Gruul likes to smash into it’s enemies. No prisoners! This Mina and Denn, Wildborn deck does that but from multiple angles: Card draw, raw resource output, and eventual damage.
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This version of Mina and Denn takes advantage of it’s land interactions to help facilitate long term value. This deck is great at drawing cards, fleshing out its mana base, then drawing more cards again. I think I personally enjoy this deck because it can out-sustain other decks while at the same time threatening traditional Gruul damage output.
I’m really uncertain what archetype best fits this deck. The way it plays out can vary greatly based off each draw and how much ramp you get. I would probably put it somewhere in the midrange-control spectrum. This is also one of the better EDH decks that runs Emrakul, the Promised End because of its ability to cast it consistently and the angle the card provides for the deck.
This deck is also very customizeable. Red and Green have solid cards that are good against specific matchups and we can take out some of the more expensive cards in our deck to better our odds vs fast combo decks if we really need to.
The Main Strategy
There are two core elements of this deck that make it viable. The first is its ramp package. This deck has one of the most consistent green based ramp packages I have ever seen. It also helps that we run 40 lands with the prescribed ramp package. It makes mulligans better and we need lands so badly that we can’t afford to keep hands that are very land light without ramp.
This ramp package enables the second part of the deck’s strength: Natural Order, Chord of Calling, Birthing Pod, Green Sun’s Zenith, Fauna Shaman, and Eldritch Evolution. These cards are crucial because they let us threaten to get Bane of Progress, Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, Terastodon, and Dragonlord Atarka against the decks that need to get punished for committing in the early game. Without these cards we would get killed way too easily by fast decks. These tutor-like effects are good too because they also let us find what we need when we feel like we can setup aggression onto our opponents. As a last resort these cards let us continue to develop our manabase.
How Mina and Denn fits this Strategy
Mina and Denn offers us value passively through its ability to give us more land drops but it also allows us to give creatures trample or replay lands. Whether this is used to push more damage or enable more land enter the battlefield effects it can be really effective and is a very sound option to have. This ability to pick up lands can also be used to protect your valuable utility lands from the likes of Strip Mine and Wasteland, or Armageddon. Let’s take a brief look at a few of the crucial lands that greatly benefit the deck:
Gaea’s Cradle : A classic green land that is fantastic at making lots of green mana. It’s kind of awkward in the early game for this deck but it is great in the mid-late game for setting up one-turn kills. It’s cool to use it then replay it with Mina and Denn.
It’s fun to play lands over and over again for their value.
Mosswort Bridge : Decent card advantage, and it is easy for us to replay Mosswort and activate it. This card is great when you are having a hard time finding raw card advantage. It is also cool because you can cast the card hidden underneath it at instant speed so if it is an interactive card you can use it to surprise your opponents. Note that if the exiled card is a land you can still play it if you activate Mosswort during one of your main phases when the stack is empty.
Gruul Turf : I normally dislike these bounce lands but I think having 1 of them in this deck is good. It lets you bounce and replay lands without spending mana via Mina and Denn and if you have access to instant speed lands ( Sakura-Tribe Scout ) you can protect other lands. This card is also very useful when you have cards like Tireless Tracker that care about when lands enter the battlefield because you can elect to bring back Gruul Turf itself to your hand over and over again.
Temple of Abandon : It’s not sexy, but sometimes we need to play it again and again to try to find the action we need. This scrying is very good with cards like Oracle of Mul Daya and Courser of Kruphix.
The main skill that this deck asks of its pilot is determining on any given turn whether or not you are playing defense or offense and maximizing your plays to achieve the best results for that posture.
On defense we have the tutors to find cards to deny fast decks and creatures that can gum up the board against tempo or aggro decks while still helping us with mana development (like Farhaven Elf and Wood Elves).
Your main goals while playing defense are mana development and card draw if you can find the card draw enablers. Many of the card draw enablers are in the form of planeswalkers. Cards like Garruk, Primal Hunter, Garruk, Caller of Beasts, Nissa, Vastwood Seer can be monster card advantage engines by themselves if left alone and are very fair cards even if you only get one activation off of them. A strength of this deck is that it can defend its planeswalkers with Mina and Denn and the other midrange/early game creatures so getting multiple activations off of your card advantage planeswalkers is very possible.
Mina and Denn is good at defending its planeswalkers, if need be
Cards like Oracle of Mul Daya and Courser of Kruphix are also good in a 40 land deck and give us direct mana advantage over our opponents. Combined with fetchlands, Sylvan Library, Tireless Tracker, Knollspine Dragon, and any other card advantage tool you want to use building a impressive card advantage engine can be easy.
As far as ramping goes make sure that the way you sequence your ramp spells so that you maximize the output you desire for the following turn or two turns. This seems really basic but there are lots of games where you have a hand full of ramp spells and there are so many routes you can traverse that mapping out how your mana develops can win or lose you the game. Things get more complicated when you account for Mina and Denn’s passive ability to let you play more lands from your hand.
Aggression/One Turn Kill Potential
After you’ve drawn some cards and fleshed out your manabase you might be hungry for blood. This is good: you are in the right place. Mina and Denn is itself a 4/4 and totally capable of commander kills off of the back of Kessig Wolf Run and other damage enablers. This combined with a host of midrange creatures ( Steel Hellkite, Urabrask the Hidden, Inferno Titan, Titania, Protector of Argoth and others) make this deck formidable because we can apply pressure to our opponents while still interacting with them and denying them their win conditions.
The cards in the deck that are the best at applying pure aggression are Craterhoof Behemoth and Avenger of Zendikar. They are both iconic green cards featured in many green based ramp decks. Avenger is good because it can spawn many token creatures that grow when more lands enter the battlefield. Crafterhoof Behemoth is famous for taking a squad of creatures and pushing massive burst damage with its enter the battlefield ability. These creatures naturally work very well together but what makes them really dangerous in this deck is our ability to cast our tutor effects that can search through our deck and put them directly into play ( Natural Order, Chord of Calling, etc). These effects give us so many more angles to approach and execute with these valuable cards.
In games that go a little prolonged you’ll find that it is totally possible to setup one turn kills onto your opponents while denying them the chance to cast sorcery speed mass removal. Here are the general guidelines to executing these plays:
- Understand how committed you are: Before committing your resources to the board figure out how much your execution turn matters to winning the game. If you’ve been drawing cards and ramping a lot then you might want to lead off with less-critical creatures you might not care as much about. If you feel like you need to kill an opponent ASAP before they achieve their goals you probably don’t have the luxury of playing around removal.
- Find haste or flash: Your creatures need to attack on the turn they come into play. Cards like Sarkhan Vol and Urabrask the hidden can enable mass haste the turn they come down. Cards like Winding Canyons, or Crop Rotation to find Canyons can enable huge turns where you flash in a huge army of creatures end-of-turn to untap with. Yeva, Nature’s Herald isn’t in this deck but if you find yourself constantly looking for execution turns she is good to bring in. Insurection can also be cast to give your team haste even if your opponents don’t really have creatures (yes this deck is capable of making that much mana).
- If you are using Avenger or Craterhoof understand what that card is bringing to your boardstate and how you need to handle your timings. Will it be flashed in? Do you need the Avenger plant tokens to enable a Gaea’s Cradle turn? Will you have to bait a counterspell to resolve the spell you need to resolve? A simple sequence could be casting Avenger of Zendikar, casting Natural Order to find Crafterhoof Behemoth, then enabling mass haste. A more complex sequence could be: Use Inferno Titan to Eldritch Evolution into a Ulvenwald Hydra to find Gaea’s Cradle tapped into your battlefield. Mina and Denn can pick up the Gea’s Cradle and you can replay it to cast whatever else you need to push more damage.
Combo: Bane of Progress, Dragonlord Atarka, and Ruric Thar, the Unbowed are usually your friends against combo decks. If you want to better your odds against fast combo I would cut: Zirilan of the Claw, Lotus Cobra, Atarka, World Render, Emrakul, the Promised End, Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger and Bogardan Hellkite. These cards are solid against most other matchups but are usually garbage vs combo. Add early game cards that cost 1 or 2 mana to disrupt your opponent’s combo pieces ( lightning bolt, Nature’s Claim ect ) so that you can cast them easily while ramping at the same time. In this matchup you should be trading resources very aggressively and nuking your opponents’ lands with Wasteland and Strip Mine when you think they are about to combo.
Control: Emrakul, the Promised End is probably the best card in these grindy games where you are trying to find the right angle onto your opponents. It’s cool to cast Emrakul then give it haste to push more damage. But being able to sudo-mindslaver a control player can eat them from the inside out. The deck construction outlined on the decklist near the top of the article should be a good build vs control. You’ll want to focus on finding a value engine and eventually rotating to an eventual execution turn. Cards like Vorinclex, Voice of hunger can be annoying and act as lightning rods for the other spells you wise to resolve. You could also bring in Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Crucible of Worlds here.
Aggro: Make similar cuts that you did in the combo matchup but include more spot removal/mass removal as you see fit. Your trump cards in this matchup are cards like Inferno Titan, Balefire Dragon, and Thunder Dragon. You’re trying to shutout their boardstate and make it hard for them to recover. Identify the creatures they need the most to enable damage and eliminate them. Cards like Wildfire might be one of the best cards in the game at shutting out the tribal aggro decks. Glacial Chasm is good here too. Mina and denn can reset Glacial Chasm.