If you’re familiar with my content, be it my articles, videos, or stream, you probably know that my favorite tribe in the entirety of Magic is Elves. Not only are they just a tremendously iconic tribe with tons of history in the game, they provided me with both some of my earliest competitive experiences and have since been the basis for my signature deck. What people don’t always know, however, is there was another tribe that got its hooks into me way before Elves truly did: Slivers.
The creepy hive mind creatures have long enamored me. I remember opening one of my earliest packs and seeing a Victual Sliver staring back at me and a Metallic Sliver in another. I even recall buying an amazing condition Sliver Queen for a quarter from my local store at the time - a small sports card shop in a bowling alley. The way they all worked off of one another really struck me, and it was ultimately a janky five color Slivers brew I took to my very first Friday Night Magic event during the days of Onslaught block Standard.
Slivers were even one of the ways I re-entered the game. After selling my collection in 2008, the Premium Deck Series: Slivers deck was one of the first products I bought to start playing with friends again. This even evolved up into me creating a full EDH deck. When Slivers showed up in Magic 2014, I played them in Standard once more until they left yet again. Thankfully, though, as I began to rebuild my collection in the last few years, I discovered to my absolute delight that I could bust out the classic tribe in Pauper.
Slivers | Pauper | Ixidor29, Pauper Challenge 12/30/18
- Creatures (29)
- 1 Sentinel Sliver
- 1 Talon Sliver
- 3 Spinneret Sliver
- 4 Muscle Sliver
- 4 Plated Sliver
- 4 Predatory Sliver
- 4 Sidewinder Sliver
- 4 Sinew Sliver
- 4 Virulent Sliver
- Instants (3)
- 3 Vines of Vastwood
- Sorceries (4)
- 4 Lead the Stampede
- Enchantments (4)
- 4 Journey to Nowhere
- Lands (20)
- 6 Plains
- 7 Forest
- 1 Secluded Steppe
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Tranquil Thicket
- 4 Blossoming Sands
The deck works thanks in no small part to the wallop that the twelve lords bring with them. Muscle Sliver, Sinew Sliver, and Predatory Sliver all combine with the rest of your creature base create an army of gigantic beasts. A big enough force of these can even handle the format’s biggest creatures like Gurmag Angler, yet just shy of the likes of Ulamog's Crusher. Plated Sliver also helps this by further buffing your creatures. You can even play it turn one to get ahead of your opponent’s strategies,
Next are the various utility Slivers. Sidewinder Sliver and Virulent Sliver always show up as a full playset. Sidewinder helps you deal with all the different decks with tiny creatures. Those dastardly Elves? Send them to the grave! Bird tokens? Straight into the dirt! The possibilities are endless to make blocking an absolute nightmare for your opponent. The best part? The Flanking ability Sidewinder grants your Slivers stacks. This means if a 2/2 blocks one of your Slivers while you control two Sidewinder Slivers, it will die from two Flanking triggers.
Like Sidewinder, Virulent Sliver’s Poisonous ability also stacks. This isn’t Infect, so when you deal damage with a Sliver while controlling a Virulent Sliver, you deal regular damage and then the Poisonous abilities trigger. You might wonder why you would need to deal poison damage when you’re going in swinging with such big creatures. There’s a couple factors to consider. For one, sometimes you just aren’t going to hit many, if any, lords. It’s an absolute rarity for this to happen, but it does, so it gives you way to speed the clock up a bit. It also helps get around serious lifegain when necessary (looking at you Wellwisher and Soul Sisters).
Lastly we have the trio of Sentinel Sliver, Spinneret Sliver, and Talon Sliver. Interestingly for this list, it’s historically Sentinel Sliver that shows up as a three-of while the others show up as a two-of. This is a testament to how powerful fliers have become, even in the wake of Angler Delver which hardly runs any whatsoever. Each of these grants your creatures a special combat ability to help push through your opponent’s defenses while bettering your own.
Finally, there’s a couple non-creature spells. Vines of Vastwood helps protect your creatures from all manner of threats while also giving you something to finish off your opponent with. Journey to Nowhere deals with even the most problematic creatures. Ulamog's Crusher? So what if that’s the one creature you can’t match in size - just take him down in one shot with one of these bad boys! Lastly there’s my old favorite: Lead the Stampede. This spell allows you to search up numerous Slivers to fill up your board with, ensuring you’ll rarely be without an attacker or a blocker.
The truly amazing thing about Slivers, though, is how customizable the deck is. No, you’re not getting any crazy effects like Essence Sliver, Harmonic Sliver, or Necrotic Sliver, but you do get a variety of options nevertheless. When looking at a proper Selesnya build, there isn’t much you can do to differ from the above list. You might consider running something like Horned Sliver to push damage through against chump blockers better, but that’s about it.
Some players choose to splash in different colors to try all kinds of different things. Playing Red to run powerhouses like Striking Sliver and Hunter Sliver has long been something players have tried to make work but always struggled due to the awkward mana base for what wants to be a hard and fast aggro deck. The other option that I’ve seen pop up a few times is a light Blue splash for Winged Sliver. Do you like going straight over your opponent to go in for the kill? This might just be an option for you!
The creatures aren’t the only thing that varies in choice. Even the spells have some choice to them. Vines is popular now and has been for awhile, but as you play Slivers, you find the deck becomes pretty mana-intensive. As such, players have run Mutagenic Growths in the past to allow themselves to be able to tap out and be able to save their creature. The reason Vines has more of a place right now is the prevalence of hard kill spells like Doom Blade, Terminate, and Snuff Out, but there’s always going to be those who prefer the free pump instead. If pumps are all you’re looking for as well, a very popular choice is Thrill of the Hunt, as you can play it and flash it back with ease.
Some lists also opt to run Commune With Nature over Lead the Stampede because of how cheap it is. When you cast a Lead, it basically costs you an entire turn of actual creatures that might advance your board. By using Commune With Nature instead, you might be able to play both the spell and the creature you find off of it.
Even the sideboard cards have tons of options. This list includes none of the great options in Selesnya such as Standard Bearer, Obsidian Acolyte and Crimson Acolyte, or Holy Light. It’s a testament to how adaptable the deck can truly be.
Lastly, Slivers has long struggled to find its proper place in the meta. I fully believe part of this is due to things like the fact that there’s so many ways to build it. Right now, however, tons of these creatures stack well against a number of forces in the meta game. And best of all, check out these numbers:
Remember when I showed the price of Mono-Black Control awhile back and commented on how cheap it was? This one’s even cheaper! You can literally build it online and take it into a friendly league for just over $10! Not a bad rate if you ask me. And $50 for a paper version? That’s cheaper than most Standard decks multiple times over!
With that in mind, I highly recommend checking out one of Magic’s most unique and interesting creature types from throughout its history. You too may even find yourself falling in love as they sink their hooks deep under your skin as you crush event after event with them at breakneck speed.