Brewed Up: Gruuldrazi Reborn

Throne of Eldraine has caused seismic shifts throughout Modern and I see this as an opportunity for some strategies to resurface. RG Eldrazi has often played second fiddle to one Eldrazi build or another but it has improved by leaps and bounds recently. From an extra Ancient Stirrings to a new way to abuse Bloodbraid Elf‘s cascade, there is a lot to love in this updated build.

Decklist
Lands (20)
4 Eldrazi Temple
2 Forest
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Karplusan Forest
1 Mountain
2 Stomping Ground
2 Prismatic Vista
1 Wastes
Creatures (28)
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Bonecrusher Giant
4 Eldrazi Obligator
4 Matter Reshaper
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Reality Smasher
4 Thought-Knot Seer
Spells (12)
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Once Upon a Time
Sideboard (15)
2 Abrade
2 Collector Ouphe
2 Damping Sphere
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Veil of Summer
2 Weather the Storm
1 Ugin the Ineffable
75 Cards Total

The Build
I have to start by admitting that I might be crazy to run only twenty lands. Our curve is so high that at a glance this seems like a mistake. But between Once Upon A Time, Ancient Stirrings, and Noble Hierarch it has not troubled me at all. If you want to add another land, I would probably go with Blast Zone as the effect is great in here and you have reasonable access to it via OUT and Stirrings. With that out of the way I have to say that the RGC mana is great as ever.

One of the appeals to playing RG over the other Eldrazi decks is that you get an additional tri-land in Grove of the Burnwillows. The color requirements for the deck are not particularly strict and we have great lands lands to cover them. Better yet, OUT can help us to right the ship if the opening hand’s mana is a little off. And of course we are running a set of Eldrazi Temple. This land is the entire reason to play the strategy and when you open with it, your odds of winning greatly increase.

The only deviations from the norm are the absence of Cavern of Souls and the addition of Prismatic Vista. Cavern has often been frustrating in these decks as you want your main tribe, Eldrazi, to be uncounterable but you want to use the colorless mana ability to pay for most of them. None of our other tribes take up more than four slots so naming one of them was only ever a move of desperation. I will miss the uncounterable clause but we smash control decks already. The Prismatic Vista is something I am not entirely sold on versus Wooded Foothills. This is partially a metagame call as I want to fetch Wastes to beat out Blood Moon. If you want to stick with Foothills, I would probably cut the Wastes for the aforementioned Blast Zone and have a sideboard answer to Blood Moon.

Before we dive into the spaghetti lets cover the supporting cast. In the one drop spot we have Noble Hierarch. The blue and white mana is generally useless unless it is a postboard game and we have Engineered Explosives. In this deck it is a Llanowar Elves that gives up the point of power for exalted. We use it to slam our threats a turn early but it is good for sneaking in an early point as well. It is not the mana-fixer that it is in other decks but the acceleration and bonus damage are well worth it.

We also have the hip new tag-team of Bonecrusher Giant and Bloodbraid Elf. BBE was banned for years for a reason. Okay, it was actually DRS’s fault but it is still a great card. Our deck is full of powerful spells, particularly three drops, so BBE’s cascade feels absurd. The only card we mind hitting is Noble Hierarch and even that can help the BBE to swing as a 4/3. The reason we referred to it as a pair with Bonecrusher Giant is the unusual interaction between cascade and adventure spells.

When you cascade into the Giant you may choose either half of the card. So you are able to use Stomp and then play the Bonecrusher Giant later. One card becoming three spells is awesome but the Giant is plenty powerful in its own right. Two mana Shock, Stomp, is not the best rate but this deck has always been a bit short on reach and this gives us a clean answer to Giver of Runes. We also need additional outs to small creatures such as Devoted Druid and Stoneforge Mystic. Admittedly, the creature half is a three drop that dies to Bolt but that trade sees us get four damage and the opponent miss out on three damage while breaking even on cards.

From here we have the sixteen spaghetti monsters. Of course we have the classic curve of Matter Reshaper, into Thought-Knot Seer, into Reality Smasher. Reshaper is the worst among them but we can regularly play it on Turn 2 and the death trigger is quite valuable so I cannot complain. Thought-Knot Seer is a much better rate and I am doubtful the deck could be viable without it. Gruul decks have notoriously bad combo matchups but our Thoughtseizing creature gives us a fighting chance. Reality Smasher is the ultimate beater though.

They have packed so much onto this 5/5 for five. Haste scares them into leaving back clockers and trample forces them to have large blockers. They cannot simply leave up removal to 1-for-1 it either as spells come with the steep drawback of a Raven’s Crime. This is our heaviest hitter and our most effective answer for planeswalkers. The upside to running a red Eldrazi deck is Eldrazi Obligator. A 3/1 haste for three is not bad; especially when we are so good at playing it on Turn 2. What really makes it great is the Act of Treason upon cast trigger. This is a largely underrated effect in Modern and we are very capable of reaching the five mana for the big surprise. At six mana we can even use it off of a BBE cascade for a massive surprise swing.

Then finally we have the supporting spells. Lightning Bolt is the best spell in Modern and has been its most played spell every year since inception. Three damage to any target at instant speed is insane at one mana. I do not think this is news to anyone. We are also of course running Ancient Stirrings. This can dig up any of our lands or any of our sixteen Eldrazi. This has the same probabilities as Once Upon A Time, which is actually better in this deck. Before sideboarding, OUT finds everything Stirrings can find and more. That being said they are both spectacular cards and opening hands with both are hard to lose with.

We have written an article on the probabilities behind these cards and another to address further questions. When you fire one off hoping to hit Eldrazi Temple, you will get one 33.6% of the time. If you have both, your chances jump to 57.9%. Or if we are just looking at OUT into Temple or Noble, you are looking at 57.4% chance. You also will regularly be keeping one land hands as OUT or Stirrings will give you your second land 94.1% of the time. Simply put, these give your deck the most consistent openers of any deck in the format. Mulligans are exceedingly rare as the decks is just mana and threats while OUT/Stirrings will give you whichever one your hand is short on.

The sideboard has felt a lot better than I remember it being in the deck’s heyday. We have Engineered Explosives and Damping Sphere in here so those give Stirrings a little more value postboard. EE helps us to deal with go wide deck and our heavy use of three and four drops keep the recoil to a minimum. Damping Sphere can hurt us quite a bit though. Tapping an Eldrazi Temple to cast a Damping Sphere does not feel good. But where we are slowed a turn, Tron and Amulet find it extremely difficult to win. Furthermore, we need all of the help we can get against spell-based combo. We also have a Ugin the Ineffable to grab but this might just be a fun-of. It comes in against grindy decks to accelerate us, generate threats, and set the opponent back. So far it has felt really nice but I have not drawn it often.

We also have hateful creatures to OUT into. Eldrazi decks have long struggled with artifact decks so the printing of a green Stony Silence is huge for us. By the same token, we have Scoozer for the graveyard and Burn decks. Also to deal with Burn I have been running Weather the Storm but I think this should be cut. It is a fine card but the Burn matchup has felt much better than I remembered. It is surprisingly bad against Storm as they can just us Unsubstantiate their own Grapeshot and blast you again for the win. I think I would swap in something like Dismember to answer opposing large threats.

For the smaller threats and the aformentioned artifacts decks we have Abrade. This card was initially very hyped but oddly did not pick up steam until the beginning of this year. Now it is the format’s most played red sideboard card. Then finally we come to Veil of Summer. I am jamming this in every green deck and it has never let me down. I will say it every time, “This is the best color hate spell we have seen since Pyro/Hydroblast. It is an absolute blowout against blue and black decks for a single mana. I am not being even a bit hyperbolic when I say that every deck that can reliably cast this should have it in their sideboard.”

The Verdict
A deck that was once regarded as Tier 1 has gained several new toys including a free version of its best card. So yeah the deck feels great. It is a bit more braindead than something like GW or Bant Eldrazi but that does not mean it is bad. On the Eldrazi spectrum of speed to interaction, this build is pushed the furthest to the speed side. You can outvalue just about anything and you can run down things like Tron; which traditionally are hard for Eldrazi decks. But other Eldrazi decks are more effectively able to deal with combo. This cannot race the high-speed combo decks and Though-Knot can only carry so much weight. So I would call this a metagame call to weigh against Eldrazi Tron and GWx Eldrazi. It has caught back up in raw power level but the “best” Eldrazi deck varies from week to week. I think it is in a good place at the moment but can we accurately say that about any non-Oko deck?

Wrap-Up
The fastest Eldrazi deck is back and Once Upon A Time is actually better than Ancient Stirrings in it. With everything getting turned into Elk, I think I want haste and immediate triggers to guarantee some value before it happens. I will admit though that I probably should be running Gruul Spellbreaker to really lean into haste tribal. I will have to move away from Vista and Wastes. Is there anything else that I overlooked though? Do you think the haste-tribal aspect makes Gruul the optimal Eldrazi build for the current meta? Please come and share your ideas with us in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back soon with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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