Gatecrash Set Review Part 4/6 – Green and Gruul by Grant Hislop

Analysing the Modern Ban List – Spread the Sickness with Grant Hislop

Gatecrash Set Review Part 4/6 – Green and Gruul by Grant Hislop

We’ve passed the halfway mark now in the set review, having covered White, Blue, Black and their respective guilds previously, and now it’s time to cover Green and Gruul, before Red and Boros tomorrow, and concluding with all the rest of Gatecrash the day after.

It’ll be nice to get some time to leave the house again, for purposes other than work. Anyone who has ever tried to write a set review will know, you basically lock yourself away for the best part of a week, and fully immerse yourself in nothing other than Magic cards. Seems pretty standard, now that I think about it…

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Adaptive Snapjaw

Adaptive snapjawSolid Enabler for the Evolve mechanic, and a 6/2 for five isn’t exactly the worst return on investment for limited. It’s not spectacular, obviously, but it’ll fill the role it was designed for very well.

Alpha Authority

Is this good enough for the Aura deck? No. It’s wanting to tool up a creature, give it evasion and go to town. The creatures are typically too large to get gang blocked anyway, so this doesn’t really do anything. Hexproof isn’t worth it, as typically the creatures have it built in anyway…

Seems pretty weak for draft too, as auras without any sort of pump attached usually are.

Burst of Strength

This is absolutely unplayable. There are better combat tricks, and this just isn’t worth the time, mana and card investment. Bleurgh.


CrocanuraAs stated before, any Evolve creatures with a weighted power to toughness ratio will be in high demand. This just needs one activation to be [/card]Giant Spider[/card], and two from being better. Giant Spider is a benchmark card in limited, and is almost never bad. The potential to be better, while costing one mana less, and thus coming down a turn earlier is excellent. Even unevolved, he matches up favourably with most of the common and uncommon fliers in the format, and certainly those you could expect to see on the first three turns of the game. Solid card.

Crowned Ceratokp

This is a way to break through a board stall, I suppose. I don’t really see the Evolve creatures getting all that large though, so it’s unlikely that trample is going to be all that relevant. A 4/3 trample for four in green is pretty good, so it’s solid enough to stand on its own. Suffers some splash hate, as it’s almost as good in Gruul as it is in Simic, and possibly actually better.

Disciple of the Old Ways

Disciple of the Old WaysIt’s a bear, with an upside. 2/2 isn’t the greatest body to give first strike to, but the body alone is enough to be playable. Most of my green based aggro decks in limited tend to be more about curve than any specific cards anyway, and this is certainly fine.

Experiment One

I see this as more of a Gruul card than a Simic one. It’s so aggressive, and in a Gruul deck, pretty much anything you cast on curve is going to trigger him. Attacking for two on turn two is excellent, and in that sort of deck, you’re looking at that being eminently achievable. I see Gruul decks being heavily creature based too, due to the Bloodrush mechanic (which will at no point get confused with Bloodthirst), and so long as you’re building a real curve, Experiment One is an important piece of that deck.

This has a very real place in Constructed too, as the body is actually relevant, and in some sort of neo-Zoo archetype, you’re looking at a reasonable impression of Kird Ape, if not Wild Nacatl.

Forced Adaptation

Forced AdaptationAnother Aura that’s not worth the card it’s printed on. Too slow, and too low impact.

Giant Adephage

This is obviously a limited Mythic Rare, and nothing more. You can get an awful lot better for seven mana in Constructed at the moment. It’s obviously dumb in limited, and will take over any game it’s allowed to connect in. Utterly ridiculous.

Greenside Watcher

Two power for two mana is a reasonable proposition in a conditional mana dork. Sadly, a conditional Mana accelerant and one toughness aren’t exactly ringing endorsements of Constructed playability. I don’t see this making much of a splash, outside of for curve considerations in a Gruul limited deck.

Gyre Sage

Gyre SageThis card was incredibly obvious, even before it was spoiled. Can you just stick Evolve on any creature with another typically green ability? Apparently, yes, you can. This is almost the same card as the one above, though it will actually add mana more regularly. It’s a bit unreliable for constructed, and the fact that doesn’t enable five-colour decks with wacky mana bases leaves it falling a bit flat in my opinion.


Simic Fog. Simic trash.

Ivy Lane Denizen

This is a solid creature in both Gruul and Simic decks, where it’s pump in the former, and actively helps the theme of the latter. I’m actually really impressed with the design of this card, as it seems to fit in with both guilds just as well. It’s maybe a little expensive, but I’d need to play with it a bit to see. I can definitely see this finding its way into my pauper cube.

Miming Slime

Miming SlimeThis seems like it’s better suited to Selesnya decks when we’re drafting the full block, but it’s still decent. I expect it’s more useful in Gruul than Simic, but it’s not likely to be bad in either.


Very much a known quantity by now, having been in the format for quite a while already. There aren’t really any Enchantments or Artifacts that warrant a specific hate card in standard at present, and I can’t see any in this trash-Aura paradise of a set that will buck that trend.

Ooze Flux

I suppose it’s a way to prolong chump blocking, but if that’s where you are, it’s tough to get back into the game by just making progressively smaller creatures. It’s strange in that it’s an on-board trick, and will likely make people play poorly until they become familiar with it. It’s a complicated card, and at least it’s a rare, so it won’t come up all that often.

Combos pretty nicely with the Zameck Guildmage in limited, I suppose, so that’s another point in its favour.

Predator’s Rapport

Predators RapportDon’t understand this card, from a flavour perspective. How does having a giant tiger chum gain you life? Anyway, it does nothing other than gain you some life, relies on you already having a board presence, and isn’t worth a card.

Rust Scarab

Well, I suppose a 4/5 is a big enough body that it can’t just be ignored for long, if you’re trying to protect some bomb Artifact or Enchantment. Any card that gives the opponent a choice has to be incredibly powerful, and this just isn’t there. The fact that it isn’t consistent removal, or a sufficiently sized, or an aggressively costed body to warrant inclusion anyway, ala Trygon Predator from the previous Ravnica block means that this is going to be resigned entirely to a role as a curve topper in a limited deck.

Scab-Clan Charger

Here’s the first Bloodrush card that we’ve come to thusfar, and it’s pretty solid. The Gruul deck will effectively always have a pump trick, so I expect that it’ll be a smart choice come pre-release time. +2/+4 isn’t a bad pump for two mana, and a 2/4 body for four mana is strong enough to see play too.

I don’t like any of the guild mechanics nearly as much as Bloodrush for limited, and am very excited to play with it at the weekend. (I’m definitely Gruul).

Serene Remembrance

Serene RemembranceThis is reminiscent of Gaea’s Blessing, but the format’s changed now, from days where Gaea’s Blessing was actually a legitimate semi-win condition in control decks. I don’t see this being playable, especially with Memory’s Journey and Runic Repetition already in the format.

Skarrg Goliath

This is very expensive. Seven mana is probably worth +9/+9 and trample though, given that it’s practically impossible for an opponent to survive through it. Eight mana to cast it is probably unrealistic in most limited games.

It’s definitely not worth more than 50p long term, as it’s just far too expensive for serious constructed considerations.


SlaughterhornHouse. Definitely a high pick for Gruul decks, and aggressively costed enough that it’s playable in Simic too. It’s not Constructed level, but this is going to be an important part of the limited landscape for the next few months.

Spire Tracer

Silhana Ledgewalker, minus the hexproof. Sadly, the hexproof was pretty much the only thing that made Ledgewalker playable. Again, the mana in Constructed is so good that there’s really no reason to play this over Invisible Stalker, though admittedly it does pair up nicely with Silverblade Paladin (though what doesn’t?). I just don’t think it’s quite there, though I’m far from an expert on the modern creature based combo decks, which is where this would belong.

Sylvan Primordial

This is one best left for the EDH crowd, as it’s just too expensive for a non-creature removal, even with a gigantic body attached.

Clearly a stupid, almost unbeatable rare in limited, as it blocks ridiculously well, and is almost impossible to gang block to death. Another one with an air of the bulks about it.

Tower Defense

It’s a pretty poor combat trick, to be honest. Can’t see this being much more than a 14th pick in draft.

Verdant Haven

Verdant HavenAnother trashy Enchant Land, to keep up the theme. Wild Growth was good, as it only cost one mana, Abundant Growth is fine, because at least it draws a card. This does neither of those, doesn’t compare favourably to the two aforementioned marginal cards, one of which is already in the format and sees no play, and just costs far too much. Won’t be worth a card.

At least Axebane Guardian could block…

Wasteland Viper

This is interesting as a limited combat trick, as a way to turn blocks unfavourably on the opponent. Sadly, this card would be considerably better on defence, but Bloodrush doesn’t do defence, so it loses some of its lustre. It’ll be good, for sure, as at least it’s not a 1/1 for one, which are never good, but it’s not overpowered, by any stretch of the imagination.

Wildwood Rebirth

Wildwood RebirthRaise Dead is a solid limited card, but there are better options. I see this as primarily a way to double up on your Bloodrush creatures, as a Gruul decks late game, but I don’t see it being particularly great. It’s always easy to run best-case-scenarios, but I’d expect this will spend more time rotting in hand than rebuying Ghor-Clan Rampagers, as you’d hope for.

Interesting way to conclude Green, now it’s time to look at the hyper aggressive Gruul.

Borborygmos Enraged

Cards like this are always going to be difficult to accurately evaluate. There’s a lot of text on here, and he does an awful lot of work. It’s tough to imagine a situation where you hit with Borborygmos and don’t just win as a result. On the other hand, for eight mana, you could have cast a Griselbrand, or something equally unpleasant, which doesn’t necessarily require you to untap with to take over the game.

My initial impressions are that it’s too expensive, though I’m certainly happy to be proven wrong. Seismic Assault was an excellent win condition, and I played Seismic Swans online to a reasonable success rate, so this might be a chance to relive that experience.

Clan Defiance

Clan DefianceGruul Blaze. It’s a combination of Branching Bolt and Searing Blaze, I guess, both of which were solid cards. It’s going to be quite easy against a lot of decks to engineer a two for one with added damage, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Where it comes up short is in comparison to Bonfire of the Damned. I can’t see it ever being more Constructed playable than Bonfire, which again, shows the difference in power level between the rarities.

Stupid good in Limited obviously, and is well worth splashing, assuming you’re in one of the colours.

Domri Rade

I feel like this serves a really important role in aggressive decks. It’ll be largely forgotten about by the majority of deck builders, due to the extensive constraints he places on deck design, but he’ll be absolutely insane in decks that build themselves sufficiently around him. He reminds me somewhat of Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas in that respect.

The first ability necessitates a creature base of at least 30 creatures, to hit with anything approaching regularity, but the Bloodrush mechanic means that we’re not eschewing non-permanent effects entirely.

The second ability is what makes Domri most interesting to me, due to the excellent number of cost to power ratio creatures, not to mention resilient all-stars like Strangleroot Geist means that Domri’s always dangerous on the board.

The ultimate is pretty unrealistic, but it does effectively end the game with any board presence to speak of.

Of the two ‘walkers in the set, Domri Rade is easily my favourite, and could easily be one of the breakout cards of the set, especially in Block Constructed.

Frenzied Tilling

Frenzied TillingThis is literally Rampant Growth and Stone Rain stapled together. Either individually would be very welcome in Standard, but stapled together, it’s just too much mana for too little return.

It seems like most of the Enchant Land Auras have been pretty bad thusfar in the block, outside of RTR’s Underworld Connections, so possibly it’ll gain in some value when drafting the block as a whole in a sideboard capacity, but until then, it seems somewhat underwhelming, though I suppose it’ll help you ramp to your Borborygmos Enraged…

Ghor-Clan Rampager

This is the best uncommon in the set, not close. It’s such a huge body for the cost, and the Bloodrush mechanic has obviously been pushed to the max for Constructed on this card. There’s very few frills on this card. It’s clear in what it does, and it’s clear what it’s for. Don’t mistake how powerful trample can be in a world with Lingering Souls.

Limited and Constructed staple.

Ground Assault

Ground AssaultAs I’m writing this, my horrible neighbours are blaring some terrible ‘music’ at high volume, and is audible over the sound of Alan Partridge on my television. It’s quite an upsetting assault on my eardrums. Who is it? I couldn’t say with any authority, as I don’t listen to the radio, or keep up with pop music at all, so I’m just going to blame Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj for it. I’ve actually heard of them.

This card is effectively Spitting Earth, which was a solid limited removal spell, while not really bothering constructed. Red decks really, really want their removal to go to the face, unless it’s something exceptional like Skred. I don’t see this breaking the mould.

Gruul Charm

If ever there were a misnomer…

I’ll really need to play with this card to try it out, but initially, I think it’s the worst of the ten. The first ability is a solid game ender, I guess, but the rest of the abilities seem pretty poor to me. Is this the only one of the charm cycle that doesn’t see Constructed play, or am I missing some stupidly massive Insurrection type effect that’s going to be commonplace in Standard that would necessitate the second ability?

If the third ability were four rather than three, and could take out Restoration Angel, it’d be more reasonable, but presumably that was very intentional. How disappointing.

Gruul Ragebeast

Gruul RagebeastBomb limited rare. Zero constructed applications. It’s removal and a huge body, in one card. The fact that it triggers itself pushes it from ok to bomby, and that’s very welcome in two colours that typically don’t get removal for bigger creatures.

Primal Visitation

I’m assuming the haste was put on there as a joke.

+3/+3 really isn’t worthwhile. Were it to grant trample, it’s possible this would be limited playable, but at five mana, it’s already at curve topper status, and at this low an impact, it’s unlikely that you won’t have better options. This could really have done with being bumped up a rarity level, and trimming a couple of mana off its cost. Oakenform was a solid limited card, but this is just too expensive to see any play.


RubblehulkRubblehulk scales really well. If cast, he’s typically 6/6 or larger, but when Bloodrushed onto another creature, he’ll usually grant +3/3 or more. This is excellent in tandem with Ghor-Clan Rampager, whose built in trample could do with the boost. I think this might see play in the Domri Rade, creature heavy decks as a quasi-spell that also triggers Domri.

Stupid limited bomb, and is even the Gruul pre-release card, for those who’re into that sort of thing (like me).

Ruination Wurm

Yup, this is pretty big. What does it do? Nothing? Ah, well, I guess this is a limited card at best then. A six mana 7/6 isn’t the worst, but it’s not great either. I’d easily play these in Sealed, but I doubt it’ll make the cut all that often in draft.

Signal the Clans

I thought this was going to be like Congregation at Dawn, but instead, it’s terrible. The total lack of consistency means that far more often than you’d like, you’ll be paying two mana to get the worst of the three creatures on offer. It’s really awkwardly worded too, presumably in an effort to assure no Gifts Ungiven style loopholes that cause it to work better than intended.

It’s probably fine in limited, where you can get your three most appropriate creatures and hope for the best, but in constructed, there’s not much in the way of redundancy, ie our 2 drops aren’t just beaters etc, so this loses a lot of value. This was very disappointing.

Skarrg Guildmage

Skaarg GuildmageThis is very solid for limited play. As with all the Guildmages, he acts as a mana sink, and this gives even more things for your lands to do. There’s very little to say about this card; as with most Gruul cards, it’s very straightforward, and it’s overtly good. An easy first pick, as all of the Guildmages are.

Zhur-Taa Swine

I see this being Bloodrushed far more than I see it being cast. Either mode is fine, I suppose, but it’s one of the more aggressively costed Bloodrush cards, presumably because it doesn’t grant any evasion.

It’s obviously not right for Constructed, but will be a valuable part of the Gruul limited strategy.


Top 5 Cards I Want to Play in Constructed:-

Gruul Charm

1. Domri Rade
2. Ghor-Clan Rampager
3. Experiment One
4. Naturalize (wow, this is slim pickings indeed)
5. Borborygmos Enraged (Just to try him out)

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What are your top 5 cards pick from this guild?


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