Chatterfang, Squirrel General – Modern Horizons 2
Date Reviewed: December 23, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.42
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale: 1 is bad; 3 is average; 5 is great.
If you had asked me in January about the things I least expected to see in Magic this year, one of my top answers would have been squirrels getting a major push in black-bordered cards. Not that I’m displeased with the results – I just didn’t think they’d actually do it, since they also got a major push in Unstable and I apparently misinterpreted that as meaning that they had become more of an Un-set thing.
Chatterfang is, on paper, positioned surprisingly well for a format like Modern (recall that the Horizons sets are direct-to-Modern, and are never legal in Standard first). Forestwalk is active more often than you’d expect in a format full of fetchlands and shocklands, and doubling tokens could help against the vast array of one-mana removal spells. In practice, beating down with tokens is generally not the best-positioned strategy in Modern, and if your deck is depending on Chatterfang, he’s a good target for those same spells. If your opponent is off their guard, though, he’ll absolutely destroy them. And in more casual settings, he can be absolutely dominating. Don’t forget that if he’s your commander, he gives you access to black spells – I’m sure you can think of almost as many black cards that have a use for a vast number of tokens as green cards.
This card was not on my Top 10 cards of 2021, but I did have it on the short list for inclusion.
Despite being the Squirrel commander, the secret to Chatterfang, Squirrel General is that he’s pretty darn good outside of decks devoted to the green rodent of choice, and he’s honestly more of a token commander than a pure Squirrel overlord. He really shines with any sort of reliable token generation…amusingly, Old Gnawbone is a card he pairs well with, but anything that makes you tokens can work quite well with him (think cards like Tireless Tracker, Bitterblossom, Avenger of Zendikar, and even options like Smothering Tithe in non-Commander formats), and it’s not too hard to raise a massive throng of squirrels you can throw at your opponents.
That said, his activated ability does give you a use for all those Squirrels (repeatable removal is lovely, as is the ability to buff something), and forestwalk has proven itself to be a subtly obnoxious ability in the right circumstances (especially if you have Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth). Chatterfang never quite panned out in Modern and deeper formats, despite some initial intrigue; dying to Lightning Bolt at 3 mana is never an ideal starting point when he generally wants time to get rolling, and it takes a fair bit of legwork to make a deck where that’s not the case reliably. He more than has a home in Commander, though, and I feel like Chatterfang is perfectly fine as a more “rogue” option in the Modern metagame.
Constructed: 3 (very much a “build around me” card, but honestly just a bit too hard to build around)
Multiplayer: 4 (odds are good you’ll usually have one opponent to attack the face directly with)
Commander: 4.75 (very fun, but potentially a card that’ll put a target on you early)
Chatterfang, Squirrel General
Finally squirrel fans get a really good commander for their squirrel deck! In normal constructed, squirrels are not a strong enough tribe to make a dent in a top tier deck so this review is going to really be commander focused. Pair this with Old Gnawbone for an army of squirrels and treasure tokens. Done. Good Game because you just won. You can cast Craterhoof Behemoth with an army of squirrels and a big dragon, done. Good game. The best part is that you don’t need to even have this in a squirrel focused commander deck. Well this research and writing has convinced me that I’m going to make a Chatterfang commander deck now and I hope you will too!
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