Sliving the Good Life

Posted in Reconstructed on August 20, 2013

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.

The hive's grasp is strong... and even I can't avoid it. I've been wanting to talk about a Sliver deck ever since Magic 2014 was announced—and this week, I finally have that opportunity.

Today, we're going to take a look at a Slivers deck sent in by Antonio. Let's have at it:

Antonio's Sliver aNAYAlation

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The Battle Plan

The strength of Slivers is in how they all work together. What's crucial is that you can hit a critical mass of Slivers on the battlefield; assuming you build up your army, you should have a significant advantage in any kind of creature mirror match as the game goes onward.

The key to all of that? Enough Slivers!

All you need is love... and monsters. Making sure you draw enough Slivers and that you have a variety to maximize their effects is important. A lot of the modifications I make here are going to be focused on amping up and tweaking this aspect of the deck. This deck ideally wants to play as an aggressive deck with a potential midrange angle as well.

Ready? Let's hop right into the mix!

Deck Breakdown

Let's go through this deck piece by piece—Sliver by Sliver—and see what's crucial and what can be left by the wayside.

Predatory Sliver

There are a few classic Slivers that are staples of any kind of aggressive Sliver strategy. The two-mana Sliver that grants +1/+1—whether Muscle Sliver, Sinew Sliver, or the new Predatory Sliver—is absolutely a Sliver you want to have around. A walking Glorious Anthem to your entire team is quite welcome in any aggressive deck with a lot of creatures, and this is no exception. We definitely want to keep all four of these.

Manaweft Sliver

There are two primary kinds of Slivers in Magic 2014 : Slivers that have abilities that "stack" and Slivers that have abilities which are redundant in multiples. Predatory Sliver is an example of the former: the more you have, the better it is. Manaweft Sliver, on the other hand, is an example of the latter: once you have one Manaweft Sliver on the battlefield, extras don't provide any additional benefit. Because of that, it can be tempting to cut down on Slivers like Manaweft Sliver.

However, some of the Slivers with abilities that don't double up are some of the most powerful—and Manaweft Sliver definitely fits into that category.

While tapping for mana might not seem that strong, it propels some of your quickest starts and allows you to unload all of the Slivers you have. Provided you can cast all of your Slivers in a timely fashion, this deck will typically be able to overcome any kind of creature mirror—and Manaweft Sliver does that for you. I definitely want to kick this up to the full four.

Steelform Sliver

Like Predatory Sliver, Steelform pumps up your entire team. It also works well in multiples, being a stacking Sliver.

However, there are a couple things working against Steelform Sliver. For one, +0/+1 is not nearly as relevant as +1/+0. While any stat bump is welcome, pumping a toughness is fairly weak compared to pumping a power. Additionally, at three mana, there are better things this aggressive deck could be doing.

The card I actually prefer here is Blur Sliver. While its bonus doesn't stack, haste is incredibly powerful in any kind of aggressive deck. Additionally, by combining Blur Sliver with Manaweft Sliver you can go pretty crazy and unload your hand extremely quickly. I want to play the full four Blur Slivers.

Blur Sliver

Thorncaster Sliver

The ability for each of your attackers to ping something in such an aggressive deck can be very strong in any kind of creature stall situation or for when your opponent is trying to mount a blocking defense. If you have a large board of Slivers in multiples it can be particularly brutal.

...However, if you do have a large board of Slivers and land a Thorncaster Sliver, how much better is that going to be than a Megantic Sliver (for just a mana more) or another Sliver you could have cast earlier? If you are in a position where you could cast a second one and have enough Slivers to make it good, that's already a fairly dominating position.

With that said, I do want to still play one copy. The difference between zero and one is huge, especially in a Sliver deck where eventually finding a card that can grants a specific ability to everybody can be all that matters. And with Garruk, Caller of Beasts in our deck, we have a reasonable chance of finding our one if the game drags on.

Battle Sliver

As I mentioned earlier, pumping power is what you ideally want your stat-enhancing Slivers to be doing. Battle Sliver also stacks, which is lovely. While a five-mana 5/3 isn't exactly very exciting, when it also comes with a +2/+0 bonus to your entire team it can be a game changer. I don't want to draw a ton of five-drops, but I do want to see one of these if I can—I'm happy with three.

Why is Battle Sliver preferable over Thorncaster Sliver? Not only is the extra power and larger base body nice bonus, but you really want cards to make double strike be particularly brutal. Why is double strike relevant, you may ask? Well, there's a Sliver for that...

Bonescythe Sliver

Double strike is one of the most powerful abilities you can grant to all of your creatures. Suddenly, they're all hitting for double damage and hard to deal with in combat. While the ability on Bonescythe Sliver doesn't stack, it's powerful enough that I absolutely want to play four. You want to find one every game if you can, and as long as you keep one on the battlefield you should be in good shape.

Hive Stirrings

Three mana for two 1/1s isn't a great deal... but when they're 4/2s with double strike, suddenly that sounds a lot more appealing! Hive Stirrings does exactly that. One of the cards that helps you amass a strong Sliver army, Hive Stirrings puts out two more creatures you can turn into potent threats. Four is definitely right here.

It's also worth noting that curving Manaweft Sliver into Hive Stirrings is very strong, leaving you with six mana producers by the end of your third turn! That's a play to look out for.

Megantic Sliver

This deck has a curious balance in its mana curve. It wants a lot of cheap Slivers so it can start attacking early and to make Manaweft Sliver shine. It also wants some expensive cards to cast if Manaweft Sliver lives. At the same time, it can't have too many expensive cards in case you don't draw Manaweft Sliver or if it dies.

There's only so much room for six drops considering the deck already has slower cards at both four and five, and I like how Antonio chose to play three six drops. You will often see one if the game goes a little long, but you'll seldom be flooded on them. While +3/+3 to all of your creatures is certainly strong, out of those two I'd rather flip-flop them to make it two Garruks and one Megantic Sliver. It's nice to have one Sliver overrun around so you can craft around it if you draw it or to dig for with Garruk, but Garruk is just so strong here (more on that later) that I'd like to play a second.

Frontline Medic

In a deck built around Slivers, there has to be a pretty compelling reason to deviate from playing all Slivers as your creatures. While Frontline Medic is certainly a good card, it doesn't work that well with the Sliver theme. I imagine there's one copy in the decklist so that if the game went really long you could find your one-of and attack without fear—but that situation is so rare that it's not worth playing a card you will normally just draw and be disappointed by.

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

In a heavy Sliver deck, you have to pick and choose your non-Sliver cards very carefully. Especially at six mana, which buys you Megantic Sliver, what makes me want to go for Garruk?

Well, in a deck as full of creatures as this one, Garruk's +1 is going to net you quite a few cards. To compound the power further, all of those creatures are Slivers—meaning Garruk is actively helping you create a monstrous board presence.

Furthermore, Garruk's ultimate is brutal in a Sliver deck. If you use Manaweft Sliver to power out an early Garruk, your opponent might not be in a position to deal with it—meaning you can threaten ultimate.

As I mentioned earlier, I like two Garruks here along with the one Megantic Sliver. It's not good in every draw, but with three total six drops you have a reasonable chance of finding one when you really need to.

Creeping Renaissance

Creeping Renaissance is a pretty cute one-of. Even if all of your Slivers die off, this brings them all back from the Sliver graveyard to recast. This is a reasonable sideboard card in attrition-heavy matchups or against board sweepers.

Main deck, I'd rather just try and make the Sliver angle as strong as possible and then you could use a sideboard for your metagame to tweak against whatever you would expect to face.

Boros Charm

Similar to Creeping Renaissance, it's a nice countermeasure against board sweepers. However, the other two modes aren't that exciting to me: this deck already has a Sliver for double strike, and once you amass your Sliver army the 4 points will seldom make the ultimate difference. I really want to play as many creatures as I can here and, so, while this is a reasonable sideboard card, I'd rather cut it for some more creatures.

Door of Destinies

The Door can be quite powerful if put into the right tribal deck. Suddenly, your creatures are growing to absurd heights. However, oddly enough, Door isn't quite as potent with Slivers as with some other tribes.

Each Sliver you cast already adds something to every creature you control due to the inherent nature of Slivers. How often is going to be casting this noncreature and then slowly building up counters going to be better than just playing another Sliver in the first place? While there are certainly situations where Door can be good, I'd rather just play more Slivers in its place.

Mizzium Mortars

While I have been cutting a lot of the noncreatures out, Mizzium Mortars is one of the ones I'm happy to keep around. I want a little bit of removal to keep my opponent's creatures under control if I need to. Moreover, this deck can hit the overload pretty easily as long as you draw Manaweft Sliver! An overloaded Mortars will break most board stalls wide open, and the combination of cheap flexibility partnered with realistic capacity to overload make Mortars an attractive spell to keep around.

I still only want it as a three-of so I don't draw too many instead of Slivers, but it is definitely the removal spell this deck wants.

Adding Slivers

With a lot of these noncreatures out of the way, that paves the way to add in some more Slivers. Which ones, might you ask? Well, let me go down the list of the three Slivers I'd like to add.

One-drop Slivers can be particularly powerful. First of all, they give you a turn-one play. But second of all, with all of the enhancements a Sliver deck can produce, they quickly begin to outperform their pay grade. A one-drop curved into a Manaweft or Predatory Sliver is your ideal draw in many situations.

I'd like to add in four copies of Striking Sliver. While its ability doesn't stack well (and also is made irrelevant when you land a Bonescythe Sliver), it gives the deck a turn-one play and adds first strike to your team—a very strong ability for Slivers.

Striking Sliver

Next, I'd also like to play a pair of Galerider Slivers. Granting everybody flying is the kind of ability which can completely change the dynamic of the game. It's a little harder to cast in this deck since this deck wasn't aiming to be blue, but between Cavern of Souls and Manaweft Sliver you have a pretty good chance of getting the mana for it when you need it. It's not really a one-drop, but it is certainly a game-changer.

Galerider Sliver

The last Sliver I'm interested in is Sentinel Sliver. Vigilance is really strong in conjunction with first strike or double strike, and it gives the deck one more two-drop it can cast. There's unfortunately only room for one, but I'm all right just playing one as another two-mana play that also diversifies your spread of abilities.

Sentinel Sliver

What does that bring the decklist to? It ends up looking like this:

Gavin Verhey's (Mostly) Naya Slivers

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If you've been trying to put Slivers together, this is the time to do it! Magic 2014 may be the new thing, but Cavern of Souls is one of the cards that makes the mana base tick... and when Theros comes out, it'll be gone.

Speaking of lands, I also added in four Mutavaults. While it is a little harsh on the mana, the upside is tremendous. The land receives all of the Sliver bonuses, giving you another creature to make part of your Sliver army.

While this deck can be weak to a lot of pinpoint removal, if you ever get your Sliver engine (or, as I like to say, your "Slivngine") rolling it's going to be difficult for any opponent without a board sweeper to overcome. And there's nothing that feels quite like steamrolling your opponent with the crazy synergies of Slivers, either! I hope you have fun doing just that.

Honorable Mentions

Interested in a sampling of some of the other decks sent in this week? Look no further!

Ian Hancock's Expect the Unexpected

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Qoarl's Gutterstorm

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Jonathan Reynolds's Mythic Rare Fatties

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Glenn Cariaga's Stronic Midrange

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Jake and Trevor's Breaking Rites

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Richard Yarmosh's Junk Accord

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Erick Lavandier's Naya Flicker

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Kyle Gascoigne's BUG Advantage

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Tibalt Adson's Mono-Black

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Connor Gerace's Red Deck Wins

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Vincent's The Bigger the Gravestone, the Higher the Rank

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Hiroaki Ikeda's Fattie Merfolk

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David's Essence Tokens

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Tyler Laing's FIRE IN THE HOLE!

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Perikoro's Beck and Stake

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Douglas Scheinberg's Séance Combo

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