This deck list is a community submission from TheGuyWhoNeverGoes4O.
I think the rumblings among the competitive community is that Sultai is the deck to beat. I think there are lots of "decks to beat," and that you should play what you are most comfortable and practiced with. The #RNA meta is beginning to become more concrete. The proverbial cream is rising to the top. The decks have been built, tested, taken to FNM, and reviewed. Still, here at LandSayGo, we are still looking for ways to push the envelope - to "break the meta."
Now, it's important to remember that once a single deck becomes too popular the meta naturally adjusts. People get tired of seeing (and losing to) the same decks over and over. So they collaborate and solve the problem presented to them. Often, the 5-0 MTGO deck lists tend to be emulated vicariously. If it's winning, why not build it and take top prizes at your local game store? Why not take the big hitters to your next PTQ, or cash in your wildcards to play the best lists available on Arena? This community submission is clever, unique, and powerful. Let's get to the review.
Walker, Ixalan Ranger
If Chuck Norris was a Planeswalker, his +1 ability would win you every game of Magic: The Gathering being played globally at the time you put the trigger on the stack, and force each player who lost to ante a card and mail it to you. Since Chuck Norris is not a Planeswalker, we will have to settle for Wildgrowth Walker. This elemental was exciting in Ixalan, played through rotation, used in Golgari good stuff as a staple, and now dominates Standard in a Sultai shell. Our community submission has scraped the Wildgrowth Walker, Jadelight Ranger, and Merfolk Branchwalker package out of Sultai, and jammed them into the Grull shell. I have tested this deck in nearly 20 matches at this point, and you know what? Wildgrowth Walker is the real deal.
At first glance, the deck may seem like we are trying to do too much, but the author is on to something here. TheGuyWhoNeverGoes4O, has elected to utilize an interesting strategy here. It's effectively a setup for our opponent - we are expecting to ship several cards to the sideboard and replace them after game one. Electing to utilize the element of surprise in game two, and hope that our opponent is bringing in answers that are not suited to help.
Wildgrowth Walker, Jadelight, and Branchwalker have to be responded to; your opponent will elect to answer this synergy. It's the life gain and toughness increase of the Walker that can ruin a game for your opponent. It can be devastating to allow it to slide. Explore triggers in combination with Riot triggers are a new way to approach aggro; I think it is exciting and dynamic. We are adding a layer to our creatures that makes them tougher and faster - either approach is acceptable - I almost always elect to give my creatures Haste while playing this list. We are, after all, playing a deck that aims to pressure the life total fast, from multiple sources. I can definitively say, that in a deck running Rhythm of the Wild, and this explore package, you will at times find yourself conflicted about the appropriate line of play. Let any confusion be settled here: either line - Explore or GCG/Rhythm is acceptable. Our top end should end the game if not countered or removed immediately.
This is a Ghalta Deck...I think.
Red/Green Ghalta is nothing new, but we are doing it in Riot-Chamber Guardians with new cards and new synergies. The end result is the same, at least, as faithfully mentioned by our author, in game one. Stick a Rhythm of the Wild and start powering out creatures. Ravnica Allegiance has brought us a trio of Gruul staples - three cards that represent the other side of our opening line in this deck. The question then becomes which do you choose, and does a hybridized opening hand, that Explores and Riot's work? Growth-Chamber Guardian is the early engine when using Rhythm of the Wild. We are getting free counters, and searching for additional copies of the card to quickly flood the board. I've learned my lesson about playing too many copies too quickly though, especially with how prevalent board wipes seem to be.
Rather, show some patience. If your opponent is not responding to your active threats and we are pressuring the life total, then it's okay to hold back some reserves (at least enough to bounce back if needed). I said it in an article from last week, and I'll say it again: Gruul Spellbreaker is a linchpin in Gruul aggro. It dismisses Settle the Wreckage as a viable option for Esper Control, but does little for us in the way of avoiding a Ritual of Soot. We get stacked Riot triggers with Rhythm and potentially a 4/4 with Haste or a 5/5 with Trample. Just a commentary on Rhythm decks while we are on the subject...I think this deck benefits from splashing blue. I have been testing variants that run Dive Down and Spell Pierce, and it can make for some serious blowouts. Cast Creatures, Cast Ghalta on the cheap side, Profit!
Let's talk about this Dragon...
I think you are better served by going all in on this creature, or not. Drop this single copy of this card for another copy of Nullhide Ferox, or better, Vivien Reid. The "incidental" of drawing this card can be great, especially with an active Rhythm in play. The additional options it creates in providing us an expensive shock can be great, the flying damage can be great, but it just doesn't fit here. Which brings us full circle on my desire to see a splash of blue. A mono-red Dragon does not say "play blue," but my thought process on this card is that it could be truly devastating in an Adapt/Riot profile using Biomancer's Familiar to reduce the cost of the shocks, and power out Incubation Druids to pay for them. We also get access to Krasis, and a litany of other blue options. Ya dig?
Free Radical Radha...
I recently posted an article on Under-Used Legends. I can't tell you how happy it made me to see the author has included Radha in their Riot build. This creature is a surprisingly effective way to cast Ghalta. Again, after extensive testing, and despite my excitement about the inclusion of this card, I am not sure if we are not better equipped by running additional copies of Nullhide Ferox. I get Radha here, I like Radha here, but is it a detractor from our overall game plan? Ultimately, no. The innate Haste ability of Radha, and mana bonuses outweigh the need for more Nullhide Ferox's. Also, with Unmoored Ego becoming more of a "thing" I like that we are not hamstrung when our opponent chooses Ferox. Radha and Rhythm of the Wild is a beautiful synergy.
Big Mean Green Machine...
Since Dominaria we have been using Steel Leaf Champion to power out Ghalta. It doesn't hurt that Steel Leaf also introduces a substantial amount of pressure to our opponents life total, and represents early game evasive combat for our board. Steel Leaf Champion is an incredible card; it's dynamite ready to explode with an active Rhythm of the Wild in play. No way around it, it's an all-star, especially when it comes to drawing out our opponent's removal spells!
Nullhide Ferox could really only be made better by giving it Haste. I love that this curves so well with Rhythm of the Wild, and if required, that we can get a 7/7 for 4 mana. WHAT!? Ferox does argue with Radha in terms of innate casting cost, but the author of this deck has deliberately excluded Llanowar Elves from this list. It's not about casting Ghalta as fast as we can (it kind of is), so much as casting Ghalta when we can after we have stuck a Rhythm of the Wild. We want a Haste Ghalta! Your opponent will never be prepared to withstand the onslaught without instant speed removal.
Sideboard Options & Additional Commentary...
Damping Sphere is very interesting. In our authors own words, this Artifact is used to "make it as hard as possible for our opponent to storm off..." Okay. Clever. My initial perception of this card taking two slots in the sideboard was not a favorable one. It wasn't until testing that I realized, specifically against Experimental Frenzy and Izzet Drakes/Phoenixes decks, that this works. It's not truly taxing, but it can stifle the progression of cantrips enough to slow our opponent down...a little. My recommendation would still be to cut this card. Our deck would be better in using our two sideboard slots for other enchantment and flyer control. I recommend Thrash//Threat, Collision//Colossus, Crushing Canopy, and Naturalize over Damping Sphere.
Banefire is an exceptional utility card; we can end the game, nuke a Planeswalker, or offer unpreventable-uncounterable damage to creature. Fiery Cannonade is the closest can get to Pyroclasm, and the best part is, our creatures should reliably survive the blast. I would recommend you also entertain: Dire Fleet Daredevil (for maximum shenanigans), and Shivan Fire, which has been stellar in my testing.
Cindervines is an obvious choice in Gruul aggro. We need ways to interact with pesky enchantments and artifacts, and are looking for a way to punish our opponent's who do not wish to exchange blood between creatures on the battlefield. The author of this list includes 4 copies in the sideboard, effectively making Damping Sphere even less important and effective - drop the Sphere. I would much rather our opponent be dealing themselves damage to cast their noncreature spells. Heck, dropping the Damping Sphere also gives us additional slots in the sideboard to run more copies of Skarrgan Hellkite or Domri, Chaos Bringer. Cindervines is versatile and effective, and should be used liberally to demand blood on the battlefield.
Kraul Harpooner is strictly better in an Undergrowth deck. In fact, I rarely bring this card in at all when play this list. I do not need it to help me ramp to Ghalta, flyers do not pressure us enough to need it, but it does crap on Mono-Blue tempo. I mean, it is the best answer green has to mono-blue, and therefore I believe its inclusion is correct - if not necessary. I will mention that in my testing I experimented with Legion Warboss in the sideboard over the Harpooner and the results were awesome. Maybe it was my opponents during those matches, maybe it was my curve or draws, but Legion Warboss in this deck was surprisingly competitive. Siege-Gang Commander is a great sideboard option for this deck too if you are into throwing curve balls. Try it; holla back.
I'm going to be right on the nose here with our author, but this card feels like an after thought. No Reach, No Trample, no 6/6 for 6 mana? Search for Azcanta is easily remedied by Cindervines before it gets a chance to flip. I just can't get behind Ravager Wurm as an inclusion in this list, it feels like a waste. I have several suggestions to replace this card in the sideboard; the cards mentioned previously, but also a sneaky card I have been using in testing...Tectonic Rift. I have had some crazy interactions with this card. I originally started with Cosmotronic Wave to make everything unblockable, but being able to target a land for destruction and make our ground forces unblockable (except by flyers) has been an excellent combat trick no one sees coming!
We are still building this community, we are still trying to make the #Magic happen (pun intended). It is because of these community submissions that we get to post our Tuesday articles. We need you help, and want to review your decks. Magic: The Gathering is a community driven game, and I believe that ingenuity is never really done in a game so diverse. Maybe, one day, A.I. will be building our decks, but until that point we have to rely on one another to keep things fresh and interesting.
A big thanks to TheGuyWhoNeverGoes4O, this is his second community submission, and an awesome deck to boot! We cannot wait to see your next one!
See you tomorrow for a brand new brew!