While I might have expressed my love for Snubhorn SentrySnubhorn Sentry in an earlier article, what really gets me into the rhythm is Stomping GroundStomping Ground and everything that entails.
I’ve played a lot of RG Valakut in Modern, obviously sporting the full playset of those gorgeous lands. The very same ones helped me to my first big achievement when I won a World Magic Cup Qualifier in 2014 with this magnificent Gruul Aggro deck:

Gruul Aggro by Simon Nielsen

Creatures (33)
Elvish MysticElvish Mystic
Experiment OneExperiment One
Burning-Tree EmissaryBurning-Tree Emissary
Kalonian TuskerKalonian Tusker
Scavenging OozeScavenging Ooze
Fanatic of XenagosFanatic of Xenagos
Boon SatyrBoon Satyr
Ghor-Clan RampagerGhor-Clan Rampager
Polukranos, World EaterPolukranos, World Eater

Spells (5)
Aspect of HydraAspect of Hydra
Flesh // BloodFlesh // Blood
Lands (22)
ForestForest
MountainMountain
Stomping GroundStomping Ground
Temple of AbandonTemple of Abandon
MutavaultMutavault
Mana ConfluenceMana Confluence

Sideboard (14)
Domri RadeDomri Rade
SkylasherSkylasher
Nykthos, Shrine to NyxNykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Flesh/BloodFlesh/Blood
Polukranos, World EaterPolukranos, World Eater
Scavenging OozeScavenging Ooze
Chandra, PyromasterChandra, Pyromaster
Aspect of HydraAspect of Hydra
Setessan TacticsSetessan Tactics

Keep in mind that this was a time when the best decks played maindeck Lifebane ZombieLifebane Zombie, Tidebinder MageTidebinder Mage or Supreme VerdictSupreme Verdict!

The Third Coming

Stomping Ground is back!

Rhythm of the Wilds Stomping Ground by James Paick

Stomping Ground by James Paick

But enough reminiscence of the past. Naturally, with the 3rd coming of Stomping GroundStomping Ground I want to look at ways to build a similar aggressive Gruul deck. I’m so sad that Thrash // ThreatThrash // Threat can’t target players. And I will never get a good Ghor-Clan RampagerGhor-Clan Rampager replacement. But what I will get is this beefed up version of Fires of YavimayaFires of Yavimaya.

I’m sure you heard of it. It’s ascension upon us has been heralded for decades. During the 90’s Corona sang about it, accompanied by contemporary electro beats:

“This is the rhythm of the wild
The wild
Oh yeah
The rhythm of the night”

Or something like this.
I also distinctly remember George Michaels soft voice singing his famous quote:
“Guilty feet ain’t got no rhythm of the wild”

 

Get into the Rhythm

Haste, counters and a crab-rare

Rhythm of the Wild Growth-Chamber Guardian by Bram Sels

Growth-Chamber Guardian by Bram Sels

Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild can do so many cool things. Not only do you always have the option to give your creatures haste, but whenever that’s not useful you instead get a sort of anthem-effect. On top of that you get to make the poor Azorius players’ new AbsorbAbsorb worthless.
The most fruitful interaction springs from a wonderful collaboration between the guilds of Simic and Gruul. That way you profit from the ability of Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild to sneak +1/+1 counters onto your creatures. Growth-Chamber GuardianGrowth-Chamber Guardian is a prime example of this.

I must say I’m hooked on Growth-Chamber GuardianGrowth-Chamber Guardian. Over just a couple games it has grown on me and shown itself to be more than a crab rare. Now I feel quite attached to it and for me it has clawed its way to the prime candidate for the most format defining card of new Standard.
It’s just the fact that you pretty much have to kill it on turn 2, otherwise you’ll face down a 4/4 which is a decent size in the early game and have allowed your opponent to fetch up another one.
But where it gets really exciting is with other ways of planting a +1/+1 in its face. This is where Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild comes in. With the enchantment in play, you don’t even have to pay the three mana. Just give it a counter with Riot and you’ve created yourself the beautiful spawn between a Squadron HawkSquadron Hawk and a WatchwolfWatchwolf.

 

Not Gruul? Then Die!

What everything looks like together

Gruul Spellbreaker by Zoltan Boros

If we interlock these new interactions with my vision of an aggressive Gruul deck, we get something like this:

GRUUL Aggro by Simon Nielsen

Creatures (28)
Llanowar ElvesLlanowar Elves
Pelt CollectorPelt Collector
Gruul SpellbreakerGruul Spellbreaker
Zhur-Taa GoblinZhur-Taa Goblin
Kraul HarpoonerKraul Harpooner
Growth-Chamber GuardianGrowth-Chamber Guardian
Legion WarbossLegion Warboss
Nullhide FeroxNullhide Ferox

Spells (10)
Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild
Lava CoilLava Coil
Integrity/InterventionIntegrity/Intervention
Lands (22)
Temple GardenTemple Garden
Stomping GroundStomping Ground
Rootbound CragRootbound Crag
ForestForest
MountainMountain

Sideboard (15)
Deathgorge ScavengerDeathgorge Scavenger
Lava CoilLava Coil
Vivien ReidVivien Reid
Thrashing BrontodonThrashing Brontodon
Domri, Chaos BringerDomri, Chaos Bringer
Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze
BanefireBanefire
Shivan FireShivan Fire
Legion WarbossLegion Warboss

This my starting point for Gruul after playing a couple of matches.
I started with 4 Kraul HarpoonerKraul Harpooner and a couple Ghalta, Primal HungerGhalta, Primal Hunger in the deck, because they both synergize together and both put on incredible pressure with haste from Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild. But the deck doesn’t exactly power out Ghalta that well. Compared to mono green we lack the 5-power 3-drops and have fewer creatures overall. Furthermore, Kraul HarpoonerKraul Harpooner is fragile with only 2 toughness and will often run into blockers when you give it haste.
Zhur-Taa GoblinZhur-Taa Goblin on the other hand convinced me through and through. With flashbacks to Flinthoof BoarFlinthoof Boar, this card is just a WatchwolfWatchwolf with upside. Because when you need haste, it’s usually very very good.

Hasty Ferox and Warboss Synergies

The stuff of nightmares for opponents

Nullhide Ferox by Filip Burburan

Nullhide FeroxNullhide Ferox with haste. That’s one of the scariest sentences I can come up with. Usually when you play that card on turn 3 on the play, you can get an attack in before the opponent gets ANY chance to interact with it. Well, now when you curve Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild into it, you get the same effect. And if you manage to do all this with a Llanowar ElvesLlanowar Elves, you get TWO attacks in before the opponent can interact. That’s a big yikes.
I’m not sure if Legion WarbossLegion Warboss really fits the deck, but works well with haste and shines with Llanowar ElvesLlanowar Elves, so I want to give it a shot. It also gets help from another new addition: Integrity // InterventionIntegrity // Intervention.
I don’t know yet if it’s the right call to play this off-color split card, but I noticed that it can be problematic to break through if you face down any bigger creature. I also wanted some more reach, and the addition of a playset of Temple GardenTemple Garden fixes this easily. That one even casts Integrity in case you need to use your red mana elsewhere!

For the sideboard, it’s mostly a mess right now. I will note that Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze impressed me a lot more than I anticipated, and this is a card I will explore further. It’s also a good alternative candidate as a value 5-drop, as Vivien ReidVivien Reid doesn’t exactly combo with Nullhide FeroxNullhide Ferox.

There’s Always a Bigger Fish

Getting a Dragon into the Gruul

Skarrgan Hellkite by Svetlin Velinov

One card that I’ve omitted from this last list is Skarrgan HellkiteSkarrgan Hellkite (though I did also forget about it when I built the deck). This is one that also works particularly well with Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild, as you really want a +1/+1 counter on it but also would like to get in for 5 free damage.
This version does not have a manabase to support double red, but perhaps you could fix this with a bigger version that includes another card that works wonderfully with Rhythm of the Wilds ability to cheat counters onto creatures.

Bigger GRUUL by Simon Nielsen

Creatures (28)
Llanowar ElvesLlanowar Elves
Incubation DruidIncubation Druid
Growth-Chamber GuardianGrowth-Chamber Guardian
Gruul SpellbreakerGruul Spellbreaker
Rekindling PhoenixRekindling Phoenix
Skarrgan HellkiteSkarrgan Hellkite
Nullhide FeroxNullhide Ferox

Spells (8)
Lava CoilLava Coil
Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild
Lands (24)
Stomping GroundStomping Ground
Rootbound CragRootbound Crag
10 ForestForest
MountainMountain

Sideboard (15)
Carnage TyrantCarnage Tyrant
Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze
Fight with FireFight with Fire
Legion WarbossLegion Warboss
Thrashing BrontodonThrashing Brontodon
Shivan FireShivan Fire
Incubation DruidIncubation Druid becomes the most absurd mana dork when you play it after Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild. If you have two in play, you can even give your druid haste to act as a ritual!
I’m not sure if this deck has enough mana sinks to take advantage of the Incubation DruidIncubation Druid, but what it does have is scary big monsters!
I’m not as sold on Nullhide FeroxNullhide Ferox in this version, and maybe I run a couple of Fight with FireFight with Fire in the maindeck. That is one way to take advantage of the mana generated by Incubation DruidIncubation Druid!

But what happens if we really set out to take advantage of the interaction between Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild and Incubation DruidIncubation Druid?

Elfball

Turning the power up a notch

Rhythm of the Wild Marwyn the Nurturer by Chris Rahn

Marwyn the Nurturer by Chris Rahn

Both Growth-Chamber GuardianGrowth-Chamber Guardian and Incubation DruidIncubation Druid are Elves. So they slot right into the combo elf deck I tried to make work last autumn. This deck can both take advantage of Rhythm of the Wild as well as the extra mana from our druid. Take a look!

Elfball by Simon Nielsen

Creatures (32)
Beast WhispererBeast Whisperer
Incubation DruidIncubation Druid
Elvish ClancallerElvish Clancaller
Marwyn, the NurturerMarwyn, the Nurturer
Pelt CollectorPelt Collector
Steel Leaf ChampionSteel Leaf Champion
Growth-Chamber GuardianGrowth-Chamber Guardian
Llanowar ElvesLlanowar Elves

Spells (6)
Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild
Vanquisher’s BannerVanquisher’s Banner
Lands (22)
ForestForest
Stomping GroundStomping Ground
Rootbound CragRootbound Crag
Unclaimed TerritoryUnclaimed Territory
MountainMountain

Sideboard (15)
Carnage TyrantCarnage Tyrant
Reclamation SageReclamation Sage
Shapers’ SanctuaryShapers’ Sanctuary
BanefireBanefire
Vivien ReidVivien Reid
Lava CoilLava Coil

Essentially we just want to draw through our deck, provide mana with Marwyn, the NurturerMarwyn, the Nurturer to cast an endless stream of cantripping elves until we finish the game in one big hasty attack.
Now I’m not actually sure if Steel Leaf ChampionSteel Leaf Champion and Pelt CollectorPelt Collector even belong in this deck, but they do act as a neat beatdown plan B. After all Pelt CollectorPelt Collector is still a 1-mana Elf and a turn 2 Steel Leaf ChampionSteel Leaf Champion is still quite nice.

An Alternative Elvish Approach

How to build around Steel Leaf Champion

Rhythm of the Wild Unclaimed Territory by Dimitar

Unclaimed Territory by Dimitar

However, the mana situation keeps me worried about Steel Leaf ChampionSteel Leaf Champion. Because if we want to avoid Guildgates, we need to play 3, preferably 4, Mountains to support Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild and red sideboard cards. And that’s too many Mountains for a deck that might sometimes want to cast Elvish ClancallerElvish Clancaller and Steel Leaf ChampionSteel Leaf Champion on the same turn.
I found a pretty neat way to get around the problem to some degree with the inclusion of Unclaimed TerritoryUnclaimed Territory. It taps for green mana for Steel Leaf Champion and your other elves, but it also lets Incubation DruidIncubation Druid tap for red mana for Rhythm of the Wild!

It is possible that these issues are too much, and Steel Leaf ChampionSteel Leaf Champion needs to go. And if that one is gone, then Pelt CollectorPelt Collector looks a lot less appealing. We could instead focus on a more combo-centric build. Steel Leaf ChampionSteel Leaf Champion could even be a sideboard card.

Considerations to replace them with could be:
Druid of the CowlDruid of the Cowl for even more mana.
More Vanquisher’s BannerVanquisher’s Banner. In a true mana-heavy combo-version, we’d want the full 4.
Incubation // IncongruityIncubation // Incongruity. This one helps you dig deep towards your combo and doubles as a removal spell with the addition of some Breeding PoolBreeding Pools and the ability of Incubation DruidIncubation Druid to tap for blue with an Unclaimed TerritoryUnclaimed Territory in play.

Stony StrengthStony Strength. I saw Yuuya Watanabe play this one on his stream and I think it’s pure genius. It can both whirl up your mana in combination with a Marwyn, the NurturerMarwyn, the Nurturer but also supercharge an Incubation DruidIncubation Druid early.

This deck didn’t get further than the FNM tables last time around, but with this new set, I’m more than willing to give it another spin. At least the exploratory phase is fun!

Almost Mono-red burn

The real boogeyman

Rhythm of the Wild Skewer the Critics by Heonhwa Choe

Skewer the Critics by Heonhwa Choe

I only played a couple of matches of the format, but one deck in particular stood out as a scary early contender. With some new burnspells and Blood CryptBlood Crypt introduced to the format, I thought it was time to dig up the RB Burn decks that caused some stir in the beginning of the format.
I started out as more of a Rakdos deck, until I realised that the only real black spell I wanted was Sovereign’s BiteSovereign’s Bite and I could still fill up the deck even without it. So, I decided to make the manabase much more consistent to never let a swamp get in the way of my plan to cast multiple 1-mana spells a turn. This also let me put Goblin ChainwhirlerGoblin Chainwhirler in the sideboard.
Behold, the power of Mono Red Buuuuuurn!

Rakdos Burn by Simon Nielsen

Creatures (12)
Fanatical FirebrandFanatical Firebrand
Ghitu LavarunnerGhitu Lavarunner
Viashino PyromancerViashino Pyromancer

Spells (26)
Lightning StrikeLightning Strike
Risk FactorRisk Factor
ShockShock
Light Up the StageLight Up the Stage
Wizard’s LightningWizard’s Lightning
Carnival // CarnageCarnival // Carnage
Skewer the CriticsSkewer the Critics
Lands (22)
Blood CryptBlood Crypt
Dragonskull SummitDragonskull Summit
14 MountainMountain

Sideboard (15)
Goblin ChainwhirlerGoblin Chainwhirler
BanefireBanefire
Theater of HorrorsTheater of Horrors
Fight with FireFight with Fire
Lava CoilLava Coil
SwampSwamp

While it may look clunky with all those 3-drops, 12 of them actually only cost 1 under the right conditions which makes the deck play out very smooth. Light up the StageLight up the Stage was better than I anticipated (remember to read that it says “Until the END of your NEXT turn”) and got upped to 4. And now we have this very clean product.
This deck is fast and can be hard to interact with. But it also has enough card advantage that if it wants to it can just decide to point burn spells at the creatures. Postboard you can full control with the aid of Theater of HorrorsTheater of Horrors.
While this was not a Rhythm of the WildRhythm of the Wild deck, it’s one of the early contenders for best deck in Standard. This was mostly just a warning that you should make sure you pack some hate for this deck or can beat it otherwise if you play Standard in the early days of the new format. Otherwise, maybe consider showing up with it yourself and punish those who are unprepared but brought 12 Shocklands.

 

This article was written by Simon Nielsen in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com

Simon Nielsen

Author Simon Nielsen

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