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Gruul Counterplayer with Wulfgar Commander/EDH

I recently wrote a piece for my Commanding Lead newsletter in CFB Xtra (subscribe for free now!) about Wulfgar of Icewind Dale, and I got so excited about the hypothetical Wulfgar Commander deck I was building that I decided to go deep and build the entire thing. Let’s take a quick look at Wulfgar himself before we get into the list, though:

 

Wulfgar of Icewind Dale

Wulfgar seems pretty linear in terms of deckbuilding, right? You slap a bunch of red/green attackers into the deck, making sure they have good triggers, add your standard host of support spells and lands and you’ve got every Wulfgar deck on the planet. Well, not quite. It turns out the creatures Wulfgar supports are kind of all over the place theme wise, and it’s hard to put them together in a form where you’re still doing something worthwhile when Wulfgar isn’t on the battlefield. So, for this deck, I’ve taken inspiration from a group of Wulfgar-related creatures to create a list that works when Wulfgar isn’t available but really thrives when he is.

 

 

Header - Counters-Matter Attackers

Let’s take a look at the creature that started it all:

 

Fangren Firstborn

Here’s one of my favorite creatures I never quite manage to find room for – only this time, it’s the centerpiece of our deck. Sure, the deck’s main theme is attack triggers, but I’ve built this list such that +1/+1 counters are going to be just as important. That said, if Fangren Firstborn is the only +1/+1 counter engine, you’re going to be in pretty big trouble. Luckily, I’ve assembled a few friends of the Fangren.

 

Oran-Rief OozeKalonian Hydra

Already got counters on your creatures? These two will build them up really quickly. Oran-Rief Ooze drops a counter on another creature (or itself) when it enters, while Kalonian Hydra brings four counters with it to start, so in a pinch, they can fly solo.

 

Krenko, Tin Street KingpinPredator OozeRubblebelt Raiders

These creatures put +1/+1 counters on themselves when they attack. Rubblebelt Raiders rewards you from having a wider creature base, whereas the other two work a little more slowly. That said, doubling up on your Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin trigger gets you quite a lot of Goblin tokens in a hurry!

 

Laelia, the Blade Reforged

Laelia, the Blade Reforged kind of fits into the previous category, but with Wulfgar in play, you don’t just get two counters on Laelia – you get two exile triggers as well! 

 

Armory of IroasSword of HoursFractal Harness

There are only so many creatures that add counters when they attack, so perhaps we can provide a little help with some sweet pieces of Equipment. Armory of Iroas is sort of the baseline, with Sword of Hours taking things up another level for the same startup and equip costs. Fractal Harness lets you double up on counters, so make sure you have some to start with.

 

Curse of Predation

Sure, this is a symmetrical effect, but Wulfgar’s trigger doubling ability lets us break the symmetry. Just be careful if your opponents are packing a lot of tokens or playing a go-wide strategy – and by that, I mean make sure to cast it on the player who would otherwise benefit most from it. 

 

Header - Counter Conjurers

We’ll need more ways to add counters outside of just these attack trigger-relevant cards, so let’s take a look at some of the other options:

 

Grumgully, the GenerousRenata, Called to the Hunt

Only a couple of creatures in this deck are Humans – unfortunately, one of the notable Humans is Wulfgar himself – so Grumgully, the Generous is a pretty solid addition to get the counters rolling before we start attacking with our Kalonian Hydra. Renata, Called to the Hunt manages to hit everything, which helps me handle the increased cost.

 

Loyal Guardian

Got Wulfgar in play? Great, pump your whole team every turn. Cards like Oran-Rief Ooze and Kalonian Hydra could not be more excited – and since you definitely have Wulfgar in play, you get to double up on those triggers (but not Loyal Guardian’s, notably).

 

Strength of the Tajuru

This is another card that I often end up cutting, but in this case, I’ve found a little bit of extra room for it since it plays so well into our theme. After all, we really need to get counters on our creatures to get the engine going! I like this a little better than Increasing Savagery because we get to go wide with it.

 

Rhythm of the Wild

Sure, sometimes we’ll want to give creatures haste, but I think the +1/+1 counter option will be exercised fairly often in this deck.

 

Hardened ScalesBranching Evolution

If you’re already adding counters, well, add some more! If you have both in play, you get to apply them in the order of your choosing, so make sure you have Hardened Scales go first so you can double up on that extra counter with Branching Evolution.

 

Oran-Rief, the VastwoodTyrite Sanctum

These lands throw counters onto our creatures, albeit with some mild to serious restrictions on what can get counters and when it can happen. They’re a modest increase, but it’s worth having.

 

Evolution SageKarn's Bastion

As with so many of our cards, once you have counters, it’s much easier to get more and more added. These are our all-star proliferators, and while they’re not about attacking, they’re powerful enough to merit inclusion.

 

Header - Counters Supporters

Of course, there’s also a few cards that support the +1/+1 counter theme without adding counters themselves. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites!

 

Rage Forger

So there are only three Shamans in this deck, and one of them is Rage Forger. That means you won’t be able to get much off the first ability, but what I really care about is the second one. This deck is all about getting counters onto your creatures, and once you do, Wulfgar and Rage Forger just become best friends.

 

Armorcraft JudgeInspiring Call

Turning those counters we have into some extra card draw seems like a great idea to me! Inspiring Call also has the upside of making some (hopefully all) of your team indestructible until end of turn, but it’s all about that big card draw for me.

 

The Ozolith

Don’t let your +1/+1 counters sit in the graveyard when their creatures die. Instead, send them to heaven with The Ozolith! That way, you can throw them onto another creature once you’re ready.

 

Header - Other Attackers

We’ve talked a lot about +1/+1 counters, but it would be nice to have some cards that fit Wulfgar’s theme without playing into that theme, right? Some are pretty powerful, so it’s worth giving them a shot. Well, good news – I’ve got plenty right here.

 

Werewolf Pack LeaderTectonic GiantTome of Legends

It’s always good to get some more cards in hand, and these cards do a great job of fueling the whole engine – very important in a deck like this where you’re trying to get value out of creatures and may need to reassemble your board at a moment’s notice.

 

Deathgorge Scavenger

This is a nice way to get a little extra life here and there while nabbing key cards out of opponents’ graveyards. It’s not the best card in the world, but it’s possible to turn it into a 5/4 attacker with Wulfgar, which isn’t bad for three mana.

 

Grand Warlord RadhaDruids' Repository

Speaking of mana, if you’ve ever wanted to have an enormous, Neheb-style second main phase, Grand Warlord Radha and Wulfgar will get you there pretty quickly. Druids’ Repository double-triggering for each attacker with Wulfgar adds up pretty fast – just make sure you have somewhere to spend the mana in case the Repository gets destroyed.

 

Hellrider

Hellrider is one of the huge reasons to make a Wulfgar deck. Shocking the defending player with every attacker? Yeah, sign me up.

 

Blossoming BogbeastCultivator of BladesPathbreaker Ibex

Of course, you want to deal lots of combat damage, and these three are here to give you some repeatable Overrun-style goodness. Blossoming Bogbeast is particularly hilarious since you gain two life from the first trigger, give your team +2/+2, and then gain two more life and re-run the math on the pump for another +4/+4. Cultivator of Blades doesn’t let you double-dip since it says “other attacking creatures,” but it does work well with the +1/+1 counter theme. Pathbreaker Ibex brings you back to the double-dip theme, since whatever your biggest creature was before the first trigger resolved has doubled its power, giving you lots more to work with on the second go-round of triggers.

 

Beastmaster Ascension

The payoff of this doesn’t get stronger with Wulfgar, but you can get there a lot faster, and that’s the whole point here. You’re unlikely to have seven discrete attackers without some help with tokens.

 

Elder Gargaroth

The Swiss army knife of triggers! Since the ability triggers twice via Wulfgar instead of being copied, you can choose two different modes if you want to do something like draw a card and make a 3/3.

 

Delina, Wild Mage

What a delightful card for this deck. You don’t have access to Pixie Guide, which locks you out of truly wild possibilities, but just adding some extra power and toughness to each combat is very valuable.

 

Etali, Primal Storm

Talk about value for mana. Two exile triggers times four total players equals a much lower chance to have a disappointing turn with Etali, Primal Storm. You know those times you hit two lands, a counterspell and a ramp spell? Well, now you get to follow up with another Etali trigger and take another bite at the free spell apple.

 

Kogla, the Titan Ape

It’s not flashy, but getting to pop two artifacts or enchantments every time you swing is pretty huge.

 

Sword of the Animist

Again, not flashy, but ramp is ramp, and this perennial overperformer is even stronger in this deck than it normally is.

 

Argentum Armor

I only put this card in decks where you can get real value out of it, either by ignoring the equip cost or, in this case, getting double the value for your 12 mana. It only takes one swing with this to really turn the tide.

 

Header - The Final Deck List

Are there other cards that have great attack triggers that didn’t make this list? Absolutely, and you should try them out in your list! After a lot of cuts, however, here’s the list I ended up on. I can’t wait to give it a shot! I’d love to see your Wulfgar lists – send me a link in the comments. For now, here’s mine – see you next time!

 

Wulfgar Counterplay by Eric Levine

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