Gruul Midrange – Mono Red’s Bigger Brother
Stompy. Angry. This deck goes by different names, and I thought that it deserves a feature on this blog. I give you. Gruul Midrange.
Gruul Midrange Is Big, Heavy, and Angry!
Gruul Midrange is probably one of the best decks in the metagame right now, and has consistently ended up in top spots of Premiere tournaments such as Mythic Championship III Las Vegas and various MCQ’s around the world.
The decklist that I am about to present you is what I am currently running on paper, and is based on Snapcaster-Bolt’s MTGO list (but with minor revisions).
2 Vivien Reid
In my list, I removed 1 copy of Shock and 1 copy of Lightning Strike to make way for 2 copies of Domri’s Ambush.
And I’ll explain why I did such that in the next few sections.
The Ramp Cards: Llanowar Elves and Paradise Druid
Out of the 25 creature cards on this deck, you have 8 creatures that provide you with Ramp ability.
Llanowar Elves are almost guaranteed first-turn drops to ramp up to your bigger creatures as early as turn 3.
Paradise Druid is a 2/1 body that has Hexproof as long as it’s untapped that gives you one mana of any color, which provides you with mana-fixing.
Both of these cards are extremely punishing when left unchecked for the early turns.
Which is why some players reserve spells like Shock and creatures like Goblin Chainwhirler to get rid of these.
Early Threats: Gruul Spellbreaker, Nullhide Ferox, Rekindling Phoenix
With Paradise Druid and Llanowar Elves, you can drop these creatures as early as turn 3.
Gruul Spellbreaker, Nullhide Ferox, and Rekindling Phoenix are your token 4-drops for this deck that usually provides you with early threats.
Gruul Spellbreaker is more of a defensive card than anything else because it gives you and itself Hexproof until end of turn. Having trample and the potential to be a 4/4 body provides a lot of value for this deck.
Nullhide Ferox is every Esper Control’s worst nightmare because discarding it means just putting it on the battlefield for free. And just like Spellbreaker, it has Hexproof.
Rekindling Phoenix doesn’t need any introduction. It’s a 4/3 flyer that’s difficult to remove if you’re just going to do damage to it. It’s a card that needs to be exiled to get rid of it permanently and to render its recursion useless.
Midgame to Late Game Threats: Skarrgan Hellkite and Growth-Chamber Guardian
As the game progresses, there are two other creatures that are going to be just as painful as the others.
Growth-Chamber Guardian may be a 2-drop creature, but I play it when I have 5-mana available to use its Adapt ability.
Here’s the kicker, when a counter is placed on Growth-Chamber Guardian, you can look for another copy of the card and put it into your hand.
This ability helps you shuffle and filter your library during the later stages of the game, and can come quite handy.
Skarrgan Hellkite is your 5-drop flyer that can be hasted for 4/4 or turn it into a 5/5 machine gun. Its ability is quite potent against pesky planeswalkers like Teferi, Time Raveler that prevents you from playing spells at instant speed or even a 1-counter Narset, Parter of Veils.
Planeswalker: Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Domri, Anarch of Bolas is a potent threat against control decks that tries their best to counter your creatures.
For a three-drop PW, his value is insane.
Its +1 ability gives you one additional Red or Green mana that you can use to cast creature spells. These creature spells can’t be countered.
Its -2 ability easily removes smaller creatures from the battlefield.
Oh did I mention that your creatures get +1/+0 when Domri’s in play? Yeah, it’s an emblem with a cannon.
Surprise Twist: Domri’s Ambush
The reason why this card is in my deck is because it’s an Atarka’s Command that gives your creature a counter and can be a potent removal card for 2 mana.
And we all know how annoying Atarka’s Command was when it was in Standard a few years ago.
Your creatures have at least 3 damage at any given turn and can easily deal out 4 damage when Domri’s Ambush is used.
Its sideboard is built around providing specific answers for various deck techs.
Vivien Reid is boarded in for creatures like Lyra Dawnbringer, Hydroid Krasis, and even opponent’s Rekindling Phoenix’s and Skarrgans.
Thrashing Brontodon is quite handy for Experimental Frenzy and Oath of Kaya. They also answer Legion’s Landing and History of Benalia. On top of that, it’s a 3/4 body for a 2-drop.
Ugin, the Ineffable gives you card advantage and targeted removal (for creatures or Planeswalkers), making it a potential threat against control and Superfriends decks.
Gruul Midrange’s goal is to drop big and angry creatures as early as possible to finish the game without losing the ability to survive late-game onslaughts.
To maximize the deck’s potential, here’s what you need to do:
- Drop Llanowar Elves and Paradise Druid as early as you can. You want to ramp into your big creatures before turn 5.
- Nullhide Ferox’s ability to not be discarded is a game-changer. I lost a game because my opponent Thought Erasure’d two Nullhide Ferox’s and I didn’t put them in the battlefield.
- Against control decks, it’s best to choose the Haste option instead of the +1/+1 counter for your Riot Your goal here is to drop their life total to 0 as fast as you can.
- Growth-Chamber Guardian is usually reserved when you have 5-mana available so it can search for another copy readily.
I don’t think Gruul Midrange is going to lose any power real soon, and with Core Set 2020 right around the corner, it might get another power spike.
Here’s CFB’s Matthew Nass’s take on Gruul Midrange: