Shape Anew - Sliver Overlord without Slivers
All Your Race Are Belong to Us
Greeting fellow EDH addicts. Welcome to another iteration of Shape Anew, where we will create a decklist around a commander with 500+ decks on EDHREC. We’re not allowed to use more than 15 nonland cards used in the commander’s average EDHREC decklist. On top of this, we will use 15 nonland cards that are not featured on the main EDHREC page of that commander. This way, we will create interesting and refreshing decks with (seemingly) linear commanders. So, what crazy shenanigans will happen this time?
It’s Over, Lord
Tribal decks appeal to a lot of players. It’s one of the few concepts that cares about only one small aspect of a Magic card - the card subtype - that is supported in black-border Magic. This approach narrows card choices and makes you pick card you wouldn’t normally; as our good friend Mark Rosewater says: “Restrictions breed creativity.” Sometimes, though, I feel people get tunnel visioned when constructing something tribal, skipping over a very interesting aspect of tribal commanders.
I never liked Sliver decks. They just consist of a bunch of (quite literally) the same creatures. I actually do like their design, but too often it just results in “having more Slivers" being the right choice for the deck. However, I do like Mind Control. My first deck was just that, controlling minds (which was fun and all until my little brother started playing Elves). However, some time ago, playing yet another match against a Sliver Overlordl, I was suddenly the one being controlled:
He cast Blades of Velis Vel...
Some of you might have guessed it, but we’re working with our Mutant Ninja Turtle friends: the Changelings! Sliver Overlord can find them for us, and utilize them by changing any creature into a Sliver to steal them with the Overlord's second ability! Blades of Velis Vel, Wings of Velis Vel and Shields of Velis Vel provide this perfect synergy.
Of course, these kinds of Changelings are scarcer than we’d like, so we have to supplement them with some similar cards from the past. Imagecrafter is a second Amoeboid Changeling. Artificial Evolution works different that the previous mentioned, but can be a powerhouse when you know which creature types to choose.
Often, these one-time effects just aren’t enough. In order to gain more value in the long run, we’ll also add enchantments like the hipster Unnatural Selection, the old-timer Conspiracy, and the youngling Arcane Adaptation. Instants can also be built to last with Isochron Scepter. "Let's turn Atraxa into the Horror she is."
There’s a lot of good stuff to pick from when you can change all your creatures into any creature type. The trouble is that we’re not guaranteed to have a lot of creatures. That’s why tutors are our best bet. Blood Speaker is awesome and all, but nothing compared to the Rebel package we’re including: Ramosian Sergeant into Blightspeaker into Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero. Our Changelings can be brought along as well. We can even run Bound in Silence to tutor for some more removal!
Another big one is recursion. Certainly the Changeling instants are spending more time chillin’ in the graveyard than in our hands. Luckily for us, a lot of tribal recursion doesn’t specify “creatures.” Consistent recursion like Angel of Flight Alabaster or Wort, Boggart Auntie is a great example. One-time recursion is great as well. Grim Captain's Call, March of the Drowned and Ghoulcaller's Chant get us back multiple Changelings for a very low mana investment. “Oh boy, here I go killin’ again!”
Of course, we do appreciate the incidental tribal synergy. Shame we don’t have a lot of Changelings actually entering the battlefield (just Mirror Entity really), and we don’t often have many in play. All tribal love needs to kinda work on its own. The underappreciated Silumgar, the Drifting Death turns our creatures into killing engines. Kindred Discovery turns them into card draw engines. Haakon, Stromgald Scourge turns the Changeling instants into ever-looping spells. That has to be broken somehow!
This is the real fun part. Contrary to other Changeling decks, we can often change our opponent’s creatures as well. This leads to some very interesting interactions: Chainer, Dementia Master, Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor and Hazezon Tamar ($$$) are worded to interacts with the specific tokens they create… until our opponents controls those same creature types! If Sliver Overlord isn't stealing all our opponent's mutated creatures, we still have some other tricks to pull. The main thing to keep in mind is that our Changelings are affected as well.
Orcish Captain and Spirit Mirror are very hilarious, but better yet: Mercenary Informer and Rebel Informer are findable by all Rebels we run and by Cateran Summons (which we also run). Vedalken Aethermage is both tribal hate (very interesting in a Sliver Overlord deck) and a tribal tutor. Pure Reflection destroys all “Reflections”. Extinction destroys whatever we want, and is even playable outside our expected creature type shenanigans. Bye bye, Edgar!
Green is surprisingly low on the “cares about creature types” scale. That’s why this deck is very close to being a 4-color strategy. There is an argument, of course, for adding green just for the ramp and mana fixing. Ironically, that makes fixing just a tad more difficult as well. That’s why this list runs mana rocks. A lot of them. Most noteworthy is the vastly underappreciated Coldsteel Heart. Do people realize this taps for any chosen color?
Another aspect are the activated abilities. Not only does our commander Sliver Overlord have them, but so does our Rebel package, even Rebel Informer, and some random creatures like Shapesharer. We really only want to cast Sliver Overlord when we have eight mana; it getting removed before we activate anything is disastrous. This is why not only Thran Turbine, but also Training Grounds is added to the list. Those two colorless mana can be a world of difference in this mana-tight deck.
Tribal lands can be a trap for Changelings. Cards like Sliver Hive or Haven of the Spirit Dragon seem appealing, but really aren’t. We only play 10 Changelings in our entire deck, of which 7 are non-creatures. That’s a real risk. Lands like Ancient Amphitheater, on the other hand, are much safer. We get our colored mana regardless of our available cards.
In decks like these, we really try to focus on a set of colors. This deck almost functions as an Esper deck, with most red cards being irrelevant until later in the game and most green cards being… not there. A solid mana base is the most expensive part of a commander deck. The cheapest way to support it is with 40+ lands or colorless fixing. The latter is our method this time.
Tribal lands exist as well. Swarmyard or Unholy Grotto, for example, can be a random gem. But colorless lands are a liability in a 5(-ish-)color decks. Buyer beware!
The deck really throws your opponents for a loop. Not a single Sliver to be found! The heavy number of tutors can make this deck a little repetitive, but it’s challenging to play every single time. The biggest risk is losing a key piece while being left with nothing but the other half of the synergies in your hand. But if you borrow it out to a friend every once in a while, everybody can enjoy the power of the Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The list reuses 5 nonland cards from and average Sliver Overlord list:
The deck also adds 53 nonland cards that are not found on the Overlord’s main page:
This exact strategy is hard to pull off with a lot of commanders. The main purpose of this article is showing that a Mutant Ninja Turtle plan B is a lot more viable that you might think. I had a lot of fun and succes testing this deck; the mechanics certainly work. Even for a Sliver Overlord deck, Exchanging half of these cards with actual Sliver will make a more consistent deck that is still vastly different from standard Sliver decks.
That being said, I tested the Changeling strategy with some other commanders, and the results can both be refreshing and exciting. If you feel like a challenge, you can try to construct a Changeling deck with these commanders:
If you do, I'm very eager to hear about any result you'll have. Don't hesitate to comment below or respond to me via social media. But for now, I'll say goodbye and 'till next time, when we'll try out something a little less radical, but no less exciting!