Breaking Boards With Shattergang Brothers

In this week’s article, Bennie builds a Commander deck with the Shattergang Brothers that would make the Grinch blush. Take a look!

Now, here comes the song I love so much
Makes me wanna go f*** s*** up
–"Nirvana" by Juliana Hatfield

If ever there were a theme song for Shattergang Brothers, it might be this little gem by Juliana Hatfield.

Last week as I was poking around Commander content here on StarCityGames.com I realized that not too much had been written featuring the new legends from the stellar Commander 2013 product. Nekusar, the Mindrazer got a double dose of love from Dear Azami and Abe Sargent, and Sydri, Galvanic Genius got a feature in Dear Azami.

I kinda sorta did Marath, Will of the Wild, but it was really just an upgrade of the Naya precon from Commander 2013 and not a full-fledged focus on Marath.

So I went ahead and gave Derevi, Empyrial Tactician his due last week with a fun Bird tribal deck. This week . . .

Well, this week I decided to get decidedly unfun and break boards with Shattergang Brothers. I watched a version of this deck that was barely tweaked from the precon the weekend Commander 2013 was released, and it was an absolute beating. If you weren’t prepared with either a ton of sacrificial fodder or ready to aim all pinpoint creature removal at Shattergang Brothers, you couldn’t keep creatures on the board. While I was horrified at how stagnant he forced games to become—basically everyone would just draw and pass their turn until they drew something to break the lock—I was impressed with the degree of board control this fellow exerted.

A word of caution: Shattergang Brothers is not the type of commander you bring to a table to have some fun. He’s there to erase smiles and revel in tears. To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women. My own personal play style leans heavily toward the "everyone have fun" end of the spectrum, but there are Commander fans of all stripes. So consider this my shout out to the Spikes and Griefers out there. Even if that’s not your typical style either, sometimes you sit down at a vicious table and need to bring a cannon to the gunfight.

Okay, let’s closely examine this new Goblin on the block.

Goblin King

Before we get too far, let’s not overlook the fact that this is a legendary Goblin that is three colors—black, red, and green—that allows us to tap into just about all the Goblins ever made outside of a few like Razorfin Hunter and Goblin Legionnaire. The Goblin tribe also has tons of cards that provide plenty of sacrificial fodder, so if you want to build a "friendlier" Shattergang Brothers deck you could go for Goblin tribal. That approach takes the focus and spotlight off our legendary leader somewhat so that’s not the direction I’ll be delving into today, but I figured it was worth mentioning up front.

Break My Body, Hold My Bones

The biggest draw to playing Shattergang Brothers is his first activated ability:

{2}{B}, Sacrifice a creature: Each other player sacrifices a creature.

It’s pretty easy to rustle up cards to feed this ability—basically any card that makes two or more creatures fits the bill. The very Jundian Sprouting Thrinax is the perfect example. Creatures with undying are particularly good since you get a benefit when you sacrifice them the first time and they come back bigger. Vorapede and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed seemed like really good choices. You could extend the two-in-one creatures theme to the persist gang too, such as Murderous Redcap and Woodfall Primus. I’m rather fond of the creatures that can pop back out of the graveyard later like Reassembling Skeletons, Bloodghast, and Nether Traitor.

Another thing I’m looking out for are cards that trigger off creatures dying, and there are a ton of those out there. Just put in "when a creature dies" in the search database and you’ll find pages and pages to sift through. One card that jumped out at me was Blade of the Bloodchief; while Shattergang isn’t a Vampire, it won’t take many activations before he’s got enough +1/+1 counters to be a sizeable threat! Blood Artist is a perfect fit.

How about Mimic Vat? It’s already a great card in Commander, and while Shattergang is going to sweep up the weak and small at first, he will eventually snag some biggies worth dunking in your Vat. Deathrender is a great way to sneak in a creature when the equipped creature dies to Shattergang. Black Market is another Commander all-star that is just that much better in a Shattergang deck.

When it comes to benefitting from creatures dying, few do it as well or look as good doing it as Kresh the Bloodbraided. In fact, I imagine it would be pretty easy to convert standing Kresh decks over to Shattergang Brothers since there are a lot of similar synergies there. I really like the thought of the work Deathbringer Thoctar and Massacre Wurm can do with Shattergang forcing mass deaths all around.

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Next on the list is this slightly less aggravating but nonetheless quite potent ability:

{2}{R}, Sacrifice an artifact: Each other player sacrifices an artifact.

Goblins are certainly no strangers to breaking artifacts for profit, but Shattergang Brothers takes it to an entirely new level. Normally you can count on Darksteel Ingot sticking around and giving you the color and acceleration you need—it’s friggin’ indestructible! Who cares? If you force your opponent to sacrifice that bad boy, it’s hitting the graveyard. How about the omnipresent Sensei’s Divining Top that’s normally impossible to kill outside of Krosan Grip? Well, technically you can save it from dying by putting it back on top of your library, but with an active Shattergang on the table that gets old really quickly.

Of course, the trick here is to have artifacts in your deck that are useful but you also don’t mind dying. One thing I noticed when looking at cards that trigger off creatures dying is my old love Glissa, the Traitor. When opponents’ creatures die—and they will be dying quite a bit with Shattergang Brothers—Glissa gets you back any artifacts you’ve let slip into the graveyard. I started thinking about things like Urza’s Bauble, Mishra’s Bauble, Executioner’s Capsule, and Expedition Map—there are decent enough effects on them that you wouldn’t mind sacrificing to force a round of mass artifactual suicide. I might even want a Salvaging Station in the deck that can bring the little guys back.

What would be perfect would be artifact creatures, which can serve double duty as creature fodder or artifact fodder. Arcbound Reclaimer, Kuldotha Forgemaster, and Wurmcoil Engine are great artifact creatures . . . and how awesome is Sylvok Replica? Sac as a creature, sac as an artifact, or sacrifice to its own ability to pinpoint destroy an artifact or enchantment! We could even toss in an Ashnod’s Transmogrant to make our own artifact creature.

Grimm Fairy Tales

Last on the list is probably the least of the abilities but sometimes no less important:

{2}{G}, Sacrifice an enchantment: Each other player sacrifices an enchantment.

We have the good fortune of being in the midst of the "enchantments matter" block, and with it came the Gods of Theros. Many of these have gone right into Commander decks where they’ve proven to be very good indeed and sometimes downright dominating. My friend Tommy has a Purphoros, God of the Forge Commander deck that kills everyone quite quickly, and having an indestructible enchantment—especially one that’s not got devotion and thus isn’t a vulnerable creature—can be problematic to deal with for many Commander decks that are still wearing pre-Theros fashions. Shattergang Brothers just shrugs and handles it.

The first type of enchantments I thought about to add to the deck are those that come back when they go to the graveyard, and Rancor is a must. Dragon Breath seems like another good inclusion. And speaking of Purphoros, he can do fine work in your own deck too and be tossed off as an enchantment if need be.

We also now have a handful of enchantment creatures to consider that can serve double duty like the artifact creatures. I like Baleful Eidolon since the thought of bestowing him on a Deathbringer Thoctar brings an evil smile to my face.

Yep, think about it . . . I see that evil smile on your face too!

Nighthowler is already a Commander all-star, so he’s a given. Next up let’s look for some hard-hitting enchantments that we’d want in the deck and being something you can sacrifice to Shattergang is just gravy. Bow of Nylea, Hammer of Purphoros, and Whip of Erebos straddle the enchantment and artifact line. How about Pattern of Rebirth—though I suspect most of the time it’s going to enchant a creature that’s going to be sacrificed to Shattergang to go fetch up a big nasty. Lurking Predators is always a barrel of laughs around the table. Oh, and way up at the top of the curve are two delicious enchantments that fit right in this party: Grave Betrayal and Vicious Shadows!

Okay, just check out this list that would make the Grinch blush:

Shattergang Brothers
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 12-20-2013
Magic Card Back

Some notes on additional cards in the list:

Fade Into Antiquity, Splinter, Karn Liberated: In the post-Theros world, being able to exile indestructible stuff has gotten more crucial, and I expect these cards to get a lot more play going forward. They aren’t quite as crucial in a Shattergang Brothers deck, but sometimes you can’t count on Shattergang Brothers to be in play so these cards are still worth playing.

Dross Harvester: I’m often tempted to add this card to decks, but it almost never makes the cut. I think this is exactly the sort of deck where you’ll gain huge dividends . . . and it hits pretty hard too.

Witchbane Orb: I’m still a bit gun-shy about that daggone Purphoros deck, so Witchbane Orb—already fringe playable—I think steps up to being a go-to card in this deck since you can always sacrifice it if it’s not doing too much good. I particularly like how it saves your graveyard from a lot of common graveyard hate like Nihil Spellbomb, Tormod’s Crypt, and Bojuka Bog.

Blightsteel Colossus: When it comes to Big Bads, he’s one of the biggest. I can’t think of too many things I’d rather nab with a Pattern of Rebirth or Kuldotha Forgemaster or cheat into play with Deathrender.

If you have any questions about any other cards I’ve included in the deck or have your own ideas and thoughts on building a Shattergang Brothers Commander deck, let me know in the comments below!

Year End

There’s just one more Friday in 2013, and we’ve still got five new legends from Commander 2013 to shine the spotlight on. I intend to cover them all eventually, but who knows what the new year will bring? I’d like the close the year out with one more Commander deck, and I figured I’d open the choice up to you all. Poll time! Which of these new legends would you like me to tackle next week?

Gahiji, Honored One
Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge
Oloro, Ageless Ascetic
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
Roon of the Hidden Realm

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays my friends!

Take care,


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