Spooky season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by revisiting one of Magic’s most autumnal sets, Midnight Hunt? Nothing says classic Halloween like werewolves, and no commander does werewolves better than Midnight Hunt’s own Tovolar, Dire Overlord.
Tovolar, Dire Overlord is everything werewolf fans could have hoped for in a commander. It allows you to include most werewolf cards (with a few exceptions) and the various forms of werewolf planeswalker as a Gruul () commander. If you’re looking to build a great seasonal deck or just have a fondness for werewolves, Tovolar is the way to go.
There are a few ways to build Tovolar, Dire Overlord effectively. I’ve stuck to a creature-heavy build to on theme with the season, so I’ve packed many wolves and werewolves into the deck. Let’s get to it!
Kessig Naturalist | Illustration by Johan Grenier
Ulrich of the Krallenhorde
Mayor of Avabruck
Geier Reach Bandit
Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald
Karlach, Fury of Avernus
Werewolf Pack Leader
Huntmaster of the Fells
Weaver of Blossoms
Hermit of the Natterknolls
Master of the Wild Hunt
Kessig Wolf Run
Boseiju, Who Endures
Skarrg, the Rage Pits
Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
Almost every creature in this Tovolar deck is a wolf or werewolf to take full advantage of Tovolar, Dire Overlord‘s ability. I also tried to avoid making the mana curve on your creatures too steep to let you go wide and use buffs to make your creatures more explosive later in the game. A wider board state hopefully helps you get damage through for card draw and to start threatening your opponents’ life totals.
Buffs like Unnatural Growth and Beastmaster Ascension help you out later in the game. They’re even better if you give your creatures trample with Garruk’s Uprising or Storm-Charged Slasher, or double strike from Berserkers’ Onslaught. Extra combat spells also help deal as much damage to your opponents as possible.
Werewolf mechanics may seem difficult to keep track of, but Tovolar, Dire Overlord hopefully helps streamline this to allow you to focus on turning your creatures sideways and drawing cards.
When you build around a commander you sometimes focus on just one of their several abilities, but that’s not the case here. Each of Tovolar, Dire Overlord‘s abilities come in handy, as well as those on its flip side.
Tovolar, Dire Overlord‘s triggered ability to transform werewolves covers all its bases, allowing you to transform nightbound werewolves and those from older sets that transform under different circumstances. This ability triggers at the beginning of the upkeep, so it happens after the switch from night to day. Even if it becomes day at the beginning of your turn it just goes right back to night. This lets you keep your werewolves in their more powerful form while allowing you to benefit from abilities that trigger when they are.
Tovolar, Dire Overlord also acts as a good source of card draw since this deck favors an aggressive strategy. It also helps with your aggressive strategy by allowing you to buff a creature and give it trample. Creatures with trample are also useful for allowing you to draw cards since it’s harder to prevent them from doing damage.
Werewolves are relatively inexpensive creatures with a powerful flip side that is theoretically somewhat difficult to have out consistently.
Thanks to Tovolar, Dire Overlord you can trust that your werewolves stay on their more powerful sides. This gives you access to creatures ahead of the mana curve on power and toughness, like Wildblood Pack. It also gives you access to more powerful static abilities like those of Lone Wolf of the Natterknolls and Frenzied Trapbreaker
Tovolar isn’t the only one that allows you to transform werewolves. Vildin-Pack Alpha lets you transform any werewolf that enters your battlefield. This isn’t going to work with your nightbound werewolves, but the older ones in this deck can benefit.
The way Tovolar, Dire Overlord’s effect works your werewolves likely flip back and forth between forms more often than usual. As a result, creatures like Huntmaster of the Fells and Ulrich of the Krallenhorde benefit more often from their triggered abilities.
Gruul doesn’t have too many cards that purely destroy a creature, but Beast Within is close enough. It’s likely you’ll be able to deal with a 3/3 vanilla creature.
Bite Down can act as removal for creatures or planeswalkers if you have a strong enough creature. It’s a cheap card so you can also combine it with Tovolar, the Midnight Scourge or Kessig Wolf Run to deal even more damage than you normally would.
Chaos Warp is a very versatile form of removal, even if it’s risky. It can be very effective against spellslinger decks that don’t run as many permanents.
Buffs and Abilities
Garruk’s Uprising is very helpful in this deck because it increases the amount of damage you get through to your opponents, and subsequently the number of cards you draw from Tovolar, Dire Overlord. It’s great for closing out a game when combined with buffs or Berserkers’ Onslaught.
Concordant Crossroads is great for aggro decks, and it has recently seen a price decrease thanks to some reprints, making this the perfect time to pick up a copy.
Rhythm of the Wild allows you to choose if you’d like to give creatures haste or a +1/+1 counter, making it a slightly more flexible version of Concordant Crossroads. It also has the benefit of making sure your creatures can’t be countered.
Heroic Intervention is one of the best ways to keep your creatures and other permanents safe in green because it’s cheap to cast. It’s easy to hold mana up for it.
Moonmist is a versatile form of protection for your creatures. It keeps them safe from combat tricks or surprise blocks when attacking, and it also allows you to block with all your creatures and without worrying about losing them. It still allows your creatures to deal out damage so you can clear out attackers you might otherwise not want to block.
It’s important that your creatures aren’t left completely hanging if Tovolar, Dire Overlord isn’t on the field.
Unnatural Moonrise almost does exactly what Tovolar does on the field with the added bonus of a buff and giving creatures trample.
The Celestus gives you another way to make it night and transforms your nightbound werewolves.
Descendants’ Path is a great addition any time you’re running a creature-heavy tribal deck. Chances are that you can cast it for free whenever you hit a creature off this activation. This can really help in a deck that looks to go wide with as many creatures as possible.
Runebound Wolf can end up dealing a good amount of damage thanks to this deck’s ability to go wide. This can be very strong repeatable effect if you’re able to keep this creature around.
Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon’s emblem gives similar abilities to all your creatures. This emblem can easily win you the game, basically allowing you to assign damage directly to opponents without worrying about blockers.
Master of the Wild Hunt can deal damage from your wolves directly to your opponents’ creatures. This can be a great way to take out creatures your opponents refuse to attack or block with or that have some form of evasion.
The Mana Base
Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth turns any of your red-producing lands into dual lands, and Command Tower basically acts as a dual land in this deck. Fire-Lit Thicket can help you filter your mana in the early game before you have access to all your colors.
Kessig Naturalist allows you some extra mana any time you swing with it.
You want to make big creatures and turn them sideways with a creature-heavy Tovolar deck. Everything in this deck is meant to support those goals by helping you to cast creatures, making your creatures more powerful, or protecting them.
Tovolar, Dire Overlord is a cheap commander, but you may not want to cast it right away. If your opponents are familiar with how Tovolar works then they likely want to remove your commander before it can really get going. This means Tovolar might die before you even have enough werewolves to transform.
You might want to wait until you have some other wolves or werewolves out and then drop Tovolar when its ability is online. If you’re relying on Tovolar’s card draw, you might not have to worry if there’s another commander on the board who draws more attention. Tovolar isn’t exactly kill-on-sight, but it’s an easy target for removal.
You should be ahead of the mana curve in terms of creature strength. Transformed werewolves are stronger than they would normally be at their cost. Giving them haste with Concordant Crossroads or Rhythm of the Wild can help you to start hitting your opponents early and often.
Buff up your creatures with anthems like Nightpack Ambusher and enchantments like Beastmaster Ascension to make them bigger threats. You’ll get closer to winning the game, but direct damage abilities like that of Arlinn Kord’s emblem are very helpful if you need an extra edge in taking out opponents.
This deck doesn’t feature any infinite combos, which can be good to keep a deck simple. Some of the best interactions in this deck come from stacking buffs.
If you have Beastmaster Ascension or Coat of Arms already buffing your creatures, bringing Unnatural Growth on the field gives you some massive creatures that can be hard to deal with. Buffs also pair well with Arlinn Kord’s emblem and spells like Bite Down.
Lots of werewolves are pretty inexpensive, which is good news for your budget. There are still some pricey cards in this current build so you may want to swap them out for cheaper options. For starters, Boseiju, Who Endures is expensive thanks to its competitive potential. You can easily slot in another artifact or enchantment remover like Vandalblast and Hull Breach.
The Great Henge is very expensive. You already have a lot of card draw in this deck, so you can probably replace it with another mana rock. Gilded Lotus is good if you’re looking for one that taps for multiple mana.
Some players have built Tovolar, Dire Overlord with a focus on taking extra combats. This includes adding cards like Relentless Assault and Aggravated Assault that allow you to have multiple combats each turn and give you more chances to deal damage to opponents.
This build prioritizes werewolves like Kessig Naturalist and Tovolar’s Packleader that have attack triggers. You may also want to add other Gruul cards that work well with extra combats like Grand Warlord Radha and Scourge of the Throne.
Good win conditions for this deck include Finale of Devastation, Craterhoof Behemoth, and Triumph of the Hordes. Combining any of these with multiple combats can easily give you a shot at taking out all your opponents in one turn.
Command Tower | Illustration by Evan Shipard
Tovolar, Dire Overlord is the perfect aggro EDH deck for the Halloween season. Whether you choose to go with this build exactly or swap out a few werewolves for other options, you have at least a strong start and an idea of how to best benefit from Tovolar’s abilities.
What werewolves would you like to include that I didn’t? What other commanders do you think best fit the Halloween season? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: