Last updated on June 18, 2022
Acornelia, Fashionable Filcher | Illustration by Bram Sels
Magic is a game for everybody, from the casual player who wants fun cards to the spike that wants to pile on infinite combos. Squirrels are great for both ends of that spectrum.
Why are we nuts for squirrels? Does fair squirrel tribal work? How many ways are there to make infinite squirrels? Read on and we’ll put a rodent in these mysteries.
Okay, look, even I know that pun was bad.
Let’s get into it!
Chitterspitter | Illustration by Jason Felix
Squirrels are a creature type. I mean, you kinda knew that, right? But chipmunks, weasels, ermines, and stoats aren’t official creature types, so take that smarty pants!
I should note that this guide to squirrels in Magic is going to include two things that it normally wouldn’t. Every squirrel-related or squirrel-adjacent card will be discussed here, which means we’re including non-squirrel creatures that make squirrels as well as cards from silver-bordered Un-sets.
In terms of the Un-sets, I’m going to talk about the cards with Commander in mind even though they’re not strictly Commander-legal. I’ve never played with anyone whose Rule 0 conversation didn’t allow someone’s squirrel tribal deck fitted out with Un-cards. Maybe your Commander tables are different, but I think this has to be the tribe most exceptions are made for, especially if you’re avoiding the infinite combos.
Still, if your Commander meta isn’t cool with this it’s hard to blame them. Squirrels are cute but Un-cards make for some really weird Commander games, hence the ban.
Magic’s Squirrely History
I’m a proud owner of the very first squirrel permanent in Magic, Ron Spencer’s beautiful Squirrel token from Unglued, Magic’s first silver-bordered set with cards that weren’t legal to use in Constructed formats. It was also the first set to print tokens.
This card was pure treasure for lovers of the first card to ever mention squirrels, the previous year’s Liege of the Hollows. Whatever your definition of jank, Liege was it. You could see the Magical Christmasland outcome in your head, even if you never could quite pull it off.
That one-two punch of late 90s Magic set the squirrel vibe pretty clearly. 1, squirrels were only tokens. 2, an expanding variety of creatures and enchantments would somehow make squirrels through the ages, but you’d hardly ever find a squirrel you could cast. Hence the joke on Acornelia, Fashionable Filcher that gives you an acorn counter whenever “you cast a spell with a squirrel in its art.”
Could Magic have built a formula to make decades of players nutty for more? Of course not. By squirreling away this scarce resource of cuteness in a game filled with goblins, Phyrexians, and even homarids, the stage was set for pure obsession.
When Krosan Beast, the first proper squirrel, showed up, it was hilarious, but then the Long Sciuridae Drought began.
It was 16 years between the Beast and the next cards with the squirrel creature type, Earl of Squirrel and Steel Squirrel in Unstable. During that time the Spider-Man film franchise started and was rebooted. Twice.
But thirsty Magic boomers who grew up watching Bob Ross feed Peapod the “pocket squirrel” while he painted have been joined by a new generation of cuteness-loving gamers since those dark days, and we’ve since seen a swarm of squirrels in the Modern Horizons products and Standard sets.
Bob Ross, The Joy of Painting
Best Blue Squirrel-Adjacent Card
Expensive and durdly, Specimen Collector goes infinite with Inalla, Archmage Ritualist, Esix, Fractal Bloom, or any number of other cards. You usually need a sacrifice outlet, and you can generate infinite squirrels or crabs plus all the lovely triggers that creates.
Best Black Squirrels and Squirrel-Adjacent Cards
Squirrels joined the black parade in 2020, but there aren’t any proper mono-black squirrels outside of silver-bordered set so far. Here’s the four we have: two Un-cards and two squirrel makers.
A card seemingly designed to be so cute that your Commander table lets you break the rules and play it as your general. Is Acornelia, Fashionable Filcher worth it?
If your definition of fun involves trying to find a way to get Acornelia’s counters onto The Ozolith so that you can then dump them onto Chitterspitter, well, I can’t blame you. That sounds hilarious.
Nested Shambler is decent in low-to-the-ground aristocrats decks in Pauper and Modern since the fail case is that it just makes a token when it dies. But you start to realize those dreams you had when you first saw Liege of the Hollows if you can buff it. Add Archghoul of Thraben and Mortuary to the mix and you go infinite, and that slots fine into zombie decks.
If you’re playing squirrel tribal then you’re playing Underworld Hermit because needs must be met, but I’m not sure this is what I’m looking for in devotion decks.
Snickering Squirrel is an Un-set 1-drop in black, so that’s okay. And there’s an Un-deck with die rolling this fits into, but I can’t remember the last time I played silver-bordered Constructed.
Best Red Squirrels (or Not)
There aren’t any squirrels in red yet. But “squirrel warrior” has a nice ring to it. Hint, hint, Wizards.
Best Green Squirrels and Squirrel-Adjacent Cards
This is what you came for. There are 26 green squirrels in Magic, six of which are from Un-sets. Instead of ranking the Un-squirrels by power I’m going to list them in order of how powerfully funny they are:
- Earl of Squirrel has something called “squirrellink” so that’s a flavor win if ever there was one.
- Form of the Squirrel
- Squirrel Dealer
- Chittering Doom
- Squirrel Farm
- Half-Squirrel, Half
As for the rest, the backbone of any squirrel-based strategy (not a phrase I thought I’d ever have the chance to write) is in green. Most of these squirrel-adjacent cards can be abused to make infinite squirrels. A lot of the combos here apply to most if not all of these cards in some way. I’ve highlighted a different set of options for each card to give you a kind of salad bar of delicious obnoxiousness.
Chatterstorm is nuts.
I’ve been waiting for that joke. You’re welcome.
Banned in Pauper and still playable(ish) in Modern, this card is on the cheaper side of storm cards, which means it can just win games on the spot.
Scurry Oak could be a nice peaceful tree that nets you an occasional fuzzy Squirrel buddy every once in a while. But this card creates a number of infinite combos since there are a few ways to leverage the +1/+1 counters and Squirrel token connection.
For a time in the summer of 2021, combining this with Ivy Lane Denizen was reasonably popular in really low tiers of Modern. But the card most recently shined in Historic when combined with Heliod, Sun-Crowned, a combo we’ll explore more a bit later.
It’s not in the top tier of mono green commanders but it seems to be an auto-include in most green decks.
Your commander has arrived. The black pip in there means you can run most of the cards here. Chatterfang, Squirrel General makes tokens and can order tokens to their doom to remove your threats. If we ever get another Golgari () squirrel legend we can start comparing, but unless you want to bend the rules for Acornelia this is the only game in Commander town for squirrel wranglers.
Toski and Chatterfang are probably not objectively better than the storm of infinite combos to come, but I didn’t want them to get lost in the parade of value.
You can make infinite squirrels if you combine Squirrel Nest with Earthcraft, a card that’s very expensive because it could probably go infinite with a ham sandwich and hasn’t been reprinted this millennium. A more budget option is to combine Nest with Intruder Alarm and Dryad Arbor if you’d like. And I’m sure you do. No one plays squirrel tribal without wanting to make infinite squirrels, do they?
Another combo piece. You can use Squirrel Wrangler to get landfall triggers, put lands in the graveyard, and make a googolplex of squirrels. You’ve got to add Mana Echoes and Drownyard Temple plus something to color fix that colorless mana from the Echoes.
More Mana Echoes shenanigans. With one other squirrel on the battlefield when you start Squirrel Sanctuary’s insanity you can keep sending an enchantment back to your hand, enter-the-battlefield-ing it, and getting then sacking squirrels. Two squirrels before this all starts and you get infinite mana, too.
Liege of the Hollows
Symmetrical boon cards like Liege of the Hollows usually only work if you can take better advantage of the result than your opponents, unless you’re running a group hug deck. So if you can do stuff with the tokens and you already have a sac outlet (because that’s what we seem to be doing in squirrel tribal Commander) then why not?
Can I interest you in yet another infinite combo? Yes? Excellent.
I’m sure you’ll be interested in a Recurring Nightmare then, which incidentally describes everyone else at the table’s play experience with all these combos.
At this point you should be able to build your own infinite combo out of Deep Forest Hermit. You can also play this as a nice value proposition in a fair squirrels deck.
Nut Collector is a great squirrel lord if you get the time and mana to cast it.
Verdant Command is a flexible card. The two tokens for two is on rate, and it’s an instant to boot. The planeswalker counter is likely a surprise for folks. Not bad in a fair tokens deck. Chatter of the Squirrel works too. Acorn Harvest also works, just a bit less well.
Krosan Beast isn’t actually good or anything, but I mean, come on, right? How can you resist this?
You could try-hard some fun times back in the Odyssey block with Nantuko Shrine and things like Muscle Burst, but there were a lot more powerful things to do with graveyards in that block. In Commander you’d have to do some storming with it, or pair it with something awkward like Arcane Adaptation to do anything useful.
Best Multicolor Squirrels and Squirrel-Adjacent Cards
For the absurdly low and east-to-cast cost of one Golgari hybrid mana, Ravenous Squirrel would be a bit bonkers for sacrifice decks, even without the activated ability. There are a number of sacrifice-oriented decks this chews up the competition in, including arguably the best decks in Historic in late winter of 2022. More on these a bit later.
Drey Keeper is what fair squirrel token generation looks like. Aaaaannndddddd it doesn’t see play except as a thematic include in squirrel tribal Commander 99s.
Best Colorless Squirrels and Squirrel-Adjacent Cards
There’s an Un-squirrel in Steel Squirrel, but that hardly seems playable even in the super niche world of Un-Constructed.
By now you’ve got to look at these cards and almost immediately wonder how Acorn Catapult could be abused to make a dread army of fluffy Squirrel tokens. In this case the easiest option is Cacophodon plus something to make it indestructible like Heroic Intervention and a sac outlet that converts tokens to mana like Phyrexian Altar.
4-card combos aren’t exactly easy to pull off, but the redundancy alone helped your chances if you stacked all the squirrel combo pieces in one Commander deck.
I don’t know that anyone would want to regenerate a squirrel for fair reasons. In the service of unfair reasons, Swarmyard can be used to protect a board of changelings, one of which has to survive while you’re manipulating the top of your deck with Congregation at Dawn to cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with Descendants’ Path.
Squirrels are great in Commander tribal decks, either for squirrels themselves or in “tribal tribal” decks. And these little guys plus a portion of their many combos have also proven viable in Historic.
There are two key combo pieces here, and they fit into three basic decks.
Heliod Company is a key player in Historic. Its central infinite combo involves combining Scurry Oak with Heliod, Sun-Crowned plus a card that gives you life whenever a creature enters the battlefield, like Soul Warden. You end up with infinite squirrels and mana. Collected Company makes it easier to assemble the pieces and also allows for alternate wincons like Ajani’s Pridemate and its variants.
But you’ll likely end up with somewhere north of 150 on Arena where you have to click through the triggers if your fingers are nimble instead of the infinite. Your Oak just keeps getting swole as all that happens, and your opponent often just concede.
Keep in mind that it’s easy to stack up too many triggers to get through and end up passing the turn and missing the Oak attack if it’s been out for more than a turn. Especially if you’re running Trelasarra, Moon Dancer, whose scry trigger kind of gets in the way in this deck.
Ravenous Squirrel is the centerpiece of arguably the best deck in Historic in late winter 2022, Golgari Food/Sac. Previous Jund food decks built on the Cat/Oven combo with Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Oven and tended to have Mayhem Devil with Korvold, Fae-Cursed King to finish the games.
The hybrid mana squirrel is cheaper and easier to cast. It allows the deck to eschew red mana and get small enough to add Lurrus of the Dream-Den, even if it’s not as good as the Devil.
Versions of this deck also show up in Modern, but it’s not quite in the same tier as it is in Historic.
Ravenous Squirrel also fuels a Rakdos version of the Cat/Oven deck, this one using only the black in its hybrid mana cost and pivoting to red with Neon Dynasty‘s Oni-Cult Anvil and Experimental Synthesizer to provide the sac triggers.
Blood replaces Food as the sac artifacts of choice in this color pair, with Voldaren Epicure and even Blood Fountain in some builds. To be fair Blood is Food with vampires on the battlefield, is it not?
This deck also shows up in Modern. It’s still not top tier there but as more artifact-themed sets like The Brothers War rotate in this deck will likely have more legs than the Food package, which will likely… um… sit in the fridge for a while until another set arrives that uses the mechanic, I guess?
Are Squirrels Good?
Chatterfang, Squirrel General | Illustration by Jason A. Engle
In fair Magic, squirrels are not good. Not yet. There aren’t enough actual squirrel cards. Believers have made and played squirrel tribal decks with the Modern Horizons and Modern Horizons 2 tribal cards, but it’s not quite enough to win in that high-powered format.
But squirrels are behind some wicked combo decks, especially in Historic. And you can jam a lot of those combos into a Chatterfang, Squirrel General Commander deck, complete with other cards that take advantage of the tokens in Golgari colors, like Blood Artist, Circle of Dreams Druid, and the classic Skullclamp.
Smatterings of Squirrel token generators have shown up in sets since Weatherlight, but never in heavy numbers. Odyssey had the most of any regular Magic set with three plus the first card with squirrel in its creature type, Krosan Beast.
Un-sets have had a squirrel presence since the beginning, with concentrations in Unstable and Unsanctioned. But most of the squirrel and squirrel-adjacent cards of note appeared in the two Modern Horizons sets.
Squirrel tokens have always been green since Liege of the Hollows, whose original text box said to “treat those tokens as 1/1 green creatures.” They could theoretically be other colors, but so far even the black cards that make Squirrel tokens make green ones.
Chatterstorm | Illustration by Milivoj Ceran
Squirrels are super cute in theory. Just look at the ears on that little dude on Chitterspitter adorably mowing down his enemies with a precious wittle machine gun!
But the more you look at squirrel art on these cards the more menacing and horrible they seem. Acorn Harvest, anyone? And two of the most recent squirrels are in fact “nightmare squirrels.” Squirrels are increasingly the seedy underbelly of the forest. (Come on! We’re at the end! You won’t give me that pun?)
What do you think of these little fuzzy things? Do you think they’re cute innocent animals, or the bringers of the next acornpocalypse? What’s your favorite squirrel card or creator? Let me know in the comments down below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
As squirrels spawn infinite buddies across the multiverse, I wonder when the jokes will run as cold as the ice in our veins when we uncork yet another game-ending infinite combo.
Time will tell. Until then, stay squirrely!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: