Last week, WotC's Banned and Restricted announcement shook up the Modern format. With the banning of Arcum's Astrolabe, a lot is going to change. In my article detailing my reaction to the announcement, I talked about what this shakeup meant for the Gruul Midrange (aka Ponza).

If a Blood Moon deck can thrive in a format where greedy mana bases are equipped to fight through the Blood Moon effects, the deck can only get better when Arcum's Astrolabe is banned.

What's It Do?  

Controlling your opponent's lands is the first step to winning games with Gruul Midrange. The goal of the average list is to play a turn-one accelerant—Arbor Elf or Utopia Sprawl—and ramp to three mana on turn two. With the three mana you untap with, you're looking to deploy a Blood Moon or a Magus of the Moon to punish your opponent's mana base and try to lock them out of the game. Most lists will play a few copies of Pillage, which can destroy any land (including basics). Typically, your Pillage will target a basic land if you have a Blood Moon or a Magus of the Moon in play.

Beyond this, you are looking to leverage card advantage, removal and aggression to close out games before your opponent can catch back up.

You win matches by forcing your opponent to answer your multiple angles of attack, including one that impairs their ability to cast spells. 

Odd or Even?

I'm not talking about rolling dice to determine who gets to be on the play, because obviously it would be high roll (joking!) I'm talking about whether our Gruul list plays Obosh, the Preypiercer.

The majority of the key cards in this deck have an odd converted mana cost. However, there are some even-costed cards that would fit in well. The way I answer this question is to make a list of these cards and evaluate whether their inclusion is worth sacrificing our companion for:

Bloodbraid Elf: Aggressive, free spell, versatile, did I mention free spells? 

Wrenn and Six: There isn't much synergy with the lands we typically play, so overall I view Wrenn and Six as a card I would play if I'd already made the decision to exclude Obosh. 

Chandra, Torch of Defiance: Earlier I mentioned that the deck was looking to "leverage card advantage, removal and aggression," and Chandra does all three. 

Scavenging Ooze: This has been replaced by Klothys, God of Destiny in the odd, Obosh builds. I could easily see myself playing some copies in the sideboard, however, it would not sway my companion decision. 

Sideboard:

These sideboard cards address typical problems in matchups: opposing artifacts, enchantments, noncreature spells and aggressive decks that typically aren't impacted by Blood Moon and pressure our life total. 

So to answer the question, I'm going to have to say "even." 

Losing access to Obosh, the Preypiercer is unfortunate, but what we gain by having access to Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Bloodbraid Elf and the sideboard cards is greater. 

The List

Here's the list I'm currently playing in Modern:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Gruul Midrange by Jess Estephan

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

Created By: Jess Estephan

Event:

Rank:

Modern

Market Price: $713.27

Cards

Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.06

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({T}: Add {R}.)

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Verdant Catacombs

Market Price: $24.52

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

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Lightning Bolt

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $2.53

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Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to any target.

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Forest

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.04

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({T}: Add {G}.)

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Arbor Elf

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.49

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{T}: Untap target Forest.

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Wooded Foothills

Market Price: $35.20

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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.

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Glorybringer

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.88

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Flying, haste
You may exert Glorybringer as it attacks. When you do, it deals 4 damage to target non-Dragon creature an opponent controls. (An exerted creature won't untap during your next untap step.)

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Grafdigger's Cage

Market Price: $1.84

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Creature cards in graveyards and libraries can't enter the battlefield.
Players can't cast spells from graveyards or libraries.

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Stomping Ground

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $8.39

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({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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Blood Moon

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $17.18

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Nonbasic lands are Mountains.

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Kitchen Finks

Color Identity:G,W

Market Price: $0.72

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When Kitchen Finks enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.
Persist (When this creature dies, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)

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Windswept Heath

Market Price: $25.10

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

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Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $6.29

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+1: Exile the top card of your library. You may cast that card. If you don't, Chandra, Torch of Defiance deals 2 damage to each opponent.
+1: Add {R}{R}.
−3: Chandra, Torch of Defiance deals 4 damage to target creature.
−7: You get an emblem with "Whenever you cast a spell, this emblem deals 5 damage to any target."

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Bloodbraid Elf

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $2.53

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Haste
Cascade (When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card that costs less. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order.)

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Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.14

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Seasoned Pyromancer

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $35.10

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When Seasoned Pyromancer enters the battlefield, discard two cards, then draw two cards. For each nonland card discarded this way, create a 1/1 red Elemental creature token.
{3}{R}{R}, Exile Seasoned Pyromancer from your graveyard: Create two 1/1 red Elemental creature tokens.

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Wrenn and Six

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $102.48

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+1: Return up to one target land card from your graveyard to your hand.
−1: Wrenn and Six deals 1 damage to any target.
−7: You get an emblem with "Instant and sorcery cards in your graveyard have retrace." (You may cast instant and sorcery cards from your graveyard by discarding a land card in addition to paying their other costs.)

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Anger of the Gods

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.92

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Anger of the Gods deals 3 damage to each creature. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead.

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Utopia Sprawl

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $4.63

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Enchant Forest
As Utopia Sprawl enters the battlefield, choose a color.
Whenever enchanted Forest is tapped for mana, its controller adds an additional one mana of the chosen color.

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Weather the Storm

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.13

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You gain 3 life.
Storm (When you cast this spell, copy it for each spell cast before it this turn.)

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Klothys, God of Destiny

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $6.31

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206458_200w.jpg

Indestructible
As long as your devotion to red and green is less than seven, Klothys isn't a creature.
At the beginning of your precombat main phase, exile target card from a graveyard. If it was a land card, add {R} or {G}. Otherwise, you gain 2 life and Klothys deals 2 damage to each opponent.

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Veil of Summer

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $7.33

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Draw a card if an opponent has cast a blue or black spell this turn. Spells you control can't be countered this turn. You and permanents you control gain hexproof from blue and from black until end of turn. (You and they can't be the targets of blue or black spells or abilities your opponents control.)

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Cindervines

Color Identity:G,R

Market Price: $1.21

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Whenever an opponent casts a noncreature spell, Cindervines deals 1 damage to that player.
{1}, Sacrifice Cindervines: Destroy target artifact or enchantment. Cindervines deals 2 damage to that permanent's controller.

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Collector Ouphe

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $5.65

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Activated abilities of artifacts can't be activated.

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Pillage

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.15

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Destroy target artifact or land. It can't be regenerated.

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Choke

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $3.50

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Islands don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.

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Magus of the Moon

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $3.63

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Nonbasic lands are Mountains.

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20 or 21 lands? If you were playing an Obosh, the Preypiercer list I would recommend 21 lands, otherwise 20 lands is a good amount. If you're looking to play the 21st land anyway, I recommend giving Forgotten Cave a shot. It cycles, and therefore offers Wrenn and Six synergies. 

Fetch Lands: Four copies of Wooded Foothills are necessary, however, the other five just need to be green fetch lands. Whatever you own or whatever is more accessible is fine, but ideally, I like to mix them up. 

Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, Pillage: These cards diversify the way in which we attack our opponent's lands. Having access to all three makes it hard for our opponents to prevent us from doing so. 

Bonecrusher Giant, Glorybringer: In addition to Lightning Bolt, these two cards are the removal spells for the deck, which also act as threats. Getting the most out of each card is important since we don't have a direct way to draw cards. Bloodbraid Elf and Seasoned Pyromancer also fall into this section of the deck.

Klothys, God of Destiny: The mainboard way to deal with your opponent's graveyard while being a hard-to-remove threat that can eventually attack. 

Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Wrenn and Six: I like these planeswalkers for the deck due to their versatility and ability to play the long game.

Sideboard

The sideboard is filled with cards aimed at shoring up our not-so-good matchups. I've built the sideboard based on the week-old metagame, so I've focused less on artifact hate that doesn't also affect enchantments. 

Anger of the Gods: Good against most creature decks, including Humans and Prowess. Be mindful of how it will impact your board, Seasoned Pyromancer will be exiled. 

Choke: Islands go bye-bye!! 

Veil of Summer: Comes in against Jund, Death's Shadow decks and countermagic decks. 

Kitchen Finks: Effective against aggressive decks, burn decks and decks with plenty of removal. 

Weather the Storm: For Prowess, Storm and Burn decks.

Cindervines: For Ad Nauseum, control decks, Eldrazi Tron and Temur Reclamation.

If Amulet and Tron decks go up in numbers, I would consider playing a couple Fulminator Mage in the sideboard. 

Alternate Builds

Mulligans

I will mulligan my seven-card hands reasonably aggressively. If my hand can't cast spells before turn three, I usually consider a mulligan. Hands that have acceleration and some payoff are ideal, but a mix of threats and removal is good too. 

I will also typically keep seven-card hands with a Blood Moon in them, as long as it's not six lands or six spells. 

These decks are built to thrive off of land destruction but function in the capacity of a fair deck without them. Fair hands are not ideal and thanks to the London mulligan, I will usually send them back. I am far less picky with my six-card hands, and just want a combination of lands and spells. 

All of this advice is contingent on you not knowing what your opponent is on. If you know what the matchup is, you can usually keep slower hands that contain hate cards relevant to the matchup. 

Tips and Tricks

If you're looking to do something different in Modern, this deck is incredibly good at punishing your opponent for even deigning to exist. Even if they're able to adapt around the Blood Moon strategy, your aggressive creatures and versatile threats amount to enough power to clear off any opponent.

You can potentially beat any deck in the format. What's not to love?