Inspiration has a funny way of happening. The story of how Minsc, Beloved Ranger came to be my next commander project begins with Magic the Gathering: Online.
My good friend and I have played draft on Magic: Online for several years and we are very different players. We have diverse opinions on overall strategy, card power, and play sequencing. Deep into pack two, there is Minsc. We had token synergy, few three drops, and, there was nothing else in the pack. Welcome to the draft deck Minsc!
Through two rounds we never saw this card. In the third round, however, we were 1-1 going into game three. In the final game of the final match we finally had Minsc out and our opponent was one card away from stabilizing. Our draw for the turn was Zealous Conscripts and we got to steal their only blocker and smash for big but non-lethal damage. Then I noticed after combat that if we had activated Minsc for zero, our opponent's stolen creature would just be dead. We promptly made their Young Pyromancer a 0/0 and they conceded on the spot.
A Pleasant Surprise
Even though we made other plays throughout the draft that were much more complicated, we were both laughing hard at the Minsc finish. Capturing that moment in a game of Commander then became my goal.
I took a quick look at what other players were doing with Minsc and it was mostly token-based strategies. If you've read my article on The Heart of Commander you know that one of my goals for casual Commander is to play lots of different cards and really make a color identity and Commander stand out. Playing a token deck with Minsc might make strategic sense but it lacks significantly in the flavor department.
A GIANT Solution for a Giant Problem
Coincidentally, I've been looking at updating my GIANTS deck lead by Ruhan of the Fomori with a bunch of cards from Kaldheim. One of my older Commander decks, Brion Stoutarm, had some cards I would like to move into Ruhan and Disharmony effects would be key in Minsc so the decision was made. I added Brion's GIANTS to Ruhan and color identity distinctiveness to Minsc's; in essence, Brion Stoutarm was assimilated.
Fighting and Stealing and More Fighting
I also decided that the main appeal of Green in this deck would be to facilitate the Fight mechanic. So Red is stealing, Green is fighting, but what about White? Well, White is actually Fighting and Stealing.
This is chef's kiss good — we have absolutely nailed the color identity for the theme. Additionally, I made some build choices based on my Points article as well. This deck does not seek to absolutely maximize points in its current form, but it does score fairly well at a virtual Plus Six Points to start.
Give us a Decklist Already!
Why I'm NOT Playing Certain Cards
Most of the choices made here are based around a very specific theme that has been in Magic since day one; stealing a creature. After I steal it, it's unlikely my opponent is getting it back because I am going to sacrifice it for profit, make it Fight another creature to clear the board, or just turn it into a 0/0 with Minsc; and I get a free attack out of the deal! Furthermore, we're getting Points just for playing a fair, casual, and interactive deck. Perusing EDREC we can check the Top 100 list for the colors we are playing.
In Red, we have to go down to the 70th most played card, Zealous Conscripts. This card is obviously good but it is tremendously on theme and an easy include. In this deck, it is a Talruum Minotaur with Act of Treason tacked on.
Green is a lot easier as we only have Greater Good which is 75th. We've avoided the "trap" of Green by simply not choosing to ramp, and, we score two Points for not shuffling our deck.
Autoincludes Make Games More Boring
The 500 pound gorilla in the room is NOT Kogla, the Titan Ape, it's Beast Within and Generous Gift. These are both solid cards and in the top 100 for obvious reasons - they deal with *ANYTHING*! However, if our opponents don't have creatures, we can't steal them. The only fair thing to do would be to give them a creature to steal back anyways. I think both cards fit the theme of the deck enough to be included and are extra interactive in this case. Consider it's significantly more interactive than playing Krosan's Grip or Nature's Claim.
Additionally, while Lightning Greeves and Swiftfoot Boots look great to protect Minsc, they are both in the top 30, too common, and seek to remove interaction, which is against the Heart of Commander. Minsc costs three mana — if it gets removed play more Magic and recast it at five mana a turn or two later.
Even Fun Decks Have Power
Sneaking in at 99 out of Top 100 for Red, Insurrection is a potential game-winner by itself. However, you have both Strixhaven Stadium to make your job easier and Minsc to make it a one-sided board wipe after combat. Want to draw cards? Humble Defector not only gives you cards but, also, allows you to give it to another player at the table who should pass it right back to you. If that player no longer respects team Minsc? Steal the Defector back and give it to someone else!
That's a Good Trade
Bazaar Trader is criminally good in these types of decks. Permanently gaining control of anything you steal is great, but, there is a second mode to the Trader that is perfect for diplomacy. Maybe someone needs a land or a mana rock to be able to stop a threat on the table that you cannot stop — Bazaar Trader to the rescue! If the writing is on the wall and someone is going to kill you, try this: give them a land. Act of Treason your own Trader to untap it, then give them another land. Maybe keeping you around another turn is worth it for two lands. Or two creatures. You know it does not matter who controls a creature; if it's on the board it belongs to you!
An Easy Deck to Power Up
Keep in mind much of what has shaped my version of Minsc is for casual play with a Point structure that I am working around. There are auto-include cards like Khalni Ambush // Khalni Territory and Song-Mad Treachery // Song-Mad Ruins, which would cost a Point but take up no room in the deck so those are simple upgrades if Points are not in play. With big mana, Minsc makes any attacker a lethal one and can easily chase a Point for Largest Creature.
The next time I go to my LGS I'm bringing Minsc along — I think I'm going to have some stories when I return!
But What About the Hamster?
Yes there is a Hamster. The Hamster's name is Boo. I think killing a player with a Hamster is pretty humorous but that is not what inspired this deck. If I won an event and got to make a new rule it would be +1 Point for finishing off a player with Boo. The entire deck would be different, but that is another story, one I hope to tell!
Did this decklist inspire you? Have you played Minsc as your Commander? Reply in the comments!