Starting of with… squirrels!

I feel the first entry on my Magic blog/site should be about the deck I have the longest. My first deck doesn’t exist anymore for a long time and at that time I didn’t write my decklists down. Only thing I do remember is that it was monogreen, had somewhere around 80 cards with only 15 to 20 lands and played as much Tarpans I could get (because that is obviously a good card…).

But soon I started dipping my toes in the Expert sets and I was in for a real treat. Urza’s Saga just came out and it had some interesting cards for a young aspiring green mage. I didn’t care for artifacts or Tolarian Academy, Priest of Titania stole my heart.

The priest only has nothing to do with squirrels and I kinda build some expectations with the title. So no need for an extensive historical exposition about what I played on a certain point in time, let’s get to the squirrelly goodness. And yet my love for squirrels start around that time and had a very specific cause:

And then I saw a decklist in an old Duelist (now an old Duelist, in august 1999 it was brand new) all revolving around the Hermit and the cool interactions with Barrin, Master Wizard, bouncing it and abusing the comes into play ability of the elf. This was the list:

Beware the Squirrels!
Creatures (23)Spells (16)Lands (21)
4 Elvish Herder
4 Cloud of Faeries
4 Priest of Titania
4 Raven Familiar
4 Deranged Hermit
2 Barrin, Master Wizard
1 Yavimaya Granger
2 Crop Rotation
4 Fertile Ground
4 Snap
2 Frantic Search
4 Stroke of Genius

4 Gaea’s Cradle
2 Thran Quarry
1 Treetop Village
9 Forest
5 Island

The elves! The combo’s! The amount of green in this deck! I liked it from the get-go, so I did my first investments in single cards to create this deck and the squirrels nested in my heart.

The original combo revolved around Deranged Hermit and Barrin, Master Wizard, but I did not really like that the ability of Barrin needed mana. I needed something else. For a while I used Astral Slide to make the Hermit jump in and out of play (more on that in a later deck tech), but still I was not satisfied. But then I realised that there was a card that could easily make the elf with his/her furry companions come into play. A card that existed for quite a while, even some longer than the hermit itself. That card was:

In 2003 a deck emerged around elves and another enchantment that sort of reanimated green creatures going to the graveyard called Elvish Succession (I can explain all the intricacies of the deck, but they are very well explained here: The deck is based around the card Verdant Succession, which works well with green creatures going to the graveyard. With several ways to sacrifice your green creatures, you can flood the board quickly.

Elvish Succession wants to start of with some cheap elves (Birchlore Rangers and Llanowar Elves preferably) to get the mana going. Wirewood Herald works well with both of these creatures in producing mana for the Succession, Hermit and in a later stage the sac outlets. When your graveyard is full with elves, find and sac the Elvish Soultiller, naming elves. Not only do you get the elves back, but also the Soultiller itself if you stack the triggers right. 

I found that the Rangers work well with creatures that just came into play. They do have summoning sickness, but you can tap them to the Rangers. Heritage Druid does something similar and so I chose to add them instead of Llanowar Elves. Rhys the Exiled, Diabolic Intent, Natural Order and Perilous Forays are sac outlets that the deck needs, because I don’t want to play Nantuko Husk and Angel of Despair (because out of flavor).

The Succession combined with Wirewood Herald makes for an interesting toolbox deck (did I already say that I like toolboxes?). I saw the possibilities when also combined with Deranged Hermit. I studied the Elvish Succession deck, added and removed some cards and came up with this deck:

Recurring Hermit
4 Birchlore Rangers
4 Heritage Druid
1 Essence Warden
1 Taunting Elf
4 Wirewood Herald
3 Elvish Visionary
3 Wirewood Hivemaster
2 Rhys the Exiled
3 Deranged Hermit
1 Elvish Soultiller
1 Crop Rotation
2 Diabolic Intent
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Recurring Nightmare
2 Natural Order
4 Verdant Succession
1 Perilous Forays
1 Biorhythm

4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Grim Backwoods
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
7 Forest
3 Swamp

This is my current squirrel deck and I love it. The idea is to get elves into play that generate mana, play Verdant Succession followed by Deranged Hermit and wait till your next upkeep. The Hermit will die and look for a new one from your library. Hopefully you also have Recurring Nightmare by then and you can sac the Hermit to return the other Hermit and look for a third. That’s a lot of squirrels coming into play. Get out a Taunting Elf and the turn after you can attack for a lot. I even once got the god draw with a turn four Biorhythm.

That is the history of my squirrel deck. If you have any ideas or comments, I really like to hear them!

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