A popular character is back, and will appear in what is almost certainly her most powerful form in the upcoming set Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. Meet Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope.
As if normal planeswalkers weren’t complex enough, Arlinn has two sides to evaluate, plus a transform clause, likely play patterns and synergies between her day and night form to think about. Since we have to start somewhere, let’s consider what happens the turn you cast Arlinn.
Presumably you won’t have a ton of mana left over after casting your planeswalker, so Arlinn’s +1 won’t do much beyond adding a counter. Still, five loyalty is healthy for a four-drop planeswalker, meaning that it’s realistic to untap with her the following turn if that’s your goal. It’s also possible you could have another planeswalker or a token-generating ability to take advantage of some +1/+1 counters right away.
More likely, the turn Arlinn hits the battlefield, she’ll -3 to make two Wolves. This represents tremendous battlefield presence, with three significant threats (two Wolves and a planeswalker) for the opponent to think about. This ability makes Arlinn awesome against control decks, as well as anybody who’s strategy involves attacking on the ground. Leaving a planeswalker with a single loyalty isn’t ideal against burn spells or evasive creatures, but hopefully you’ll be able to judge when it’s appropriate to +1 instead.
It’s when you untap for a fresh turn that Arlinn’s +1 ability becomes awesome. You can distribute multiple counters (even playing two Arlinns on back to back turns can generate 10 power and toughness). Flash threats make you more difficult to play against. And it becomes trivially easy to transform Arlinn and all of your other Werewolves into their more powerful night forms.
Arlinn, the Moon’s Fury can +2 to generate mana, helping you ramp or cast multiple spells in the same turn. Equally important, two loyalty per turn is a lot, making your planeswalker difficult to kill, or setting her up for a daytime -3 on a future turn.
And finally, we have beatdown mode. 5/5 trample, indestructible, haste is no joke, and neither opposing planeswalkers nor opponents will last long against that kind of onslaught.
On the whole, I rate Arlinn as a very, very strong planeswalker, and expect her to be a significant draw towards the Gruul color combination. In particular, she appears to be a stone cold killer of control decks, and I’d want to be very sure before sleeving up a creatureless Azorius deck in the early days of Innistrad Standard.