Sygg, River Guide Commander

Posted in Feature on June 26, 2013

By Sam Black

Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013.

Today, I'm going to look at one of my oldest Commander decks, Sygg, River Guide.

Sygg, River Guide

The great thing about Sygg as a commander is that he costs so little that you'll almost always have him in play, and he's not especially threatening.

This deck is entirely designed for multiplayer, where always having creatures in play can put you in a good position diplomatically, but the creatures don't have to be aggressive to be productive, so you don't have to be making enemies.

Playing a lot of creatures in multiplayer games can be risky, because there are so many effects that clear the board, but this deck focuses on drawing enough cards that it can recover well, and it plans to have its creatures all killed periodically. Death or Glory in particular is excellent after a long game, when many of your creatures have been killed. Also, it's one of the primary win conditions—just build a big graveyard (possibly by casting Tunnel Vision on yourself for Death or Glory) and then cast Death or Glory, returning enough creatures to lock the opponents out in some way. This likely involves Patron Wizard and/or a Reveillark combo with Body Double.

They key to the strategy is to play enough bad Merfolk that it looks like the deck doesn't do anything—that it's just a silly tribal deck that isn't going to threaten anyone—but then it can use those cards to do something real and significant in a multiplayer game, like the combos mentioned above, or Mindslaver lock, or Opposition lock. This deck isn't weak, it just has enough of a fair game to put on a show.

Aside from being well-positioned politically, by appearing to be a fair deck and creating a board presence that isn't overly threatening, I think this deck makes good use of the commander. The ability to start by playing Sygg means that you can always have one extra creature toward your board presence without exposing any cards you've drawn. This makes it easy to keep a full hand while spending all of your mana making productive plays and developing your board. This is key to any game of Magic, but in multiplayer, the ability to do it without expending cards (by using cantrip creatures like Silvergill Adept and other creatures that reload your hand like Sage of Fables and Sky Hussar) means that you'll never really be overextended.

I find this deck particularly fun to play because you get to play so many relatively weak cards and take so many actions without disrupting or dominating the game. It's very easy to be an active participant in a long, political game, which I find fun in a casual multiplayer game.

Sygg, River Guide

Instant (3)
1 Hinder 1 Counterspell 1 Cryptic Command
Enchantment (2)
1 Opposition 1 Merrow Commerce
Tribal instant (1)
1 Sage's Dousing
99 Cards

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