The First Sliver - Commander Deck Tech

Alejandro Fuentes • April 19, 2024

Slivering Our Way to Victory

It's obvious that The First Sliver is a busted commander. Giving every Sliver cascade, even the ones you cascade into, can win games on the spot. Even a deck constructed of 40 lands and 60 randomly selected Slivers is fairly strong with The First Sliver in the command zone. But what if we wanted to have even more explosive, game-winning turns, in exchange for a bit more setup? Let me introduce you to the card Living End

Bringing a Swift End

Modern players will know exactly where I'm going with this. One of the best Modern decks for years has been Living End. The deck's gameplan starts with filling up its graveyard by cycling creatures repeatedly, then casting the card to put an insurmountable amount of creatures on the field. But how is it so powerful if you have to pay four mana and wait three turns? And wouldn't you be better off just playing Living Death? This is where cascade comes in.

If you cast one of the cascade spells that's legal in Modern, like Shardless Agent or Violent Outburst, (before it was banned,) and have no other spells that they can hit, they'll find Living End and cast it immediately. The three advantages that come from the cascade strategy is the ability to play Living End at instant speed, cast it for three mana, and most importantly, dig through your library with a guarantee of finding it. 

With 99 cards in our deck, 98 of which aren't Living End, the ability to find it without a tutor is extremely important. This is one of the few ways we can build a deck around a single card without overloading on tutors, which is great, but what it means instead is we need a ton of one-drops. In Modern, a Living End deck can't play cards with mana value two or less, because there are only three-drops with cascade available, and finding Living End every time is critical.

Thanks to the The First Sliver, though, we have eight one-drops with cascade, meaning the only thing off limits is zero-drops. That's fine, I wasn't going to play Mana Crypt anyways. 

Pieces of the Puzzle

Taking more inspiration from Modern, we're going to build the deck with a shell and package. Essentially, a shell is a bunch of staples that fit a theme, while the package allows you to do something special. For instance, you might have a combo package, like Splinter Twin, Deceiver Exarch, and Pestermite, in a control shell, with cards like Spell Pierce and Dig Through Time

Our Living End package is going to consist of Living End, of course, and ways to fill the graveyard. The more we mill, the more we win by, so let's take the big guns, Traumatize, Hermit Druid, Mirror-Mad Phantasm, and Cut Your Losses. Casting these and following them with mass recursion pretty much wins the game on the spot. 

The package isn't quite done yet, though. You may have noticed that we have an extremely high likelihood of just milling Living End, meaning The First Sliver can no longer cascade into it. Luckily, there's a load of cards that cast cards from the graveyard without paying their mana cost. (Handy tip: any card that says "without paying its mana cost" can cast a no-mana-cost card.)  Finale of Promise, Dreadhorde Arcanist, Halo Forager, and Vadrok, Apex of Thunder will all copy Living End if it gets milled. Be careful, though, because they all exile it afterwards, meaning you can only do it once. Luckily, once should be more than enough. 

If you still can't find a way to cast Living End from your graveyard, there's a near guarantee that you'll have milled Turn the Earth or Memory's Journey, which will shuffle it back in, reenabling the First Sliver gameplan. And finally, if you've milled half your deck and can't find a way to get to Living End, maybe you can cast Living Death or Eerie Ultimatum instead. Always good to have a backup plan! Of course, since this gameplan is so fragile, I've included ways to protect it, like Autumn's Veil, and Veil of Summer. And yes, I said tutors weren't necessary, but Final Parting serves so many purposes in a single card that it's a must-have. And it's only 25 cents! 

Slivers have Shells, Right?

That pretty much sums up our Living End package, so what's our shell? Just a typical Sliver deck, ready for us to recur in hordes. Firstly, we need all eight one-mana Slivers. Some are useful, like Screeching Sliver, while others don't do much at all, like Metallic Sliver. Luckily, none are completely useless, thanks to the way Slivers interact with each other. We especially want to focus on haste and pump Slivers so that when we bring them back, there's nothing that can withstand our assault.

Cloudshredder Sliver is easily one of the best Slivers ever, thanks to the evasion it gives, espcially for such a cheap cost. But since we're cheating all these Slivers onto the board, mana value doesn't matter much. We'll shove all the biggest Slivers in here, from Constricting Sliver to Megantic Sliver. Even two or three Slivers on the board with Cleaving Sliver will have you swinging in for massive amounts of damage. Finally, we have Dregscape Sliver, which is completely broken once you've milled half your deck. 

The last part of the deck is the staples. Whenever I'm building a graveyard deck, I find cards like Grisly Salvage to be extremely efficient. Our graveyard is just a second hand, so Grisly Salvage reads: draw five. But even better than Grisly Salvage is the same effect, but on a creature, like Satyr Wayfinder, which will be reanimated with Living End. The second set of card advantage pieces in this deck are looting/rummaging effects, e.g., Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion. Half the cards in our deck would rather be in our graveyard than in our hand, so discarding is highly effective. 

The First Sliver

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Commander (1)
Sorceries (16)
Creatures (35)
Artifacts (3)
Instants (8)
Enchantments (1)
Lands (38)

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If You're Not Over Winning, Are You Even Winning at All?

Welp, that's a summary of a First Sliver Deck, if you want it to be overly complicated, unreliable, and vulnerable to a single counterspell. But the end result is about as spectacular as game winning moves get, and at the end of the day, isn't that what Commander's all about? I assure you, this strategy works almost half the time, and wins through the raw power of Slivers another 25% of the time. That's a pretty good rate for a janky combo deck.

Tell me, what's the most convoluted deck you've ever built? Even if it never worked, I want to know about it!

Alejandro Fuentes's a nerd from Austin Texas who likes building the most unreasonable decks possible, then optimizing them till they're actually good. In his free time, he's either trying to fit complex time signatures into death metal epics, or writing fantasy novels.