Standard 2023 Gruul Werewolves Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
Today we’re going to be doing something a bit different for a deck tech! With a full Standard rotation coming soon on September 1, 2022 (MTG Arena release date) with Dominaria United, understanding what’s going to be viable at the start of the format is going to be invaluable in navigating a brand new format. To that end, I’m going to be scouring the available decks in Standard, see what decks are likely to be strong even without the new set, and better yet, you can build and play them right now for a strong deck that won’t lose any new cards!
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- Standard 2023 Gruul Werewolves Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
To accomplish this, the best way is to find strategies that are relatively contained within a set, have powerful synergies, and are strong enough to likely hold up to the test of time. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of different decks that can fit that description, but I wanted to start with what seemed to be the most promising option: Gruul Werewolves.
Gruul Werewolves, although currently overshadowed by other strategies, is a powerful tribal deck that can be extremely fast and very punishing against opponents who can’t defend themselves early and often. With a quick curve, great synergies, and being a deck pretty much completely contained in the Innistrad block, Werewolves seems like the perfect fit for my prompt. Let’s take a look at the list.
Like I keep saying, all good aggro decks have to start at one mana to get the ball rolling. Personally, I think the only card that’s deserving of that slot right now is Kumano Faces Kakkazan. The card is pretty nuts and is extremely similar to the Alchemy killer, Tenacious Pup. Both are 1 mana creatures that buff the next creature you play, and while Tenacious Pup is better, Kumano is not too far behind. A 1 mana card that can provide a damage and 3/3 in stats is definitely a pretty insane rate.
It may be a surprise to not see Ascendant Packleader here as it does fit the decks theme on being a Wolf, but believe it or not, a one mana 2/1 nowadays is just not the most playable rate. It may still be fine due to the Wolf synergies and you certainly could play it, but I’m not convinced.
Moving on, we come to the real start of the Werewolf cards at the 2 drops. Outland Liberator is a reasonable rate, a 2 mana 2/2 is fine, but it has a lot more going for it. One, it can be a Naturalize on a stick which is pretty great utility in general. Two, if it ever hits night time, a 2 mana 3/3 that can Naturalize on attack is a pretty amazing rate.
Next we have one of the scariest creatures in the deck with Kessig Naturalist. This is an non-traditional mana dork as you need to attack with it to accrue mana, but being able to push damage and gain advantage is a pretty nice deal. Better yet, on it’s flip side, it becomes a Werewolf lord which can turn a fine board state into an overwhelming one with the flip of a switch.
Finally I’m playing 2 Packsong Pup as a way to have a scaling 2 drop in the deck. It does require additional resources and starts out a bit slow, but it being able to attack as a 3/3 relatively quickly is rather enticing. I could definitely see a build with Ascendant Packleader and maxing out Packsong Pup, but for now, I think 2 of them seems quite reasonable.
Next on the curve we come to the heart of the Werewolf deck. Reckless Stormseeker has seen a lot of play in Red aggressive decks already, and it being a Werewolf is a nice bonus to synergize with all the tribal cards.
For the real payoff, Tovolar, Dire Overlord allows you to draw a card whenever any Wolf or Werewolf makes contact with a player, not just once per turn, which can quickly refuel your hand and close that game out if the opponent can’t answer it quickly.
Finally, we’re playing Fable of the Mirror-Breaker because of it’s great synergies with Werewolf cards and totally not that it’s just a broken Red card. Not believable? Well, I tried. Fable is nuts and making multiple bodies that beg to be removed makes it more difficult for the opponent to pick apart our synergy pieces which makes this a real pain for any deck.
To finish this deck, we have our few pieces of top end to help close out the game. Arlinn, the Pack's Hope has been a threat that’s been playing second fiddle to Esika's Chariot and Halana and Alena, Partners for awhile, but will finally have it’s time to shine. This build doesn’t have too many anti-control tools beyond the creatures being Werewolves which pressures them to constantly have spells to play, but Arlinn is perfect for the job. Whether it’s making Wolves, giving your creatures flash, or attacking for 5 at night, Arlinn is a nightmare for any deck that doesn’t play many creatures to pressure it.
Speaking of Halana and Alena, Partners, they were initially slept on in spoiler season, but have come to prove their worth in many aggressive strategies. It’s just a super scary threat to constantly grow your board and playing this on curve is super scary for any strategy.
Finally, we end our curve with a pair of fives with Volatile Arsonist. Volatile Arsonist can make huge pushes of damage out of nowhere between the Menace, Haste, and being able to ping off blockers or planeswalkers.
All in all, Werewolves is a fast and powerful deck that can perform very well in Bo1 now and presumably later with it’s great curve and synergistic threats.
Tips and Tricks
- Although I would generally not sandbag Kumano Faces Kakkazan, if you’re missing a 2 drop, you could consider not playing it on turn 1 to buff a 3 drop. However, with ten 2 drops you have a good chance of hitting one on the draw step so try to gauge if you prefer the risk with increased damage or you are prioritizing having a larger body.
- Although we are aggressive, if you have a Tovolar, Dire Overlord, be careful with how aggressively you’re trading off creatures early. Being able to turn it into Night with 3 Wolves or Werewolves out is extremely powerful and hard to beat if uninterrupted.
- If you have both Reckless Stormseeker and Halana and Alena, Partners out, make sure you order your triggers such that you buff the Halana and Alena, Partners, then their trigger resolves so whatever you’re buffing gets 3 +1/+1 counters rather than 2.
- If you manage to get two Reflections of Kiki-Jiki out with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, on the opponent’s end step, you can keep copying one copy of Reflections with the other to get a 1 mana 2/2 that will die on the next end step, but if you do this on the opponent’s end step, you can attack with a huge army of tokens!
- As a general rule, you will likely want to keep deploying more threats rather than skipping the turn to turn it into night as the earlier it is in the game, the higher the chance the opponent can double spell to revert it back into day.
Thank you for reading!
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