Crucible of Words – All Dun Grovin’ (RTR Modern) by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – All Dun Grovin’ (RTR Modern) by Cyrus Bales


This week I thought I’d revisit a modern deck from an older article of mine. Before Wild Nacatl and Punishing Fire were banned, I wrote about a Junk(GBW) Rock deck, using Dungrove Elder as its centrepiece, I concluded that due to the above banned cards still being legal, this deck was not a viable option. You can find the article here.

Fast forward to now, and those troublesome cards no longer exist in the format, and Return To Ravnica brings us an excellent tool in Abrupt Decay; breathing a bit more life back into this deck. Obviously though, we need to adapt the list and tweak it to changes that have happened to the modern metagame since then, so here’s a new list:

4 Loam Lion
1 Treefolk Harbinger
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Dark Confidant
4 Dungrove Elder
1 Doran
1 Eternal Witness
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Thoughtseize
4 Path to Exile
4 Abrupt Decay
1 Reach of Branches
4 Verdant Catacomb
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Overgrown Tomb
3 Temple Garden
1 Murmuring Bosk
6 Forest
1 Plains
1 Swamp


2 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Reach of Branches
1 Sigarda Host of Herons
3 Liliana of the Veil
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Nature’s Claim
2 Duress

As you can see, we no longer need to ramp out forests in the same way as our one drop Loam Lion is now once again powerful enough and not just outclassed by Wild Nacatl. This gives us a more traditional beatdown/rock strategy, where we can provide some threats and removal/disruption.

We keep the Reach of Branches, Doran, the Siege Tower and Treefolk Harbinger package. I found this to be pretty effective before, and Reach of Branches could just run away with games in certain match ups. Eternal Witness joins the party along with Dark Confidant to provide some much needed card advantage, Dark Confidant being a hell of a lot better in a format without Punishing Fire it seems!

Removal wise, we have shifted into Abrupt Decay and Path to Exile to deal with anything we need them to, it might be better to cut one of them for a singleton Maelstrom Pulse for flexibility of answers, but for now that’s been shifted to the board. Our discard is down to the solid five one drop cards, Liliana of the Veil being moved into the sideboard to make way for Kitchen Finks in the main deck as a threat with some recursion and relevant life gain.

Sideboard wise, we have a lot of tools, graveyard hate, artifact and enchantment hate, a good catch all in Pulse, some discard and edict via Liliana and much more. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here, but I’d like to talk through a few cards; Reach of Branches, when it’s relevant, it’s very good indeed and worth running extra’s for those match ups. Obstinate Baloth, this guy dodges Liliana’s discard, is another life gain option and dodges Abrupt Decay, so becomes very useful in the Jund match up.

Lastly, Sigarda, Host of Herons. I really hate this card, I don’t like that a card that requires either a Wrath or a Clone effect to be answered can  exist; however in terms of playing against Jund, this card literally is unanswerable for them outside of them having a bigger guy, large Tarmogoyf, that you can’t answer. If you can get this guy on the board in this match up, and some others, you can literally ride it all the way home.

What’s missing? As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this deck is running white sources, but without Restoration Angel, who not only dodges Abrupt Decay, but can save other guys as well. This seems like a big omission, and to be honest, it annoys me to not have her in the list, and I’m sure she’ll squeeze into future lists.

The reason I didn’t include her from the off is twofold; firstly I wanted to run Loam Lion as a way to apply early pressure; and secondly I wanted to run Dark Confidant in a 23 land list. This lower curve makes the angel more difficult to run, since it hurts you more from Dark Confidant, you’re less likely to cast it on curve, and you’d have to lose the one drops that make the curve work better.

Looking at the above analysis, it seems like the deck is trying to be too cute, rather than effective. Yes the power of Dungrove is immense, but so are manlands and Restoration Angel. After writing the above, I sat back and thought for a while and decided this had become a very good example of doing what you want to do with the deck, rather than what is the most powerful.

So, with that in mind, I decided I should build up a “proper” Junk Rock list and share it with you, here we go:

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Dark Confidant
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Eternal Witness
3 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Restoration Angel
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Dismember
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Path to Exile
1 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Verdant Catacomb
3 Marsh Flats
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Temple Garden
2 Godless Shrine
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Oran-Rief, The Vastwood
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Treetop Village
1 Tectonic Edge
2 Plains
2 Forest
2 Swamp


2 Obstinate Baloth
2 Sigarda, Host of Herons
3 Duress
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Nature’s Claim
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Disfigure
1 Qasali Pridemage

As we can see, this has a much stronger card advantage engine, and lots of good cards on their own. Knight of the Reliquary gives you a toolbox to set up Kitchen Finks-Oran-Rief combo which can run away with games or give you bigger Goyfs, as well as being a big beater by himself; yes the Knight dies to Abrupt Decay, but he dodges Spell Snare, can be gotten back by Witness whilst being able to enable a lot of things if he sticks. I don’t want to be tapping out on turn three for him that often, but having some in the deck for the mid-late game is definitely worth it.

Angel is crazy good, and when you get to blink Finks and gain life it’s awesome, when you blink Witness to get back whatever you want, it’s downright busted. Very reminiscent of Shouta’s use of Witness with Cryptic Command in his deck at the player’s championship, the Angel also gives you a pseudo counterspell for removal on another one of your guys. I don’t think I need to talk anymore about this card, it’s clearly bananas.

Manabase wise, I opted out of Razorverge Thicket so I wouldn’t have to worry about my turn four land coming in tapped and making turn four Angel less reliable, I already have the tutor targets to come into play tapped, so I don’t want any more of them to worry about. Stirring Wildwood is very good at trumping Treetop Villages and Lightning Bolt, testing will show if two of these are better than one of each, but having a cheaper manland to activate feels solid. Testing will iron out any issues and maybe add in an extra land if it’s needed.

And that’s about it folks, I started out with a deck that I wanted to be good, but in magic, wanting something doesn’t make it so, and so we ended up with a much more competitive list that has a lot more going for it.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.


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