Since the first slivers were released back in the days of Tempest, Slivers
have been one of my favorite creature types. They were an awesome hive-mind type creature where each one took on the abilities of all the others on the board. Because of that you could play several small creatures and they would suddenly all be big or have great abilities. Their biggest drawback is that they give their abilities to ALL slivers, so if your opponents get wise, then they side in some slivers or changelings to fight you.
As with many players, I am a collector as well as a player of this great game, and one of the things I like to collect is slivers. I had most of them from back in the day, but I missed the time spiral block and all of those slivers, so when I started getting back into Magic, I of course picked up my old sliver collection and decided to complete it. There was a bit of work involved, but I finally finished my collection and had every sliver ever printed. Soon after that we started playing Commander, and I knew that I wanted to make a Sliver themed deck. I read a primer on changing the premium deck series sliver deck into a Commander deck, and I was fairly appalled that the changes being called for were so expensive! That guy had over a thousand dollars into the mana base alone! There was no way I could do this, so I put it on hold. I also didn’t want to make the typical sliver deck using Sliver Queen or Sliver Overlord as my commander. I wanted to do something different.
That difference presented itself in the Commander products released last summer with a new legend named Animar, Soul of Elements. I hadn’t actually put it together, but there was a post on the MTGSalvation forums that suggested using Animar as the commander for a sliver deck. I took a look at Animar and said “Holy Crap! That’s amazing!” and started to pull a list together. I used the usual resources, deck lists on Salvation, searches at deckbox.org and so on, and soon I had a list that I liked pulled together.How do you build a sliver deck? Well, there are many ways. If you want to go all-in slivers, then you typically go with a five-color deck using one of the legendary slivers as the general. You pack it full of slivers, other “goodstuff,” an expensive mana base, and call it a day. You can also just use key slivers to provide certain effects. I’ve seen a five-color deck that is primarily a control deck. It has a few slivers and sliver token generators, but that’s it. Since I was using a non-sliver as my commander, I wanted a deck that was well balanced, but still made extensive use of the slivers’ abilities. Let’s take a look at Animar:
First of all, the reason that we want to use Animar is because of his amazing abilities. The protection ability is great, but what is really amazing is the other two abilities and how they interact, particularly with a massive amount of little creatures, even better when those creatures are slivers and all boost each other up somehow.
” Whenever you cast a creature spell, put a +1/+1 counter on Animar, Soul of Elements.”
“Creature spells you cast cost 1 less to cast for each +1/+1 counter on Animar.”
So if you cast a two-drop sliver, he gets a counter. At that point in time your next two-drop sliver will be a one-drop. After that you can cast a three-drop sliver as a one drop, then a four, five, and so on. The only snag is your slivers with double colored-mana in their costs. They still drop all of the colorless requirements. Of course, Animar would work absolutely great in just about any creature based deck with a decent mana curve, but dropping creatures that don’t have much synergy with each other is nowhere near as nice as dropping creatures that all work together.
So I put together a list of slivers in my three colors that would give me the abilities that I thought would work best. Sure, we can’t use some of the more amazing ones such as the Cr
ystalline Sliver because we don’t have white available, but I think that blue, red, and green give us plenty of options. After my initial games with the deck I went back and switched out one or two slivers that weren’t pulling their weight and put in some other choices, and the deck really gets into the action at that point.
I did want some other great effects that only creatures other than slivers can produce, and since I was using a non-sliver commander, I felt ok with deviating from the theme with a few non-sliver creatures. In the end I have a grand total of thirty six creatures in the deck, twenty-three of which are slivers. I included a few great creatures that can help me get to the slivers such as Consecrated Sphinx and Fauna Shaman and other non-sliver creatures that ramp up mana, copy, act as a lord, ping, and more. I also included Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, not just to help combat mill strategies or discard effects, but because it is entirely possible to cast him for free if Animar gets big enough! I believe that six mana is the cheapest I’ve been able to cast Ulamog using Animar’s ability.
As for the non-creatures in the deck, I filled it with various types of spells, most of which help my creatures or help me find my creatures. Of course I included some removal, control, and ramp because let’s face it, most every deck needs something in those categories. I will admit that my removal and control are a bit light, but that is by design. I wanted the deck to be completely aggro, but I also wanted it to have the ability to bounce back by using cards like Wheel of Fortune and Praetor’s Counsel if someone takes my steam away.
Without further ado, here is the deck list:
Simic Growth Chamber
12 Other Creatures
Nin, the Pain Artist
Riku of Two Reflections
Urabrask the Hidden
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
26 Other Spells
Green Sun’s Zenith
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Wheel of Fortune
Chandra, the Firebrand
Leyline of Anticipation
Reap and Sow
Coat of Arms
Garruk, Primal Hunter
How does the deck play? I’ve had the chance to play this deck several times. The first couple of games were ok, but not great. I think I went all-in-aggro on one game and won, but other than that I was taken out fairly easily by my opponents. I cut some slivers that weren’t pulling their weight and put in some other things that would provide more consistent games, and the next time I played I dominated the table pretty easily. The way to play the deck is to get Animar on the board as soon as possible. That typically happens on turn three or four. If Animar hits the board on turn three, then on turn four I have four mana, which means that I can cast a two-drop, then another two drop, and then a three drop. If the two-drop slivers were a Heart Sliver and then a Gemhide Sliver, then each sliver cast means I can cast another one! I have had a turn four with something like six hasted slivers on the board multiple times. Leyline of Anticipation is amazing in this deck as well because every sliver becomes a combat trick.
Casting this many spells this quickly depletes your hand just as quickly, but there are some card drawing effects in the deck, and there are a couple of great enchantments that help you out as well. Wild Pair helps you when you cast your own slivers, letting you go into your library to find another and put it directly into play! Lurking Predators lets you flip the card off the top of your library if your opponent casts any spell, and if it’s a creature? That’s right, it comes into play!
Ok, but what if your opponent lets you build up an army, then wraths the board? Mass removal is a hard hit to this deck, but it has some resilience, particularly if they only hit creatures and leave your enchantments and artifacts in play. I’ve fought back from being decimated before. The best card for this, in my opinion is Praetor’s Counsel! I was done. Most of my deck was in my graveyard due to some effect one of my opponents had, my board had been destroyed. I had a few enchantments and was waiting to get enough green mana to cast Praetor’s Counsel. I waited until the end of my opponent’s turn, as I had the Leyline on the board as well, and cast the Counsel. My graveyard became my hand, and I could cast everything at instant speed. I was able to rebuild most of my board on my turn and the next turn I won. Aside from that there is a Regrowth in there to help you get back something that you really need, but the best way to combat a wrath is to show a bit of restraint in casting your slivers and other spells. I would say that if you get a decent amount of slivers on the board that can start hitting the opponents for massive damage, then go ahead and hold onto the extras in your hand, especially if the give effects similar to a sliver already on the board. There is no reason to cast that Spinneret Sliver if you already have a Winged Sliver on the board right? This really holds true for any type of “all-in” strategy. You want to keep something in your hand so that if something happens to your board, then you have a way to bounce back.
All-in-all I think that my Animar/Sliver deck is probably the best Commander deck I’ve built to date. I am incredibly happy with how it came out and how it plays. Sure, as with any commander deck, there are going to be tweaks here and there, but in the end I think I have a winner.
I also talk about this deck in a video for CMDR Decks on YouTube, and you can watch that here: