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Much Abrew: GR Sneak Attack (Pioneer, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Today, we're heading to Pioneer to play a deck with the potential to be one of the most explosive in the format: GR Sneak Attack! The goal of the deck is simple: kill the opponent by cheating a Worldspine Wurm (basically the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn of Pioneer) into play with the help of Ilharg, the Raze-Boar or Champion of Rhonas. With our best draws, we can use Generator Servant to play a hasty Ilharg, the Raze-Boar on Turn 3 and then use Ilharg to cheat Worldspine Wurm into play, giving us a total of 21 trampling hasty damage on Turn 3, which should be enough to either kill our opponent immediately or, worst case, finish them next turn with another Ilharg attack! Is Worldspine Wurm Pioneer Emrakul? Is cheating huge things into play with Ilharg, the Raze-Boar and Champion of Rhonas a legit plan for Pioneer?  Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: GR Sneak Attack


  • Record-wise, we finished our league 3-2 with GR Sneak Attack with one loss coming against Izzet Phoenix, where we might have punted the match by putting Combustible Gearhulk into play rather than Worldspine Wurm thanks to our opponent having a Thing in the Ice on the battlefield. While Combustible Gearhulk is better if Thing in the Ice flips, our opponent only had three mana (and the full four counters on Thing in the Ice), and it's a lot harder to flip Thing in the Ice in Pioneer than it is in Modern, thanks to the lack of free spells like Manamorphose. If we were fearless and put Worldspine Wurm into play, we likely would have won before Thing in the Ice had a chance to bounce our 15/15 trampler.
  • The biggest upside of GR Sneak Attack is how explosive the deck can be. It might be the most likely Pioneer deck to win on Turn 3, especially if we mulligan aggressively for our important pieces (which we should). 
  • On the other hand, the deck can be maddeningly inconsistent. We don't really have any sort of card draw or card filtering, so we have some games where we draw a bunch of mana and nothing to do with it, and others where we draw all finishers and not enough mana. The deck would be even stronger if we could somehow improve the consistency, but there aren't a ton of options in red and green. Thrill of Possibility could work, and it could even be worth considering going into a third color, although if we do, we might just end up replacing one sort of inconsistency for another if we can't make our colors work.
  • When it comes to playing the deck, we're mostly looking for a two-mana ramp spells (Generator Servant is the best, although Sylvan Caryatid also works), something to give our Sneak Attack creature haste (Generator Servant, Rhythm of the Wild, or Surrak, the Hunt Caller), a Sneak Attack creature (Ilharg, the Raze-Boar is the most explosive, but Champion of Rhonas is fine too), and a finisher (preferably Worldspine Wurm, although Combustible Gearhulk can also do the job). Our nut draw is Turn 2 Generator Servant, Turn 3 hasty Ilharg, the Raze-Boar to put Worldspine Wurm into play for 21 trampling damage.
  • Originally, the deck had Game Trail in the mana base, but after missing out on Ilharg, the Raze-Boar a few times thanks to Game Trail coming into play tapped, I cut it for more basic lands and one Temple of Abandon
  • 25 lands feels like a lot for the deck, especially considering we have Sylvan Caryatid and, to a lesser extent, Generator Servant. Not only did we flood out a few times, but having 25 lands makes Combustible Gearhulk a lot less frightening since we often end up milling some zero-converted-mana-cost lands, reducing the damage it can do.
  • All in all, GR Sneak Attack felt like one of the most explosive decks in Pioneer, although its inconsistency might keep it from being a top-tier strategy. Its good hands are about as powerful as it gets in the Pioneer format, but its bad hands are really, really bad. And without any card draw or filtering, it's hard to improve them outside of mulligans. I'm actually wondering if an easy fix (or at least slight improvement) would be to play a full playset of Temple of Abandon. While it always comes into play tapped, we don't really have Turn 1 plays anyway, and being able to filter away extra lands to find action could really help the deck, similarly to how scry lands are used in Modern Ad Nauseam.
  • You probably noticed that our deck had Veil of Summer. I recorded this episode just before it was banned. While we did bring it in in one matchup, it didn't really have a huge impact on how our league played out, and I don't think replacing it with something else in the sideboard would have changed our record in a meaningful way. Honestly, rather than trying to replace Veil of Summer with a similar-but-worse card like Display of Dominance, the best plan might be to replace it with some targeted removal like Roast or Lava Coil to help deal with cards like Thing in the Ice. Adding another Wild Slash somewhere is also probably a good idea, mostly because green decks based around Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic are extremely popular and killing the turn one mana dork is the best way to keep them in check.
  • So, should you play GR Sneak Attack in Pioneer? I think the answer is yes, but with the warning that some games will be very bad. In theory, the good games and free wins help make up for the bad, and I could easily see the deck stringing together enough good games to 5-0 a league or, with some luck, be competitive at a big paper tournament. If you can figure out a way to decrease the inconsistency without taking away from the insane nut-draw potential, then GR Sneak Attack could end up being a very real deck in the Pioneer format.


Anyway, that's all for today! Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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