Brewing Sharuum the Hegemon in cEDH

Sam Black • June 26, 2024


Sharuum the Hegemon isn't exactly a new card; in fact, it predates all Commander product, and it was once considered one of the strongest commanders in the format (just take my word for it). These days, we have better options, like Tivit, Seller of Secrets, a widely played commander with the same cost, and even same card type, that completes a two-card combo that wins the game with Time Sieve, a card that only requires two additional mana. Sharuum is outdated. However, maybe there's something here. Sharuum is also a combo piece, and the best cards that can combo with Sharuum have also gotten a lot better since 2008.

I'm going to propose a decklist. I don't believe this decklist is optimal; I believe it would be playable, but I would not expect to win a tournament with it. I could tune the deck and present a more competitive list, but I believe that would be less useful.

Just yesterday, a friend asked me how I build decks, and this is a great opportunity to show that process. I've started with all the different end games and combos this deck might want; there's a lot of overlap and interesting synergy between the different combos in this deck, but right now, I think this deck has too much going on, and it suffers by having about half as many counterspells as it probably should have, and correspondingly a curve that's likely a little too high, but to my mind, the best way to find the right combos for the deck is to just play with all of them and see which works best and cut the cards that don't pull their weight. Plus, for an article, it's a lot more interesting to read about all the different packages you could swap in than seeing fewer unique elements and a slightly longer list of commonly played counterspells.

Incidentally, a note on my process: my actual inspiration for this deck was that I wanted a deck that could play white sweepers because I think Out of Time and Wrath of the Skies are fantastic cards that are hard to play, and I think powerful sweepers are a good thing to have against Nadu in particular, so let's look at the different packages of combos this deck's currently sporting:

Sharuum the Hegemon Combos

First, we have cards that directly combo with the commander. The most famous combo with Sharuum is if you return an artifact that can copy Sharuum, you can legend rule Sharuum, return Sharuum, and repeat the process; that's a two-card combo that requires no additional mana, you just have to have the right card in your graveyard. Historically, this has worked with Sculpting Steel and Phyrexian Metamorph, but more recently, we've added Machine God's Effigy. Machine God's Effigy is the best of these by quite a bit, because every time the Machine God's Effigy enters the battlefield you can tap it for blue mana before resolving the trigger to return Sharuum and legend ruling the Machine God's Effigy to untap it, so you make infinite blue mana with no additional cards. If an opponent controls Thrasios, Triton Hero, Urza, Lord High Artificer, or any other creature with a mana sink you can pour blue mana into, you can finish off by copying that with Machine God's Effigy and win with that ability.

Most of the time, this is going to be a three-card combo where you have Sharuum, an artifact that copies, and something that pays you for creating this loop. Anything that allows you to sacrifice an artifact or creature will get infinite fodder, and anything that triggers when an artifact or creature enters or dies will trigger infinitely. There are a ton of cards that work here, so my goal is to play the ones that are the least independently bad.

The Meathook Massacre is ideal, because it's a good sweeper by itself, and enchantment is a relatively resilient permanent type, plus if you have it on the battlefield and you create this loop, your opponents die.

Urza, Lord High Artificer is another great option because it allows you to generate and spend infinite blue mana to cast your whole deck, and it's also just a good card by itself.

Grinding Station is cheap, resilient, and can help fill your graveyard to find things for Sharuum or any other cards you have that access the graveyard. When you establish the loop, you can also infinitely mill all of your opponents.

Krark-Clan Ironworks can give you infinite colorless mana, which doesn't do anything by itself, but it might win the game if you have another artifact you can return at the end to spend that mana on.

Portal to Phyrexia isn't an infinite or game-winning combo, but if it's in your graveyard, there's a good chance that you'll want to return it to the battlefield with Sharuum.

Finally, I consider Codex Shredder and Shorikai, Genesis Engine part of the Sharuum combo package because they help get cards I want in my graveyard for Sharuum.

Knowledge Pool Lock

Sharuum is a great commander to play Knowledge Pool locks because it has access to blue and white mana and can put Knowledge Pool into play from the graveyard, which makes Knowledge Pool a lot easier to find and resolve. Also, a new very strong Knowledge Pool lock was just printed.

If we have Teferi, Time Raveler or Drannith Magistrate and we play Knowledge Pool, we can play spells and our opponents can't. They'll need something like a Channel ability to get out of this. If we have Damping Sphere in play, players can still cast spells, but it becomes incredibly expensive to cast more than one spell each turn. Finally, the new addition of Vexing Bauble will counter all spells, so no one, including us, can cast spells, which might be good enough if we're ahead, and we can always unlock everyone by sacrificing Vexing Bauble. Note that if you have both Vexing Bauble and Damping Sphere, the cost increase from Damping Sphere will invalidate the Bauble and unlock everyone.

Displayer Kitten Combo

We already want Teferi, Time Raveler for the Knowledge Pool lock, so if we also play Displacer Kitten we gain access to the zero-mana or mana-positive artifact + Teferi + Displacer Kitten combo that draws your deck and makes a bunch of mana. If we also play Trinket Mage, then we get access to the Displacer Kitten + Trinket Mage combo that finds every one- and zero-mana-cost artifact from your deck and generates mana by casting them all; if we also play Sensei's Divining Top, we can find that between each other artifact to also draw a lot of cards.

Bolas's Citadel Combo

If we're playing Sensei's Divining Top anyway, we can build a better Yawgmoth's Bargain by combining it with Bolas's Citadel, which happens to be a very high-impact artifact we can return from our graveyard with Sharuum. This could go infinite and kill everyone else with Aetherflux Reservoir, but I currently don't think that's worth including.

Tameshi Combo

Tameshi, Reality Architect is a powerful card in a deck full of artifacts that's trying to fill the graveyard because of its ability to let you access any of those cards, but Tameshi is also part of a very low opportunity cost infinite combo.

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Copy Artifact can start the same infinite loop with Sharuum that happens when you have an artifact clone in the graveyard: every time the legend rule occurs, you sacrifice Sharuum and return it, so between that and the fact that the deck just has a lot of artifacts you can copy, it's a reasonable card to play regardless. Lotus Bloom is a good way to cast your commander if it's in your opening hand, and artifact lands aren't much of a liability, and it's a decent Trinket Mage option and helps with enabling a fast Mox Opal. I'm only playing one to find, but the combo works with any artifact land, so it could be worth adding more. The output here is just infinite mana, but you can also use Tameshi to return anything else. Notably, I'm not currently playing any artifacts that are reliably infinite mana sinks; it might be worth playing Staff of Domination since you have a lot of ways to making infinite mana, but I think it's a worse card on its own than any other card in the deck, so I'd prefer to avoid it.

Intuition does a lot of work in this deck: it can always find any two of Machine God's Effigy, Sculpting Steel, and Phyrexian Metamorph to establish the Sharuum loop, and it can also find Copy Artifact, Lotus Bloom, and Ancient Den if you have Tameshi, though you'd only want to do that if you have a way to discard Lotus Bloom.

KCI Combo

Another combo you can set up with Intuition is Krark-Clan Ironworks with Scrap Trawler and Myr Retriever. If you Intuition for all three, you can cast whichever they give you and then use Sharuum to get Scrap Trawler or Krark-Clan Ironworks from your graveyard and start going off by sacrificing Sharuum. You'll only want to do this if you already have a one-mana artifact in your graveyard, and if you have Wizard's Rockets or Chromatic Star you'll be able to draw your library. Spine of Ish Sah can be included to destroy all of your opponents' permanents. Mishra's Bauble and Urza's Bauble help make this combo easier. They aren't necessary, but they also facilitate Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Tameshi as draw engines.

Thassa's Oracle Combo

Several of your "wins" just result in drawing your deck, such as making infinite mana and activating Urza. From there you could probably set up a The Meathook Massacre-fueled Sharuum loop, but Thassa's Oracle makes things easy, and you're playing a black deck with a lot of tutors, so there's benefit to including Thassa's Oracle, Tainted Pact, and Demonic Consultation anyway. I think it's reasonable not to play Thassa's Oracle or Demonic Consultation and just to play Tainted Pact as a tutor since the deck has so many ways to win anyway, but I would test this here.

Those are the deck's various outputs and end game states. Again, the goal is that every card is functional on its own, but I do think this is too many sorcery-speed cards that cost mana in total.

The Rest of the Deck

Typical draw engines (Currently no Esper Sentinel to minimize exposure to sweepers and no Trouble in Pairs because I'm afraid of the deck being too clunky, but both are reasonable considerations). The best counterspells you have room for. A lot of tutors. A lot of mana artifacts, including Voltaic Key and Manifold Key, which work with Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Grim Monolith, Sensei's Divining Top, and The One Ring. A touch of spot removal; currently only Swords to Plowshares and Static Prison. Strong sweepers: Pest Control, The Meathook Massacre, Out of Time, and Wrath of the Skies. Reanimate and Sevinne's Reclamation to take advantage of the mill aspect of the deck. Silence because it should be in basically every white deck.


I think the first thing I'd want to do as I found cards or plans I didn't like is add more counterspells, likely starting with Force of Negation, but there are a lot of other cards worth thinking about.

Disciple of the Vault wins with the Sharuum loop and can occasionally function as weak resistance against Dockside loops.

There are some good artifact stax pieces you could include, like Grafdigger's Cage or (possibly with some modifications) Cursed Totem.

I'm not playing infinite mana combo cards, like Basalt Monolith, Power Artifact, and Rings of Brighthearth, because the deck isn't good at spending infinite mana. Staff of Domination is probably the best artifact that could solve that problem, with Walking Ballista as an alternate consideration that you can't return with Sharuum.

Talion, the Kindly Lord or Tivit, Seller of Secrets could be played as powerful individual card draw engines, but I think they're weaker than Trouble in Pairs. Time Sieve could be included with Tivit, but I think that's going too far.

Standard good Esper creatures, like Esper Sentinel, Grand Abolisher, Orcish Bowmasters, and Ranger-Captain of Eos, could be played. I tried to minimize creatures to make the sweepers as good as possible, but might have gone too far.

Blind Obedience is a good stax piece when you're feeding Dockside as much as this deck does.

Yawgmoth's Will might be great because of all the self mill, but I'm not currently playing rituals to support it; Culling the Weak wouldn't be a good fit, but it might be wrong not to play Dark Ritual anyway.

Expedition Map might be good since the deck makes great use of Mishra's Workshop and Cavern of Souls (just to make Sharuum uncounterable, since that effectively also makes whichever artifact you want uncounterable).


The complete decklist and considerations can be found here.

Sam Black's Sharuum the Hegemon cEDH Deck

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Commander (1)
Creatures (10)
Artifacts (32)
Lands (27)
Instants (16)
Sorceries (7)
Enchantments (6)
Planeswalkers (1)

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As I've discussed frequently, I like decks that have flexible lines and a lot of redundancy in how they win so that they can attempt to win several turns in a row without worrying too much about resistance. I like how the different lines in this deck overlap and a lot of the cards play together well. I think it has potential if some work is put in to trim the right cards, but it's a big project. I do like it as a deck that can use Out of Time and Wrath of the Skies, and I think it's worth looking for good decks that can do that.

Sam Black is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam enjoys a wide range of formats, especially limited and unofficial fan formats like Old School and Premodern in addition to cEDH.