Winning with Gruul Vehicles: tips, tricks & sideboard guide
25/12/2022 · 11 min read
Coming back to Pioneer , I've been really enjoying playing a deck that's in a very good spot in the metagame, having a great matchup against both Rakdos Midrange and MonoGreen Devotion: Gruul Vehicles.
Today I'm going to talk a bit about this deck, making some explanations about the list and how I've sided in the main matchups.
Actually it is also a really good meta call in Explorer, where I ended 7-0 in the latest Metagame Challenge!
My Current version
Recently, a list emerged to combat the influx of Rakdos and Mono-green decks dominating the format. It proved to be quite effective against these decks, and even had a strong matchup against other decks that were a bit behind, like Mono-White Humans and Bant Spirits.
(7 - 0)
100% in — 25-Dec-2022
|3 Scavenging Ooze||$0.35|
|4 Elvish Mystic||$0.79|
|4 Reckless Stormseeker||$5.99|
|4 Lovestruck Beast||$0.35|
|4 Bonecrusher Giant||$0.35|
|4 Llanowar Elves||$0.39|
|3 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship||$6.99|
|4 Esika's Chariot||$9.99|
|3 Obliterating Bolt||$0.25|
|3 The Akroan War||$0.35|
|1 Den of the Bugbear||$7.99|
|1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance||$3.99|
|2 Boseiju, Who Endures||$39.99|
|2 Lair of the Hydra||$2.79|
|4 Karplusan Forest||$2.29|
|4 Stomping Ground||$14.99|
|4 Cragcrown Pathway||//||$5.99|
|1 Jegantha, the Wellspring||$5.99|
|1 Arlinn, the Pack's Hope||$8.99|
|1 The Akroan War||$0.35|
|2 Unlicensed Hearse||$16.99|
|2 Outland Liberator||$0.69|
|2 Damping Sphere||$0.35|
|3 Rending Volley||$3.99|
About the deck
There's not much of a secret to the list, as it relies on 8 drops (or 12, if you count Lovestruck Beast), which are essential to its game plan. Additionally, being on the play has become increasingly important in multiple formats in recent years, due to the power level of cards and their ability to snowball if unanswered, and being on the play with an Elf opener is even better.
Picture this scenario:
- Cast Mana Elf, go.
- Cast Triome, go.
- Cast Reckless Stormseeker, swing for three, go!
Your opponent is already in a tight spot here, as they have to either answer the Elf to avoid taking a huge hit, or make a higher-cost play that leaves a creature that can immediately start swinging. It's a real pickle that the deck takes full advantage of, as it's best at what it does: putting pressure on the opponent. Even if they don't get the Stormseeker, a Lovestruck or even a Bonecrusher as a creature can hit hard by the second turn.
Some lists opt to play with Werewolf Packleader and the wolf is indeed a very good card, but I believe playing without Companion is a mistake.
I've been liking Scavenging Ooze more and more as its replacement. It offers a very relevant life gain, which the deck is lacking and needs, due to the punishing lands like shocks and painlands, as well as graveyard hate which can be important in the first game against decks like Abzan Greasefang and Izzet Phoenix.
Finally, I believe the double GG mana cost can be tricky to make, when we don't have elves on turn 1 or when they die early. The deck has a considerable amount of non-green mana sources and that can be a hindrance to its game plan, especially with Mutavaults in play.
This deck also has a considerable number of removals, with Bonecrusher Giant still being one of the key cards in the current meta. Obliterating Bolt is an upgrade to Lava Coil, which also takes out Planeswalkers.
Additionally, we have the presence of The Akroan War, which is one of the main factors responsible for "turning the tide" in games. It's a card that surprises more and more in this list. It gives us many options: Steal the biggest creature to get rid of the blocker, or a medium one and let the bigger creature kill itself in the third chapter, and also act as a kind of Plague Wind clearing the table according to your plan.
To wrap up the discussion, vehicles are where the true strength of the deck lies. It's reminiscent of the Winota deck, where, in addition to the large creatures your opponent needs to answer, there's the all-too-feared Esika's Chariot, which can take the game on its own. Not far behind in power level is Skysovereign, another one of the main vehicles, and the terror of decks like MonoW and Rakdos, which lack efficient removal and lose creatures on each attack, yet still have to face a lethal and flying attacker.
Below, I will list the top 10 decks in the format and how I have sideboarded against them.
This is one of those matches where playing/drawing/opening Elf matters a lot. We have some great weapons to help us win the game, with The Akroan War being one of the main ones, so save it to steal a real problem creature, like Cavalier of Thorns. Our Elf->Reckless->Chariot curve is very strong, but Old-Growth Troll can be a major problem, as it can block well and ramp itself when it dies.
Skysovereign isn't what we want here, so our plan shifts to killing it as quickly as possible with Embercleave. Outland Liberator may be a bit better than Ooze, destroying Wolfwillow Haven and Old-Growth Troll's aura. Try to apply pressure from the start and mulligan for hands that put you in a more advantageous position in the game, especially by playing Elf on turn 1.
One of the main reasons to play this deck is due to its strong matchup against Rakdos. Both decks present a nightmare for their opponents, but a simple Lovestruck Beast can put on pressure or hold the game if needed. Reckless is a good creature, but it doesn’t attack very well against Bonecrusher Giant and Graveyard Trespasser.
After sideboarding we jump onto the "5th Chariot" in the form of Arlinn and The Akroan War, which can steal big creatures such as Sheoldred and Kroxa (a tip here: if you steal a creature with a vehicle in play, in Chapter 3 you can crew it before activating the ability, killing the creature before it returns to the opponent's control). Outland Liberator has an important function: destroy Fable of the Mirror Breaker, for that alone it is worthwhile to use it. This is one of the matches where playing a mana Elf isn't that important, since the match is mostly based on the late game, it is usually a bit dragged out, filling the table with tokens and vehicles.
This match-up is a bit unfavorable; our opponent is not particularly concerned with what we are doing, being able to remove many creatures in one-for-one trades and applying pressure with flyers or even a Thing in the Ice. Esika's Chariot is the best card here, precisely because it's always two-for-one, forcing our opponent to deal with the tokens and the Chariot. We have a slight advantage in this build, however, as the presence of Scavenging Ooze makes their graveyard plan a bit worse.
After sideboarding, Bonecrusher doesn't kill anything too relevant and still doesn't have a very impressive body for this matchup. We've increased the removal for the cards mentioned earlier and Hearse, which helps control the graveyard and becomes a big threat in the late game. If you want, you can also add Damping Sphere, to slow down the game development a bit by preventing multiple spells in the turn, but I don't think it hinders them too much. Generally, the matchup is unfavorable, but we have good enough cards to steal some games.
A mana Elf curved into Reckless Stormseeker is really great here, as it doesn't have many effective answers to the Werewolf and its draw/go plan gets much worse with a creature that makes the night much more dangerous. We bounce back nicely from Supreme Verdict, mainly thanks to Esika's Chariot's presence.
After sideboarding, we've got a highly efficient removal for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, but it can still hit a Lyra Dawnbringer or a Baneslayer Angel. Because of those cards, we can't cut all of the Akroan Wars - it's unlikely they won't have targets. Outland Liberator is another threat to the draw/go plan that can eventually take out a Temporary Lockdown or even a Shark Typhoon. Arlinn also appears as another good option to play after Verdict.
The presence of Scavenging Ooze makes G1 much better, as few lists have removals for it pre-sideboard. Aside from that, we don't have much to do: try to put a lot of pressure with big creatures and flood the board with tokens, not giving much time to set up the graveyard. Post-sideboard we have more answers to the combo with graveyard hate, artifact destruction, and Embercleave to unlock blockers.
The pressure is on here, aggressively mulliganing in G1 for the perfect Elf->big creature curve. Post sideboard we bring in cards we don't want when our opponent has few creatures, like Damping Sphere which is devastating and more pressure cards, with Embercleave being especially important to finish the game as quickly as possible.
One of the best decks around. A simple Akroan War can be devastating, despite the presence of Hopeful Initiate. We have some big creatures, can fill the board with tokens, powerful Vehicles, and very efficient removal spells. Post-sideboard games get even better with more removals for cards like Adeline and Thalia's Liutenant.
RG Vehicles has emerged to challenge the dominance of MonoGreen and Rakdos Midrange, and is proving itself to be one of the top contenders and tier 1 decks in the format. Until next time!
If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones How to beat the Standard metagame with Esper Midrange by Mogged, Legacy Delver decks: In-depth and Sideboard Guide, Discovering Legacy Part 2: Non-Blue Decks, Reading and Bluffing Opponents on MTGO, Standard Mono-red Aggro guide
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Published: 2022-12-25 00:00:00