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Raging Levine – 5 for 50 #2: Shattergang Brothers

Hey folks! I’m back with the second in my 5 for 50 series. For those of you who weren’t here last time, that means we’re taking the five Commander 2013 precons (released recently on Magic Online) and turning those into serviceable decks on the cheap. Each one already costs $29.99, so we’re spending up to 20 tix to upgrade them, meaning we’re spending $50 or less on each one in total. We’re also using the alternative commanders ([ccProd]Gahiji[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sydri[/ccProd], [ccProd]Roon[/ccProd], [ccProd]Nekusar[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Shattergang Brothers[/ccProd]) instead of the headliners to make things a little more fun.

(Side note: I’ll once again be using MarlonBot prices for this article. This is not because I endorse it or particularly care about one bot or another—in a land where differentiation is impossible, I’m loyal to whoever I happen to have bot credit with. They just so happen to have prices listed for every card, not just rares like some others do. I wouldn’t even mention them if I didn’t think it was important to give them credit for their work.)

Nekusar, the Mindrazer (again)

Before I get into this week’s deck, I think it’s important to talk about last week’s deck a little bit. Nekusar looked pretty good, but it had a couple of issues. Despite having Mountains, it couldn’t destroy an artifact to save its life, and there was certainly no way for our Grixis masterpiece to destroy an enchantment. Looking back, I wish I had found a way to include a few of the following cards:

[ccProd]Chaos Warp[/ccProd] (2.80)
[ccProd]All Is Dust[/ccProd] (5.73)
[ccProd]Oblivion Stone[/ccProd] (13.64!!!)
[ccProd]Shattering Pulse[/ccProd] (0.13)
[ccProd]Viashino Heretic[/ccProd] (0.09)
[ccProd]Shattering Spree[/ccProd] (0.29)

Looking at that 13.64 ticket price tag on [ccProd]Oblivion Stone[/ccProd], you might think the entire world has gone mad. Basically, yeah, it has. Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t the real world where all of your decks need their own Oblivion Stones. As long as you have one, you can play it in as many decks as you want. Heck, you can even be playing it in multiple matches at once if you’re some sort of multi-queuing monster! Whatever its foibles may be, Magic Online does a good job with collection management in this regard. Looking back at our budget for Nekusar, we still have 1.03 tickets left, meaning we can easily include the last three cards. I’d love to include [ccProd]Chaos Warp[/ccProd] just so we can target an enchantment. You could get real crazy and throw in cards like [ccProd]Capricious Efreet[/ccProd] (0.05) to knock out those enchantments ([ccProd]Wild Swing[/ccProd] doesn’t even hit enchantments!) but I don’t think this is the way to do it. Maybe some more counterspells are in order. A few of these might not go amiss:

[ccProd]Negate[/ccProd] (0.02)
[ccProd]Annul[/ccProd] (0.02)
[ccProd]Counterspell[/ccProd] (0.15)
[ccProd]Counterlash[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Spelljack[/ccProd] (0.95)
[ccProd]Hinder[/ccProd] (0.03)
[ccProd]Spell Crumple[/ccProd] (0.47)
[ccProd]Desertion[/ccProd] (6.09!)
[ccProd]Dissipate[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Decree of Silence[/ccProd] (0.19)
[ccProd]Forbid[/ccProd] (0.08)

I particularly like [ccProd]Forbid[/ccProd] in the Nekusar deck because we ought to have cards to discard to it. I also didn’t realize [ccProd]Desertion[/ccProd] costs so much money! Well, we live and learn. Let’s stop rehashing last week and get to the meat of the article, though: our new deck!

Shattergang Brothers

Let’s start as we did last week and take a look at the land base. We start out with the following mana symbols on our cards:

24 black (28.9%)
29 red (34.9%)
30 green (36.1%)
83 total mana symbols

Here follows the number of lands we have that can produce (or can fetch lands that can produce) each color in the deck:

17 black (43.6%)
18 red (46.2%)
20 green (51.3%)
39 total lands

(Once again, we count [ccProd]Opal Palace[/ccProd] as a land producing colorless mana.)

The Nekusar ratios didn’t look so good, but these do at the outset. Obviously the balance will change, and when it does, we’ll adjust accordingly by adding some cheap duals or swapping basics around.

So we’re poised to switch this deck around to accommodate the [ccProd]Shattergang Brothers[/ccProd] and their attrition-style gameplay. I have lots of ideas about cards to add—but what do we cut?

Remove

[card]Brooding Saurian[/card] [card]Capricious Efreet[/card] [card]Deepfire Elemental[/card] [card]Hooded Horror[/card] [card]Hunted Troll[/card] [card]Terra Ravager[/card] [card]Walker of the Grove[/card] [card]Curse of Chaos[/card] [card]Curse of Predation[/card] [card]Dirge of Dread[/card] [card]Armillary Sphere[/card] [card]Blood Rites[/card] [card]Fecundity[/card] [card]Curse of Shallow Graves[/card] [card]Jund Charm[/card] [card]Primal Vigor[/card] [card]Reincarnation[/card] [card]Rough Tumble[/card] [card]Vile Requiem[/card] [card]Widespread Panic[/card] [card]Llanowar Reborn[/card] [card]Opal Palace[/card]

Note that [ccProd]Prossh[/ccProd] actually stays in the deck—a 5/5 that can “firebreathe” by sacrificing creatures and that comes in with 6 Kobolds actually isn’t terrible for us. [ccProd]Fecundity[/ccProd] seems like a weird cut from this kind of deck, until you realize that our opponents are going to be sacrificing just as much as (or more than) we are!

Note that I’ve only cut 22 cards from this deck as opposed to the 27 cards we cut from Nekusar last week. That’s because I rather like this deck for [ccProd]Shattergang Brothers[/ccProd], which means we’ll be able to afford some better cards with our 20 tix—heck, we can almost spend a ticket on each card! Let’s start by adding what I think are pretty obvious inclusions…

[ccProd]Grave Pact[/ccProd] (0.58)
[ccProd]Butcher of Malakir[/ccProd] (0.05)

These have some obvious and incredible applications in this deck. Drop creatures, sacrifice them, and hit the table twice as hard as you get hit. This seems like a fantastic way to keep the board clear. Speaking of keeping the board clear, maybe we should do something to make sure we benefit from all these creatures dying!

[ccProd]Blood Artist[/ccProd] (0.12)
[ccProd]Falkenrath Noble[/ccProd] (0.04)

That looks pretty good to me. I think we’ll stand to gain a lot of life off of these. They’re small and unassuming, and unlike the above cards, I think the power they wield won’t be quite as obvious as it might be until we blast the table for huge amounts.

[ccProd]Fleshwrither[/ccProd] (0.03)
[ccProd]Disciple of Bolas[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Solemn Simulacrum[/ccProd] (1.34)
[ccProd]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/ccProd] (2.87)

This little package, headed up by [ccProd]Fleshwrither[/ccProd] (you could put in [ccProd]Dimir House Guard[/ccProd] too if you wanted, but I like [ccProd]Fleshwrither[/ccProd] a lot more) can really power things through. Don’t forget that the above [ccProd]Falkenrath Noble[/ccProd] costs 4 and that you can also get [ccProd]Shattergang Brothers[/ccProd] back if it gets tucked. (That seems unlikely, though—remember to sacrifice it if someone tries to do this!)

[ccProd]Shivan Harvest[/ccProd] (0.04)

This is a great way to destroy nonbasic land. If your opponents are getting really fancy with their duals or bounce lands or something like [ccProd]Volrath’s Stronghold[/ccProd], make sure to end that quickly. If your opponents don’t have anything for this, or if you think you’re done with it, just toss it with the Bros to blow up enchantments!

[ccProd]Greater Gargadon[/ccProd] (0.12)

[ccProd]Greater Gargadon[/ccProd] is an incredible sacrifice outlet. I almost don’t even want the 9/7 at the end! I just want this sweet effect on an emblem somehow. Sacrifice something whenever you want to in a way that opponents can’t disrupt. Awesome! Remember that you can respond to the trigger that happens when it runs out of counters if you want to, which means you can sacrifice even more permanents on the turn Gargadon would come in.

[ccProd]Reassembling Skeleton[/ccProd] (0.03)
[ccProd]Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed[/ccProd] (0.06)
[ccProd]Kokusho, the Evening Star[/ccProd] (0.57)
[ccProd]Bloodghast[/ccProd] (3.74)
[ccProd]Glissa, the Traitor[/ccProd] (0.10)
[ccProd]Phyrexian Reclamation[/ccProd] (0.09)

All of these cards let us do a lot more sacrificing, except for [ccProd]Kokusho[/ccProd], who is just a great creature to sacrifice. I know it’s strange to see me say nice words about [ccProd]Xiahou Dun[/ccProd], but I think he’s very strong in this deck with cards like Kokusho in particular. You can also rebuy [ccProd]Disciple of Bolas[/ccProd], get back a winner like [ccProd]Charnelhoard Wurm[/ccProd], recur an engine card like [ccProd]Endrek Sahr[/ccProd], or even pull back a [ccProd]Phyrexian Reclamation[/ccProd] that you’ve sacrificed. (Speaking of [ccProd]Phyrexian Reclamation[/ccProd], it’s good in both [ccProd]Oloro[/ccProd] and this deck. It must have been a tough call which deck to put it in when the Wizards folks were building them.)

[ccProd]Rancor[/ccProd] (0.15)

Sacrifice this enchantment over and over and over! I know I’ve done this with [ccProd]Cessation[/ccProd]/[ccProd]Slow Motion[/ccProd]/[ccProd]Despondency[/ccProd] and so on in an [ccProd]Ertai, the Corrupted[/ccProd] build before and this is similar. You also get to pump something, but the recursive sacrifice is much more important.

[ccProd]Junk Diver[/ccProd] (0.50)

Oh, if only we could include two of these. At least [ccProd]Glissa, the Traitor[/ccProd] lets us get this back. I like that we can sacrifice this (and [ccProd]Solemn Simulacrum[/ccProd]) as an artifact or a creature. This might be an interesting reason to explore some Enchantment Creatures if they were better for us.

[ccProd]Rings of Brighthearth[/ccProd] (0.65)

I just want to Rings the [ccProd]Shattergang Brothers[/ccProd] abilities. It’s like another [ccProd]Grave Pact[/ccProd]!

[ccProd]Springjack Pasture[/ccProd] (0.83)

We already have [ccProd]Kher Keep[/ccProd]—why not have more ways to make tokens when we have extra mana?

[ccProd]Vicious Shadows[/ccProd] (0.05)

I should mention that Toby Elliot hates this card because it’s just so good. That being said, we’ll make sure lots of creatures die, and they do, so will our opponents. I think people have caught on to how good this card is these days, though, and if you can’t put up some good numbers on the turn you play this, you might find yourself getting blown up rather quickly.

[ccProd]Rise of the Dark Realms[/ccProd] (1.17)

With all of these creatures going to the graveyard, we definitely want to find a way to leverage our murderous ways. This is a great way to do it! Plus, it’s a whole new world of creatures to sacrifice for things like [ccProd]Goblin Bombardment[/ccProd]. Sadly, it shrinks [ccProd]Wight of Precinct Six[/ccProd], but we can’t have everything.

So these moves cost us a total of 13.18 tickets. That’s not so bad! We’ve got some pretty great cards here. I think, though, there are two more cards we can add that will really help us. All we have to do is make the following two cuts:

-1 [ccProd]Forest[/ccProd] -1 [ccProd]Mountain[/ccProd]

Once we’ve done that, we can spend a little more of our cash money on these two sweet lands:

[ccProd]High Market[/ccProd] (5.27)
[ccProd]Miren, the Moaning Well[/ccProd] (1.12)

I love both of these cards—especially [ccProd]High Market[/ccProd]—for their ability to keep us alive and do some incremental damage in the process. High Market would be better if we had more ways to steal our opponents’ creatures, but we only have so many slots and so many tickets. If you like the deck, I suggest finding some repeatable ways to grab creatures.

Let’s take a look and make sure our land base makes sense. Here’s our new mana symbol and land balance:

39 black (47.0%)
23 red (27.7%)
21 green (25.3%)
83 total mana symbols

17 black (44.7%)
17 bed (44.7%)
18 green (47.4%)
38 total lands

This doesn’t look quite right to me. We’re very heavy black now, not just because of [ccProd]Grave Pact[/ccProd] and similarly-costed cards, but because we’ve made a big move to shift toward black and focus on blasting creatures off the battlefield. We need to make sure we have the cards to handle that, which will involve changing our lands as follows:

[ccProd]Vivid Grove[/ccProd] -> [ccProd]Vivid Marsh[/ccProd] (0.03)
[ccProd]Mountain[/ccProd] -> [ccProd]Dragonskull Summit[/ccProd] (0.13)
[ccProd]Mountain[/ccProd] -> [ccProd]Urborg Volcano[/ccProd] (0.03)
[ccProd]Forest[/ccProd] -> [ccProd]Tresserhorn Sinks[/ccProd] (0.10)

This brings us to a land balance looking like this:

20 black (52.6%)
18 red (47.4%)
17 green (44.7%)
38 total lands

That looks a lot better. Keep in mind, though, that 16 of our lands come into play tapped or fetch tapped lands now. That’s a little more than 42%!

These changes, in total, cost us 19.86. Not bad for what looks like a really sweet deck! I’ll try it out in a video very soon. Next week we’ll move on to [ccProd]Sydri[/ccProd], the one I said in my set review I liked the least. Since then, though, I’ve gotten a few ideas. We’ll see if they pan out! For now, let me know how you like the [ccProd]Shattergang Brothers[/ccProd] changes and how you would have spent your tickets differently. See you in the comments!

-Eric Levine
[email protected]
@RagingLevine on Twitter
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