I remember the days of curving Arbor Elf into Flinthoof Boar into Hellrider into Thundermaw Hellkite, and we’ve got a shot at something similar with Gruul in Ravnica Allegiance, and Llanowar Elves in the format.
We only know a single Gruul card thus far from Ravnica Allegiance, but already it’s easy to imagine great things. Gruul Spellbreaker, alongside Legion Warboss, can make a strong turn-2 play thanks to Llanowar Elves.
Gruul Spellbreaker is a strong creature that helps you play around Settle the Wreckage. It is also protected from Seal Away or any removal spells in your turn, guaranteeing 3 damage if it resolves against control decks.
It will be hard to figure out when to put a counter on it and when to give it haste, but it’s that versatility that makes the card effective. A 3-mana 4/4 against a deck with Lightning Strike and Goblin Chainwhirler is great, as is getting in for 3 damage as early as turn 2.
The first thing you have to know is what kind of Gruul deck you want to build: an aggressive one with low curve and low drop creatures like Pelt Collector and Thorn Lieutenant, or a bigger one with Carnage Tyrant and Ghalta, Primal Hunger? A more focused deck with double-red costs with Rekindling Phoenix and Siege-Gang Commander, or as Paulo Vitor suggested in his latest article, one that can exploit the combo of Goblin Chainwhirler + Status // Statue?
While you build your mana base, always keep in mind the mana base bible, written by Frank Karsten in 2013, and then revisited a couple of months ago. In order to put Nullhide Ferox or Rekindling Phoenix into your deck, Frank advises that you have 16 sources of that color to achieve a 95% chance of having the right mana to cast it on turn 4. Thanks to Stomping Ground in Ravnica Allegiance, and with Rootbound Crag in Ixalan, it is now possible to achieve a 16-16 mana base with the addition of eight Mountain and eight Forest.
Thanks to Llanowar Elves and maybe some new mana dorks, we can add even more green sources, and so we can trim one Forest if we want to play a lower land count. But, notice that you would need 14 untapped green sources to play Llanowar Elves on turn 1 and you can’t count Rootbound Crag among these. You would need to play ten Forest and four Stomping Ground in order to play a Llanowar Elves deck. Since there’s no way you can fit 16 red sources as well, it becomes harder to play double-red cards.
It’s very early in the spoiler season. The list I’m going to post isn’t ideal, as I’m sure we’ll be seeing new Gruul cards that will be great additions to the deck.
Playing 0 noncreature spells is a little strange, but Nullhide Ferox is a great payoff for that.
Kraul Harpooner deals with Enigma Drake and Crackling Drake at times, and helps you deal with those powerful flyers despite having no spells for them. I could see some 2-drops replace Thorn Lieutenant and some good 4s replace Ripjaw Raptor, but this is the core that I’m excited to try as soon as Ravnica Allegiance is fully spoiled.