Standard 2022 Gruul Aggro Deck Guide: The Most Powerful Aggro Deck in 2022

Gnarled Professor Art by Simon Dominic
Gnarled Professor Art by Simon Dominic

Hello everyone! Today I want to go over what I consider to be the most “powerful” of all the aggro decks: Gruul. So when I say powerful, I’m not necessarily saying it’s the best. What I mean by powerful is that the card quality is extremely high on average which will generally lead to a strong overall deck.

Why make the distinction at all? It affects how the deck plays out. A deck like Mono Red in 2022 wins games generally by overwhelming the opponent with individually weaker cards that, in conjunction with one another, can overpower fewer more powerful cards. This tells you a lot about how the deck should be played and many aggro decks follow this principle.

Gruul, on the other hand, does something different from the norm. Although we’re still looking to beat down quickly, Gruul actually has an average card quality that’s much higher than your typical aggro deck which lets you actually fight on even ground with the best decks in the format if it comes down to topdecking wars, something aggro typically struggles with. Don’t believe an aggro deck’s card quality can be that high? You tell me.

2022 Gruul Aggro 

Creatures (23)
4
Kazandu Mammoth
4
Jaspera Sentinel
4
Dragonkin Berserker
4
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
3
Gnarled Professor
4
Goldspan Dragon
Spells (8)
3
Shatterskull Smashing
4
Shock
1
Snakeskin Veil
Artifacts (4)
4
Esika's Chariot
Enchantments (4)
4
Ranger Class
Lands (21)
4
Cragcrown Pathway
2
Den of the Bugbear
7
Forest
2
Lair of the Hydra
6
Mountain
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Basic Conjuration
1
Containment Breach
1
Expanded Anatomy
1
Elemental Summoning
2
Mascot Exhibition

This deck is looking to combine the speed of Monored with the power and resilience of Monogreen, something I think it accomplishes reasonably well. The downside is, of course, the mana base will be less consistent, but with an effective 28 mana sources not including Jaspera Sentinel, that’s very rarely an issue.

CARD CHOICES

Esika’s Chariot Art by Raoul Vitale
Esika’s Chariot Art by Raoul Vitale

Kazandu Mammoth

The first half of the MDFC lands. Kazandu has been a staple in many Green decks since it’s release, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. A tapped green source or a really solid beater is exactly what this deck is looking for.

Jaspera Sentinel

Although Loam Dryad never seemed to be a playable card, this is the only dork in the format and it plays out much better than it typically looks. This affords you more early plays in the early game and lets you double spell starting turn 2 which iis a huge boon in a deck looking to be aggressive.

Dragonkin Berserker

If my deck is Red and aggressive, you better believe I’m sleeving up 4 of these Berserkers. Dragonkin is so good in combat and has an activated ability that can be game winning against a lot of decks. Furthermore, the Dragon token also works absurdly well with Esika’s Chariot which is a fun play pattern.

Magda, Brazen Outlaw

Magda is a fine creature by herself, but when combined with Jaspera Sentinel, you can have insanely explosive turns starting turn 2. Furthermore, Gruul is great a tpushing through damage and forcing awkward exchanges so the opponent can constantly have the hard decision of killing your Magda which is weaker, but it providing value or a higher powered attacker.

Gnarled Professor

Having access to the Lesson board is a huge advantage in Bo1, and getting that off of a 4 mana 5/4 Trampler is quite welcome.

Goldspan Dragon

As most are aware, Goldspan Dragon is the absolute nuts both in regular Standard and in 2022. It’s what I consider to b the best card (maybe besides Esika’s Chariot) so including this is a no brainer.

Shatterskull Smashing

Although I’ve been much lower on Shatterskull in 2022 than I was in current Standard, the card still does perform reasonably well. It’s a land that can be a solid late game top deck which mitigates flooding, something aggro can struggle with.

Shock

Having early interaction is important for the other aggro decks in the format and this can go face as well which has won me a few games.

Snakeskin Veil

I’m a big fan of miser Veils as it’s not an effect you ever want 2 of and it can be absolutely devastating when you have it on an important turn. Plus, worst comes to worst, it’s a scrappy combat trick.

Esika’s Chariot

Chariot is like the Green Goldspan Dragon of Standard 2022. The card is unbelievably powerful and puts a ridiculously fast clock on the opponent as early as turn 3. It would be very rare I wouldn’t play this as a 4 of in my Green decks.

Ranger Class

The breakout card from AFR. Ranger Class does everything we want in an aggro deck: makes a body, helps develop your pressure, and allows you to grind later in the game. Our creature count is a bit low for the third level, but it still does really great work at the first two levels.

Den of the Bugbear / Lair of the Hydra

Something I’ve been heralding for awhile in Standard 2022 is that your mana base should be working double duty for you as often as possible, a role that all the MDFCs and creature lands fill. It is awkward when you draw these later when you’re trying to curve out, but the games you win by just barely getting across the finish line with one of these will heavily outweigh the games you lose when your curve is disrupted.

LESSON BOARD

Environmental Sciences

It’s kind of weird to include this as our only Lesson card is 4 mana, but you’d be surprised how often you want to grab this regardless.

Basic Conjuration

At first I figured I would want another Mascot Exhibition over this, but the ability to find a Goldspan Dragon on a board where that’s exactly what you need happens more often than you’d expect.

Containment Breach

There’s a lot of great Naturalize targets in 2022 so every Green deck should play at least one of these.

Expanded Anatomy

This innocuous Lesson can let you win combat on board stalls or increase your clock by a turn.

Elemental Summoning

I don’t grab this particularly often, but it does fit the curve right after Gnarled Professor really well.

Mascot Exhibition

The big Lesson bomb. You can grab this when you need some late game, but you actually get this less often than you might expect.

NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS

ArtStation - Magic the Gathering: "Brushfire Elemental", Campbell White
Brushfire Elemental Art by Campbell White

Frost Bite

I initially tried Gruul with the Snow package, but similarly to Rakdos Berserkers, trying to play Snow and MDFCs or creature lands didn’t work out as I wanted. Frost Bite is great, but it’s not worth what you have to give up to make it work.

Spikefield Hazard // Spikefield Cave

I heavily considered these over some or all the Shock for awhile, but the difference between 2 and 1 damage is massive.

Battle Cry Goblin

It may seem weird to consider this in a deck that has no other Goblins, but I was actually very close to playing it. Sure, it’s just a 2/2 for 2 most of the time, but drawing it later in the game can be devastating to the opponent if you have any board state. This also mitigates flooding extremely well as being able to cast it and immediately swing for 4+ damage is a great play.

Conspiracy Theorist

Theorist seems solid in theory as this deck does have a decent amount of excess mana it can use and it would love card advantage, but we’re not great at forcing through attackers so I feel that this would die on the first attack too often for my liking.

Kargan Intimidator

Intimidator is solid, but we have better 2 drops in my opinion.

Arni Brokenbrow

Arni is better here than it is in Monored as we have more large creatures. Could be a solid 1 of over the Snakeskin Veil.

Igneous Inspiration

I like having access to a lot of Learn cards, but this is a little weak for my liking.

Zariel, Archduke of Avernus

I love this card as a 1 of in my creature decks, but Green gives us better options.

Blizzard Brawl

Same logic as Frost Bite for the most part, although this did work better as a 1 of in my original list.

Swarm Shambler

I like having a lot of 1 drops in my aggro decks, but Swarm Shambler is just pretty weak and Monogreen plays it more out of necessity than actually wanting it.

Inscription of Abundance

An ok 1 of if you really love this card, but I personally don’t.

Lotus Cobra

I love Lotus Cobra, but it doesn’t work the best in a deck looking to always be attacking.

Tangled Florahedron // Tangled Vale

Florahedron is a great card, just not aggressive enough for this deck.

Werewolf Pack Leader

If I could always cast this on 2, I would 100% play it.

Oran-Rief Ooze

A solid aggressive card that’s outshined by the other options.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets

Strong card, but generally only great in conjunction with Clarion Spirit.

Battle Mammoth

Substantially weaker than Goldspan Dragon and we don’t need 5 five drops.

Arni Slays the Troll

I like this card, but it’s generally only good when you’re already ahead and doesn’t hit Planeswalkers. Domri’s Ambush this is not.

Brushfire Elemental

I initially played 4 of these in my first list, but they just weren’t as strong as a creature with a solid activated ability.

Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll

Cool card, but mostly for Limited.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Jaspera Sentinel Art by Raoul Vitale
Jaspera Sentinel Art by Raoul Vitale

Use Shock really aggressively to kill creatures or value trade as it’s rare that you want to go face.

You can consider not attacking with your 2 drop on turn 3 if you have a Jaspera Sentinel and a 1 mana trick. Comes up more often than you’d expect.

Chump attacking with Dragonkin Berserker to activate the Boast ability is correct way more often than it would seem. A lot of decks really struggle to bet a 5/5 Flier.

Magda, Brazen Outlaw can tutor up both Goldspan Dragon and Esika’s Chariot so if you get her in conjunction with Jaspera Sentinel, consider keeping the Treasures around.

Curve is king. I play Kazandu Mammoth as a land extremely often so I can curve out. However, I think too many players have taken this principle too far and will play out their MDFCs when there is a solid chance they’re going to draw more than enough lands to curve.

Unless you’re specifically playing around something, always run out Esika’s Chariot before Gnarled Professor.

Esika’s Chariot can copy any token, not just Cats. Use this to get more Treasures, or in the best case scenario, Dragon tokens from Dragonkin Berserker.

Playing Gnarled Professor as late as possible gives you the most information on what the best Lesson card will be.

It’s rarely correct to activate a creature land over developing unless you’re specifically playing around a Wrath. If you’re playing around single target removal, I’ll prioritize keeping my land around over nearly all my other creatures.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

7 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Did you consider dragon’s fire over shock to kill 3 toughness creatures?

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Excellent question. This was something I was debating for awhile, but the versatility of Shock won me over. I felt like there were few x/3s I really cared about as I can either beat through them with the end of my curve, outgrow them with Ranger Class, or just ignore them. However, getting curved out quickly when I don’t have the tools to catch up seemed to happen way more often. Furthermore, one mana spells get a lot more stock whenever you have Jaspera Sentinel in your deck as a curve of Sentinel -> 2 drop hold up Shock/Veil is really powerful

  2. Zafarion says:

    Insterestingly I recently built this same deck, with the only differences being Shatterskull Charger rather than dragonsking berserker and Arni Slays the trol instead of kazandu Mammoth. The saga acts as a removal, ramp, +2+2 counters and lifegain in the same card. Shatterskull can be given a +1+1 counter by ranger class and stays in the battlefield if you cast him without kicker, he’s also great vs controls and the infinite amount of Eyetwitchs/Shamblings/Skullport merchants being played.

    • Zafarion says:

      But at the same time I’m considering Dragonskin a lot, This guy is card advantage if you can make a token with him. I should replace Arni Slays the troll with him

  3. xTaq Gaming says:

    Hey Thanks for writing this up! I played adventures gruul when i started mtg:arena in 2021 and this is the perfect transition i was looking for (keep my cat chariots & dragons). Keep up the good work! I’d love to read your other deck analysis