Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: Gruul Clans

There is a side of me that loves a great blue-white control deck or a black-blue behemoth that wins by taking control of the entire battlefield – and the stack. I’ll even dabble in red-black when I want pure chaos to take over.

But at my core, I’m a green-ally player at heart. My favorite deck is now referred to as Naya, but it was built long before that name was a thing. If I called it anything, it would be Thornscape (though those cards got removed a long time ago). But there is something about the Gruul Clans that makes me smile while smashing.

Gruul’s new mechanic, Bloodrush, allows you to turn creatures into pump spells on the offense and has a little touch that is great for multiplayer. It is target attacking creature – any attacking creature. This little change makes combat much more interesting for red and green since they can’t smash every turn.

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
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Not the most exciting card in the bunch, being a 5/1 for 4 is pretty standard. The bloodrush addition is interesting because it gives mono-red some new pump options besides Brute Force. I’m most interesting in this for mono-red infect, but any aggressive red deck could use this… but that doesn’t make it good.

Skinbrand Goblin

This is much closer to what I want! The ability to be a small body or a cheap pump spell is exactly what red wants. And it is a goblin, so it will be right at home in tribal decks. Skinbrand is awesome, and when it comes to commons, this is the kind of utility I like to see.

Viashino Shanktail

For the Viashino tribe enthusiant, this must be exciting. As a creature, a 3/1 first striker is okay and as a pump spell, it is interesting – but forces you to be overly aggressive. While probably more useful than Scorchwalker, the Shanktail doesn’t wow me for the kitchen table.

Wrecking Ogre

Now this is the kind of crazy card I like! A 3/3 double strike for 5 isn’t bad, but being able to turn into an instant that can just end a game of Commander makes me sit up. Being essentially an uncounterable +3/+3 and double strike makes me think this is an auto-include for any commander deck with red in it looking for a kill card.

Disciple of the Old Ways

Better than Grizzly Bears probably shouldn’t be the cutoff point in your deck.

Scab-Clan Charger

If this card had reach, I’d love it. But pumping defense that much seems unintuitive on the assult, even if it is uncounterable. If counterspells are very strong in your meta, this could work but otherwise… it doesn’t do enough.

Skarrg Goliath

I find this card hilarious, but mostly just awkward. Paying seven mana for +9/+9 and trample is kind of cool, but this is just a big creature who doesn’t do much.


Giant Growth crossed with a generic beast is interesting, especially in a Fires of Yavimaya like deck. Bloodrush is interesting, but on otherwise vanilla creatures, it isn’t too exciting.

Wasteland Viper

Bloodrush is much more exciting on French vanilla creatures with worthwhile abilities. Deathtouch is perfect, especially as a surprise. Oh, and it’s a 1/2 for G with deathtouch! Deadly Recluse is one of my favorite deathtouch creatures and Wasteland Viper is in a close second.

Borborygmos Enraged

Borborygmos has returned and boy is he pissed. For aggressive Commanders, Borborgymos Enraged is a terrifying beast. Grab some land acceleration, some landfall and little else and you’ve got a deck. He tramples, he draws cards and then throws lands at your opponents’ heads.

Clan Defiance

The Decimate version of direct damage, Clan Defiance is a great utility spell but it doesn’t wow me. Dealing X x3 damage across three targets makes this better than Fireball, but direct damage spells need to compete against all of Magic’s history in casual eternal formats – and this isn’t Comet Storm.

Frenzied Tilling

A great reprint from my favorite Magic set of all time, Frenzied Tilling finally got the artwork it deserved. Destorying a land and gaining a land is nice, but land destruction causes major rifts in casual groups.

Ghor-Clan Rampager

Holy crap. I love this card. Being a 4/4 for 4 with trample is amazing, adding in the fact that the bloodrush ability is only two mana and this guy is an amazing midgame play and perfect for smoothing out a mana curve. It is just a solid creature.

Ground Assault

Decent removal, but the fact that it is sorcery speed really slows this down.

Gruul Charm

The charms in this block are amazing. Gruul Charm has a strong anti-flying vibe thanks to a mini-Hurricane and Falter – but I love the addition of Brand getting redone. It’s an odd little ability that really needs to show up more, especially since theft is way too common in Commander now.

Gruul Ragebeast

Giant creatures battling each other sounds awesome, and at least you get one fight out of it but these fights are mandatory. That means late game, something is dying whenever you cast a creature. That creature dying might not always be one of your opponents’.

Primal Visitation

I’d prefer Fires of Yavimaya over this awkward aura.


Rubblehulk makes great use of the soft lands-matter theme, and this is the cheapest way to get the power and toughness equal to your lands. Also having bloodrush makes it an interesting pump spell.

Ruination Wurm


Signal the Clans

Could this be any more perfect for Commander? Tutoring for one of three creatures for only two mana – and at instant speed makes this amazing for singleton formats! It’s just chaotic enough to be perfect.

Skarrg Guildmage

I do like trample… and I like animating my lands late game to crush people. As a guildmage, the fact that this is a solid mana outlet is nice but it can quickly become a mana sink to animate multiple times.

Zhur-Taa Swine

I love the size of the bloodrush ability, but 5 mana for a 5/4 boar isn’t that exciting. Unless you’re playing Simic and can mutate him into Bebop – AND OH MY GOD THERE IS A RHINO IN THIS SET TOO! Be right back, building a Foot Clan deck.

Burning-Tree Emissary

I feel like there is a way to break this. There’s got to be a little ability to push this into engine machine territory. I just don’t know what. I’m looking for suggestions.

Pit Fight

At first glance, this seems like Prey Upon but the little changes make a big difference. Instant speed fighting makes for some hilarious combat math (and the visual of two armies charging at each other only to have one creature randomly punch another one is something I find endlessly amusing).

Rubblebelt Raiders

This looks dangerous. Toss in some multiple combat phase spells and you still end up with a single creature with a giant built in removal rod. These raiders will die.

Gruul Keyrune

It’s a rock that smashes. I approve.

Gruul Guildgate

A fine budget option for commanders, but red and green aren’t exactly lacking in the mana department.

Stomping Ground

Grab your Kird Apes kids, we’re going for some beatdown! Also, this land is really, really good.

Top 5 Gruul Clan Cards for Casual and Commander
5. Burning-Tree Emissary
4. Wasteland Viper
3. Signal the Clans
2. Wrecking Ogre
1. Borborygmos Enraged

As a whole, I’m not as crazy about Gruul as I was hoping I’d be. The concept of Bloodrush cards turning creatures into pump spells is neat but I expect a lot of pump spells, and very few of these meet that requirement.

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands