Are you ready to go wild, to join the clan, to Rampage? I’m getting a fever, and the only cure is more Rampager. Please Wizards, may I have more Gruul?
Bloodrush is an interesting mechanic. Most people like it in Limited, as tricks are always useful and most of the bodies are aggressively costed. I expect they’ll make reasonable splash cards, as by the time you finally draw your red or green source you’ll get an effect that immediately impacts the game: either a large body, or some pump to push through those last bits of damage.
Flavor-wise, I really like this concept. The idea of a trampling pump spell that only works on attackers is very Gruul, and pushes both large creatures (green) and attacking (red).
The range of opinions on its Constructed playability are much more varied. Ari Lax, for example, argued that the five-mana bloodrush creature, Zhur-Taa Swine, was close to playable. On the other hand, Kai Budde was more scrupulous:
I’m not sure Kai is right about 4/4s for four. After all, I go turn two [card]Farseek[/card] into turn three [card]Loxodon Hierarch[/card] a lot, and that’s usually fine.
Even if Kai is right, and both a 4/4 for four and +4/+4 plus trample for GR are underpowered, combinations of cards are typically more powerful and difficult to evaluate. A good example is [card]Cryptic Command[/card]. [card]Dismiss[/card], while fine, never saw an insane amount of play, yet that’s the most common mode for Cryptic. The other modes made the card broken, though. The more options you have, the more likely a card will do what you need.
Another reason I like the Ghor-Clan relates back to the fundamental weakness of creatures: summoning sickness. When you cast a spell, it has an immediate impact, but a creature needs a full turn before it can start going to work. Ghor-Clan avoids that weakness because it’s essentially a split card, with half making a 4/4 trampler and the other half giving an attacker enormous.
This is especially important in a format where [card]Azorius Charm[/card] and [card]Unsummon[/card] see play. With Ghor-Clan in your opener, you can curve out with it just as you might any other creature. Later, when it gets bounced, you can simply pitch it to buff an attacker, providing an immediate result similar to haste.
I’m sure the different halves of the card will be better in certain decks, but the real strength is in its flexibility. For example, you could bloodrush a double-striker, like [card]Silverblade Paladin[/card], and get a huge boost of damage in one turn. On the other hand, maybe your Silverblade doesn’t have soulbond, and instead you have a four-mana 4/4 trampler to pair it with. In a deck that wants to maximize its damage output while keeping its threat count up, this card does all the work.
[deck]4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple Garden
4 Sacred Foundry
2 Sunpetal Grove
3 Rootbound Crag
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
3 Arbor Elf
4 Loxodon Smiter
4 Silverblade Paladin
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
3 Wolfir Silverheart
4 Boros Charm
2 Selesnya Charm[/deck]
My main problem with this mana base is that it doesn’t include [card]Gavony Township[/card] or [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card]. Both lands have synergy with double strike—Gavony turns a pile of mana dorks into a real army, and Kessig gives the deck’s beef a sort of evasion. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to fit in enough colored sources, even with all of the duals.
In current Standard, Naya Midrange has an acceptable mana base, but it runs more lands and [card]Farseek[/card] as a fixer, which isn’t an option for a deck trying to maintain an aggressive curve. Naya Humans also has a reasonable mana base, and a similar level of aggression, but abuses [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] as a fixer.
I’m a big fan of pushing a mana base to eek every bit of power out of an archetype. Once we commit to Naya, we’re able to run 8 double strike enablers and 6 trample enablers, all of which gives us a reasonable chance of creating a giant, double-striking trampler. The versatility of being able to run multiple Charms means the opponent will rarely know what to play around. Meanwhile, we’ve got some of the best creatures in all three colors.
The difference between adding trample or not is huge. For instance, in Standard, the Infect deck ran [card]Monstrous Growth[/card]. If this card had been legal, it would’ve been a strong inclusion.
It’s a long shot, but the card might be playable in the Modern Infect deck. Worst-case scenario, you play it as a guy and block while your [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] goes to town, or even attack a few turns before dumping your pump spells for the win. In Modern, I’ve heard a few crazy stories of [card]Noble Hierarch[/card] and piles of pump spells getting there, which would happen more often if the deck played a larger split between pump spells and normal damage creatures.
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 City of Brass
1 Stomping Ground
1 Breeding Pool
1 Overgrown Tomb
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Plague Stinger
4 Blighted Agent
4 Glistener Elf
3 Noble Hierarch
2 Simian Spirit Guide
3 Assault Strobe
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
3 Mutagenic Growth
3 Vines of the Vastwood
4 Might of Old Krosa
3 Sleight of Hand[/deck]
What I like about this version is how [card]Assault Strobe[/card] adds to the explosiveness. A turn one infect dude (either [card]Glistener Elf[/card] or a two-drop off of a [card simian spirit guide]Spirit Guide[/card]), combines with either of the +4/+4 pump spells and Assault Strobe for a turn two kill, which is more rare in the current BUG lists. Similarly, this version should have more turn three kills.
While the Rampager looks playable, here, it might simply be too cute. After all, the current Infect list has been hyper refined by the hive mind and the Pro community for various tours. In that light, it’s unlikely that a version with a greedier mana base and a new, two-mana pump spell will be ideal. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth testing.
And test it I will.
Enjoy the rest of spoiler season!