Magic the Gathering Commander players have been screaming for a true leader for Squirrel tribal for many years. Kaldheim finally brought Squirrel lovers a Christmas gift when Toski, Bearer of Secrets was revealed. Better yet, while Toski is an awesome Squirrel, his abilities are versatile enough to go into many Commander decks. Of course, most people focused on his immediate utility in Commander and not so much for competitive Constructed formats, which we will also investigate here.
Toski is a 1/1 Squirrel Legendary Creature with a converted mana cost of four, costing 3 generic and 1 Green mana to cast. While he’s weak to begin with, he’s also indestructible and can’t be countered. The only downside is that Toski must attack each combat, which can be an issue with certain types of removal such as Shatter the Sky which exiles and doesn’t destroy. But, most of the time, Toski is going to be tricky to remove.
Best of all, Toski doesn’t even need to connect with a player for you to gain value from him. In fact, any time you connect with a player for combat damage with any creature, you get to draw a card. That includes Toski, which often makes him a must block, unless your opponent wants you to draw a bunch of cards.
We’ve seen these sort of draw engines on Green before, but to be indestructible and not able to be countered makes him a neat little buddy for “go wide” strategies. Squirrel Tribal would fit into that category, bit because it’s still one of the lesser supported tribes, you still need some sort of token strategy to supplement what squirrel support there is. Fortunately, Toski not only can lead such a deck, but find plenty of other homes in decks that either ego wide with tokens or small, efficient creatures or have lots of fliers and/or other forms of evasion.
One of the first things I thought of when I saw Toski is what a perfect target he is for the Mutate creatures from the Ikoria set. While Mutate isn’t a huge deal in Commander, it can be an extremely potent tool in the right decks. Mutate creatures keep the abilities of all creatures above and below them, so you get all the upside of Toski and the ability to create a monstrous stack of Mutate creatures on top of him. Otrimi, the Ever-Playful is the top Mutate Commander currently, with Illuna, Brokkos, and Nethroi behind him. All four can play Toski.
The most obvious competitive deck for Toski would be Elves. Four mana is nothing for an Elf deck and even being a non-Elf is worth the card draw Toski can give you soon as he comes into play. Toski could also be a weapon in holdover Mutate decks who could certainly use another draw engine to keep from running out of steam. Decks that run a lot of trample creatures can benefit from toskis ability, too. If anything, Toski will draw removal that exiles rather than destroys.
One popular card that could destroy Toski is shadowspear, an equipment with the ability to pay one mana and turn off hexproof and indestructible for opponents creatures. Since Toski must attack every turn, that could be an issue. Also, lifelink creatures will be happy to block Toski and gain their controller’s life. So, you really will have to pick your spots with Toski with those things in mind, and he may be relegated to the sideboard for some of the matchups where he doesn’t do much good.
More often than not, a 4 mana 1/1 isn’t going to get the job done, especially if he can run himself into trouble. Still, that’s the delightful flavor of Toski. Yes, he’s certainly going to be a Commander staple for many decks, but you know people are going to try and make him work in Standard, Historic on Magic Arena, and perhaps even some rogue decks on other formats, too.
What I can’t wait to see is a Voltron style Toski Commander deck. There are plenty of huge enchantments and equipment you can give him in Green. People are going to be finding homes for this guy for years to come.
How will you play Toski, Bearer of Secrets?