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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rafiq of the Many Love, Chris’ Group Hug Commander Deck

December 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Interview

“I dun usually give out boons. But when I do, I give it out like a Boss.”
— Chris the Boss

Merry Christmas there fellow EDH-ers, welcome back to another one of our interview articles. For today article, we had invited Chris to share with one of his many EDH decks. A bit of background on Chris, he is one of the players among us who had the most constant updates to his decks. He is constantly looking for possibilities of cards, both new and old, to add to his normal variant decks. There will always some ideas to upgrade my decks whenever we discuss about cards. With all those constant updates, his decks are by no means weak, ever posing a challenge whenever I play against him. Thus doing the same for his EDH decks, he had changed and played many EDH decks since we started the play group. One of his many EDH decks we are showcasing today was his Group Hug deck. Not an easy Play Style to play, Chris’s attempt at the Play Style was powerful nevertheless and we had some amazing play results while it lasted. And since it’s the season to be jolly, what better deck to showcase than Chris’s Group Hug then, so without further adore, let’s get on with the interview.

 

Me: What deck do you use? Any deck name for it?

Chris: Bant Group Hug.

 

Me: Ah yes that word certainly explains it all for the colors, how is the deck supposed to work then?

Chris: Ramp & Group Hug to build card advantage and board presence and then overwhelm with Rafiq or creature finishers.

 

Me: I see. That’s a powerful and sound strategy that certainly caught a lot of us by surprise. Tell us more about the inspiration behind the creation of the deck?

Chris: Wanted a group hug deck that can also function late game as a killer, hence using the Bant colors.

 

Me: So how did the creation process go about then?

Chris: Built it up as a Blue Green Group Hug but added White for more flexibility and control.

 

Me: How did the deck perform during each EDH session?

Chris: It was quite strong as people tend to not focus on you (as the Group Hug deck). Perhaps after more game play it might draw more attention.

 

Me: What’s your next idea if any?

Chris: Dropping Blue for Red to get a more aggressive and explosive deck.

————————– Long Moment of Silence ————————–

“You mean the Bant ver. was not explosive ENOUGH ~!!!!”

 

Chris had taken the tradition Group Hug General Phelddagrif’s colors for his Group Hug deck. But instead of using the traditional Group Hug General, he had went with the Bant Legend, Rafiq of the Many, as he puts it, to better kills his opponents at late games. Chris plays into the Group Hug theme by lying low and playing all the usual Group Hug cards, keeping everyone happy to have him around in the early game while everyone develop their board through the advantages and benefits he had provided. Politically this allows him to stay alive in the game while the others go at each other or the strongest player at the table. No one would think of taking out Chris at this point as who in their right mind would mind all the bonuses he had to offer. At the same time of providing all the benefits to others, Chris also offers solutions for the weaker players to deal with an overwhelming player. This works both ways, one end he is helping the others to deal with the overwhelming player while on the other hand he is also preventing the overwhelming player from growing out of control. Since everyone was more than happy to receive every boon he had to offer, Chris would usually survive till the late game. Then when there is only one opponent left that would be the sounding bell of party time for Rafiq and gang. Below was the deck list he had then.

 

Deck List

Commander

Rafiq of the Many

Lands (38)

Artifacts (12)

Bant Panorama

Caged Sun

Buried Ruin

Crystal Shard

Evolving Wilds

Darksteel Ingot

Forest (16)

Font of Mythos

Glacial Fortress

Horn of Greed

Halimar Depths

Howling Mine

Island (3)

Lightning Greaves

Mirrodin’s Core

Mimic Vat

Mystifying Maze

Mindslaver

Plains (2)

Sol Ring

Reliquary Tower

Sword of Feast and Famine

Strip Mine

Whispersilk Cloak

Sunpetal Grove

Temple of the False God

Sorceries (11)

Terrain Generator

Beacon of Tomorrows

Terramorphic Expanse

Bribery

Tolaria West

Cultivate

Vivid Creek

Day of Judgment

Vivid Grove

Defy Death

Vivid Meadow

Explosive Vegetation

Kodama’s Reach

Creatures (23)

Rite of Replication

Archaeomancer

Spitting Image

Avenger of Zendikar

Time Stretch

Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Tooth and Nail

Brutalizer Exarch

Chameleon Colossus

Instants (10)

Clone

Banishing Stroke

Consecrated Sphinx

Bant Charm

Deadwood Treefolk

Beast Within

Eternal Witness

Evacuation

Fauna Shaman

Fact or Fiction

Fierce Empath

Momentary Blink

Heartwood Storyteller

Mystical Tutor

Karmic Guide

Return to Dust

Krosan Tusker

Summoner’s Pact

Mnemonic Wall

Worldly Tutor

Myr Battlesphere

Oracle of Mul Daya

Enchantments (4)

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Heartbeat of Spring

Sphinx of Uthuun

Honden of Seeing Winds

Stoneforge Mystic

Oblivion Ring

Stormtide Leviathan

Rites of Flourishing

Taj-Nar Swordsmith

Terastodon

Yavimaya Elder

 

The Lands: Things that made the Deck Ticks

Bant… Where it all happens….

Since Rafiq, the General, is from Bant, the colors of the deck is all fixed. The Lands which Chris could play are all in the same line as Rafiq. As with many multi-color decks, Chris packs his deck with Lands which helps to fix the color so he won’t get into color jam. Below are the Lands he used for fixing his mana.

Bant Panorama

Fixes the colors by fetching for whichever color is lacking.

Evolving Wilds / Terramorphic Expanse

Fixes the needed color with basic Land.

Forest (16) / Island (3) / Plains (2)

Targets for the color fixer fetch Lands.

Glacial Fortress

White and Blue dual Land.

Mirrodin’s Core / Vivid Creek / Vivid Grove / Vivid Meadow

5c color fixer Land.

Sunpetal Grove

White and Green dual Land.

 

Group Hug, Chris’s Presents to All

Why give only ONE turn? Take TWO lah~!?

Namesake and function of the whole deck, this group of cards are what everyone is looking forward from Chris and keeps him in the game. Most of the cards aids in helping everyone develop their board. Some notable ones are the extra turns he gives to other players when the situation is so dire that he can’t win it by himself. As Chris puts it, if he can’t win the game at least screw it for the most powerful player at that moment.

Beacon of Tomorrows Gives a player an extra turn. Shuffle itself back to library after use.
Font of Mythos Gives everyone two extra cards at their draw step.

Heartbeat of Spring

Gives everyone a mana ramp from their Lands.

Heartwood Storyteller

Gives nonCreature spell players a headache and their opponents a card draw.

Horn of Greed

Gives anyone who plays a Land a card draw.

Howling Mine

Gives everyone an extra card at their draw step.

Rites of Flourishing

Speeds up game by giving everyone an extra card draw and Land play.

Time Stretch

Gives a player extra two turns.

 

Board Sweep, Control & Solution

Whenever possible, Exercise Control.

Offering boons to everyone helps Chris stays in the game but control still has to be exercise. So with this group of cards Chris prevents his opponents from developing out of control and try to make the world a better place the others too.

Banishing Stroke Solution against Artifact, Creautre and Enchantment by putting target at bottom of library.
Bant Charm Solution against Artifact and Creature, or counterspell for Instant.
Beast Within Solution against permanent threat. Drawback of giving the target’s controller Beast token.
Brutalizer Exarch Solution against nonCreature permanent threat.
Clone Solution against Generals.
Crystal Shard Bounces target Creature unless its controller pays 1.

Day of Judgment

Solution against hordes.

Evacuation

Solution against hordes by bounce.

Mimic Vat

Steals Creatures which died. Solution against Reanimation decks.
Mindslaver Messes up the strongest player’s turn when he or she is developing out of control.

Mystifying Maze

Prevents Commander kill on anyone.

Oblivion Ring

Solution against permanent threat.

Return to Dust

Solution against up to two Artifacts.

Rite of Replication

Solution against Generals.

Spitting Image

Solution against Generals. Repeatable.

Strip Mine

Solution against Land threat.
Stormtide Leviathan Solution against ground hordes.
Terastodon Solution against up to three nonCreature permanent threat. Drawback of giving the targeted permanents’ controllers Elephant tokens.

 

Ramp to a Easy Tomorrow

She may be lost, but she is worth seeking.

Even though Group Hug is not a Ramp or mana intensive deck, it still needs the boost in mana. After all it does have its fair share of high cc spells too.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Two extra Land play per turn.

Caged Sun

Mana ramp to chosen color and +1/+1 to Creatures of the chosen color. (only to self)

Cultivate / Kodama’s Reach / Explosive Vegetation

Two Lands ramp.

Darksteel Ingot

Indestructible 5c Artifact mana.

Heartbeat of Spring

One more mana ramp from each Land.

Krosan Tusker

One Land ramp plus card draw.

Oracle of Mul Daya

One extra Land play per turn plus allow Land play from Library top.

Rites of Flourishing

One extra Land play.

Sakura-Tribe Elder

One Land ramp.

Sol Ring

1cc for 2 mana.

Sword of Feast and Famine

Untaps all Lands when equipped Creature connects with a player, opening up mana for second main phase.

Temple of the False God

2 mana ramp.

Terrain Generator

Mini ramp by putting extra basic Lands from hand to battlefield.

Yavimaya Elder

Two Lands ramp plus card draw.

 

Recursion: Bring Back the Good Times

Seeing through the whole event.

Like most EDH decks, Chris also packs the decks with some recursion to keep the game going.

Archaeomancer / Mnemonic Wall

Recur Instant or Sorcery to hand.

Buried Ruin

Recur Artifact to hand.

Deadwood Treefolk

Recur Creature to hand.

Defy Death / Karmic Guide

Recur Creature to battlefield.

Eternal Witness

Recur any card to hand.

 

Card Draws, Tutors & Library Manipulations

“Oh did you just draw a card there? Thanks, I shall draw two too.”

It cannot be emphasize enough that how important it is for EDH decks to have card draws and tutors. Therefore with the below, Chris was always able to get the right spell at the right time. Because of the Group Hug cards, the deck has a lot of card advantage; often drawing to well over the max hand size of seven, therefore Chris uses the Reliquary Tower to keep his hand intact.

Brutalizer Exarch Tutor for the beat stick when it’s party time.

Consecrated Sphinx

Two cards draw for each one an opponent draws.

Fact or Fiction

Library top manipulation.

Fauna Shaman / Worldly Tutor

Tutor for a Creature.

Fierce Empath

Tutor for a 6cc or higher Creature, which usually is the big finisher.
Font of Mythos Two extra card draw for all.

Halimar Depths

Library top manipulation.

Heartwood Storyteller

Free card draw for all except for the player who casted the nonCreature spell.

Honden of Seeing Winds

One extra card draw for self only.

Horn of Greed

One card draw for each Land play.

Howling Mine / Rites of Flourishing

One extra card draw for all.

Krosan Tusker

Tutor for a basic Land.

Mystical Tutor

Tutor for Instant or Sorcery.

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Tutor for a basic Land right onto battlefield.

Sphinx of Uthuun

Library top manipulation.

Stoneforge Mystic

Tutor for an Equipment.

Summoner’s Pact

Tutor for Green Creature.

Taj-Nar Swordsmith

Tutor for X cc or less Equipment right onto battlefield.

Tolaria West

Tutor for Lands.

Tooth and Nail

Tutor for up to two Creatures either for solution, party time, or both.
Yavimaya Elder Tutor for two basic Lands.

 

It’s Party Time~~!!!!

The party just brought itself in the house.

Unless the situation is too dire for him to make a win, this is usually the moment that Chris is waiting for. Dropping a Creature and going in for the kill, sometimes on the final opponent or remaining opponents one by one. Leading the pack is his Commander, Rafiq of the Many, who has Exalted and gives lone attackers Double Strike. By him alone, it is usually a fast end when answers are not presented soon. Some other Creatures he used are mainly on the power side, chosen either for their high power and game turning abilities.

Avenger of Zendikar

The power might not be very high but its Plant tokens producing ability can turn games around. Landfall of putting +1/+1 counter is a killer especially when there are numerous ways to put more than one Land onto the battlefield per turn in the deck.

Chameleon Colossus

Good way to utilize the huge amount of mana in the late game.

Clone / Rite of Replication / Spitting Image

Increase the number of beaters, making an already hard to dealt with Creature into a horde of it.

Myr Battlesphere

The Myr tokens might not be as much as the Avenger but the power pumping ability is a guaranteed 4 damage. Combined with Rafiq, the total damage easily exceeds more than 10. (4 power + 4 from Myr pump + 1 from Exalted ) x 2 due to Double Strike + 4 direct damage to the defending for Battlesphere attacking ability…
Stormtide Leviathan Besides keeping all non-Flying and non-Islandwalking Creatures at bay, it also ensures its own passage of attack.
Terastodon When it is done with its destroy of nonCreature permanents, that 9 power will start stomping people.

 

Combos

It’s party time~!!!

Here are some of the combos we found in the deck.

Rafiq of the Many + Whispersilk Cloak The deadly combination which totally annihilated us most of the times. Adding a little bit of Voltron spice to the Group Hug deck, the end result is a General with Exalted, Shroud, unblockable and Double Strike when attacking alone.
Consecrated Sphinx + Font of Mythos / Heartwood Storyteller / Horn of Greed / Howling Mine / Rites of Flourishing The Sphinx ability is effectively a foil towards all opponents’ card advantage. Any card advantage they get, Chris gets it back by double. This is also the reason why Reliquary Tower is needed here as Chris draws tons of cards from the Sphinx. The Sphinx also sorts of negates Heartwood Storyteller’s ability, as each opponent who decided to draw when Chris casted a nonCreature spell would nett Chris two cards in return.
Avenger of Zendikar + Azusa, Lost but Seeking / Cultivate / Explosive Vegetation / Oracle of Mul Daya / Rites of Flourishing / Sakura-Tribe Elder / Terrain Generator As a late game play, the Avenger could easily provide a huge army as it enters the battlefield. Combo with the other cards makes those little 0/1 Plant tokens more than just mere small road bums to the opponent’s army. Usually Chris cast the Avenger and follows it up with all those cards to Landfall into a huge army of road block Plant tokens.
Horn of Greed + Azusa, Lost but Seeking / Oracle of Mul Daya / Rites of Flourishing Beside Rites of Flourishing, the other cards are what set us aside from Chris. As each effect will pile up each other, Chris will effectively be able to play a total of five Lands per turn if all of them are on the battlefield, presuming he had so many Lands in his hand then.
Crystal Shard + Creatures with Enter or Leaves the Battlefield effects Since the cost to pay for preventing Crystal Shard ability from working is small, it is best to use it to bounce his own Creatures, so Chris would usually repeatedly bounce his own Creatures and cast them again toget their Enter or Leaves the Battlefield effects.
Momentary Blink + Creatures with Enter or Leaves the Battlefield effects The Blink works well with all Creatures with Enter or Leaves the Battlefield effects and Chris deck has quite a number of such Creatures. Even though it could only be used at most two times with its Flashback, it is still pretty powerful especially when combine with Terastodon.
Mimic Vat + Creatures with Enter or Leaves the Battlefield effects This works very much like the Momentary Blink combo, allowing you to get the effect out of the Creature with the Enter or Leave the Battlefield effects over and over again. Otherwise, this is a repeatable Commander killer when combine with Clone.

 

Rest of the deck

Shit just got hotter….

Bribery Directly steals opponent’s Creature from the library.
Lightning Greaves Allows Rafiq to start killing the moment he hits the battlefield. Protects him too.

 

Group Hug is all about Giving…. That includes the Damage you taking too….

Group Hug is not an easy deck to play and Chris really took up the challenge of building one that hits hard in the late game. And holding true to his wackiness, he sometimes ends off the game not winning but helping others to win, truly embracing the Group Hug spirits. Once again, a huge thanks to Chris for sharing his deck with us and till our next article, here’s us wishing you happy holidays.

 

This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, Merry Christmas and signing off.

:D~

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