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Chatterfang, Squirrel General - Illustration by Jason A. Engle

Chatterfang, Squirrel General | Illustration by Jason A. Engle

Most magic players have a pet creature type that they always have on their radar every time a new set comes out. My creature type is squirrels, and I waited for years to get a good (and legal) squirrel commander.

I was excited about Mark Rosewater’s announcement of a legendary squirrel when Kaldheim was still in spoiler season and was equally disappointed when Toski, Bearer of Secrets didn’t offer the type of squirrel synergy I was looking for. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long for the perfect squirrel commander to come out: Chatterfang, Squirrel General.

Chatterfang, Squirrel General generates Squirrels and also has ways to put them to use as a buff or removal. The more squirrels you can get on the battlefield the better, so today I’m looking at a build that focuses on making as many squirrels as possible. This deck trades some optimization in favor of using more squirrels than might be necessary, so I’ll go over some ways you could change the deck too if you’re looking for a more competitive version.

Ready? Grab your nuts and let’s get to scurrying!

The Deck

Bayou - Illustration by Karl Kopinski

Bayou | Illustration by Karl Kopinski

This deck runs every Commander-legal Golgari () squirrel as well as the hermit cards that create squirrels or act as squirrel anthems. Your main goal is to create a bunch of squirrel tokens and then either overwhelm your opponents by going wide, or if that doesn’t work, you can sacrifice them for various effects. Since you’ll likely be sacrificing some of your own squirrels or losing them when you attack, this deck also runs Blood Artist and similar cards to deal out some damage each time you lose a creature.

When it comes to winning the game, there are a few ways to go about this. The most obvious is by buffing your big army of squirrels with cards like Coat of Arms or Craterhoof Behemoth. Another option is to stack enough death triggers from Blood Artist or The Meathook Massacre to finish off your opponent. There’s also Torment of Hailfire, which you can pay a lot for if you have Phyrexian Altar or Cryptolith Rite to turn your squirrels into mana.

The Commander

Chatterfang, Squirrel General

Chatterfang, Squirrel General is a relatively cheap commander, which will allow you to get him on the field early and often. This helps you quickly build up a substantial squirrel base so you can start putting them to use. Not that Chatterfang works with all types of tokens, not just creature tokens. Treasures, Clues, and all that work as well.

Chatterfang, Squirrel General’s second ability can be powerful and versatile. Not only can you buff your own creatures, but you can also use it as removal as long as you have enough squirrels. Since Chatterfang reduces toughness as opposed to doing damage, this effect can be a good way to remove some pesky indestructible creatures.

Although it won’t be effective against every deck, having forestwalk can also make Chatterfang, Squirrel General a threat to your opponents. Though it will take a lot of hits to take out an opponent with commander damage, you can often rely on this evasive ability to finish off an opponent who’s low on life.

Let’s Make Some Squirrels

There are creatures in your deck that will help you make squirrel tokens and also buff your squirrels. Deep Forest Hermit may only stick around a little bit, but with Chatterfang on the field, you’ll create eight tokens instead of four. Drey Keeper and Squirrel Wrangler both give you the option to buff your squirrels, which can be a good way to close out a game or at least take out one opponent if you have a wide enough board.

Nut Collector

Nut Collector is a great way to continue making squirrels, which can help you either grow a bigger board state or give you creatures to sacrifice for other effects. Its buff is also pretty significant.

Myr Battlesphere

With Chatterfang, Squirrel General on the battlefield, any card that makes tokens will also make you squirrel tokens. Myr Battlesphere can be a good way to make more, and is also a good card in its own right.

Bootleggers' Stash

Bootleggers’ Stash can be very powerful in this deck because it can make you a ton of Treasures and a ton of Squirrels at the same time.

Squirrel Nest turns a land into a token generator while Acorn Harvest, and Chatter of the Squirrel can give you a one-time boost for Squirrel tokens.

Squirrel Anthems

Buffing your squirrels makes them a bigger threat, and it buffs Chatterfang, Squirrel General if you want to finish off players with commander damage.

Squirrel Sovereign and Deranged Hermit are squirrel lords.

Chitterspitter

Chitterspitter can become a very powerful buff for your squirrels, giving you the chance to increase their’ power and toughness by one each turn. You can also make a Squirrel token at instant speed with Chitterspitter for , which gives you a token to sacrifice each turn.

Vanquisher's Banner

Vanquisher’s Banner can not only buff all of your squirrels but also draw you some extra cards.

Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms makes your squirrels’ power and toughness increase exponentially and can snowball dangerously, causing your opponents to face some pretty powerful creatures.

While not permanent anthems, Craterhoof Behemoth and End-Raze Forerunners offer all of your creatures a temporary buff while granting them trample. This can be a good way to win the game if you have enough creatures on the field since you’ll have big creatures capable of punching through blockers. Scale Up is another way to buff all your creatures for a big hit if you pay its overload cost.

Turning Squirrels into Mana

Since you’re making a lot of Squirrel tokens with this deck it’s a good idea to have multiple ways to use them. One way is to get them to help generate you more mana.

Cryptolith Rite

Cryptolith Rite lets you tap any of your creatures for a mana of any color.

Circle of Dreams Druid

Circle of Dreams Druid taps for mana equal to the number of creatures you have, so you have a bunch of green mana if you have a ton of squirrels.

Phyrexian Altar

Phyrexian Altar allows you to sacrifice any creature to create mana, giving you another way to turn squirrels into mana if you need it.

Black Market

Black Market gives you more mana each turn for every time a creature you control dies. So whether you’re sacrificing them to Chatterfang, Squirrel General or they’re just dying on their own, they’re making you extra mana.

Squirrel Creatures

While you’re making a decent number of squirrels already, this deck also has a bunch of squirrel creatures as well.

Krosan Beast and Squirrel Mob both have abilities that can make them formidable threats on their own. While Scurrid Colony’s buff isn’t as impressive, it can still get to be a decent size for its cost and can help you block fliers.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets

Toski, Bearer of Secrets may not be my squirrel commander of choice but it does fit nicely in the 99. With all the anthems in this deck Toski can become a powerful indestructible creature. Its card draw ability can also be good in a deck that’s looking to create a lot of creature tokens.

Ravenous Squirrel

Ravenous Squirrel can get pretty big since you’re sacrificing squirrels regularly in this deck. Is activated ability can help you draw some extra cards when you need them on top of that.

Planeswalkers

Planeswalkers that create creature tokens, which can be a big help in decks like this since you could always use more sacrifice fodder, or just extra bodies on the field. With Chatterfang, Squirrel General out they also make you Squirrel tokens for every other type of token they make.

Garruk, Primal Hunter makes you a 3/3 Beast each turn, and you can create a bunch of 6/6 Wurms if you’re able to get its ultimate off. Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury and Tyvar Kell help you get a little bit of extra mana and create more tokens.

Life Drain

It hurts to watch the cute little squirrels in your deck get destroyed, so you want it to hurt your opponents just as badly. Blood Artist and Bastion of Remembrance are great ways to go about punishing your opponents for each squirrel’s death.

The Meathook Massacre

The Meathook Massacre is another great way to do this, with the added bonus of being a potential board wipe. You could actually win the game by casting this for just three mana if you have a big enough army of 1/1 Squirrels built up when you decide to play it.

Torment of Hailfire

Torment of Hailfire is a good way to drain a lot of life from opponents with the amount of mana this deck can generate. It also forces your opponents to make the choice between losing life or their permanents. Players usually keep their permanents so they don’t lose the board state they’ve built up, which can help you get your opponents low enough to finish them off with combat damage or other cards that drain life.

Removal

Hero’s Downfall and Vraska’s Contempt are your targeted removal. Board wipes aren’t necessarily your friend since you’re going to want to keep a big board state, so it’s better to pick off threats as needed.

Krosan Grip and Nature’s Claim are two ways to take out artifacts and enchantments. Krosan Grip can be especially effective thanks to split second, meaning it can’t be countered.

Verdant Command

Reanimation is a pretty powerful tool in Commander. While not traditional removal, Verdant Command can help you remove a powerful creature from a graveyard at instant speed, preventing your opponent from bringing it back from the dead. It can also make you a few squirrels.

While I said board wipes aren’t your friend in this deck, one-sided board wipes definitely are. They can clear the way for you to swing out and win, or at the very least remove threats across the board while leaving your creatures intact.

In Garruk's Wake

In Garruk’s Wake is probably the best one-sided board wipe you can run in this deck because it clears out most blockers as well as planeswalkers.

Ezuri's Predation

Ezuri’s Predation is usually a good card and can help you remove any creature that’s smaller than a 4/4. This card can also grow you a substantial board state with token doublers and Chatterfang, Squirrel General in this deck. While both have high mana costs you can probably afford it with all the ways you can create mana.

Token Doublers

Cards that double the number of tokens you create are always pretty powerful, but they do even more for you in this deck since they double the first number of tokens you’re making and the number of Squirrels from Chatterfang, Squirrel General.

Doubling Season and Parallel Lives are two great token doublers to run in this deck.

Second Harvest

Second Harvest also doubles your tokens, but only ones that are already on the field. But this isn’t a big deal since you’re likely making a lot of tokens. And you can get a lot out of this card for only four mana.

The Mana Base

Dual lands are always a good idea in 2-color decks, so this deck runs a variety of Golgari duals. Bayou and Overgrown Tomb have the benefit of coming in untapped pretty much every time if you need them to. Deathcap Glade and Undergrowth Stadium also usually come in untapped, with some rare exceptions.

Command Tower

Command Tower belongs in basically every multicolored Commander deck since it can tap for any color you need right away.

Arcane Signet

Arcane Signet is pretty much the same in artifact form and is another great auto-include to help you with mana fixing.

Jeweled Lotus can help you get Chatterfang out as early as turn 1, or afford it more easily if it’s been destroyed. Likewise, Mana Crypt and Sol Ring can help get you ahead on mana and not worry as much about the commander tax.

Golgari decks now have some of the best mana fixing thanks to Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Either of these cards out allows lands of the opposite color to tap for both colors you need, and even your colorless utility lands are now Golgari duals with both out.

Gaea's Cradle

Gaea’s Cradle does a lot of work for decks that create a lot of creatures. Having this on the field along with a lot of squirrels can let you cast some high-mana spells or make the best use out of spells with X in their casting cost.

The Strategy

There are a couple ways to win with this deck, but you’re going to need a lot of creatures on your side of the field to get there. Getting Chatterfang, Squirrel General out quickly can really help build up this army.

You want to be taking full advantage by doubling up on your creatures with Chatterfang’s ability since you have so many spells that generate tokens. Token doubling cards can also help with this.

One thing to keep in mind while building up your forces is that board wipes are common in Commander. While you want to get going quickly, it might be smart not to use all your token-generating cards right away so you have the chance to rebuild if your board gets destroyed.

You can start swinging lots of squirrels at your opponents once you have your board state built up. While they can probably block and take out some of your attacking creatures, they won’t be able to keep up if you’re making squirrels fast enough.

Using Chatterfang, Squirrel General and your other removal spells to take out blockers can also help a lot when trying to get some damage through. And buffing your creatures with anthems or cards like Scale Up and Craterhoof Behemoth can help you do serious damage, or at least take out a big swath of blockers all at once.

If it doesn’t look like attacking is going to win, you can sit comfortably behind your army of squirrels and slowly eat away at your opponents’ life totals with Blood Artist or The Meathook Massacre. You can close things out with a mass sacrifice of squirrels or Torment of Hailfire once your opponents’ life totals have ticked down far enough.

Combos and Interactions

While there are no infinite combos in this deck there are good pieces of synergy to keep an eye out for.

One example is the interaction between Maskwood Nexus and Tyvar Kell. While Maskwood mainly serves to turn all your creatures into squirrels, it also makes all your creatures elves by allowing them to interact with squirrel anthems and Chatterfang, Squirrel General. This means you can tap any of your creatures for black mana as needed with both it and Tyvar Kell on the field.

Don’t be afraid to sacrifice a lot of creatures if it can mean doing a lot of damage. If you have Blood Artist or The Meathook Massacre out on the field, sacrificing creatures to Chattefang, Squirrel General gives you the added bonus of hurting your opponents. This is even better if you’re getting ready to cast Torment of Hailfire and have Phyrexian Altar on the field.

Circle of Dreams Druid and Gaea’s Cradle are great ways to make the best out of X spells, like Green Sun’s Zenith. You can use these mana sources to summon Craterhoof Behemoth if you have enough creatures on the field.

Since Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth makes all lands into Forests, Chatterfang, Squirrel General is able to attack any player without being blocked while the legendary land on the field.

Budget Options

This is a pricey deck as-is, but it doesn’t have to be. The quickest way to drop the price tag drastically is to replace two very expensive lands.

While Gaea’s Cradle is great in this deck, it’s far too expensive for most players. Replacing it with Growing Rites of Itlimoc is a good budget option since its transformed form is actually a better version the Cradle.

The other big-ticket land you might want to get rid of is Bayou. Woodland Cemetery is a good replacement since it’s much cheaper and has a good chance of being just as fast a source of mana.

Mana Crypt and Jeweled Lotus are both expensive cards that you can drop. I included them to mitigate the risk of not being able to afford Chatterfang’s commander tax, but Geode Golem is a much cheaper way to do that.

Token doubling enchantments Parallel Lives and Doubling Season have been creeping up in price as we get further from their more recent reprints. The first thing you could do is just include more cards that make tokens, allowing Chatterfang to make you more Squirrels.

Empty the Pits can make you a ton of Zombies and just as many Squirrels with your commander. Another alternative is Strionic Resonator which at least doubles up the Squirrel tokens created by Chatterfang’s triggered ability.

Other Builds

This is a squirrel-heavy build, but I wouldn’t blame anyone who prefers to have an optimized deck over one that just wants as many squirrel cards as possible. While this is a good base for a couple ways to take the deck, you can definitely remove some of the squirrel support for some other powerful cards.

If you want to lean more into the aristocrats aspect, Zulaport Cutthroat and Vindictive Vampire can deal out more damage with each death. You could also include the Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond combo that’s common for this deck archetype.

While not a fully new build, you might want to get a little more protection for your creatures since you wanting to go wide. Cards like Darksteel Plate could help keep Chatterfang, Squirrel General alive. The combination of Darksteel Forge and Mycosynth Lattice can give all of your creatures indestructible and keep you from worrying about board wipes, though you may want to include some tutors to help find it.

Commanding Conclusion

Vanquisher's Banner | Illustration by Milivoj Ceran

Vanquisher’s Banner | Illustration by Milivoj Ceran

I hope you’re excited to try out this deck for yourself and that you can see why I’m a little nuts about squirrels in Magic. Give Chatterfang, Squirrel General a try and make sure to review the budget options for this deck to get started at a lower buy-in.

Do you think this the best route to take Chatterfang? What changes would you make to go full aristocrat? Do you have a creature type you’re waiting for a great commander to lead? Let me know in the comments below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.

See you next time!

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