Hello, fellow planeswalkers!  Welcome to Standard Weekly!

Standard is moving at a fast and furious pace as new decks pop up and rise to the upper echelons of events almost daily.  While Gruul Dinosaurs got the most hype of Gruul decks as The Lost Caverns of Ixalan standard season began, Gruul Aggro has seen much more success than the dinosaurs deck.

GRUUL AGGRO, trog3r, MTGO CHALLENGE #3-4, December 3, 2023

CREATURES: (22)

  • 1 Ruby, Daring Tracker

  • 3 Goddric, Cloaked Reveler

  • 3 Yavimaya Iconoclast

  • 4 Cacophony Scamp

  • 4 Monastery Swiftspear

  • 4 Picnic Ruiner

  • 4 Questing Druid

INSTANTS: (8)

  • 2 Dreadmaw’s Ire

  • 2 Play With Fire

  • 4 Monstrous Rage

Enchantments: (8)

  • 4 Kumano Faces Kakkazan

  • 4 Audacity

LANDS: (21)

  • 1 Boseiju, Who Endures

  • 4 Copperline Gorge

  • 1 Forest

  • 4 Karplusan Forest

  • 2 Mirrex

  • 4 Mountains

  • 4 Rockfall Vale

  • 1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 3 Witchstalker Frenzy

  • 3 Lithomantic Barrage

  • 2 Migloz, Maze Crusher

  • 2 Tyvar’s Stand

  • 3 End the Festivities

  • 2 Outland Liberator

The speed at which this deck can win a game is impressive if you haven’t seen it in action before.  The key card in the deck is Picnic Ruiner.  This two-mana goblin rogue doesn’t look like a powerhouse creature, but it is because whenever Picnic Ruiner attacks while you control a creature with power 4 or greater, Picnic Ruiner gains double strike until the end of the turn.  The enchantments and instants in the deck enable you to either grow Picnic Ruiner or one of the other creatures in the deck to get a creature to 4 power.  Once Picnic Ruiner gains double strike, it can end the game with one attack.

Typically, you will want to get Picnic Ruiner into play early in the game, and then on the next turn use your mana to cast Audacity or Monstrous Rage on it to get Picnic Ruiner to 4 power.  This will typically lead to a turn three or four attack that cuts your opponent’s life total in half.  At times you can even do 20 damage on a turn.

Cacophony Scamp

Another key creature is Cacophony Scamp.  This unassuming one drop has powerful damage and death triggers.  When it damages an opponent, you may sacrifice it.  If you do, proliferate.  When Cacophony Scamp dies, it deals damage equal to its power to any target.  These abilities make Cacophony Scamp another target for your pump spells.  When you successfully attack with Cacophony Scamp and do damage, then you can sacrifice it to do the last bit of damage needed to win the game.

The big downside of the deck is that it typically is dependent on Picnic Ruiner or Cacophony Scamp to win.  This makes the deck extremely vulnerable to removal spells.  The sideboard does have two copies of Tyvar’s Stand, so the deck has some protection for Picnic Ruiner or Cacophony Scamp in post-sideboard games.

Monastery Swiftspear Goddric, Cloaked Reveler

In games where you do not draw Picnic Ruiner, the deck has other ways of winning.  Gruul Aggro primarily uses key pieces of the Mono-Red Aggro shell in Monastery Swiftspear and Goddric, Cloaked Reveler.  Swiftspear has been an all-star for many years since it was first printed during the Tarkir block.  Monastery Swiftspear has haste and prowess which makes it an ideal target for the instants and auras in the deck.  The top end of the curve is Goddric, Cloaked Reveler.  This three-mana creature is a 3/3 human noble that becomes a 4/4 dragon with flying on any turn you have two permanents enter play on the same turn.  Together Monastery Swiftspear and Goddric present opponents with threats that must be dealt with, or they can takeover a game.

Questing Druid Yavimaya Iconoclast

The remainder of the creatures in the deck provide additional threats.  Yavimaya Iconoclast is a 3/2 elf that gains haste and +1/+1 until the end of the turn when you use its kicker ability.  Questing Druid provides the deck with a creature that grows when you cast colored spells other than green.  It also has an adventure, Seek the Beast.  This instant allows you to exile two cards and play them until the end of your turn.  Typically, you will cast Seek the Beast on your opponent’s turn to give you more time to cast the spells.

Gruul Aggro is an explosive deck that can win games in a single turn.  That makes it an exciting deck to play and a challenging deck to play against.

That’s it for this week.  I’ll see you next time.

By: Scott Trepanier

Scott began playing Magic the Gathering in 1994.  His preferred format is standard.  Typically, you will see him playing aggro decks focused on quickly defeating his opponent but will pivot to midrange or control when standard is unfavorable for aggro decks.  He began creating Magic content in 2019.