Though Tovolar, Dire Overlord was the star of Midnight Hunt, there are still some powerful Wolf and Werewolf cards rocking the show in Crimson Vow. Kristen shares what you’ll want to consider for Tovolar.
Recently, I shared a deck building article for Tovolar, Dire Overlord. If you’re interested in building him, it might be worth checking out over here. I’ve since done some playtesting both with and against the deck, and I’ve noticed a few overperforming cards that I’d like to recommend. Before we jump into the new Crimson Vow cards, here’s a couple cards I’m high on.
Firstly, giving Werewolves double strike has often been better than giving them straight up buffs like Unnatural Growth. Drawing four to six cards from two or three attackers is worth a lot, given Tovolar draws cards on each occurrence of damage. My friend Rich has been using these enchantments to great effect.
I’ve also noticed Tovolar has struggled to stay in play. It’s understandable, but I think the deck wants a little more as-fan of protection effects. I like Guardian Augmenter and Snakeskin Veil here, as they offer semi-permanent buffs to Tovolar as well as hexproof. People love to block and trade for Tovolar; these effects can make that happen less often, while also reducing the Commander damage clock by a significant amount.
Crimson Vow Werewolves
Crimson Vow has some absolutely cracking cards for Werewolves, which is not as unbelievable as you might think. In a set centered around Vampires, there’s room in green in particular to put some great non-Vampire cards.
To kick things off, Howlpack Piper is an excellent callback to Elvish Piper. This card is very pushed, and it does everything a Werewolf tribal decks wants. The front side can’t be countered, puts creatures into play while ignoring the casting restrictions for day and night, and what’s more, it lets you do this multiple times a turn if it’s a Wolf or Werewolf.
When flipped, it’s not nearly as useful, but it still lets you dig for more creatures to play. It’s a wonderful ebb and flow baked into one card, and I can’t see any reason you wouldn’t want this for a Werewolf commander deck.
Next up is another slam dunk of a green card, Avabruck Caretaker. While the front side might seem a little overcosted, it’s the flip side that we really care about. A hexproof source of team-wide +1/+1 counters that also gives other permanents you control hexproof? For six mana? That’s some serious spice. This will no doubt be the chase card of the set for Werewolf fans, and I’m honestly a little surprised it didn’t have ward rather than hexproof. What a powerful Magic card!
Volatile Arsonist is our red mythic, and it’s as much at home in Wulfgar of Icewind Dale as it is in Tovolar. Getting double attack triggers on this card is pretty tasty, but it’ll excel in decks able to offer deathtouch. Ohran Frostfang, Bow of Nylea — there are numerous synergistic ways to make this into a lethal beastie. Hitting planeswalkers is sweet, too, especially as it has menace and haste. I’m expecting it to be a reasonable answer to planeswalker-heavy Standard decks.
Child of the Pack flew under the radar a little, but it’s definitely worth considering if your Tovolar build likes to make Wolf tokens (which my build does). A 2/5 statline is actually really great for attacking to draw cards with, and making Wolf tokens gives you something to do besides dumping out your entire hand when you’re scared of a board wipe. Flipping into an anthem is icing on the cake. It might be an uncommon, but I really like this card.
Wolves Also Get it Done
Werewolves aren’t the only thing Tovolar cares about. Just like in Midnight Hunt, there are some fab Wolf creatures that are worth a look in Crimson Vow. The first is Hollowhenge Overlord, a Set Booster-exclusive card. It’s a team in a can that gives your progressively more and more Wolf tokens, and it’s a card I’m pretty impressed with. Getting it with flash is great for dodging board wipes, too.
Perhaps even stronger is Cemetery Prowler, a three-mana 3/4 with vigilance — an already impressive rate for a creature. What makes this so powerful is that it comes packed with repeatable graveyard hate and cost reduction. If you manage to get this to stick, you’re looking at cost reduction for your creatures, your instants, your sorceries, your enchantments… There’s not much more to say.
Speaking of cards that come down early to draw us cards with Tovolar… Ascendant Packleader gets it done. Caring about mana value four or greater rather than power four or greater is super important in a deck that often has three-power creatures.
Even Runebound Wolf is an attractive option for decks that go wide. Tovolar decks don’t find it difficult to pile on the damage, and repeatable burn damage can help to close games, especially on a two-drop.
At this juncture, I’d like to suggest an alternative. Chances are, there are a lot of Tovolar decks in your current meta, and if you’re anything like me, it’s fun to build something a little different to keep things fresh. Enter Tolsimir — followed by Voja, a legendary 3/3 green and white Wolf creature token.
Tolsimir has Wolf creatures fighting and gaining life when they ETB, which is a fun and unique gameplay experience. It’s also a plan that benefits a lot from some of the cards in Crimson Vow and Midnight Hunt. Every green Wolf mentioned so far (aside from maybe Ascendant Packleader, who is a little small to fight) synergizes great with Tolsimir.
While Howling Moon fits right at home in Tovolar, I’d like to think it offers a lot more to a Tolsimir deck. This’ll get you way more value generating both tokens and opportunities to fight and gain life, all while an opponent is taking their turn.
Even Flourishing Hunter looks pretty good in this light, giving lifegain plus a 6/6 body that fights like a champ. Since Tolsimir has released, there have been a bunch of powerful Wolf options for the deck. Midnight Hunt’s Primal Adversary and Tovolar’s Huntmaster are two powerful options, but there’s also Sarulf’s Packmate, Anara, Wolvid Familiar, Ranger Class, and Masked Vandal.
Looking further afield at adjacent effects, you can make extra tokens every turn with The Book of Exalted Deeds or Trudge Garden, plus get your scry on with Tolsimir’s Elf buddy Trelasarra. Nykthos Paragon or Lathiel can top out your curve and turn your Wolves into formidable bodies — and that’s without considering The Great Henge, too.
While some of these cards might well perform better leading their own decks (like Trelasarra or Lathiel), or in other archetypes (The Book of Exalted Deeds), they offer consistency and power to a deck that has struggled to break out of the lower ends of casual tables. When you combine some of the new Wolves, new lifegain payoffs, and new generically good green and white cards since War of the Spark, Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves becomes an interesting revisit. It’s also a card that might let you scratch the itch without becoming the third Tovolar player in your playgroup. I think I’ll have a go at brewing with him, actually.
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.