Deck Tech: Slivers with Adam Bowman

Posted in Event Coverage on November 22, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

Like everyone playing in Grand Prix Pittsburgh, Adam Bowman faced some rough games on Saturday. In one game against Jund, he was forced to mulligan to four cards. Resigned to his fate, he kept Cavern of Souls, Cavern of Souls, Æther Vial and Mutavault.

Bowman led with the Cavern on the first turn, naming Merfolk. He played the Æther Vial and passed the turn. His opponent then cast Inquisition of Kozilek on the second turn, and Bowman promptly conceded the game and moved onto sideboarding. In the next game, Bowman's Jund opponent triumphantly slammed Choke on Turn 3, confident in denying his Merfolk opponent mana.

The only problem? Bowman isn't playing Islands.

Enter Slivers.

“It's similar to Merfolk in that you have 12 lords and Mutavaults and Æther Vial, but this is more power but less consistency,” Bowman said. “This deck sometimes just plays Slivers and attacks, but it can also play the control game when it needs to. That ability to switch gears is one of the reasons I like it over Merfolk.”

The Sliver deck is certainly a case study in focus. The deck runs just 10 non-Sliver spells, with four of those being Vials, four being Collected Company to find more Slivers, and the other two being Spellskite to protect those Slivers. Everything else is one of Magic's most popular tribes, and they work beautifully together. Predatory Sliver, Sinew Sliver and Sedge Sliver all pump the team, with the last also serving alongside Diffusion Sliver to protect them from removal. Blur Sliver, Galerider Sliver and Sentinel Sliver all increase their combat efficiency, while Manaweft Sliver ramps the mana and Necrotic Sliver even gives the deck Sliver-based removal.

It's a cohesive package that offers Bowman — who first debuted the deck with a Top 8 appearance at the StarCityGames Open in Cincinnati in September — the flexibility to attack almost all the decks in the field, and it propelled him into Day 2 in Pittsburgh with just a single loss.

That flexibility was on full display in a late Day 1 match against an Abzan Company opponent, who had pulled off his combo to gain an arbitrarily large amount of life and create six lethal fliers thanks to Archangel of Thune. In a game that the creature deck seemingly had no chance in, Bowman simply used six Slivers with flying (thanks to Galerider Sliver) and regeneration (thanks to Sedge Sliver) and their own mana ability (thanks to Manaweft Sliver) to block every single turn. He used the rest of his team to mill his opponent (thanks to Screeching Sliver), and eventually won the game in that fashion.

Not exactly what you'd expect from an Æther Vial deck.

Adam Bowman's Slivers served him well in Pittsburgh, sending him into Day 2 with just a single loss.

Even the deck's land form a seamless package. Sliver Hive and Cavern of Souls allow the deck to cast its Slivers regardless of color, while Mutavault provides a much-needed attacker.

“I won a game on Saturday against an opponent who had three Cryptic Command and three Snapcaster Mage,” Bowman recounted. “Every turn he would tap down my guys, I would then activate Mutavault and make a token with Sliver Hive that had haste thanks to Blur Sliver and attack him for five.”

The final piece of the deck comes together in the sideboard, where the full range of Magic's Slivers come into play. Harmonic Sliver is a bomb against Affinity and has uses elsewhere, while Darkheart Sliver (for Burn/Zoo), Telekinetic Sliver (for Tron), Sliver Hivelord (for Jund), and Homing Sliver (for consistency) all improve the deck after the first game.

It may not be the most abstractly powerful deck in Modern — combo still gives it trouble — Bowman can't imagine playing anything else.

“I just love this deck,” he said. “I've been playing it for months and just working on the matchups one at a time. I think it's pretty well-positioned in Modern right now.”

Adam Bowman — Slivers

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