Building and playing a brand new Gruul Landfall deck
My take on landfall has been just about the same since Battle for Zendikar came out. I love the idea of putting an aura and/or some pump spells on a landfall creature and dealing ten to fifteen damage on turn three. Plenty of folks have done that, and it remains a focal point for most landfall decks. However, if you can just drop a landfall creature on turn two and then play ramp spells over the next two turns, is that good enough? Sliderunner is a 4/3 trample for two, Snapping Gnarlid is a 4/4. A few hits from those can cut an opponent's life total way down. That leaves them ripe for the picking to Gaea's Revenge or Rolling Thunder. So let's try out that theory -
3 x Scythe Leopard
2 x Abbot of Keral Keep
4 x Makindi Sliderunner
4 x Snapping Gnarlid
3 x Rolling Thunder
1 x Nissa, Vastwood Seer
2 x Exquisite Firecraft
4 x Nissa's Pilgrimage
1 x Akoum Firebird
3 x Grove Rumbler
4 x Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
2 x Nissa's Renewal
2 x Gaea's Revenge
1 x Omnath, Locus of Rage
5 x Mountain
10 x Forest
2 x Cinder Glade
2 x Rootbound Crag
1 x Rogue's Passage
4 x Evolving Wilds
The two copies of Firecraft start out as Chandra's Ignition, then become Fiery Impulse at the end of the video, then they become Firecraft off camera after more consideration. If you watch the video, you see that Chandra's Ignition is often a bad top-deck and is never really necessary to win the game. I believe Firecraft adds both more reach and more interaction, and is often a great top deck.
Let's battle -
Game One - Bant Midrangish Thingy - Gnarlid shows its power and goes up and over two bounding Krasis. Omnath is in the opener but never gets cast because Gnarls does all the lifting. Nissa flips and Firebird makes a brief appearance. The game, in my opinion, is lopsided because the opponent doesn't make good use of Krasis's tapdown ability to buy time and we nuke the only white source with Moss. 1-0
Game Two - Orzhov Child of Night and two lands - the title says it all, a goldfish game against a really good draw, I think it is a turn five kill. 2-0
Game Three - Abzan Enchantments - We have another great start, our opponent concedes early. Grove Rumbler makes a big, tramply appearance. Acid Moss puts our opponent away, who was stuck with three lands. More goldfish and another turn five kill. 3-0
Game Four - 33:00 - Red Aggro - If you watch one game, watch this. Red aggro appears to have wrecked me with a 3-for-1 Boiling Earth, and I really thought I was beat. I top-deck like a champ and pull it off. Never give up, never surrender. 4-0
Game Five - Boros Aggro - I get slapped for 12 damage in one turn, and I still take the game down. The curve of early landfall creature into Moss into Rolling Thunder is a big game against small aggro strategies. 5-0
Game Six - Izzet Thopters - Early pressure and a Gaea's Revenge hit do just enough to let a timely top-decked Rolling Thunder finish the game. At this point I am getting very lucky in just about every instance of each game. 6-0
Game Seven - Infamous Gemini enters the stream - Red Aggro - Just when I thought I couldn't get luckier - 1:10:40 - Probably the topdeck of the day in a day full of great topdecks. Gemini later told me he had a Firecraft in hand. 7-0
Game Eight - Izzet Thopters - Chandra, not something I have seen in a while and not something I have seen in Thopters. I would have had a hard enough time with double twin bolt, but Chandra goes mythic HAM and makes victory impossible. 7-1
Game Nine - Esper Control - We get mana screwed with a hand I should not have kept. I did the match and realized my odds where bad, and I made the mistake of trying anyway because I had been running so hot all day. My bad, too bad it happened against a good deck. 7-2
Game Ten - Naya Ramp - We get back to having awesome draws and we just run his deck over. Moss seems to make this deck very good against more devoted ramp decks. 8-2.
The deck outperformed my expectations, and I feel I got very lucky very often. The consistency was better than I would expect from a ten game sample, so I am curious if it can keep these great starts and curves going. Overall I found it reliable and exciting to play, although not as exciting as Swell of Growth, Looming Spires :)
Cards that are winners and I wouldn't consider cutting -
The eleven small landfall creatures, Leopard, Gnarls and Sliderunner. They consistently showed up and got hits in.
Rolling Thunder - if you watched the videos, you know this card was clutch.
Nissa - Good early for landfall triggers, good late as a walker.
Nissa's Pilgrimage - Getting two lands instead of just one, such as with Connection, is important enough to keep them over said Connection.
Akoum Firebird - When she showed up, she mattered, and haste is great for this deck.
Grove Rumbler - Keep your Wilds on the battlefield and your opponent can't Fiery Impulse this guy, an important lesson. Trample on this creature is a big deal.
Acid-Moss - This is the right kind of deck for Moss, because almost all of the rest of the cards in the deck apply pressure, and Moss goes best with pressure. This deck applies pressure before and after Acid-Moss, which makes it better here than in other ramp strategies.
Nissa's Renewal - We saw this card show up in a case where little else could have saved me.
Omnath and Gaea's Revenge - The big finishers where indeed big and finished often.
Rogue's Passage - This card showed up a few times and made lethal lines easy to achieve.
Cards that I would start with if I wanted to change some things -
Abbot of Keral Keep - High variance, never felt needed.
Exquisite Firecraft/Fiery Impulse/Chandra's Ignition - I think Craft will be the right card here, but it is untested and I am confident it is better than Impulse and Ignition.
So the deck is pretty tight, without many questions to answer. How good is it? Can it compete with other top decks? Help me find out! I just built the thing after all. Take it for a spin and tell me how it goes.
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