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Friday, October 20, 2017

Tribal Theme – Hive Mind, Slivers Revisited

August 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Deck Ideas, FAQ, In-Depth FAQ

Hive Mind

“We are all one.”

Tribal theme, an interesting way to play EDH if you do not have any Commander in mind to use; or bored of the usual methods to play. Having said that, continuing with the title series of today article, we are not introducing any new Tribe but rather a follow up of one of a previous Tribal Theme articles, the Slivers. With the M14 and M15 release of a new line of Slivers, we are revisiting the Sliver Tribal Theme here again. We will be discussing and looking into each of the new introduced Slivers and their impact on the Tribe as a whole. So without further ado, let us begin.

 

Old Theme New Face

Mtg Core Set

Core Sets of a New Age

Ever since M11, the core set is known to bring back an old mechanic with each new set. From M11 we had Scry, followed by M12 with Bloodthirst, then M13 Exalted. M14 this time round did not bring back any mechanic but rather brought back an entire old concept but with new update. That concept is none other than the Slivers. Old Slivers benefit everyone regardless of who controls them, making their strong point also their weakness. In a rare but not impossible mirror match, Slivers casted at a wrong time could lead to your defeat if you are not wary enough as old Slivers worked like the old Lords (the likes of Field Marshal; Lord of Atlantis; Lord of the Undead; Goblin King; Elvish Champion) which all grants their bonus to all their respective Tribes regardless of who controls them. The “Lord” mechanic was then changed during Lorwyn to only benefiting those on the same side of the Lord Creature. Following this upgrade all “Lord” effects since then, including the new Slivers, also join in the new “Lord” concept. This maybe a slight problem in EDH though as in a way older Slivers are good political tools if your opponents also plays Slivers which maybe rare but not entirely impossible. Other than that, the new core sets Slivers are good addition to Sliver decks in my opinion. Following straight after M14, M15 also brought in some more Slivers and along with another old mechanic, Convoke. Exciting for all Slivers fans out there is that M15 also brings with it the Sliver Lord which was long awaited but absent in M14. There is also a Tribal Land for the Slivers in M15 too.

 

Evolution

These new brood of Slivers dwell in Shandalar, the setting Plane for Core Sets. They are divided between human sized “less brood”, the old look with tails and singular claw; and the “primes”, the new humanoid look which resembles the Predator-alien. Personally I do not really like the new Predator-alien look, not that I have any problem of the look of the Predators aliens. The Predators are a bunch of cool aliens and all but I still prefer the old unique bug-like look Slivers. This new look of the Slivers had them with gleaming gemlike eyes and “hair” which are more like squirming tentacles of a jellyfish or polypod. Although many still had a bestial appearance, a few could be considered humanoid. All were covered with exoskeleton-like plates that glistened and slid about like oiled machinery. They still communicate in their constant clicking sounds like a chattered speech These Slivers had built a hive or great nest called “Skep” which they protect fiercely much similar to ants’ or bees’ community.  It also seems that any living organisms who stay long enough in the Skep will temporary morph into a Sliver form. Whether this is the reason why Slivers had their humanoid form is yet unexplained. As per previous sets of Slivers before, there is also a new five color “Lord”, like the Sliver Queen; Sliver Overlord; or Sliver Legion, called the Sliver Hivelord. It is stated that it was the source of the Sliver menace on Shandalar. The native home plane of the Slivers is still unknown as the Slivers will only recently found on Shandalar.

Predator

Same Same But Different

 

The New Players

Unlike older blocks, the number of Slivers related cards is not balance in all colors this time round. Some color has more Sliver cards than others. Below are the printed M14 and M15 Sliver related cards. Most of these Slivers have the same abilities as older Slivers except with the new “Lord” concept or color shift. This benefits EDH quite a bit as more multiple copies of certain ability of a Sliver is now available to a deck.

 

White Blue Black Red Green
Bonescythe Sliver (M14) Diffusion Sliver (M15) Leeching Sliver (M15) Battle Sliver (M14) Groundshaker Sliver (M14)
Constricting Sliver (M15) Galerider Sliver (M14) Syphon Sliver (M14) Belligerent Sliver (M15) Manaweft Sliver (M14)
Sentinel Sliver (M14) Blur Sliver (M14) Megantic Sliver (M14)
Steelform Sliver (M14) Striking Sliver (M14) Predatory Sliver (M14)
Hive Stirring (M14) Thorncaster Sliver (M14) Venom Sliver (M15)
 
Artifact Land Lord
Sliver Construct (M14) Sliver Hive (M15) Sliver Hivelord (M15)

 

White:

Bonescythe Sliver

Bonescythe Sliver

Double the Blade, Double the Pain.

Bonescythe Sliver is a strictly better upgrade than its old counterpart Fury Sliver. Although smaller in size (3/3 vs 2/2), its casting cost is much lower (5R to 3W) making it easier to perform that alpha strike. Also with the new “Lord” concept, putting it out early would not pose a threat to yourself as with Fury Sliver against opponents who also play Slivers. In EDH sense, having Bonescythe Sliver is very much like having an extra copy of Fury Sliver. If your commander is Sliver Overlord though, this would be rather redundant as the Overlord could search for it when you need it making it unnecessary to have multiple copies of a Double Strike Sliver, reserving the card slot for other card. In that case, Bonescythe Sliver would be a good replacement over Fury Sliver for its casting cost unless you want the ability to be more available to draw out rather than tutor out.

 

Constricting Sliver

Constricting Sliver

“Let me have a closer look at you…..”

This Sliver really ticks my interest when I first saw it. Banisher Priest and its predecessor Fiend Hunter were both very good Creature control. Although both the priest and hunter have rather similar ability, it is still quite different given that the priest’s ability is the balanced version of hunter. In the past, one could response to the hunter’s ETB (enter the battlefield) ability by making the hunter leaves the battlefield triggering his LTB ability first. This effectively exiles the Creatures which the hunter is targeting with his ETB ability. The priest was designed to be a balanced version of hunter and lacks this interaction of ETB and LTB abilities. Constricting Sliver, which is Banisher Priest in Sliver form, turns all your Slivers into Banisher Priest. This effectively means that all your Slivers are now Creature removals. This is truly a great benefit as you could answer to Creature threats easily. Political wise, if you could find a way to cast Slivers as Instant, you could also use this to help to save your allies’ Creatures from board sweep since the Creatures are exiled and will return after the board is swept. A bit pity that trick could not be used on your Creatures though. Also this Sliver has a rather high cc (5W) which can be argument as Wizards’ way to balance for its controlling ability. Otherwise this Sliver is regardless a fairly worthy add to Sliver deck in both normal variant and EDH.

 

Sentinel Sliver

Sentinel Sliver

“No one getting pass moi.”

Sentinel Sliver is yet another strictly better upgrade than its old counterpart Synchronous Sliver. The same reduction in size (3/3 vs 2/2) and lower casting cost (4U to 1W) occurs here too but along with the new “Lord” concept, Sentinel Sliver is actually a very good addition to a normal variant Sliver deck. EDH wise, it depends on your strategy of play. Generally if the Commander is Sliver Overlord, then Sentinel Sliver is a better choice over Synchronous Sliver in terms of casting cost unless again you want the ability to be more available to draw out rather than tutor out.

 

Steelform Sliver

Steelform Sliver

Alienated look of the new brood.

This is one Sliver which is not really better in cost as compared to its older counterpart. Steelform (2W) cost 2 more than Plated Sliver (W) to cast. Although bigger in size, both Slivers are not really useful as compared with other Slivers. Most normal variant Sliver decks had been about attacking instead of defending thus having more toughness really doesn’t help much. In EDH, having more toughness doesn’t really help as well, as most removals are not damage-based but rather board sweeping type.

 

Hive Stirring

Hive Stirrings

The new Brood

Although not a Tribal spell, this spell helps to fill up some slots should you need more Slivers in your deck. Like another spell Join the Ranks, stirring also puts two Sliver tokens onto the battlefield but at Sorcery speed instead of Instant speed. Unlike Allies though, whose trigger abilities are mainly ETB-based thus making it effectively a 3W Instant whose effects depend on whatever Allies you have on the battlefield already, Hive Stirring is just adding numbers to the ranks for 2W. The only good interaction which comes to mind is with Constricting Sliver; otherwise if you are not using numbers to kill this spell is not really that useful both in normal variant and EDH.

 

Blue:

Diffusion Sliver

Diffusion Sliver

“If you want to hit on the family, you got pay more than that.”

Although board sweep is ever common in EDH, having self protection is still a valuable ability to many Creatures especially so for the Slivers. As they all share their abilities with other Slivers, a timely removal of a crucial Sliver could really ruin your battle plan. As such Crystalline Sliver was considered by many as the best Sliver protector. Diffusion Sliver also serves the same purpose here as a form of protection for your Slivers. Adopting a similar ability as Kira, Great Glass-Spinner and its kin, Diffusion Sliver taxes your opponents for 2 more for all spells or abilities targeting your Slivers. This is sort of an upgrade to me from Kira’s counter the first spell or ability per turn ability as the Sliver’s ability is ongoing. The best part of it is that it does not affect you thus you can cast all the spells and use all the abilities you want on your own Slivers without paying the extra 2. It is notable that the ability stacks up with more Diffusion Slivers on the battlefield, so it is very powerful for normal variant given the low cc (1U) of the Sliver allowing it to enter the battlefield early in the game. This is not so relevant in EDH though due to the deck building rules of EDH and also due to board sweep being ever abundant. Even so it is still a good addition to the Sliver EDH deck as having some extra protection is never a bad thing.

 

Galerider Sliver

Galerider Sliver

“To the Skys!!!”

Flying is a valuable evasion ability in MtG. A lot of games involving Slivers beatdown were won last time all because a Winged Sliver entered the battlefield. Galerider Sliver is by far the third Sliver so far to provide the ability with the other two being Pulmonic Sliver and Winged Sliver. Galerider Sliver is a bit better than the other as you could just fly over an opposing Sliver deck when it grant only Slivers on your side Flying without worrying they will be blocked. It is a good add in EDH as Flying is a welcome ability to have as much as possible if not as early as possible.

 

Black:

Leeching Sliver

Leeching Sliver

Meals are made to be enjoy slowly.

This Sliver is effectively the same as the notorious Hellrider which had terrorize the normal variant during its reign in Standard. Half the cc of Hellrider, the Sliver comes without the Haste ability which generates much of the power of Hellrider. The plus side is that Leeching Sliver ability makes the defending player loses life instead of dealing damage. This is crucial as there are spells or abilities which prevent damage but not for life loss. This is actually more powerful than Hellrider as a single Circle of Protection: Red or Runed Halo would totally shut down Hellrider’s ability. Also due to the fact that ability is granted to all your Slivers, it is much more difficult to deal with as the life loss is triggered with each Sliver attacking unlike the case with Hellrider who is the one dealing damage when attacking. Due to its low cc, the Sliver could also start off an early beatdown with extra life lose adding to each attack. Another good side to this ability is that as with Hellrider, opponent with low life could be killed off even if he or she has an army to block your Slivers. This is due to the ability is triggered on attack, he or she will loses the life for each Sliver attacking him or her first even before assigning blockers. Thus unless an opponent could off your Slivers before you declare your attack, he or she would die if his or her life point is equal to or less than the number attacking Slivers even before blockers is declare or combat damage is dealt. A worthy add in my opinion to EDH and even normal variant.

 

Syphon Sliver

Syphon Sliver

“Your soul is ours.”

The older similar to this Sliver is Essence Sliver. Both allow Slivers’ controllers to gain life as they deal damage. It is a good way to outrace an Aggro deck. In EDH, it is worth the additional copy of Lifelink to have. It is to be noted that by means of cost effective, Syphon Sliver is although smaller but faster by one mana than Essence Sliver. Also both Essence Sliver and Syphon Sliver although having rather similar abilities are actually two different abilities. Thus having both of them on the battlefield actually allows you to gain life from both abilities; from Syphon Sliver’s Lifelink and Essence Sliver’s life gain triggered when damage dealt.

 

Red:

Battle Sliver

Battle Sliver

“Need an extra Hand there?”

Residing in the same color, Battle Sliver is like a bigger Bonesplitter Sliver, giving the same bonus but with a higher casting cost and size. In normal variant, due to its cost, one or two of this Sliver is more than enough. But in EDH, due to the card restriction rule, it is a good add to up the number of power adding Slivers in the deck as 40 life is a long way to go if you kill by damage, given that there are multiple players too.

 

Belligerent Sliver

Belligerent Sliver

“You Gonna need more than One to stop me.”

This Sliver is just an updated and greater Two-Headed Sliver with an increased cc and power/toughness. This could be used in combination with Virulent Sliver to enable your Sliver army to get pass your opponent’s defense to kill him or her with poison counters. Add to the numbers of the numerous ways of evasion for your Sliver army. Also if your Commander is Sliver Overlord, you just need to choose either one between Belligerent and Two-Headed unless you want a backup to this ability. Otherwise Sliver Overlord could just tutor it out when needed.

 

Blur Sliver

Blur Sliver

“Be Like the Wind, My Friend…”

Haste is another powerful ability in MtG. Being able to attack or use any tap ability as soon as a Creature enters the battlefield can sometimes be the key to win games. Back when Time Spiral was Standard legal, Firewake Sliver serves the role of accelerating the deck along with Gemhide Sliver, where when both combine with Dormant Sliver could allow one to cast an army of Slivers in no time. Now Blur Sliver also does the same thing along with Manaweft Sliver but less the instant army part. It is still a good addition in EDH along with the other Haste Slivers (Firewake Sliver; Heart Sliver; Reflex Sliver) if you want to increase the number of copies in the deck.

 

Striking Sliver

Striking Sliver

The Best Defensive is an Offensive.

Another Sliver which is at a lower cost as compared to its older counterpart but benefit greatly from the new “Lord” concept. Able to enter the battlefield on turn 1, it is much faster than Talon Sliver and Spitting Sliver. This makes a lot of difference as one could start the offensive early or use lesser mana to bring up a defense at a later stage. All you need is just one R and you have a bunch of first strikers to block. One may argue that it is just 1 mana different between Talon Sliver and Striking Sliver but a lot of times games are also lost because of that 1 mana. Like the other Slivers, it is also a good addition in EDH for increasing the number of copies for First Strike Slivers.

 

Thorncaster Sliver

Thorncaster Sliver

Flying Dagger Masters

This Sliver also works very similarly to Hellrider but with even more deadly effect as it grants the ability to all your Slivers. That is effectively changing your whole army into Hellriders. If you have four Slivers on the board attacking together with Thorncaster Sliver, that is effectively 5 damage just by attacking without even needing the Slivers to touch the opponent. The ability is also better than Hellrider’s as you could target Creature with the ability too. This could be used to kill off blockers before they are declared or kill off pesky Creatures whose very presence is already devastating to you (Dark Confidant). If you are able to give the Slivers Deathtouch, then each attacking Slivers will take out one blocker even before declare blockers step. Definitely a good add for the Tribal theme if attacking is one of your ways to win.

 

Green:

Groundshaker Sliver

Groundshaker Sliver

It’s not safe if you can feel a rumble.

The Trample Sliver seems to have a trend of growing bigger each time they print it. Starting from Horned Sliver, a 2/2 for 2G; to Battering Sliver, 4/4 for 5R; now it’s a 5/5 for 6G. Trample is a very good ability to break Creature standstill, as lowly 1/1s could just block a 20/20 whole day and nothing gonna happens. If the opponent has a way to keep churning out 1/1s, your 20/20 had just been neutralized. Trample breaks that math and allow you to kill off the opponent. Groundshaker Sliver belongs to those Slivers you don’t want too many of in the deck in normal variant. In EDH, it is good to have along with the other two Trample Slivers if Trample kill is one of your game plan.

 

Manaweft Sliver

Manaweft Sliver

Insider Joke….. This Dude looks like it’s peeing in the Forest…..

Gemhide Sliver’s twin. The Sliver deck during the Time Spiral block period used Gemhide Sliver to get the necessary color mana to cast its Slivers and at a later stage along with Dormant Sliver and Firewake Sliver generate the horde needed to win (If you wonder how could an army of Slivers with Defender attacks, the answer is Frenetic Sliver). This is not possible now with the M14 Slivers but Manaweft Sliver is still crucial for the Standard Sliver deck to work since it both fix and ramp mana. This is the same in EDH as to fully utilize the Slivers with their Overlord; the deck will have to be 5c. Any color fixing is a valuable asset to such a deck, much less say that the said mana fixer also ramp your mana.

 

Megantic Sliver

Megantic Sliver

How one could make a BIG difference.

This Sliver is by far the highest power pumper of the Slivers. It is effectively a 6/6 for 5G. If you already have an army of Slivers waiting on the board, it is like casting an Overrun on the opponent. Very much a gamer ender spell, it is one of those Creatures you don’t want to have too early in the game but definitely hoping to get when later in the game for normal variant, so it is to have some in a deck but just not too many of it. Definitely good addition to Sliver EDH too for all the extra power, though that may also pushes the button for others to cast a board sweep when staring at your army of gigantic Slivers all of a sudden. Not to be cast too early if you are not going in for the kill.

 

Predatory Sliver

Predatory Sliver

Hunted become the Hunter

The exact same as Muscle Sliver only with the new “Lord” concept, Predatory Sliver is a must add in normal variant for Sliver deck that relies on beatdown to win much as it was for Muscle Sliver. As per Megantic Sliver, it also adds to the ranks of power enhancing Slivers already available in EDH (Blade Sliver; Bonesplitter Sliver; Might Sliver; Muscle Sliver; Sedge Sliver; Sinew Sliver; Sliver Legion, etc) to boost up your Sliver army power.

 

Venom Sliver

Venom Sliver

That missing link of a combo.

This Sliver is an upgrade to Toxin Sliver which grants a Deathtouch like ability but only on combat damage. Venom Sliver instead grants the almighty Deathtouch to all your Slivers. It is that missing link to the above mentioned to combo with Thorncaster Sliver who finally found each other after a year gap between M14 and M15. The deadly duo finally allows one to live the dream of offing blockers of the defending player even before they can be declared as blockers. Powerful add if you are in the color combination. As a side note to the combo with Thorncaster, the same could also be achieved with Bow of Nylea too; plus the bow offers some other nifty abilities too worth the consideration to add to your EDH deck.

 

Artifact:

Sliver Construct

Sliver Construct

Pirated Sliver

Like all Artifact Slivers before it, Sliver Construct serves to fill up the gaps if one needs more Slivers. It is not all that recommended for both normal variant and EDH as both formats are already spoiled with choices to have the need to include it.

 

Land:

Sliver Hive

Sliver Hive

Where it begins

What manner of Sliver deck is complete if it is without the Land made for it? Sliver Hive is the must add Land for all Sliver and since it is not legendary; you could also stock it up to four for your normal variant decks. This is especially so if you want to go all five colors for your normal variant Sliver decks. Due to Wizards change of design policy for Lands, they had made it a point that all Lands should at least produce 1 regardless of what other abilities they may have. Thus allowing you to use Sliver Hive to cast non Sliver spells. Similar to Primal Beyond, the Tribal Land for Elementals, Sliver Hive serves as the 5c Land for Slivers although the color mana it produces is only limited to casting Sliver spells and cannot be used for activating Sliver abilities. The ability that truly made this Land a must play for all Sliver decks is its token producing ability. Although highly cost at 5 per activation, this Land will allow you to recover from a board sweep on the condition you have another Sliver on the battlefield.

 

Lord:

Sliver Hivelord

Sliver Hivelord

Source of the End

The top of the ability chain, the Lord of the new hive grants what might be the deadliest ability to the tribe. EDH is so packed full of board sweeps that Creatures don’t normally stay on the battlefield for long. Sliver Hivelord changes all that by granting Indestructible to all your Slivers. Hivelord is notable for having a smaller size (5/5) as compare to all previous Sliver Lords (7/7). The cc is still the same throughout for all for them at WUBRG. My own recommendation, and a personal favorite for all Tribal decks, is to use Cryptic Gateway to put the Hivelord onto the battlefield skipping the 5c cost. This is especially lethal and a rude surprise when used to counter against opponent’s board sweep. Although there are now four in total of Legendary Slivers (Sliver Hivelord; Sliver Legion; Sliver Overlord; Sliver Queen) to choose from, Sliver Overlord is still in my opinion the most recommended Sliver EDH Deck Commander straightly for its tutoring ability.

 

New Face or New Race?

New slivers-feature

Extreme Makeover

Summarizing the whole article, most of the colored Slivers are very good addition of the EDH Tribal theme. There are also enough good Slivers to make a decent Standard Sliver, a good effort nevertheless from Wizards. Since there are already quite a number of Slivers to work with, I was quite surprised that many of them M14 and M15 Slivers could still be a good fit into an EDH Sliver deck, largely due to the new “Lord” concept. The Hivelord and Sliver Land are also great effort in part of Wizards to bring the Slivers tribe to competitive level in normal variant and a great boost to EDH Sliver decks.

 

The only shortcoming I have with the new Slivers is the way their much evolved “primes” look like now. Alas they look very cool with the Predator-alien look; the unique bug-like look of the “less brood” is still way cooler and also gives the Slivers that unique identity look to me.

 

Tell us what you think of the new Slivers hive concept and their new look in the comments section below.

 

Thus with that all, we shall end off today article. Till the next article, may the Hive be with you.

 

This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.

:D~

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