On August 22 during the Future of Commander Panel in CommandFest Online, Magic players everywhere  took a peek behind the curtain and saw a handful of brand new cards slated for release in Commander Legends. The reception was thunderous. New foilings, a new colorless commander, and the return of partner. When partner was announced, we were given a sneak peek at one possible partner pair: Halana, Kessig Ranger and Alena, Kessig Trapper.

Oh my god! We finally got legendary creature cards featuring these two highly beloved characters from Innistrad. Featured in Under the Silver Moon as well as a handful of flavor texts, Magic fans have waited with baited breath for these characters to finally come alive in cardboard form. Vorthos fans rejoice! When it came time to do my weekly Always Be Brewing stream, I felt I would be remiss if I did not do these two Gruulfriends justice by building a deck around them. They may be fresh out of the pack, but I am incredibly excited to show you how to build Halana & Alena Big Stompy!

Let's unpack these two commanders. Halana, Kessig Ranger and Alena, Kessig Trapper are interesting because it seems their abilities should be flipped. The green card deals damage to target creature, and the red card generates mana. While this flip is interesting, I think it also plays toward the flavor of the two. Together they work in perfect synergy, leaning on one another in the heart of the dangerous Ulvenwald.

So how do we build around these abilities? Usually when new cards from a new set are released, we see synergistic cards released in the set as well. So in its current state, we could be lacking some heavy synergies that will arise in November, but the deck must go on. It should also be noted these two commanders are also uncommon, and building around that rarity can present a handful of hurdles. Let's begin!

The Must-Includes

When looking at both Halana, Kessig Ranger and Alena, Kessig Trapper abilities, it was clear from the get-go we needed this to be a creature-heavy deck. Halana, Kessig Ranger deals damage to our opponent's creatures while Alena, Kessig Trapper generates the mana to cast bigger creatures to deal damage and so on. The loop between these two is incredibly fun to fiddle with.

But Gruul has absolutely no shortage of big creatures. Cards like Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth were originally considered for this deck, but the high curve and the fact we might not have a large number of creatures on the battlefield at once led to these getting cut. However, what remains is truly in the spirit of big stompy.

This deck needs a lot of protection because we don't run a lot of recursion, making our deck weak to board wipes. It needs a few sprinkles of creatures that do more than just swing. In situations of a board wipe, Temur Sabertooth is a Gruul player's best friend! With the right amount of mana, we are able to bounce our board back to our hand so we can rebuild on our next turn. Steelbane Hydra is a great creature in this deck that can be as big as we want it while also doubling as artifact and enchantment removal.

Vexing Shusher and Prowling Serpopard are included to protect our creatures from those dastardly blue players. Ohran Frostfang is a great card to gently nudge opponents to take our combat damage out of fear of losing their creature, and Terror of the Peaks is a wonderful Warstorm Surge on wings.

Ilharg, the Raze-Boar is a must-include in any red deck, and yet he thrives in this particular brew. While his ability can deal extra amounts of damage during attacks, it also helps generate extra mana for free and can help take out a blocker (thanks to Halana, Kessig Ranger).

Lastly, my favorite must-include is Mage Slayer. This artifact deals damage to our opponents without even making contact with them. Just imagine swinging with a Mossbridge Troll and dealing 25 damage to the opponent before blocks are even declared. This is definitely the sword Alena, Kessig Trapper is carrying. You cannot convince me otherwise.

This list contains a handful of cards that are versatile, much like our commanders. In order to help create a cohesive deck around a new and unknown card, we want to utilize every space to the fullest.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Gruulfriends by ManaCurves

'Gruulfriends' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: ManaCurves

Event:

Rank:

Commander

Market Price: $507.17

Cards

Finale of Devastation

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $16.71

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188701_200w.jpg

Search your library and/or graveyard for a creature card with converted mana cost X or less and put it onto the battlefield. If you search your library this way, shuffle it. If X is 10 or more, creatures you control get +X/+X and gain haste until end of turn.

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Stomping Ground

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $6.46

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182841_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R} or {G}.)
As Stomping Ground enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Fervor

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $2.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/59989_200w.jpg

Creatures you control have haste. (They can attack and {T} as soon as they come under your control.)

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Dragon Broodmother

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $10.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/31722_200w.jpg

Flying
At the beginning of each upkeep, create a 1/1 red and green Dragon creature token with flying and devour 2. (As the token enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice any number of creatures. It enters the battlefield with twice that many +1/+1 counters on it.)

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Triumph of the Hordes

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $9.23

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/39595_200w.jpg

Until end of turn, creatures you control get +1/+1 and gain trample and infect. (Creatures with infect deal damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)

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Nylea, God of the Hunt

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $7.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222764_200w.jpg

Indestructible
As long as your devotion to green is less than five, Nylea isn't a creature. (Each {G} in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to green.)
Other creatures you control have trample.
{3}{G}: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

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Heroic Intervention

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $5.57

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215550_200w.jpg

Permanents you control gain hexproof and indestructible until end of turn.

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Dockside Extortionist

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $30.83

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196486_200w.jpg

When Dockside Extortionist enters the battlefield, create X Treasure tokens, where X is the number of artifacts and enchantments your opponents control. (Treasure tokens are artifacts with "{T}, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color.")

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Tendershoot Dryad

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $5.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/155580_200w.jpg

Ascend (If you control ten or more permanents, you get the city's blessing for the rest of the game.)
At the beginning of each upkeep, create a 1/1 green Saproling creature token.
Saprolings you control get +2/+2 as long as you have the city's blessing.

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Hammer of Purphoros

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $2.37

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222625_200w.jpg

Creatures you control have haste.
{2}{R}, {T}, Sacrifice a land: Create a 3/3 colorless Golem enchantment artifact creature token.

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Sol Ring

Market Price: $2.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227075_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}{C}.

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Green Sun's Zenith

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $15.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118463_200w.jpg

Search your library for a green creature card with converted mana cost X or less, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library. Shuffle Green Sun's Zenith into its owner's library.

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Warstorm Surge

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.91

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196777_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, it deals damage equal to its power to any target.

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Quartzwood Crasher

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.57

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212277_200w.jpg

Trample
Whenever one or more creatures you control with trample deal combat damage to a player, create an X/X green Dinosaur Beast creature token with trample, where X is the amount of damage those creatures dealt to that player.

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Garruk's Uprising

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $1.42

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215617_200w.jpg

When Garruk's Uprising enters the battlefield, if you control a creature with power 4 or greater, draw a card.
Creatures you control have trample. (They can deal excess combat damage to the player or planeswalker they're attacking.)
Whenever a creature with power 4 or greater enters the battlefield under your control, draw a card.

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Selvala, Heart of the Wilds

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $14.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216177_200w.jpg

Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, its controller may draw a card if its power is greater than each other creature's power.
{G}, {T}: Add X mana in any combination of colors, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.

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Dragonmaster Outcast

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $2.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196630_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control six or more lands, create a 5/5 red Dragon creature token with flying.

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Elemental Bond

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $1.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196642_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature with power 3 or greater enters the battlefield under your control, draw a card.

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Beast Whisperer

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $1.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212493_200w.jpg

Whenever you cast a creature spell, draw a card.

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Wooded Foothills

Market Price: $19.57

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{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Wooded Foothills: Search your library for a Mountain or Forest card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Scavenger Grounds

Market Price: $0.91

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212458_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice a Desert: Exile all cards from all graveyards.

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227277_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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The Great Henge

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $27.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199361_200w.jpg

This spell costs {X} less to cast, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.
{T}: Add {G}{G}. You gain 2 life.
Whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on it and draw a card.

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Reclamation Sage

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226985_200w.jpg

When Reclamation Sage enters the battlefield, you may destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Rogue's Passage

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227325_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{4}, {T}: Target creature can't be blocked this turn.

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Stuffy Doll

Market Price: $5.75

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/59897_200w.jpg

Indestructible
As Stuffy Doll enters the battlefield, choose a player.
Whenever Stuffy Doll is dealt damage, it deals that much damage to the chosen player.
{T}: Stuffy Doll deals 1 damage to itself.

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Mana Flare

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $6.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/2266_200w.jpg

Whenever a player taps a land for mana, that player adds one mana of any type that land produced.

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Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Market Price: $22.36

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222763_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}: Choose a color. Add an amount of mana of that color equal to your devotion to that color. (Your devotion to a color is the number of mana symbols of that color in the mana costs of permanents you control.)

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Sakura-Tribe Elder

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212531_200w.jpg

Sacrifice Sakura-Tribe Elder: Search your library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.

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Mossbridge Troll

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $2.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/18716_200w.jpg

If Mossbridge Troll would be destroyed, regenerate it.
Tap any number of untapped creatures you control other than Mossbridge Troll with total power 10 or greater: Mossbridge Troll gets +20/+20 until end of turn.

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Temur Sabertooth

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $3.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/140055_200w.jpg

{1}{G}: You may return another creature you control to its owner's hand. If you do, Temur Sabertooth gains indestructible until end of turn.

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Cinder Glade

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212371_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R} or {G}.)
Cinder Glade enters the battlefield tapped unless you control two or more basic lands.

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Halana, Kessig Ranger

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221356_200w.jpg

Reach
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may pay {2}. When you do, that creature deals damage equal to its power to target creature.
Partner (You can have two commanders if both have partner.)

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Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.70

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161431_200w.jpg

Vigilance, reach
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed attacks each combat if able.
Whenever a player casts a noncreature spell, Ruric Thar deals 6 damage to that player.

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Ilharg, the Raze-Boar

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $5.36

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188414_200w.jpg

Trample
Whenever Ilharg, the Raze-Boar attacks, you may put a creature card from your hand onto the battlefield tapped and attacking. Return that creature to your hand at the beginning of the next end step.
When Ilharg, the Raze-Boar dies or is put into exile from the battlefield, you may put it into its owner's library third from the top.

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Guardian Project

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $6.42

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183213_200w.jpg

Whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, if it doesn't have the same name as another creature you control or a creature card in your graveyard, draw a card.

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Krosan Grip

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $2.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212526_200w.jpg

Split second (As long as this spell is on the stack, players can't cast spells or activate abilities that aren't mana abilities.)
Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Blasphemous Act

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226866_200w.jpg

This spell costs {1} less to cast for each creature on the battlefield.
Blasphemous Act deals 13 damage to each creature.

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Terror of the Peaks

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $13.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215673_200w.jpg

Flying
Spells your opponents cast that target Terror of the Peaks cost an additional 3 life to cast.
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, Terror of the Peaks deals damage equal to that creature's power to any target.

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Brash Taunter

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.36

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215657_200w.jpg

Indestructible
Whenever Brash Taunter is dealt damage, it deals that much damage to target opponent.
{2}{R}, {T}: Brash Taunter fights another target creature.

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Defense of the Heart

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $10.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/6301_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, if an opponent controls three or more creatures, sacrifice Defense of the Heart, search your library for up to two creature cards, and put those cards onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

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Xenagos, God of Revels

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $16.81

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/78839_200w.jpg

Indestructible
As long as your devotion to red and green is less than seven, Xenagos isn't a creature.
At the beginning of combat on your turn, another target creature you control gains haste and gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is that creature's power.

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Temple of Abandon

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.85

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206632_200w.jpg

Temple of Abandon enters the battlefield tapped.
When Temple of Abandon enters the battlefield, scry 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.)
{T}: Add {R} or {G}.

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Prowling Serpopard

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $4.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/129734_200w.jpg

This spell can't be countered.
Creature spells you control can't be countered.

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Aggravated Assault

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $16.61

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/10348_200w.jpg

{3}{R}{R}: Untap all creatures you control. After this main phase, there is an additional combat phase followed by an additional main phase. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.

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Forest

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227269_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G}.)

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Alena, Kessig Trapper

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221352_200w.jpg

First strike
{T}: Add an amount of {R} equal to the greatest power among creatures you control that entered the battlefield this turn.
Partner (You can have two commanders if both have partner.)

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Kessig Wolf Run

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212421_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{X}{R}{G}, {T}: Target creature gets +X/+0 and gains trample until end of turn.

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Seedborn Muse

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $8.61

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196277_200w.jpg

Untap all permanents you control during each other player's untap step.

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Mosswort Bridge

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.45

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212433_200w.jpg

Hideaway (This land enters the battlefield tapped. When it does, look at the top four cards of your library, exile one face down, then put the rest on the bottom of your library.)
{T}: Add {G}.
{G}, {T}: You may play the exiled card without paying its mana cost if creatures you control have total power 10 or greater.

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Rishkar's Expertise

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $6.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/126419_200w.jpg

Draw cards equal to the greatest power among creatures you control.
You may cast a spell with converted mana cost 5 or less from your hand without paying its mana cost.

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Cultivate

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.42

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227333_200w.jpg

Search your library for up to two basic land cards, reveal those cards, and put one onto the battlefield tapped and the other into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

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Ohran Frostfang

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $6.71

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196563_200w.jpg

Attacking creatures you control have deathtouch.
Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, draw a card.

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Grothama, All-Devouring

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $3.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/167818_200w.jpg

Other creatures have "Whenever this creature attacks, you may have it fight Grothama, All-Devouring."
When Grothama leaves the battlefield, each player draws cards equal to the amount of damage dealt to Grothama this turn by sources they controlled.

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Steelbane Hydra

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $5.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198435_200w.jpg

Steelbane Hydra enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it.
{2}{G}, Remove a +1/+1 counter from Steelbane Hydra: Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Castle Garenbrig

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $2.70

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199288_200w.jpg

Castle Garenbrig enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Forest.
{T}: Add {G}.
{2}{G}{G}, {T}: Add six {G}. Spend this mana only to cast creature spells or activate abilities of creatures.

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Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $3.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216172_200w.jpg

This spell costs {X} less to cast, where X is the total power of creatures you control.
Trample

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Aggressive Mammoth

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192986_200w.jpg

Trample (This creature can deal excess combat damage to the player or planeswalker it's attacking.)
Other creatures you control have trample.

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Pathbreaker Ibex

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $15.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/132114_200w.jpg

Whenever Pathbreaker Ibex attacks, creatures you control gain trample and get +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.

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Fierce Empath

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219545_200w.jpg

When Fierce Empath enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a creature card with converted mana cost 6 or greater, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.

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Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $6.65

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/12165_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {R}.
{R}, {T}: Target legendary creature gains first strike until end of turn.

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Return of the Wildspeaker

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $1.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222628_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Draw cards equal to the greatest power among non-Human creatures you control.
• Non-Human creatures you control get +3/+3 until end of turn.

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Beast Within

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.91

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227332_200w.jpg

Destroy target permanent. Its controller creates a 3/3 green Beast creature token.

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Scavenging Ooze

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215695_200w.jpg

{G}: Exile target card from a graveyard. If it was a creature card, put a +1/+1 counter on Scavenging Ooze and you gain 1 life.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $5.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215556_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

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Mage Slayer

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $2.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/37396_200w.jpg

Whenever equipped creature attacks, it deals damage equal to its power to the player or planeswalker it's attacking.
Equip {3}

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Arachnogenesis

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $16.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/107867_200w.jpg

Create X 1/2 green Spider creature tokens with reach, where X is the number of creatures attacking you. Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn by non-Spider creatures.

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Phyrexian Dreadnought

Market Price: $54.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/5170_200w.jpg

Trample
When Phyrexian Dreadnought enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you sacrifice any number of creatures with total power 12 or greater.

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Fires of Yavimaya

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $0.42

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/125420_200w.jpg

Creatures you control have haste.
Sacrifice Fires of Yavimaya: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

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Elder Gargaroth

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $11.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215477_200w.jpg

Vigilance, reach, trample
Whenever Elder Gargaroth attacks or blocks, choose one —
• Create a 3/3 green Beast creature token.
• You gain 3 life.
• Draw a card.

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Rootbound Crag

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $3.23

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/142038_200w.jpg

Rootbound Crag enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Mountain or a Forest.
{T}: Add {R} or {G}.

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Vexing Shusher

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $3.51

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218923_200w.jpg

This spell can't be countered.
{R/G}: Target spell can't be countered.

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Bramble Sovereign

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $13.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/167651_200w.jpg

Whenever another nontoken creature enters the battlefield, you may pay {1}{G}. If you do, that creature's controller creates a token that's a copy of that creature.

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Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $3.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/169109_200w.jpg

Creature spells you cast with power 4 or greater cost {2} less to cast.
Whenever Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma attacks, each creature you control with power 4 or greater gets +1/+1 and gains trample until end of turn.

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Jaya's Immolating Inferno

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227317_200w.jpg

(You may cast a legendary sorcery only if you control a legendary creature or planeswalker.)
Jaya's Immolating Inferno deals X damage to each of up to three targets.

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Vivien, Monsters' Advocate

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $6.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/211993_200w.jpg

You may look at the top card of your library any time.
You may cast creature spells from the top of your library.
+1: Create a 3/3 green Beast creature token. Put your choice of a vigilance counter, a reach counter, or a trample counter on it.
−2: When you cast your next creature spell this turn, search your library for a creature card with lesser converted mana cost, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Kodama's Reach

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.58

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226953_200w.jpg

Search your library for up to two basic land cards, reveal those cards, and put one onto the battlefield tapped and the other into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

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Rhythm of the Wild

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $1.67

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183219_200w.jpg

Creature spells you control can't be countered.
Nontoken creatures you control have riot. (They enter the battlefield with your choice of a +1/+1 counter or haste.)

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Spire Garden

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $9.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/166659_200w.jpg

Spire Garden enters the battlefield tapped unless you have two or more opponents.
{T}: Add {R} or {G}.

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Guaranteed Mana & Removal

I really like the concept of utilizing token generators in this deck as helpful mana generators and targeted removal. Tokens are a great and cheap way to help inch us along until we hit that much-needed land drop. Cards like Dragonmaster Outcast, Dragon Broodmother, and Tendershoot Dryad are excellent token generators that trigger on upkeep. Dragonmaster Outcast is a personal favorite because it guarantees us five red mana if we are unable to cast anything bigger. This mana can be sunk into Steelbane Hydra for removal, Finale of Devastation for a devastating combat step, or a muc- needed tutor like Green Sun's Zenith.

When paired with Halana, Kessig Ranger, this 5/5 Dragon token turns into a twomana killspell for our opponent's commander. Quartzwood Crasher is another great example of free mana without having to cast anything. Though this card functions best off a large boardstate, Quartzwood Crasher helps generate six mana at its weakest after combat thanks to its fun token ability. Imagine swinging with Ghalta, Primal Hunger, making a 12/12 token and generating 12 red mana! This could be used to fuel a devastating and game-ending Jaya's Immolating Inferno.

Dragon Broodmother can also be a showstopper in the right moment. If our board is full of tokens (I'm looking at you Tendershoot Dryad), we can easily have our Dragon token devour all of our Saprolings to create the thickest token of all time.

The final card I want to highlight is one I don't see played too often: Bramble Sovereign. This allows us to make token copies of our scariest creatures. Imagine having two Mossbridge Trolls (or even more if we used our Temur Sabertooth)! This is best paired with Halana, Kessig Ranger, as 50 damage to one creature for four mana is definitely overkill, but also insanely fun (especially when paired with our secret spice). Being able to use tokens as more than bodies for attacking and blocking is another way to fully take advantage of all the mana and damage Halana, Kessig Ranger and Alena, Kessig Trapper have to offer.

Infinite Swings

Normally when one is presented with Aggravated Assault, the card Savage Ventmaw comes to mind. The combo is truly a match made in heaven. Infinite Combat steps! I'm happy to say Savage Ventmaw has a contender for this combo piece: Alena, Kessig Trapper herself! This particular list originally had Savage Ventmaw to feed into this combo, but I realized Alena, Kessig Trapper can fulfill it as well. This was the deciding factor when Savage Ventmaw was inevitably cut from the list.

Infinite combat steps means tons of damage, insanely large Quartzwood Crasher tokens, extra pings from Halana, Kessig Ranger, and so much more. The fact that Alena, Kessig Trapper taps for mana rather than generating it upon attacks is actually beneficial to us (we are more likely to lose an attacking Savage Ventmaw than a tapped Alena, Kessig Trapper). The possibilities with infinite swings are endless and  many won't notice you can pull it off thanks to Alena, Kessig Trapper newness as a card (her rarity doesn't hurt this assumption either).

The Secret Spice

The secret spice of this deck is incredibly exciting due to the fact it gets around the specificity of Halana, Kessig Ranger ability. Halana, Kessig Ranger ability is indicative of her rarity. For an additional 2 colorless mana, Halana, Kessig Ranger allows a creature that just entered the battlefield to deal damage equal to its power to target creature. This is  powerful single target removal. However, this can only go so far. Yes, we can eventually clear an opponent's board, but that takes time and resources.

Cards like Terror of the Peaks and Warstorm Surge  are useful, but these are only two cards in a beefy deck. We need other options. Luckily, I have those. What if I told you that by dealing the damage allowed by Halana, Kessig Ranger to our own creatures, we can hurt our opponents?

Enter Stuffy Doll and Brash Taunter. Now we go from creature removal to full-on bazooka hits at our opponents. That 12/12 Dinosaur Beast token created by our Quartzwood Crasher suddenly turns into ⅓ of our opponent's life total gone when we target the Stuffy Doll or Brash Taunter. While Stuffy Doll has you choose an opponent, Brash Taunter allows you to move between opponents, making it a much more versatile card.

However, there is still a way to get more than one use out of our Stuffy Doll. When his target dies, simply blink him with Temur Sabertooth and recast him for new targets. This little interaction is one our opponents won't see coming until it's too late. A mythic play with an uncommon commander!

The Flavor Win

The flavor aspect of this deck is more subtle than I normally like to incorporate. I usually like to represent flavor with cards printed in specific sets, cards with meaningful art, or through lands. However, the flavor of this deck is represented through Halana, Kessig Ranger and Alena, Kessig Trapper themselves and the 33 creatures in this list.

Both Halana, Kessig Ranger and Alena, Kessig Trapper are trappers and hunters in Innistrad's Ulvenwald. Each day they face terrifying creatures, predators and things that go bump in the night. When building this deck, I wanted this to be conveyed through the creatures of this list. They represent the creatures they've faced in their adventures. They've trapped them, tamed them, and are currently using them to help defend those who live in the darkest parts of Innistrad.

Too Good Not to Run

Big beefy creatures are this list's bread and butter, and some cards are just too good not to run. There are two particular cards I want to highlight due to the sheer jank and excitement they produce in me.

Let's begin with Phyrexian Dreadnought. This was a card that was met with, "Why is that in there?" when I first added it. At first glance, we seem to focus on the sacrificial aspect of if, more specifically, sacrificing 12 power. Now a 12/12 for 1 mana is pretty fantastic. This card would be interesting in a tokens deck, however, that is not our main goal with this card. Phyrexian Dreadnought is a one-mana ramp spell and a two-mana burn spell. Our aim is to immediately sacrifice it when it ETBs, letting Alena, Kessig Trapper and Halana, Kessig Ranger both see it ETB.

Lastly, I want to praise this card with every fiber of my being. FINALLY! A USE FOR Mossbridge Troll!!!! This absolute unit of a card helps us generate 25 red mana!!! That is a deliciously obscene number that can be utilized in two devastating ways: +25/+25 to all of our creatures with Finale of Devastation or a big sink for Jaya's Immolating Inferno. At its worst, this Mossbridge Troll helps us generate mana to dump our hand for some devastating blows. Either way, how could we not run a 25/25 in a big creature deck?!

Final Thoughts

Building around such open-ended commanders was a challenge for me. When paired with my discomfort with Gruul, I had myself a nervous sandwich. I'm confident when Commander Legends spoiler season hits, there will be a handful of new cards making their way into this list to help strengthen and synergize it.

Looking at the list in its current state, I'd like to add more ways to deal damage, most likely through a number of X burn spells. The addition of Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots would also be helpful in protecting some of our larger stuff and even our partners. This deck was a challenge for me to tackle, and I'm thoroughly excited by this list and the Gruulfriend's printing. When Halana, Kessig Ranger and Alena, Kessig Trapper were spoiled, the Magic community rejoiced. From their tidbits of flavor text to their story debut in 2016, many players wondered if we would ever see these two appear in print. Seeing the Gruulfriends slated for release in November of 2020 has brought me and so many individuals joy within the community.

And FYI: They're more than just really good friends.