Gruul Sunbird

Deck Rarity Breakdown:

20 Basic Lands
4 Rare Lands
12 Common Non-Lands
8 Uncommon Non-Lands
12 Rare Non-Lands
4 Mythic Non-Lands


Today’s card is one that feels just on the edge of tier deck playability. I think this card has serious potential and recently it has been used in a variety of slightly janky decks all over the internet. I decided to try my hand at brewing with it as well! Today we’re talking about Sunbird’s Invocation:

Card images courtesy of Gatherer

Sunbird’s Invocation is a cool card because it promises incremental advantage. Every time you play a card, you get another card! The bigger the card you play, the bigger the card you get! 

When building a deck to take advantage of Sunbird’s Invocation the idea is to create the kind of deck with as many hits for your big cards as possible. The way I chose to do this was to pick a converted mana cost number and stuff the deck with as many cards with that CMC as possible. The mana cost I chose was 6! Since we’re trying to get to 6 mana anyway this felt like as good a choice as any, and in this standard there is a lot of power at 6 mana.

The Big Stuff:

So we’re stuffing the deck with a ton of 6 CMC cards, but which ones do we pick? Well, a little of everything. First, the obvious:

4 copies of Carnage Tyrant! This works well against control, it tramples and it costs 6. Perfect.

Next, it serves as a finisher, as removal for almost all threats in the format and it also shores up our control matchup just a bit: 4 copies of Inescapable Blaze.

Our last 4-of 6-drop isn’t seen particularly often, but fit because of how quickly it allowed the deck to dump damage onto the opponent off the back of Invocation: Volcanic Dragon.

The last card in the 6-slot is a one-of Bounty of Might. The ability to drop an extra 9 power onto a hasty creature was too fun to pass up. I admit that it might not be the very best choice, but I was looking for another big card and this one tickled my fancy as the highest potential damage source at 6.

The deck had a couple more threats to cascade into off of our 6-drops. 3 copies of Regisaur Alpha were included as another semi-hasty threat, but also because Carnage Tyrant into Regisaur gave the Tyrant haste. Finally, the 4-of Steel Leaf Champion gives us a threat that much of the ramp in the deck can cascade into, as well as providing us a big early game threat.

The Ramp

Integral to the strategy of the deck is accelerating to 6 mana very quickly. There’s not much to explain here, they’re all just ramp cards:

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Elvish Rejuvenator
4 Grow from the Ashes

I think the only important note to make is that I chose Rejuvenator over Druid of the Cowl or Elfhame Druid because it flowed naturally from Turn 1 Llanowar Elves, plus it can cascade into Steel Leaf Champion every now and again.

The Backup Plan

The deck has a one-of Banefire. Of course it does. It’s a ramp deck with red in it. I didn’t want to include more of them because they suck to cascade into.

The Decklist

That’s the list. It’s pretty simple and straightforward and it’s little less convoluted than most of my creations. Here’s the decklist:

Alternatively you can find it by clicking here.

The Results

This is probably the simplest deck I’ve created so far, but how did it do? Before we can talk about the performance, we have to talk about the field it played against.

The deck saw a lot of upgraded basic decks. This makes sense since this deck is, in itself, basically an upgraded G/R deck in composition. It did see a little T1/T1.5 in Mono-U and Mono-R, as well as one Golgari Midrange matchup, but for the most part the field was pretty soft. That being said, here were the results:

The deck went 10 – 10. This is my baseline goal for all of the decks I create. This means that the deck has a chance against the field and could probably improve given enough practice with the deck.

This particular deck, however, had a weird problem. It was either white hot or ice cold. Either this deck felt like the most powerful thing in Standard or it felt absolutely impotent. Sometimes it was fast enough to beat aggro and sometimes it was way too slow. Sometimes it had enough threats to beat control and sometimes you just didn’t quite get there.

Another thing to note is that in many of the games Sunbird’s Invocation simply wasn’t cast and the deck won by virtue of playing large creatures. While it’s great that the deck was winning, it was a little disappointing that the key card didn’t play a larger role.

How janky is it?

I wouldn’t call it particularly janky. I would call it a good first draft with some potential. It didn’t do particularly well but I felt like it really could. Regardless, it produced some of the most “Green” moments I’ve ever experienced while playing Green and if you like to ramp into big green men, the feeling of playing Carnage Tyrant and cascading into Tyrant number 2 is unparalleled. I recommend it in the casual queue for fun, and while I won’t be revisiting this build I think I will be revisiting the card itself.

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