If you tuned in last week for Jake's Takes, you might have seen Sliver Legion taking the silver medal for best card in Time Spiral Remastered.
But while it was only the second best card in the set, it was without a doubt the best commander in the set. It is so simple and yet simultaneously powerful and deliciously flavourful. It oozes with everything that Slivers embody, their very essence as a tribe. With only one line of text, it’s easy to underestimate the Legion, but just wait until you see it in action!
First thing’s first: this deck is light on counters, boardwipes, and tutors. But who needs any of that when you can throw truckloads of symbiotic Slivers at your opponents? The plan is simple. Just lay down a Sliver on your first turn, address the table and politely explain; “more are coming.”
They weren’t much more than a nuisance to begin with. They looked like slugs with beaks, but didn’t crawl so much as slither. Farmers would find the bigger ones feasting on rats and the occasional dog, but it was nothing that a well sharpened pitchfork couldn’t handle. At first they came by themselves, sliding over root and rock in search of prey. But they grew bolder, they set their sights higher.
What matters most for this deck is having a critical mass of Slivers. It doesn’t matter if they’re tiny and keywordless, all that matters is that they’re Slivers. Cards like Mindlash Sliver and Screeching Sliver may as well be vanilla creatures to begin with, but all it takes is a little nudge to turn them into haymakers. Like all Slivers, they take on the traits of their companions and will give you a solid base to begin, a blank canvas that the rest of your deck will gradually fill out with a palette of evergreen keywords and activated abilities. We’re even running cards that “do nothing” like Metallic Sliver and Universal Automaton, that’s how much we care about quantity over quality. They smooth out our curve and ensure we have something to do on turn one, or failing that, a use for spare mana in the midgame.
And speaking of our mana, we’re running some of the best colour-fixers in the format to make sure we have the right colours for the job. Cards like Dryad of Ilysian Grove and Chromatic Lantern pull double duty here, ramping us and turning every land into a rainbow source. Even better are the Slivers that fix mana themselves; Gemhide Sliver and Manaweft Sliver are everything we could hope for in a creature. We also have tools like Three Visits and Skyshroud Claim that not only fetch basic Forests crucial, as Green is our primary colour - but multi-coloured lands with Forest typing like the Triomes and Shocklands.
Shepherds whispered that they’d seen pairs of them working together, a sort of cold-blooded cunning that let them take down creatures twice their size. Entire cows had been eviscerated, nothing but cracked bones and red ribbons strewn across the fields. Those rumors weren’t paid much heed, dismissed as overactive imaginations and backwater superstitions. But the tales grew, and before we knew it we were hearing of entire homesteads that had been overrun by the chittering creatures.
Now to the exciting effects, the Slivers that share their adaptations with the rest of our indomitable horde.
The simplest are Sinew Sliver, Muscle Sliver, and Predatory Sliver: tribal anthems that buff our board. They pale in comparison to the Legion itself, but in the early game, they’ll do. Better yet are the evasive enablers like Cloudshredder Sliver, and Two-Headed Sliver, that’ll make connecting with our opponent all the easier. What if they have fliers to block with though? Time for Venom Sliver to shine. Nobody is interested in blocking a board full of Deathtouchers. Or maybe the horde is big enough that nobody wants to block anyway? Try Hunter Sliver, and use the provoke mechanic to throw your opponent’s creatures in the way of our biggest beaters. Remember, we are a beatdown deck through and through, and chipping away at life totals is our modus operandi. It’s important we milk as much damage as we can out of our board, so look out for Bonescythe Sliver, which effectively doubles the damage we’re capable of dishing out.
But that’s not to say we can only play offense. Defense is just as important, especially if you're up against another stompy deck. For instance, we don’t have to worry about keeping up blockers if we have Sentinel Sliver, and you can turn the combat step into a series of removal effects with Spiteful Sliver in play. We don’t even need to worry about removal pointed at our board on account of Crystalline Sliver and Diffusion Sliver. Crystalline is undoubtedly the better of the two, but redundancy is critical in a format with so much variance. We’ve also got regeneration stapled to Crypt Sliver to keep the horde fighting fit along with Hibernation Sliver as a last resort to bounce our Slivers back to hand if things go wrong. And if our life total starts to look a little slim, all we need is Syphon Sliver and we’ll be fine in the space of a single combat step. We’ve even got Promise of Tomorrow and Heroic Intervention if all else fails and none of the Slivers in play can save us from the Damnation or Wrath of God on the stack.
The survivors painted a bleak picture of what they witnessed. It wasn’t just the amount of them that was growing, but the actual size, the individual features. The first of them were glorified tails with talons, but everyday we heard of a new subspecies. They started sprouting additional claws, wider bodies, chitinous exoskeletons that no pitchfork or plowshare could pierce. The adaptations identified in one creature in a town to the west would soon be repeated in reports from a borough to the east. They were changing faster than we could follow, and by the time we’d grown accustomed to one transformation, our soldiers were reporting three new ones. Then the reports stopped. They weren’t a vague threat on the far reaches of the kingdom, they were here.
Decks with as much mana and as many cheap creatures as this one are at risk of running out of steam, but thankfully we have all the best tribal payoffs. We get our card advantage via a bevy of tribal effects like Descendant’s Path, Herald’s Horn, and The First Sliver, all of which reward us for embracing the horde and running as many Slivers as we possibly can. Best of all is Kaldheim’s Realmwalker, which not only lets us cast Slivers from the top of our library, it actually is a Sliver, and will grow with the rest of the board. We also have more conventional draw in the form of Guardian Project, Kindred Discovery, and of course Synapse Sliver.
Finally, the belle of the ball, Sliver Legion itself. A normal Commander deck tech will focus on the Commander first and the 99 second, but Sliver Legion bucks that trend by being an extension of the rest of the deck, the culmination of the entire tribe. It’s not even really a Legendary creature, so much as it is an uncountable number of creatures, so varied and voracious that they’ve earned legendary status. Where other decks have a clearly defined leader, a powerful warrior or mage who stands head and shoulders above the rest, and answers only to you, the player, Sliver Legion is as much at the behest of the hivemind as any of the other Slivers in the deck. Just remember that the hivemind is you. You’re the singular entity that the Slivers answer to. But back to the mechanics.
With just three tiny Slivers in play, dropping Silver Legion will reward us with a whopping 10/10 and a +3/+3 for the rest of the board, and that’s at minimum. Sometimes we’ll have to sit there and do a bit of quick math to figure out just how massive our board is, just how many different effects are overlapping at once. And this is the absolute crux of the deck, the very thing that makes it tick. There are flashier Legendary Slivers out there, but none of them are as threatening as Sliver Legion, none of them can turn a mild board into a monstrous one half as quickly. A Sliver with Flying, First Strike, and Haste is a threat to be sure, but the damage output is negligible if it’s only a 1/1 or a 2/2. But it’s a completely different story if that same Sliver is a 5/5 or a 10/10 or a 15/15.
“Fifteen power and fifteen toughness?! How am I going to get my board that big” I hear you ask. Enter: clone effects.
The ace up our sleeve in this deck is the ability to clone our commander and double, even triple, the huge bonuses that Sliver Legion provides us. We’re not only increasing the amount of anthem effects on the board at once, we’re increasing the amount of Slivers, thereby increasing both quality and quantity of effect simultaneously. End result? An obnoxiously huge army, as tall as it is wide, as offensive as it is evasive, and every last one ready to follow your orders and swarm over the top of whoever you’d like to see eviscerated first.
All up, a deck with Sliver Legion at the helm is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Sliver Legion as a commander is powerful, rich with lore, and eternally customisable. When it comes to Slivers, we’re spoiled for choice and this decklist is just a jumping off point. Turn it into whatever suits your style and your playgroup best!
We’d dug trenches and set traps around the walls, ready to endure whatever came. But by the time they reached us, it didn’t matter. The beasts had grown wings. They glistened with poisonous oil and their skin had grown as tough as diamonds. They moved unnaturally quickly, hastened beyond reason by some malign predatory hunger. Some of them were moving beyond the need for their tails, walking on two legs, their tendrils twisted into a macabre imitation of human limbs. With castle-forged steel my watchmen cut them cleanly in half, only for their skin and sinew to knit back together before our very eyes. They showed no fear, no sense of self-preservation, no individual instinct. They attacked in unison, each beast like some sliver of a single mind, no need to wait on orders or look to a leader for direction. We’d never been able to identify a pack leader, some alpha creature that kept them in line. There was no hierarchy, no pecking order, just an endless horde of horrors.
They were legion.
- Alyssa Cidarian, Commander of the City Watch, survivor of the doom that came to Ironhold
Jake FitzSimons is a certified Magic tragic. He keeps one land hands, forgets at least half of his Rhystic Study triggers, and names “Pot of Greed” with Demonic Consultation. He is at his happiest flipping for lethal with Yuriko. You can follow him @Jake_FitzSimons.