Sliver Wars: The Beginning
By DarkRitual on October 27th, 2006 · Filed in Variant Formats · Comments not available just now
By Dark Ritual, with special guest LightSpecter
A long long time ago, in a galaxy far away... Dominaria was under an attack, and all the slivers we loved from the Rath cycle would be sure to die in the Invasion. Flash forward a little, and we learn that these lovable creatures not only survived, but mutated and evolved! Things were looking up for them once more. Then soon after Legions we're thrown into a metal world, never to see slivers again... Until now.
The slivers of Time Spiral bring a new edge to today’s sliver decks. Cards like Telekinetic Sliver stir things up as slivers of the past had only simple powers, like giving flying, first strike, or other keyword abilities. Sedge Sliver and Plague Sliver are good enough to be played by themselves (3/3 regenerator for 3? Are you kidding me?). In fact, people are already talking about throwing Plague Sliver in mono black control.
Because of the sheer number of slivers now in the card pool (you have the slivers from Rath cycle, Legions and now Time Spiral), you can easily pull off two color decks where before you were forced to play at least three. With so many slivers to choose from, the combinations of abilities can have great synergy with each other, allowing you can mix and match slivers together and come up with a great strategy. For example, mixing the flying, unblockable, or slivers with Brood Sliver and Synapse Sliver and you can make a ton of slivers every turn from attacking and draw a ton of cards. A red and black combo seems really promising, as you can play Sedge Sliver and Toxin Sliver to create an army of virtually untouchable slivers. Throw in Hunter Sliver and now you can kill any creature you want in combat by provoking them (unless they can get around provoke by tapping the creature). White and blue slivers might be interesting too. Crystalline Sliver is by far best Rath cycle dual color sliver, simply because it keeps your sliver army safe from direct harm. Teaming up Psionic Sliver with the white toughness boosting slivers creates a good way to deal damage to your opponent or his creatures every turn. While there aren't any vigilance slivers around, Serra's Blessing will give your creatures vigilance and then play Telekinetic Sliver, allowing you to attack and tap down lands or creatures on your opponents turn as well. The synergy between slivers goes on and on with this because there are slivers that work together within any two colors.
So we've done two colors, but it just wouldn't be appropriate to talk about Slivers without going into 4 and 5 color decks. They have been popular since the creation of slivers obviously, but because of the overwhelming changes in the card pool since the last time Slivers hit the shelves in Legions, multicolor sliver decks are becoming more and more flexible. One deck I had in mind I like to call Weenie Slivers. Between the 3 sets/blocks with Slivers, there are 37 slivers that cost 3 or less. So it shouldn't be that hard to find a place to start. Since this is a weenie deck, I decided to start with Muscle Sliver and Sedge Sliver. Eight creatures in the deck that give a +1/+1 boost for cheap. Not a bad place to start. And it gives us Red and Green as colors to build off of. Instantly you should think of Spined Sliver and Firewake Sliver. Spined Sliver is pretty a decent sized creature with a relevant ability in this deck. Firewake Sliver provides a good tempo boost as well as a creature pump effect that might make opponents think twice in combat. Sedge Sliver pretty much forces you to go black because of the requirement on his ability, so adding in some black slivers might be nice. That led me to think of Acidic Sliver, Crypt Sliver, Mindlash Sliver, and just for kicks: Dark Confidant. To top it off, I randomly threw in white so I could play Sidewinder Sliver. Tribal Flames and Gaea's Might got thrown in for obvious reasons as well. Put that all together and you have your Weenie Slivers deck:
I just threw in lands because you can pretty much go in whatever direction you want to. If you wanna go hard core with this deck, you should do Saclands and Shocklands probably. Lands aren't that important in casual so just do what you want. Anyways, we've shown how easy it is to go multicolor, but what about one color? Could you pull off mono color sliver decks for all 5 colors? And if so, which one would be the best?
Enter the Jungle... of Slivers
To answer that question, LightSpecter and I made 5 mono color decks and organized a tournament for them to duke it out in. But you can't have a tournament without rules, so here they are:
1. Slivers will only help out their own side, meaning they won’t gain any benefits from the existence of the opponent’s slivers and vice versa.
2. The tournament will take place in two stages. In stage one, each deck plays each other deck in a best-of-three match, the wins and losses recorded and the decks ranked accordingly. In stage two, we take the top 3 decks. Ranks 2 and 3 play each other, and the winner plays rank 1 for the title of best sliver color.
1. Decks will be exactly 60 cards with no sideboard. The deck will contain 26 slivers, 10 non-sliver spells, and 24 basic land.
2 Ward Sliver is banned. Its power level is too great in a tournament with all mono-colored creature based decks.
Notes on 10 "non-sliver spells":
Since we made all the decks, we could pretty much do whatever we wanted, but we made rules that helped decide what spells we would use. The golden rule for choosing which non-sliver spells to use was "Spells shouldn't be more important than the Slivers". This is Sliver Wars, not Spell Wars; we don’t want game breaking spells. So for this reason we overlooked rare cards and cards with big effects that drastically alter the game state like Wrath of God. We also ruled out cards that have lasting effects on the entire game. For this reason, we only considered Instants, Sorceries and Aura Spells. No enchantments or artifacts, because those tend to stay in play forever in this format. For the same reason, we didn't consider cards with Flashback, Buyback, Forecast, Dredge etc. because those cards tend to provide card advantage easier and stick around longer than a spell should. And finally, casting cost matters. We can't change the casting cost of the slivers, but we can choose non-sliver spells with different casting costs to help smooth out the mana curve.
So let’s get to it. You know the rules, you know how the tournament works. Let’s introduce the decks.
While most red decks are focused on getting the opponent from 20 to 0, this one is a tad more complicated than that. There are two general strategies with this deck. The Two-Headed Sliver approach is one of them, the basic idea being to force the opponent to block with two creatures, which will generally result in a two for one trade because of the abundant power boosting slivers like Magma Sliver, Blade Sliver, and Bonesplitter Sliver. The other strategy involves abusing Hunter Sliver and systematically killing off the opponent’s slivers one at a time. Again, with the help of the +X/+0 effects that red is so famous for, this deck should be able to pretty much kill any creature in exchange for one of its own. One weakness of this deck is that its creatures die easily. The only ways of keeping them in play involve the double strike effect of Fury Sliver or the first strike effect of Galvanic Arc.
This is the ultimate Timmy deck. The goal of this deck is to just run over your opponent. You have effects that give slivers +1/+1, +2/+2, and trample, so that shouldn't be a problem. Even though this deck seems like brute force, in true sliver fashion it includes a few pieces of finesse. Horned Sliver makes it easier for Brood Sliver to put 1/1 tokens into play, Spinneret Sliver was added to the deck not only because it helps against flyers, but because its size to cost ratio is matched by only Muscle Sliver. Gemhide Sliver can be a fun second turn play, allowing for bigger slivers to come out turns faster. The one weakness of this deck is there is no sliver that gives any kind of evasion, or has any kind of trick that helps you gain more of an advantage. It has to count on strength alone to win, and that might just be all it needs.
This decks main focus is protection. With sliver abilities like +0/+1, +0/+2, and spirit link, the opponent will have a hard enough time killing you, let alone the slivers themselves. The slivers in this deck are all synergetic with each other. This seemed appropriate, considering that a strong defense is one of the main philosophies of white. Toughness boosting slivers will make your creatures harder to kill in combat while First Strike, Flanking, and Quilled Sliver will try and finish off the opposing creatures before they can even deal damage. One of the weaknesses of this deck is it can quickly turn into a bad weenie deck if the key slivers end up in the graveyard, as there are no power boosting cards besides Warrior’s Honor.
Blue is generally known for taking control over the game slowly, but that’s not the case here. This deck abuses 2 evasion slivers: Winged Sliver and Shadow Sliver, and in that way tries to win the game as fast as possible. However, there is the small problem of blue having some of the weakest slivers in the format. So your opponent could actually win the race. But blue does have some tricks to help out. First of all, Synapse Sliver will let you draw a bunch of cards while you are racing and put more slivers into play after you attack, so that you help stop your opponents attack next turn. Telekinetic Sliver is good about tapping down your opponents biggest creatures (and if you have enough slivers, you could go old school and take out his lands), in an effort so slow your opponent down while you sneak in damage. And finally, Psionic Sliver is here to help when you need that last burst of damage. The recoil damage will pretty much kill any sliver in the deck, but the 2 damage per sliver should be enough to finish off your opponent. Psionic Sliver comes in real handy when the opposing deck somehow manages to kill off your evasion slivers. You obviously can't attack into their bigger creatures, but you can hit them for some direct damage.
This deck pretty much plays off of two important creatures: Toxin Sliver and Crypt Sliver. With these two in play, your creatures are pretty much invincible. Toxin Slivers effect will make all your slivers kill anything they touch, and Crypt Sliver will keep them alive if the opponent tries to do anything about it. Vampiric Sliver makes this deck even more ridiculous, giving them a +1/+1 counter for each creature they are able to kill using this "combo". The one weakness of this deck is its lack of evasion defense. Something that most of the other decks have in spades. Also, this deck is just subpart unless you have both Toxin Sliver and Crypt Sliver in play, as there are really no neat tricks you can do without them.
It’s not over yet!
As we speak we are midway though the 1st stage of the tournament. What teams will have success? Only three decks will make it to next stage, but which ones will they be? And which color will stand on top of the pile of battered Slivers once this is all over? You can speculate all you want, but the only way to find out is to tune in next time for the exciting conclusion of Sliver Wars!
By DarkRitual on October 27th, 2006 · Filed in Variant Formats · Comments not available just now