I have been seeing a lot of people hate on Gruul, one of my favorite archetypes in Modern Horizons 2 Draft. I think the main reason people don’t like the archetype is that they try to cast the card Chatterstorm.
Look, I wanted that card to be good so badly. I’ve tried to boost it with Glimmer Bairn to facilitate killing the turn I storm off. It just doesn’t work. Once you start to build your Gruul decks with no desire to cast Chatterstorm, they immediately get better. You can still storm off if you’re lucky enough to get Hunting Pack or Aeve, Predator Ooze. However, without those storm win conditions, your deck should look like a midrange deck that uses Galvanic Relay for card advantage in the mid- to late-game.
Prioritize cards with rebound and suspend in order to help push Galvanic Relay from Divination to Opportunity. Win with cards like Gargadon. Splash value with Rift Sower. Just draft a good deck that happens to be able to take advantage of cards with the storm mechanic rather than trying to build a deck that wins via storm. Once you make this shift, I promise you’ll start winning with Gruul in this Draft format.
The following draft is certainly a green-base multicolor deck, since at the end of Pack 1 I have an Ornithopter of Paradise and two copies of Rift Sower. Given the late Gargadon and fifteenth-pick Galvanic Relay, I’m leaning towards drafting Gruul, but my second color isn’t locked in yet. This pack contains a dual land, a solid green card, a great converge card, and some awesome red cards. What would you take?
Pack 2, Pick 2
The Picks So Far:
Foundation Breaker is an interesting card. In some matchups, the card is absolutely fantastic. In other matchups, the card is a total dud. It’s still good enough that I think you can play it in the maindeck, but it’s not good enough that I think you should take it over other cards that have the potential to be really strong in your deck.
If I had a really compelling reason to splash in my current pool, Silverbluff Bridge would be in the discussion. Imagine I first-picked Thought Monitor in this draft. If that were the case, I think I would take the Bridge here. And Wavesifter isn’t a reason to be Temur just yet, so I don’t think I can justify taking the land.
Sweep the Skies is incredibly underrated. I recently wheeled one in Pack 1 and that should basically never happen. It’s almost trivial to make three 1/1 flyers for four mana, which is well above rate. And if you can make four flyers, the card is incredible. Given my current mana situation with so many rainbow sources, I think Sweep the Skies is a real contender. I wouldn’t splash it, but it’s a reason to be base Simic instead of Gruul.
The real question is, are any of the red cards good enough for me to just stay the course and be Gruul? Let’s look at the red cards.
Goblin Traprunner has not impressed me. It has an incredibly high ceiling, but the body is just not impressive for the cost. My aggressive red decks would like to cast the card, but most of them would rather play other creatures at that slot of the curve. It’s not a bad card, but it looks much better than it plays.
Revolutionist, on the other hand, has exceeded my expectations. I originally thought this card would only be playable in Madness decks. It turns out that Gruul actually loves the card because of Mine Collapse. Mine Collapse is one of the best cards for facilitating storm turns, and it also turns Revolutionist into Flametongue Kavu. That being said, I don’t have any copies of Mine Collapse yet, and won’t really miss Revolutionist even though I would like a copy.
Obsidian Charmaw is just a glorified Air Elemental. Almost none of the lands produce colorless mana, and the nonbasic lands seen in the format are mostly indestructible. Air Elemental is a good card in any Limited format, but it’s very unexciting in a format as high-power as Modern Horizons 2. I’ll play it in most of my red decks, but I’m not taking it over cheap interaction like Unholy Heat or Sweep the Skies as a more flexible and powerful top-end spell.
I decided to take Unholy Heat. I’ve found that cheap interaction is premium in Gruul. It lets you push aggressive draws while also maximizing storm, particularly Galvanic Relay. The cheaper the cards in your deck, the more likely Galvanic Relay can just draw four cards. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to build a Gruul deck to hit delirium. It’s not trivial, but the tools are there, particularly if you look to leverage the combination of Mount Velus Manticore and the artifact lands.
Pack 2, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
There’s still a chance for a Simic or Golgari base, but Gruul is still the most likely color pair and I think it’s important to lean into that. I think most people would take Rift Sower here because I’m likely to want to splash, Gargadon isn’t splashable, and, while Tragic Fall is, I may not be interested in splashing it if I already have a good suite of interactive spells. However, I already have such a good setup for my mana, I think it’s more important to take a heavy hitter.
I have been incredibly impressed by Gargadon. Every time my opponent suspends the card, I immediately need to plan for when it comes down. If I don’t have an answer, I will lose. And often it means I have to play suboptimally to guarantee I have that answer, which has the consequence of my opponent getting ahead. It’s a lose-lose, and I feel that while playing against it. I have started prioritizing it higher in all my red decks, and I suggest you do the same. I don’t think many people would take it here, but I really think it’s one of the commons that has increased the most in my pick order.
I ended up with exactly what I described at the beginning of this article: a Gruul deck that’s a pile of good cards that used Galvanic Relay alongside suspend to gain advantage in the mid- to late-game. And it played just as well as I’d hoped!