I have something to admit that I'm a little bit ashamed about. You see... I've never built a Sliver deck for Commander.
I know, I know... seems a bit nuts right? I mean, my card pool is deep, I've got all the dual lands, and I've built dozens and dozens and dozens of decks since becoming an early adopter of the format. I even own a ton of Slivers!
So why haven't I broken down and built a Sliver deck before? I recently asked my therapist to help me figure the answer to that very question, and we had to dig deep into my psyche to figure out why. There were tears. There were screams. I blamed my mother. I blamed my father. I blamed my ex-wife. I was once chased by a swarm of hornets after throwing grapes at their nest and received numerous stings for my stupidity, and figured maybe that horrific experience had made it difficult feeling comfortable messing around with Magic's most vicious swarm entities.
Turns out the answer was simpler than that.
The answer is that I did not own a Sliver Queen, and had no one to blame for it but my own stupidity.
Once upon a time I owned a playset of Sliver Queens. I've always loved creatures that did cool stuff, and slivers were cool creatures that did cool stuff. I built casual Sliver decks and I built competitive Sliver decks. I had a great time with my Slivers and my Sliver Queen.
The price of Sliver Queen continued to rise, and I wondered... did I really need two Sliver Queens? I could trade for even more sweet cards for one, and really did I need more than one now that we had Sliver Overlord that could search for your Sliver Queen?
The price of Sliver Queen continued to rise, and I wondered... did I really need two Sliver Queens? I could trade for even more sweet cards for one, and really did I need more than one since we still had Sliver Overlord that could search for your Sliver Queen? I'm not sure where the other one was, but I was positive I could find it when needed...
Time passed. EDH (what Commander was originally called) fell into my life like a revelation, giving form to everything I could possibly want in a multiplayer format. I spent quite a bit of time searching through my collection and pulling legends aside for use as possibly Commanders. I pulled Sliver Overlord... the recently printed Sliver Legion... but after a while I realized I could not find my Sliver Queen. I even spent one evening staying up way too late poring through every nook and cranny of my collection before I could confirm...
My Sliver Queen was gone!
I tried to think back to the last times I had a Sliver Queen. I can remember trading some of them away, but in the last trade I was pretty sure I still had one left. Had I lent it to someone and forgotten to get it back?
No... I don't think so. To my deep and utter shame, I'm pretty sure I accidentally traded all four Sliver Queens away... and to add insult to injury, the price of Sliver Queen continued to rise, to the point that I found it hard to justify buying another one to cover for my stupid mistake. Instead, I sank right past denial into a complete lack of desire to build a Sliver deck in the least.
Thankfully, my therapist was able to prescribe some sweet medication to help me cope with years of shame and suppressed desire... and now along comes Magic 2014 to help pique my interest in our little hive-minded friends! I figured there might be quite a few other people new to Commander who might not have dabbled with Slivers who might also be interested in building a Sliver Commander deck, so let's all take a look at what could make a sweet Sliver deck.
First of all, we need Slivers. Searching the deck database shows 76 Slivers have been printed prior to M14, and if we add the new bumper crop of 14! new Slivers that's 90 total Slivers we can choose from, way more than we could possibly want in our 99-card deck. I've gone through our choices grouped by mana cost, with notes about what each one provides:
Galerider Sliver (flying), Striking Sliver (first strike), Metallic Sliver (vanilla colorless), Mindlash Sliver (sac, everyone discards), Plated Sliver (+0/+1), Screeching Sliver (tap, mill 1), Sidewinder Sliver (flanking), Virulent Sliver (poisonous 1)
Sentinel Sliver (vigilance), Manaweft Sliver (tap for mana), Predatory Sliver (+1/+1), Acidic Sliver (sac, Shock), Cautery Sliver (sac, 1 damage dealt or prevented), Clot Sliver (regenerate for mana), Crypt Sliver (tap to regenerate), Crystalline Sliver (shroud), Darkheart Sliver (sac, gain 3 life), Frenzy Sliver (frenzy 1), Gemhide Sliver (tap for mana), Ghostflame Sliver (all slivers become colorless), Heart Sliver (haste), Hibernation Sliver (pay 2 life, return to hand), Hunter Sliver (provoke), Mistform Sliver (1: gain another creature type), Muscle Sliver (+1/+1), Quick Sliver (flash), Quilled Sliver (tap, ping combatants), Sinew Sliver (+1/+1), Spined Sliver (+1/+1 for each blocker), Spinneret Sliver (reach), Talon Sliver (first strike), Two-Headed Sliver (Goblin War Drums), Victual Sliver (2, sac: gain 4 life), Winged Sliver (flying)
Steelform Sliver (+0/+1), Syphon Sliver (lifelink), Blur Sliver (haste), Sliver Construct (vanilla colorless), Armor Sliver (2: +0/+1), Barbed Sliver (2: +1/+0), Basal Sliver (sac, add BB), Blade Sliver (+1/+0), Firewake Sliver (1, sac, give Sliver +2/+2), Frenetic Sliver (Frenetic Efreet), Harmonic Sliver (Naturalize), Homing Sliver (slivercycling), Horned Sliver (trample), Mindwhip Sliver (2, sac: player discards at random), Mnemonic Sliver (2, sac: draw a card), Necrotic Sliver (3, sac: destroy permanent), Opaline Sliver (if targeted by a spell, draw a card), Poultice Sliver (2, tap: regenerate), Sedge Sliver (Sedge Troll), Shadow Sliver (shadow), Spectral Sliver (2: +1/+1)
Bonescythe Sliver (double strike), Bonesplitter Sliver (+2/+0), Dormant Sliver (defender, Glimpse of Nature), Essence Sliver (lifelink), Fungus Sliver (Fungusaur), Magma Sliver (tap, +X/+0, X=#of Slivers), Mesmeric Sliver (fateseal 1), Plague Sliver (Juzm Djinn drawback), Reflex Sliver (haste), Root Sliver (can't be countered), Shifting Sliver (can't be blocked by non-Slivers), Telekinetic Sliver (Opposition), Toxin Sliver (deathtouch), Vampiric Sliver (Sengir Vampire), Watcher Sliver (+0/+2)
Battle Sliver (+2/+0), Thorncaster Sliver (Hellrider), Brood Sliver (combat damage to a player, make a Sliver token), Dementia Sliver (tap, name a card, look at opponent's hand and discard it), Lymph Sliver (absorb 1), Might Sliver (+2/+2), Psionic Sliver (Psionic Entity), Pulmonic Sliver (if dies, may put it ontop of owner's library), Spitting Sliver (first strike), Synapse Sliver (combat damage to player, draw a card), Synchronous Sliver (vigilance), Venser's Sliver (vanilla colorless), Ward Sliver (protection from color of choice)
Groundshaker Sliver (trample)
Wow, that's a lot of slivers! A few things jumped out as I compiled this list. First, there are some redundancies here; some are good – such as power/toughness boosting – but some are just granting the same ability such as haste. Another thing that jumped out at me is that a lot of slivers have abilities that cost mana, and if we get too many in play it can start to become a burden. My urge is to steer clear from activated abilities unless they are really worth the cost (such as Necrotic Sliver).
There are a handful of cards that directly support Slivers, and then there are a bunch of cards that can support decks that have a heavily focused tribal theme: Hive Stirrings, Hivestone, Sliversmith, Cavern of Souls, Cover of Darkness, Konda's Banner, Pack's Disdain, Shared Triumph, Standardize, Steeling Resolve, Unnatural Selection, Adaptive Automaton, Alpha Status, Descendant's Path, Faces of the Past, Harsh Mercy, Luminescent Rain, Shared Animosity, Urza's Incubator, Call to the Kindred, Distant Melody, Door of Destinies, Mana Echoes, Riptide Replicator, Roar of the Crowd, Belbe's Portal, Coat of Arms, Cryptic Gateway, Patriarch's Bidding, Vigean Intuition
ChangelingsLet's also not forget that Lorwyn's changelings are Slivers too. While we have more than enough actual slivers to choose from, there are a few changeling cards that might be considered: Mutavault, Shields of Velis Vel, Amoeboid Changeling, Blades of Velis Vel, Shapesharer, Mirror Entity, Taurean Mauler, Chameleon Colossus.
Lastly – or maybe firstly – there is our Commander to consider. We've got three legendary Slivers to choose from: Sliver Legion, Sliver Overlord, and Sliver Queen. If you want to be super-aggressive, Sliver Legion is your ticket, but if you want to be more flexible then Sliver Overlord is the obvious choice. Sliver Queen is the “classic” choice, but she's perfectly fine as one of the 99 instead.
If you want to be a little bit stealthy to prevent anyone from metagaming against you, Karona, False God is a fine choice that is particularly good in a tribal deck.
So with all that in mind I started constructing my deck, pulling what I feel are the best slivers from each casting cost and seeing how the curve shaped out. I ended up with 39 slivers, which seems like plenty of the tribe while also leaving room for other good cards. If you notice there's a huge glut of quality slivers at the two and three mana slot, so when there was non-cumulative redundancy in sliver abilities I'd cut from the two and three mana slot in favor of comparable slivers in the other slots. Here's what I ended up with:
- 1 Basal Sliver
- 1 Battering Sliver
- 1 Battle Sliver
- 1 Blade Sliver
- 1 Bonesplitter Sliver
- 1 Chameleon Colossus
- 1 Darkheart Sliver
- 1 Dementia Sliver
- 1 Dormant Sliver
- 1 Essence Sliver
- 1 Frenetic Sliver
- 1 Galerider Sliver
- 1 Gemhide Sliver
- 1 Harmonic Sliver
- 1 Heart Sliver
- 1 Hibernation Sliver
- 1 Homing Sliver
- 1 Horned Sliver
- 1 Hunter Sliver
- 1 Manaweft Sliver
- 1 Megantic Sliver
- 1 Might Sliver
- 1 Mnemonic Sliver
- 1 Muscle Sliver
- 1 Necrotic Sliver
- 1 Opaline Sliver
- 1 Predatory Sliver
- 1 Quick Sliver
- 1 Reflex Sliver
- 1 Root Sliver
- 1 Screeching Sliver
- 1 Sentinel Sliver
- 1 Sinew Sliver
- 1 Striking Sliver
- 1 Synapse Sliver
- 1 Syphon Sliver
- 1 Telekinetic Sliver
- 1 Two-Headed Sliver
- 1 Virulent Sliver
- 1 Sliver Legion
- 1 Aether Vial
- 1 Cauldron of Souls
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Cryptic Gateway
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Door of Destinies
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Springleaf Drum
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Call to the Kindred
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Unnatural Selection
- 1 Distant Melody
- 1 Harsh Mercy
- 1 Patriarch's Bidding
I decided to make this a true five-color Sliver deck, so with that in mind color-fixing was a priority. I've got a ton of “comes into play tapped” lands which will be a little bit frustrating at times, but the mana curve of the deck is low enough and the Slivers are high-impact enough that I think it'll run just fine. I also went this route to demonstrate how to make five-color work without breaking the bank with dual lands, so if you've got duals feel free to slot them in.
I found room for other good color-fixing too: Springleaf Drum, Fellwar Stone, Darksteel Ingot, and Chromatic Lantern. Aether Vial and Cryptic Gateway can effectively fix mana by eliminating the need for it altogether.
Of course, any tribal deck worth its salt will find ways to keep its creatures around in the face of mass removal, so I tapped old favorites Eldrazi Monument, Cauldron of Souls and Nim Deathmantle. Patriarch's Bidding can undo a lot of that damage as well. I also peppered in a fair amount of card-drawing to reload: Distant Melody, Greater Good, and Synapse Sliver. Dormant Sliver functions as a Glimpse of Nature which makes the awkwardness of giving your Slivers defender worth the trouble since you'll usually have some ways of getting rid of it yourself.
Call to the Kindred seems like the perfect fit for a deck like this provided you can make it around to your next turn with it still enchanting one of your Slivers.
I like Unnatural Selection in this deck for the ability to turn another player's creatures into Slivers, either as a combo with Sliver Overlord... or, if you need to help one player take down another player, by letting his creatures take advantage of sharing the pile of Slivers abilities.
So what do you think? Are you itching to get your hands on some of the new Magic 2014 Slivers for you Commander decks? Which ones look good to you? Let me know in the comments!
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Reaper King (taking advantage of the new M14 legend rules)
- Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker (Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling)
- Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)
- Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)
- Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)
- Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)
- Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)
- Aurelia, the Warleader (plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)
- Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)
- Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)
- Skullbriar, the Walking Grave (how big can it get?)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Yeva, Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius (new player-friendly)
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice (new player-friendly)
- Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda, Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Ghave, Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa, the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia, Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira, Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda, Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh, the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra, Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril, the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)