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Tymna Tana_Aristocrats Hulk [Primer]

Commander / EDH*



Update: swapped mike/ball to anafenza/redcap to make the combo work through Cursed Totem/Linvala and easier to hardcast manually. Delver had to become Golgari Thug to make combos work with pieces in hand.


Hello and welcome to Tymna/Tana Hulkball - an adaptive combo™ deck based around Protean Hulk that can win fast or flex into the late game with a more mid-range approach. Unlike other popular Hulk decks, with Hulkball we're not trying to cheat Hulk into play from our hand or graveyard. Instead, Hulkball uses a host of low-cost, free sac outlets to immediately sac Hulk after cheating him into play via a variety of to-the-battlefield tutors. Should things go wrong, we can slow down the game with a variety of powerful hatebears that can also draw us into our 2nd chance at a win. A healthy set of spot removal evens the odds against fast combo decks (which we tend to be just slightly slower than , in a vacuum) and a handful of stack interaction spells provide just enough reach to give control decks a headache or surprise-nerf a spellslinger deck that expects the non-blue deck at the table to stay passive while they calmly win the game.

Comboing off with Hulkball is, at simplest, a 3 step process which can often be executed on turns 1-3 resulting in a T3 (and sometimes T2) win. The blueprint looks like this:

  1. Play a mana producing dork
  2. Play a sac-outlet
  3. Play a cheat spell to get hulk into play, sac hulk using sac outlet, fetch Mike + Walking Ballista to ping opponents infinitely

(note: the Mike - Ballista does not normally create a kill loop on it's own because Ballista returns from its first trip to the yard as a 1/1 with a single +1/+1 counter, meaning it must use its counter to ping itself to die again. However, with a sac outlet, we can point the single counter at an opponent then sac our 1/1 Ballista to the sac outlet)

In practice, we obviously won't always have all 3 pieces (dork, outlet, cheat tutor) in your opener. Not to worry - we have gas in the command zone (Tymna) to draw into a win and almost all of the best, most versatile tutors in the game.

A closer look at the cards by function (sorted by cmc):

Sac Outlets (Used primarily to sac Hulk for death trigger):

  1. Viscera Seer
  2. Carrion Feeder
  3. Greater Gargadon
  4. Altar of Dementia
  5. Goblin Bombardment
  6. Dross Hopper
  7. Bloodthrone Vampire
  8. Yahenni, Undying Partisan

Here we have a total of 8 free sac outlets - way more than in any other competitive deck. Normally, we’d want to avoid an excess of redundant combo pieces because each one you draw after the first is a “dead card”. In this build however, all dongers are put to use. First and most importantly, we can swing with our cheap creatures after Tymna lands to draw cards. Secondly, we can use an extra body as fodder to stick our Pattern of Rebirth onto and sac to find Hulk. Thirdly, we can find some auxiliary uses for extra bodies on a case-by-case basis: Pitch to Survival, Chrome Mox, Gemstone Caverns, chump block, etc.

The cheat to play spells (Used primarily to cheat hulk into play):

  1. Natural Order
  2. Pattern of Rebirth
  3. Academy Rector (fetching Pattern)
  4. Chord of Calling (fetching Academy Rector)
  5. Eldritch Evolution (fetching Academy Rector)
  6. Birthing Pod (fetching Academy Rector.

So we have a total of 6 cards that can get us to Hulk via the library. This creates a ton of opportunities for a simple 2-card win early on in the game. The most important thing to note is that we will always need at least 1 additional sac-fodder dude on the field to go off. For instance, a common line would be Turn 1 Birds of Paradise, Turn 2 Carrion Feeder, Turn 3 Natural Order (Sacing Birds), fetch Hulk, sac Hulk to Carrion Feeder → win (more on this later). Without the Birds of Paradise to sac to Natural order, we can’t win. The tutor chains are described briefly below (assume the same Turn 1 Birds of Paradise and Turn 2 Carrion Feeder)

*. Cast Natural Order saccing dork, fetch Hulk, sac Hulk

*. Enchant a dork with Pattern of Rebirth, sac dork, Fetch Hulk, sac Hulk

*. Play Academy Rector, Sac Rector fetching Pattern, target dork w/ Pattern and sac, Fetch Hulk, Sac Hulk

The other tutor chains require an additional creature on the field. Generally this will be Tymna, cast on Turn 3.

*. Cast Eldritch Evo saccing Tymna as cost, fetch Rector, proceed as above

*. Cast Chord of Calling fetching Rector, proceed as above

*. Cast Birthing Pod and Activate saccing Tymna, fetch Rector, Proceed as above

Some notes about what tutor to use:

Sometimes we will have a choice about what cheat-to-play method we want in order to stick get Hulk into play. This happens, for example, when we open the game with sac outlet and something like Imperial Seal, Vampiric Tutor, or Gamble in hand. Academy Rector is often the best choice. For one, Rector will miss many of the commonly played counterspells i.e. Negate, Spell Pierce, Flusterstorm, and Swan Song. If Rector is countered, we do not lose any of our board (i.e. sac’d dork). Also, if we are holding Necromancy or Body Snatcher we’ll have to oppotunity to take a 2nd shot through Rector if the first cast is countered. Additionally, if we lose Rector, Pattern is still viable. Conversely, if we tutor up Pattern and it gets countered we won’t be able to win through Eldritch Evo, Pod, or Chord. If we tutor Natural Order, we keep the Rector - Pattern duo intact but if we get countered we will lose a dork as part of the cost of casting. Just small considerations but important.

Since we’re on the subject, I’d like to talk a bit about something I call “combo insulation”. This is a phrase that can be used to describe a deck’s ability to combo out the 2nd time when the first attempt is disrupted in-progress. For example, if a UBx storm player tries to cast Ad Nauseam and they get countered - it’s a bummer but their win-con’s are still intact within their deck. They can still tutor up Doomsday and win. A deck like Food Chain Prossh, however, usually has to cast Food Chain and face the chance of a counter right then and there on their win-con (i.e. their combo is not well insulated). Hulkball is well insulated - if any of the cheat-tutors get countered we can proceed to the next one and still win the same way. If any of the cheat-tutors resolve, no more spells are required to win and the the combo finish is very hard to disrupt.

So what about that combo finish? Well let’s assume we’ve assembled Hulk + Sac oulet on the board. Now it’s time to win. The simplest way is to sac Hulk fetching Mike + Ballista as mentioned before. This wins provided they don’t remove our sac outlet in response to Hulk trigger. If they do, we’re still ok because of an amazing card called Body Snatcher. Let me sing the praises of Body Snatcher for a hot minute (note: much of this tech was originally developed by Sickrobot as part of his Varolz deck).

If our sac outlet gets spot removed as discussed above, we can use our Hulk trigger to fetch Sac Outlet + Body Snatcher + Any 1 drop. Then we can sac Body Snatcher in response to it’s ETB, allowing it’s LTB trigger to resolve first off the stack and reanimate Hulk. We then sac Hulk again to bring out Mike + Ballista.

If our sac outlet remains intact but instead we are facing on-board graveyard hate like Deathrite Shaman or Scavenging Ooze, we would just fetch Abolisher + Body Snatcher to nullify the abilities..then proceed to sac Snatcher to bring back Hulk.

What else can Body Snatcher do? Well if we want to combo off and Hulk is in our graveyard we can fetch Snatcher instead and then sac it to bring back Hulk for Mike + Ballista. It also enables a simple combo line with Survival of the Fittest (provided one of your sac outlets is on the field) → pitch a creature for Hulk, pitch Hulk for Snatcher, cast Snather, sac Snatcher for Hulk, sac Hulk for Mike + Ballista.

What if there is a Null Rod in play, preventing us from using Ballista's ability? Well in this case we bring out Snatcher + Leonin Relic Warder to nerf the Rod, then proceed with the combo.

The addition of Golgari Thug allows the combo to be executed even if Mikaeus is in our hand or if one of our combo pieces is in the graveyard. To do this you fetch Body Snatcher + Golgari Thug, then sac Thug to shuffle Mike or Ballista in from the graveyard. Proceed to sac Snatcher to bring Hulk back, sac and get Mike + Ballista.

We can even configure the deck to combo off with a combo piece (MIke or Ballista) in exile by adding Riftsweeper into a flex slot and fetching Riftsweeper + Body Snatcher and then proceeding as above. This is amazing!

Plan B

In a way, the "insulated" nature of the combo allows us a firm Plan B: Assemble the combo manually. It really isn't that hard to Tutor and stick Mike + Ballista. At 6 mana total, we are way below the mana burden of something like Kiki + Conscripts. Plan C is a trickier combo. Using our non-creature sac outlets, we can assemble a combo with Leonin Relic Warder + an Animate Dead effect.

If you can stick either Goblin Bombardment or Altar of Dementia, then reanimate Leonin Relic Warder from the yard, you can execute an infinite number of sacrifices to Altar or Bo*mbardment as follows:

  • Animate Dead targeting Warder
  • Warder ETB triggers targeting Animate Dead
  • With Warder ETB on the stack, sacrifice Warder
  • Warder LTB triggers
  • Resolve LTB to bring Animate Dead back
  • Loop the above steps

Hate Package

We have 17 - 20 slots of interaction to protect and disrupt. These must be adjusted to the meta. In the blind, I prefer hatebears that can draw cards with Tymna so Hushwing and Wingmare get the nod along with powerhouses like Linvala and Aven Mindcensor. Note that another advantage of having so many sac outlets is that any symmetrical hatebear can be used liberally and sac’d when the time comes. This means that Containment Priest is a fine option in metas where Yisan, Reanimator, or other Hulk decks are present. Note: the deck works best when the creature count stays above 30, so adjust as needed.

Wrap Up

I hope you enjoyed this mini-primer. I intend to add some videos of comp gameplay piloting this deck and maybe a section on mulligans. I really do think Hulkball has the consistency, redundancy, and pace to challenge at the strongest tables and win in a variety of metas. Good luck and let me know of any improvements you think could be made. No deck is ever truly finished. Thank you to Kahno and Sickrobot for your valuable insight in developing this deck and to the Tymna/Tana discord channel for your continued input and support.


Updates Add


Top Ranked
  • Achieved #32 position overall 5 years ago
Date added 5 years
Last updated 4 years

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

51 - 0 Rares

21 - 0 Uncommons

17 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 1.84
Tokens 2/2 C Artifact Creature Spawn, Saproling 1/1 G, Spirit 1/1 C
Folders Take Note, EDH, 2. Primers, 3. cEDH Decklists, Uncategorized, Competitive, cEDH, research, make it, cEDH Ideas, See all 16
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Revision 68 See all

4 years ago)

-1 Ad Nauseam main
+1 Animate Dead main
+1 Blood Artist main
-1 Necropotence main