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The Devil On Your Shoulder - EDH Tempting Deals

Commander / EDH Budget Casual Group Hug Group Slug Multiplayer U/B/R (Grixis)




A different twist on politics in which the politics aspect of the deck is a side-effect of using cards that benefit oneself

I've had a lot of experience with playing group hug, politics, pillow fort, group slug and chaos archetypes in commander, and I have noticed that the same thing happens every time: Either your deck slows down the game to a grind, the board state becomes a stalemate, you end up giving far too many resources to one person (causing the rest of the players to get upset) or people find you to be a nuisance because you are taking the fun out of their deck by changing the game. Another big problem about these archetypes is that they end up being a fairly sizable trade-off between changing other people's board state and changing your own (i.e. you have no board presence because you were too busy putting vows on everything). This deck is an attempt at finding the optimal balance between politics/group hug/chaos/group slug and having a fun, fair game that you can still be a big player in.

If you were to look at this deck in the most basic form possible, it is obvious that it is a group slug deck; you're dealing damage to players every turn and drawing cards from it. But in practice this deck has much more finesse than most group slug decks.

The idea of the deck is fairly self-explanatory: Ping your opponents every once in a while with Vial Smasher the Fierce to draw cards from Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist, but offer everyone else most of the benefits that you are gaining. People tend to not like Vial Smasher the Fierce all that much, but if you are in a 4-way game, people tend to be willing to roll the dice and take about (on average) 4 damage (or more like 1 damage a round if there was no variance) in order to reap the benefits of Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist.

The thing that sets this deck apart from most group slug decks is that people are usually willing to take the damage that you are dishing out, and half of the reason for this is the fact that the deck works fairly gradually; If you are set out to do something, it is pretty obvious what you are trying to do. This makes you much less of a threat than, say, an infinite combo deck, because it is safe to leave you on the sideline while bigger threats are taken care of.

Another big thing about this deck is that a lot of the time the damage/detriment that is incurred on players is reasonably fair. With Vial Smasher the Fierce, damage is assigned at random, and it isn't all that big of a deal unless it was from a 7-drop. With Fevered Visions, Oath of Mages and Rivalry, damage is dealt to those who have the most resources (hence the reason why I am not including Spiteful Visions in the deck). Sure, Deadly Designs can kill two creatures, but the only time that it would actually be worth using is if there is a big threat on the board and other players agree to help you (otherwise it is a 12-mana Curtains' Call). Sure Fatal Lore, Browbeat, Pain's Reward, Plague of Vermin, Emberwilde Djinn and Vexing Devil can all hurt players pretty badly, but it will only do so if they so choose. In general, people don't mind taking damage or paying resources if they have a choice in the matter (and it isn't intrusive like Rhystic Study).

Anyways, in general, while it seems much more like a group slug deck initially, this deck is meant to be more of a compromise between getting the whole table to have fun and doing well in the game. I am trying to show that the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, and that you don't need to lower yourself to making everyone else have a bad time in order to do well in a game.


Updates Add

I feel like there is a lot about this deck that isn't all that easy to notice from simply looking at it, so I tried as best as I could to explain in the description


Have you considered using the curses from dark ascension and some of the commander expansions like Curse of Chaos, Curse of Inertia, Curse of Shallow Graves and others like it? Also don't want to picky but you have angel spelled wrong. +1 from me.

April 19, 2017 7:04 p.m.

chirz2792 Lol the deck was based off of a terrible facebook meme in which somebody posted "I could be your angle... or yuor devil" so the spelling is intentional, and I have actually seriously considered including some of the curses, but I've noticed in the past that they end up drawing unneeded attention to me.

I kind of want to keep the deck so that I am giving people things at a slight cost to themselves similar to something like the effect of a Dark Confidant, while still having a reasonable presence in the game. From my experience other politics decks usually have to sacrifice their own resources/card slots to play the politics game, so I made this deck to try to see how I could get an optimal amount of politics while still being able to take part in the game myself. For that reason I'm trying to shy away from the curses because in my experience they tend to be a bit politically taboo (since you are singling out one person), and they don't really give me enough of a benefit for it to be worth it for me.

Thanks for the advice and the upvote! I appreciate the suggestions, as usual I tend to have a lot to say about something if I can't come to a conclusion on my own, so thanks for the great suggestions. If you have any past experiences with the curses feel free to let me know to help me make a concrete decision!

April 20, 2017 12:23 p.m.

I'm Pretty Sure It's Spelled Angel...

April 20, 2017 2:47 p.m.

@poorpinkus: Apparently I'm not very good at the internet lol. I haven't had much experiences with the curses but the experience I have had is that they're good at bringing a player back down when they start to get out of hand. On another note if you want more Dark Confidant type effects then Duskmantle Seer would like to talk.

April 20, 2017 2:52 p.m.

FadingBoat997 I know lol

chirz2792 That's very true, I'll definitely have to playtest it to figure out how people feel about it

April 20, 2017 4:10 p.m.

Thoughts on Choice of Damnations and Do or Die?

June 19, 2017 12:54 p.m.

Spudding Choice of Damnations is a great card but for 6 mana I just didn't find it worth it... Cruel Entertainment and Plague of Vermin are both similar but they end up being a bit more funny to me, plus they allow me to help myself while hurting somebody else. I actually have really thought of putting Do or Die, and I think I just forgot to include it somewhere in the deckbuilding process. I'll have to try to find a spot for it, thanks!

June 19, 2017 7:53 p.m.

I've always really liked the choice aspect of Volcanic Offering. Making an opponent lose two lands and (potentially) two creatures has always struck me as especially amusing.

July 9, 2017 1:42 p.m.

Etoilebane I honestly like that card and would like to put it in, but land destruction is pretty frowned upon in my playgroup

July 9, 2017 11:19 p.m.

Well, it's not MASS land destruction...

Anyway, very creative deck!

July 11, 2017 8:03 p.m.

Thanks Optimator!

July 11, 2017 9:53 p.m.

I love this +1

July 17, 2017 4:19 a.m.


July 17, 2017 4:27 p.m.

Super creative man, I've been looking for a Vial Smasher/Ludevic deck for a long time and this looks like a lot of fun!

October 12, 2017 3:07 p.m.

I've been only playing modern since 2013, and i spent the last weeks looking for a deck to get into commander. I really like how this exploits interaction to create an interesting game, so i reckon this is the one. +1, great job :)

October 14, 2017 6:31 p.m.

Thanks chiri and catafalcoman! I hope you both enjoy the deck! I've found that the politics is a bit of a balancing act - You need to know when to give people things (for example with Fevered Visions) and when to take things away (for example with Cruel Ultimatum). If you balance well, the deck is extremely fun and rewarding to play.

Anyways, have fun! And if you do end up playing the deck, let me know how it goes. Thanks!

October 14, 2017 9:11 p.m.

Played this deck a few times now and I've had a lot of fun! How do you play the monarch cards? I seem to just become a big target once I've become the monarch and don't seem to get a whole lot of value.

Also do you ever hold off from playing Vial Smasher depending on your hand? If I have higher mana cost cards in hand I seem to draw a lot of hate. When I play him with much lower cost cards in hand I seem to get a lot more value from him and Ludevic.


October 25, 2017 11:37 p.m.

_goose I'm glad you've been enjoying the deck, thanks for coming back and letting me know how things went!

First of all, I just wanted to mention that this deck requires a lot of finesse in terms of politics. The main idea of the deck is that you do have some cards that are powerhouses, but they have a give people time to respond to them so people don't find you as much of a threat (even if things stay on the board).

Something big to keep in mind with politics is that a lot of people are wise to the usual tricks. This means that if you have a deck that just sits back and draws cards and nothing else, people will get suspicious. This means that the best way to play the politics game is to still be a noticeable part of the game while never being the "biggest threat", and never being the contingency that could blow everything up.

For your first point, in terms of monarch, I assume you are talking about Skyline Despot. My main thought with that card is that is usually a good card to play if everyone else has a large board presence and you don't; usually monarch won't benefit you initially, but if everyone else has big dudes, they will inevitably attack you purely because it is the easiest option. This makes Skyline Despot a good card to show some dominance; when everyone else is stacked, you need to let them know that there might be some repercussions to attacking you. Usually the card is more of a counterspell-bait than anything, but even if it gets out and gets removed immediately you still get the monarch mechanic out (which isn't really even there for personal gain, but just because I thought the mechanic was interesting). Let me know though if you disagree with me on any of these points though, since I haven't actually been able to play the card very often.

In response to your second point, definitely! Vial Smasher is best used with smaller cards, since people don't care as much about losing small amounts of life. Usually there are ways to get Ludevic's effect going without vial smasher as well (sometimes people will let me hit them if I was the only one without profitable attacks during that round), but a lot of the time I will only play Vial Smasher if I notice that I am missing something from my hand (lands, something on-curve, etc). If you play Vial Smasher when you need something, it will make people less likely to be upset that you played her. Additionally, it's important to let people know that you totally understand if they are going to kill Vial Smasher, because then you are kind of taking their side and they won't think of you as an enemy. The thing is, if she does any amount of damage you have gotten some value out of her, so if people use removal on her they have now burned removal and taken damage (think of it like 3 mana counter target spell, deal X damage to an enemy).

Another point I wanted to make with Vial Smasher is that she combos well with cards that benefit the majority of the table (like a counterspell, removal or a silly card in a sense), because then whoever gets hit will think of the damage more like a necessary evil than a malicious prod.

The other thing is that in the end your main goal IS to deal as much damage as possible, you are just trying to do it in ways that don't attract too much attention. If Vial Smasher is going to deal a ton of damage, make a game out of it if you'd like! I like to use a roulette app that I downloaded on my phone; it sort of makes people realize that even though you are dealing a lot of damage the deck is still all about fun. Anyways in general yes, try to deal low amounts of damage with Vial Smasher early game and when people are low on life you can speed up the clock by dropping larger spells.

Sorry for the wall of text lol, I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other suggestions/questions from your experience with the deck!

October 26, 2017 1:23 a.m.

This is a beautiful premise for a deck, and you executed it well. I might try to build something similar. Thank you :)

October 29, 2017 2:39 p.m.

Jerkoid Thanks! I hope the premise works well for you, let me know how it goes. Feel free to link your list if you make one!

October 29, 2017 3:13 p.m.

+1 from me. I really like this deck! I'm just curious. If you were able to add green, what cards might you add? I'm working on a fun Yidris list and would like to steal some ideas from here. Would they just be rampy cards?

November 26, 2017 12:29 a.m.

Zidantur Thanks for the +1! I'm not quite sure how to build quad-colour decks since there are so many cards to consider, but green has some great political/underrated cards; Fecundity is a great equalizer most of the time (although it benefits an aristocrats deck way more). Dubious Challenge is a card that I never heard of until recently that is surprisingly good, One with Nature is an underrated favourite of mine especially since you can enchant an opponent's creature and reap the benefits. Pattern of Rebirth is another card that I consider underrated, especially if you are planning on playing any creatures like Sakura-Tribe Elder. Permeating Mass is hilarious IMO and it actually really makes your opponents afraid of attacking you (especially with their commander). Marchesa's Smuggler isn't green but it can definitely help get your commander in for damage. You could also run a lot of copy spells like Progenitor Mimic to make the game a bit more interesting. Brooding Saurian is a great political card if you aren't planning on running any steal spells, since most people like keeping their stuff. Dawnstrider is surprisingly underrated, especially since most of the time it simply prevents people from attacking you when they have a lot of power that could go your way. Finally, Hunted Troll is also a surprisingly good card and is on-theme.

If you want to go full-on group hug (which I wouldn't recommend, but is an option), you could go for stuff like Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Hunted Wumpus, Magus of the Vineyard, Shizuko, Caller of Autumn, Tempting Wurm, Veteran Explorer, Dictate of Karametra, Eladamri's Vineyard, Rites of Flourishing, Collective Voyage, New Frontiers or Weird Harvest. I wouldn't recommend these cards since the whole point of this deck was to move away from group hug while still being political, but you can consider them.

If you wanted to go for a non-group hug politics that still involves being nice, you could buff opponents' creatures with the vows (Vow of Flight for example) and double down with Evolutionary Escalation.

Anyways, I could get a lot of other things that you could do but I don't really want to overload you (especially when I'm kind of just wildly suggesting), but the ideas of these cards are good starting points. You honestly could just ignore all of them and go for green ramp and that would be fine as well, since green doesn't really have many "deal" cards. It's probably good to pick a number representing the amount of "silly" cards you want in the deck and stick with that though, since you don't want to go overboard just because you have another colour to work with.

Hope this helps! Sorry for the wall of text lol, but it could be useful

November 26, 2017 3:03 a.m.

Wow! Thank you for the time and effort it took to write that!

I'll probably avoid the full group hug cards. I really like your idea of choosing who to help, rather than giving to everyone and potentially helping one player more than others.

These might be perceived as too much of a threat, but I just thought about a couple cards that work well with vial smasher. Curiosity and Ophidian Eye just say damage, not combat damage. So, you'd draw a card any time you cast your first spell.

November 26, 2017 9:24 a.m.

Zidantur I like those cards, but vial smasher usually doesn't end up staying on the board too long (half of their utility is that they force players to burn removal while still getting some damage out). I will say though, there are some great combos with those cards, especially with Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind.

November 26, 2017 2:34 p.m.

Looks pretty solid, I was just disappointed as I thought it would have more Devils, of course now I see its referring to choosing evil but since there are so many actual Devil creatures available I guess I thought thered be more literal Devil-centric cards. +2 for creativity, -1 for name, +1 overall!

December 8, 2017 8:36 p.m.

Jimmy_Chinchila Thanks! And I never really thought of that... That gives me an idea for a Grenzo, Havoc Raiser devil/havoc themed deck (I know he isn't a devil but he definitely feels on theme), or maybe something like Boris Devilboon/Malfegor/Mogis, God of Slaughter/Rakdos the Defiler/Rakdos, Lord of Riots and throw some demons in there. I honestly spent way too long trying to figure out a creative deck name when I made the deck lol so if you can think of something better I'd probably use it. Initially I was going to use the name "I could me your angle... Or yuor devil" but there was some confusion with people who didn't know the reference

December 9, 2017 6:22 p.m.

Damned if You Do...

Too Good to Be True?

Choice Between Two Evils

A Pitchfork in the Road

I think I like the last one...

December 9, 2017 7:02 p.m.

Jimmy_Chinchila Yeah I like the last one lol

December 9, 2017 9:54 p.m.

100th upvote! Congrats and sweet deck!

December 23, 2017 9:40 p.m.

Thanks Suns_Champion! I really appreciate it!

December 24, 2017 1:55 p.m.

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