Introducing: Sliver Hivelord

Posted in NEWS on July 1, 2014

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Today's preview card has quite the lineage behind it.

Many years ago, just as Magic was starting to find its initial feet, a unique tribe began to take the center stage in the Rath block: Slivers. This tribe quickly found its way into players' hearts because it's unique identity of sharing all of its abilities to each of your other Slivers. More than perhaps any other creature type in Magic, Slivers encouraged an exciting kind of tribal.

Since then, we've brought them back three other times. Once in Onslaught, thanks to the meddling of some scientists. Once again in Time Spiral block, as Slivers darted throughout past, alternative timelines, and even an array of possible futures to gain a wild cacophony of abilities from throughout Magic's history. And then finally, most recently, we brought them back again around this time last year in Magic 2014.

However, each of the three iterations prior to Magic 2014 had something in particular behind it: a five-color Sliver. This version of Sliver was missing that piece.

Until now.

Art by Aleksi Briclot

In his article yesterday, Mark Rosewater alluded that I'd be previewing a five-color Sliver today. Magic 2014 brought Slivers back, and, before they all left, we wanted to make sure to pay them off a little bit more by bringing a handful of strong new Slivers into the mix—including one five-color option.

Let's walk through the past ones real fast. First up is this classic card from Stronghold:

The first. The original. The queen of the brood. This card was highly sought after when Slivers first appeared, and remains extremely popular to this day. The pure enormity and scope of how it impacts a Sliver deck was completely breathtaking at the time.

And, make no mistake, Sliver Queen is still exciting today. Its ability to make Sliver tokens is certainly nice—it's a one-Sliver army. However, the mana investment to keep pumping out creatures means you aren't getting your Slivers that help you build up your keyword army out of your hand and onto the battlefield. Often, this is more of a sort of useful ability to help you out if things go super long but nothing unbelievably remarkable anymore. Plus, if your opponent has a removal spell, there's a good chance this ability isn't going to do much for you.

Does my Sliver today surpass Sliver Queen in power? Oh yes. Its ability is far more than a small bonus.

Let's take a look at the next attempt:

This version attempts to do something similar, yet a little different than what the Queen was going for. Instead of making tokens, it lets you search for all of your juicy Slivers and put them into your hand. And given infinite time, that's pretty good.

However, it's just so mana intensive—even more so than the Queen. At three mana to search up a Sliver and then its mana cost to cast it, if your opponent is giving you the time to do that you could have probably been taking advantage of nearly any big creature. It's certainly fine, and in a slower format like Commander that kind of card advantage is great—but I wouldn't say the Overlord is the best of the bunch. (Plus, it lets mean opponents steal your Slivers. What's up with that?)

Is the new one in Magic 2015 better than this? I feel very strongly yes. Unlike Sliver Overlord, which requires a lot of mana to get rolling, the one I'm previewing immediately radically changes how your opponent has to play against you—if he or she even has a way to properly adapt.

And then there's the newest version from Planar Chaos:

This Legion certainly is one of the scary ones, putting a bunch of extra power onto the board immediately with its ability. Its ability doesn't take any mana to use, which is a huge upside over the other two versions: it comes down and, like my preview card, starts impacting everything right away.

However, there's an inherent problem with a card like this: it's only best when you have a bunch of Slivers in play. And, by the pure nature of Slivers, if you have a bunch on the battlefield, you should already be in awesome shape. While flashy and capable of huge swings, Sliver Legion was often a bit of a win-more card.

Today's card heralds from more of the Sliver Legion camp—but instead of being a win-more card, it's more of a go-from-evenly-matched-to-unbeatable kind of card.

Any last guesses as to what this Sliver does?

If this were a Buzzfeed article I was trying to get people to click on, I might have titled this article, "Slivers are back in Magic 2015—and you won't believe what they did with the five-color one!"—in fact, it's still hard to believe we actually printed this card.

Well, it's time to finally take a look.

Introducing the next card in the brood, and, in my opinion, the most powerful five-color Sliver of them all: Sliver Hivelord!

I can't show you any of them today, but there are also some other Slivers in Magic 2015 that are quite playable. Like I said before, we wanted to make sure we paid off the promise that Magic 2014 set up—and this set finally gives Sliver players more of a well-rounded deck. You've already seen the awesome Sliver Hive and with that plus Mana Confluence, the mana base for a five-color Sliver deck is in pretty good shape.

So, speaking of decklists, what would a Sliver deck look like? Let's take a quick peek!

The Return of the Brood

A previous problem with Sliver decks was that if you played too many expensive Slivers, you were prone to just getting blown out by sweepers and spot removal. If you played too many cheap Slivers and went for the hyper-aggressive plan, any number of creatures or spells could get in your way and cause problems.

Indestructibility changes that up a little bit.

Now, if you want to go a little more midrange, that's perfectly okay, because you won't just get crushed in the midgame. In fact, it means you can safely play more of the four-mana Slivers that pose a huge threat.

Before being able to add in the other new Magic 2015 Slivers, I would probably look at something like this:

Gavin Verhey's Family of Blood

Download Arena Decklist

There are so many combinations with indestructible that are hard to beat.

Have you ever tried defeating an indestructible, lifelinking Sliver army? How about an indestructible army of vigilant Slivers? Soon enough, you might be faced with exactly that situation. Might I recommend being on the Sliver side of it rather than on the side of those with their foreheads slumped on their hands as they hope to draw an exiling effect to have any chance at all.

Slivers are back in a big way. Enjoy!

More Magic 2015

You've had a chance now to see quite a bit of what Magic 2015 has to offer! Something especially unique about this set are the fifteen "designer cards" that were made by external designers. Let's see what you can come up with for those!

Format: Standard.
Restrictions: You must use one of the fifteen "designer cards" from Magic 2015 in your deck.
Deadline: July 8, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Submit all decklists by emailing me at reconstructeddecks@gmail.com. Please submit decklists using the following template. (The specific numbers below are arbitrary, so please don't feel a need to use them—it's just how an example of how a decklist should look when laid out.)

Yourname's Deckname
Standard
20 Land
20 Land
4 Creature
4 Creature
4 Other Spell
4 Other Spell
4 Planeswalker

I'm excited to see what kind of shenanigans are in store. All of these cards are so unique that I'm looking forward to being sent some cool decks to take advantage of them.

Also, take note that for this week, please send your decks to reconstructeddecks@gmail.com. There is currently a bug that is causing difficulty with me seeing your decklists sent to my Wizards address.

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or comments on this article, I'd love to hear from you! Please send me a tweet or ask me a question on my Tumblr if you have anything you want to let me know, or even just general excitement you want to share.

I hope you're enjoying Magic 2015! It's our craziest core set yet—and I can't wait to see what kind of impact it's going to have on Standard.

I'll be back next week with a take on the brand-new Standard! Until then, have fun with Slivers!

Gavin
@GavinVerhey
GavInsight