One of the biggest questions I secretly want to know the answer to is: Why are squirrels not a more supported tribe in magic? I mean we have rats, cats, dogs, birds and snakes…. But why not squirrels and why are they considered a joke?
With the release of the “We Hope You Like Squirrels” Secret Lair Drop, they reprinted some of the best squirrels we have: Squirrel Mob, Squirrel Wrangler, Krosan Beast, Squirrel Mob and Swamyard. The artwork is stunning and so much fun to look at; why wouldn’t you want to play with these furry little critters that will gnaw your face off?
Modern Horizons gave us a small amount of hope with the reprinting of Squirrel Nest and a new card Deep Forest Hermit. Yet with this small addition to the tribe there is still is a long way to go before EDH can play this tribal.
Enter Kaldheim -- Blessing us with a new legendary squirrel: Toski, Bearer of Secrets.
Mana Cost: 3Green
This spell can't be countered.
Toski, Bearer of Secrets attacks each combat if able.
Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, draw a card.
So, with a new commander and some older squirrels why can’t squirrels now start being a tribe we can use?
Well, the first reason is that there aren't enough even with the use of shapeshifters to make a reasonable deck. Why is this? Is it because squirrels are the joke creature of magic? We have all seen the "20 Squirrels Can Kill Emrakul" meme, and that squirrels are the Un-set creature type. Did Wizards destroy their credibility in black border without knowing or wanting too?
We have some wonderful and powerful abilities in black border that I feel is not given enough love -- especially with Toski! Druid’s Call is a beautiful aura that enchants a creature with “Whenever enchanted creature is dealt damage; its controller creates that many 1/1 green Squirrel creature tokens.” Well, our commander is conveniently Indestructible! So perfect to block any huge creature and make oh-so-many squirrels. In addition, if you add effects like Pariah’s Shield so that "All damage that would be dealt to you is dealt to equipped instead", our squirrels will soon get out of hand (multiply like they were rabbits rather than squirrels!). Fill the deck with anthem effects and you have one scary army of fluff.
And you thought Squirrellink was a silly mechanic!
If we are going down this path of mass squirrels, then Squirrel Mob is perfect! This creature gets +1/+1 for each other squirrel in play! This means our side as well as our opponents' (Don’t forget changelings count!) So, there's one big beater to swing at our opponents with!
How about if we have the new-art Krosan Beast with Threshold active? A four mana 8/8 squirrel, that’s not something to stick your nose up at!
Nut Collector is back from the days of Odyssey at 6 mana (so extremely expensive to cast), but in our upkeep will create a 1/1 squirrel token and if Threshold is online all squirrels get +2/+2! Yeah, I know it’s no Tendershoot Dryad but for an unsupported tribe, this is great!
Squirrel Nest was recently reprinted as well. A Land-Enchantment token generator that has “Tap: Create a 1/1 green Squirrel creature token.” Especially at three mana, if we can untap this multiple times, it's certainly not a bad investment! Again, it's no Spawning Grounds, but I put this on par with Presence of Gond.
So, we are in Green and mana ramp is our thing. However, sometimes we can over-play lands and have more than we need (unsure if that’s true but go with me on this journey). Squirrel Wrangler lets us sacrifice those "extra" lands to make more squirrels and/or buff all our squirrels. This is a very versatile card that can help us close games, and if we have land recursion, this can be repeatable many times over.
Swarmyard is a perfect card for regenerating any squirrels that aren't our commander as Toski is Indestructible. This means we only need watch out for -1/-1 counters, exile/sacrifice/edict effects, and if we somehow lose our indestructibility (looking at you Shadowspear!) we can then protect Toski.
And then my favourite squirrel-themed artifact, Acorn Catapult! It’s a four mana artifact with 1,Tap: Acorn Catapult deals 1 damage to any target. That permanent’s controller or that player creates a 1/1 green Squirrel creature token. Yeah, I know replacing a 1/1 with a 1/1 is terrible, but what if we targeted Toski? What if Toski had Druids Call? Now we have a potent token generator! With all these squirrel tokens, it’s hard not to add doubling season and/or parallel lives to double all the tokens we are making and throw in a Beastmaster Ascension!
Speaking of tokens (again 😉) Chatter of the Squirrels and Acorn Harvest are 2 Sorcery’s that can add a couple of critters to our board if we need to get our army started in the early game and can be Flashback-ed later for more reinforcements if needed. Same goes for Deep Forest Hermit getting us 4 squirrels, plus this will be a temporary lord unless we can flicker it to reset the Vanishing ability with the likes of a Conjurer's Closet.
Deranged Hermit also gives us 4 squirrels when it enters and if we flicker it, that’s massive value. Again, this is a lord on top of its token generation ability as long as we can pay the Echo cost. But if we had Helm of the Host out and on this creature that’s a huge number of creatures and a very large buff to our squirrels.
So, we have such a silly scurry of squirrels. What do we do now? Why, make it even more silly, of course! Parallel Evolution will do just that. "For each creature token on the battlefield, its controller creates a token that's a copy of that creature." With Doubling Season and Parallel Lives out, our opponents will no longer be laughing at our fluffy cutie death army!
I would like to note that we do have some real support with Metallic Mimic and Adaptive Automaton as reasonably costed Squirrel-Lords. And with the release of Kaldheim, we do have more access to help in the form of Shapeshifters through Maskwood Nexus that can make us 2/2 shapeshifters (Squirrels in our case).
So why are squirrels a laughingstock? Beats me…
I agree -- They lack support. They lack reasonably priced creatures and lords. They lack… well... a lot, really.
But should they be the laughingstock left to Un-sets that barely see play? No! They should be invited to swarm the table, enjoyed, and even quite possibly, feared!
And if some one randomly asks you if you like squirrels... Always say yes!
As Always have fun and stay safe