Hello everyone and welcome to another week of Shattered Perceptions, the series where I attempt to redefine the use of off-the-beaten-path cards in Commander through the lens of general of the week. As I prepare for the Dollar General festivities as Grand Prix Minneapolis this weekend, everything has become somewhat hectic, leaving me with less time to do the solid research I like to do on colors within a general’s color identity. So while I have a backlog of generals I wanted to cover after coming out of the Dollar General arc, this week I am setting aside creating deck skeletons from whole cloth in favor of presenting my take on [casthaven]Yasova Dragonclaw[/casthaven], an underrated general I have an affection for.

Yasova Dragonclaw

Coming to us out of the fairly recent set of Fate Reforged, Yasova is one of the “Proto-Khans” of Tarkir, representing the Temur clan before it was fully formed. From a design perspective, I really loved what Wizards came up with by having mono-colored legendary creatures each with a hybrid off-color activated ability to offer the Commander crowd more wedge generals while playing thematically into the block’s drafting structure. This mold of generals allows for a special feeling deck build, as it doesn’t require you to make every color of mana in their respective color identities, but infers the use of splashes. As I will explain in a moment, this was the perfect storm for a deck I had been hopeful to build for quite sometime when Fate Reforged was being released. This is where I finally found my outlet for Wolf tribal.

In some ways the deck built itself and in other ways, it fed into my love for hunting for hidden gems. Let’s not waste anymore time.

On the Scent

The path to Wolf tribal goes all the way back to 7th Edition for me, when I first saw [casthaven]Lone Wolf[/casthaven] and was immediately intrigued. For context, I was new to the game during 7th Edition’s time in print, so [casthaven]Lone Wolf[/casthaven] being a smaller [casthaven]Thorn Elemental[/casthaven] and a wolf and in green—the new player’s best friend—made it something I had to collect four of for my casual 78-card deck.

Since that time, wolves have seen a few solid cards printed and even some tribal support in [casthaven]Immerwolf[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Pyreheart Wolf[/casthaven] during Innistrad block, but nothing that would make them mainstream to most of the playerbase of any format. I never lost my love for them, celebrating with the printing of [casthaven]Wolfbriar Elemental[/casthaven] in Worldwake and [casthaven]Raised by Wolves[/casthaven] in Born of the Gods. Small victories that were completely off-the-radar of most other people.

When the time came to build for the tribe in Commander, I believe I started by making a pile of cards for a [casthaven]Wort, the Raidmother[/casthaven] deck, thinking that it was the colors I wanted with a different enough general that might have brought the deck alive. Truthfully, having never brought that deck to completion, I can’t even say if that was an answer or not. Later it became a [casthaven]Xenagos, God of Revels[/casthaven] deck, a good idea that just didn’t play the way I wanted. Finally, enter Yasova in 2015.

Finding Our Voice

Yasova’s ability to Threaten a smaller creature every turn means that she often acts more as a six-drop than a three-drop, which is fine since most of the tribe falls into the three and four range. She makes cards like [casthaven]City of Shadows[/casthaven] and [casthaven]High Market[/casthaven] all stars, clears the way for attacks, and can get suited up to act as a Voltron general if need be. In fact, being a Voltron naturally feeds into a her ability, as you’re looking to up her power in service of stealing bigger things. I have regularly found that after my first few plays of [casthaven]Young Wolf[/casthaven] into [casthaven]Wandering Wolf[/casthaven] often means that people disregard me as a silly tribal deck. They’re not wrong, but they are penalized for letting me cultivate a solid board when Yasova does come down, maybe even super-sized by the [casthaven]Xenagos, God of Revels[/casthaven] sitting on the board.

The inclusion of blue hasn’t prove to be the end-all special sauce that made the deck for me though. The splash—smaller than I believe some people might think is correct when they see the decklist—does offer a few great specialized choices to my build, like inclusion of [casthaven]Arcane Laboratory[/casthaven]. The Lab supercharged the small vein of werewolves I have included in the deck—I love the tribe—but at the core I was always looking at a Gruul deck with a splash and I didn’t strongly build towards them here due to deck experience over power level.

Wolf Tribal

Enough story and building up of the deck,—hat have I chosen to do with the deck? Earlier I glossed over most of the tribal support for the deck, but overall this deck wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t made our trips to Innistrad over the five sets we’ve spent there. Side note: with the new block structure, I am a little worried we won’t see much support for wolves on any return trips.

One of the more unusual parts of Wolf tribal compared to where other lesser tribes have gone is that their supporting cards exist outside of being stapled to creatures alone, much like Goblins or Elves, but not in the same saturation. We get spells like [casthaven]Moonmist[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Howlpack Resurgence[/casthaven] which allow the deck to be aggressive, while having combat tricks tailored to them.

Similar to my article about [casthaven]Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice[/casthaven] a few months ago, the wolf creature type exists in the form of creature tokens in their most favorable form. I say this because the ability to recur tokens in the form of [casthaven]Feed the Pack[/casthaven], [casthaven]Arlinn Kord[/casthaven], [casthaven]Kessig Cagebreakers[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Huntmaster of the Fells[/casthaven] means that the deck has extra reach which keeps it relevant throughout the game.

The one red-headed stepchild of my tribal package is [casthaven]Wren’s Run Packmaster[/casthaven], which on the surface faces a lot of issues when trying to reconcile the champion trigger. Thus far I have been able to circumvent this issue through the use of changelings like [casthaven]Chameleon Colossus[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Taurean Mauler[/casthaven], which tend to be more durable than my other creatures, allowing me access to a reasonably powerful token producer following a [casthaven]Wrath of God[/casthaven] effect.


“Mine.” ~ Larfleeze, Orange Lantern

I don’t have time to go into Green Lantern lore at the moment, but I have found a lot of wisdom in the immortal words of the Orange Lantern and in this deck, I really don’t care to give things back. While I already pointed out [casthaven]City of Shadows[/casthaven] and [casthaven]High Market[/casthaven], I would be remiss to not talk about [casthaven]Bazaar Trader[/casthaven], who forms the final piece of the “Larfleeze Trifecta.”

The unique wording on the Trader means that while a creature is under the influence of [casthaven]Yasova Dragonclaw[/casthaven]—or in a different world, [casthaven]Roil Elemental[/casthaven]—you can trade the creature in question to yourself. I don’t know if this or [casthaven]Lignify[/casthaven] puts a player more on tilt when applied to their general, but I am generally happier with this outcome.

Undervalued Treasures

Finally, I wanted to touch on two cards that I really don’t see getting played elsewhere and think ought to see more play: [casthaven]Instigator Gang[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Shaman of the Great Hunt[/casthaven].

In the case of [casthaven]Instigator Gang[/casthaven], I really don’t know what to say. This creature may fit into my deck flavorfully, but both faces of the card can swing games in exciting ways. I believe I first caught wind of this card when it was being reviewed during the Andy Years of Commander Cast where the charismatic host likened the name to a sweet rap group and the power level to a red [casthaven]Glorious Anthem[/casthaven]. The man knows red. I trust him.

[casthaven]Shaman of the Great Hunt[/casthaven] is a different breed and I understand that his color identity restricts where he can see play. He’s not a blatant Temur good stuff card and his inclusion really needs to be in a deck that will naturally enable having four powered creatures. In this deck, I feel that the color splashes that Yasova offers were most paid off with this card. Where a card like [casthaven]Distant Melody[/casthaven] can often draw three to five cards in this deck, the Shaman has drawn me double digits over the course of a few turns. This is the last game reach card as it draws cards and pumps creatures. The fact that it has been restricted to Temur is secretly good, because I wouldn’t want this card being in every Gruul deck.

As I alluded to at the top of the article, Dollar General will be seeing play Friday night at Grand Prix Minneapolis, the big event being a game or two of Ironman Dollar General. If you happen to be making it up to Minneapolis, look for the side events; while I will not be on site all weekend, I have seen rumblings of Cube and Vintage Artist Constructed being played by local and visiting Planeswalkers.

And with that I am calling time for the week. You can find me on Twitter via @RyanSainio or yelling at Hipsters directly through the email system at the bottom of the page. They would probably tell me if I got fan mail.

Until next time, safe travels to all those coming to my home state and of course, thank you!

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the story of Magic and the EDH community in his down time. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

Pet Deck – Shattergang Eldrazi

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.