Last updated on February 13, 2024
Skarrg Goliath | Illustration by Scott Chou
One of the special features of Ravnica-based sets is the representation of the guilds and the mechanics that fit them in each iteration. The Gruul Clans have a single mentality, and that’s to smash, or what MTG players call Caveman Aggro decks.
Today we’re taking a look at bloodrush, the Gruul mechanic for 2013’s Gatecrash. It isn’t necessarily the most powerful mechanic, but it’s probably the one that best catches the Gruul aspect of attacking and making your creatures very big and menacing.
Without further ado, let’s see what bloodrush offers us, which are its best cards, and what a bloodrush deck can look like to top it off.
Rubblehulk | Illustration by Raymond Swanland
Bloodrush is a mechanic found only on creatures. In the vein of split cards, bloodrush offers you two possibilities. One is simply to cast the creature by paying its mana cost. The other is to discard it by paying the bloodrush cost. If you do, until the end of the turn, you’ll add the power and toughness of the bloodrush creature to another attacking creature, as well as the keywords the creature has. The most defining characteristic of this mechanic is that you can only apply the benefit to attacking creatures; it doesn’t work on defense or elsewhere.
Rubblebelt Maaka is a boring Hill Giant, but you can bloodrush it for a single to make it work as a red Giant Growth. We can consider it a split card containing Hill Giant and Giant Growth on the same card. Ghor-Clan Rampager is a more interesting example because it’s a 4/4 that has trample, so the bloodrush ability adds +4/+4 and trample. Bloodrush is an activated ability like the channel mechanic, so people can’t counter the ability with counterspells. You can however Stifle it. It’s also a way to play combat tricks without lowering your creature count, which is very important in Limited and in very low-to-the-curve aggressive decks.
Bloodrush was created as a mechanic for the Ravnica Gruul Clans in the Gatecrash set, released in 2013. Gatecrash had 11 creatures with the bloodrush mechanic across common, uncommon, and rare. Dragon’s Maze, the set that came shortly after, added two more designs, totaling 13 bloodrush cards. The mechanic hasn’t been used ever since in newer sets, with some old bloodrush cards being reprinted here and there in Masters sets and Commander sets. Since it’s a guild mechanic, all bloodrush cards are green, red, or .
No, it's not. It’s an activated ability, where you have to pay the bloodrush cost and discard the card to get the benefit.
Yes, it is. Bloodrush is very similar to channel, in that you have to pay the cost of the card and discard the bloodrush card. It uses the stack and can be responded to, often via killing the creature about to get bloodrushed.
You can activate bloodrush at instant speed, whenever you have priority. However, you can only benefit an attacking creature, so you can only use bloodrush during combat and after attackers have been declared. You can bloodrush your opponents’ attacking creatures too, and it can be an interesting play to mess with combat in EDH when only your opponents are involved.
You can activate bloodrush only once per card. However, you can activate multiple bloodrush cards in a single attack, provided that you have mana to spare and several bloodrush cards in hand.
Yes. Using a Stifle effect on bloodrush is a powerful play because you’ll counter the ability and the bloodrush card goes to the graveyard without any effect. Since you can’t counter bloodrush using ordinary counterspells, it’s one of the best ways to deal with bloodrush.
- Ghor-Clan Rampager
- Pyrewild Shaman
- Rubblebelt Maaka
- Scab-Clan Charger
- Skarrg Goliath
- Skinbrand Goblin
- Viashino Shanktail
- Wasteland Viper
- Wrecking Ogre
- Zhur-Taa Swine
Rubblehulk is a nice fit for ramp decks since you can pay 3 mana to give +X/+X to a particular creature. It’s not hard to have 10+ lands in EDH in ramp decks or landfall decks, so this card can be a very efficient pump spell. Decks like Lord Windgrace EDH sometimes play this card.
I’d rate Ghor-Clan Rampager as number one on this list mostly because it’s the card that saw the most play, especially in Modern Zoo decks. Remember when Wild Nacatl decks were a thing? Unfortunately by today’s standards, the card would need to be larger, have more abilities, or draw some cards to see play, so there’s that. This card can see some play in aggressive Gruul Pioneer decks or aggressive EDH decks.
It’s hard to argue with Skarrg Goliath’s size, and considering that some green-based EDH decks just want to cast big stuff or cheat big stuff into play, it’s an interesting fit for the format. With commanders like Nikya of the Old Ways around, you can bloodrush it or cast it for very cheap. Using a single card to give +9/+9 and trample can mess with combat big time, it’s hard to counter, and you can even help a player kill another one.
Decklist: Ghost of Ramirez DePietro + Tana, the Bloodsower EDH
Tana, the Bloodsower | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve
Brallin, Skyshark Rider
Dragon's Rage Channeler
Drift of Phantasms
Rielle, the Everwise
Shinen of Flight's Wings
Vizier of Tumbling Sands
Desert of the Fervent
Desert of the Indomitable
Desert of the Mindful
Bloodrush is a creature ability, so it works well in decks that don’t want to cast noncreature spells like Nikya of the Old Ways EDH or Ruric Thar, the Unbowed EDH decks. It won’t synergize well on Zada, Hedron Grinder EDH for the same reasons. It can also work very well on decks that want to attack and deal damage like Saskia the Unyielding EDH.
This decklist though seems to be tailor-made for the bloodrush ability. It’s a partnership between Ghost of Ramirez DePietro and Tana, the Bloodsower, and both commanders work very well with bloodrush. Ramirez lets you return your bloodrush card you just used on it if it dealt combat damage, and it has some evasion to help connect. Tana lets you cast all bloodrush spells, and it’s also very suited for a combat trick-heavy deck because it has trample. The more damage it deals, the more tokens you’ll make.
Let’s walk through a few interesting things about this deck.
- Ghost of Ramirez DePietro works very well with cycling cards and discard effects since you can retrieve a card from your graveyard that was put there this turn. You can cycle a card, hit with Ramirez, and get your card back. It also works the same way with bloodrush, so you can freely bloodrush into your commander and get the card back.
- Tana, the Bloodsower basically asks you to attack and pump it so you can get a lot of tokens. Attack with Tana, bloodrush Scorchwalker, and suddenly you’re making an absurd number of tokens.
- Cards that reward you for discarding are very good in this deck and work well with cycling, bloodrush, channel, and similar mechanics. Looting is very good in this deck, and cards from the Amonkhet block that reward you for cycling or discarding are good as well.
- Rielle, the Everwise is awesome with bloodrush because you’ll get two cards from a bloodrush activation.
- This deck has cards like Reap the Past, Regrowth, and other similar recursion cards, so you can make the most of your bloodrush creatures.
Ghor-Clan Rampager | Illustration by Charles Urbach
Bloodrush is an interesting mechanic, but as with most mechanics and cards released before 2018, its power level is very low for today’s MTG standards. There isn’t a single pushed bloodrush card that fits in with today’s MTG’s power level, and considering that Ghor-Clan Rampager was a solid card in Modern aggro decks five years ago, we can see how powerful future bloodrush cards need to be in order to see play. Mechanics like convoke, bloodthirst, and surveil debuted in Ravnica sets, so it’s a safe bet that bloodrush can return to a Standard set someday, hopefully with a little more oomph.
Do you guys want to see bloodrush back? Or would you like a broader mechanic like channel to occupy this design space from now on? Let me know what you think in the comments section below, or let’s discuss it over on Draftsim's Discord.
Signing off folks, and let’s keep surprising opponents on attack steps.Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: