Going Wild With Mina And Denn

They’re Elves. They’re wild. What’s not to love? The angry pair remains one of the most underrated Commander cards from Oath of the Gatewatch, and Bennie is ready to give them a proper welcome!

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!

I like smoke and lightnin’

Heavy metal thunder

Racing in the wind

And the feeling that I’m under

Yeah, darlin’

Gonna make it happen

Take the world in a love embrace

Fire all of your guns at once

And explode into space

Like a true nature’s child

We were born

Born to be wild

We can climb so high

I never wanna die

Born to be wild

Born to be wild

— Steppenwolf

The other day my kids were talking with me about how they classify age groups: babies, kids, tweens, teens, young adults, “grown up adults,” middle age, old, and geezer. They were nice enough to tell me I was firmly in the middle age category and not yet considered old.

I told them though that I think “geezer” isn’t really tied to an age. It’s more of an attitude. You’re a geezer when you start saying things like “back in my day things were better,” or “kids today just don’t understand,” or “they just don’t make music like they used to.” To me, you become a geezer when your mind starts to shut new things out and instead dwell on the past and idealize it. I joke about being a geezer – heck, I have an email address of starcitygeezer at gmail dot com – but I actually pride myself with staying up with what’s current.

Especially music. I certainly have my fair share of classic rock and pop on my iTunes, but I also have more recent acts like Hozier, Walk Off the Earth, Shakey Graves, Tegan and Sara, Bleached, First Aid Kit and The Neighbourhood. To the geezers out there I say hey, they’re still making good music today!

But… I don’t think I’m succumbing to geezerdom by lamenting the fact that rockers today seem to be missing out on the joy of having an organ among their instruments. I don’t mean a keyboard; I’m talking about a funky, nasty, shimmering organ like they had in The Doors, Deep Purple and Steppenwolf. I’d love to see what rockers today could do with an organ in the mix. Or maybe I just haven’t run across the right new band? Let me know if there’s someone new I should be checking out.

I bring all this up because today I’m diving into Oath of the Gatewatch looking for a new legend to build a Commander deck around, and when I see Mina and Denn, Wildborn I can’t help but have Steppenwolf’s classic “Born to Be Wild” pop into my head. Just look at those crazy kids! They’re not going to let the Man – AKA the Eldrazi – keep them down. They’re in touch with their wild side and in Zendikar that means some wild lands.

Mina and Denn, Wildborn is clearly constructed to power landfall shenanigans and between the original Zendikar and Battle for Zendikar expansions we have a ton of landfall cards to go along with oodles and oodles of “lands matter” cards that have been printed over the years.

Landfall Tribal

Adventuring Gear, Jaddi Offshoot, Scythe Leopard, Lotus Cobra, Makindi Sliderunner, Plated Geopede, Snapping Gnarlid, Grazing Gladehart, Retreat to Kazandu, Retreat to Valakut, Tunneling Geopede, Undergrowth Champion, Embodiment of Fury, Grove Rumbler, Seer’s Sundial, Embodiment of Insight, Baloth Woodcrasher, Avenger of Zendikar; Omnath, Locus of Rage

All right, so Mina and Denn, Wildborn want to enable landfall triggers. Let’s provide landfall triggers! There aren’t too many green and red landfall cards that didn’t make the cut. I went ahead and included the small, aggressive creatures even though they’re going to get outclassed pretty quickly in a typical game of Commander because there are some crazy shenanigans we can pull off in the mid- to late-game to fuel a ton of landfall triggers all at once and they will suddenly make those little guys relevant again.

Once we get higher up the curve we start hitting the creatures that provide huge bang for the landfall buck—Baloth Woodcrasher, Avenger of Zendikar, and the mighty mighty Omnath, Locus of Rage. Uncle Omnath usually prefers to helm his own land-matters Commander deck, but he doesn’t mind helping out his favorite niece and nephew here.

Landfall Enablers, Part 1

Exploration, Crop Rotation, Explorer’s Scope, Sakura-Tribe Scout, Budoka Gardener, Surveyor’s Scope, Sword Of The Animist, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Walking Atlas; Azusa, Lost but Seeking; Fertilid, Oracle of Mul Daya, Scapeshift, Solemn Simulacrum, Perilous Forays, Verdant Confluence

So we’ve got a bunch landfall cards, and we’ve got Mina and Denn, Wildborn to help keep the falls landing. Why stop there? There are a ton of great cards around that let us put additional lands into play and I’ve included many of the best ones here. I’m particularly excited about Surveyor’s Scope, a card that has a ton of potential but one I’ve found a bit awkward in practice. It appears to be designed as a way to keep up with ramp decks and sometimes it works and sometimes it just sits there looking silly. I’ve been waiting since Commander 2013 to see it shine and Mina and Denn, Wildborn’s ability to manage the number of lands you have in play make it quite reliable to activate Surveyor’s Scope for maximum profit.

And then there’s this:

Pay 1G, remove a counter from Fertilid to fetch out a basic land to put onto the battlefield tapped, trigger Retreat to Kazandu to put a +1/+1 counter on Fertilid. Repeat as needed for landfall trigger fun! Just don’t run out of basics!

Landfall Enablers, Part BOOM!

Hammer of Purphoros, Eternal Witness, Urabrask the Hidden, Anarchist, Warp World

I was originally going to put these cards under the previous section, but I decided I wanted to put them in a special haymaker section all by themselves. It occurred to me that landfall cards tend to be permanents, and lands are permanents, and Warp World puts a whole of permanents into play all at once, potentially providing us with an avalanche of landfall triggers! The problem, of course, is that many of these landfall triggers make creatures into giant monsters, so I wanted to include some ways to give all our creatures haste, like Hammer of Purphoros. Urabrask the Hidden is even better since it makes potential blockers enter the battlefield tapped. Since one Warp World is going to be so much fun why stop at one? Eternal Witness and Anarchist keep the party going.

Lands Matter

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle; Mosswort Bridge, Spinerock Knoll, Maze of Ith, Arena, Diamond Valley, Expedition Map, Vinelasher Kudzu, Life From The Loam, Courser of Kruphix, Crucible of Worlds, Centaur Vinecrasher; Titania, Protector of Argoth; Zendikar’s Roil, Primeval Bounty, World Breaker

Vinelasher Kudzu had landfall before landfall was a thing. Centaur Vinecrasher is a cool new card from Commander 2015 that I think will do quite well in this deck as a recursive threat that can be potentially quite huge.

Oh, and check out this tasty combo:

Play a land, make a 2/2 Elemental with Zendikar’s Roil. Spend a mana to sacrifice the Elemental to go fetch up a basic land and make another 2/2 Elemental. Weeeee!!! This almost makes me want to squeeze an Amulet of Vigor into the decklist.

World Breaker gives us a little bit of utility that can punch through counterspells, and if it dies you can sacrifice a land to get it back, which plays nicely into things like Crucible of Worlds and Life From The Loam to get lands back from the graveyard.

I’m also running a lot of lands to try and ensure that we rarely find ourselves unable to trigger landfall when we want to, a total of 43 including what I consider spell-lands since they don’t actually tap for mana: Maze of Ith, Arena, and a very well loved and battered copy of Diamond Valley. What’s fun to think about with these is you can use one and then use Mina and Denn, Wildborn’s ability to bounce it to your hand, then use something like Sakura-Tribe Scout to put the land back into play at instant speed to use again. Mosswort Bridge and Spinerock Knoll can provide a bonus card when the conditions are right, and while they’re normally one-shot, you can use your Commander’s ability to use them over and over again.

Yeah darlin’! Gonna make it happen!

Mina and Denn, Wildborn
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 02-05-2016
Magic Card Back

One thing about this list: there’s not a whole lot in here to interact with our opponents. We’ve got a general plan and we want to execute it! I’m asking the questions and forcing opponents to have the answers. However, you can certainly trim down some of the on-theme cards for more ways to interact with your opponent if you feel the need.

Do you have any questions about any of my choices? How would you build things differently? Did I miss anything obvious?

Modern Madness

So this weekend is #SCGRegionals, and I’m excited to be able to attend the one in North Carolina. If you’re going to be there too come by and say hi! I’ve got a super-sweet bit of technology that’s making its debut Saturday, so if you’re not at the tournament check in on Twitter and see what I’ve got cooking. And, of course, check back with me next week when I tell you all about it and how the deck and I performed. Wish me luck!

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visonary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!