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Commander & Change — Mina and Denn, Wildborn

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New set, beginning of a new era . . . the first block of the two-block paradigm. Changes in Standard will happen, but what does this mean for Commander?

It means we’ll see more new abilities and keywords, but generally fewer individual cards with them because we won’t have three sets with the same theme. However, we’ll also see more returns, which means we’ll see underexplored themes developed more—look at how Allies and landfall have grown. This is overall good for hundred-card stacks I think; we can try mini-themes and ideas without building a new deck; plus, we’ll see additions to decks we already have.

The other thing, with Wizards’s commitment to story and character, is a regular influx of new commanders!

Mina and Denn, Wildborn

I love when a single creature is two people . . . err, Elves. But hey, these pointy-eared Mul Dayans are solidly-sized and reasonably priced, and they give us abilities we can leverage if we try. While we’re at it, let’s see if we can work in a few mini-themes; if we build the deck and one of the mini-themes doesn’t work for us, we can change it around. Landfall, Dragons, and indestructibility—oh my!

Gruul Turf
Most Commander decks start with the lands, but with half an Oracle of Mul Daya ability on the commander, it’s even more important. Our color requirements are tough in this deck, so we want as many duals as possible. Additionally, we’re going to be using landfall triggers, so we want fetch lands. And because Mina and Denn let us play an extra land, all the Karoos will do good work. We have Gruul Guildgate and Shivan Oasis plus their better cousins Kazandu Refuge and Rugged Highlands. Temple of Abandon is among the best-priced Temples and worth its slot. Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse are here, of course, but so are Mountain Valley and the Jund and Naya Panoramas – with any of them, we can add a landfall trigger to a single turn. Mountain Valley is the only one we can’t play and activate right away, but at least it can be a third land coming into play. Gruul Turf is great, but Dormant Volcano and Jungle Basin join the fun—we play one, bounce our land, and replay it immediately with M&D on the field. Skarrg, the Rage Pits makes good use of extra mana. Ghost Town says we always have a land to play.

We’re going to be playing Dragons (and some other big stuff), so we want to ramp. Traditional green ramp puts lands onto the battlefield directly—Burnished Hart and Blighted Woodland will do that. However, we gain some value by bringing the land to hand and playing it normally—so we’re playing Sylvan Ranger and Civic Wayfinder instead of Farhaven Elf and Wood Elves. We get creatures either sooner or bigger, which can matter as chump-blockers, as sacrifice fodder, or as part of an alpha strike. Seek the Horizon works wonders in this deck, as does Armillary Sphere. Sword of the Animist is probably going to be a new staple going forward. Courser of Kruphix extends our hand a bit. Unstable Obelisk is really there for its second ability—destroying anything is a good thing.

Khalni Heart Expedition
Khalni Heart Expedition normally requires too much for not enough payoff. The thing is, once we’ve met its requirements, we can save it until it’s perfectly timed. Crack this on the same turn we play two lands off M&D, and we generate four triggers, which is great when Avenger of Zendikar is around.

One of the nice things about land-fetchers is the card advantage—play a Borderland Ranger, and we gain a creature plus a land, making it a two-for-one—but it’s still not an extra spell in hand when we need it. Seer's Sundial is an obvious choice—we’re going to have plenty of landfall in this deck, so extra mana turns into extra cards. Hunter's Insight and Hunter's Prowess both reward us for attacking. Life's Legacy turns a Terastodon into a new hand, and Momentous Fall is a great response to a board wipe.

Genesis Wave and Genesis Hydra also net us extra cards. With a ton of mana to spend, a big one of either of those is pretty silly.

Since we can reliably beat the other players to big mana, we want early pressure on our opponents. We have a lot of big guys in this deck as well as a few creatures that will be a pain to deal with. Predator Ooze is one that has wanted to be in a Commander deck since its creation. ggg for an indestructible creature we keep making bigger is awesome. It’ll take something special to get rid of it—Black Sun's Zenith, maybe, or Terminus—but most of the time, it’ll just attack every turn and become more and more threatening. Meanwhile, M&D can give it trample, so it’s scary. Undergrowth Champion is similar—cheap and small but with potential to be really huge—and suddenly giving it trample can be a very serious problem, especially when it gains four +1/+1 counters at once. Zendikar Incarnate is a flavorful addition that stomps around for a lot, and Nylea, God of the Hunt can be big and indestructible with a couple of relevant abilities. Colossus of Akros is our Eldrazi fill-in. Paying 18 mana isn’t impossible here, and a 20/20 trampling indestructible creature is a pretty serious problem for most decks. Thunderfoot Baloth is big and tramply and lets all our other stuff also be tramply, which is pretty cool.

Tyrant's Familiar
Then there be Dragons. Red’s iconic creature brings a bunch of power to the table, along with great abilities and some smashy good times. Tyrant's Familiar hits fast and hard. Steel Hellkite can get rid of some nasty permanents. Stormbreath Dragon earned its title as a finisher in Standard for a reason: the protection from white is nice (try Path to Exile now, punk), and its monstrosity ability will do a bunch of damage to draw-heavy Commander decks. Hellkite Charger gives us another swing this turn, and Hellkite Tyrant is just fun, especially when someone thinks he or she is being clever with a bunch of artifacts. Akoum Hellkite isn’t the strongest of the bunch, but drop three or four Mountains in a turn, and the damage can add up. Plus, Atarka, World Render at the very least gives itself double strike; combine with M&D’s trample for a serious threat. Sometimes, we’ll have other Dragons out, too, and that’s just more fun . . . for us.

We’re making the other players respond to us here, so we’ve limited answers to only things we have to destroy. Nevinyrral's Disk and Perilous Vault serve as resets; yeah, they blow up all of our stuff, but we’ll be ahead on mana, so as long as we have a grip, we’ll recover faster than most. Scour from Existence and Spine of Ish Sah both answer a troubling permanent, like Unstable Obelisk. They’re expensive, yes, but we can afford it, and they kill anything good and dead. Argentum Armor is an underused card in decks that want to attack. We can throw that thing on any old creature to kill something, and we can choose any permanent no matter whom we attack. Bane of Progress makes it difficult for artifact players to recover and doesn’t hurt us much; plus, it leaves behind a massive guy. Polis Crusher is surprisingly valuable, not to mention big. Desert Twister is an old, expensive workhorse for green decks—they don’t make them like that anymore.

Fires of Yavimaya
And we have landfall. Avenger of Zendikar, Territorial Baloth, Grove Rumbler, and Baloth Woodcrasher are all cards that benefit from being able to play extra lands in a turn. Retreat to Valakut makes it in because sometimes people expect to block with their suited-up Bruna, Light of Alabaster or whatever. Heck with that, right? And the best two are Rampaging Baloths and Omnath, Locus of Rage, which make guys when we hit lands. We can make a lot of guys that way; when our board is suddenly huge, it becomes scary quickly.

That’s why we have ways to give things haste. Fervor and Fires of Yavimaya grant haste to all our creatures and are worth the slots—they’re enchantments, so they’re less likely to be destroyed than creatures, and boy, when a bunch of Elementals come smashing in at someone out of nowhere, that’s pretty awesome. Xenagos, God of Revels helps (plus, it gives a serious power boost), as does Chariot of Victory, and Hammer of Purphoros gives haste and lets us turn extra lands later into extra guys. That’s hilarious with something like Overwhelming Stampede.

Note the interaction between the two landfall creature-generators and Perilous Forays. Most of the time, the Forays are going to be a way to turn late-game Sylvan Rangers into lands, but with the token-makers, we can pull as many lands out of our deck in one turn as we have mana—play a land, make a dude, pay a mana, sac the dude, get a land, make another dude. Rinse and repeat.

Mina and Denn, Wildborn ? Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

There’s some stuff we’re priced out of but that is great if you have or want to spend more scratch on the deck. Azusa, Lost but Seeking is wonderful, as is Oracle of Mul Daya. Urabrask the Hidden would be strong. Dragonlord Atarka, Dragon Broodmother, and Thundermaw Hellkite would be fun. Boundless Realms and Scapeshift will hit crazy landfall triggers. Kessig Wolf Run is simply better than Skarrg, the Rage Pits. Swiftfoot Boots might be good for the commander.

But no matter the Dragons, this deck will be pro- and interactive. We bring a lot of land out, play big dudes, give them haste and trample, and smash in. Keep hands with land in them, and don’t be afraid to hold on to an extra land once we’re at seven on the field—that extra landfall trigger could make all the difference.

What legendary creature from Oath of the Gatewatch are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments!

I’d like to take a quick moment to welcome Evan as the captain of this ship—he has great ideas and is already pointing us into exciting territory. I look forward to working with—and learning from—him!

Oh, and if you’ve been looking for a place for all those full-art Forests and Mountains you’ve been hoarding, you found it!

Total cost: $74.26


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