War of the Spark is finally here and it’s high time I got to brewing with the new cards. I’m looking at options specifically for the Best-of-One format on Arena, which has some unique considerations. For example, we don’t need to worry about a sideboard in this list because there won’t be a game two (and we’re not playing Karn, the Great Creator). What we need to focus on is a solid game plan that is consistent, straight forward, and effective. I’ve got just the thing.
R/G Unblockable Stompy
2 Carnage Tyrant
4 Challenger Troll
2 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
2 God-Eternal Rhonas
3 Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
4 Gruul Spellbreaker
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Steel Leaf Champion
3 Angrath, Captain of Chaos
3 Rhythm of the Wild
Instants and Sorceries (5)
3 Domri’s Ambush
3 Gruul Guildgate
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
Our goal with this deck, play creatures with at least 4 power and then turn them sideways until our opponent is dead. We are trying to be the most Gruul deck on the block. So let’s talk about our creatures.
I picked 4 power for several reasons, and Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma is one of them. Goreclaw wants to hang out with other beefy creatures and gives us a two-mana discount on creatures with 4 power or greater. She also gives those same creatures a power boost and Trample when she attacks. But Goreclaw is only one reason.
Challenger Troll also gives bonuses to creatures with power 4 or greater. In this case, the bonus is that our big creatures can only be blocked by a single creature each. This is great against token strategies that are relying on a dozen 1/1 Saproling tokens to keep our creatures at bay. It’s especially good when combined with the Trample that Goreclaw provides your creatures.
Since we have Challenger Troll, we also run Angrath, Captain of Chaos. Angrath can give us a Zombie Army token, but he’s really here for his static ability to give all of our creatures Menace. This benefits our large attackers naturally by forcing potentially bad double blocks from our opponent, but it gets even better. Menace says our creatures cannot be blocked by fewer than two creatures, and Challenger Troll says they also can’t be blocked by more than one. That makes our creatures unblock-able. A board full of heavy-hitting creatures that are suddenly unblock-able can end a game out of nowhere.
We’ve got one last creature that brings along a buff for the team. God-Eternal Rhonas doubles the power of all of our creatures when he enters the battlefield. When Rhonas hits the field, our creatures become truly monstrous. Rhonas is also good insurance against board wipes, due to his ability to go back to the deck when he goes from the battlefield to either the graveyard or exile. He’ll be back to boost our guys again soon.
We’ve got more heavy hitters in Steel Leaf Champion, Gruul Spellbreaker, Carnage Tyrant, and Ghalta, Primal Hunger. The Champion is hard to block in the early game. Spellbreaker and Carnage Tyrant help us against control decks. Ghalta is a giant among giants. Each of these is a threat that must be answered, and that’s exactly how we like it. We want to deploy threat after threat and leave our opponent struggling to figure out how to deal with them all.
The creatures in this deck are formidable, to be sure. They’re big and hard to deal with. But most of them can easily be countered, and most can be killed by a single Lava Coil. To fix both of those problems, we’re running Rhythm of the Wild. With that on the field, our creatures are uncounterable and we can either make them bigger with a +1/+1 counter, or give them Haste. Ghalta is good. Uncounterable Ghalta with Haste is back-breaking.
Turn two beats
But it’s not all dinosaur wishes and grizzly bear dreams. I haven’t mentioned a single card under 3 converted mana cost yet, and we’re going to need some of those if we hope to keep up with aggro decks in the format. Llanowar Elves is a great turn 1 play. It can ramp us into Steel Leaf Champion or Rhythm of the Wild on turn 2.
Domri’s Ambush is a great way to make a creature bigger and clear a blocker or a troublesome Planeswalker at the same time. In our deck it is almost always going to hit for 5 or more damage. If we need more damage than that, we’re packing Banefire. It can serve as removal, or it can close out the game with some damage straight to our opponent.
I’ve been playing this deck on Arena whenever I get the chance and I’ve found it to be fun, fast, and effective. I’ve managed to get kills on turn 4 (Llanowar, Steel Leaf, Goreclaw, Rhonas) and my opponents never saw it coming.
But what do you think? Is it stompy enough? Is the unblockable combo just too cute to be good? Hit up the comment section and let me know or just show off your own Bo1 builds. You can also find me on Twitter (@BadMoonMTG).