What Makes Alpine Houndmaster Worth Talking About?
Alpine Houndmaster would certainly be an odd “best card in the set” if in fact it ended up the best card in the set. But this one is kind of like an Ancestral Recall.
You play the Alpine Houndmaster and get one 2/2 for two mana (1); but in addition you get to search up Alpine Watchdog (2) and Igneous Cur (3)… So three-for-one!
While potentially powerful, the Houndmaster demands a steep deck building cost. In addition to playing [presumably] four copies of Alpine Houndmaster, you have to play some copies of both of the other two to get maximum value. On the high end you might spend twelve slots in your deck for four copies of each of the three two drops; but at a minimum, you need to play at least one Alpine Watchdog and at least one Igneous Cur in order to get paid off by even the first Houndmaster.
Therefore the question can only be answered if we know if we want to actually pay the deck building cost. Or, would you want to play any of the other two at all?
Houndmaster’s Best Friend: Alpine Watchdog
Mike points out that twenty years ago, back when he was a kind of White Weenie player, he had to pay a full WW for a 2/2 creature with vigilance. For 1W he only got a white Grizzly Bears.
Not that he actually paid for either thanks to Ramosian Sergeant or anything:
Alpine Watchdog is an update to the same. You probably wouldn’t be stuffing either Fresh Volunteers or Steadfast Guard into your sixty without Rebel support; but Patrick points out that people weren’t really into 1/1 flyers for two mana either… Except Squadron Hawk proved everybody wrong.
Houndmaster’s (other) Best Friend: Igneous Cur
Igneous Cur is probably better than Alpine Watchdog all other things held equal.
If you’re stuck casting it on turn two… It’s still a better body — tapped out — than a Runaway Steam-Kin. It will trade for the Stomp half of Bonecrusher Giant or Shock like any other x/2 early.
Later in the game, it’s a legitimate threat. Igneous Cur and a ton of untapped mana is like a Fireball waiting to splatter the opponent; or at the very least, trade up with a more expensive creature. Not bad at all, being on the bonus.
The Best of the Rest
Is Alpine Houndmaster going to prove to be the best card of Core Set 2021? We’ll have to wait and see… But both hosts are cheering for it.
Potential payoffs include Rin and Seri, Inseparable; while Feline Sovereign can be a rival or teammate (probably with Rin and Seri, Inseparable).
Mike’s old school favorite Faith’s Fetters might be better than ever; while the even more ancient evil, spiteful Kaervek finally makes his way to a cardboard depiction.
All that and more in this week’s (slightly belated) podcast!