Deck Tech: Back on Track with Gruul Adventures

K_Prinz

After crushing SCG's $5K Kaldheim Championship Qualifier—going 12-0 with Gruul Adventures and getting back to the "PT"—it's time for the latest insight and sideboard guide. What's new, what changed? How and why? Here's one last look at the proven best deck in pre-Kaldheim Standard!

Hello there! I am writing this nine hours after I won the SCG Qualifier. A lot of you, especially Twitch chat, asked for sideboarding advice, which is going to be be the main piece of this article. I've written an article on Gruul Adventures before, and I'd suggest reading that if you want to get a general grasp of how to build a good version of the deck. That article includes a base build and thoughts on most viable cards for the archetype.


Why My List Looks Like This


fire prophecy - the great henge - embercleave

Before getting to the sideboard guide I want to tell you why my flex slots are the way they are and which of them are the ones you should look at if you want to adapt to changes in the metagame.

The Embercleave, The Great Henge, Fire Prophecy, and land split does have huge interdependencies. I believe playing more Prophecy allows you to get away with both more uneven splits of the legendary artifacts as well as more lands, because you're better at getting rid of excess copies. I wanted to play a mostly linear beatdown deck in game one but still wanted six to seven big cards. I think you'd have to include two or more Fire Prophecy if you wanted to run 21 or more lands or four copies of Embercleave respectively. Lists in the fall of 2020 were often a bit too mirror-teched, though, which ultimately led to Gruul shortly becoming a bit less popular. In turn, this put it into a better spot now. Cannibalizing itself hurt the deck a lot.

The two Embereth Shieldbreaker // Battle Display are something Autumn Burchett popularized, and they make the Monogreen Food matchup a lot more bearable. I believe you're still a slight underdog though. They're also pretty good in the mirror, as without them you are pretty dead to your opponent dropping a turn four Henge.

Possible Cards to Change


soul sear

As well as being able to change to a version with more copies of Embercleave, Fire Prophecy, and lands, I also think there are some other changes that could improve your chances in different matchups.

  • If you want to get better in the mirror I think Questing Beast is the card you need to cut. You'd probaly want Wilt, Soul Sear, or another copy of The Akroan War instead. A problem here is that while this would likely improve your chances in the mirror, all three of the cards I suggest to put into your deck for Embercleave are worse in nearly every other matchup.

  • If more people bring artifact destruction, you should probaly have a third copy of Vivien, Monsters' Advocate somewhere in the 75.

  • The Phoenix of Ash could be a Scorching Dragonfire, as killing Ruin Crab is the most important thing against Rogues. I'll explain in detail in the sideboard guide section.

  • The sideboard copy of The Akroan War could be a third copy of Soul Sear. The Akroan War becomes worse after boarding because green decks board in Wilt, which trades at a mana advantage with it.

Sideboard Guide

Mirror:

Game one is usually decided by the die roll, because whoever snowballs their Throne of Eldraine artifacts faster just wins. If you're on the draw, you should probaly mulligan most hands that don't contain one of them, as just playing your creatures is not going to cut it.

Postboard things change a lot as both players have fewer two-drops and more answers for the opposing artifacts. Things often go fairly long. Trying to claim the initiative on the battlefield by passing with interaction up is oftentimes correct as there are a lot of crucial turns. Getting into a spot where you force your opponent to react, especially resolving Vivien, Monsters' Advocate on an empty battlefield, is huge. That said, if one person's interaction doesn't line up well, games can still also just snowball in favor of a player with more of the Mythic Rares.


On the draw you want the fourth Fire Prophecy over one of your cards with converted mana cost 4+. Which one to cut does depend on their list, but it should be one of Embercleave, Vivien, or not boarding in the additional copy of The Akroan War. You generally want more Viviens if they have more Disenchant effects and access to Cleave if they have more Viviens. The Akroan War is especially bad against Wilt.

Rogues:

You will rarely win game one, as you have no way to clear your graveyard, which also means your list should change a decent bit should this matchup become more popular. You also have few ways of answering Ruin Crab and their interaction often lines up pretty well. If they don't have Into the Story in the top twenty cards, you can occasionally snack a game.

Postboard, however, the matchup hugely swings. You get access to Ox of Agonas, which is like having Stony Silence against Affinity in Modern's past. You just need to kill their Crabs, try not to let them untap with Lurrus of the Dream-Den, and escape a bunch of Oxen. Try to sequence your turns to be as mana efficient as possible, as Ox strongly rewards emptying your hand. Also, Ox combines really well with your Adventures, as you can put them into exile to have them available later. Try not to get decked, they usually can't beat you any other way.


Monogreen Food:

Your toughest matchup, you need to kill them quickly through their pretty big creatures and that's tough. Scavenging Ooze can outgrow all removal they have available and oneshot them with Embercleave, but that's no easy feat to achieve.


I don't feel very comfortable on this, as Brushfire Elemental is very good at dealing some damage, but they just have so many creatures that block it. None of your cards are horrendous, but overall theirs are structurally favored. On the draw you could be interested in some copies of Fire Prophecy; it stops them from getting six-drops out ahead of schedule with their manadorks and does kill Kazandu Mammoth // Kazandu Valley. You might think you'd want Wilt, but they are cutting Trail of Crumbs, and while answering Henge is somewhat necessary/good, destroying Witch's Oven is not. I think on the draw you might need to board Wilt, but I'm not sure on that.

More main-deck Embereth Shieldbreaker // Battle Display and The Akroan War would help this matchup a lot, but you probaly should just play another deck if Monogreen Food starts taking more than 25% of the metagame. We're nowhere near that currently though and the Food deck does have a lot more weak points to exploit than Gruul itself.

Esper Doom:

Game one again is pretty tough as you need to cheese them out beneath their overwhelming ability to control board states in longer games. You sometimes want to slowroll Brushfire Elemental to play around Elspeth's Nightmare and to insure getting at least 3 damage out of it.

Postboard you just try outgrinding them with Ox and Vivien, but still try to be careful about Elspeth's Nightmare. Also, try splitting your creatures' converted mana costs if possible, so Extinction Event doesn't blow you out.


Only cut Shieldbreaker if they have no Mazemind Tome or Glass Casket. If they do have those, cut some more artifacts. Soul Sear answers Archon of Sun's Grace and Yorion, Sky Nomad. You can board the Phoenix of Ash instead of one Henge on the draw.

Dimir Yorion Control:

This plays very similarly to the Esper Doom matchup, but their endgame is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon rather than Yorion plus enter-the.battlefield effects. The most relevant difference is that they pretty much always play Mazemind Tome and don't run tons of creatures, which means you want Embereth Shieldbreaker instead of Soul Sear and don't need the Cleaves as badly. Grinding them out is much more doable. Also, Ugin doesn't cleanly answer The Great Henge which is very nice.


Again I think you can board the Phoenix of Ash in for one The Great Henge on the draw.

Temur Ramp (All Sorts):

Mulligan to a hand that can kill them quickly. If they draw the right mana for Genesis Ultimatum, you're likely dead.


If they're on the version without creatures or just with the two Giants (Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp and Beanstalk Giant // Fertile Footsteps), you should not have The Akroan War. Just keep some Goblin Piker and maybe Vivien.

Monowhite Aggro:

This deck has picked up in popularity since last week due to crokeyz playing it a bunch on his stream. The matchup can be tough, as you need your green card advantage to be able to pound through. You should, however, aim for a long game, as your topdecks are usually of higher impact than theirs.


Soul Sear kills through Selfless Savior and kills Seasoned Hallowblade, which is why it's good. Destroy everything on sight and try to stick an expensive green permanent and ride it to victory.

Conclusion

Gruul Adventures continues to be among the top of Standard and that's not going to change till Kaldheim drops. And I hope the resources I provided here, will help you to crush with it.

I am very happy being back on the "PT" and looking forward to participating. I'll report back then. In the meantime, Kaldheim preview season is going to pick up speed in the next weeks and you can look forward to me finding something worth discussing among the previewed cards and/or mechanics!

Thanks for the read, ciao!


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.



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