Commander may be one of the most fun formats in all of Magic, but it is also bar none one of the most expensive. Last week I challenged myself to build a Commander deck that met the following criteria: fun, casual, inexpensive, interesting, and powerful.
There is a pretty solid casual crowd at my local store who all play Commander on Thursday nights, and every week I think to myself, Wow, this looks like a lot of fun and I'd really like to get in on this game sometime. So, I sat down and put together a deck that I thought would be fun to play with.
I have been playing Magic basically from the beginning, and I have played a ton of different kinds of decks over the years, but one type of deck that has always been noticeably absent from my resume is Slivers (aside from Time Spiral draft!). I have always thought Slivers were cool and interesting, and it's been an idea of mine to build a Sliver deck for years. The printing of a few awesome Sliver-based cards in M15 finally pushed me over the edge and set my brain to work.
"Some really spicy new cards for Sliver fans."
These are, simply put, super cool Magic cards, and I really wanted to play with them and so I am!
At first I wasn't sure which Legendary Sliver I wanted to use for my General. I chose Sliver Overlord, and after playing with it I am fairly certain that the card is a fantastic Commander.
"Slivers, fight for me!"
I have played a bunch of different Commanders before, but I have never played a Commander who was so important to a deck before. If the drawback of playing a Sliver deck is that you must include a bunch of Sliver creatures, the upside is that Sliver Overlord is an amazingly powerful commander. The ability to tutor for Slivers at will is a tactic that my deck uses as its primary way to win.
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Basal Sliver
- 1 Bonescythe Sliver
- 1 Dormant Sliver
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Firewake Sliver
- 1 Galerider Sliver
- 1 Gemhide Sliver
- 1 Harmonic Sliver
- 1 Heart Sliver
- 1 Hibernation Sliver
- 1 Magma Sliver
- 1 Manaweft Sliver
- 1 Mindlash Sliver
- 1 Necrotic Sliver
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Prophet of Kruphix
- 1 Psionic Sliver
- 1 Quick Sliver
- 1 Root Sliver
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Syphon Sliver
- 1 Telekinetic Sliver
- 1 Trinket Mage
- 1 Virulent Sliver
- 1 Wood Elves
- 1 Sliver Hivelord
- 1 Sliver Queen
- 13 Snow-Covered Forest
- 3 Snow-Covered Island
- 2 Snow-Covered Mountain
- 2 Snow-Covered Plains
- 2 Snow-Covered Swamp
- 1 Alchemist's Refuge
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Cavern of Souls
- 1 City of Brass
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Jungle Shrine
- 1 Krosan Verge
- 1 Mana Confluence
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Savage Lands
- 1 Seaside Citadel
- 1 Sliver Hive
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Vivid Crag
- 1 Vivid Creek
- 1 Vivid Grove
- 1 Vivid Marsh
- 1 Vivid Meadow
- 1 Birthing Pod
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Gilded Lotus
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
- 1 Mirari's Wake
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Chord of Calling
- 1 Grim Harvest
- 1 Mindslaver
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Demonic Tutor
- 1 Explore
- 1 Explosive Vegetation
- 1 Farseek
- 1 Genesis Wave
- 1 Green Sun's Zenith
- 1 Harmonize
- 1 Into the North
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Nature's Lore
- 1 Peregrination
- 1 Rampant Growth
- 1 Search for Tomorrow
- 1 Skyshroud Claim
- 1 Urban Evolution
As far as competitive Commander decks go, this one is fairly inexpensive to actually assemble. Sure, there are a couple of expensive cards in the deck:
"I couldn't help myself on these gems..."
In general, the deck is comprised of mostly commons, uncommons, and less than $10 rares. In fact approximately 3/4 of the deck is cards that you can usually pick up for a buck or less! No small feat for a five-color Commander deck that has a five-color mana base!
Honestly, you don't even technically need a lot of the cards that are in the $10+ range to play this deck and have it work fine: Birthing Pod, Mirari's Wake, Mana Confluence, and Cavern of Souls are really luxury cards that are great but not really completely necessary to the deck working properly.
Would this deck be better / more powerful if it played with a bunch of really expensive cards? Obviously:
Mana Crypt = Awesome.
Yawgmoth's Will = Insane.
Mana Drain = LOL
Adding these kinds of cards to the deck will obviously make it more powerful and a better deck, but that wasn't really the point of what I was trying to accomplish here with this deck. I really wanted to make a deck that was as cheap as possible to assemble and was fun and reasonable to play in a multiplayer game with other fun-minded individuals.
As you will notice, my deck plays no "Time Warp" effects, no counterspells, and no "Armageddon" effects. Basically, my deck is "Slivers or bust." The burden of stopping the Sliver onslaught is on the other players at the table, and I'm not really interacting with everybody else in non-sliver related ways. Which is actually pretty cool because Slivers have more ways to interact with opponents than most players would think! I think this deck really showcases how awesome Slivers can be when put to good use. It's a Sliver clinic!
One of the big traps that I feel like Sliver decks fall into is that they play too many Slivers. Just playing out Slivers and trying to beat down with them is a pretty good way to get blown out by Wrath effects. I wanted a critical mass of Slivers, but every Sliver in the deck provides an important function.
For instance, I don't play:
Slivers are brawny enough.
So, let me explain how this deck works and what it does.
Most of the deck is devoted to getting lots and lots of mana into play. One of the things I'm most proud of about this deck is that it is a five-color deck on somewhat of a budget that uses a primarily basic land manabase.
Sometimes you've just got to have some duals.
I do play a full complement of Ravnica shocklands, which is really important to have for mana-fixing purposes with all of the effects that search and put Forests into play.
One thing that I realized when I was building and tuning this deck up is that the deck doesn't need to have a ton of card draw, threats, or anything else because my Commander basically allows me to tutor for as many Slivers as I can ever need.
As long as I can make sufficient mana and cast my Commander, the Sliver deck has basically as much action as a Sliver friend could ever want. So, I focused the construction of my deck around making as much mana as was humanly (sliverly?) possible.
While my deck is five color, it is really just a mono-green deck that splashes four colors via the green mana fixing.
All of the Ramps.
I play basically every single green card that I could think of that searches my library for a land and puts it directly into play. Which means that as long as I start with a Forest and a ramp spell, I will probably be able to find all of my colors and get a lot of land into play quickly.
Once I have ramped out a bunch of mana is when the fun really starts...
I'm looking for my friends, have you seen them?
Sliver Overlord hitting play means that I can start tutoring up whichever Slivers I need / want at that moment in the game.
It always depends, which Slivers are going to be the best at any given time, but most times the mana Slivers are the best way to start out.
So, first things first about the Sliver deck.
The Slivers win.
While the deck doesn't really need to combo off this way in order to win the game, under most circumstances, if these Slivers plus the Queen are all in play at the same time, the Slivers win the game.
Basically, you can pay two mana to make a Sliver token. That Sliver has haste and can be tapped for a mana of any color and then sacrificed to make BB. This combo generates infinite mana and infinite untapped haste Slivers all by itself. From this boardstate there is little anybody can do to stop you short of Split Second spells as Sliver Overlord will allow you to tutor up every sliver in your deck and put it directly into play.
The Slivers in this deck can deal infinite direct damage, gain infinite life, deal infinite poison, draw every card in my deck, destroy every other permanent on the board, all while being uncounterable, immune to all removal, and at instant speed...
While the infinite combo is pretty cute, it isn't necessary to go infinite to actually win the game, and there are lots of other ways to "go off" without going infinite.
One of the big things about this deck is that I don't play Mana Echoes or Training Grounds in my deck. Both of these cards are two-card combos with Sliver Queen that basically go infinite. I didn't want to be all about randomly assembling infinite combos all the time with my deck, so I chose to omit these cards from my deck for the enjoyment of other players in the group.
If I go off with my combo I at least kind of feel like I earned it a little bit because it involves having like five specific Slivers in play at the same time, and it's really no different than any other deck with a combo kill. It's powerful but fair.
Here are a few of the other cool combos in the deck:
Open season, shoot whatever you want.
Since they are indestructible you can basically tap slivers to ping stuff with no drawback.
Get some mana.
One of the most important interactions in the deck. It allows you to chain playing and tutoring Slivers together with Sliver Overlord since it will give each new Sliver you play haste and allow you to continue making mana and playing more creatures.
Draw 'em up.
Hibernation Sliver is the most important Sliver in the deck, and I will get to that in a minute.
You can lock players out of their draw steps with this combo.
I had a game where my Sliver Queen got Hide // Seek -ed out of my deck, and I couldn't combo out with it. So I was actually able to set this combo up instead, where I also had a Galerider Sliver and could basically pay one mana + 2 life to continually bounce it, replay it, and tap it to generate a bunch of damage.
It's important to note that this deck isn't just a one trick pony with the Sliver Queen combo or bust. I've had pieces of my combo taken away or killed or whatever, and I've still been able to win lots of games by making my Slivers go to work in other ways.
Deal a bunch of poison damage in one turn with double strike.
It comes up. Virulent Sliver is probably the worst card in the deck, but it at least gives me an out to somebody who can keep me from comboing and can gain infinite life. Maybe unnecessary, but whatev.
The Most Important Aspects of the Sliver Deck
The great one.
Hibernation Sliver is the best card in the deck. It allows you to pick up your Slivers which essentially makes them invulnerable to being killed by any possible effect that doesn't have split second.
There are also multiple effects that "do something" when a Sliver comes into play, such as Harmonic Sliver and Dormant Sliver. Harmonic Sliver allows you to trigger these abilities over and over again.
Keeping your creatures from dying is really important because you need them to actually be able to win the game, and Hibernation Sliver gives you a really good way to protect stuff. Remember that you can't tutor Slivers out of the graveyard, and there is no Sliver that the Overlord can tutor for to get back fallen foes. So, if a Sliver gets killed, exiled, etc. you may end up missing an important piece of your Sliver army.
These are probably the best cards in the deck that are not Slivers. Once you have one of these cards in play, you can simply start generating advantage during each other player's turn in a multiplayer game. While I don't play with Time Walk effects on principle (they are broken in multiplayer), these creatures allow you to play more spells during each other player's turn, and it is close to the power level of taking extra turns.
It's kind of my thing.
Mindslaver is basically the only card I am playing that has nothing to do with Sliver synergies. It's my favorite card and basically the best card in the format and costs like $2, and it's in my budget Sliver deck.
Also, Mindslaver sounds awfully close to Mindsliver which I believe makes it fair game.
I was big deck battling Kyle Boggemes at FNM a couple of days ago with my Sliver deck (no Overlord), and we determined that Mindslaver is the best card in the Sliver mirror match. Go figure, it's the best card in every matchup.
The missing piece.
Grim Harvest is really important because it gives you a great way to recover missing pieces that get discarded, milled, or otherwise killed. The fact that it is a Regrowth with buyback is amazing, and it basically allows you a very strong fail safe in case things go wrong and stuff dies. For instance, even if you get Sudden Spoiling'd you have a way to get back all of your stuff and try and rebuild (as opposed to being straight up dead).
A Few Spikier Cards You May Add
Here are a few cards that should be in the deck for power reasons (even on a budget) that I don't play with because I don't want to irritate everybody at the table.
I have a basic land mana base and want to leverage it.
I mean nonbasic hate in a deck full of basics seems pretty powerful.
I might actually add this one to my deck.
I don't want to hate too hard on artifact guys, but this card is pretty sweet in a deck that only plays like five artifacts. Maybe I'll upgrade my Fellwar Stone to a Three Visits and find a spot for this. Plus, it would be nice to have an out to Platinum Angel + Domri Rade's emblem...
The Last Slivers That Missed the Cut
They need to also be Ophidians.
He's good, but he was the last card to miss the cut. I actually cut him for Root Sliver as an insurance policy against counterspell decks (which I'm kind of soft to) and the second haste sliver. It wasn't really its fault I cut it... In fact, he was pretty respectable when I was playing with him. Unfortunately, he's slightly worse than Dormant Sliver as a way of drawing cards and because Overlord already draws cards, this effect isn't the highest priority.
What a gamer.
A little more beef.
It can protect your team from Night of Souls' Betrayal effects, so maybe it's worth having just one? I had one game where I got to tutor and flash him down in response to a Contagion Engine which was pretty sick.
The Sliver deck would be more powerful if it played some number of permission spells, but one of the constraints I gave myself was that I wasn't going to play counters.
Well, I finally did it. I gave in and I built a Commander deck that is fun, inexpensive, and has a cool theme. I really enjoy this deck, and it's one that I believe I will have sleeved up and ready to play with for a long, long time so that I can jump into a game of Commander at a moment's notice.
Hope you guys enjoy the deck, and I hope that this might be a competitive option for some players who want to build a great deck but not break the bank!