Gruul Vehicles in Pioneer: MTG Budget Deck Guide

Sometimes simple is better. No, this isn’t an ad for a phone plan. When it comes to Magic deckbuilding, it’s a common pitfall for a brewer to go entirely too hard into a theme, to want to include so many on-theme cards and synergies that the essentials to good deckbuilding are foregone and the deck becomes weaker overall as a result. This is a relatively common experience among those of us who enjoy crafting deck lists, affectionately known as “getting lost in the sauce.” When a deck list is simple and straightforward, the deck will typically perform a bit better than the convoluted messes that we like to show off to our friends. Today’s deck combines some simple design choices with powerful meta-calls for a streamlined and powerful play experience.



Budget Pioneer Gruul Vehicles by Darren Magnotti


Header - The Deck

Gruul Vehicles is a base green midrange beatdown deck that looks to use early game ramp to outpace it’s opposition and close the game with value generating Vehicle spells. It shares a shell with the more conventional Gruul Midrange/Stompy decks that saw major play more toward the beginning of the format, and as can be seen featured in the upcoming Challenger Deck series (which you will soon be able to buy over at TCGplayer.com). While coming quick out of the gate and beating face is the core concept, the deck also extends its reach a bit further than most other similar shells are capable of. With its curve toppers of choice, Gruul Vehicles is able to extend into the long game and play an interactive match – something that many other Gruul midrange decks are sorely lacking. 


Header - Who's the Beatdown


Very few green-red decks throughout Magic’s history have looked at this question and not immediately answered “me!” While this deck’s primary focus is still on beating face, Vehicles will look at this question and rub its two brain cells together for a few minutes first before giving a solid answer.

Llanowar ElvesElvish Mystic (Timeshifted)Scavenging Ooze

As mentioned above, Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic provide the deck’s first phase. A staple to many Pioneer strategies, these mana dorks allow the deck to skip the two-drop slot nearly entirely. The only exception is the inclusion of Scavenging Ooze, a strong utility creature that acts as a hate piece against some popular top strategies such as Greasefang and Phoenix.

Lovestruck Beast // Heart's DesireBonecrusher Giant // StompReckless Stormseeker // Storm-Charged Slasher

The main plays of the deck include some of the most aggressive three-drops in the format. Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant form the first piece of the puzzle, providing huge bodies and trace amounts of card advantage via their adventure abilities. Reckless Stormseeker is certainly the best three-drop in the deck however, as its ability to grant itself and proceeding creatures haste can shorten a clock by a full turn or even two. 


Header - Ride to Live, Live to Ride

Esika's Chariot

As the deck moves up the curve, it gets to its namesake and the reason to be playing the deck in today’s metagame. At its heart, Gruul Vehicles is seeing success because it’s brimming with cards that are very hostile to today’s metagame. Esika’s Chariot has been a Pioneer mainstay since its release, with its heavy use in both Winota and Greasefang. The card acts as an effective Cat-army in a can that stays reasonably safe from removal. One of Rakdos Midrange’s weaker points is that it doesn’t play effective instant-speed removal. Between a heavy reliance on Dreadbore, planeswalker abilities and Bloodtithe Harvester clearing the way, Vehicles as a card type have become one of the go-to responses to the deck. Esika’s Chariot being able to produce several threats while maintaining a state of pseudo-protection from removal makes it an ideal candidate as a threat to the format at large at the moment. 

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship has been a hotly contested inclusion (or omission) in many decks in response to the way that the metagame has shaped up post-Winota ban. With the rise and swift dominance of the Rakdos Menace, as well as it’s ever-trailing companion in Green Devotion, the Big Boat has settled in as an answer and threat that scales somewhere between reasonable and amazing.

Between its ability to fly over the myriad ground-armies that many decks are presenting these days, its Inferno Titan-lite ability to snipe problematic creatures and planeswalkers and it’s big ol’ backside to block with, the Boat is an all-around excellent threat right now. These Vehicles provide the basis for a longer game plan by dodging common forms of removal and interacting with the opponents on an axis that most other cards in the format can’t, which puts the Vehicles deck in a prime spot to be a real and major contender amongst the big dogs of the day.


Header - How Does It Play?

The Gruul Vehicles deck has been incredibly consistent in my time with it. Many of the cards in the deck operate on similar lines, and all of them can be relied on as well as any other to start beating in swiftly. The deck provides a quick clock that doesn’t fold as easily to interaction as many other similar strategies, and is just unexpected enough to get those rogue element percentage points out of a good number of players.

The gameplay is intuitive and straightforward thanks to the deck’s simplistic design, and the strategy is flexible enough to adapt to any metagame even on the local level. The base of the deck is also used in many other Gruul flavored strategies, from Embercleave aggressive versions to more off-the-wall piles like Possibility Storm Combo, which means that even if the Vehicle plan doesn’t remain the ideal configuration most of the deck will remain within the realm of usable. 


Header - Upgrades

Pioneer Gruul Vehicles by sMann2.0


At the moment, this deck has had a nominal amount of success in the competitive scene, and mostly in the hands of one player. There aren’t very many upgrades to get to their version, essentially just some common sense improvements to the mana base. Between the increased consistency that Stomping Ground provides and the additional utility and reach of the channel lands, there are a good number of percentage points available for pickup. The main deck being the same between the budget and the full version though is a huge selling point, and as mentioned above the shell is flexible enough to encompass a wide array of other proven builds so there’s no need to worry about obsolescence. 

That’s all for this one! Gruul Beats has been one of my favorite strategies in Pioneer for a while due to its simplicity and speed, which make it perfect for an introductory point to the format. Be looking forward to more Pioneer builds that can be made with the help of those Challenger Decks coming out next month as well, for as good as the product is out of the box, we can always improve. Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading!


1 thought on “Gruul Vehicles in Pioneer: MTG Budget Deck Guide”

  1. Thank you for this article. It is a great read. I just purchased the new Gruul Stompy Challenger Deck that releases tomorrow, and I am loving it. I enjoy the fact that I have 2-3 options as to how I actually want to play the deck with about $100 in upgrade in each direction. Coming from playing Mono White Humans, another solid budget deck, I enjoy having a deck that has awesome mana ramp and drops big creatures, on a budget!

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