CUT! – The First Finals

Travis Stanley • March 29, 2021

Field Trip by Piotr Dura

Many cuts have to be made before you arrive at your final product when constructing a Commander/EDH deck. Staring up at you from the cutting room floor may be pet cards, combo pieces for a combo not meant to be, or jank that was too janky for even the jankiest of players. The surviving pile of cards that is left standing after a flurry of cuts and edits aims to be your pièce de résistance. Our Finalists are our pièces de résistance today!

The Final Cut-Down!

Welcome to CUT, the series where we put deckbuilders to the test. Have you ever sat across the table from your opponents and thought “Oh, not this again!” as you play against the same powerful cards over and over? Then this series is for you! We take you on a journey through the creative processes of deckbuilders like yourselves as they rise up to the challenges to try and craft their greatest and most interesting decks.

If you have found yourselves here, you must know by now what we are all about, but if you are new, check out this article to see what CUT! is all about.

Before I get to the Finalists, a big thank you to Sinclair and his Red/White Equipment deck led by Akiri, Line-Slinger and Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith for being a part of the very first CUT! article, and we hope to see him again! Now let’s see who made it to the Finals!

Congratulations to David and Ben! I notified our winners with their challenges and gave them one week to get their submissions into me.

This is what our deckbuilders had to work with:

  • Must run a companion creature as a companion
  • All cards must be from the Modern Format
  • Limited to 15 Mythics/Rares (lowest rarity printing counted)

First up is David, lets see what he cooked up:

Sisay-Jegantha Companion EDH Shrines

In Search of Lost Shrines

Commander (1)
Companion (1)
Enchantment (21)
Instant (8)
Sorcery (5)
Artifact (11)
Planeswalker (4)
Creature (14)
Land (36)


In Search of Lost Shrines

After years of fighting Phyrexians, Sisay, Weatherlight Captain ventures to Ikoria on a quest for peace. There she finds Jegantha, the Wellspring. Together they scour the multiverse aboard the Weatherlight for sacred sites and the secrets of inner peace.

 

Of all the companions, Jegantha sparked the most joy for me. His ability is powerful, but only being able to spend his mana on coloured costs does limit him a fair bit. Sisay is a perfect fit for Jegantha. She’s a powerful tutoring engine that works at instant speed.
Given the limit on rares and mythics, Shrines were the ideal target for Sisay. This deck has all 11 shrines in it, and only one is rare.

The combo is pretty simple. Early on, pay for Jegantha’s companion cost, and get him out. Play Sisay and use her to fetch up any legendary you need. Jegantha will give Sisay +2/+2 allowing her to get anything of CMC 3 or lower. From there you can build up a collection of Shrines and other threats to overcome your enemies.

Staying Safe

  • Being a combo deck, you will need to play carefully and defensively.
  • Sisay’s main strength is her flexibility. Always try to keep enough mana to use her ability at least once. Wilderness Reclamation is your friend here.
  • If your opponents try anything shifty, you should have an answer. Arvad the Cursed for a little combat buff, Shalai, Voice of Plenty for hexproof for your creatures, Teyo, the Shieldmage to give yourself hexproof, Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire for hexproof threats, and The Wanderer to block Blasphemous Act and other burn spells.
  • On your last opponent’s end step, if the coast is clear, it’s time to fetch up some shrines!
  • This deck is weak to mass creatures, and fast decks. To counteract it, there are some pillow fort cards; two fogs, Ghostly Prison, and a Sphere of Safety should be enough to keep you safe.
  • A subtler strength for the deck is the fact that most of your threats are enchantments. Most playgroups I have encountered run very little enchantment removal, and even less enchantment board wipes.

Color Theory

While only two colors are needed to play, color matters a lot in this deck. Jegantha is useful, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s removed for being too big of a threat. Once he’s gone, you’re back to basics.

In the end, most of my rare slots went into fixing my mana base. With so many tap lands, an Amulet of Vigor was a must. A fetch land, a shock land, ramp spells, and more all keep the deck running smoothly, even with Jegantha removed.

One of the best plays is to use Jegantha multiple times to power Sisay. Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner can reliably untap Jegantha each turn, and Retreat to Coralhelm can get you multiple untaps per turn when combined with fetch lands and ramp spells. Additionally, Freed from the Real lets you generate infinite mana of all colors except for blue, by untapping and tapping Jegantha infinitely.

Three Paths to Victory

Between Arvad the Cursed, Hero’s Blade, Grafted Wargear and her ability to get +5/+5 from other legendaries, Sisay gets large fairly quick. This allows you to put the pressure on early and even kill slower players.

This deck can combo out enough powerful legendaries to win. It’s not uncommon to get three or even four activations of Sisay in a turn. Arvad, Vaevictis, and Muldrotha the Gravetide are all top tier threats.

The main endgame is to build a Shrine engine. Each provides a mini win condition. I have found that Honden of Seeing Winds and Sanctum of Calm Waters give me more card advantage than I know what to do with. From there, you can play The Locust God to get obscene amounts of tokens, or play Laboratory Maniac and draw your deck. Honden of Life’s Web is an alternate way to token victory. If you prefer a more controlling style, you can use Honden of Night’s Reach to force your strongest opponent to top deck every turn, and use Sanctum of Shattered Heights to pick off all your opponent’s creatures. There are too many win conditions to list them all here!

It’s worth mentioning that Sanctum of All and Paradox Haze double your shrine’s effectiveness. If you can get Sanctum of All out, and your opponents don’t have an answer, the game is yours.

Flavor Picks

While this does not impact the deck very much, I had to include some flavor picks. There’s the Weatherlight of course. It serves its purpose, helping Sisay find more shrines. Sisay’s daughter Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy is in the deck as well. Shanna gives Sisay a way of “collecting” two more colors, and is a pretty strong threat if you build up a token engine with either Honden of Life’s Web or The Locust God.

Jegantha and Sisay is unique, flavorful, and a fairly competitive deck. As always, I hope that this gave you a few interesting ideas. Maybe you’ll find some meaning in search of lost shrines.


Thanks David, “Shrine” on you crazy diamond! Without further ado, our other finalist, take it away Ben!

Harald-Umori Companion EDH Elves

Hey everyone, I have returned for round two to bring you Harald, King of Skemfar, and joining him is Umori, the Collector. Elf-Ball is the name of the game this time around. With the restrictions in place, I was drawn to Elves for a few reasons; with Kaldhiem and Throne of Eldraine, tribal was definitely in my rear view mirror. Having to pull cards from the Modern legality, I could pull deep from both Zendikar and Lorwyn blocks. Having at least 15 rares/ mythics wasn’t too difficult either because if you’ve played pauper you’ll know that even the common Elves can be extremely powerful. The only aspect I had trouble with was the overwhelming amount of strategies that having a companion enables.

 

I knew I could use the limited number of rares to my advantage by playing to the strength of the Elf tribe. Some of the most powerful cards in my Elvish arsenal are their lords. These lords take up the majority of my rare slots, save for a few cards we’ll cover later. Some of my personal favorite Elves fall in this category. Elvish Archdruid doesn’t just bump up your team, but it rewards you with mana from playing more Elves! Something to syphon that mana into is Joraga Warcaller; a very rare ability to be a modal lord, you can either multi-kick once or twice for a small buff or go all out for a huge stat increase to close out a game. We save the best for last with Imperious Perfect. Unlike the Archdruid or the Warcaller, this lord doesnt need other Elves to be at full power since they will make their own army with ease.

The one thing Elves are known for, is how fast they can produce mana, that is no different with this deck. Sol Ring is one of the most popular and divisive cards in commander. How does a tribal Sol Ring for your entire team sound? Joraga Treespeaker is that card! With only a small investment of three mana you’ll have yourself an overcosted Sol Ring, but, with an investment of six more mana you have arguably the most powerful card in the deck! If something horrible were to happen to our Treespeaker we have a reliable backup in Heritage Druid. I did have access to many of the combo pieces but, the Druid is just powerful enough on its own.

The challenge in having a deck with only creatures is that you need to look at less conventional ways to draw cards, deal with troublesome permanents, and get back lost spells. Beast Whisperer is the premier card draw creature in Commander right now, and there is no reason he shouldn’t be in the deck, plus he’s an Elf, so that’s cool! He may not be an Elf, but Toski, Bearer of Secrets is another great source of almost unstoppable card draw. Only removable by exile effects, the Squirrel god will be able to bring a usefulness to an otherwise useless Elf Warrior token. Gilt-Leaf Winnower and Reclamation Sage provide a quick and easy way to get rid of permanents that get in the way of your over violent forest folks. If the card draw/removal isn’t enough, then Golgari Findbroker and Graveshifter will be able to return a lost lord or removed ramp back into hand.

After all is said and done, we finish with my favorite part of the deck, the finishers. The most important role of the Elf-Ball deck is how you’re going to win the game. A card that can rival the infamy of the aforementioned Sol Ring is Craterhoof Behemoth. I had to spend one of my rare slots on him because this big boy is the key win condition in many green decks and, as a fan for the hasty overrun, I had to include him. There isn’t much to be said about ‘Hoof that hasn’t been said before. You play him and attack for a billion, pretty simple. Of course what kind of Elf-ball would I have without Ezuri, Renegade Leader. Similarly with Craterhoof, not much needs to be said about Ezuri. He keeps your Elves alive until it’s time to overrun your opponents in an Elvish fury!

Harald may not be the best Elf-Ball commander (or in general, really), but the kids got chutzpah! With his bestie Umori by his side making the king’s army cheaper, it’s enough to squeeze out a win!


 

That was great Ben, hopefully this Elf-Ball can roll you to victory!

There you have it everyone, our first finals with our first finalists finessing fervently over the flames of furious deck formating.

To vote for the winner of the first CUT! Article series, just cast your vote below in our handy dandy poll at the bottom of the page. The winner will be announced two weeks from now at the beginning of the next CUT! article, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Speaking of the next article, the next 3 deckbuilders have already been selected and are hopefully reading this to see what challenges that they get to work with.

  • Commander must be from Kaldheim
  • Must include 10 or more Enchantments
  • Cards must be Pioneer-legal

Alright deckbuilders, get building! As for everyone else, see you in the next one and remember if you don’t love it, CUT it!

If you are interested in being a part of CUT please send an email to: the.only.travis.stanley@gmail.com.

Follow me on twitter or instagram!

 

Vote here!