Premium Deck Series: The Slivers Review (Part 2 of 2)
Back on her feet just weeks after the new baby and ready to spit fire and rain lightning like she did when she was pregnant, Jimi was excited at the prospect of getting a run in with Fire & Lightning. As it happens, I needed a worthy foe to act as foil to The Slivers, so over cups of tea and cocoa we set in and waged war. The Slivers, as a five-colour deck, have an apparent disadvantage against the hyper-aggro mono-Red Fire & Lightning. Would I be able to hold on long enough to get my poor Slivers a foothold, or would I go down in flames. Here’s how our matches panned out.
On the play having lost our pre-match warm-up (already a bad sign), I begin with a Mountain. So does Jimi, who backs it up with a Jackal Pup. A turn 2 Rootbound Crag gets me a Spined Sliver, though, so the living carpet has begun to roll out. Jimi swings for 2 with the Pup, and I let it pass unmolested. With Slivers, it’s typically wiser to take some early damage and avoid even decent trades, because of the scaling power Slivers have as the game progresses. Jimi plays another Mountain, which will end up being the last land she plays for the game.
Turn 3 sees me with a beauty- the vaunted Muscle Sliver, and I swing back with the Spined for 3. Jimi drops a Keldon Marauders, pinging me for 1 and keeping us even at 17 life. I swing in again for 3 with the Spined Sliver, and Jimi lets it through. I follow that up with a Barbed Sliver and end my turn. Jimi’s next attack brings a misplay- she sends the Jackal Pup into the red zone alongside the Marauders, forgetting the effect of the Muscle Sliver. My Barbed Sliver safely blocks and kills the Pup, and each of us take 3 damage (her from the Pup, me from those Marauders).
On turn 5, I take advantage of Jimi’s wide-open defenses to push in all three of my Slivers, slashing her for 8. With her at 3 life, I play a Homing Sliver and pass. All Jimi has left is a feeble Price of Progress after her Marauders are sacrificed (no more vanishing counters). I’m at 11 life, and Jimi has no answer to the Slivers but to scoop. A poor showing overall, though I made far better use of my three lands than Jimi did of her two.
Jimi starts off with a Teetering Peaks, eschewing its enters-the-battlefield ability to get around its enters-tapped clause. I drop a Terramorphic Expanse and crack it for a Mountain. Next turn, the Jackal Pup is back, but I’m able to answer it with a Heart Sliver after playing an Ancient Ziggurat.
Jimi swings in with the Pup on turn 3, playing her third land. I’m also curving out just fine with a Swamp, using it to cast a Hibernation Sliver. I swing in with it and the Heart Sliver, and Jimi’s down to 17.
I’m wide open, though, and made to pay with a turn 4 Ball Lightning. Along with the Jackal, I’m now down to 10 life. On the upside, my Slivers are shaping up just fine, and I manage a Frenzy Sliver, firing back in with everything for another 7. We’re tied at 10 life, and my board position is by far the better.
Of course, it’s hard to discount the explosiveness that is Red burn. Turn 5 comes, Jimi throws a Price of Progress and Chain Lightning at me, follows it up by sacrificing two Mountains for Fireblast, and swings for lethal with the Pup. I’m left wondering what just happened.
Having won a poor match and lost a good one, I’m finding a newfound respect for the Fire & Lightning deck. Still, I’m confident that the Slivers have their share of explosiveness as well, based on what I’ve already seen of it. My draw gives me some tantalising hint of this: a Terramorphic Expanse and two Mountains, Spined and Gemhide Slivers, a Heartstone and a Coat of Arms. Fingers crossed that it unfolds like it should, I begin by fetching a Forest with my Expanse and passing. Jimi again goes in for the Teetering Peaks, and passes back. The hunt is now afoot.
Turn 2 and the Gemhide hits the table. I hate exposing so useful a Sliver to her burn, but it’s a risk I need to take to get the most benefit from it. Jimi counters with the Keldon Marauders again, and their ping draws first blood. I draw into an Ancient Ziggurat and play it, deploying my Spined Sliver. I decline the attack, not wanting to draw the least attention to my fragile 1/1 Gemhide. Jimi plays a Barbarian Ring, swings with the Marauders and lays down the omnipresent Jackal Pup.
Thanks to the Gemhide, I have the resources to cash in on the Brood Sliver I topdeck, and swing in with the Spined Sliver. It connects, and the Brood gives me a free 1/1 Sliver token. Jimi’s now at 18 life, while I am at 16. Once her turn arrives, the Marauders vanish (pinging me for one on their way out), but she replaces it with Mogg Flunkies before passing, leaving her Pup back to give her the option to block with the goblins.
Another mise greets my draw on turn 5, and it’s one of the very worst cards in the deck for Jimi to face: Crystalline Sliver. A look of outrage draws across her features as she reads the card, and she snaps off a pair of Lightning Bolts in response (incurring 1 point of damage from the Ring), snuffing out my Brood and Spined Slivers- a nice play.
Spent somehow, Jimi’s next turn is a blank, while I finally deploy the Coat of Arms, buffing my three remaining Slivers (Crystalline, Gemhide, and the token). Not wanting to risk a single Sliver now, I hang back, feeling secure at 15 life. When Jimi’s next turn is a blank as well, I go ahead and trot out the Heartstone. It has no appreciable benefit to my board state, but may help later on.
Jimi blanks a third time in a row, and I play a Victual Sliver. When she blanks a fourth and I draw a Winged Sliver, I’m able to get in for 22 damage thanks to the Coat of Arms. It’s more than enough. Jimi reveals her hand: Chain Lightning, Fireball, Sudden Impact… nothing my Victual Sliver couldn’t keep me away from. The Crystalline Sliver had her paralysed.
Thoughts & Analysis
There’s something about a tribal deck that’s inherently fun to play. Whether it’s Elves or Goblins, Merfolk or even Beasts, having a theme to the deck just seems to add that extra element of fun. So while I can say that The Slivers isn’t the greatest deck you could make with this particular tribe, it still remained a lot of fun to play.
That said, there were some very odd card choices made for this deck, which makes us wonder just how competitive it was designed to be. The five-colour concept was cute, but I’d have preferred to see depth rather than breadth (while all the nonbasics still enabling you to play the Sliver Overlord from time to time). A lot of the Slivers we could have done without. Less Victual, more Acidic. Less Frenzy, more Crystalline. Or more Muscle or Winged. I’d even have been delighted to see a singleton Mindwhip! As mentioned in the deck review, the Spectral Sliver does both the duties of the Armor and Barbed for the same cost, so again it could have been tightened up and made more effective, for very little cost.
The overwhelming number of singletons also makes for wildly unpredictable games, which is good or bad depending on your preference (we tend to prefer consistency). The lack of any removal spells outside the Slivers themselves means that removal will be truly feast or famine: Acidic and Necrotic will have you drowning in it, but failing to draw into one of those will leave you struggling for answers at times. There’s little in the way of combat tricks either, so doing your talking in the red zone is very much a “what you see is what you get” approach.
Unless, of course, you’ve managed to find the one Quick Sliver.
That really sums up the deck’s experience. You’ll have games where everything hits, as I did in game three, and you’re able to walk your opponent. You’ll have games where you’ll draw absolute junk, as I did in the pre-match friendly. And there’s a whole lot of mediocrity in between.
Hits: Fun tribal theme of one of the game’s iconic creatures; cheap mana cost for most Slivers means you’ll have little trouble getting them into play (hindered somewhat by the five-colour spread); great array of nonbasic land
Misses: Wildly variant, you won’t find much in the way of consistency here; would have liked perhaps a few less Slivers and a few more pieces of targeted removal; “feast or famine” on removal
FINAL GRADE: 3.75/5.00