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Gravespawn Sidisi


I can’t remember the last time I felt like this. I can feel the untapped potential and see the myriad possibilities opening up in front of me. I’ve been making a real effort to abandon the graveyard shenanigans I prefer so much. I have a Prime Speaker Zegana deck I’m happy with. I’m forty-six cards deep into a Muzzio, Visionary Architect deck that would make even the most zealous fan of tokens proud. I’m even exploring the crazy nonsense you can get into with Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and a Mimic Vat. That all change during Khans of Tarkir spoiler season. How can anyone seriously expect me to leave this alone?

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant

You’re telling me that I gain a pseudo Grave Titan that only costs 4 and lets me play out of my graveyard more consistently than any other commander ever printed in the Sultai colors? Sidisi does everything I want a card to do. She’s an engine unto herself that generates a board presence, stocks your graveyard, and even encourages going aggressive to progress the game. I haven’t seen a ton of hype surrounding this card just yet, and I’m setting out to fix that. I’m only a week into fiddling around with this Naga Shaman, but let me assure you that Sidisi is a brutally unfair card that is capable of some truly incredible feats of degeneracy. Let’s take a look.

For me, it started with Travis Woo’s new take on Zombie Infestation in Modern. The thought of combining Life from the Loam, Squee, Goblin Nabob, and other graveyard goodness with Zombie Infestation takes me right back to the original days of Friggorid in Extended . Sure, we don’t get Squee and only have singleton copies of the engine cards. There’s still no end to the amount of abusive stuff we can do out of the graveyard. Here’s a shell:

Undead Gladiator
Dimir Infiltrator and other brutal 2-drop enchantments do a great job of filling in as extra copies of Zombie Infestation. Veilborn Ghoul and Krovikan Horror do a pretty good Squee, Goblin Nabob impression and really help you turn your graveyard into a tangible resource. Dredge cards help stock your graveyard with awesome goodies, help to make more Zombies along the way, and give you more chances to dump key creatures into your graveyard.

Undead Gladiator even lets you do cool tricks during your upkeep if you have nothing to do with your mana. You can discard a dredge creature to rebuy the Gladiator and then cycle the Gladiator to rebuy the dredge card and hopefully make a Zombie out of the deal. If we’re really going off, you can pitch the Gladiator to Necromancer's Stockpile instead!

What’s the end result? It’s an awful lot of Zombies and a huge graveyard. You can sometimes have upwards of ten Zombies in play by turn six. Sometimes, that’s enough to win a game on its own. It usually takes a little more to bring down a Commander table. Besides, this weird engine that makes Zombies isn’t why I’m excited about Sidisi. The reason I’m excited is that I stumbled onto an absurd two-card combination that lets you dredge your deck into oblivion and take over the game in one of the most abrupt and overwhelming ways I’ve ever seen. This is where things get degenerate.

Gravespawn Sovereign
Dread Return

Have you ever Dread Returned a Gravespawn Sovereign with ten Zombies on the battlefield? I have. It was glorious.

You might think it’s hard to come by enough Zombies to really make this work. You’re wrong. With just Life from the Loam and some cycling lands, you can make a ton of Zombies all while digging yourself into fatties to dump into play. And they don’t have to be your fatties! You can reanimate anyone’s creature—at any time. You can recur all kinds of value creatures that love the graveyard you’ve been stocking up: Eternal Witness, Grave Titan, Zombie lords. But why stop there? We can dream bigger. The first time you put a Rune-Scarred Demon into play for free, I promise you’ll be hooked.

Mesmeric Orb
Now that I’m settled on this as an engine for the deck, I have to figure out a way to break it. I have the idea, but I consulted with some of my favorite Commander minds and came up with a few awesome ideas:

Andrew Magrini thought that we could go deeper trying to find ways to make extra Sidisi triggers. Sakashima the Impostor lets us double up on Zombies. Mesmeric Orb is among the very few effects that mill cards one at a time to gain the maximum number of Sidisi triggers. It’s even possible to go crazier with a card like Footbottom Feast or Gravepurge to stack your deck to make the full number of Zombies. With an engine like this, Sidisi has no need to fear sweepers.

Alex Ullman reminded me that there’s more than one way to play out of the graveyard. Cards like Spider Spawning and Army of the Damned give you a way to recover from sweepers more quickly and give you a giant boost on board. Soul of New Phyrexia is awesome sweeper protection, and retrace spells are another way to make use of the Loam engine. I don’t need many excuses to play Worm Harvest anyway.

Judson reminded me that Sidisi needs to be able to attack to keep the engine going. Filth and Wonder are good ways to give your team evasion to close out games or just to keep Sidisi turning sideways once the board is stalled with larger monsters. Going bigger with Bonehoard and Nighthowler is possible, but that’s a little tougher since you need to actually recur them.

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
Finally, Tyler told me that I need a way to actually “combo off” and generate enough resources to finish the game once I’ve assembled Gravespawn Sovereign plus Zombies. That’s not too hard to do, but it requires repeated use of enters-the-battlefield effects. Zach and Roberto on Twitter provided the perfect sacrifice outlet: Grimgrin, Corpse-Born. Not only does he eat your Grave Titan or Rune-Scarred Demon so you can reanimate them later, he untaps every time so you have a Zombie for Gravespawn Sovereign. Grimgrin with Tombstone Stairwell or Prophet of Kruphix lets you assemble a lot of resources very quickly, and from there, it almost doesn’t matter how you actually finish the game. Besides, you could live the dream of Tombstone Stairwell plus Endless Ranks of the Dead!

So, with all of this in mind, here’s where my decklist is as of now. I’m positive this deck will change quite a bit in the coming weeks, but for now, I’m happy with this as a starting point:

Gravespawn Sidisi - Commander | Carlos Gutierrez

  • Commander (0)

This has been a blast to play, but I still have a few things on my mind as far as general suggestions go. The mana is still a little rough. Crypt of Agadeem is super-busted. Gaea's Cradle seems very good in a deck that’s shockingly hungry for g thanks to Life from the Loam and Survival of the Fittest. The rest of the mana base could use some work. I tried to fit in as many Swamps as possible for Veilborn Ghoul, but it’s possible that just Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is good enough for that purpose and that I should be making more space for other dual lands.

Crypt of Agadeem
It’s exceedingly likely that this deck wants Slippery Karst or Polluted Mire over Lonely Sandbar. Blue is a very, very light splash in this deck, so it’s not reasonable to “go off” with Lonely Sandbar as part of the Loam engine if you only have two blue sources. On the other hand, Crypt of Agadeem is pretty good at paying colorless cycling costs.

This deck is very hungry for colored mana sources, so it might be worth playing something like Azusa, Lost but Seeking or Oracle of Mul Daya as a Genesis or Gravespawn Sovereign target to help convert excess lands from Life from the Loam into actual mana. Sakura-Tribe Elder is a more conservative option if the basic count stays high. You could go even deeper and add Fatestitcher to untap Crypt of Agadeem or Gaea's Cradle on combotastic turns. Insanity.

Cards like Forbidden Alchemy, Mulch, Commune with the Gods, and Grisly Salvage are all reasonable considerations. These effects give you a ton of velocity through your deck, they stock your graveyard, and they even trigger Sidisi if you pitch creatures. These filtering effects may be better than tutors because they perform multiple functions. It’s hard to tell without playing enough games to figure out just how badly the deck needs an early Necromancer's Stockpile or Fauna Shaman. Even Phenax, God of Deception could help turn our library over and double as a win condition with Prophet of Kruphix and enough Zombies.

Honestly? I’m inclined to believe that Sidisi on her own is going to be enough the majority of the time. I started building with the expectation that she would be a Grave Titan that enabled cute graveyard synergies. What I wasn’t expecting is just how fast Sidisi can come out of the gates or how quickly the Zombies can go out of control and take over a game. I certainly wasn’t prepared for how consistent and resilient the all-in graveyard strategy becomes when your commander is an engine unto herself.

That’s all I’ve got. The short of it? Sidisi does not mess around, and she’s only getting better from here. If we’re headed to the same event, you’d better pack some graveyard hate or be ready to be devoured by Zombies—because Sidisi does not mess around.

Whispers of the Muse

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