Who doesn’t love Slivers? They are the cutest and cuddliest of all the hivemind swarms currently infesting the multiverse. Nobody knows where they come from, but ever since they first showed up on Rath they’ve stolen our hearts (and more than a few games!).
The Sliver tribe is a formidable Pauper strategy. Obviously, players have limited access to tribal options at common, but the meat and potatoes of the archetype remains in tact (12 lords).
All together, 12 lords make an excellent core to build around. First of all, lords are not common at common, which gives the deck a unique angle to exploit. I decided to push the synergy and efficiency angle with the build that I thought was strongest overall.
The key to maximizing the Sliver angle is to understand that it is a linear beatdown deck. I therefore want to be as focused and efficient as possible. In fact, I want the deck to do the same, and play out the same way every single time. I don’t want a toolbox deck—I just want to reduce my opponent’s life total to zero as quickly as possible.
Aside from the obvious power of 12 lords, the other strength of the deck is its hyper efficient curve:
32 total creatures topped off by the big-time value of uber card draw spell Lead the Stampede to restock on more quickly deployable threats.
In some ways, the deck builds itself. Obviously you want the lords, on-color 1-drops, and Lead the Stampede. This makes the first 75% of the spells automatic. The rest of the deck took some fine tuning to get just right.
A 1/1 for 1 with no abilities is nothing to get excited about. I suggested ol’ chrome dome to some friends before I even played a game with the deck and it got a lukewarm response. I’m pretty sure some people scoffed at the first Ornithopter in an Affinity deck too.
It didn’t help my confidence that I couldn’t find any lists with Metallic Sliver on mtgtop8 either. It never bodes well when the Magic hivemind isn’t building your hivemind deck with the cards you are thinking about!
In order for the Sliver deck to be successful, I wanted to take advantage of synergy and efficiency. So, I decided to try out my hunch.
Slivers are never going to win a late-game topdeck war. That will be true regardless of whether the deck plays Metallic Sliver. The only good topdeck is Lead the Stampede and only because it helps assemble the swarm.
You need to play “downhill,” which means getting ahead at the start and running your opponent over before they catch up.
Metallic Sliver helps with these types of sequences because it gives you another 1-drop to ensure that you can use all your mana and get as many bodies onto the table as quickly as possible. The best cards in the deck are the lords and so you want cheap bodies to spread those bonuses around to.
After playing games with and without Metallic Sliver, I concluded that the deck was better for having another 1-drop even if that card was weak in a vacuum. I also got to discard Metallic Sliver to a turn-2 Wrench Mind… BOOM!
Grizzly Bear with me here…
These are easily the worst cards in the deck. Their abilities are not exciting (but sometimes matter). Spinneret is useful against Delver decks and Sentinel is strong in racing situations and against sideboard Tangles.
All in all, I’m not excited to pay for a Sliver that doesn’t boost my swarm, but those are the breaks (at least until they print another 2-drop Sliver lord!).
The last spells I used to round out the deck are a couple of ubiquitously “good” utility spells.
“Good cards are good.”
Journey to Nowhere is the best white removal spell in the format. 2 mana, problem solved.
It’s nice to have a few scattered answers to powerful blockers like Gurmag Angler or a quick Crusher. I’m focused on beating down in game 1, but can board into a deck with solid removal when necessary.
Vines of Vastwood serves as a solid “double duty” spell. It can protect my lords from removal and also allows me to attack into larger blockers and get my pump on. In a 20-land deck GG is not easy, but worth the slot.
Slivers is a linear deck, so you are vulnerable to certain types of strategies. It plays like a beatdown deck, but can adapt its role to better suit the matchup. In particular, you need to interact with some of the other fast creature decks like Elves and Kiln Fiend. You are fast enough to race, but you don’t want to be one-dimensional here and risk losing to a faster hand.
Slivers can be grindy against other creature decks.
I’ve also got some cards for red decks:
Hallow is also great against various red-based control decks since it can function as extra copies of Vines of Vastwood to protect the lords from Lightning Bolts and Flame Slashes. Hallow has good uses against Affinity as well since it counters Galvanic Blast and Fling.
An honorary Sliver! Standard Bearer is great against burn, Auras, and even control since it can act as a decoy for your lords. It’s also a hit with Lead the Stampede, which is nice because it gives you a way to upgrade weaker Slivers without diluting your deck too much.
Thoughts on Slivers
When I started playing the deck I assumed it would be a bad Elf deck. Elves obviously has some advantages:
Elves also has the ability to go full on “Elfball” and combo out. These are strong advantages.
On the other hand, Slivers doesn’t have the same the obvious Achilles’ heel Elves does.
Elves can easily just lose to a sideboard card. The Slivers have a built-in immunity to these “little sweepers” because half of the creatures in the deck pump toughness.
On a scale, it felt like Elves had stronger busted draws but was more susceptable to getting wrecked by the sweepers that are commonly played. Slivers, on the other hand, still has very strong draws but is less vulnerable to getting dumpstered by a Nausea.
Playing two colors also gives you access to removal, which is a boon.
Another upside is that the matches go very fast with Slivers since it’s always a downhill avalanche. Most games were me putting my opponent in a tough spot in the first couple of turns. Either they had multiple ways to interact or they just died.
I’d say one of the most difficult matchups for Slivers are “fog-lock” prison decks. Slivers needs to attack to win, so being locked out of combat is bad news. I have a couple of Faerie Macabre to try and break things up, but you probably need a little more help on that front.
The Sliver mirror match is crazy. Some of the Slivers spread their bonuses to “all Slivers” while others grant them to just “Slivers you control.” I suggest trying to draw the ones that only boost your own bugs.
Overall, Slivers is one of the strongest Pauper decks I’ve played so far and is one of my frontrunner favorite archetypes. I’m planning on playing a Pauper 1K event at my LGS in a couple of weeks, and right now Slivers is the deck I’d sleeve up if the tournament were tomorrow.
If the bugs from Starship Troopers and tyranids from 40K have taught us anything, it is that synapse is a completely busted-in-half ability. Seriously, join the Sliverz club. It’s wonderful.