Speed Kills: Green Gruul Aggro - Brian Overland
30 March 2013, Comments: 2

There are many viable decks in Magic the Gathering Standard Constructed these days. I say, why not go with "speed kills"? It's fun to have the fastest deck in the format — although you need staying power and card quality as well.



Picture this… With a good draw, you can finish off your opponent so fast he wouldn't even know what hit him. Then, while his or her head is still reeling, go scout other decks, relax, treat yourself to lunch, have a Coke and a smile, and laugh at all the grindy little nerds taking 30 minutes a game rather than 30 seconds.


That's the plan, anyway.


Most Gruul aggro decks are red-based, and for good reason: they get to play Boros Reckoner, an all-star card. But the version presented here — which is green based — is unusual in its large number of turn-3 kills, something virtually unknown in Standard Constructed. You'll not often draw a turn-3 kill in practice, of course (especially since the opponent usually puts up some kind of defense), but the number of quick kills is a sign of how incredibly fast this deck is, even compared to other aggro decks.


Another distinctive feature of this deck is that it's cheap, having no mythic rares and (aside from its lands) almost no rares at all.


Creatures (30)


3x Dryad Militant

3x Arbor Elf

4x Strangleroot Geist

4x Burning-Tree Emissary

3x Lightning Mauler

3x Flinthoof Boar

3x Slaughterhorn

4x Ghor-Clan Rampager

3x Hellrider



Other Spells (9)


3x Rancor

3x Pillar of Flame

3x Searing Spear



Lands (21)


4 Rootbound Crag

4 Stomping Ground

5 Mountain


1 Kessig Wolf Run



About those Turn-3 Kills. Here are a few of them:


  1. Turn one, play a Dryad. (Its 2/1 stat, even without playing another creature, is key here).
  2. Play a second forest and then Rancor the Dryad twice. Do 6 damage.
  3. Play a third Rancor. Using blood rush, discard 2 Slaughterhorns to make your Dyad 8 + 3 + 3 = 14 power. Attack! Now it's Game Over if opponent did nothing to defend him or herself (obviously, a big assumption, but this still shows you the amazing speed of this deck).



  1. Turn one, play a Dryad again (See why I included several of these?).
  2. Turn two is the fun one. Play Burning-Tree Emissary followed by Lightning Mauler (because the Emissary puts RG back into your mana pool when she lands). Mauler and Emissary both have haste, thanks to soulbonding. Now you have a 2/1, 2/2, and a 2/1 creature, all of whom can attack. Do 6 damage.
  3. Attack for another 6 damage. Now you have three mana free and need to do another 8 damage. Again, discard two Slaughterhorns (see why I include these?) to pump your creatures by 6 power, for 12 total damage on the attack. You're up to 18 damage. Do the last 2 with a Pillar of Flame.


It looks like the deck depends heavily on Slaughterhorns, but it doesn't even need those. A turn-one Arbor Elf makes it possible to play Hellrider on turn 3, for massive damage. Consider:


  1. Turn one Elf.
  2. On turn two, three mana are available. Play 2 Burning-Tree Emissaries and a Lightning Mauler. Rancor one of the two attackers (let's say the Lightning Mauler, just for ease of illustration). Do 6 damage.
  3. On turn three, slap down a Hellrider. Now you have four attackers, and thanks to Hellrider's special ability, you do 4 damage just upon declaring attackers. (So far, you've done 10 damage, and turn-3 combat damage hasn't even been applied yet.) Finally, the attackers do:

3 (Hellrider) + 4 (Lightning Mauler plus Rancor) + 2 (Emissary #1) + 2 (Emissary #2)


21 damage total on turn 3.



Staying power is provided in part by Strangleroot Geists, which are not only super fast, but come back nicely from board wipe (Day of Judgment etc) and removal. And… a single copy of Kessig Wolf Run turns otherwise unused lands into extra damage. I'm thinking of trying to squeeze in an Experiment One or two (no pun intended) to give the deck even more resilience.


Tips on playing:


  • Obviously, the blood rush is a two-edged sword. If opponent has mana free, you have to anticipate the possibility of his or her responding to blood rush by simply unsummoning your creature. Ouch!
  • But fortunately, the constant stream of threats you play should force the opponent to tap all his mana out on the early turns to play a blocker or else die. Ideally, then, he has no mana free, and therefore no options, on early turns. In that case, blood-rush away! Blood-rushing by discarding a Rampager is particularly slick, as you win combat after combat,  blowing away blockers and trampling through for significant damage at the same time.
  • Knowing when to mulligan is often a tough decision, with this deck as with others. But if you don't have an aggro start on seven cards (drawing too many lands perhaps) it's worth doing a mulligan to try to get an aggro draw. Remember, it's the steady stream of threats that forces opponent to tap out just to survive, and then you have all the options.


Have fun!

2 responses on “Speed Kills: Green Gruul Aggro

  1. I like this! thanks for share

  2. Laughs says:

    Sucky deck

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