CheshirePlaysGames's picture
By: CheshirePlaysGames, Albert Caynes
Mar 12 2020 1:00pm

Group Slug isn't likely a term you've heard very often, depending on where you play and how deep into the game your playgroup is. You will have likely heard of Group Hug, where the GH deck aims to assure everyone they're all on equal footing and hug everyone at the table until its time to either win or appoint a winner in the game. Group Slug, however, is much the reverse of the GH deck, instead aiming to mostly choke out the game, deny resources where possible and damage every player at the table, including itself, to nail the game down and win.

So essentially Group Slug is:

  • Symmetrical discard
  • Symmetrical damage
  • Symmetrical sacrifice
  • Symmetrical land destruction 
  • Slowing the game to a crawl (optional) to ensure it has set-up time
  • Hoping it can dish damage to everyone, but itself slightly less to gain advantage and win
  • Uses artifacts and rituals to ramp where needed

Gruul Group Slug however only goes so far, no sacrifice and no discard. I mean, that should be fairly obvious without the Black component.

The three most common colours are Mono-Red, Rakdos and Gruul as all of these colours bring something to the table that is unique to the commander you're running and in the 99. So today let's cover Gruul thanks to Theros: Beyond Death and what it brings to the table.

Klothys, God of Destiny provides both a potential ramp opportunity if she exiles a land card from a graveyard, otherwise if she exiles a nonland, she deals two damage to each opponent and you gain two life. This is fairly different from the other Group Slug commanders and will make for a refreshing choice for today's deck. First up, check out Snake Umbra, this nifty little enchantment needs Klothys to be a creature but will net you a heap of cards very fast if not removed asap.


Red is the main colour of Group Slug decks thanks to an array of "punisher" cards, cards that deal damage to ALL players and "damage doublers" that helps you push through maximum damage as fast as possible. Red also has limited access to resource denial themes such as mass land destruction, though I would suggest staying away from those style cards for the most part as it will likely get you on the wrong side of your group.

Damage multipliers and plus damage effects are essential to Group Slug and though there are ways to play Group Slug without red as a primary colour, it is not advised to do so. 

Damage doublers Furnace of Rath, Dictate of the Twin Gods, Gratuitous Violence and Angrath's Marauders are four solid reasons we need to look at having red as the base colour for the deck. Red adds something that no other colour can add, speed and modifiers to the damage output against your opponents. This means we should be taking less damage than the table does at all times. Additional modifiers come in the form of adding to the damage being dealt. Embermaw Hellion and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, allow us to speed out extra damage.

"New Bacon-ings" - Comes with Bacon

Next up we need the engine core that is Punisher effects for this deck to run, and the fuel is your opponent's salty tears and eye rolls. At the end of each player's turn, Citadel of Pain deals X damage to the player for each untapped land that player controls. Since Mana Burn was removed from the game, this is to punish mostly the control players out there and force them to play tapped out control or feel the burn. Burning Earth punishes those players who need to play a heap of nonbasic lands, however, we also run a heap of nonbasic lands, so this one can be sketchy sometimes. Manabarbs just makes every land into a pain land, dealing minimum of one damage to each player and that's nothing to sniff at when your curve is lower than most of the table. Overabundance technically ramps each player's mana pool, however, it deals one damage minimum for each land that players taps, just like Manabarbs.

I want to punish everyone, you've all been very naughty and.... this sentence came out much MUCH less creepy in my head than it did in writing. Punisher cards in Magic have been written off as terrible designs with little to no benefit to the player casting them, and I'm not going to disagree, oh wait I am. In a 1V1 setting they sure aren't as powerful and game-breaking as we want, but in 4p plus games, they become back-breaking masterpieces of design work that you can bend to your will. Rampaging Ferocidon will make your opponent think twice before casting all those Goblins or creating all those stupid token creatures. Zo-Zu the Punisher and Ankh of Mishra can really put the hurt on not just Landfall and ramp decks, but the entire table at large. Harsh Mentor will punish anyone using an ability that's not a mana ability and can be extremely fun to have that little devil hanging around.

Primal Order punishes each player during their upkeep depending on how many nonbasic lands they have in play, Armageddon Clock will deal damage to each player depending on how many counters are on it during your upkeep, though any player can pay 4 to remove a counter and reduce the damage and Rumbling Slum is a solid 5/5 for four mana that deals one damage to each player during your upkeep. Don't forget that as above, all of these sources can get double damage and modifiers from other cards and this can make them extremely dangerous. One last card that deserves a look, but will need more of a build around is Aria of Flame. I'm sure it can find a home here, but I suggest more tweaking and testing before committing it to your final build.

Never Been Feta burger

Slowing down the game is no easy feat and even with the punisher cards above, playa's gonna play, in the immortal words of some old dead rap guy I can't remember. First up, we are NOT going to be playing mass land destruction. It really kills the vibe of the game and we want to slow down the game, not remove everyone's option on playing the game. Winter Orb helps to lock down land so we can keep up the griefing of the table and reduces the risk of our opponents getting a leg up and removing it when played correctly. wait until your opponents are mostly tapped out. Pairing this with Root Maze is almost as bad as mass land D, but not as bad if someone can answer it in the next few turns. War's Toll also pairs very nicely to lock down lands and also forces all opponents to attack with all creatures if they attack at all, forcing them to attack with creatures that you or someone else might be able to block and kill. Blood Moon is the last resort in our deck as we do play a number of non-basic lands. This doesn't matter too much to us though, even if we lose Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or Field of the Dead to it until someone removes it from the field. Burning Sands is an idea I like to toy with, but ultimately will take the heat off you if Bob decides to board wipe everyone because when a creature dies, the creature's controller is going to lose a land. And finally, we have one of my pet cards that I wish was actually in blue, Stranglehold. Ever get annoyed by players being too consistent due to tutors, fetch land shuffling or jerks getting extra turns? NOT ON MY WATCH, BUDDY.

Pepper Don't Preach Burger

Punishment is all well and good, but we need to force damage on everyone just to make sure we can seal up the game. Cryptolith Fragment damages every player at the table and taps for any colour. Flame Rift hit everyone for a minimum four damage for just two mana. Goblin Chainwhirler deals one damage to each opposing player, creature and planeswalker. Chandra, Torch of Defiance can hit each opponent for two, but also if she sticks around, she can help end the game with her ultimate, as being able to nuke a player for five damage whenever you cast a spell is nothing to sneeze at. Squallmonger and Warmonger both incite players at the table to pump mana into them and forcing the doomsday button scenario. 

With all the fun we're supposed to be having, we need to draw cards and there's no better way to throw off game plans than wheeling for our life! Wheel of Fortune and Reforge the Soul fit the bill perfectly, allowing us to refuel our hand. Khorvath's Fury allows us to refuel our hand by drawing equal to the amount we discard plus one, and deal damage to all of our opponents that we consider a "foe". Momentous Fall allows us to sacrifice a creature, draw for toughness and gain life and when paired with Combustible Gearhulk it can mean a fair chunk of life recovered. Harmonize is really nothing special, but it does draw a solid amount of cards for only four mana. Ground Seal is technically card draw AND hate, allowing us to lock down graveyards to ensure no reanimator or flashback decks ruin our day. Big creatures are not great for us and our massive lack of removal means we're relying on other players to help deal with the threats.

Don't You Four Cheddar 'Bout Me Burger

Next up we need to ramp and offer some tasty treats to our opponents for them to taste. Cryptolith Fragment is caught between both worlds, mana rock, and damage to all your opponents. It has a massive bonus of becoming the stuff of nightmares, rumbling over the table to attack someone when it transforms and nailing the coffin shut. Sol Ring isn't just cheap as chips mana in this deck, it's extremely helpful to activate your mongers. I'm not so sold on Nyx Lotus in this deck as it's expensive and comes in tapped, but the potential mana gain is something we simply can't ignore. Darksteel Ingot and Arcane Signet are dual mana rocks to help us to smooth out our mana, especially when we aren't running a full 36 lands. Commander's Sphere really feels like one of a kind and I'm going to be honest, I wish more mana rocks would draw you a card for free. I never really know if Dockside Extortionist should be with ramp or mana rocks, I mean he produces mana rocks, but is some serious ramp too.



1x Angrath's Marauders
1x Cavalier of Thorns
1x Combustible Gearhulk
1x Goblin Chainwhirler
1x Harsh Mentor
1x Rampaging Ferocidon
1x Rumbling Slum
1x Sakura-Tribe Elder
1x Sin Prodder
1x Springbloom Druid
1x Squallmonger
1x Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
1x Treasure Nabber
1x Warmonger
1x Zo-Zu the Punisher
1x Beast Within
1x Chord of Calling
1x Guttural Response
1x Manamorphose
1x Momentous Fall
1x Anger of the Gods
1x Decimate
1x Escape to the Wilds
1x Explore
1x Firespout
1x Harmonize
1x Hull Breach
1x Khorvath's Fury
1x Nissa's Pilgrimage
1x Reforge the Soul
1x Scapeshift
1x Sylvan Scrying
1x Wheel of Fortune
1x Blood Moon
1x Burning Earth
1x Burning Sands
1x Citadel of Pain
1x Food Chain
1x Ground Seal
1x Lignify
1x Manabarbs
1x Overabundance
1x Primal Order
1x Prismatic Omen
1x Root Maze
1x Snake Umbra
1x Stranglehold
1x The Mending of Dominaria
1x War's Toll
1x Arcane Signet
1x Armageddon Clock
1x Commander's Sphere
1x Darksteel Ingot
1x Helm of the Host
1x Horn of Greed
1x Pyromancer's Goggles
1x Sol Ring
1x Sun Droplet
1x Winter Orb
1x Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1x Bloodstained Mire
1x Cinder Glade
1x Command Tower
1x Fabled Passage
1x Field of the Dead
1x Forbidden Orchard
6x Forest
1x Glacial Chasm
1x Kessig Wolf Run
1x Lotus Field
1x Misty Rainforest
8x Mountain
1x Rootbound Crag
1x Shivan Gorge
1x Snow-Covered Forest
1x Stomping Ground
1x Strip Mine
1x Temple of Abandon
1x Terrain Generator
1x Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1x Wasteland
1x Wooded Foothills
1x Dockside Extortionist
1x Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
1x Furnaceof Wrath
1x Klothys, God of Destiny *CMDR*
1x Nyx Lotus
1x Underworld Breach


At the end of the day, I have been enjoying this deck way too much, I probably should retire it in a few weeks. For now though, sure as heck beats that Group Hug crap. I hate those decks. - Chesh