M15: The Uncommon Slivers

With seven new cards in M15, Slivers aren’t back in a big way, but at least there is some way to expand the hive a little, while the new Uncommon Slivers are also reasonable on their own. Despite what is shown on the Sliver Hive card, these are all ‘predator’ style slivers, from Shandalaar, which is a shame. But maybe Wizards still had some art around from the last Core Set. So, what are the new toys we’re going to get? Let’s take a look at the new adaptations of the hive.


First up is the white one, Constricting Sliver. On it’s own, it’s a twice as expensive, but slightly bigger Banisher Priest. But he makes other Slivers priests as well, and if you have multiples, they will start exiling multiple times as well. is a lot to spend on one Sliver though, and het doesn’t directly beat an opponent. You might just as well use Megantic Sliver or Bonescythe Sliver and bring the beatdown at this point. There are some situations you’d need to remove something, so this helps. The cost just hurts the ‘strength by numbers’ philosophy the Slivers thrive on. At least the rest of them are quicker to play:


The blue entry is a lot more affordable, and does it’s best to channel Crystalline Sliver, which made counter-sliver a deck at some point. Not quite Shroud, not quite Hexproof, but experience with Frost Titan learns that sometimes opponents forget about it and get the math wrong and see their spells countered. With spells that can target multiple Slivers, like Frost Breath, it’s even easier to fall into this trap. And if they are paying attention, even then it simply makes removing your Slivers slightly more difficult, which is a good thing as Slivers tend to work best when you have a lot of them on the battlefield.

Also affordable, with an ability that grows exponentially is Leeching Sliver, which has assimilated the Pulse Tracker ability into the hive. Having two attack already drains 4 life before they’re even blocked and it helps Slivers to get around Fog effects. So, it’s another Predatory Sliver/Muscle Sliver with some upsides, while being worse in creature combat. That’s okay, because there is also:


It’s the Sliver version of Goblin War Drums. While it’s not completely foolproof, it’s extra evasion. This and the ability of the green Sliver won’t stack like the other effects. It’s a tribal-relevant Grey Ogre that may force some difficult blocks and it keeps some of your Slivers alive in combat. It also combines quite well with the new green Sliver:


While it seems just a small thing, deathtouch is an amazing thing for Slivers. It makes attacking very lethal with Thorncaster Sliver, when you can ping potential blockers and kill them on the spot. Striking Sliver‘s First Strike combines with deathtouch both offensively and defensively, and the mighty Groundshaker Sliver combines deathtouch with trample, making blocking Slivers costly and futile. Venom Sliver’s ability doesn’t stack in any meaningful way, but redundancy is not a bad thing.

I can’t see how Hastric, Thunian Scout ran into some problems here. Only the Constricting Sliver seems to suffer from it’s cost, the rest is spot-on. Especially the Slivers from the Jund () colours, which have a lot of synergy in dominating combat.

hivelord EN_0a9csysita

It would have been cool if, like the cycle of ‘Soul’ creatures, there was a 6th one in artifact, but at least there is a Sliver land and a new Hive Lord, and these 7 cards are far more than expected from this set. Now there’s hoping eventually Wizards comes up with a card for poor Hastric.

Posted under Spoilers

M15: Siege Dragon, Generator Servant

Since I have a Karrthus EDH deck, that runs roughly 30 dragons I always pay attention when a new Dragon is revealed. Will it make the top 30 of Dragons and find a spot in the deck? With the new dragon from Conspiracy, Scourge of the Throne, the answer was a resounding yes. M2015 also brings out a new Dragon (ofcourse!) but does it really add something new?

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So, what do we have? A Dragon that costs to play. There are a lot of Dragons that cost this much. Dragons tend to cost around 6, with some particularly efficient ones like Stormbreath Dragon on the lower end. 7 mana is a lot though, so it better have some upsides.

It’s a 5/5 which is also usual for a Dragon, but a bit disappointing for one that costs this much. Then there is Flying, which Dragons have. No trample, even though that’s rare for red, but it would have been nice, for a high-end Dragon. No Haste either.

The ability itself seems rather narrow: When Siege Dragon enters the battlefield destroy all Walls your opponent control. I know some Karrthus decks like to run Blades of Velis Vel to steal some creatures, but that trick takes 9 mana. You might destroy some things, but walls usually aren’t the most threatening creatures and you’ll only slightly weaken the pillowfort player hiding behind his walls.

When Siege Dragon attacks he’ll deal 2 damage to all ground forces of defending player, if they don’t control a wall. Again, an M2015 with a cute and unnecessary drawback. The disappointing part is that there had been rumours this would deal 5 damage instead of 2. 2 damage is a little weak. Sure, it helps weed out a token army and if you give the dragon Deathtouch through, say, Bow of Nylea it becomes an effective killer. Still, things in the sky remain unscathed.

Conclusion: It’s expensive for what it does, but having a mini one-sided Earthquake sometimes can be useful. Scourge of Kher Ridges fills a similar void, but at least can do it repeatedly, while being more flexible (and just a little more expensive.)

The Generator Servant is worth a look, though. He’s ramp in red, on a decent body. While he dies producing mana, it’s mana that grants Haste when it’s used to pay for a Creature, which is a great upside. The servant generates mana, even, so it is possible to split the mana over 2 creatures being cast, and suddenly have two hasty attackers.

He helps going from 2 to 5 mana over a turn, but the most interesting Dragons at 5 already have haste by themselves, so Dragons might not be the best deck for Generator Servant. It might work best when the average creature costs around 3. He would have been a lot better if he produced but it’s pretty good as it is.



Posted under Commander / EDH

M15: Sliver Hivelord

The Sliver hive always have been the ultimate expression of the Tribal mechanic. This is what makes them so popular: It’s easy to build a thematic deck around them, and they will result into something powerful. More than a sum of their parts. You don’t just get the creatures on the cards, you can build your own monsters, picking and choosing abilities and meld them together into something fearsome. A whole army of that, even. And every once in a while, the hive pops up and there is much rejoicing. It can be argued that tribal themes like this makes it too easy to build a functioning deck. But it’s nice to have an option to quickly and easilly assemble something that doesn’t surprise, but just works.


The last time was actually last year; M2014 had a Sliver subtheme, but somehow something was wrong. It’s not that they where that bad; Bonescythe Sliver had something to offer to the hive. Galerider Sliver was in multiple ways better than Winged Sliver before it. Manaweft Sliver is better than Gemhide Sliver, and having both for redundancy is better still.

But the problem was there wheren’t enough Slivers to make it work in Standard. The previous waves of came in normal blocks, so there was plenty of space for the hive. Just one Core set isn’t large enough for them. And there where a couple of changes to the hive that caused a disconnect. First of all, they now only influence your own Sliver. Okay, this is actually a good change, even though it doesn’t make a lot of thematic sense, being a hivemind and all. And why would Sliver fight Sliver?


The worst change was the art. Wizards explained that somehow, insectoid creatures with one arm in the middle where too hard to draw for artists, and to make expressive enough to show their abilities. Every sliver just looks like a sliver. And here I was believing the whole “restrictions breed creativity” mantra. Which somehow doesn’t translate to art direction.

The excuse whas that these are ‘evolved’ Slivers. This evolution made them more humanoid. This is not how evolution works, Wizards! Not even magical evolution. Probably. It can be argued that Slivers already always where at the peak of evolution, with their efficient communication and the ability to instantly grant evolutionary advantages to the rest of the hive, magically changing their phenotype as they go along.

All in all these new “predator” type Slivers wheren’t as succesful and glorious a return as the hype around Slivers wanted them to be, even though they pretty good.

As a sort of an apology for the lack of impact last year, Wizards decided to put six new Sliver cards in M2015. There are 5 uncommon Slivers, one of which turns all Slivers into Banisher Priests. Then there is a Sliver land at rare and a new Sliver as a Mythic.

EN_0a9csysita hivelord

The land is a very welcome addition to any Sliver deck, as your hive will probably be multicoloured. Cavern of Souls is great utility, and getting that minus the anti-counter clause is still good. In a Sliver deck those are already City of Brass / Mana Confluence without the lifeloss.

The ability to tap and pay to put a Sliver token into play is a nice bonus. Tapping 6 land for a 1/1 doesn’t seem so spectacular, but since it’s already part of your mana-base makes means it’s good to have the option. In a Sliver deck that token rarely will be a vanilla 1/1 anyway. The old style Slivers pictured in the art almost makes it the perfect apology for last year’s fiasco.


Then there is the Hivelord, who is halfway between the classic and the predator-type slivers. He makes all Slivers Indestructible. It’s hard to say if that’s exciting enough or not. It protects Slivers very well, especially with Crystalline Sliver on the table, but with all the exile effects and Mutilate effects, Indestructable means less and less. Also worthy of note is that he’s only 5/5, while previous Slivers where all 7/7. So how does he compare to the others?

queen overlord legion

Sliver Queen is the classic Sliver boss card. She makes lot of tokens, for cheap. When I started playing Magic, I was very impressed with her ability to go infinite with Ashnod’s Altar and Heartstone. She does a good job in representing the ‘strength by numbers’ aspect of the Hive. All those tokens gladly join the hive and gain all sorts of interesting abilities.

Sliver Overlord is the second supersliver to come out. His design is excellent, because he can direct the evolution of your Slivers, by picking and choosing possible traits from your deck. He really is the end of evolution, where mutation and selection flows into intelligent design. As a bonus, he can also find the queen from your deck, as well as the other lords. He’s even more insane when honorary Sliver Amoeboid Changeling is on the table, as he’ll start to assimilate everything into the hive.

Finally, there is Sliver Legion. He’s a Sliver-specific Coat of Arms and while that’s not that interesting an ability, at least it tends to end games quickly. As dead opponents can’t remove the hive, I’d say it’s still a cut above an Avacyn, Angel of Hope style effect. But does that matter?

Sliver Hivelord will still make the cut in any Sliver deck, even if Indestructable isn’t the most exciting design. The real Sliver lord of the set is Sliver Hive, though, which is in many ways a reverse from previous entries. Instead of topping off the evolution, it starts it. Instead of costing it provides it. It still is the best take on a Sliver boss that went unexplored, even though there is enough land to provide the colours. It makes me excited enough to try to make a deck around the most tribal of tribes.

Posted under Spoilers