I have my Shu Yun deck for quite some time now, and I realized I haven’t posted a decklist yet. And while the deck still is in constant flux, having a list is a nice tool to have an overview and that shows me where the deck seems to be lacking. I just made one little change: Out goes Tamiyo’s Journal, in comes Gilded Lotus. While the journal is a bit of a pet card, my DOOMSDAY MACHINE deck showed the value of artifact mana, and well, I need some explosive mana if I want to achieve explosive turns.
The construction of the deck is build on some stipulations. First: No wizards allowed. The deck is coloured, and if it has wizards, it just starts to overlap with the decks I have. Instead, I try to focus on monks, and have a martial arts feel to it.
The second thing grew organically. I tried to pimp the deck, and ultimately 92 of the cards are foil now. I try to go to 100% foil now, so I won’t even think about cards that have no foil version. It’s hard to achieve but eventually I should get there.
Wandering Champion looks so cool. Not the best card in Commander, but…
Here is the current decklist. I think some changes are coming once Guilds of Ravnica comes out, because I saw some cards I want to include. But for now, it looks like this:
~ Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest - Eye of the Storm ~
The basic strategy is simple: Play creatures, then play non-creature spells to trigger prowess, and use Shu Yun to give things double strike. The non-creature spells mostly are mana rocks, and spells that draw into more spells, or otherwise can be recast. A lot of the creatures have flying, making them a little harder to block. While attacking with creatures is a time-honoured way to win games, it often doesn’t work in commander, though. You have multiple opponents to beat down, boardwipes seem to be everywhere and turtling up in a pillow fort is a popular strategy. So, there are some combos available to get some more value out of things, and sometimes win the game on the spot.
Twisted Image represents a cantripping roundhouse kick in this deck. Yeah.
One thing you want to do is have your monks trancend reality, realizing that everything is ultimately illusionary, then kick the living daylights out of it. Yeah, I’m talking about Dismiss into Dream. That should give Voltron style decks (those that have a few creatures, but make them huge with auras and equipment) a lot of trouble. But there are more proactive ways to use it. Tower of the Magistrate turns from an un-equip land into straight removal on a land. (This is one reason I probably want to upgrade some basic lands to the Kamigawa legendary lands that enhance Legends, like Minamo, School at Water’s Edge, but these are hard to find and somewhat expensive in foil.)
Dismiss into Dream makes problem creatures fleeting illusions.
The real trick is to use triggered abilities that target. The way it works is that once you trigger an ability, it goes on the stack and targets are choosen. Once the trigger resolves, any costs may be played. So if you use Shu Yun’s trigger, you target, then Dismiss into Dream triggers, sacrifices the creature, and then you just decline paying the to actually give the double strike. There are more creatures that target when you play something: Mistfire Adept, Niblis of Frost and Ojutai Exemplars all fit the bill. Bruse Tarl and Sage-Eye Avengers trigger on attacking.
Retraction Helix (and Banishing Knack) further wash away any problems.
The second big combo works with either Retraction Helix or Banishing Knack. This combo is relatively easy to set up, because there are some redundancies in the deck, and most cards involved are cheap to play. All you need is an opening to attack with a prowess creature, or a way to create such an opening. Then you need a way to untap a creature each time you play an artifact. Pristine Skywise and Zephyr Scribe do this by themselves, but Jeskai Ascendancy and Paradox Engine also do this.
The final component is an artifact that either can pay for itself (Pentad Prism, Sol Ring) or one that’s free to cast (Everflowing Chalice, Mana Crypt). Now you tap the creature to bounce the artifact, then replay the artifact, untap. Rince, repeat. The result is infinite Prowess triggers, leading to a lethal combat phase.
There are situations where you can either double untap, or have Knack/Helix on two different untapping creatures. This is where you can bounce all non-land permanents of all opponents, giving them even less of a chance to interact. Generally, this is win-more though.
Eye of the Storm provides the cool, flashy way to win.
The final big combo involves Eye of the Storm. It’s difficult to pull off, especially I have only 23 instants and sorceries, and to be fair, it’s the least developed of the combos. I think that’s going to change when Guilds of Ravnica comes out, as I found some juicy inclusions there.
Another problem with Eye of the Storm is that other players can hijack the effect by playing their own instants and sorceries. A possible solution is adding Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, but he’s a wizard, and that would break the no wizards rule of the deck. His big advantage is that with Eye of the Storm he cuts opponents off from casting instants and sorceries altogether. If they cast them, the spell gets exiled, and they can’t cast the generated copies, because they can’t do this at sorcery speed. I might decide to bend the no wizard rule a little, because it’s so strong.
Anyway, Eye of the Storm doubles the prowess triggers of spells, then snowballs into extra triggers on top of that. A lot of spells draw me extra cards, to keep fueling the storm. Twitch untaps artifacts and lands, to create some extra mana generation so I can keep casting spell after spell for the final storm. Spell Swindle has a similar role; I can counter one of my own spells to generate treasure and keep going.
This combo still needs work though. Out should go Confirm Suspicions for Mystic Confluence. The latter is a bit more flexible, and draws by itself instead of generating clues. On a similar note I want to replace Negate with Arcane Denial, which casts a wider net when countering, and can be used to slow cycle your own card in some situations. The card disadvantage is a moot thing in multiplayer, versus traditional one-for-one counterspells, because only one opponent is actually going up in cards.
One of the things currently not included in the deck are spells that helps search for other instants and sorceries. This is a good way to chain spells – especially with Eye of the Storm out. These are cards like Mystical Tutor and Merchant Scroll. They also make the Banishing Knack-like combos more consistant. I’m hesitant to include too many tutor effects, because it goes against the spirit of a singleton format, and searching your deck always takes up a lot of time, relatively speaking, slowing down games.
I do like the card Invert/Invent from Guilds of Ravnica though, especially when going off with Eye of the Storm. You then can cast it for , have it exiled by Eye, then cast the side and search your deck for an instant ánd sorcery to keep the storm going. I also like how it works with the upcoming Erratic Cyclops. That goes from a 0/8 to a 1/8 when Invert (or Twisted Image) is cast, then it becomes an 8/1 on resolution. Shu Yun then gives him double strike and you’ll have basically a 16/1 trample on the cheap.
The other big card I’m looking towards is Mission Briefing. Some say it’s the new Snapcaster Mage, others say it’s just a Flood of Recollection with some card seletion tacked on. I guess it’s somewhere in the middle. But with Eye of the Storm I can replay all spells from the early game, and get some selection and semi-draw as well. Eye also takes care of the exile clause, and we can keep on chaining spells.
The deck is hardly finished, though. I would like to further up the Instant/Sorcery count. Then there is the matter of granting haste. Haste is important for different reasons. It helps setting up combos in one turn, and going off with less chance of disruption. It also enhances the effectiveness of the tokens Monastery Mentor creates, as they’ll keep their prowess buffs they got when they where created.
There are several directions in which to go about it. The simples way is to include cards like Fervor. But there are alternatives.
Myth Realized isn’t in the deck anymore, but it probably should be. Look at it!
Then there are cards that grant haste to a single creature. Expedite does this and draws a card, while Kari Zev’s Expertise creates virtual mana to keep chains going. Oh, and the latter doubles as temporary removal by stealing blockers away. The stack interaction with Expertise spells and Eye of the Storm can be weird though; I don’t think Eye of the Storm can put the exile trigger on the stack during the resolution of another effect. I should figure out how that works, if I go forward with that. Similar for the other Expertise: Baral’s Expertise.
Heroic Reinforcements also does a lot; Make tokens, grow them and give things haste. It’s a good part of a spell chain, but it also costs , making it a little more difficult to use when setting up the other combos.
The one legendary monk missing still is Narset, Enlightened Master. She is obviously great and also serves as a possible alternate commander (Bruse Tarl and Ishai can also team up if you want.) She does have a stigma as being an unfair commander though, but she is probably fine as part of the 99.
So, that’s the current state of the deck, and the future conciderations. A spellslinger deck with big turns, and tons of kung-fu flavour seems like fun. I’ve played earlier iterations, and it didn’t quite win, but it always was on the verge of setting up a winning position. Hopefully a slightly smoother mana, and the slight tweaks in spell choices bring this deck up to a level just high enough to enable some cool wins. There are some potential Oops I Win combos, but most of it is disruptable by smart players, and they are mostly combat based. I can’t wait to see where this deck will be going.