Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes | Illustrated by Bram Sels
Welcome back to Let Me Sell Ya; this week we’re doing the hamster dance. But first, a question: how cool would it be if iconic characters Minsc & Boo from the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons got a card for Magic that worked perfectly as a Hulk commander in cEDH? Oh, that? Well, what if it happened again?
Just like Shorikai, the last legendary I sold you, Minsc & Boo”] is the first commander in its color identity to provide both card advantage and an infinite outlet. This alone puts it heads and shoulders above its contemporaries, but being a technical improvement on previous models isn’t what makes it exciting. Another legendary that can crack a hulk pile isn’t exciting. Inflating a hamster to the size of a house and throwing it at your enemies? That’s exciting, and it’s just the beginning. So why should you play Minsc & Boo? Well, let me sell ya!
If you’re not interested in cEDH or you’re playing on a budget, read on for details on the core philosophy of the deck, but you can find a toned-down list HERE.
Too Gruul for School
Despite the longstanding power of green and the rapid rise of red, Gruul as an isolated color combination can fall short. It does have simple infinite wins (more than can be said for poor Orzhov), but the commanders themselves are often lacking something, at least for my tastes.
Gruul commanders played at a competitive level.
Two of the above three can draw cards, but they require a noticeable deckbuilding cost for limited payoff. They also can’t do much other than draw cards, giving them little utility. typical cEDH tools. Instead, Ruric trades on the crushing power of his punisher effect and operates as a stax deck. What they all have in common is an emphasis on bringing the game down to a pace they can compete in. Not Minsc, not Boo. No, they allow for a radically different approach to Gruul, providing both explosive card advantage and an infinite mana outlet.is an outlier, providing none of the
An Infinite Mana Outlet?
Minsc and Boo certainly don’t look like they can go infinite. There’s no activated ability to sink the mana into, and planeswalkers can only activate their loyalty abilities once per turn, so I forgive you if it’s not obvious – it was lost on me when I first looked at the card. You can see a play-by-play of my simple monkey brain mulling it over here:
Providing you can produce infinite mana before using the -2 for turn, it’s possible to loop Minsc & Boo with itself for as many draws as you want; just remember to stop before you deck yourself. Simply sacrifice Boo to draw 1+ cards, and rather than targeting an opponent, target Minsc itself. Minsc is now in the command zone, you’ve drawn a card, and you can repeat ad nauseam. In fact, popping Boo with a handful of pump spells actually feels a lot like resolving an . But we’ll get to the combos; let’s break down how Minsc & Boo plays.
How Does it Run?
Being a commander-centric deck (Minsc & Boo is more than just an outlet), you want baldy and furry in play as quickly as possible, and if you can’t get Minsc & Boo into play on turn two, I have news for you: you’re not trying hard enough.
Provided a hand with just two lands, any of, , , or will get you there. and will even do the trick with just one land. But even with slower sources, you have a lot of options. A dork and a fast rock will do it. A dork and a , a dork and a carpet, even a dork and an if you’re willing to be so careless with the lives of Elves. Both for playing Minsc and storming off after popping Boo like a piñata, this deck is jammed full of both fast and slow mana sources.
In fact, you have to work pretty hard to draw into a hand that CAN’T play Minsc & Boo on turn two. And once they’re in play, the world is your hamster.
Pump and Dump
Leveraging Boo is one of the most fascinating parts of this deck and what makes it stand out not just from other Gruul decks, but from cEDH at large. How does it do that? With pump spells. Yep, you heard me. Pump spells, those things Limited players use. Pump spells like you’d see in an Infect deck. I consider myself a cEDH writer who knows a thing or two, and I’m telling you thatis a competitively viable card. Stop laughing.
They don’t look like much, and in any other deck, they wouldn’t be, but in a deck where your ability to draw cards is directly tied to the size of your pet hamster, these cards are mass draw spells, and while that’s their main appeal, they also turn Boo into a genuine threat. With both trample and haste, Boo can deal a terrible amount of damage every single turn you keep it in play. More than that, sacrificing Boo allows you to deal an equivalent amount of damage to any target. This didn’t look like much to me at first glance, but it’s been incredible in practice.
The most obvious use is to double up on the damage you’ve already dealt. If you’re up against aplayer (or any deck wanting to leverage life), Boo will feel less like a hamster and more like a T-rex. Sometimes, bringing a player down to single digits in the opening turns of the game will be the right play.
Better yet is targeting a creature on the board. With even a few counters or a single pump spell, Boo can reliably kill some of the biggest creatures in the format, like, , , and . This requires no additional effort, it’s just something that happens when you do what you were already planning to do, and it can create a significant tempo swing against the right target.
Cheekiest of all is the ability to remove stax effects. Normally a deck relying on a Protean Hulk win would be vulnerable to cards like, or , but not this duo. It doesn’t matter what’s standing between you and going infinite, as long as it’s a creature you’re going to be able to remove it with your sac outlet. The sheer utility of the -2 is incredible, and it ensures that even a small Boo will generate additional card advantage via spot removal.
First, and your primary wincon, is. If you know your cEDH history, you know Hulk is one of the most dangerous creatures ever printed. If you don’t, a quick briefing: paired with a sac outlet, Protean Hulk can find any set of creatures with a combined total of six mana. In Minsc & Boo, your targets will be and old faithful, . Provided that Dockside can make at least five Treasures, you can bounce and replay for infinite mana.
One benefit with this pile is that both Dockside and Sabertooth are playable in their own right. Dockside speaks for itself, but even Sabertooth has utility, particularly withand . Drawing into them is rarely a bad thing, something that can’t be said for all Hulk piles, many of which run entirely useless creatures only included for the combo.
A simple but potent source of infinite 2/2s. There’s nothing particularly flashy about this combo, andcan’t be tutored for without , so you won’t be gunning for it too often. But as above, both cards are powerful by themselves. will let you double dip on Dockside, but it can also target or for a huge storm turn, not to mention doing its best impression of when you target . Dualcaster is a little clunkier, but aside from copying opponents’ spells, you can pair it with or for a comically massive Boo.
and isn’t a new combo, and it’s not really played anywhere else. While is great by itself, Haze is entirely useless in most decks. Most decks. In Minsc & Boo, it might be the weakest of the pump spells, but it can still do the trick on a big ritual turn. Now, you can’t tutor for Haze, but if you happen to see it on a piñata turn, you can transition to finding SKA for next turn instead of .
Now, I’ve mentioned a few times that infinite mana will let you draw your whole deck, but without access to a, you may wonder how you actually win the game. You have a few options. You can play every creature and cast a for X = a billion, you can pair with , or you can infinitely cast and recast everything in your deck by resetting your library with .
I have a confession to make: I love the name, I love the art, but I’m not a big fan oflines in cEDH. It’s been the go-to combo for Gruul decks since was first printed, and I don’t think it ever lived up to the initial hype. I think it’s telling that it rarely shows up outside of Gruul, but even if I did think more of it, it clashes with the turbo plan this deck is looking to execute.
My friends at Commander Spellbook have a great explainer on how Snoop lines work, and it’ll help illustrate my two biggest problems with the combo. Namely, the number of slots it requires and the fact that you need the relevant pieces to stay in your deck. Requiring five cards that are useless outside of this specific combo is a heavy deckbuilding cost, one we can avoid given that we have more efficient lines with Hulk. More than that, M&B should be drawing as many cards as it possibly can as often as it can. Trying to maximise your draws while hoping you don’t see four of five combo pieces in your deck is a recipe for disappointment.
What About Stax?
Yeah, what about it? One of the coolest things about Minsc & Boo is that, despite being a
turbo turBOO deck, it plays really nicely in a drawn-out game. While heavy stax pieces can make it impossible to go off with or a big Boo, every turn that passes is three more +1/+1 counters. You not only have an enormous defensive creature if Minsc needs protection, you can bring down a player in one fell swoop when the chance arises.
Think of it like this: every turn that passes represents three more cards on a future turn. Choosing when to cash in and send Boo flying is the biggest and most interesting decision this deck consistently makes. In a staxed out game, that decision is made for you. Just bide your time and watch your hamster get fatter and fatter.
Selvala – a fearsome commander in her own right – is absolute rocket fuel in this deck. I’ve discussed how unassuming cards, likeand , become mass draw spells on the turn you pop Boo, but Selvala will also turn them into rituals. If Minsc & Boo can make read “draw four cards”, then Selvala makes it read “make four mana of any color”. The Heart of the Wilds may take a turn to wind up, but on the turn you go for it, no other permanent can produce quite as much mana.
Meet the hamster with horns. What with Hamster not being a creature type printed on any card other than Boo tokens, you’ll go wanting if you look for them. Changelings are the only option, and none are so cheap and so big as. If you’re a casual player, you already know just how massive this card can get, and if you’re not, think of . Now translate that size into an equal amount of card draws. This is our secondary Boo that will often grow much bigger much quicker. Any hand that can let us play Mauler before we play Minsc is worth its weight in gold.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself having popped Boo for as much as anbut still just shy of actually winning the game that turn. If that’s the case, risk it all and go double or nothing with . It’s dangerous, and a spare hiding in someone’s hand can ruin your day, but come on; this isn’t just a turbo deck, it’s a GRUUL turbo deck. If you’re not willing to put everything on the line, you’re bringing shame to your clan.
might look strange, but it’s deceptively powerful. While Minsc & Boo can make an incredible amount of mana, that mana is split between two sources: dorks and rituals. By and large, the dorks make green mana and the rituals make red mana. Washing red mana into green mana is important when you’re working with a or , and going from green to red will come up when you’re making a lot of mana with dorks or . The wrong mana at the wrong time is an occasional sticking point that Manamorphose can grease nicely. Better yet, it becomes a bona fide ritual when paired with , , , or .
Ham it Up
One of the greatest joys of this deck is watching the expressions on your opponents’ faces. The initial eye-roll, (you’re playing a planeswalker? In Gruul? One that makes… a hamster?) is shortly followed by a squint and a furrowed brow the first time you activate Minsc. So far every opponent I’ve had has picked up my [REDACTED] and read it at least twice before accepting that yes, they did just eat 32 damage from a bald man and a hamster. There’s really nothing like it.
It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s extremely silly. You’ll have to see it to believe it, but I think it has real chops in cEDH, and a few tweaks and couple of combos removed, you’ll have something more suitable for play with casual friends. Even with an average hand and a budget version of the deck, drawing upward of seven cards on turn three or four is par for the course. That’s more cards in a turn than some Gruul players are lucky enough to see in a game. Be thankful!
This list can also be found on Moxfield.
Minsc 2: Scooby Dooby Boo
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Just double checking, you’re serious?
I hear you. I really do. Two colors, a planeswalker, no blue, no black, and it isn’t even the best Hulk deck helmed by these Timeless Heroes. That honor goes to. With a lower cost, an extra color, and a host of incredible one card combos, I think it’s always going to be better for a devoted Hulk plan. Minsc & Boo might use Hulk as its primary win condition, but beelining toward that combo isn’t how this deck wants to play. It wants to throw hamsters at people and draw cards. Is that so much to ask?
Now of course, while Minsc & Boo have been spoiled, they aren’t even in the next set coming out. But through the incredible power of [REDACTED] cards, I’ve been able to playtest this deck, and I am beyond impressed with its performance. What I need to make this deck better, is help. I need fellow pilots who are picking up what I’m putting down, players interested in buying what I’m selling. If you’d like to take part in brewing this deck, show off your own version, or learn more about Gruul at large, come join the rest of the clan on Discord at The Gruul Brew Crew.
That’s all for now, but I’ll be back soon with a review of the best cEDH cards from Streets of New Capenna. And don’t forget you can always reach out to me on twitter if you’d like to discuss this deck or anything else!