Editor’s Note: Legit MTG is participating in Selesnya theme week alongside Daily MTG and other websites in the Magic community. Look for articles populated with the green-white guild to join our regular features. And don’t worry. The other Return to Ravnica guilds will get equal treatment in upcoming weeks.
After coming back to Magic for Zendikar, I started hearing murmurings of something called “EDH” around the tables at my local game store. I finally stopped someone at the shop and asked what it was. I was given the run-down: noncompetitive, 100-card singleton, colors based on a General, multiplayer-focused. I pondered it for a minute, then remembered that I’m a pretentious jerk and wrote the format out of my mind.
Eventually, however, my inability to not brew got the better of me. I realized EDH was at the very least a format in which I hadn’t yet created something. So I got to work. Between then and now, the format has “matured,” become more competitive, changed names and had a pretty healthy series of adjustments to the default rules that most players use.
Before I get into my Sigarda, Host of Herons deck, I want to quickly list the experiments that brought me to where I am now, and how they informed the direction of my strategy:
- Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir: Monoblue “good stuff” control. Scrapped when I got tired of people insta-killing me before going on to “have fun.”
- Sygg, River Guide: Aggressive, low-CMC deck with effects like Meekstone, Crackdown and Retribution of the Meek. Scrapped when I realized how horrible aggro is in EDH.
- Thada Adel, Acquisitor: Monoblue strictly tribal merfolk. Scrapped for very Teferi-like reasons.
- Sygg, River Cutthroat: Strictly tribal merfolk with about five blue cards, created to appear nonthreatening. Almost entirely foil, scrapped when I realized I hate foils.
- The Mimeoplasm: BUG “good stuff” Birthing Pod chains. Scrapped when I got tired of just ramping and playing big expensive fatties like everyone else.
- Grimgrin, Corpse-Born: UB strictly tribal zombies. Scrapped when I got bored or something.
- Rayne, Academy Chancellor: Monoblue strictly tribal nonthreatening wizards, with Laboratory Maniac kill. Scrapped when I got tired of non-interactive, go-infinite wins.
And here we are today. My first green (and non-blue) Commander ever. As far as Commander goes, green is the new blue.
I had recently completed a build of Legacy Enchantress. Having played the deck, I realized that I loved the cards and the strategy, but that I didn’t enjoy playing it in competitive Legacy events. So I decided to try my hand at converting it into a Commander strategy.
A valid question is, “Why Sigarda?” In short, none of the other options had any real synergy with the enchantment theme (lol @ Gaddock Teeg). Sigarda didn’t either, I thought. But she was the right colors and at least could wear auras, in case that turned out to be relevant.
Another goal was to build a deck that looked nonthreatening and had cards that made it unfavorable to attack me. Having a seemingly innocuous prison theme sounded perfect. I like the maneuvering aspect of Commander and hate being the lightning rod. This also meant I would not run any Planeswalkers.
Additionally, I wanted to make a brewer statement by building a deck that did not include a large number of the “usual suspects” such as Sol Ring, Sensei’s Divining Top, Mana Vault, Scroll Rack and other cards many treat as auto-includes. The deck quickly picked up a sub-strategy that preys on the prevalence of these cards with artifact destruction and other hosers.
And last, but not least, I was happy to avoid using blue cards because I absolutely hate swapping cards in and out of my competitive decks and my Commander deck all the time.
The Deck List
Sigarda, Host of Enchantments
The “Enchantress” creatures are your primary card-advantage engine. If you’ve ever seen a Rhystic Study or a Mind’s Eye get out of hand, we’re going for pretty much the same thing. If you can land and protect two Enchantress creatures, every Enchantment you draw suddenly is almost an Ancestral Recall. While other players are busy doing obviously powerful things, your innocuous zero-power creatures are quietly winning you the game.
Since we don’t play Sensei’s Divining Top (and we’ll be reminded why in a moment), this is our card-selection engine of choice. Any hand with this card is much more reliable. The deck packs a reasonable number of fetch and tutor effects to shuffle away awkward piles. And once you have an Enchantress or two out, you can just prioritize any enchantment on top to dig through and see a fresh set of cards. One day, I will complete the pun requirement by having an altered version with Mirri doing a Sonic Boom. Because it turns out that Mirri’s Guile, actually. Ah, English. My old friend.
This is our trump card. Against some decks, this card is like a five-function Pithing Needle. Sometimes it’s a one-sided Armageddon. Many Commander strategies rely heavily on Signets, Sol Ring, Gilded Lotus and other such cards to ramp and fix colors. If your opponent plays Turn 1 Ring, Signet and untaps into a land and Gilded, dropping Stony Silence is like punching their entire family tree in the nuts (including that one extra “Grandma” you always wondered about).
Pretend I said something more witty and insightful here than the following: It makes a metric crap ton of mana.
Sylvan Scrying, you know what you’re doing.
While some decks such as Kaalia of the Vast will simply laugh at you and then continue laughing at your smoldering remains, some decks like Grimgrin, Corpse-Born will just cry. Have you ever seen an entire army of zombies just give up, sit down and sob quietly? It’s surprisingly cute.
The trick with Moat is usually to play bait cards to get rid of their sweepers or Acidic Slime and then run it out. Hopefully, they don’t have a Crystal Shard to make you regret it. Oh, wait. What’s that, Simon and Garfunkel? It’s the sound … of Stony Silence.
Glare of Subdual
Expect some stiff and immediate Opposition whenever you play this card. Your Enchantri and other durdly aura friends suddenly transform from terrible chump blockers into Relic Barriers for opposing mana artifacts, tappers for attackers and blockers and many more surprising value maneuvers. They should really call it Glare of EV. Or Glare of SubDuewel.
“Madness?!?! This is SELESNYAAAAAAAAA!”
Sigil of the Empty Throne
This is one of your primary win conditions (other than your opponents rage-quitting). Having out Enchantri, Sanctum and Sigil is living the dream. Every Enchantment you draw makes an Angel, gives you more mana and draws you into more Enchantments. It’s almost like going infinite, except it’s not infinite. It’s like going finite. But big. Like big, finite … something.
Generally, the Mage gets touched first and foremost by one specific aura: Eldrazi Conscription. This is one of those “plan in a can” things where you can win the game off that interaction alone. However, that basically never works. Someone always has removal. It’s like that one Belcher guy at your local shop. He sits down, scratches that one scab on his neck and then inevitably barfs his perfect hand onto the table after you give up digging for Force of Will with a second mulligan down to five.
So, instead of being overly zealous and conscripting this guy out of the gate, I’ve come up with a few different decision paths:
- If you can recur an aura, go for Conscription anyway.
- If you can’t, sometimes it makes sense to grab an Umbra for value.
- And, lastly, it can be fun, amusing and useful to grab Prison Term and then simply bounce it around as new threats hit the board. Most players will not want to use good removal on a pacified critter, even if it’s a good play, because it just doesn’t look that impactful.
Having played this deck for some time in both 1v1 and multiplayer scenarios* I can confidently pass on to you some possibly non-obvious wisdom:
- Three Dreams looks awesome. It’s a triple tutor. Except it usually isn’t. You don’t run that many auras, so you have often gone through one or two by the time you get Dreams. It typically ends up being an over-costed Idyllic Tutor. I was not impressed every time I played it for long enough that I just took it out. I replaced it with an alternate “win con” from my childhood: Divine Intervention. Yes, I am that guy.
- Moat costs more than that surgery you’ve been considering, and it will help your dating life even less. If you don’t already own one and aren’t independently wealthy, you have a few options. You can run Island Sanctuary as long as you prioritize getting multiple Enchantri out first. That’s one option. The second is to just run Magus of the Moat and prioritize getting an Umbra on him. Both are totally reasonable. Plus, killing someone with a Magus wearing Angelic Destiny does seem somewhat poetic.
- I used to have Gaea’s Cradle in the list as a proxy. I figured that if anyone cared, I’d swap in a Forest. If not, maybe someone would trade me one some day at a rate more favorable than the current $60 or whatever nonsense it is. It turned out that it didn’t really do much when I drew it and I basically never tutored it up. You always just want Sanctum or a utility land. You can just skip this card. But, if you already own one, give it a whirl. You might like it more than me.
- If your play group is obsessed with Bribery and Acquire, you’ll love this deck. You could even cut the Sun Titan for the first few games. Your friends will quickly learn not to ever bother even targeting you. At which point, you just slide old Sun Tits right back in there.
How Games Go Down
In no particular order, here are the most frequent ways in which the Sigarda deck either emerges in victorious, angelic triumph or gets served as a plate of burnt wings:
Scenario #1: Waiter! There’s a Heron My Food
Victory route numero uno is what I like to call: attacking with Sigarda. This one ended up surprising me. Given Commander damage, Sigarda is a pretty fast clock. She’s also fairly easy to cast on Turn 3 or 4 and can be difficult to deal with. Sometimes, you will look at your hand and conclude you’re just going to ramp into Sigarda and get there. This is strongest in 1v1, obviously, but can work in multiplayer* as well.
Of course, sometimes you play Sigarda, they don’t have an answer and you also slap an Aura on her. Most of the auras, but not all of them, speed up the clock. Sigarda wearing Bear Umbra is as awkward to deal with as it is to visualize.
Scenario #2: Sigil of the Empty Pwn
This is the strategy where you first install a thoroughly entrenched prison system and then slowly take over the planet with a big clone army. If you get the Enchantri engine going and can keep Sigil of the Empty Throne on the board, you’ll spawn a formidable army of Angels and be able to mop up players while sitting behind your Solitary Confinement, Moat or Glare of Subdual. It’s depressing. But not for you.
Scenario #3: In Flames
This is the one where your deck craps out or you play like an idiot or they take infinite turns. Or whatever. You die. So what are the most common causes of this illness called death? Other than a love affair with Burger King, I’m going to have to go with:
- Clones! This is where you go all in on the Sigarda with Auras plan and your opponent kills her with a Clone effect. Make sure to keep an eye out for any player at the table with UG or UG+ color combos. They’re the ones with Phyrexian Metamorph and Rite of Replication and plenty of ways to find them and re-use them.
- Some games, you draw your worst enchantments, no Enchantri and you just crap out. Similar to the ramp decks (which is like 75 percent of Commander these days) that draw all six-plus drops and tap lands and just do nothing forever. This can happen to you.
- Decks that go infinite can be tough to deal with. You don’t really have a way to stop infinite turns, for example. You’ll just have to rely on the “social contract” to take care of these d-bags. Says the guy playing Moat and Stony Silence. So, in other words, just another jaded day at the Commander tables.
New Cards to “Populate” the Deck
We just finished Return to Ravnica prerelease’s and it’s Selesnya theme week. What better way to celebrate than
binge drinkingseeing what new cards we can use?!
Ethereal Armor is a possibility, but I’d be concerned that it’s a bit low impact. It’s cheap, but you won’t be playing it early anyway. Without any umbra or protection ability, I think simply pumping and giving first strike just isn’t enough. However, Yavimaya Enchantress isn’t much better, so this could be a reasonable substitution.
Rest in Peace is a card I would not consider in the current list. It is, however, a tantalizing option alongside Stony Silence if you revised the strategy. You’d cut cards like Replenish and Dowsing Shaman and become more of a hate-bear-enchantments-thingy deck. Could be good, but I’m not sure even I am *that* mean.
Mana Bloom is AWESOME. It ramps, it fixes colors and you can combine it with Enchantri to produce a re-usable draw engine. This card was pretty much printed for our deck. I will strongly consider replacing Khalni Heart Expedition, which I’ve always found to be a bit clunky.
Lastly, while Chromatic Lantern and the Selesnya Keyrune seem sweet, we’re the supervillains with Stony Silence, so we have to pass. I look forward to blowing out the light on many, many Lanterns in the near future.
It’s no Cadaverous Bloom, but it’ll have to do.
For and Against
So, there you have it. The contours that make up the inside of my skull as represented by a coy-looking, yet ultimately rage-inducing Commander deck. I’ll spend a few more words here trying to convince you to either play this deck or avoid it, depending on who you are.
Do you like politics, synergy, Angels and the slow, hopeless tears of your enemies? This is the deck for you.
Do you like going infinite, throwing haymakers or destroying everything in site? Do you live for an unbridled feeling of power to compensate for [insert psychoanalysis stuff here]? This not the deck for you. May I recommend Riku? Or Yu-gi-Oh!, perhaps. God, that ! is awkward, isn’t it? Let’s all agree to just stick to Magic! the: Gathering:-D for now.
* I will not play Commander with Planechase. The only thing that could possibly make Commander slower and less skill-based is Planechase. The only thing that could possibly make Commander with Planechase any slower is adding physical challenges. Of course, that would probably give me another route to victory, so maybe it’s worth considering.
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