Last updated on October 16, 2021
Wrenn and Seven | Illustration by Heonhwa Choe
What Standard will look like with so many cards leaving remains unclear, so a powerful proactive strategy is a safe choice for the first few weeks. I’m going to look into building an aggressive green deck with these two powerhouses for this reason.
Looking at the cards you can pair with Wrenn and Chariot, Reckless Stormseeker is a natural choice. Red also provides good interaction and some werewolf synergies, so I’ll be looking into Gruul for the new Standard.
Let’s take a look at our deck for the day, shall we?
Below is the deck I played in the MTGO Standard Challenge on September 26. I was defeated by Blood on the Snow decks but my friend MaxMagicer was able to top 8 and make the semifinals with the same list.
Esika’s Chariot (Showcase Frame) | Illustration by WolfSkullJack
The plan with Gruul is to curve out with mana efficient threats and snowball an early advantage into an insurmountable board presence. You can give Esika’s Chariot haste right away and attack if you play Reckless Stormseeker into the artifact, effectively putting 10 power into play off of one card for four mana. You can follow this up with Wrenn and Seven, making a 5/5 treefolk to crew and copy with your Chariot.
These cards are a nightmare for any deck. Your threats are too diverse for the conditional counterspells available in Standard to line up well and too powerful for the removal to slow you down. Any deck that isn’t specifically prepared to deal with fast Chariots is going to struggle to compete with what Gruul is doing.
Now that you have a clear plan, how do you best facilitate it? Gruul has traditionally played Jaspera Sentinel and Magda, Brazen Outlaw to ramp out its Chariots. Midnight Hunt gives you Kessig Naturalist so you’ll have to make a choice about how much and what sorts of ramp to play. I’ve seen some people play Prosperous Innkeeper as well, so there’s a lot of good options!
So what other cards fill out the deck?
Briarbridge Tracker is a solid choice. It replaces itself by giving you a Clue and plays well with and against Chariot. Werewolf Pack Leader is another nice option because it survives all the 2-damage removal like Cinderclasm and combines with Reckless Stormseeker to draw you a card on turn 3.
There’s also an awful lot of wolves and werewolves in this deck, so you’ve got to take advantage! Tovolar, Dire Overlord is a good way to cash in on having a board full of wolves. I also like Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope because it gives you a good reason to pass the turn and make it Night, powering up all your nightbound creatures and giving you more wolves for Tovolar triggers and a way to crew stranded Chariots.
Shatterskull Smashing remains the best DFC land so including four of those is natural. I played all Gruul decks the first week, so I have two copies of Burning Hands to nuke big green creatures and enemy Wrenns.
I notably haven’t included any Den of the Bugbear in my main deck because if you want to cast Werewolf Pack Leader on turn 2 and Reckless Stormseeker on turn 3, you need untapped red mana sources. You’ll have to settle for Lair of the Hydra since you can’t play Den.
Burning Hands is the most natural sideboard inclusion for any red deck. Crush the Weak is great for dealing with wide boards since players have been trying to beat Gruul by going wide with Scute Swarm and similar cards.
Sunstreak Phoenix is good to have against decks with a lot of removal. Burn Down the House is important for recovering board control in midrange matchups. Inferno of the Star Mounts is a trump card for any flyers and can’t be countered by pesky blue mages.
Plummet is the best tool to kill dragons. Ranger Class helps you use your mana and pace your threats when you’re up against decks with sweepers. Den of the Bugbear is here to help you cast Inferno of the Star Mounts and give you another threat against control decks.
Burning Hands | Illustration by Olena Richards
This deck plays straightforward most of the time. In a perfect world you simply spend all your mana each turn and attack with everything. Your opponent will die quickly. But there are some things to be mindful of.
Midrange Mirror Matchups
You need to identify where the possible attacks can occur in midrange mirrors. This matchup mostly revolves around resolving Wrenn and Seven or attacking with uncontested Esika’s Chariot so position yourself to be the one doing that and make sure you aren’t leaving yourself open to your opponent doing it first.
For example, try to keep up good double blocks for Chariot. Consider holding your Shatterskull Smashings in hand to deal with Wrenn. These matchups often come down to one player finding sneaky lethal lines while both are racing, so be mindful of your opponents’ haste threats and the cards either player could draw to improve their game state.
Control decks rely on you overplaying your hand so be conservative. Count the cards in your opponent’s hand and how much mana they have left open. If you think they’re holding counterspells, consider sinking your mana into Lair of the Hydra instead of casting something.
Try to hold your haste creatures for after your opponent casts their sweepers and don’t overcommit to the board when you have a good enough clock in play. If you’re facing a red deck post-board and you have another play, consider waiting for six lands to cast Wrenn and Seven so the treefolk survives Burn Down the House. Moments like this are a good time to attack with your Lair so you don’t get blown out by the sweeper.
Tips and Tricks
Crush the Weak | Illustration by Lucas Graciano
- Werewolf Pack Leader combines with Reckless Stormseeker to draw you a card right away. Pack Leader also provides an important role in gaining trample. Sometimes you can win by giving it trample and casting Cathartic Pyre on your opponent’s blocker to punch through.
- It’s okay to chump attack with Kessig Naturalist to get the extra mana. Your opponent might be too scared to block and dropping a card to put one of your bigger threats into play early can be worth losing your creature.
- Tovolar, Dire Overlord plays multiple roles. Drawing extra cards when your opponent is shields-down is obviously great, but don’t forget that Tovolar gives werewolves extra power and trample. Sometimes you need to make it Night so that you can punch through for lethal.
- Esika’s Chariot can copy any token. You have a lot of tokens to choose from: Treasure, Clue, wolf, cat, and treefolk. Don’t limit yourself to only copying its cats!
- Arlinn, the Moon’s Fury enters nightbound during Night with haste and trample. This is one of the sneakier ways to put extra damage on the table.
Sideboarding with Gruul is pretty straightforward. I’ll still offer some ways you can sideboard against the various types of decks you might face but I encourage you to experiment and get a better understanding of sideboard theory in general rather than just following a script.
Green Aggro Matchups
It’s important that your cards are as high impact as possible in these matchups since you’ll be trading resources a lot. Kessig Naturalist can’t freely attack into bigger creatures.
Izzet Dragons Matchups
Izzet Dragons has Cinderclasm and you don’t want to overextend into it, so I like cutting the Kessig Naturalists here as well. Since you’re boarding in 6-mana spells you want to have Den of the Bugbear to ensure you have enough mana to cast them.
Burn Down the House is the most notable sideboard inclusion. The only thing that’s certain about the current Standard metagame is that Esika’s Chariot reigns supreme. Chariot decks tend to snowball out of control no matter what your opponent does so having a way to reset the board can be extremely powerful.
I like the card even more because it’s modal. Sometimes your board is too good to destroy, but you still need to spend your mana. The devils are excellent chump block fodder for helping you race when boards are more equal.
Lair of the Hydra (Showcase Frame) | Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
It’ll be interesting to see what players come up with to compete in the new Standard. I think the best thing you can do is play with the most powerful cards until the meta is defined, those being Wrenn and Seven and Esika’s Chariot. They’re too strong!
I’ve been thinking of adding Kazuul’s Fury to the deck to take advantage of board stalls and big treefolk. I think one of the ways this build loses is getting stopped on board while your opponent generates card advantage and something like Fury could break the game in your favor when that happens. It’ll be easier to decide how best to confront the meta as it starts to take shape.
Go get mythic, win an SCG, top 8 an MTGO challenge, or just have fun playing however you enjoy most!