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Budget Commander #31: This Time its Sisay!

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Captain Sisay
Ah yes, the greats! Classics from another era, and the strong cards that were once casual stalwarts, faded, and then that became something wonderful again in the Commander World. Captain Sisay is one such classic.

She’d be a great card to build around, right?

Now I did a popular “Legendary Sisters” theme for Commander after I randomly grabbed Lady Caleria as my leader. I used cards like Captain Sisay, Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and Rashka the Slayer. Basically any female legendary creature that felt like she’d work well in an adventuring party was included. Anthousa, Setessan Hero? Sure! Lady Zhurong, Warrior Queen? Sure! And then we had Adventurers' Guildhouse and I played with cards and concepts like Heroes' Podium and Bow of Nylea. That’s always been one of my favorite, flavorful decks, and it came from a random challenge. (Check it out here)

So I wanted to build a budget deck in the same colors around Captain Sisay. She’s just 4 bucks near mint, which is a bit cheaper than I thought she’d be. So let’s do a budget-friendly deck that’s cognizant of the previous one, but which lays a slightly different style of tracks.

The Captain?s Call ? Commander | Abe Sargent


And there’s the Sisay magic, all rocking at $33.46.

So let’s delve down into this project. Let’s start with Captain Sisay.

Now, often my budget decks invariably dip their toes into card drawing in order to help bring you up to speed with others. Shamanic Revelation. Staff of Nin. Underworld Connections. Stuff like that fits nicely and cheaply. But with Captain Sisay, we have built in card advantage. All you have to do is tap your leader, and you tutor your deck for a Legendary permanent. It’s easy to do. So that’s a major route to card advantage. As such, I really didn’t dip my feet into the pool of raw card drawing. It didn’t seem necessary.

Instill Energy
Sisay taps to do her work. While I love the Thousand-Year Elixir and it’s tap-haste, it’s too pricey these days for a project like this. But that’s okay, we can give Sisay haste from other sources. After all, if you give her haste then she taps a turn earlier, and you get another card from that. So take a card like Instill Energy. Play Sisay, Instill her, and then then use her once. Well the Instill Energy just replaced itself with her search. In this deck, Instill Energy is always at least a 1 mana Tutor. Then you can untap her and use her twice/turn from then on with the Energy, allowing this junky aura to be a key player in getting the best value of out of Sisay. Check out Nature's Chosen for a similar, although not identical, ability. You can untap her later, but you can also tap her (she is a White creature after all) and then untap something else you care about.

I also loaded the deck down with haste from, well, everywhere. Sure, Selesnya Fun Times might not have a lot of haste options in color, but check out Surrak, the Hunt Caller. He’ll do a solid haste-enabling when you have enough power on the battlefield. Meanwhile equipment like Swiftfoot Boots, Strider Harness, Chariot of Victory, and Haunted Cloak are all here to drop your best haste on a creature (all have a cheap 1-mana equip cost as well). Haste indeed!

Don’t forget that Sisay can be used at your leisure. You don’t have to tap her on your turn if you don’t need to. You can wait until the end of someone’s turn to use her. Now usually she’ll grab something that’ll have to wait until later to drop, but I did add a few flash tricks to the deck. One cute one is Hixus, Prison Warden. Is someone about to smash your best petunia? Tap Sisay, fetch up Hixus, drop him, and lock that person away! Don’t forget that Hixus works to exile the entire team that’s about to smash you up. Now yes, they come back later when Hixus gets smash-hammered; you can’t expect a Warden to protect the prison when they aren’t there. But still, that’s a powerful trick to fetch when you need.

Another cool flash trick is Masako the Humorless. Did you tap and swing with some of your team? Then people might think you are denuded of a defense. Show them wrong by tapping Sisay, grabbing Masako, playing it, and then blocking with your tapped creatures!

I wish we had flash on everything. But Vedalken Orrery and Winding Canyons are just too pricey. But that’s okay, because I layered in a powerful option. Yeva, Nature's Herald. Play her, and now all of your Green stuff is flash-able. What’s even better is you can tutor up Yeva with Sisay if you need to flash a Green creature. Having the instant creature is quite potent. For example, suppose you are playing someone at Commander night who just dropped a Nevinyrral's Disk and then tapped Kiora's Follower to untap it. Clearly the only reason for doing that right away is they intend to pop it now. You might not want that. So you can tap Sisay for no mana, fetch up Yeva, tap 4 mana to play her, and then flash out something like Reclamation Sage to pop the Disk before the untap ability even resolves. That’s the power of Sisay with Yeva. Any Green legendary creature in your deck can be fetched, and then played at instant speed.

Another instant trick here is Arashi, the Sky Asunder. Anytime you need to sweep the sky, you can tap Sisay, grab Arashi from your deck, and then discard her to channel the mass-flying damage and take out a bunch of flyers.

But my favorite deeply embedded trick here is probably not obvious. In fact, at first, you might think he’s just here because he’s a legendary creature and therefore is here as a decent option. Nope, he’s one of the most powerful engines in the deck. Say hello to . . . 

Hua Tuo, Honored Physician

What can Hua Tuo do here? Great question! Note that Hua Tuo plays into the same tap-space that Sisay does. All of the haste and Instill Energy tricks for her work just as well for Hua Tuo. Play him in your pre-combat main phase, give him haste somehow, and then tap him to place a legendary creature from your graveyard to the top of your library. Now you can tap Sisay to tutor for that creature and put it into your hand. With Hua Tuo out, you can tutor your graveyard as well as your deck with Sisay. So after someone kills Hixus to bring their stuff back, you can get Hixus again. This works wonders with lots of cards in the deck like Arashi, Lieutenant Kirtar, and more. Hua Tuo + Sisay equals serious card quality. Another thing you can do is to reload a creature to your deck that you don’t want to draw. Maybe you want to toss a dead card like Werebear back into your deck, but you don’t want to draw it. Use Hua Tuo, and then tap Sisay for a different card, shuffle afterward, and you have shuffled it back in. This is a cool trick against graveyard hate, since Hua Tuo is one of the only creature-only recursion tricks this deck mounts.

I played into the whole tap-ability of The Captain and her Physician even more. How about Thriss, Nantuko Primus as a late-game option? I think that’d be cool as a fun way to drop a beater that can change math as well. But the Primus is hardly the best choice either. How about Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile, a cheap 4-mana entry that can be played early on and used to really fend off the small stuff? Selvala, Explorer Returned?

You can see some of the fun stuff here.

And we have that from non-legendary cards as well. Intrepid Hero has been killing big creatures for longer than many Magic players have been alive. From the mana-making stylings of Krosan Restorer and Quirion Elves, to mana-heavy stuff like Frontier Guide and Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, we’ve got some things we can use immediately, or multiple times with our various features.

Shoot, I even added in way to tap creatures for stuff even outside of the creature itself. Heartseeker is a repeatable way to throw a weapon at someone. And we have Glare of Subdual or Nullmage Shepherd rocking the block as well.

In fact, due the creature-heavy nature of the core concept, I wanted to make sure we had a variety of creatures. So yes, you’ll see cards like Civic Wayfinder in here rather than a sorcery that’d fetch up a land. In we have Acidic Slime and Reclamation Sage. Forget playing a Fog effect, instead we have Haze Frog.

Now that certainly doesn’t mean I won’t run a sorcery or instant where it’s needed. Certainly this deck wants Open the Armory. The surprise factor of Make a Stand or Wrap in Vigor is pretty keen. And you can rely on some instant removal from non-creatures as emergency removal — Crib Swap, Devouring Light, Fate Forgotten, and Seed Spark all come to your Captain's Call.

Helvault
This deck reminds me of a longer grind-style game. You have ways to lengthen the game’s length with restocking of your library, you have a lot of stuff that gets you card advantage over time, and so on. So I wanted to give you a few tools for that. Helvault is an underappreciated tool. Anybody who’s getting overly ornery can be tossed into the Helvault. Similarly, Predator, Flagship is a great long game card. You can tap some mana to kill flyers, and don’t forget that after you sweep the sky with Arashi or it, that you can give you best beater flying to head over the newly shorn aerial defenses of your foes. Shoot, even Tamiyo's Journal should provide cards or tutoring as needed later on. And all three of these tools are legendary, so you can fetch them up when needed.

Another legendary artifact I tossed in is the awesome Sword of the Animist. Toss it onto any of your creatures, tap-swing and fetch up a land. It’s one of my favorite equipment of all time, and you can grab it with Sisay as well! (Shoot, even Spear of Heliod can be a late-game power, as it pumps your team early and provides some recursive removal as well).

Most of the other cards in here are obvious. Anthousa, Setessan Hero swings. Major Teroh exiles all Black creatures. (And you can restock it with Hua Tuo). Restock restocks. You don’t need me to belabor every card on the list for you. You can figure out the role of Colossal Heroics, Bonds of Mortality, and Brass Squire without me.

And that’s a cool deck! The deck is packed with lots of synergy, and I’m sure you can find more from your own card collections. There are a ton of cards you could consider.

Later ideas could include tricks like Rings of Brighthearth, artifact fetching like Armillary Sphere or Expedition Map and even enchantment based removal such as Act of Authority or Aura of Silence.

One card I could not recommend more is Panglacial Wurm. Considering the sheer amount of tutorage that this deck does, you invariably tutor with 7 mana open. Cast the Wurm and drop it onto the battlefield from your library!

One obvious direction is to toss in more legendary creatures. Tolsimir Wolfblood pumps the team. Mangara of Corondor has great emergency value. Saffi Eriksdotter is a fun way to bring a dying creature back for another go. At the right table, Gaddock Teeg can be abusive. Sigarda, Heron's Grace protects a lot of your Humans (Yisan, Sisay, Hua Tuo,Masako, Hixus, Surrak, etc).Are you okay with expensive removal tied with a giant indestructible beater? Then an Ulamog might work. Both Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger fit. And you could go for stuff like Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Cho-Manno, Revolutionary. Dragonlord Dromoka. Eight-and-a-Half-Tails. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Jazal Goldmane. Karametra, God of Harvests. Asmira, Holy Avenger.

Don’t forget the original inspiration, Lady Caleria herself!

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Another route is obvious to push legendary lands. Cards like Kor Haven, Yavimaya Hollow, and Mikokoro, Center of the Sea.

This deck has a lot of artifacts and enchantments. You could support that with cards like Open the Vaults and Razor Hippogriff. I like Sanctum Gargoyle. Or even Enlightened Tutor.

Want more equipment? There are tons of options! Haste like Sword of Vengeance and Lightning Greaves jump to mind, but I’m sure a lot more are dripping from your deck stock. What about Godsend or Umezawa's Jitte for more legendary stuff?

What about useful non-creature stuff like Oath of Nissa, Akroma's Memorial, Bow of Nylea, or Mindslaver? I’m sure you can find spaces for those, especially the Memorial. Its everyone-with-haste works very well in the shell we built, and the other stuff also suits various builds.

Want to protect your stuff? How about Privileged Position or even Cauldron of Souls?

And I’m sure creatures like Wilt-Leaf Liege, Eternal Witness, Kitchen Finks, Twilight Shepherd, Fauna Shaman, Adarkar Valkyrie, Argothian Elder, and Soul of the Harvest might be coming to your mind. (Well they are to mine!)

I really like Survival of the Fittest and Fauna Shaman here. Tap Sisay to fetch up a legendary creature. Spend one Green mana to discard that creature to get the one you really wanted all along. Then you can tap to put that legendary creature back to your library with Hua Tuo. Good stuff!

So anyway, I hope that you found some good ideas for your own decks, be they Sisay or not. Sisay is a commonly played creature, but I added some of my own flavor to this build (Hixus, Hua Tuo I’ve never seen before in real life Sisay builds). Anyways, I hope that you enjoyed the Sisay Fun Times, all budgeted up and ready for your approval!

APPENDIX

Here are the first 30 (ish) Happy Time Budget Decks for your budget needs:

  1. We kicked things off with Brion Stoutarm came in at $37.71
  2. Next up was Ghave, Guru of Spores, with a budget of $36.48, is a lot of fun!
  3. Talrand, Sky Summoner – $49.37. I increased the budget for this project due to the nature of the challenge, and it’s the only entry in the series where the cost is increased rather than decreased.
  4. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius is the next for our list rocking that $36.37 pricetag.
  5. Princess Lucrezia and Riven Turnbull feature in this fun throwback Commander deck that is just $35.68.
  6. Roon of the Hidden Realm demonstrates one of the Commander 2013 dorks in a $35.29 shell.
  7. Vhati il-Dal runs the table for just $35.17. It’s also one of the more unique entries in this project.
  8. With all of the latest draconic lovin’, Bladewing the Risen comes just a few cents less at $35.13. http://www.gatheringmagic.com/abesargent-042114-budget-commander-8-budget-bladewing/
  9. Lu Xun, Scholar General may not be a powerhouse, but there’s enough utility under here to spark a very interesting EDH deck for just $35.07.
  10. Bosh, Iron Golem was a fun mono-red artifact centric deck that hits $35.06. That’s right, one cent cheaper! It’s a fun and different take on artifacts than good ol’ Brago will be next.
  11. Brago, King Eternal is featured with a different artifact theme and a $35.04 budget.
  12. Let’s finally get below that $35 mark with Lin Sivvi and her rebel horde! $34.98 for the witness.
  13. Wedges are cool. So is Teneb, the Harvester! $34.94 gets us a deck that wins and has fun.
  14. Who likes Surrak Dragonclaw? Who likes making a face-smashing deck for just $34.83? This guy!
  15. [card]Tolsimir Wolfblood[/card]? $34.73? Selesnya aggro? We’ve got it in spades!
  16. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is ready to bring some serious recursion, beats, and a modest budget to boot at $34.62.
  17. Want to Dragon up your deck? Why not roll with Dragonlord Kolaghan for $34.47.
  18. Who’s thumping those mono-green beats with the [card]Yeva, Nature's Herald[/card] stylings? Who clocks in at just $34.39? This article!
  19. Want to donate some stuff, play some politics, and draw a ton of cards? Then check out this Zedruu the Greathearted deck that came in at $34.29.
  20. I have a notion that a Five Color deck would be a fun budget challenge. Horde of Notions is a blast of Elemental fun that clocks in at $34.17. Check it out!
  21. Five color doesn’t have to end with tribes. There are so many options that this Five Color Cromat deck with a bit of a smash-y board presence is ready to introduce itself to the red zone, and to winning. It also is just $34.20.
  22. Sometimes it’s really nice to see how far we can push a popular commander with a cheaper budget. That’s where this Nekusar, the Mindrazer deck comes in, clocking in at $34.03
  23. With a budget of just $33.98, this Daxos of Meletis deck is pretty cool without being too expensive. Check it out!
  24. We have a Snake flavored Kaseto, Orochi Archmage deck with a lot of fun, Snakes, and budget goodness at $33.91.
  25. Nahiri, the Lithomancer is calling for an equipment and Solider focused mono-white build that’s just $33.85.
  26. Who’s Born to be Wild? Mina and Denn are! Check out this Gruul Smash deck with lands and fun for just $33.75.
  27. Gods are cool, especially when they make you berries, fruits, and tasty veggies. [card]Karametra, God of Harvests[/card] might fetch you a lot of lands and good times, but she won’t set back your wallet. Check out her budget build, clocking in at $33.74
  28. She beats with auras and fun, sailing over her foes. It’s Bruna, Light of Alabaster! She’s bringing a strong game at a cheap $33.69.
  29. Rosheen Meanderer at $33.63 clocks in with a bunch of X spells and activations with a different take on the classic Elf-Ball deck.
  30. We take a look at a very old school sort of guy, Boris Devilboon, from the original Legends set, and then build a $33.58 deck around our good demonic friends.
  31. It’s time for a bit of an Orzhov Control loving, built around Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts and featuring a ton of removal, control, and more, all for the low, low price of $33.56.


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