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To Tutor or Not to Tutor: Sisay is the Question

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Cards that allow you to tutor for a specific card or group of cards, are a bane to Commander. If it wouldn't make the banned list into a miserably long list of cards and convolute the format, I would push hard to have them all banned.

To better explain my point, let's choose a card that does this: Worldly Tutor. Worldly Tutor allows you to pick up your library, search for just the creature you need at that moment, then put it on top of your library. The card is only ever played at the end of your opponent's turn, so you can then immediately draw it on your turn.

So, what creature are you going to get? Well, if you are using it in the early game, you are likely looking at something that will allow you to ramp into the mid-game. If you are in the mid-game, you are looking to get to the late game, or take out an opponent's threat. If you are in the late-game, you are going to search for your win condition.

What all of that is saying is that after playing the deck a few times, you are going to search for the same set of cards again and again, depending upon the situation. Maybe it will be Eternal Witness or Tireless Tracker, maybe it is Avenger of Zendikar or Bane of Progress. Whatever it is, at some point, playing the Worldly Tutor is going to amount to an extra copy of three or four cards.

Commander is a 100 card, singleton format. It isn't a 60-card format. It doesn't allow you to run four copies of a card. The reason Commander demands 100 cards and that they all be different is to allow the games to play out differently every time you play the deck. A Standard deck runs four copies of a card to increase the odds of drawing the best cards and making the optimal play. That is the point of Standard. The point of Commander is to create fun crazy game states that are different every time.

Tutors attack that fundamental of Commander. I can forgive cards that tutor for basic lands, as these cards provide the basic building blocks to allow your deck to do the random fun things that it offers up to you. But otherwise, I don't see the point of limiting your opportunities for fun by using tutors. If you are that driven to win games, try out a format that encourages the win over the fun.

...

At least, that was what I thought until Sisay, Weatherlight Captain came along! When I first ready it I was disgusted. I had played with Captain Sisay in an old 60-card deck, so I knew how this was going to play out. Players are going to load their decks with legendary permanents that can answer any issue, then just play those out. My Captain Sisay was as predictable a deck as I had ever played. Get the Captain out, then start pulling out legendary lands so you can ramp up. Then choose your legendary permanents that can protect Captain Sisay. Then choose legendary permanents that brought home the win. The deck was very resilient and was further proof to me of the issues with allowing tutors in Commander (and any other social format).

I then ran into an opponent who was playing Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. Before we started the game, she went through the deck and pulled out 20 legendary permanents. She piled them in single facedown stack, then pulled out another deckbox with five more twenty card stacks. She rolled a die, chose the stack that corresponded with the die roll, and shuffled up. As the game played out, I discovered that she has been making a new "sideboard" for the deck almost every time she would plan to play the deck. These six were the top 5 that had created fun games, and a new one. I was totally enamored by the plan and the idea that this single deck, that revolved around a commander that should make games repetitive and boring, could be made to play in a new exciting way almost every time she shuffled up.

This is my first iteration of that deck:

Sisay, Weatherlight Captain | Commander | Bruce Richard


I found most of this list on a site with Commander decks, then made a few changes to use the cards I had. The key to this deck list isn't the legendary cards, but the cards that support Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. For the Captain to work well, you want:

  1. A full mana base. You don't get to search until you have at least one mana of every color, so your mana base must support that. Mox Amber just makes sense, but being able to find dual lands and Triomes go a long way to making the mana base word. I also looked at Vivid lands as an option. Do what you need to do to get the five colors as quickly as possible.
  2. At least some legendary permanents that are inexpensive and are several colors. This allows you to pump up Sisay's power to go after the truly big legendary cards. I had started with a small set of cards that were there just to give Sisay some +1/+1 counters, but decided that running the legends was more fun and more on theme. I'll leave it to you to decide which you prefer!

I want to share some of my favorite cards in the deck.

Smothering Tithe is amazing. It requires White to cast, like Sisay, so it makes it a natural fit for the deck. Opponents continue to refuse to pay the tax so getting the artifact tokens is easy. Normally I only need to use one or two to activate Sisay, so it doesn't take long to accumulate them. The best is getting to search your library twice in a single turn!

Jirina Kudro is great. Usually once Jirina is on the battlefield, Sisay can search for anything. Jirina provides three different colors and gives Sisay, a human, an additional 2 power! Admittedly, Jirina rarely provides more than two Human Soldiers, but given that they are 3/1 tokens with Jirina around makes them more dangerous than they initially appear.

Dack Fayden is a reminder that planeswalker are legendary and Sisay can search for them too! Dack has been better than I expected. Drawing cards is obviously good, but stealing artifacts has been much better than I expected. Most times, I am stealing Signets or other mana artifacts that tap for specific colors. While this deck spends a lot of time bouncing cards, and Dack's ultimate would work well with that, I make sure it is clear that I am never going to do that. Dack is already a big enough target without adding the risk of taking virtually all of the permanents on the battlefield. When you put all of this onto a 3 mana cost permanent, it is easy for Sisay to find and not too difficult to just cast from your hand!

Domri, Anarch of Bolas is another fun planeswalker. While it is generally agreed that Domri is underpowered, he brings solid benefits to the deck. While all creatures get the power bonus, Sisay can really use it. Domri also adds to colors to the legendary permanent total and does so for only 3 mana. This means that Sisay can often search Domri out early on, or that I'll be able to just play it out if I find him in my hand early on. While the fight ability is nice, I'm usually just using the +1 ability. Adding another mana is great and making my creature spells uncounterable is a little added gravy for the deck.

Flagstones of Trokair is essentially a Plains with a benefit. If you are spending five mana to get Flagstones out, you are likely in a bit of trouble, but given the lack of downside, you might as well go for it!

So how does the deck play out? I've only played it twice and I'm loving it! I'm even working on a new sideboard. For now, I'm trying to stay with just legendary permanents that I own, so none of the "sideboard" packets I create will be optimal, but I'm trying to make sure they are colorful and interactive.

Sisay, Weatherlight Captain has taken the tutor downside that I've always hated about Commander and turned it into an essential part of the fun that the deck offers! I love the "Transformer" style that it creates, making my usual 100 card decks into a deck with 200 cards worth of variety! As long as the mix and match feel of the deck continues, I don't see myself searching for that same set of cards that limit the variety that the deck offers. I would love to see your suggestions for legendary permanents to add to the sideboard packets I'm putting together. The wilder the better!

Bruce Richard

@manaburned

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