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Satoru, the Infiltrator in Commander


The three most powerful words in all of Magic are "draw a card".

When I see a new commander come along with the ability to add extra card draw to your game when they are on the battlefield, my eyes light up. Card draw is often what unlocks the ability for a deck to be able to compete against more powerful decks and maybe even make the leap into competitive play (cEDH).

Today's commander is another in a series of commanders printed in Outlaws of Thunder Junction that represent new versions of older characters. Last week we looked at Magda, the Hoardmaster. Today we'll be looking at the second version of a ninja who showed up in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and then in a March of the Machine commander deck, paired up with the legendary goblin Goro-Goro.

Satoru, the Infiltrator

Satoru, the Infiltrator is a legendary Human Ninja Rogue with menace. He's well costed at UB, and whenever he and/or one or more other nontoken creatures enter the battlefield under my control, if none of them were cast or no mana was spent to cast them, I'll draw a card.

This card draw ability seems to be perfectly designed to work with ninjas, as the ninjutsu ability allows you to put a creature from your hand onto the battlefield without casting it. Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, is a legendary creature with commander ninjutsu, so Satoru should fit nicely into a high powered or cEDH Yuriko deck. Today I'm going to explore how powerful a Satoru deck I can build, but I'm not going to be building with ninjas. Instead I'm going to lean on some tried and true combos that work perfectly with what Satoru, the Infiltrator brings to the game.

Flicker Fun

When you flicker a nontoken creature it will enter the battlefield without having been cast. That satisfies Satoru's requirement to draw a card, so it's the first thing I thought of when building this deck. Flickering a creature means exiling it and returning it to the battlefield under its owner's control. There are plenty of ways to do this, and lots of creatures that will give me additional ETB triggers beyond just having my commander draw me a card.

Sword of Hearth and Home
Displacer Kitten

Instants and sorceries aren't usually repeatable so I didn't want to lean on them too much, but I am running a few. Blur will flicker a creature and draw me a card, but at three mana it isn't terribly efficient. Ghostly Flicker is also in the list and will let me flicker two artifacts, creatures and/or lands. If I choose to target my creatures I'll be drawing two cards at the same cost I would have paid for Blur. Either of these can combo with Naru Meha, Master Wizard, which is also in the deck, to flicker him as many times as I want - drawing a card each time. I could see an argument for leaning more into this gameplan, but I built and played Naru Meha combo a bit last year and wanted to go in a few more directions this time around.

Sword of Hearth and Home is a way to protect a creature from green and white interaction, a way to an extra land into play, and a way to flicker a creature I control. Those are all great abilities, and having them all on one card is fantastic. I'm also running Conjurer's Closet and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. The former is an artifact that will let me flicker a creature I control at the beginning of my end step. The latter is a Theros God with a similar end step trigger. They are less exciting, but still reliable ways to get an extra flicker on each of my turns.

One of the most exciting cards to come out in recent years is Displacer Kitten. If this adorable cat beast is on the field, I'll get to flicker a nonland permanent under my control whenever I cast a noncreature spell. This deck isn't built around combos that give me endless cast triggers but it's too cute and too good not to include in this list.

Deadeye Navigator
Cloud of Faeries

If you're looking to infinitely flicker a creature, there's no better way to do it than with Deadeye Navigator. You simply soulbond it with a creature that untaps lands when they enter the battlefield. Its flicker activation costs two mana, so with Cloud of Faeries I'll be able to flicker as many times as I like, but I won't be gaining any mana. If I pair it up with the five mana Peregrine Drake or the seven mana Great Whale, I should be able to make infinite mana, as they'll untap five and seven lands respectively. Palinchron will untap seven lands and has a four-mana activated ability to return it to my hand. It can't combo on its own, but it works with Deadeye quite nicely.

If you were trying to build a cEDH Satoru list, you might not even run a Deadeye package, as six mana for a combo piece is a lot in today's cEDH. Great Whale and Palinchron might be unplayable if the game is going to be so short that you won't get out enough lands to use them. You'd have to plan to cheat one of them into play, probably out of the graveyard after putting it there with something like Entomb.

Graveyard Recursion

Speaking of recursion, every EDH deckbuilder has their own strengths and weaknesses and one of my weak points is that I don't build a lot of graveyard decks. I've got a few, but I'm rarely going to find myself putting a creature into the graveyard from my library and then putting it onto the battlefield with instant or sorcery spells.

Bringing a creature back from the graveyard to the battlefield will also trigger Satoru to draw me a card, as I won't be casting the creature. I like variety in my decks so instead of just relying upon flicker as a card draw mechanic, I wanted to throw in a little graveyard recursion as well.

Feign Death
Malakir Rebirth
Undying Malice

In this list I decided to lean on a few well-costed instants that can bring a creature back when it dies. I like this type of recursion because it can serve as a way to protect a key creature when I know it's about to get hit by a Beast Within, Pongify, or some other lethal threat. The drawback is that these spells won't do much if one of my creatures isn't about to kick the bucket.

Nim Deathmantle
Phyrexian Arena
Priest of Gix

I've grown fond of Nim Deathmantle over the past few years, so it's no surprise that I found it to fit in nicely with Satoru, the Infiltrator. For four mana I can use it to target a creature that is being put into my graveyard from the battlefield and bring it back as a Black Zombie with +2/+2 and intimidate. The pump and keywords are nice, but this equipment works beautifully with a sacrifice outlet and the right creature.

Phyrexian Arena can generate a mana of any color when it is used to sacrifice a creature, and Priest of Gix will give me three Black mana when it enters the battlefield, giving me that magic number of four mana. Looping Priest of Gix will give me the card draw I want to pull into a way to try to win the game.

Ashnod's altar can generate two mana of any color when it is used to sacrifice a creature, and Myr Battlesphere, Sling-Gang Lieutenant, and Marionette Master can each create additional creature tokens to allow me to go infinite. Some of these cards will end up just killing the table, which somewhat distracts from my goal of drawing cards, but the goal is to try to win the game.

Flicker Targets

With Satoru on the field, any flicker or creature brought back from the graveyard will draw me a card, but I want to build around creatures that bring something more to the party.

I've got a bunch of old standards that I run in lots of my decks. Baleful Strix, Mulldrifter, and Cloudkin Seer will all draw me cards. Ravenous Chupacabra will let me destroy target creature an opponent controls. Skittering Surveyor and Pilgrim's Eye will each tutor a land from my library into my hand. Solemn Simulacrum will tutor a land to the battlefield. These are pretty basic needs but I do have some more exciting targets to play with.

Agent of Treachery
Diluvian Primordial
Sepulchral Primordial

Flickering an Agent of Treachery will let me gain control of target permanent, and if I'm able to loop it to steal all of my opponents' permanents that will usually result in my opponents conceding the game. Stealing lands is as mean as mass land destruction, if not worse, so you might not want to play that game outside of high-powered EDH and cEDH.

Still powerful, but less mean, the Primordials are Avatars from Gatecrash with really neat ETB triggers. Diluvian Primordial will let me cast up to one instant or sorcery from each opponent's graveyard without paying its mana cost. Sepulchral Primordial will let me put up to one creature from each opponent's graveyard onto the battlefield under my control. Without anything in graveyards, these won't do much, but things could get really interesting depending upon what they've been playing.

Massacre Wurm
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Massacre Wurm is a great way to clear out hordes of small creatures under my opponents' control and if I'm able to flicker or loop it a few times I might even clear out the bit stuff. They'll lose 2 life for each creature that dies under their control, which could matter if they had a big enough army.

While not a good flicker target, Kokusho, the Evening Star is a legendary Dragon that was once considered powerful enough to be banned in Commander. This Dragon's death trigger will have each opponent lose 5 life and will gain me as much life as they lost this way. One hit from Kokusho dying will give me a nice life boost. Several will feel great and looping it enough times with Nim Deathmantle wins the game.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel may not do as much in this deck as it would in a mono-Black list, as I won't often have a huge devotion to Black, but when it enters the battlefield each opponent will lose life equal to that devotion and I'll gain as much life as they lost. "Gary," as he's called, will work nicely with both flicker and recursion, and represents another way to kill the table if I'm able to get enough of his ETB triggers.

Satoru Combo

After walking through the basic approach of this deck, I'm convinced that you could definitely build a fun and effective flicker/recursion deck around Satoru, the Infiltrator without resorting to combo as your wincon. The power of card draw in the command zone linked to such an easy trigger to achieve can't be understated. He has a very high ceiling.

I think a true cEDH or fringe cEDH list could probably be built around Satoru. You're in the right colors to be able to play Tainted Pact, Demonic Consultation and Thassa's Oracle. You can run fast mana, free interaction, and most of the best tutors in the game. I don't know that Satoru would be stronger than Yuriko, but I think it could probably be built to be playable at that level.

To tune this list up, you'd likely play towards the "draw from an empty library" wincons like Thassa's Oracle, Laboratory Maniac and maybe even Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. I generally avoid fast mana like Mana Crypt, Mox Opal, Chrome Mox, and Lab Man wincons in my high-powered decks but they work, they work well, and there's no reason not to run them if you're seriously trying to push up towards cEDH.

To tune this list down I think you'd still want to focus on cards that synergize heavily with flicker and graveyard recursion, but you might drop out some of those "win now" combo lines. Flicker can be a versatile tool that can remove attackers, protect your stuff, and draw you cards with Satoru on the field. Budget builds aren't something I usually explore very much but any card that brings as much potential value to your game as Satoru can surely be built on a budget and still be powerful, playable and fun.

Final Thoughts

I'm skeptical that Satoru, the Infiltrator will be able to knock Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow out of the top spot as the most dangerous ninja in EDH. Yuriko can push out life loss like nobody's business, but I wouldn't sleep on a Satoru deck. The danger isn't as obvious, but once you get going you should be able to draw cards at a pretty nice clip and that is the sort of thing that helps you wins games.

Card draw helps you hit your land drops, pull into answers, and will help make sure you have a counterspell in hand when you need it most. You might even pull into whatever wincon your particular build is digging for. Card draw is king, and I haven't seen a lot of commanders better positioned to give you the kind of draw that Satoru brings to the party.

That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

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