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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Oct 02 2014 11:00am
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Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!  In this article I will be looking at a Sliver deck in Modern.  The list I will be using is inspired by the list Pete featured in his State of the Program article a few weeks back:

Although the Modern Slivers deck seems to be a popular idea I actually haven't seen many successful lists so this seemed like a great base to work with.  Also, really well done to Kory Kuhn for doing so well with this deck.

My immediate concerns for the deck are that it has absolutely no removal, which seems pretty terrifying for a deck that wins through creature combat.  The other lesser concern is how this deck's manabase is absolutely destroyed by Blood Moon but I think that is just a risk we are going to have to take with the deck.  No doubt it is possible to make a five-colour deck without as many non-basics but this seems good to me.


There a few choices in the one-drop category for Slivers, though unfortunately the powerful Plated Sliver sits outside Modern legality.  In playing the deck I actually felt like I wanted more one-drops as really I want as many Slivers in play as fast as possible and waiting to Turn 4 to drop two 2-drops in a turn takes time.  Not sure where this balance should be struck.

Galerider Sliver
Galerider Sliver
Once of the best new additions to the Sliver tribe.  A one-mana Sliver that gives all your Slivers evasion is very powerful.  Having your whole team just fly over your opponent's creatures is pretty awesome.  Winged Sliver certainly feels like a bit of a chump these days.

Virulent Sliver
Virulent Sliver
Virulent Sliver is our other one-drop Sliver.  Virulent Sliver is probably the most famous one-drop Sliver and is particularly potent in multiples.  Virulent Sliver was created before Infect and still gives your Slivers - Poisonous 1.  This means that in whenever a Sliver deals damage to your opponent in addition to dealing the damage to the opponent they also get one poison counter.  Also, unlike Infect the Poisonous ability is cumulative so if you have 2 Virulent Slivers in play your Slivers have Poisonous 1 and Poisonous 1, which means whenever a Sliver deals damage to a player they get two poison counters. 

I have mixed feelings about Virulent Sliver in Kory's list.  Firstly, given that Virulent Sliver is so much better in multiples running 3 seems like an odd move.  So far I have failed to win a Game with poison counters because a lone Virulent Sliver rarely gets the job done.  I don't know if I would rather up the Virulent Slivers to 4 or whether it might be better to go with Striking Slivers instead to grant a more relevant combat advantage to our creatures.  Worth thinking about.

Slivers are rather oversubscribed in the two-drop category, which is both a blessing and a curse.  Having powerful two-drops is good but the problem is that a handful of two drops does not get you off the fastest of starts, unless you have an AEther Vial.

Predatory SliverSinew Sliver
Predatory Sliver/Sinew Sliver
The unofficial Lords of the Sliver world, as technically Sliver Lords are huge five-coloured creatures.  While I created Galerider Sliver with being one of the best new additions, it's actually debatable if Slivers would even be a deck if it wasn't for Predatory Sliver.  For a long time Sliver decks have used a combination of the classic Muscle Sliver and Sinew Sliver to give big buffs to their swarm, however, as Muscle Sliver is not Modern legal we really needed a replacement.  Actually, Predatory Sliver in most cases is better than Muscle Sliver as it doesn't pump your opponent's Slivers, which can be relevant if they are running Mutavault.

Frenzy Sliver
Frenzy Sliver
Frenzy Sliver works in a similar vein as Predatory and Sinew Sliver but is not quite as good.  Provided your Slivers go unblocked Frenzy Sliver grants a +1/+0 bonus, which can be a hefty bit of additional damage.  Obviously, the disadvantage is that if your Sliver is blocked it does not get the bonus, as such Frenzy Sliver works best with evasion granting Slivers.

Leeching Sliver
Leeching Sliver
Leeching Sliver is another pseudo-Lord for the deck which is very useful.  Again we can get an extra point of damage for each of our Slivers, however, this time we don't actually have to hit our opponent to get the life loss.  The disadvantage again here is that you don't actually get a combat advantage from Leeching Sliver but it does mean you can get damage (well life loss technically) through a stalled board.  A nice addition from M15.

Diffusion Sliver
Diffusion Sliver
Diffusion Sliver has garnered a lot of attention due to the parallels with Crystalline Sliver, which stands as one of the best Slivers ever printed.  The parallels aren't quite fair as Crystalline Sliver grants Shroud, whereas Diffusion Sliver only grants a sort of pseudo-Shroud.  Certainly a good addition for Slivers but I've not been greatly impressed with Diffusion Sliver.  The fact is, although sweepers are rather uncommon in Modern - Anger of the Gods aside, spot removal in Modern is generally so cheap that the extra 2 mana isn't as much of a toll as it otherwise might be.  Paying 3 mana for your Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile is inconvenient but not devastating, particularly if the removal spell takes a key Sliver on our side of the board. 

Two-Headed Sliver
Two-Headed Sliver
Two-Headed Sliver helps by granting a sort of evasion, in that it makes it much more difficult to block your Slivers.  Two-Headed Sliver works really nicely with Frenzy Sliver and Leeching Sliver as it lets you mount extra points of damage by making it difficult to block.

Phantasmal Image
Phantasmal Image
The two-mana Clone is a solid addition to a deck that loves doubling up on its creatures.  It's not hard to see why Image fits in well here.

The top end for our Slivers.

Blur Sliver
Blur Sliver
Blur Sliver is very simple but also really powerful.  The best thing about Blur Sliver is that it makes ever subsequent Sliver you play a lot better and due to the nature of Slivers, each subsequent Sliver makes Blur Sliver better. 

Syphon Sliver
Syphon Sliver
Syphon Sliver is another simple and powerful card.  Giving lifelink to all your Slivers means racing is going to be very difficult for your opponent.

Other Spells

AEther Vial
AEther Vial
As I have mentioned previously, Vial does a lot to help alleviate the slightly awkward 2-drop saturation in the deck.  A Turn 1, Vial allows you to drop two 2-drops into play on Turn 3 which is nice.  Vial also has its usual advantages of getting past countermagic and play your creatures at instant speed.


Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls
A stalwart of tribal decks.  Cavern not only helps you fix your colours but also prevents your creatures from being countered by Control decks.  It also taps for colourless mana if necessary so has great utility.

Sliver Hive
Sliver Hive
Sliver Hive was the new land introduced in M15 for the Sliver Tribe.  Like Cavern it helps fix your mana by providing you access to all colours providing you want to cast Slivers, which is what the deck is all about.  The Hive also has the ability to create 1/1 Sliver tokens, which is very powerful but unfortunately the total of 6 mana that this requires is a little hard to achieve (particularly for a deck with a very low curve).  At the very least it makes being flooded a little less awful but I still think the token making ability is a little expensive.

Reflecting Pool
Reflecting Pool
Reflecting Pool combines really well with Cavern and Sliver Hive as if you have one in play you can unconditionally create any colour of mana.  Obviously it doesn't work so well on its own, which can be a problem, but generally it's another solid mana fixing land.


Harmonic SliverLeyline of SanctityCautery SliverEthersworn CanonistSpell PierceSyphon SliverGrafdigger's Cage

So let's take a look at Cody's sideboard:

  • Harmonic Sliver is a solid addition as a powerful anti-artifact/enchantment card that also allows your future Slivers to also destroy potential targets.  In theory this could be very powerful against Affinity though I haven't had a chance to try it out.  It's important to note that Harmonic Sliver's ability is not optional so you might end up blowing up your own AEther Vial if you run out of other targets.
  • Leyline of Sanctity is a solid sideboard card that protects you from being targeted.  Particularly good against Burn decks.  I'm not sure it adds anything specifically to the Sliver strategy but a solid sideboard card.
  • Cautery Sliver is another nice sideboard Sliver.  There are a lot of dangerous 1 toughness creatures in Modern and Cautery Sliver provides a potential answer to those - however, you will need to sacrifice one of your Slivers in order to activate the ability.  The sacrifice is the hardest part as Slivers, by their nature, are better together and are not as expendable as Goblins for example.  Still Cautery Sliver provides you with some positive options.
  • Ethersworn Canonist is an interesting inclusion in the sideboard.  Limiting your opponent (and yourself) to one spell a turn can be quite powerful, and obviously denies a deck like Storm its win condition.  Canonist can also be good outside of the more specific hate context as a way of slowing your opponent down.  Also, as Vial allows you to drop a creature without casting it this works as a loophole that lets you apply greater pressure to the board than your opponent.  Obviously the big disadvantage is that Canonist isn't a Sliver but as a 2/2 it is a solid body at least.
  • Spell Pierce seems like the one tribute to the fact that sometimes you might want to interact with what your opponent is doing.  It's far too little in my opinion, as interacting with your opponent is so important in a format as powerful as Modern.
  • Grafdigger's Cage is a hate card that I'm not massively impressed with.  I suppose it is good against Birthing Pod, which seems like its biggest strength, but that deck can still just overpower you with its creatures so it's hardly decisive in such a matchup.
  • Syphon Sliver is a repeat card from the main deck.  Giving all your creatures lifelink can be super powerful and I can see wanting to increase the number of Syphon Slivers in your deck against opposing Aggro decks.

Unfortunately I couldn't put Cory's deck together fully with the cards I had so I made a few concessions.  My main problem was with the lands as Mana Confluence, and City of Brass, are rather expensive so I used a full set of Ancient Ziggurat.  It's a fine substitute for the most part but has the disadvantage of not being able to use the mana it produces for creature ability or for helping to make Sliver tokens with Sliver Hive which is a real disadvantage.  Also, in an act of rebellion I added Dismember to the sideboard because I feel like it should be in there over some of the existing choices.

This is some of my first live recording with the next client so I apologise if there are still a few kinks.

Our first matchup is against Zombies.  This is a good video for seeing what Slivers can do at its best.  Our opponents lack of removal allows us to swarm him/her with Slivers and pretty much dominate the games.

Our second matchup is against RDW.  This matchup didn't go so well.  There deck is very aggressive and they have plenty of removal to kill off key Slivers.  Also, Slivers don't do a great job of trading which is tough when you come up against Goblin Guide.

Our third matchup is against UR Delver.  This matchup was rough.  With our glut of 2-drops we are very vulnerable to tempo-based decks like UR Delver.  They also have access to a lot of removal and value cards like Electrolyze that make life very difficult.

Slivers is a fun deck but despite some solid additions to the deck from M14 and M15 there still feels like there is a way to go before this can be a really good deck.  I think the most competitive deck that Slivers is comparable to is Merfolk, and even then pros will tell you that Merfolk isn't really a deck in the format.  I feel like Merfolk essentially does the same thing that Slivers is trying to do here but with better mana and better cards more generally, it's also a lot more capable of protecting its creatures thanks to a less strained manabase.  Overall, Slivers feels rather underpowered in Modern - particularly when you are playing 2 mana 1/1s which can't attack past even simple opposition.  It doesn't seem sufficiently aggressive to be competitive and is extremely vulnerable to removal, which is already very powerful in Modern.

My output has not been the best recently as I adjust to the new client and various other things, for which I apologise.  Hopefully more inspiration is on the way.  Hope you enjoyed this article all the same.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)


Phantasmal Image is a great by KaraZorEl at Fri, 10/03/2014 - 18:04
KaraZorEl's picture

Phantasmal Image is a great call. Gives you an extra lord, an extra leecher, an extra whatever. I really like it.

I feel like you could play 1 or 2 Bonescythe Slivers in this build and get away with it.

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dobevip370's picture

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