Gruul Landfall Adventures Deck Guide
Uro is gone! This change has put a bit of a damper on some of the top tier decks like 4-Color Omnath and Sultai, and left the meta wide open for the moment. While I was investigating what decks would move up, there were a few decks that looked poised to take the top spots: Embercleave decks, Adventure decks, and Rogues all looked promising.
This led to me noticing a divide in the aggro community over which Gruul deck was the best: Gruul Adventures or Gruul Landfall. I was unsure myself, as both decks are doing similar things and have similar cores, so I started messing with those cores to see if I could mix them together.
I saw a few decks that were so close to doing this already, but they had a few issues that I couldn’t get past. One was running less lands that entered in untapped and cutting powerful threats in favor of a lot of the flip card lands that enter tapped. Aggro-101 is you need a lot of lands to enter untapped. Spikefield Hazard was a central card for a long time, due to its ability to exile a Uro when it was sacrificed to its own ability. Now that Uro is gone, it’s lost a lot of stock so I think we can finally trim some of these effects to play more untapped lands and threats that can win the game.
Combining the decks and “trimming the fat” left me with a deck that had the early game threats like Akoum Hellhound and Brushfire Elemental that the Landfall build had, combined with the ability the Adventure build had to refuel with Edgewall Innkeeper by casting our midgame threats like Bonecrusher Giant and Lovestruck Beast. Those two cores combined make a monster of a deck that most decks just can’t compete with.
The Landfall creatures hit insanely hard. With a single land drop, Akroum Hellhound becomes a 2/3 for 1 mana and, with the aid of a fetch, it becomes a 4/5. This enables it to beat threats far beyond its mana rate. Brushfire Elemental’s evasion ability is extremely relevant, almost like having 8 Questing Beasts in the deck, but trading the other abilities off for costing 2 less and the ability to be a 5/5 with the aid of a fetch land. Kazandu Mammoth has the ability to become a 7/7 with a single fetchland, and in some rare cases a 9/9, if you play a fetch and don’t crack it, then play another fetch the following turn and crack it, and is perhaps the best modern pairing with Embercleave.
A deck that can grind but has a “Oops, I win” factor is what many pros look for in decks. It is why a deck like Death’s Shadow is always so popular in the modern format – it has solid cheap interaction and can just go off and win with a huge Death’s Shadow sometimes, and this deck has a very similar strategy in mind.
Why Play This Deck?
This is a deck that does it all and can go the distance. It can go fast and run over decks, it can grind, and it can reach the mid-late game and close it out with an unanswered Embercleave. It really is the best of both worlds as far as Gruul decks go, and has a lot more reach than the mono red decks since it just has bigger threats like Lovestruck Beast and Questing Beast, and a quality of late-game staying power that Mono Green and Mono Red could only dream of.
Being proactive against the nonaggressive strategies can overwhelm them unless the find a sweeper to stabilize. Almost every creature in the deck is a huge threat that can close out a game all on its own. The added benefit of being able to rebuild with Edgewall Innkeeper means that in a lot of situations you are forcing your opponent to trade 1 for 1 with you. The problem with this is that a lot of aggressive stratagies that try this eventually get overpowered by the more powerful top decks from the Control deck, but we’re going big enough that Innkeeper will naturally present more pressure.. Following up an unanswered Innkeeper with a unanswered Bonecrusher Giant or Lovestruck Beast is a tall order for the control deck to keep up with. Even if they hit a planeswalker and try to snowball with that, Good ol’ Questing Beast has your back!
In the games we don’t just curve out with powerful threats into an Embercleave, we have the ability to set up a Edgewall Innkeeper, remove a creature with Bonecrusher Giant’s Stomp adventure, then cast the Bonecrusher Giant on turn 3 and draw a card, for a ton of value! This line gives the deck a huge edge over other aggressive strategies.
The deck makes decision-making hard for nonaggressive decks. In any situation where they do not just have a sweeper and are forced to interact with their spot removal, then they are forced to choose to deal with the Innkeeper so we do not get extra value from casting the creatures, or deal with our powerful threats who are just smashing face. It is important to remember that Innkeeper’s draw ability triggers on cast – even if our spell is countered, we still draw a card. It is also in these nonaggressive matchups that I will often just cast my adventure creature to draw another card, while applying pressure.
The hardest matchup I have found is Rogues. This is because they apply pressure while also having a ton of interaction. To try to hedge this matchup, I run 3 copies of Shatterskull Smashing and don’t think it is crazy to run a 4th – being able to take out 2 of their threats before they get started helps a lot. If you really fear this matchup, you can add more hate targeted at Rogues in the sideboard, but if I have one bad matchup then I can live with it, if I feel like I am solid against every other deck.
Check out the video to see the deck in action, and get some hands-on advice!
Cards I Am Not Playing
Lotus Cobra: Early on I was playing the Cobra and its acceleration was fantastic, but ultimately I found it to be unnecessary. Yeah, ramping out threats against a deck with no sweeper can be amazing, but there are times where you just don’t have the cards to ramp out. If you do play against a sweeper, it often causes you to overextend because if you have it, then it’s optimal to keep going and get use out of it, or else it is just a bad 2-drop.
Beanstalk Giant: Using him to fetch a land and trigger landfall is cute, but unnecessary. You will almost never cast the adventure part and finding a land on turn 3 is rarely what you want to do with your mana when the deck has so many other options. The landfall cards are a small part of your strategy, and cutting other parts to maximize cuteness isn’t what I want to be doing.
Turntimber Symbiosis: I tried it and barely ended up casting it or felt the need to. In any situation I did cast it, I was already in a losing scenario. I think this card would have a home in a bigger monster deck with something like Terror of the Peaks and better targets to fetch up in general.
Robber of the Rich: This card is great and I would play it if I had room, but I don’t think it is better than anything we are currently playing.
I find this to be a positive match up for us, perhaps 60/40 in our favor. Remove threats with Bonecrusher Giant and Shatterskull Smashing Game 1 and wall with cards like Lovestruck Beast. Always expect an Embercleave and block accordingly. Post-board, we cut Hellhound and Rimrock because they are bad blockers and instead bring in more removal in Redcap Melee and Thundering Rebuke. Scavenging Ooze is a great threat that gains us some life back.
This matchup is even. They can get super interactive hands with Bonecrushers and Brazen Borrowers with a Lucky Clover, and we generally lose those games, but we can just as easily curve out or swarm the board and win. Post-board we bring in Shieldbreaker to remove Clover. Everything else just seems lackluster. Bringing in Phoenix and Klothys does nothing versus Borrowers, so just leave them in the board and go for it.
Note: If you don’t fear control, you can play a few copies of Heroic Intervention over Klothys in the board to help this matchup out some.
Any control matchup is very favorable in my opinion. I would say 70/30 in our favor. Just apply pressure and be mindful of sweepers and you should be fine. Post-board, we cut the Giant because it is probably our worst card in the matchup, and bring in 2 resilient threats. Klothys just sits there and clocks the opponent turn after turn. Phoenix of Ash is a threat that we can just keep bringing back, and its ability to pump itself makes it impossible to ignore in the late game, even foir a turn.
|+3 Thunderous Rebuke||-3 Rimrock Knight|
This matchup is probably our worst one as I said earlier, around 40/60 in their favor. They just have too much interaction with a good clock. This matchup is the reason I run Shatterskull Smashing, as an attempt to get a solid 2 for 1 to get back in the game. I board out Rimrock Knight since targeting one of our creatures is just bad versus their removal and it is easily blocked and removed itself. I bring in Thunderous Rebuke for more removal. You can add more hate cards if you want but I don’t want to give up my other closer matchups just to turn this one bad matchup.
Tips and Tricks
- Arena currently has a bug where if you control an Evolving Wilds and attack, it doesn’t stop before damage, so you don’t get a chance to crack it unless you are in full control. You need to set stops to prevent this, and play around it.
- If you don’t have a land in hand, it is more beneficial not to crack a fetch unless you think you’ll desperately need the mana next turn or expect a sweeper – this ensures that you can get in for damage the following turn with your landfall creatures.
- Holding a fetch in hand with one on the field and not cracking it can lead to game winning turns with Embercleave, maximizing the damage with two landfall triggers.
- Remember Edgewall Innkeeper is a 1/1, so it will enable your Lovestruck Beasts to attack. You can sometimes avoid playing a land before combat to leave your Brushfire Elemental as a 1/1, for the same effect.
- Questing Beast and Embercleave have amazing synergy. Since the Beast has deathtouch, it only has to deal 1 damage to any threat to remove it and the rest goes over with Embercleave’s trample – so if your opponent blocks the Beast with only one creature, you’ll trample over for 9!
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