This entry is part 23 of 23 in the series (Social) Contract form Below
By Nole Clauson AKA MtGNole
 
90x90 noleBuckle in boys and girls, this might be a heck of a long article.

Welcome to a very special edition of (Social) Contract from Below. We’ve got tons of ground to cover today (this one could be 3 articles in one so we’ve got some words to get through) as today I’m taking my crack at the Shattergang Brothers deck list that Brian, Eric, and Chris have all taken a shot at, with my job being to make sure that we are not violating any particular fine print of the social contract. With this deck being a “group slug” deck, there are certainly pitfalls that this deck could fall into. However, before we get into my (mercifully few) changes to the decklist itself, let’s talk about group slug decks in general.

Group Slug, in case you did not know, is a type of deck that’s goal is to make the game harder or rougher for everyone at the table. It tries to punish players for doing things in the game. Drawing cards? Meet Underworld Dreams. Trying to flood the board with tokens? Say hello to Tainted Aether. I also tries to eat away at player resources with cards like Braids, Cabal Minion, Bottomless Pit, and smokestack. They are almost always Black and some other color, and rarely have white in them. The name group slug comes from being the anti “group hug” decks, designed to help everyone play their most powerful stuff.

hippo

I’ve been waiting almost a year to use this picture.

Now I’m going to admit, these kind of decks are not my particular brand of vodka. To me, the way that these decks win (by grinding out incremental advantage) is a little too tedious for the commander player in me. While I’ll be the first to that this is how I play my best at 60 card formats, the “do nothing and make sure that nobody else does either” of most group slug decks doesn’t do much for me. However, I do not feel that group slug decks are any more socially contract breaking than any other control strategy. Despite the fact that these decks are normally not blue, they tend to take on the traditional blue role in the game of being the more reactive, control player. In a way I’m proud of all of the readers of commandercast, as you managed to slip Eric a blue deck without any islands in it.

Newton-blue-filter-LO

That’s right Eric, secretly everything is Blue!

So what kind of social contract advice can I give a deck designed to mess with everyone’s game plan? There are a few pieces and they look very similar to the advice I’d give a control deck. I’ll outline these rules at the same time I go through my specific changes.

1. Make sure your deck has enough win conditions that once you’ve won the resource battle, you can actually win the game.

A lot of times with any kind of control strategy, deck builders will fill the deck with control cards and be light on ways to close out the game. This then suffers from the awkward issue of having the game “won” but being unable to actually close out the game. This is mitigated if your general has a decent power/toughness as you can always just plan to beat face with that. However, our Shattergang Brothers list does not have that luxury.

Cards I am adding to address this problem: We are pretty well set in win conditions, as Chris added many of the cards I had picked out to add (Myr Ball was gonna be my sweet tech), I don’t have any sweet cards to add to this category.

2. Make sure you’ve got a “pressure release valve.”

These type of decks naturally draw ire from the table. The trick of them is not being so annoying that you annoy the whole table and turn your game into 3-on-1 smackdown. If this deck were more “stax-y” I’d be recommending cards that shut off the stax cards, such as Bane of Progress. However, since we are not that stax-y anymore, we can go in a slightly different direction. Sometimes, the easiest way to draw attention off of yourself is to drop a haymaker that makes the table deal with it instead of you. This type of cards create a subgame of dealing with the card and by the time players are done dealing with the sub-game of these cards, the ire of the table will shift from you to the card itself. Once the card is dealt with, everyone will reassess the threat of the table, rather than defaulting to you.

Cards I am adding to address this problem: Tombstone Stairwell. I love this card as it perfectly in what we want it to do. The others at the table will be too busy dealing with the zombies that this card dumps on their lap every turn to deal with trying to kill you. We have enough creatures in the deck that we will be in the middle of the pack as far as number of zombies we get. It’s also worth mentioning that this card does hilarious things with Grave Pact and will get a little better with some of the other cards I’m adding.

Those are the two big pieces of social contract advice I can give group slug decks. I put the cherry on this decklist, there are a few more cards I want to add. Tormod’s Crypt does work in this deck, serving as graveyard hate as well as a cheap artifact to sac to the Brothers. The fact that we can recur it and that it only hits one yard (leaving out goblin welder, junkdiver, and hell’s caretaker targets alone) makes is super sweet. Yep, my final piece of advice for the deck is play more graveyard hate.

With that said, here is the final edition of the Commandercast Super Shattergang Brothers decklist.

Note: Make sure you read past this as there are some important words after the list.

Ultimately, group slug decks are going to be a part of the social contract that depends on your meta. If your group is OK with what your deck does, then party on, if not then figure out how to change it to become acceptable.

Now into the hard part. In the past year, it seems that there has been a shift online as far as attitudes on the social contract, from “Kill the combo player/stax player/blue player first” to a more temperate (and in my mind more mature) attitude of “If it works for your group, have a good time.” I’d like to think that it was my articles having something to do with it, however it is far more likely that this comes from Commander’s audience becoming more experienced and mature, and more accepting of others people’s ways to have fun.

This also marks a change for me. When I started writing this back in January, I had very strong opinions about a lot of things, as well as lots I felt I had to contribute to the internet commander conversation. I feel that I have said all that I needed to say. It is with that in mind that this will be my final regular edition of (Social) Contract from Below. While this series may pop up again in the future as a one shot here and there, I feel that if I draw this out, my writing quality will suck
and it will not be worth reading anyway.

I’m not going anywhere far though. I’m still working with Commandercast as their head editor (by not writing I actually free up more time to take care of my writers, something that I need to do), and I will still be co-hosting rival’s duel with Eric every other week. I’m still on twitter @MtGNole and am still contactable via E-mail @ nolelauson@gmail.com So while this is the end of my column, it is by no means goodbye.

I want to end with a simple thank you. Thank you to William for giving me this slot, to Jud for promoting me and teaching me the art of twitter, and to the awesome group of writers that I get to work with. Finally, thank you to all of you who took the time to read my stuff, post comments on my articles, give my ideas for the Ruric Thar list from last season, or interact with me through social media. You guys have been an awesome audience and I could not ask for better.

Until our paths cross again,

Nole

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