When a creature is nicknamed Flashtitan or Snapcaster Hulk, you know it’s exciting. The second of the Gearhulks, Torrential Gearhulk, is no slouch. It provides pretty much everything you want. It’s instant speed, worth more than one card, and reacts to what your opponent is doing while adding a win condition! All these qualities hold true for Snapcaster Mage as well, but while the Gearhulk is more expensive, it does finish the game a whole lot faster.
What influences whether Torrential Gearhulk is the real deal most is the kind of instants available to abuse. Here’s a list of potential candidates.
Standard will be as small as it gets with Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins rotating, so Torrential Gearhulk is at its lowest power. Hell, the entire spoiler isn’t even out yet! Still, I do believe Amped Snappy has potential. From what we have, I believe that a counterspell (Void Shatter, Scatter to the Winds, or Broken Concentration), and Grapple with the Past or Murder should be enough to make the Gearhulk playable. If you manage to use the Torrential Gearhulk’s ability to trade with your opponent’s turn by casting Murder on their freshly cast creature or countering their big spell, Torrential Gearhulk will be a massive swing, basically matching your opponent’s play but upping it with a 5/6 body.
I also really like how the Torrential Gearhulk pairs with Grapple with the Past in an Emrakul, the Promised End deck. First, Grapple with the Past fills your graveyard with targets for Torrential Gearhulk. Grapple with the Past is an instant itself, meaning you can use the Gearhulk as a way to further dig and retrieve Emrakul, the Promised End. Torrential Gearhulk is an artifact creature, meaning it will help you pay a lower retail on your Emrakul, the Promised End. The reason why I haven’t built a blue version just yet is because, with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy gone, the archetype isn’t really interested in any other blue cards besides Elder Deep-Fiend and Torrential Gearhulk, meaning the double-blue splash just isn’t worth it. With Nissa’s Pilgrimage and Explosive Vegetation gone, turbo Emrakul will be a harder goal to achieve, meaning most of the Emrakul decks will become more reactive, and black. But keep your eyes open. It doesn’t take much more for the blue splash to be worth it.
Counterspells, Grasp of Darkness, and Murder? Sounds like a natural blue-black control list. But when I looked it over, I wasn’t sold. It just isn’t powerful enough. You can’t really punish your opponent and the card draw available isn’t good enough as is. What I needed was something more proactive and powerful. That’s when I came up with this blue-white flash list.
Basically everything here has flash, so your opponent has to play into whatever you may have, making it very hard to play around cards. The only card that isn’t instant speed is either powerful enough to play anyway such as Eldrazi Displacer and Reflector Mage, or plays well enough with the fact that you are playing at instant speed, like Planar Outburst. When your opponent has to choose what to play or not play around, Torrential Gearhulk has the highest chance of living up to its potential.
What this list also does is abuse Eldrazi Displacer. You’ve seen it bouncing creatures with Reflector Mage or locking your opponent out from combat with Archangel Avacyn before. What you haven’t seen before is blinking Torrential Gearhulk. In the later stages of the game, this is as close as it gets to a soft lock. Being able to blink the Gearhulk to recast counterspells from your graveyard might just win the game on the spot, a proactive late game that isn’t too hard to assemble by curving Torrential Gearhulk turn 6 into Eldrazi Displacer turn 7.
Remember that Torrential Gearhulk becomes better and better the more powerful instants are spoiled, meaning that what I believe is already powerful enough to be played might just get better.
Next up will be Noxious Gearhulk, a.k.a. Graalhulk!