Gorgon Sliver

Damia, Sage of Stone
A long time ago, I wanted to build a Commander deck with Damia, Sage of Stone. I wanted a theme, though. Many Damia decks become lists of powerful cards, as good-stuff decks enjoy steady flows of cards, and Damia’s superpower can provide that. However, many good-stuff cards offer card advantage—many times a lot of it—meaning Damia can become obsolete in her own decks.

I don’t have any problem going all-in on a theme, so when I built my Damia deck, I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t become obsolete. That meant no card-advantage cards were allowed. The deck’s plan was to ramp, resolve Damia, and then play out a significant portion of its hand each turn to fully make use of Damia’s potential. The cards needed to be relatively cheap in order to allow me to play as many of them as possible each turn, and I decided to go with Zombies. Before Omniscience existed, Conspiracy with Rooftop Storm offered me a similar effect, and I was able to play with somewhat silly cards on the theme, such as Innistrad block’s Zombie Apocalypse and Army of the Damned.

My deck-building was successful in that Damia was never obsolete. However, the deck was extremely reliant on her, and a bad draw could mean I could never cast her or do much of anything (playing one little Zombie a turn from top-decks didn’t get me very far), and a single removal spell that could take Damia off the table could set me back a turn or more, potentially over and over again.

Rise of the Dark Realms
However, I knew what I was getting myself into when I built the deck and every time I sat down to the table, and I was okay with the risks. However, after a year or so with Damia’s Zombies, I was ready for a change.

The overhaul of the deck turned it into a more generic Commander list. I removed the little Zombies and replaced them with big beaters. That way, each individual card could be powerful on its own rather than require that I play a bunch of cards in order to create the same board presence other decks can. The overhaul also meant that I could play with cool beaters such as Spiritmonger, Aetherling, and Necropolis Regent.

However, in with the overhaul went a few choice card-advantage spells, and I’ve found that they, combined with the inherent power of the larger creatures, often make Damia irrelevant. I occasionally cast her, and she can be very powerful when I do, but the deck is capable of holding its own and even winning games with just my non-commander draws.

That probably doesn’t sound like a problem to you. But I like playing my commanders! And I like Damia! I’d like to move back toward my initial list, but I feel that the Zombies are somewhat played out for my tastes. Luckily, Magic 2014 Core Set reminded me of a fun creature type that does quite well in swarms. While the new core set didn’t offer a ton of options for green, blue, and black decks, there are a few new Slivers that can supplement the plethora of older Slivers.

As with the Zombie version, the plan is to ramp, cast Damia, and flood the board with creatures while refilling the hand every turn. I threw in basically every Sliver I could find, but here are some highlights.

Basal Sliver
Basal Sliver Starting alphabetically, this one is great for ramping, and you probably don’t need to feel bad sacrificing a couple Slivers in order to cast Damia . . . or, for example, a Rise of the Dark Realms. Sacrificing creatures for value is among the best things you can do when leading up to a Living Death.

Darkheart Sliver As with before, you can sacrifice a bunch of Slivers to gain life—or, more importantly, to put them in the graveyard. This can also be a great reactionary play to others’ Wrath of God effects, allowing you to benefit from your creatures despite their dying.

Dormant Sliver Odd in that it prevents Slivers from attacking, that’s often fine in Commander if other players have a lot of blockers. It might overshadow Damia sometimes, but it is a Sliver in her colors, so I think it deserves its place. When you want to attack, just sacrifice it to another Sliver’s effect.

Gemhide Sliver and Manaweft Sliver These are both Slivers and part of the ramp package. With multiple low-cost Slivers and a few turns of tapping for mana instead of attacking, they can ramp quite a bit. And a Wrath is fine, as the mass-reanimation spells in the deck mean digging deeper and deeper into the deck is a good thing, even if most of it ends up in the graveyard.

Mindlash Sliver The first iteration of my Damia deck included Words of Waste. This Sliver is like a Words of Waste creature, and discarding with Damia on the battlefield isn’t really a bad thing, as it means you’ve just essentially cycled the card.

Psionic Sliver
Psionic Sliver This is a weird one, but with toughness-boosting effects from other Slivers—and perhaps a Fungus Sliver—your creatures will really be able to put the Prodigal Sorcerer beatdown on the battlefield.

Reflex Sliver Hooray! We get haste without having to play red!

Screeching Sliver Speaking of digging deeper into the deck even if it ends up in the graveyard, here’s a great Sliver for milling ourselves in order to fuel a powerful Twilight’s Call or the like.

Toxin Sliver This is a pretty good combo with Spitting Sliver.

Eternal Witness As much as I’m not a fan of format staples, it’s hard for me to imagine not wanting to run Eternal Witness in most green decks. I’ve always been a huge fan of the graveyard, and sometimes, you just need to use something again.

Rise of the Dark Realms, Living Death, and Twilight’s Call I’ve already basically covered these in the discussions of the individual Slivers, but these spells can provide huge impact for the deck. With all the small creatures running around, it can be easy for them to die a few at a time during the course of a game. Cast one of these at an opportune time, especially with an Akroma’s Memorial on the battlefield, and the combined might of the new Sliver army can potentially just end a game.

Hivestone
Hivestone With a deck full of Slivers, this might seem like an awkward choice, but hey! What about Eternal Witness, right? Actually, I think it’s just fun to combo it with Damia. Giving her +3/+3 and trample could be fun, sacrificing her for 3 life in response to a Terminus would be quite handy, and her deathtouch makes her potent with Psionic Sliver. I wish there were a way to run Crystalline Sliver to offer her protective abilities, but I guess Asceticism will have to help us out with that.

Nihil Spellbomb and Bojuka Bog With Living Death and Twilight’s Call around, access to these is pretty important. I guess they’re nonbos with Rise of the Dark Realms, but I’d like to think just recurring all of my Slivers—if it comes to that—will be enough.

Glissa, the Traitor This probably hasn’t been the strongest card in either iteration of my Damia deck, but Glissa has been in both, and she is very powerful for only 3 mana. She’s a great attack deterrent, and the benefit of repeatedly rebuying Wayfarer’s Bauble and Nihil Spellbomb can’t be overstated. Playing lands consistently in Commander is super-important.

 


Strangely enough, the way I arrived my Damia’s Slivers idea was through toying with Rise of the Dark Realms in a Slivers list. From there, I realized a lot of the Slivers I wanted to play with were Damia’s colors and that I might want to revisit my draw-seven-based strategy for her I described above. However, here’s where I started:

Screeching Sliver
This list is basically the streamlined, single-minded version of the Commander list above. The goal is to fill the graveyard with Slivers and then cast Rise of the Dark Realms and win. With a Hivestone, all of the opponents’ creatures will be Slivers, too, bringing them potentially to mythic proportions. (But probably not Mythic Proportions.) Screeching Sliver will have to do even more work in this list, as the game plan essentially rides on them, but with four copies, it makes their job easier.

Also, with the red Homing Sliver that can’t live with Damia’s Slivers, we should be able to find Screeching Slivers or other key pieces—such as Megantic Sliver and Reflex Sliver—when we need them. The downside is that, without Eternal Witness, we won’t be able to rebuy copies of Rise of the Dark Realms that accidentally make it to the graveyard.

It’s too bad there isn’t a Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed Sliver.

Andrew Wilson
@Silent7Seven
fissionessence at hotmail dot com