Pioneer: Gruul Ramp Deck Tech & Sideboard Guide

Magic: the Gathering

Deck tech

Pioneer: Gruul Ramp Deck Tech & Sideboard Guide

06/07/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

We will talk in detail about the Ramp deck that becomes a suitable alternative for players who like the archetype, but don't want to play with Pioneer's Mono Green.

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About Gruul Ramp

Gruul Ramp is a deck that has a very similar gameplay to Mono-Green Ramplink outside website that we have in our format currently, but its main difference is that it doesn't rely as much on mana dorks such as Elvish Mystic and Llanowar Elves. The list of this article is a standard build that went 5-0 on June 26, 2022, being pretty comprehensive within the current Metagame.
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Gruul ends up becoming a slightly more favorable deck in environments where we have many interactions (mainly removals), since its main sources of mana advantage are cards that search for lands in its deck like Cultivate and Nissa's Pilgrimage, which are a good way to ramp up with card advantage.
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Incredibly, even without having Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, we still manage to have explosive starts thanks to Arboreal Grazer and Sylvan Caryatid — these being essential in our starting hands, as they are cards which together can make the deck able to ramp up in the initial turns, managing to cast a Cavalier of Thorns or Escape to the Wilds on turn three.
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Regarding the payoffs, we have impactful cards, being big threats like Dragonlord Atarka or creatures that have effects when cast like World Breaker, which can be retrieved from your graveyard as well. And since we don't have the versatility of Karn, the Great Creator here, we count on Ugin, the Spirit Dragon to fulfill this role.
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Gameplay

Mulligan and Stances

The deck has a very linear strategy, meaning you can't pick up a starting hand without Arboreal Grazer or Sylvan Caryatid — by the way, I don't advise you to stick with a hand with only Cultivate or Nissa's Pilgrimage which are turn three ramps, as you need to interact in the initial turns, taking actions in turn one or two. As Pioneer is a fast format, it is important that you can speed up your game as soon as possible. As we have initial turns without many secrets, the change in strategy between each gameplay is the style we should look for our payoffs, seeking to value each of its lines and prioritizing certain plays in each match. For example, against aggressive decks we should look for Dragonlord Atarka or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, which can control the board while being threats. In other games, it can be essential to find World Breaker, which works better against removals while delaying your opponents' plans. On our sideboard we have cards that are essential to gain time in some key games such as Damping Sphere and Weathered Runestone, while others that work to contain the advance of a fast game while favoring our plan such as Courser of Kruphix, which manages to clean our top and gain some life.

Sideboard Guide

Spirits

Here we won't change our initial strategy, we're always looking to have ramps, and in this game, especially the creatures. In the first turns, we should look for a starting hand with at least Arboreal Grazer or Sylvan Caryatid. Otherwise, you will be far behind, as Spirits manages to apply pressure quickly during the initial turns and will seek to control your game after that. So, if you can't ramp up in the first few turns, we'll be forced to cast only one spell per turn — which is easily circumvented by our opponents.

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Post-side, we must have some interaction. As we will have a sweeper, Kozilek's Return, we can remove their first threats, which can give us the time needed to cast Dragonlord Atarka or any of the other bombs we have in the deck. We should be careful with our spells that are easily countered by Mausoleum Wanderer, so we should aim to resolve at least one Ramp. Another key payoff card for this game is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, and avoid taking too much early damage, as Faceless Haven might be the finisher needed after Ugin, the Spirit Dragon establishes the board.

Azorius Control

Against Azorius Control, we have a relatively smooth matchup, thanks to World Breaker and Emrakul, the Promised End that, if played well, can end the game. In the initial turns, we should play around Censor and attempt to resolve one or another ramp, with Sylvan Caryatid being our best acceleration.

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In the post-side game we change our ​​payoffs, our main function being to deplete our opponents' resources through Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and World Breaker. Being a game that will naturally go into the late game, we've reduced one of our ramps that takes Dovin's Veto in case they don't board it out. The function of returning World Breaker from the graveyard is critical, so be careful with opposing The Wandering Emperor as she exiles our creatures.

Mono Red

This is a matchup where we must try to be as fast as possible. Although it is redundant to point this out, our opponent has a very aggressive and fast deck, but not very interactive with our ramps. Bearing in mind that it can't destroy Sylvan Caryatid, and it has three toughness, it can block our opponents' creatures very well. As for Arboreal Grazer, we should use it to buy time by blocking larger creatures. Our bombs excel at this game. Cavalier of Thorns and Dragonlord Atarka are critical, as they manage to contain our opponents' clock. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is a card that, despite being a good board wipe, can put you in the danger zone if Den of the Bugbear ends the game on the way back.

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In our post-side, we will try to pursue our ramping strategy combined with life gain — Courser of Kruphix fulfills this role, in addition to being a creature that blocks incredibly well Kozilek's Return can be instrumental in clearing the board, as it manages to remove all two-toughness creatures, which are the majority of their deck.

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Greasefang

Against Greasefang, regardless of its version, we have a bad match, as we don't have interactions against our opponents' strategy in our main deck. That is, if they manage to reanimate Parhelion II until turn four or five, we won't be able to hold the 13 flying power clock generated by them. Our only outlet after this would be Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.

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In our post-side, we must prioritize hands with our sideboard or explosive plays. Remember to use Run Afoul before the attackers' declaration, forcing the opponent to sacrifice Parhelion II, with that, we will be able to use Dragonlord Atarka to kill Greasefang, Okiba Boss on the next turn. As plan B we must make our threats fast and seek victory before our opponents can combo, since Weathered Runestone is excellent for buying time, as it prevents Parhelion II from returning from the graveyard.

Rakdos Midrange

Here we must rely a lot on Cavalier of Thorns, as it manages to return resources from our graveyard that were discarded or destroyed, while being a ramp and a threat. Furthermore, Rakdos has only a few removals to kill it, and Cavalier of Thorns greatly favors the exchanges. This game will hardly be decided in speed, almost always going to the late game, and in this aspect we have many more high-impact cards in topdeck than our opponents. Our big threats will always generate a lot of card advantage, Dragonlord Atarka and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon are board and threat control cards, World Breaker is a resource depletion and recursion, which is also a great plan in the late game.

Side in

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Side out

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Our post-side plan is to change some payoffs. Ruric Thar, the Unbowed is a card that serves as a great threat to end the game quickly, managing to deal 12 or even 18 points of damage with a single card, since the opponent cannot destroy it without losing life. Being a deck with numerous interactions, Emrakul, the Promised End is an excellent win condition as we can completely disrupt our opponents' plan. Weathered Runestone has the sole function of preventing Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, as it is a card that brings recursion to our opponents.

Conclusion

If you have any questions about the deck, I'm available in the comments. Until the next time!
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Raphael Martinez

I'm Martinez! Math teacher and in my spare time I do missplays live or on YouTube. Lover of our card game called Magic!

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