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Tapping (And Untapping) Into Saryth, the Viper's Fang


There've been tons of sets over the years. In fact, we're currently at the 89th Magic expansion - and that doesn't even count all the different supplemental sets either. With many of these sets comes the release of bizarre designs that often end up turning into a real puzzle to build around. It's one of the reasons I like building decks for my Classic Commander so much, as there were simply less tools that encouraged clever deck constructions. This is still true today, even with the newest set, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt.

Saryth, the Viper's Fang

Take Saryth, for example. She does a number of interesting things - many of which don't show up too often in Green. Yes, we have had mass deathtouch before and we've also gotten mass hexproof, but never really in this sort of a dynamic. What's more, the fact that you can have a Mono-Green commander untap creatures or lands offers some decent interplay as well. We've seen creatures and effects in Green that can do this, but rarely - if ever - on a legendary creature.

There was enough going on here that made me want to try making a list and seeing what I could come up with. Let's check it out!

Saryth | Commander | Kendra Smith

My primary goal as I came up with this list was to try finding neat and interesting things to work with Saryth's abilities. They all do cool things, but none of them are really all that flashy. So how can we make them work in tandem with one another? The first thing I did was focus on the untap ability, and so I took to Magic Online and searched for every land and creature with a tap ability.

Lands, to the shock of no one, are boring. The majority just tap for mana in different ways and most of the ones with actual abilities require you to be in multiple colors. As a result, it doesn't bode too well for a mono-color deck like this. However, there are a few goodies. In the worst case, it's always possible to just untap a land, making this simply a glorified mana dork. It can, however, generate some sweet card advantage, courtesy of cards like these:

Arch of Orazca
Geier Reach Sanitarium
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

With the right set of cards, you can even take out your opponents with some of these, but we'll get to that in a bit. Some other sweet options include Urza's Saga to make extra construct tokens, Rogue's Passage to get extra damage through, or even use Blinkmoth Nexus and Mishra's Factory to do some self-pump shenanigans. Alternatively, you could just make all your creatures extra massive with the help of Karn's Bastion and/or Oran-Rief, the Vastwood. Nykthos has the potential to give you tons of mana (as does Gaea's Cradle, if you somehow happen to own a copy) - something that can really help you go off with the right setup.

There're also some really sweet things that can be done with your creatures too. Most of what's in this list is mana dorks, as they're the easiest to do some real nonsense with using Saryth. It's not hard to get a creature down that taps for multiple mana and ramp into some particularly nasty creatures. There are a few really sweet options available beyond that, though.

Kazandu Tuskcaller
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
Timberwatch Elf

Kazandu Tuskcaller and Budoka Gardener have both been long-time Green favorites of mine, but it's gotten hard to justify playing them over the years. In a deck like this, however, they really shine, if only from the sheer amount of creatures they can quickly flood your board with. Creatures like Fauna Shaman or Yisan, the Wandering Bard can also find exactly the kind of cards you want to get ahead. You can even use some of my favorite elvish cards like Wellwisher and Timberwatch Elf to gain a ton of life or strike for massive damage. I wasn't huge on these cards here at first, but changed my mind as I realized just how many elves were actually in the list because of mana dorks, and untapping both of these with even only a few elves is huge.

Things get particularly interesting when you start adding deathtouch into the mix. It's clear that using something like, say, Fynn, the Fangbearer is going to swing games, but consider these:

Viridian Longbow
Ulvenwald Tracker
Silklash Spider

I'll tell you, dear reader: I let out the loudest squeal of delight when I realized just how vicious Silklash Spider can be in a deck like this. Silklash Spider has been a favorite of mine since it first released in Onslaught and still shows up a fair amount in more casual Commander decks to deal with pesky fliers. Then I realized that when you tap it for its ability, it gets deathtouch, and thus deals deathtouch damage to every flier, taking them down handily. That can single-handedly change the entire dynamic of a game on its own!

Ulvenwald Tracker is great for this sort of thing as well, though on a less massive scale. You don't really want it to fight using itself, but making a small dork or a token repeatedly take down your opponents' big stuff? That seems very nice. Viridian Longbow does this on a much grander scale as well. In fact, it's a combo that's shown up a bit in other formats, as I recall the card being utilized alongside Thornweald Archer at least in the land of Pauper. Not only can it take down creatures, though, it can also take out life points. That brings us to the real power card that can take down any game almost on its own: Umbral Mantle.

Umbral Mantle

For the small price of four mana, Umbral Mantle allows us to tap and untap and big mana dork for only three mana. With the right creature - such as Gyre Sage, Priest of Titania, Marwyn, Selvala, or Circle of Dreams Druid - you can generate infinite mana, and that's where the fun really starts. Once you have infinite mana, you can put the Mantle over on Saryth herself. If you can generate enough mana, you can even just have it on her in the first place to save you the trouble of moving it around. Now, Saryth can be used to endlessly untap other creatures or lands.

This makes Viridian Longbow super potent, as you can suit up any other creature and whittle down your opponents' life totals. This can also gain you infinite life with Wellwisher, make infinite tokens with Kazandu Tuskcaller, or make your whole board infinitely large with Timberwatch Elf. You can also target lands for an infinitely large Blinkmoth Nexus or Mishra's Factory to take down opponents one at a time. You can even use Mikokoro or Geier Reach Sanitarium to make your opponents' draw their whole decks to win the game. When doing this, you can stay in it yourself by pitching your sole copy of Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre - although actually casting him can probably bring your opponents to their knees as well.

All this having been said, I really think that Saryth still shines best in the 99 of other commanders with more colors. There're some cool things that she can do on her own, as you can clearly see by what I've laid out here, but there's not much more beyond this. Simply put, the options for a Mono-Green list are just too limited, though given enough time it's almost certainly possible to gain more options by virtue of an ever-growing card pool.

For now, though, I hope this list provides an excellent launching point for your own Saryth decks! Let me know if you have any other interesting ideas for cards that might be useful with the Viper's Fang. Take the deck for a spin at your next Commander night and until then, I'll see you next time!

Kendra Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: Kendra Smith

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