Thantis, the Warweaver is a uniquely powerful card. She simultaneously forces your opponents to attack while also punishing them if they attack you. This allows for an archetype I used to tinker with a lot, that I like to call “Group Mug”. Group Mug operates similarly to Group Hug in that you end up using symmetrical effects for an end goal. However, Group Mug differs from Group Hug in that all of these symmetrical effects are bad (but not bad to the level of stax). This deck is meant mostly for multiplayer, as it has some cards that are useless without group politics. Without any further ado…
Each of these creatures force your opponents to attack in one way or another, which is necessary for this deck to function. Warmonger Hellkite also gives the added functionality of buffing your attackers, or an opponents if they are attacking someone else. Its clear to envision a complicated board state where someone attacks and you knock out a player with this creature’s activated ability.
Fumiko the Lowblood is a non-symmetrical combat-forcer, and she is also an excellent blocker due to her bushido ability.
Avatar of Slaughter comes down, and if you had any board presence beforehand it will most likely kill at least one opponent. Double Strike is one of the most powerful combat abilities ever printed.
Goblin Spymaster is in a similar place to Fumiko the Lowblood. The tokens he makes force your opponents to attack en-masse, and while he doesn’t explicitly say “attack someone else,” it is implied heavily by his statline.
Grand Melee is an obvious include, coming in at four mana for this effect as a simple, hard-to remove (nobody packs enchantment removal) version of this effect.
Trove of Temptation is great when you have Thantis out already. Otherwise, not so much, unless you’ve built up a fairly defensive board. Forcing your opponents to make Thantis bigger each turn is a beating, and getting the extra mana from the Treasure tokens is just icing on the cake.
War’s Toll simplifies the game down to its most basic levels. Everyone taps their mana during their main phase, everyone attacks each turn with all of their creatures. Of course, that isn’t always true, but this card does a surprising amount of work in removing opponents’ choices from the game.
All of these cards do the same thing. Your game plan is very simple. Unfortunately, most of the time your opponents’ game plan will be more complex. Fortunately for you, complex game plans require cards most of the time. All of these creatures, and you run a LOT of them, remove cards from your opponents hands. If your opponents are prevented from holding and using synergistic cards while you still have yours, you have a distinctly increased chance of winning. It helps that at least two of these cards (Kheru Mind-Eater and Urgoros, the Empty One) continue to have utility even after your opponents are out of cards.
If you’ve read any of my other articles (mostly the Let’s Talk series), you know that I value theme highly. To that end, instead of packing a lot of the ideal removal in these colors, I have put in more saboteur effects that work against our opponents. Wasitora, Tyrant’s Familiar, Throat Slitter, and Demon of Wailing Agonies all take care of pesky permanents and creatures under our opponents’ control when they deal damage.
Tana and Spawnwrithe give us creatures after combat so we can block any of our opponents creatures that would pose a problem to us. This comes up a lot more often than you would expect in the average game, despite the general opinion about Commander, creature-focused decks are still strong.
Both Ink-Eyes and Charnelhoard Wurm give us recursion, something that is very important in every deck. I think of recursion as a form of selective card advantage, with some caveats, but the fact that it is in fact selective makes it more powerful than drawing a card as a default.
Grenzo is another form of forced attacking, and as a bonus your opponents can’t attack you! Although, most often you will be using his other ability to get crushing card advantage over your opponent. Additionally, many players find it difficult to deal with you using their own cards against them, and the extra mental strain may help you win the metagame contest (mental state is important to play Magic: the Gathering well, please take care of yourself and your opponents. Nobody likes a sore loser OR a sore winner).
Crown of Doom will circle the table, forcing everyone to attack everyone else, or forcing everyone to attack you when it inevitably makes its way back to you. When players attack you, Thantis gets bigger. It’s an excellent system.
These three cards are the most chaotic, confusing cards in the deck. Their goal is to force your opponents into a free-for-all, attacking each other viciously while leaving you on the sidelines, watching it all go down and profiting. Rite of the Raging Storm whittles down everyones’ life totals, allowing your smaller utility creatures to become intense threats. Varchild will eventually die and get you an army of 1/1s, flooding the board and giving you a host of blockers and attackers. Important to note, only Survivors under your opponents control can’t block, but when they come back to you they’re free to block and attack and help your game plan move forward. Assault Suit lets you give your opponents a huge threat that can’t actually touch you, and lets them help you do the dirty work.
These cards either punish your opponents if they choose to attack you, or prevents them from attacking you at all. If you’re running low on life total, these can help protect you. Since this deck is likely to make you a threat, these are good pieces to make sure you don’t die from attacks from your angry antagonists.
As usual, here’s the decklist, and thanks for reading!