Eldraine Standard Upgrade – Gruul Aggro
07 Oct 2019

A deck that’s close to my heart, Gruul Aggro has had some significant upgrades with the new Eldraine Standard cards.

Bigger and Angrier than Ever: Gruul Aggro

First of all, my biggest apologies for just churning out decks now. I was trapped in the world of Azeroth (World of Warcraft Classic) and waded out the last few weeks of Standard rotation.

We saw a lot of decks leave the meta after the rotation, and a lot of new decks replaced these. Some decks received various upgrades to their deck tech, while others had some viable alternatives to the cards that they lost.

Today, we’re taking a look at Gruul Aggro. The list that I have right now comes from MTGO player RagingMachismo, who took this to a 5-0 run in Standard League.

Lands

10 Forest

5 Mountain

4 Stomping Ground

3 Castle Embereth

Creatures

3 Bonecrusher Giant

4 Gruul Spellbreaker

4 Pelt Collector

4 Questing Beast

4 Robber of the Rich

2 Skarrgan Hellkite

4 Zhur-Taa Goblin

Spells

4 Shock

4 Once Upon a Time

2 Collision/Colossus

3 Domri, Anarch of Bolas

Sideboard 

4 Flame Sweep

4 Lava Coil

4 Shifting Ceratops

3 Veil of Summer

No More Ramp?

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Why does the deck no longer run ramp cards such as Gilded Goose and Paradise Druid?

Both cards don’t really fit the theme and they compete against their more aggro-oriented counterparts, which is Pelt Collector and Robber of the Rich.

1-2-3 Curve

Let’s talk about the curve. You have a steady stream of creatures getting you geared up during the first three land drops.

Out of your 25 creatures on this list, you have 19 cards that are on the 1-2-3 curve.

Pelt Collector, which is your one-drop, replaces Llanowar Elves and gives this deck a more aggressive start. This card grows bigger the more you drop creatures that Power greater than Pelt Collector, or whenever a creature dies as well. It then gets Trample once it has enough counters on it.  

Your 2-drops are Zhur-Taa Goblin and Robber of the Rich, and both will trigger Pelt Collector the moment they enter the battlefield.

Zhur-Taa Goblin and Robber of the Rich both have Haste (assuming you pick Haste on Zhur-Taa Goblin’s Riot ability), so they have an immediate impact on the board.

Robber of the Rich is the new card from Throne of Eldraine. For 2-mana, you get a 2/2 creature with Reach and Haste and a very good ability that allows you to exile your opponent’s top card of their library and lets you cast it.

Now here’s the kicker, if you cast an Adventure card using Robber of the Rich’s ability, you also cast the creature card later on.

This is from Gatherer:

If you cast an Adventure with Robber of the Rich, it’s you, not the card’s owner, who may cast the creature later.

And because this is an aggro deck, you’re in a hurry to empty your hand during the first few turns.

For the 3-mana drop, you get Gruul Spellbreaker and Bonecrusher Giant. Gruul Spellbreaker is a card that needs no introduction and it’s on this deck for its aggressive and defensive nature.

So let’s focus on Bonecrusher Giant, another addition from Throne of Eldraine. This Adventure/Creature card is effective in more ways than one because its Adventure, Stomp, is a 2-mana Instant that deals 2 damage to any target and damage can’t be prevented this turn. This gives you a lot of room to go against fog cards such as Root Snare.

And from Gatherer:

Stomp only stops damage from being prevented by effects that specifically use the word “prevent.”

The giant itself, is a 4/3 creature that Shocks the spell’s controller when it becomes the target of a spell.

Questing Beast? Again!

Okay, Questing Beast is pretty much a staple in any deck that runs Green, especially those geared towards aggro or midrange.

The card, which I featured in Mono-Green Garenbrig, packs quite a punch because of its Vigilance, Deathtouch, and Haste. It also bypasses any fog effect. But the cherry on top of this icing is its ability to deals the same amount of damage to target planeswalker that opponent controls when it deals combat damage to the opponent.

But you might be wondering:  Why not just ramp towards Questing Beast?

Another variation from Japan actually runs mana dorks in lieu of certain cards on this deck. You have Gilded Goose and Paradise Druid to help you set up a turn-3 Questing Beast. It ended up on the Top-4 of their Throne of Eldraine” Season First Feast in Osaka.

Playstyle Tips:

  1. The deck has some important triggers, mainly from Pelt Collector, so these shouldn’t be ignored. Note that even if the Pelt Collector is 2/2, a Zhur-Taa Goblin that enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it still triggers Pelt Collector’s ability, making it a 3/3.
  2. If you have cards to trigger Pelt Collector’s ability before combat, play them first because an extra point of damage goes a long way.
  3. Robber of the Rich’s ability triggers regardless even if it’s the only card to attack. The second ability lets you cast the exiled card because Robber of the Rich is a Rogue creature type. Again, this is another important trigger.
  4. From Gatherer, Stomp basically overthrows Protection once it resolves. Refer to this: Protection prevents damage, so protection will be unable to prevent damage after Stomp has resolved. However, this won’t allow a spell or ability to target illegally, even if that spell or ability would cause damage to be dealt. If the chosen target is an illegal target by the time Stomp tries to resolve, the spell won’t resolve. Damage can be prevented as usual.
  5. Your sideboard is pretty straightforward. Flame Sweep against Field decks, Lava Coil against certain aggro decks and Veil of Summer and Shifting Ceratops for control decks.

Conclusion

Gruul Aggro has a shot of becoming a top-tiered deck in Standard right now, even though there are a lot of midrange decks that are more threatening. The upgrades definitely gave this deck a huge power spike, and I can’t wait to take this to the battlefield.



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