26, May, 24

Astonishing Hasty Horse Combo Deck Crushes Competition at Major Event!

Article at a Glance

This weekend, the next round of MTG Regional Championships began. Elite players from various parts of the world started competing for cash, glory, and spots at the next Pro Tour and World Championship. This time around, the Regional Championship format is Standard, matching the same format as Pro Tour Outlaws of Thunder Junction.

When Pro Tour Outlaws of Thunder Junction took place, the sheer volume of Esper midrange in the room combined with the general lack of innovation present was a bit concerning. Fortunately, not only has Esper’s presence died down a bit for these tournaments, but some really unique shells ended up overperforming.

One Gruul combo deck in particular is the talk of the town. Calamity, Galloping Inferno combo of all things made top eight of the Regional Championship in Australia, and this decklist is spicy. When Thunder Junction came out, we had discussed the discovery of a neat combo involving Calamity and Terror of the Peaks. Now, one player took it upon themselves to incorporate this synergy into an awesome Gruul deck with a lot going on. Before we get into Calamity’s supporting cast, it’s important to reiterate the main combo and how it works.

Calamity and Terror

As described, the main card this deck is built around is Calamity, Galloping Inferno. Calamity is an extremely powerful card, but one that requires a bit of setup. Most of Calamity’s power comes from its triggered ability. In order to maximize it, you want to have a big Creature to Saddle up Calamity and copy twice.

As we will see, this deck is chock full of big Creatures, but none of them are stronger alongside Calamity than Terror of the Peaks. Terror conveniently costs five mana, so curving Terror into Calamity is very realistic. From there, if the opponent can’t remove either Creature right away, they will take at least 20 damage from Terror triggers when Calamity attacks.

Once you Saddle up Calamity with Terror, Calamity will create two copies of Terror that are tapped and attacking. The original Terror will deal 10 damage to the opponent when the other two Terrors enter the battlefield. On top of that, the two copies of Terror each see each other enter, so each will deal another five damage to the opponent for a total of 20 damage.

This combo is really sweet, but it’s not the easiest to get going. After all, Calamity is a six-mana card that requires additional board presence to abuse. Even if you can curve Terror into Calamity, the opponent has a big window to remove Terror of the Peaks. There’s a reason this synergy hasn’t been dominating Standard. The good news, though, is that this deck has some more tricks up its sleeve.

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The Role of Smuggler’s Surprise

This Gruul deck is constructed in a way to ensure that both Calamity and Terror are strong cards individually. Obviously, it’s great when the combo comes together, but you need a good backup plan. First, this deck has a high density of large Creatures that offer some versatility in the early game.

Trumpeting Carnosaur, for example, is a very strong six-drop, but can be used as a three-mana removal spell when necessary. Similarly, Spinewoods Armadillo is extremely beefy, but if you’re short on Lands, discarding it for two mana to search up a Land and gain three life is perfectly reasonable.

With such a high volume of enormous Creatures to put into play, this deck has the luxury to fully abuse Smuggler’s Surprise. Being able to pay six mana to put two haymakers into play is a great option to have. Notably, this mode works exceptionally well with Terror of the Peaks.

As good as Terror is, its biggest weakness is it usually needs to survive a full turn cycle for you to get value off of it. However, if you put Terror and another fatty into play at the same time, you’ll get to send a bunch of damage to any target right away. Of course, if the opponent ever taps out, you can always put in both pieces of the combo and win the game out of nowhere.

Beyond the card’s Tooth and Nail impersonation, Smuggler’s Surprise even lets you dig for your threats or protect them once in play. The powerful Instant gets a lot of mileage out of its flexibility, and this deck puts all three modes to good use.

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Ramp Elements

Outcaster Trailblazer

The rest of the deck is just made up of ways to ramp towards your payoffs or remove opposing attackers to buy time. In the two-drop slot, Glimpse the Core acts as a mediocre Rampant Growth, but that’s still more than good enough. Meanwhile, Obliterating Bolt and Volcanic Spite can pick off pesky attackers that the opponent casts early.

At three mana, Outcaster Trailblazer and Topiary Stomper can get you towards your massive beaters a turn ahead of schedule. Trailblazer may only give you a one-shot boost of mana, but it has the benefit of drawing you extra cards whenever any of your other Creatures enter.

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Beating Up Slower Decks

Cavern of Souls

In a metagame filled with midrange and control decks, this abnormal Gruul shell seems like a great metacall. Every Creature in the deck is immune to Cut Down, and Cavern of Souls helps you get your monsters past No More Lies and the like. While Go for the Throat and Sheoldred’s Edict can answer your bombs in an efficient manner, this deck plays so many heavy hitters that you can often overload the opponent’s removal.

Additionally, despite playing a bunch of expensive cards, this deck can close the game pretty quickly. The combination of ramp, Smuggler’s Surprise, and the combo makes it tough for midrange and control decks to race you.

That being said, if you run into lots of aggro, you may be in trouble. This deck doesn’t play much removal game one, so getting beat up by a quick draw from mono-red or Boros Convoke is a real concern. [tooltip]Brotherhood’s End and Tranquil Frillback out of the sideboard definitely help, but winning game one is rather difficult.

Given how popular midrange and control decks are, though, this Gruul archetype is in a reasonable spot. I’m sure the deck caught a lot of players by surprise (no pun intended), and its incredible performance cannot be denied. Importantly, almost the entire deck is made up of newer Standard cards, so the upcoming rotation is of minimal concern. With that in mind, if you’re looking to craft something interesting to play at FNM or on MTG Arena, look no further. Gruul Horse combo has you covered!

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