Epic Experiment - Slinn Voda Wizards

(Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep | Art by Greg Rutkowski)

Epic Preparations

Good morning, EDHREC! I’m Bernardo Melibeu and this is Epic Experiment, a series where we throw all common sense aside and experiment with some unusual cards, effectively changing how we normally build our deck. Is it going to work? Who knows?! We’re making science here. When you’re an Izzet mage, blowing things up in front of your own face is half the fun.

In this article we'll take a look at the splashiest card of Dominaria: Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep.

Kicker 1U

When Slinn Voda enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, return all creatures to their owners' hands except for Merfolk, Krakens, Leviathans, Octopuses, and Serpents.

Observation 1:

10 mana for a situational Evacuation effect and a 8/8 body is not something very attractive, especially in a non-green commander.

Observation 2:

Release to the Wind is a wonderful card to have in combination with this commander, because recasting Slinn Voda from exile lets us choose to pay the kicker cost again to reuse the ETB effect.

Observation 3:

Bouncing tons of creatures is made more competitive if we add in wheels. Not only will a Windfall effect refill our hand after we drop tons of mana rocks into play, but all enemy creatures we bounced will be thrown away, dealing with those issues more permanently.

Observation 4:

A Voltron secondary win condition is worth looking at, since our commander has 8 power and an ETB that clears blockers out of the way.


The Old Formula

With that in mind, let’s head to Slinn Voda’s EDHREC page and see how it’s usually built:

As we can see, on one side we have big ocean baddies, and on the other we have a few control elements and ramp. It's not a surprise that this is a pretty casual commander, which means it's our job to experiment and make it even crazier!


The Epic Ingredients

After some thinking, I saw that we wouldn't be able to utilize Slinn Voda's ETB in a control shell. 10 mana is just too much. Instead of focusing on the defensive side of this ability, how about taking a look on the possible offensive applications? In Commander, we prioritize having creatures with strong ETB effects, because we know that in a multiplayer setting it's very easy for them to get destroyed, and we want to get value out of our creatures right away before they potentially disappear. As a result, having ways to abuse those ETB effects by bouncing them back to our hand and replaying them might be a viable game plan, with the right support.

Being mono-blue is a setback, as our creatures aren't as powerful as those found in other colors. Luckily, it also gives us the opportunity to build from a tribe that is on point with our gameplan: Wizards. Wizards as a tribe loves ETB support. In fact, there are 2 commanders that synergize with ETB Wizard effects: Inalla, Archmage Ritualist and Naban, Dean of Iteration. Wizards also help us draw cards and control the board, meaning that we won't need to waste many slots with non-synergistic spells.

Let's get to our creature suite, as they're the whole point of this build. Sage of Epityr, Omenspeaker, and similar effects might seem weak at first, but don't let them fool you their ability to brush off early aggro while helping us find the cards we need. That can be extremely important in the earlier stages of the game. The second group are the closest thing to spot removal that we're gonna get: cards like Aether Adept and Separatist Voidmage. These cards tend to snowball pretty fast with the right support. Finally, there're some cards that aren't ETB value, but not playing them would be a mistake. These include Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Galecaster Colossus, and Riptide Director.

ETB creatures means we need ETB support. Panharmonicon and Naban, Dean of Iteration are auto-includes, since they do exactly what we want. We also have some Erratic Portal-type cards that serve double duty as a permanent tax to our opponents and a way to bounce our own creatures for repeated value. Bear in mind that this is very mana intensive, but our deck is built with that knowledge. Cloudstone Curio is a cheaper way to do the same effect, but we lose the flexibility of being able to remove threats from the board and to freely block creatures. There's also Paradoxical Outcome, a one-shot effect that pairs extremely well with Archaeomancer to become a powerful draw engine.

Once we have our engine established, we need to be able to end the game. Slinn Voda can rid our opposition of the ability to block, allowing our creatures to deal damage unimpeded. Power-ups like Akroma's Memorial and Coat of Arms will help tremendously in this regard. That plan does require some setup, so when all else fails, we can also just hit people with a giant fish; Slinn Voda can off people in three attacks, which ain't all that bad.


The Mixture


This is a very mana-intensive build. We need mana to play our commander to bounce enemy armies and replay our creatures for extra value, and because of that, having good mana acceleration is very important. We have 9 mana rocks, 3 cost reducers, 3 mana doublers, and 2 ways of cheating things into play for free. Even though we need lots of mana, it doesn't take all that much time to actually get there, since in the mid game we can start replaying our creatures for added value.
Since we get a lot of value from our creatures, there're some areas that this list is lacking, such as card draw and instant-speed interaction. That means two things. First, we can't waste cards. Our card advantage comes from repeating our creatures' effects over and over. This is powerful, but if they're removed permanently by a board wipe, we lose a lot of fuel in our engine. Second, since we have less interaction on other players' turns than a normal blue deck, we may need to do some politicking to make sure we don't get run over by a big threat.

Methodology

Our early game is basically dropping lands, playing rocks, and getting value from our creatures. We need to be careful to not over-commit and get blown away by a board wipe, but we can't afford to slow down so much that we never get our engine started. There're some things we can do that can help with this problem, such as holding mana for a counterspells (or bluffing them) and bouncing our own creatures with Aether Adept.

By the mid game we should have found some sort of way to abuse our creatures, be it fast mana to play our commander or some bounce engine like Erratic Portal. This is where we start to go crazy. Mana is still a constraint until we hit a mana doubler or Cryptic Gateway. By this point, since we need to have our engine going, we should consider playing counterspells only defensively.

The late game is where we get degenerate. Looping Venser is not going to make you any friends at the table. By this point we need to take 2-3 creatures and an anthem effect to help us pick some players off. It's very easy to have free attacks with our commander, so the threat of Slinn Voda can be used to help out when making deals (#politics).


Epic Results

Mono-color tribal can be hard to build, especially in a color that doesn't really support creatures all that well. There are a few adjustments that could be made to the list above to season to your personal taste.

One theme that could've been explored is copying creatures, such as with cards like Rite of Replication and Cackling Counterpart. They don't interact favorably with ounce effects, but we can't deny their value. Another direction that this deck could've gone is simply to abandon the Wizards. Just plain value creatures, like Mulldrifter and Solemn Simulacrum. However, I still think that investing in the tribe is overall better, as there are more payoffs.

That’s it for this Epic Experiment! What do you think about Slinn Voda Wizard Tribal? Please fell free to leave any suggestions in the comments section. Do you have any questions about the list? Which cards did you like? Which didn’t you? Was the Epic Experiment a success? Please let me know!

Bernardo has been playing(on and off) since portal and somehow manage to survive mirrodin block while being a total casual(beast tribal ftw?). He loves all the shades of blue and being the one saying "nope", while holding a full grip of cards in hand.