That's what I said when I first saw the card I'm previewing for you. The things we say when we first see new Magic cards say a lot about what we think of the card.
"Uh huh." This is the common that you see for the first time. You aren't particularly impressed by it, but it was a card you hadn't seen before. "Uh huh," is the vocal cue you are using to acknowledge that you've now seen the card. Nothing impressive here.
"What?" This is the card with seven or more lines of rules text. You know you are going to read the card, then have to read it a second time, slowly, to have any idea what it does. Some of us will have to read it a third time, and we'll think we understand what the card does, but we still read it wrong.
"Okay!" This is the encouraging utterance that you make after you see a well-costed creature that does something cool. A 2/2 creature with first strike and deathtouch will get an "okay!"
"Oh yeah!" This is the knowing statement when you see a card and are thinking to yourself, "This is going to fit perfectly in my [insert a deck that you love]!"
So before we go any further, I want to discuss the art. Recently, meaning last year, Slivers underwent a transformation, from pointy-headed Alien-like things with one leg into beings that had a more humanoid form. Recent Slivers had two arms and two legs, a head and torso, much like us. There was a group of players who didn't like the change. Old-school Slivers and their insect-like form were beloved. I liked the idea of a hive mentality and it seemed like the original version displayed that better than the newer version. Players wanted to see Slivers return, but really didn't want the art to change. I know it was difficult to provide original, interesting art for creatures who all look the same and have no expression. I know the connection I was making was only because it was the original look and I wouldn't say it was a hive mentality if Slivers had been humanoid from the start. I know all that. But I still liked the old Slivers.
The art on Sliver Hive offers up the old Sliver look and I love it. The old-school Slivers are perched on the edge of the wall and it looks great! I can't tell you if this means that all Slivers will now look like the Slivers of old, or if old and new will share the spotlight. Just count me among the players who are happy to see the return of an older style of Sliver.
Sliver Hive | Art by Igor Kieryluk
I love land cards. My first nonbasic land was an Aysen Abbey and I thought it was awesome. It can tap for more than one color of mana? Wow! I collect as many land cards as I can. I particularly like land that does something more than simply tapping for mana. Maze of Ith, Wasteland, and Celestial Colonnade are all cards I love. Now I get Sliver Hive and it hits what I love and more. Not only does it tap for mana, but it also produces Slivers! This extra utility is always something I value, especially from a land.
Sliver Hive takes it one step further, though. It is a card that drops directly into a deck that many casual players already have built and waiting. Sliver Hive isn't the card that starts you wondering about a deck built around it. Sliver Hive is the missing piece in a deck that is already built but was looking for something more. Sliver Hive is the card that drops easily into the deck, replacing one or more basic lands, without demanding you do anything else. High five Sliver Hive, high five!
Sliver Hive Dissected
To really understand Sliver Hive, we need to break it down into its parts. There is more to this card than meets the eye.
The first and most obvious problem with the card? You are not going to run this card in every deck. I'm not saying you can't. If you want to run a land that only taps for colorless mana, be my guest. That just sounds a little pointless to me when Sliver Hive practically begs to be put into a Sliver deck.
This limitation isn't really a problem with the card unless you are trying to find a way to use it in a draft. Once you accept that this card should go into a Sliver deck, its usefulness goes through the roof! Even if you never make a Sliver token, you'll have great mana fixing that should make it easy to run as many colors as you want.
Have I mentioned that this is a land? The real benefit of this card being a land, particularly one that taps for mana, is that you lose nothing replacing a basic land in your deck for this card. Often, when you get a land that does something beyond tapping for mana, the land only taps for colorless.
Mutavault, for example, is a great card, since it becomes a creature for only one mana. The problem with Mutavault is that it only taps for colorless. This can put a strain on your mana base if you are running multiple colors. Sliver Hive gets around that limitation. Since you are only putting Sliver Hive into decks loaded with Slivers, the fact that it only taps for colored mana when casting a Sliver is not really a downside at all. You are always going to be casting Slivers! You won't need to up the mana resources in your deck to accommodate Sliver Hive like you would for other lands. Sliver Hive is all upside for a Sliver deck.
The truly interesting part of the card is the ability to make 1/1 Sliver creature tokens, mostly because they are never just 1/1 Slivers. Perhaps they tap for mana. They can be bigger. They can be sacrificed to kill other permanents. They might have haste, first strike, trample, flying, shroud, or do any number of tricks.
Slivers do it all, and this land can make Slivers for five mana. Don't think that this is going to be a problem. Anyone who has played a Sliver deck knows that five mana comes quickly. One Manaweft Sliver and the Sliver deck soon spirals out of control.
Sliver decks have been able to create Slivers for quite a while already. Sliver Queen demands only two mana and it can make a Sliver creature token. In fact, with six mana handy, Sliver Queen can make three tokens, while Sliver Hive can only make one. So it looks like the Sliver Queen crushes the Sliver Hive pretty easily. The difference is that the Sliver Hive is a land, while the Sliver Queen demands one of each color of mana. This can really push your mana base if you haven't pulled a Manaweft Sliver and have some Slivers on the battlefield already.
In the end, though, why debate which is better? Just run them both! Sliver Hive can help you get Sliver Queen onto the battlefield and can give you the extra Slivers if the Queen is reluctant to make an appearance at the top of your library.
I tend to prefer three-color Sliver decks. The mana base is easier to deal with, and there are plenty to choose from among three colors. This is a low-cost, high-aggression option.
This deck comes roaring out of the gate! Once you have four flying Slivers that are at least 3/3, stop playing them and start stockpiling your hand. Someone is going to kill all the creatures and you don't want to be left with nothing in your hand. You will want to be able to reapply the pressure as quickly as possible. Once you have the mana, start using your Sliver Hive Sliver tokens instead of your cards in hand wherever possible. If you can apply pressure with the tokens and force your opponents to use up cards to deal with them, you'll be more able to reassert your strength faster than you would otherwise. The primary weakness of Sliver decks is the tendency to want to go all in, leaving you with no cards in hand and a board that was just wiped out. A deck like this requires a balance in knowing how quickly to attack the other players in the game and how much to hold back so you aren't repeatedly destroyed.
This version is something a little different.
This is a deck that puts Sliver Hive to maximum use. Every spell in the deck is a Sliver spell, and this is a full-on five color special! The Blades and Shields of Velis Vel are Changeling spells, which are treated as every creature type, so Sliver Hive can be used to cast those as well. This deck looks to stall things on the battlefield until there is a creature worth stealing. When you see the chance, cast one of your Velis Vel cards and turn an opponent's creature into a Sliver. At this point, you can use Sliver Overlord to steal it from your opponent!
The deck has some obvious flaws and needs to be played carefully. Necrotic Slivers are a great way to get rid of opponents' problem cards, but if a Necrotic Sliver is on the battlefield when you try and steal an opponent's creature, expect to see one of your permanents disappear. All Slivers get the ability, including ones that are only Slivers because you want to try and steal them.
This deck can also restart fairly quickly. If you get wiped out with a Day of Judgment, you can make Mutavault into a creature of every type, including Sliver, then use Sliver Hive to make another Sliver. A couple of 1/1 Sliver tokens don't seem like much, but things get ugly once a Mnemonic or Necrotic Sliver enters the battlefield!
Sliver Hive offers to help a variety of Sliver decks. Think beyond decks that rely on Slivers getting bigger and bigger and eventually winning with combat damage. Picture decks that wipe out an entire table in one swing! Sliver decks with bizarre and eclectic combinations! Sliver Hive offers a lot to the right deck. Is it yours?