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Epic Experiment – Protean Hulk
Hello EDHREC fans! I’m Bernardo Melibeu, and this is Epic Experiment, a series where we throw all common sense aside and experiment with some unusual strategies, changing how we normally build our deck. Is it going to work? Who knows?! We’re making science here. When you’re an Izzet mage, blowing things up is half the fun.
For this experiment, we’ll be straying away from legendary creatures. Instead we’ll be building around one of the most infamous creatures in the format:
When Protean Hulk dies, search your library for any number of creature cards with a total converted mana cost 6 or less and put them onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library
Hulk’s ability to fetch creatures is extremely powerful; it’s far too easy to grab a game-winning lineup.
He needs sacrifice outlets, otherwise he is vulnerable to exile-based removal.
Be careful against permanent graveyard hate, becauseactually needs to go to the graveyard for his ability to trigger.
There are ways to play it as a value engine, especially in low-to-the-ground creature-based decks.
The Old Formula
Let’s check out the usual habitat wherecan be seen:
As we can see, black is a very common color associated with Hulk strategies. The fact that the Golgari color pair not only offers a great creature tutor suite but also has the necessary sacrifice outlets to enable its death trigger makes it very desirable for Hulk players (although they tend to play many colors).
The Epic Ingredients
With Magic’s entire creature pool at our disposal, how can we breakin a way that hasn’t been discovered yet? How about an army of zero-drop creatures? Let’s say we get our Hulk destroyed and grab a bunch of zero-drops plus and ? Or , , and ? With enough tiny creatures, those little cuts will all add up to one big blowout!
Now that we’ve established our combo, let’s see which commanders can help us the most. With the above pieces, we’re in four colors (black and white from, red from , and green from ). Given the self-sufficient nature of the combo and the color-heavy requirement for its pieces, our commander choices won’t directly affect our main gameplan. This leads us to look for alternatives that either will indirectly support our strategy, like a draw engine, or will provide an alternative win condition in case we need it.
The partner combination ofand , while not very splashy, could help us smooth out our curve with a lot of card draw and early aggression. Considering everything we’re trying to do, though, , is not all that impressive. In games where we have a slow start, she could help out with some early tokens. , on the other hand, is a great option for creature-based decks that want to convert those early drops into cards and can be quite useful in slow starts too. Ultimately, though, I think we can find something a smidge better.
Expanding into all five colors, we have. She isn’t directly necessary to the Hulk combo, but she does provide some alternative combos that we could use with some of our pieces. Nah, I still think we can find something else that fills the holes in the strategy…
Here we go:is a crazy card. He can provide a one-time wheel effect by transforming into , and even a one-shot kill with the classic combo of and (more on that later). He’s a good middle ground between support to our combo while also being a self-sufficient combo engine on his own.
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This is a tutor-heavy deck. Its main goal is to findASAP, along with some way to sacrifice it. As such, we’re running a diverse tutor suite, with repeatable options like and , plus one-shot catch-all tutors like . Luckily for this strategy, there’re plenty of options that pull double duty by also being a sacrifice outlet, like and .
Speaking of sacrifice outlets, we’ve got plenty! Most of them abuse the stack so we don’t give our opponents the chance to respond by exiling our Hulk before we can kill it.and can help us hard cast by sacrificing one of our creatures. and are both good ways to trade some extra creatures on board for cards.
For our Scion package, we have, a standalone card that can wheel us out of a bad hand. The second is the Voltron option.We can strike our enemies down with either Infect or with commander damage. If we attack with Scion, we can activate its ability hold priority, then activate it again. The first activation finds us and transforms Scion into it. Scion loses its original activated ability, but remember: we still have that other transformation activation on the stack. Before we let Scion transform again, we can use its new firebreathing ability provided by Moltensteel to pump up its power. Then we let the second transformation activation resolve, turning Scion into either or . Despite the transformations, Scion still registers as our commander, and even though his base power and toughness might change, the firebreathing power increase still applies to whatever he finally ends up being, meaning you’ll either poison an enemy to death or double-strike them into oblivion, depending on which dragon you chose.
All this is is a backup to the Hulk plan. We have many ways to find Hulk, including a fullchain of creatures that can lead right up into it, but if all else fails, Scion will help us combo out another way.
I’m not gonna lie, we need to mulligan aggressively with this deck: there are a lot of “dead” cards here with all the Hulk-combo-specific zero-drops. Keeping a seven-card hand with three Kobolds is worse than keeping a random six-card hand.
For our early game, only play out creatures that provide value, such asand . In general, we want to hold off on playing our zero-drop creatures like and Co. for as long as possible: they’re the win conditions when we stick a or , after all.
By the mid-game we should have found a tutor or two which will allow us to start looking for ways to combo out. Around this time, having our commander wheel out bad hands by transforming into a new Dragon can be pretty useful – as is the threat of the one-shot kill – but we have to be sure that we’re making the right choice each time we activate Scion because once that last activation of the turn resolves, we’re stuck with our last decision until the end of the turn.
We’re very dangerous in the late game; the threat of a sudden Hulk is high, especially when we have the mana to hard cast it. Our main problem will be the potential to have drawn too many of the zero-drop creatures to stall us out in our search for the Hulk. However, once we stick Hulk and find our ping-the-table-to-death cards, we can just play all those no-mana creatures for free anyway!
If you’d like to try out some variations on the above list, the first thing that comes to mind is adding what I refer to as a “graveyard” package. Using massive reanimation spells, like , we can assemble the same combo, only coming from the graveyard instead of our library. For this to work, we need a self-mill engine (like or the and combo) to get all our targets into the graveyard. Investing more in wheel effects can also work, but some redundancy is advised in order to not being stuck with a bad hand because of a combo piece. is also a great addition to a list that has so many dead cards that we don’t always want to draw.
That’s it for this Epic Experiment! What do you think about this list? Did we breakin a new way? Do you have any questions about the deck? Which cards did you like? Which didn’t you? Was the Epic Experiment a success? Please let me know in the comments below!