But I also needed some beef, some phat wolves to form a solid backbone with. Because banding is all good and well, but without something to band with, it becomes like this huge castle wall without any soldiers to mount the ramparts, which is not a good thing.

And do you know what fat I found? Lycanthropic fat. Or, well, fat… I’d better call it fatter, because 2/4 creatures are fatter than 2/2 ones, but still not really large. The Greater Werewolf was a 2/4 for 4B, so it better have a good ability. And it had an ability! It might not be as good as one could hope, but it is danged flavorful for a werewolf, and it is rather unique, so players tend to underestimate it, or sometimes yet overestimating it, both of which are good for you.

Whenever a creature blocks or is blocked by Greater Werewolf, put a -0/-2 counter on it at end of combat. Do you know that this messes with protection?

“I block your Greater Werewolf with my Paladin En-Vec.”

“I’m down with that. Damage on the Stack? My werewolf lives. I fear your Paladin didn’t make it.”

“But it’s pro black, foo!”

“Yes, but those counters aren’t targeted, foo.”

“So my Paladin dies? That sucks!”

And it sure does… But not for us. Our werewolf can carve another notch in his skin, for another victim well killed. And if you are as bothered as I am by all those little regenerating skeletons that the Dead and the Skeletons tribe keep playing, then you will also love the fact that a werewolf has nothing with those little buggers. He just sniffs at them, and they die due to sub-zero toughness. Greater Werewolf is your man of steel. He lays hefty counters and has the highest constitution around. Love him, he has great art.

They shift, pulsing with the earth, company we keep, roaming the land while you sleep.

The Greater Werewolf has a lesser brother – the Lesser Werewolf. That one is also 2/4, so in terms of numbers they are equal. But the Lesser Werewolf has his counter system made in a different way; he can, whenever he would deal damage to a creature, use one black mana to prevent that damage and lay a -0/-1 counter on the target instead. So, in term of flavor, he deals damage that is permanent, reflected in the form of a counter. This ability seems weaker than the Greater Werewolf’s one, but there are certain advantages to it.

When you boost the Lesser’s power, you can suddenly lay some more counters than just two, which could be good. And the Lesser Werewolf can also lay the counters as soon as it is blocked, because the ability works a tad different than I explained. This makes him able to über-first-strike some blocker out. Gang-blocking Lesser Werewolf is risky business… And he is good at defending, because he is also a 2/4 that fits perfectly into some banding mob.

Bright is the moon high in starlight, chill in the air cold as steel tonight.

Not a very common sight, but well worth the trades I made for it. I am now the proud owner of four English Lesser Werewolves, four English Masters of the Hunt, and four English Wyluli Wolves, all from their original sets. (Legends, Legends, and Arabian Nights, respectively.) I also have four original English Tundra Wolves from legends, but I don’t use all of them. For I also have a Chinese one, an Italian one, and a German one. That makes for a nice set o’ four different black bordered Tundra Wolves, which seems, in the case of such a non-expensive card, cooler than four original ones.

The German one is my favorite. It is called Tundrawölfe, but I like to call it Schnauzi, der Wunderwulf. Schnauzi is wonderful. He drops on turn 1 and kills all other one-drops in melee, so he never meets opponents. He defends against all other one-drops, too, so he is truly a multi-purpose Wunderwulf. If there had been a Ball Lightning Tribe, then Schnauzi would have been even more wunderbahr. He is seriously capable at dealing about four or five damage to a slow tribe in the start. Then you just have to lay low for a while, playing defensively with your banders and poking in wherever possible, and in the end, you can swarm out with your horde and win. Swarm out with a horde that is led by Schnauzi, der Wunderwulf. Loyal companion, relentless hunter, ferocious warrior, warm furry pillow, all round Wunderwulf.

They shift, call of the wild, fear in your eyes, it’s later then you’d realized.

His probably bestest buddy in the world is the Wyluli Wolf. The ability to give a target creature +1/+1 might seem rather, well, unspectacular. And it is. But it is rather, well, subtle, too. It makes your wolf pack more unpredictable, and it makes your first-striking Lupi that more frightening. It grows Lesser Werewolf so that it can lay more counters. I saves the Master of the Hunt from that Steam Blast or ill-targeted Shock. And, along with Tundra Wolves, it has this classic picture, depicting just a regular, realistic wolf. Great.

Now this didn’t make for a full tribe. Despairing, I started trading for Kasimir the Lone Wolf, because I feared that I would have to use him as a last resort. I could comfort myself with the thought that I would only have to play two of him, and that he at least looks like some sort of fitting legend. And the addition of blue could be a slight boon, with cycling additions like Miscalculation and good additions like Stroke of Genius. The problem is that it looked so non-wolflike. Schnauzi would whimper in his den when he would see me play that unnatural blue. White is life, Green is wilderness, black is death and thus life… But blue is twisted. So imagine my excitement when I found two Arctic Wolves in somebody’s binder.

The forest beckons with her nocturnal call, to draw me close amidst the baying of wolves,

to where the bindings of life are downtrodden with scorn

in the dank odiferous earth.

The Forest whispers my Name.

Who remembers these rugged canines?

Well, they’re not bad. They cantrip, so you lose nothing to them. They give you an excuse to aggressively swing with a semi-large body a few times. More than three swings with this thing starts to cost eight mana, and that’s a little on the expensive side… But I am very willing to pay two, four or six mana during my upkeep, if that gives me the chance to hit that lousy soldier-guy with this large beatstick. And when it dies, none are forlorn, for it has cantripped.

I already mentioned Living Death, but let me also bring to your attention the fact that Recurring Nightmare is very profitable in a deck that can create token creatures. Recurring some Arctic Wolves around doesn’t just net you cards, it also untaps them after combat, and resets their cumulative upkeep back to two mana. If you’ve got nothing better to do with your mana, then this is a very entertaining way of spending it. Did your Werewolf die in valorous combat? Reanimate it at the cost of a Wolf of the Hunt. All thanks to the Master, Master, he grants me the dreams that I’ve been after. He’s surely not pulling my strings, twisting my minds and smashing my dreams.

When you’ve got the mana out, it never hurts to bring back these wolves with Volrath’s Stronghold. Sure, it costs you a few magical euros, but it gives you a 4/5 body again, and it didn’t cost you a card at all. And when you look closely at the picture, you can see the plumes of icy breath that are respirated by the Arctic Wolves. Man, it must be cold out there. It’s a good thing that my boys have thick furs.

When the sun has wept upon the waveless lake, and the mists steal in with ease,

covened wolves arc their ere dissonant napes, in adoration of the moon and thee.

Dusk… And Her embrace

As you might have noticed, some genres in music deal a lot more with wolves than some other, more popular genres. But I like wolves, so that’s a good thing. It can be quite stylish when there’s a howling wolf in the background, accompanying some wailing guitars and pulsing basses, some rattling battery and some grunting vocalist. But it should not be overdone. Subtlety is key here. Just like the part where this black metal band mixed in Thunderclaps instead of base drums. That sounded quite intense, but they only do it for about half a couplet. And that is the best way they could have done it, for with those flashy effects, moderation and subtlety are the qualities that divide the artistic from the grotesque.

Back to Magic.

The deck was done. Four of each wolf, but only two Arctic Wolves, because, well, because. For a total of thirty wolves. And then the new set, back then (I am ancient) hit: Urza’s Legacy.

Suddenly this wolf, which I already had four of but couldn’t play because it was from Portal, became tournament-legal: Lone Wolf, a 2/2 for 2G that can deal it’s damage to defending player as though it wasn’t blocked. The art kind of sucked in comparison to all the other wolves – but as I said, I already had some from Portal and some from Portal: Three Kingdoms. I decided to downsize three of the least-efficient wolves and reap-lace them with Lone Wolf. The guy is called Lone Wolf, but he is a great teamster. He opened the way to offensive banding tricks.

In the beginning, I thought it was savage tech to swing with a greater Werewolf banded with some disposable bander. Nobody would dare block that pack, because it would cause them permanent constitution drain. And should a creature be large enough to block the team on its own, then I would absorb all the damage with my banding drone, uhm, buddy, and have the large blocker still get a counter from my Wraith-like Shapeshifter. Next turn, the Lycanthrope would come for more, and there would come a time that the war of attrition with the defender would be gloriously won by my banding assaulting squad.

But then the dark day arrived where my opponents lightened up and discovered that under banding rules, they could just”block” the smaller wolf. This would still have them fight with the Werewolf, but they wouldn’t technically block the changeling. So the counters wouldn’t be dished out the way I would want them to be dished out.

Was it the cry of a wolf that broke her silver thread of enchanted thoughts?

The twisted Nails of Fate

But now, with Lone Wolf, there is a new offensive trick that I can pull, which relates to banding. Charge with a pack, and make sure that it includes Lone Wolf as the single allowed non-bander. What do they do – let it through? Than the mission is accomplished and you’ve fed your wolves with the blood of the meek. But they can also choose to block.

Now this is hoopy, for only one wolf will die on our side, if we’re unlucky. And maybe even none will perish, if we manage to divide combat damage the correct way. And do you know what? We can choose which of the blockers to deal damage. If we can usefully assign all of our damage to blockers, then we do so. But if a packet of damage remains, because there are too few blockers, or, opposed, because there are too much or too large blockers, then we can call upon the Lone Wolf to do his job and go for the opposing throat. That’s good. Lone Wolf becomes a lot better when he gets a protective group.

But because he’s only good in the late game – or I think that I should rephrase that as”because he really shines in the late game” – I only included three of them. I kicked two Timber Wolves and one Tundra Wolves, the Italian one. They were just so fragile and tender that I hadn’t the heart to expose them to the brutality of the great vast forests out there.

In the beginning, Lone Wolf is just a 2/2 for 2G. In the end, he becomes a threat due to his ability that suddenly becomes relevant.

Mercadian Masques brought us the Howling Wolf. Horrid art, mediocre ability. Why would I want to pay four mana for a regular vanilla wolf, costing me a card, while I could just as well spend the mana at the Master’s place, giving me a 1/1 bander? Granted, the bander is smaller than the howler…. But frankly, I don’t care. The token is free. The Howler is free for only three times. And it has horrid art. Case closed.

…but now the wolves of time that stalk mankind shall be as one in grim repast.

The Lick of carnivorous Winds

So behold the pack as I have chosen to play it:

4x Master of the Hunt

4x Greater Werewolf

4x Lesser Werewolf

4x Dire Wolves

4x Wyluli Wolf

2x Timber Wolves

3x Tundra Wolves

2x Arctic Wolves

3x Lone Wolf

Ain’t it sweet? Ain’t it pretty? I thought so. And don’t you also think that the focus that Wizards of the Coast has laid on tribes recently has greatly spoiled any flavor that the old tribes tournament could ever have? Clerics and Elves used to be good. Now they are, well, unbalanced. It’s not as if wizards or beasts were a tribe in need; they were actually quite powerful. Now they get even more mad boosts from sources like Wirewood Savage or Fugitive Wizard. It’s just not fair. But hey, what is?

Writing isn’t. Do you see this article? I spent quite a few hours writing it. It contains a lot of anecdotes and digressions, and a little Magic talk. I like the other randomness better if it comes to having to write it, but I also like the randomness better if it comes to reading it. Yet the article gets published because of its Magic-content.

Oh well. I like Magic, too. It can be pretty random.

Grotesques and wolves in women’s skin,

the raven winged, the missing limbed.

Tortured Soul Asylum

The founders of the first conquering and dominant European civilization were raised by a female wolf, if the legends are to be believed. La Lupa raised Romulus and Remus when she found them in the woods in Italy, where they were abandoned by their father Aeneas (I guess) and their mother, the nymph Rea Silva. They founded Rome when the time was ripe, and the fruit of their mistresses’ loins conquered – I mean”pacified” – the known world. So wolves are very politically influential. Keep them as your friend.

Wolves are one of the traditional forms of evil. Just take a look at the fairytales. Who ate that little red-dressed girl? Right. Who was threatening to eat the three very innocent little piggies? Right. What sort of creature is the sheriff of Nothingham in Disney’s Robin Hood? Right. And in Prokofief’s musical masterpiece, the story was about Peter and the….? Right.

Little Pigs, Little Pigs, let me in…

Not for a hair on my chinny chinny skin!

Emperial Regards,

Stijn van Dongen,