Power and Toughness—Gruul, BS, and the American Way

Just kidding about the American Way, nationalism is silly.

Kadar and I are stoked and leave our studios plenty early for Twenty Sided and the pre FNM early draft. We are anxious to see what the new set has to offer us in the more selective Limited format of draft. We test some Modern matches (Dredge, Burn, or Pod against whatever is available to test against). Then we draft. I go 1-2 with what I thought was a good Gruul deck, but one needs bombs it seems and I had none. When the third match is lost Nick, everyone else, and I go get burgers at Blue Collar, pound them, and head back for the FNM draft. Nick has to head out for a movie with his girlfriend, the rest of us stay on to join the 300 Mages now present at 20SS. Standard is not even offered at this FNM, which is fine as we all want to draft.

I sit down and dream draft the better version of the earlier Gruul deck.

In all my 32 years of life on this planet, in this dimension of reality, I have never drafted a deck so smash-y, so obliterate-y, or so thoroughly fun to play as the following:

2 x Burning-Tree Emissary—I got both of these pretty late. This card is insane.
Skarrg Guildmage—My all time favorite guildmage.
Rumblehulk—Its Bloodrush is good and as a fatty he’s not bad either.
Gruul Charm—I never got to cast this but I imagine it’s great.
Zhur-Taa Swine—I would take a couple of these as its Bloodrush is an awesome removal spell.
Wasteland Viper—He’s cute and messes up combat.
3 x Disciple of the Old Ways—This card is fast and powerful and good.
Scab-Clan Charger—I almost always used this card for its Bloodrush ability.
Ripscale Predator—A soft bomb.
2 x Hellraiser Goblin—The hopes I had for this card were so high, though I only managed to cast him once and he was instantly taken out by removal. My fantasy is casting him, casting Burning-Tree Emissary, and another creature and swinging for a shit ton.
2 x Ember Beast—In a deck this aggro I was totally into this three mana 3/4. He’s hard to kill and another body that must be dealt with.
Scorchwalker—Not bad, almost always used for its Bloodrush ability.
Massive Raid—With this many creatures its a fantastic removal or win the game spell.
2 x Madcap Skills—I can’t say enough about this card.
Pitfight—Pretty good removal
Act of Treason—I never cast this.
Gruul Ragebeast—Great.
Gruul Guildgate
16 lands

Sideboard Cards of Note:

Boros Guildgate—Early on in the draft I figured Gruul would dry up as it did in the earlier draft so I took some Boros cards.
Sacred Foundry—Pack one, pick one. I cashed this in and another draft became 66% off.
Ordruun Veteran—I’m told this card is bad but he seems so good! Maybe if he was only three mana?
Skyknight Legionnaire—Seems like a good card. Evasion, haste, awesome. I have yet to play this card.

Round One vs Travis’s Simic-ish Deck

(I don’t remember much other than it was not aggro and prone to stall then smash with evasion)

This is really the only deck that gives me trouble. I think I totally lose game one to an impressive board stall mixed with some durdley bullshit, probably some evasive attacks, and more lousiness. G2 I did really well. G3 Trav had me on the ropes, or something like the ropes, and I was able to attack for exactsies when he had to double block my 6/5 monster to not die, freeing up my other lil’monsters to slap him about the neck and face. He was pretty bummed it seemed. He’s the kinda limited player that brings his own lands. Sometimes I’m that kind of limited player, too. Not lately, mind you, but sometimes.

Round Two vs Dane’s Orzhov deck(?)

Not to be a dick but our games were so fast I can’t be sure I know what he was playing. It seemed like an Orzhov deck that couldn’t get its shit together.

Game one on turn two I play Burning-Tree Emissary and use the floated mana for Madcap Skills. Two turns of swinging for five and laying out more creatures induces a scoop. G2, I play a land and say go. T2 land and Wasteland Viper. T3 I swing with Viper, play Burning-Tree Emissary, floating RG, play Burning-Tree Emissary, floating RG, drop a land, play Ember Best. Superior ground forces overwhelm Dane and I don’t really remember him playing any cards.

Round 3 vs Monique “Nemesis” Garraud’s Orzhov

Game one I overpower Monique with little monsters and Bloodrushing. G2 We get into a pretty jammed board state. Removal arrives and Bloodrushing happens. I end up giving Monique an extra draw step by playing Rubblehulk instead of Bloodrushing him towards an unlocked creature. She draws for her turn then scoops. We had agreed to split packs and I open bubkiss. Monique is always in my top five favorite players to share a match with despite our mutual nemesis status.

This deck is SO FAST!!! I never really got to play Hellraiser Goblin so can only imagine how scary he is with some of the fatter bodies and how helpful he is to turn each creature into a pain in the arse the moment it enters the battlefield. I can also imagine times when Hellraiser isn’t so good. Ya know, like when your creatures are all out classed, blocked, and dead. I went home on a high. I texted Jen telling her I 3-0’d FNM. She sent me a “woo! kick ass!” back. That night I slept like a really sleepy guy who falls asleep fast and stays asleep for a long time. I woke up, got outta bed, did my business, and headed out for the 11am Sealed release tournament at 20SS.

I go 0-3 on Saturday in matches.

The mighty has fallen, etc., yadda yadda.

I 0-1 drop the 11am Sealed. My pool is shitty and durdley Simic (not explosive evolve Simic). I have some inconsequential and kinda sick Dimir cards but whatever. My deck is a pile. I play Eric “Day Two” Wong. He’s John Fung’s buddy, notorious for Day Two’ing Grand Prix Atlantic City and dropping so he can go to the casinos. I heard Eric and John talking about what a garbage deck Eric had, the crappy cards in it, as they were at my table. Round one Eric totally slaughters me and I don’t want to play this deck that I hate so I drop, and sell my cards back to the store (enough for a free draft later). Lauren, one of the owners of Twenty Sided Store, tells me that there are new players in the tournament and now one will get a bye because of the odd number me dropping will make. She’s trying to lovingly guilt me into staying in. I say it’s better they get a free win than play me and this festering pustule of cards I have no affection for. She laughs and I sign up for the first draft.

Jason Chan’s on my right. Chase is two people to my left. I have maybe six pretty good Gruul cards, drafting them all early. Then something goes unalterably wrong and I draft the worst deck of my illustrious career. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Thrull Parasite—Not bad.
Dutiful Thrull—Not bad. How sick would this card be if it had Extort?!
Shadow Alley Denizen (FOIL! YEAH!)—Meh?
Gutter Skulk —Grizzly Bear.
Slate Street Ruffian—Sigh.
Undercity Informer—Sigh.
Kingpin’s Pet—Really, just one?
Zarichi Tiger—Kadar’s favorite.
2 x Balustrade Spy—Yeah two is not the right number of this card to have in one’s deck. Zero probably is.
Horror of the Dim—Sigh.
Sepulchral Promordial—I was never even remotely close to casting this creature.
Killing Glare—”Fine.”
Smite—Worst card ever.
4 x Contaminated Ground—I needed to fill out my deck and as Orzhov can’t splash Gruul, I did what I had to do; I’m not proud of it.
Orzhov Keyrune—Probably pretty good in a better deck.
Purge the Profane—Bad.
Grisley Spectacle—I never saw this card.
Merciless Eviction—Pack one, pick one. Useless.
18 lands

In round one, game one, an infinitely apologetic Chase watches me play a land each of my two turns and then never again this game. Despite casting Contaminated Ground on three of Chase’s lands, I lost. G2 I mull a two land and all four or five mana spells hand, then a one Plains all black spells hand, then a zero land five card hand, and keep a Plains and three black cards hand. When turn four produces no mana beyond the first you scoop’em up and this is what I do. Did you read above where it says I have 18 lands in the deck? Yeah. I dunno what happened.

R2 I lose to Rob Kofsky. Three spells are played on my side to accompany the 15 lands I have on the field. G2 I prematurely scoop so I can throw my cards in the garbage, leave the store, and go paint for a few hours before going home.

Sunday was a brilliant day of painting. I interrupted this progress to go back to 20SS, sign up for another draft at around 5pm, and put up more fantastic numbers. 0-2 drop. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?

Meh, you win some you lose some, right? Right. I continue to think about which Standard deck I’d like to play and here are the three I’d consider, keeping my interest in smashing in mind:

Naya Humans (First Place @ SCG this weekend)

3 x Frontline Medic
3 x Selesnya Charm
3 x Searing Spear
3 x Restoration Angel
3 x Nearheath Pilgrim
4 x Silverblade Paladin
4 x Cavern of Souls
3 x Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 x Huntmaster of the Fells
3 x Clifftop Retreat
4 x Mayor of Avabruck
4 x Champion of the Parish
2 x Kessig Wolf Run
4 x Avacyn’s Pilgrim
3 x Rootbound Crag
2 x Stomping Ground
4 x Temple Garden
3 x Forest
1 x Plains
1 x Sacred Foundry

Sideboard
2 x Boros Charm
2 x Rest in Peace
2 x Centaur Healer
1 x Zealous Conscripts
2 x Pillar of Flame
2 x Garruk Relentless
1 x Fiend Hunter
2 x Oblivion Ring
1 x Ray of Revelation

Human Reanimator (Second Place @ SCG)

4 x Cartel Aristocrat
4 x Grisly Salvage
4 x Angel of Glory’s Rise
4 x Cavern of Souls
1 x Cathedral Sanctifier
4 x Huntmaster of the Fells
4 x Fiend Hunter
4 x Unburial Rites
2 x Clifftop Retreat
4 x Woodland Cemetery
3 x Sunpetal Grove
1 x Blood Crypt
1 x Godless Shrine
4 x Stomping Ground
1 x Overgrown Tomb
2 x Temple Garden
4 x Farseek
4 x Mulch
1 x Sacred Foundry
4 x Faithless Looting

Sideboard
3 x Slaughter Games
4 x Appetite for Brains
3 x Cathedral Sanctifier
2 x Purify the Grave
3 x Ray of Revelation

and

Jund Aggro

4 x Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 x Experiment One
3 x Deathrite Shaman
4 x Dreg Mangler
4 x Searing Spear
2 x Thundermaw Hellkite
3 x Flinthoof Boar
4 x Strangleroot Geist
4 x Hellrider
2 x Tragic Slip
2 x Woodland Cemetery
2 x Dragonskull Summit
4 x Rootbound Crag
4 x Blood Crypt
4 x Stomping Ground
4 x Overgrown Tomb
3 x Forest
1 x Mountain
2 x Abrupt Decay

Sideboard
3 x Skullcrack
2 x Gruul Charm
1 x Rakdos Charm
1 x Deathrite Shaman
2 x Golgari Charm
2 x Tribute to Hunger
2 x Rolling Temblor
2 x Abrupt Decay

I guess we’ll see if Standard happens and if I can pull a deck together. I’ve had it up to here *puts hand on forehead* with Limited already.

Hugs not drugs,
Matt
MTGO: The_Obliterator
www.mattjonesrules.com

* Though unrelated to my article I set Lord of the Void as the “featured image” because it looks totally awesome and I don’t see myself ever being able to play it. He needs some special attention I think. The art of the Lord accurately portrays how I felt after  my 0-1 drop from the sealed event and my minions of anger, frustration, and rage assembled as the day proceeded and my Icarian plunge into torment and sadness began.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Power and Toughness—Gruul, BS, and the American Way”
  1. David McCoy says:

    Do you think Burning-Tree Emissary could be constructed-playable in a Gruul deck? I really want to try, but she doesn’t lead into Strangleroot Geist of Ash Zealot very well…which I assume was the point.

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  1. […] also continued our coverage of the release of Gatecrash on Tuesday, when Matt Jones recounted the highs and lows of GRUUL SMASH, followed by an (always appreciated) guest post from Jeremy […]



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