Dragon’s Maze: Playing to your Weaknesses – Simic and Gruul

You know, I just might be able to get all of the sets done before the pre-release! It would be great if I can. As of Thursday night, I’ve decided to go ahead and skip the early FNM that I usually do at 6pm and instead do the late 10 pm FNM at Hobby Saloon as well as the midnight pre-release there afterwards. On Saturday I will be heading to Amenity Dream here in Nagoya for a 12pm pre-release which looks like it will have at least 30+ people, and on Sunday I will be doing the tournament at Big Magic around 11 am which is going to be packed with at least 36 people. I like playing in the bigger events because the prize pool is usually bigger, and there are usually more rounds to play too. If I could get in 5 rounds each time, that would be great.

As promised, I’m going over the Simic and Gruul cards today. There is a lot of power between the two, and I think that Dragon’s Maze will help to draw it out. I also wanted to say that my friend pointed out a problem with how I’m posting my lists. If you go Wizard’s website and check out their full gallery, you’ll be able to see how each card is categorized. All the Rakdos cards, all the Azorius cards, etc. However, in these articles I’m going with my gut and write down which guild I THINK the card belongs too. If you think I’m wrong in my selection, let me know and I’ll consider moving it to the proper article. Again, I want to point out that these are my selections for the best commons and uncommons in sealed tournaments.

Well, in the words of Ben Grimm, the Thing from the Fantastic 4, “It’s clobbering time!”

Simic

Battering Krasis

Battering Krasis

A 2/1 trampler for 3 mana is kind of underwhelming, but Simic tends to make a great return on your investment over time. 100% of the time this will become a 3/2 trampler, and 50% of the time it will go up to a 4/3 trampler for 3. It’s possible to get bigger, but to be realistic I think you should treat it as a 4/3 trampler for 3 mana which is a pretty good value. Playing this card in a GRU deck will improve your chances of getting it up to the 5/4 range, and from there on out it’s a pretty good value. Simic/Gruul is the way to go with this guy, since most of the other colors won’t activate his evolve that often. Not a high draft pick, but a good choice in your sealed deck I think.

Krasis Incubation

Krasis Incubation

I think this is a pretty cool card. It’s a 4 mana Green/Blue Arrest (RTR) that can be reused over and over on your opponent’s creatures, or on your own to buff them up. Yeah putting counters on their creature sucks, but how often does green get a Pacifism effect? Pretty much never. Tough to say how I’d draft this, but I think it would be a good 6th-7th pick in draft since it doubles as removal and a beneficial enchantment. This would definitely be good in Bant decks, and it would work really well in straight Simic ones. It’s not for everyone, but I see this card having some ramifications in sealed both on defense and offense. 

Maze Glider

Maze Glider

This probably could have gone either in Azorius or Simic, but I feel like there are more multicolor creatures in Simic and more multicolor spells in Azorius, hence why I decided to lump it in with the other Simic cards. Gatecrash had Sapphire Drake for 6 mana that gave all creatures with counters on them flying, but it was only useful if you were playing Simic. Maze Glider, on the other hand, will give all of your multicolor creatures flying. Playing Esper? Give Obzedat flying. Playing RUG? Give your Ghor Clan Rampager flying. This guy gives all of your multicolor creatures evasion, and since he’s coming in on turn 6 or later, he can quickly end the game if your opponent doesn’t have any blockers in the air. Not a high pick in draft, but in sealed I’d definitely play him without a second thought. Team him up with big Simic or Gruul creatures and you won’t be sorry. 

Species Gorger

Species Gorger

A fattie for five that has 6 power. Not bad. His ability makes you return a creature to your hand every turn, but that’s not such a big draw back, especially if your goal is to evolve your creatures. You can return him each upkeep if you want and keep playing him again to pump up your other Simic creatures until they reach his 6 power. He is also a good finisher  for only 5 mana. You’ll want to balance out your deck if you get him though. Having only Simic creatures will force you to return a creature with counters on it to your hand, thus putting a wrench in your gameplan. Azorius seems like it would be a good mix with this guy since you can return cards with enter the battlefield abilities like Deputy of Acquittals or if you’re playing Selesnya you can keep returning Trostani’s Summoner to put in 3 new token creatures every turn (which would be awesome). I think he’d also work well with a lot of the Denizen cards such as Sage’s Row Denizen or Ivy Lane Denizen. Continuously milling somebody or putting +1/+1 counters on a creature wouldn’t be so bad. In draft in sealed I’d expect him to be a backbone card – not your first choice but not your last choice either. He’d be in the middle.

Gruul

Feral Animalist

Feral Animist

Gruul sure does know how to keep pressure on an opponent. Feral Animalist is a great mana sink later on in the game when you have 15 land in play and don’t know what to do with it. He can attack and then you can pump him until your mana runs out, each time doubling his power (1x = 4, 2x = 8, 3x =16, etc). That one toughness means he can be chump blocked by any tiny creature and die, but if they don’t have a blocker, or if you need to kill their 6 power creature, he’ll get the job done. I’d much rather pump a few mana into him to kill one big creature than to triple block a threat. I think he’d match up well in Naya with Boros, especially if you team him up with Frontline Medic. A decent card, but it would probably be a 20th pick or later for my sealed deck. 

Gruul War Chant

Gruul War Chant

Hey, would you like to turn every creature you have into a Pyreheart Wolf? Would you like to give them a +1 attack bonus as well? Well, look no further. This card will absolutely punish non aggro decks that are running a low number of creatures. At 4 mana, you’ll probably want to have a lot of one and two drops to take advantage of this card. Cards like Wojeck Halberdiers, Ghor-Clan Rampager, and Daring Skyjek are a few cards I think it would work well with. Again, I see it working the best in Naya (GRW) with Boros cards, but this wouldn’t be a bad card to have any any of Green/Red’s ally color. Golgari and Simic are also good colors to run with it. If it looks like you can run a fast deck in these colors, definitely run this if you get it.

Maze Behemoth

Maze Behemoth

While the Behemoth isn’t as good as the Glider, he still fits the finisher roll with a 5/4 body, as well as giving your Multicolored creatures an extra ability. But do you really want to give your Slitherhead or Deputy of Acquittals trample? Eh, not so much. This will be a decent ability in a Gruul deck if you’re running a lot of big creatures, as well as in a RGU deck alongside Simic, but I’d leave him out of the other match ups unless you really need a bigger creature as a finisher. I’d make him my 18th choice in a GR based deck, but outside of that I think he’d barely make the cut.

Scab-Clan Giant

Scab-Clan Giant

If your opponent is playing anything but Simic or Gruul, there is a good chance that the Giant will take out one of their creatures when it comes into play. If you team it up with the Species Gorger, you have a reusable Pit Fight effect that can quickly cut down an opponent’s team. Six mana is a little steep but with the extra effect it works. A decent finisher, and He’d fit into any of Gruul’s ally colors. He’d be close to a top ten pick for me in both sealed and draft if I was running Gruul. 

Zhur-Taa Druid

Zhur-Taa Druid

A pinger and a mana dork all in one. I like it. You’ll have the cluestones in Dragon’s Maze to help even out your colors and to accelerate a turn faster from turn 4 onwards, but  those don’t deal a damage each time you tap him for mana. I can see a fun combo with him and Hidden Strings in a Simic/Gruul deck. Tap him for a mana and one damage, cast Hidden Strings to untap him and another land, then tap him for another mana and another damage for a total of 2 damage and 4 mana. That is a lot of mana on turn 3 with an added damage bonus, and if you have a creature to attack with that can’t be blocked, that’s yet another 2 mana and 1 damage on the same turn. Perhaps that explanation seemed a little fantastic, but the bottom line is that the Druid works well in a creature heavy deck with big creatures from Simic and Gruul, and he’d be a top 5 pick for me if I was running his colors. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Phytoburst – It’s not a Giant Growth or Titanic Growth (M13) even, but sometimes a +5/+5 at sorcery speed can be useful too, especially if you have some way of pushing that damage through (Ascended Lawmage maybe?).
  • Rubblebelt Maaka – solid card with bloodrush for 4 mana. If it was one mana cheaper like Slaughterhorn he’d be in the above list, but even so it’s still a good card and would warrant use in an aggressive deck. 
  • Armed//Dangerous – I like the Double Strike effect, but the Lure effect is so so for 4 mana. I’d probably only use it for Armed. 
  • Give//Take – This is a better card than Armed/Dangerous but I think it’s still high situational, because you most likely will be using one or the other instead of paying 6 for both. Not a bad card, but not sure if I’d use it in limited. 

Next time on Playing to Your Weaknesses – Going for the kill

It’s already 4pm on Friday, a mere 8 hours before the midnight pre-release and not too long until FNM. I won’t be able to get another article out today, but I’m going to try to finish one more before the main pre-release on Saturday so those of you playing overseas in the USA or the UK should be able to see it on Friday night well before the pre-release on Saturday. Next time I’ll be talking about Golgari and Izzet, two guilds chock full of burn and kill spells. Thanks for reading and check back soon for a new article!

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