I worry sometimes that this deck might be too subtle.

Ruric Thar is an amusing card - as soon as I saw it, I knew I'd love to try to make a Commander deck around him. So when I noticed that the EDH points binder at my old LGS had a foil Ruric up for grabs, I promptly nabbed it and went home to do just that, and came back the next day with a horrible mess that I've been improving or otherwise modifying ever since.

The original version was more of a pile of cards pulled from my available card pool than a constructed deck, so there were a bunch of underwhelming vanilla dudes in there thanks to my limited collection (I'd only started playing Magic in February of 2014 and I "built" this deck a couple weeks later). The current incarnation is not hideously expensive (or at least if you put the deck together without foiling basically every card in it that can be it's not, I would be lying if I described the version I own as inexpensive) but certainly no longer a budget deck slapped together over night, and now that it's about as done as a Commander deck I own ever is (ie, depends on what new cards come out) I can go into the reasoning behind why various cards are in there without worrying that I'd just end up replacing those cards a day or two later.

The Basic Conceit of the deck's construction - the Commander

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed will punch anyone who casts non-creature spells in the face, whether that's your opponents or you; he's an equal opportunity face-puncher. So rather than play around Ruric's abilities and build a more "normal" Gruul deck with the typical ratio of spells to creatures, I built one where Ruric won't be punching me because there is literally only one thing in the entire deck that breaks the following design constraint:

Any effect I might want from a non-creature spell in the deck can only be included if it can be found in creature form.

It might seem like a bit of a cop-out to run a planeswalker in my otherwise "all creatures" gimmick deck, but all of my Commander decks have at least one planeswalker in them so that's just me being consistent.

  • Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma - when basically everything in your deck is a creature with 4 or more power, reducing how much those spells cost by is bonkers. This card featuring additional text is just gravy.
  • Grand Warlord Radha - possibly the most Gruul ramp card ever printed, attacking to make mana is just the best.
  • Gyre Sage - somewhat conditional ramp since she taps for all of nothing until she gets a counter, but since virtually everything else in the deck triggers evolve, in actual practice she winds up tapping for quite a bit of mana once things get rolling. She can also double as a fairly decently sized body I can attack with if I don't need the mana later on in the game.
  • Karametra's Acolyte - by itself, it's a 1/4 for 4 that taps for - with any additional green devotion it can get nuts.
  • Mina and Denn, Wildborn - playing more than one land per turn is great, and their activated ability that grants trample (relevant) while bouncing a land back to my hand means that even without a second land in hand to play (or any land for that matter), I can still get multiple landfall triggers and/or re-use various utility lands in the deck, making them quite versatile.
  • Nikya of the Old Ways - Effectively doubles mana production with a downside that's almost entirely irrelevant to a deck running a solitary non-creature spell.
  • Oracle of Mul Daya - What's better than playing 2 lands per turn? The ability to play those 2 lands per turn even with none in hand, provided the top cards of the library are lands. Showing people all the cards I draw is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.
  • Radha, Heir to Keld - a 2/2 body that either generates to sink into other creatures or to pay for combat tricks or on-board pump effects if I have the opportunity/reason to swing her.
  • Regal Behemoth - semi-reliable card advantage (past the initial turn at least), combined with semi-reliable mana "essentially doubling but not actually" on a decently sized body with a relevant ability = get in my deck. Enticing people to attack me with the promise of drawing more cards if they hit is barely even a downside in this deck; if anything, now I have even more excuses for attacking them back afterwards.
  • Savage Ventmaw - not exactly ramp per se, but considering it only has to attack once to completely refund its casting cost, I have ways to give things haste and/or additional combat steps per turn... yeah, when I saw this spoiled it was basically a snap-include.
  • Selvala, Heart of the Wilds - in a vacuum the new Selvala is broadly similar to her previous incarnation, in that she's (kind of) group-hug in the form of card draw for everyone, and conditional ramp for me. Except this version may not actually give them any cards at all and the ramp is incredible (albeit less impressive on an otherwise empty board state).
  • Shaman of Forgotten Ways - a decently sized body with a very flexible mana-producing ability that comes with a downside that's almost irrelevant in a deck that pretty much just runs creatures. Also, the ability to cast pseudo-Biorhythm every once in a blue moon for profit is not nothing.
  • Shefet Monitor - essentially, this is a 4-mana instant speed ramp spell that puts a land onto the battlefield untapped and also draws a card, which is "almost" impossible to counter. Also, every once in a great while, it might be a creature instead.
  • Xenagos, the Reveler - Xenagos took over the job that Koth of the Hammer was doing, and he's oh so much better at what I used Koth for, which was to ramp; I sometimes wonder what R&D was thinking when they made "better Gaea's Cradle " as his +1. Spitting out dudes or making a ton of mana are good enough as it is, but if I get the chance to use his ult, well in this deck that's basically a genesis wave for 7, except it doesn't whiff on 8-drops.
  • Zhur-Taa Druid - for the cost of an additional , I get an Elvish Mystic that pings everyone else at the table when I tap it for . It's also the only X/1 creature in the deck, for reasons.
  • Cavern of Souls - Cavern is a staple of tribal decks, which this is not - it's in this deck just so I can name "warrior" and laugh at the player sandbagging any number of counterspells for when I try to cast Ruric. Making a few other warriors in the deck unable to be countered is really just an added bonus.
  • Prowling Serpopard - I was so very happy when I saw this card spoiled (and all the bitter complaining about it by blue mages), because in this deck it practically reads "none of your spells can be countered" (were it not for the planeswalker I run, it would actually say that). My only "slight" complaint about the Serpopard is that I would have liked it if they switched the power and toughness, but I understand why they didn't.
  • Vexing Shusher - this little fellow counts towards both my devotion to red and green, can't be countered, makes attempting to counter anything I cast nearly useless as long as I have mana open, and because his ability doesn't restrict him to spells I control, also lets me play politics sometimes. Also, that flavor text. Hushhh.
  • Arashi, the Sky Asunder and Jiwari, the Earth Aflame - two sides of a coin, with the option to cast them either as creatures that provide targeted removal on a stick, or channel them and hit everything in the air or on the ground, depending on the situation. The channel mechanic also bypasses cards that impose timing restrictions or otherwise prevent casting, while being "almost" impossible to counter, since using channel is activating an ability of a card and not casting a spell.
  • Balefire Dragon - even without the ability text, it's a 6/6 flier, but of course this is a creature capable of hitting someone for 6 and also hitting every creature they control for 6 at the same time, which by itself is a scary effect. I run him in a deck with plenty of ways to ensure it gets through and/or hits for a bunch more than base damage; people without answers in their hands tend to visibly wince when this hits the table.
  • Dragonlord Atarka - I'd been telling people at my LGS that I would windmill slam the new version of Atarka into this deck no matter what it actually did, and it wound up being 5 damage divided as I choose amongst creatures and/or planeswalkers, and then an 8/8 trampling flier afterwards. What's not to love about that?
  • Engulfing Slagwurm + Tempting Licid - by themselves either of these creatures are pretty great: the Slagwurm makes people very hesitant to attack into you when you're on the defensive, and on the offensive it makes any blocks pretty awful; the Licid is a reusable Lure that can screw around with other players combat phases or ensure the bulk of your team gets through for damage. Put the Licid on the Slagwurm, and things just get silly - there's nothing quite like swinging in and forcing an opponent to block with every available creature, destroying all of them prior to damage, and gaining a ton of life in the process. Particularly since I then get to keep doing that.
  • Gruul Ragebeast - on his own, he's a one-shot fight effect if I target something that hits back in his weight class (sometimes you just have to spend 7 mana and a card to kill something). If he lives past that initial fight though, things just get silly as every creature I cast and any token I generate from that point on for as long as he's on the table turns into targeted removal. The fact that the effect is not optional is also why my smaller creatures tend to have at least 2 toughness, as trading a mana-dork for some jank token is a real "feels bad" moment.
  • Hateflayer - I have a soft spot for weird old mechanics, and the Untap symbol certainly qualifies, but even if Hateflayer tapped to punch a creature or player with Wither (for whatever its power happens to be at the time, gotta love abilities that get better when you buff the creature they're attached to), the ability to remove indestructible creatures alone would probably make it worth running. But it Untaps instead, so I get to attack with it, zap something, and still have it untapped to block.
  • Hoard-Smelter Dragon - a repeatable way to get rid of pesky artifacts, with the added benefit of potentially getting in for even more damage in the air afterwards.
  • Inferno Titan - 3 damage divided however I choose when it enters and whenever it attacks, plus firebreathing on a 6/6 body? Yes please.
  • Lord of Shatterskull Pass - requires a significant mana investment to get it to do its thing, but when it is fully leveled up, potentially wiping someone's entire board on declaration of attacks is pretty rad; pairing a leveled up Lord with Ohran Frostfang is of course the dream scenario.
  • Omnath, Locus of Rage - Omnath 2.0 turns making a land drop into a free 5/5, which is sweet, but turning the death of himself or any other elemental into lightning bolts (whether the ones he makes or the other elementals already in the deck) in addition to just spitting out 5/5s from dropping land (in a deck that is either going to draw a creature or a land 99% of the time) makes him pretty ridiculous.
  • Steel Hellkite - destroys just about anything, provided it can hit the player controlling the problem permanent(s) and I have the mana available to sink into that ability.
  • Archetype of Endurance - hexproof for all my creatures, no hexproof for anyone else, as effects go this one seems pretty useful.
  • Courser of Kruphix - helps me hit my land drops/kind of play with an additional card in my hand (provided that one is land) and provides incidental life-gain at the expense of losing the element of surprise by showing opponents everything I draw, but that's a drawback I'll happily take.
  • Homura, Human Ascendant - a just terrible creature (4/4 for that can't block? Bleh!) that is actually completely awesome; if your opponents can't continuously chump block or block with a creature that won't die and won't kill Homura in turn (or have some other shenanigans), then that's 4 damage they're just eating every turn. Because when it dies (and oh do I ever want it to), it comes back as an enchantment giving all my stuff +2/+2 and flying and also fire-breathing - without ever needing to cast it as an enchantment and take 6 from Ruric. Homura is the one creature I'm always extremely happy to have around prior to a board-wipe.
  • Nylea, God of the Hunt - worst case scenario, I get an indestructible enchantment that gives my team trample and serves as a mana-sink, without Ruric punching me because Gods are always creatures in every zone except the battlefield; best case scenario I get all that and a 6/6 body.
  • Purphoros, God of the Forge - like Nylea, at worst it's an indestructible mana-sink that turns casting any creature (or generating any of the various tokens the deck makes) into a Shock that hits each other player at the table, which is already really good. Attacking and blocking with it is really just icing on the cake.
  • Tempting Licid - I get a repeatable Lure effect that Ruric will never punch me for because it's always cast as a creature and then turns into an enchantment (and possibly back into a creature to later enchant something else), what's not to love? It's also essentially immune to any form of enchantment removal that doesn't also hit creatures provided I have available, even spells with Split Second like Krosan Grip (ending the effect is a special action, which doesn't use the stack), something a few opponents have learned to their cost.
  • Xenagos, God of Revels - yeah, doubling any creature in my deck's power (and possibly its toughness, it depends on the base stats) and giving it haste is pretty rad. Doing that to my commander is just mean, so that's generally what I do when I get the option. I'm never ever sorry to see Xenagos around, even if it never gets to be a creature.
  • Boartusk Liege - essentially an enchantment that gives all my mono-colored creatures +1/+1, and my multi-colored creatures +2/+2, except it can also attack and block.
  • Elderscale Wurm - aka, "conditional immortality wurm". I once survived someone blowing up all my lands and then taking 4 turns in a row thanks to this card; it's certainly not an insurmountable obstacle, but the times I can stick this and then my opponents literally cannot kill me are pretty memorable.
  • Hellkite Charger - this is a deck that I'd love to run Aggravated Assault in, but as I've already reached my quota for non-creature spells, a dragon that does roughly the same thing for more mana while also being a dragon seems like a natural fit.
  • Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs - I describe him as the red Propaganda , which isn't strictly accurate but it gets the point across - he discourages anyone with something better to do with their mana from swinging at me, unless they feel like giving me a whole bunch of free ogres, which might render the entire attack itself pointless (particularly when Purphorous is around). Yay ogres.
  • Krosan Tusker - an unexciting creature if actually cast that way (which I don't believe I ever have), or an instant-speed cantrip that also land fetches, without triggering Ruric. Worst case scenario, I cycle it on one of my main phases to ensure I hit a land drop; best case scenario, I do that at the end of the player to my right's turn.
  • Moonveil Dragon - like having an enchantment that reads "Pay : creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn", except that enchantment is a 5/5 flier, and also a dragon.
  • Obsidian Fireheart - a funny card that makes opponents' lands start pinging them, which is useful, but due to the mechanics involved it's actually possible to be eliminated from a game and take somebody out posthumously (the effect doesn't rely on the creature still being around and counters placed on permanents your opponents control don't get removed when you lose the game, unlike pretty much everything else). The potential to kill people from beyond the grave is why I'll probably never swap this card out (particularly since I've actually done it more than once).
  • Ogre Battledriver - casting a creature and then immediately slamming in because it has haste feels good, doing that but also giving that creature +2/+0 first is pretty fantastic.
  • Ohran Frostfang - provides the same effect I could only get previously by running Bow of Nylea , except even better because it also turns all my creatures attacking with deathtouch into card draw engines.
  • Pathbreaker Ibex - it's Overwhelming Stampede on a stick, where the downside of relative fragility and lack of immediate impact one gets by stapling that spell onto a goat are handily outweighed by the ridiculous upside of how it interacts with other cards in the deck that grant extra combat phases.
  • Questing Beast - there is just so much great text on this creature, but the specific reason this is in the deck now is the part where it says "Fogs don't work anymore" (not in so many words, but that's what it means).
  • Rhonas the Indomitable - pumps up other creatures, ludicrously easy to "activate", intrinsically has deathtouch so all the other effects that give creatures trample in this deck become bonkers... and all of that for a measly 3 mana? Yes please.
  • Soul of the Harvest - every creature spell in the deck "essentially" becomes a cantrip when this is in play; I don't have any way to abuse the ETB trigger via flicker or re-animator effects of course, but that doesn't stop other people from doing those things for me (albeit probably as a side effect and not purposely). Also it's a solid, trampling body with a relevant creature type.
  • Urabrask the Hidden - haste for my guys, Imposing Sovereign 's effect for not my guys. Win/win (unless you're not me, then I suppose its lose/lose).
  • Vizier of the Menagerie - when a deck has only 1 non-creature spell in it, effects like what the Vizier provides really get to shine. Fixing my mana is also nice, but it's the ability to cast 1 or more creatures without necessarily needing any in hand that is the real draw here.
  • Atarka, World Render - When I first heard there was going to be a Gruul legendary dragon, I was pretty much committed to finding a spot for it sight unseen on principle alone (and then we got another!), and the card they actually printed did not disappoint; Atarka is just a solid flying beat-stick that I could almost justify running in a vacuum. But of course I'm not running it in a vacuum, I'm running it in a deck with a bunch of other dragons who can also get that sweet sweet double strike goodness.
  • Borborygmos - a giant trampling beat-stick who grows my entire team whenever he gets through? Why not!
  • Giant Adephage - a 7/7 trampler for 7 is solid, if unexciting, but the fact that it replicates itself when it connects, and that the tokens it creates are copies of the original so they also replicate themselves, well that just makes it bonkers.
  • God-Eternal Rhonas - solid stats, comes with its own recursion, but that bonkers ETB is why this is in here now. Doubling the team's power and attacking with vigilance is going to break up some board stalls.
  • Ilharg, the Raze-Boar - combining a solid recursive creature with the ability to "bring a friend" (potentially over, and over again) made this a very easy include.
  • Scourge of the Throne - the only downside to this creature is that eventually the player with the most life, should it stick around to do its thing, is just going to be me. Until that point though, extra combat phases for doing something I was going to do anyways is rad.
  • Skyline Despot - definitely drawing a card, and potentially a whole bunch more while also (essentially but not really since one is on the upkeep and the other is at end step) simultaneously making additional dragons? Sounds great to me!
  • Stonehoof Chieftain - an indestructible trampling 8/8 for is fine on its own, that it also makes any of my creatures gain trample and indestructible when they attack (and thus can come down and have immediate impact on the board) is why this is kind of bonkers.
  • Thundermaw Hellkite - a solid flying beater that, barring reach or shenanigans, is going to get in there and hit someone the turn it comes in - nuking all the X/1 flyers and tapping down the rest in the process can make for some game-ending swings.
  • Utvara Hellkite - a 6/6 flier that makes other 6/6 fliers whenever it attacks is pretty rad, the fact that it actually just cares about dragons attacking, so the tokens it makes and all the other dragons in my deck (and the tokens they would make) all themselves make tokens for attacking, well that's almost gilding the lily. Things can quickly get out of hand if it gets to stick around for a couple turns.
  • Raging Ravine - this particular man-land I'd run even if my deck didn't originally have a sub-theme of animating lands back when I built it (still some pieces of that kicking around in the current version), because it's another R/G multi-land, just like all the other ones I'm not mentioning because the reason they're in my deck is fairly obvious (yay fixing) - at the absolute worst, it's a guildgate with utility stapled on. It doesn't get animated super often, but the times where I have tend to be pretty funny.
  • Fabled Passage - it's just like all the other lands that crack to go find any basic, except it also comes with an untap clause.
  • Grove of the Burnwillows - this piece of fixing has a downside that in this deck is either irrelevant, or actually becomes an upside because Dethrone is a thing that exists now. Enjoy your life gain suckers!
  • Mosswort Bridge - there are times when I play this and swear I'm going take it out of the deck, and then there are times I get to cast 8-drops at instant speed for a single green mana, and so I never wind up cutting it; when it works, it really works.
  • Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx - my entire deck is comprised of permanents, so even in a 2-color deck the devotion-land generally winds up tapping for some silly amounts of mana.
  • Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers - if having a basic land type for fetching purposes and non-basic/legendary landwalk weren't things, you could call this a strictly better forest, but even so, it's a "comes in untapped" green source with additional utility stapled on, and I run enough legendary creatures that it's useful even if my commander isn't on the field.
  • Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep - like Okina, Shinka is basically a mountain with additional utility stapled on that lets me screw with combat math sometimes (you would think people would see on-board tricks coming, but experience teaches otherwise).
  • Oran-Rief, the Vastwood - out of the 61 creatures in the deck, only 19 are mono-red, so a land I can tap to add +1/+1 counters to 40 of my creatures (and most of my tokens) after they enter the battlefield is pretty decent.
  • Rogue's Passage - this plus Ruric is a win condition (albeit not necessarily a one-turn win condition depending on other factors), and even if he's not around making something unblockable is a very relevant effect.
  • Scavenger Grounds - Graveyard hate on a colorless permanent isn't new, but attaching it to a land that my gimmick deck can actually tutor for and place directly onto the battlefield at instant speed (and then potentially use right away, also at instant speed)? That's kind of rad. The effect itself is technically repeatable but in actual practice won't be as this is the only desert in the deck. Still worth it though!
  • Kessig Wolf Run - it's essentially a fireball effect on a land.
  • Thespian's Stage - in here mostly because it lets me have a second Command Tower or Gruul Turf or whatnot, but it can copy any land on the battlefield, and unlike Vesuva it comes with an on-board way to change what it's copying without relying on bounce effects from something else.

General deck strategy

Smash all the things. Also, be sure to cast Ruric as soon as you possibly can in 99% of scenarios, because Ruric is just super good at making friends; you can tell that it's working by the resounding groans and overt threats, aka, the sounds of friendship. Spread the love!