Several weeks ago, I wrote an article about my Captain Sisay deck. Before the article was finished, I knew I wanted to write another article that would show how that deck converted into an EDH deck; a promoted “Commander” Sisay deck if you will.
Before writing anything, I wanted to get well through the conversion. If I discovered something surprising or found a problem with the deck, I wanted to know about it long before the article was being written. Besides, I wanted to build another Commander deck, and Commander Sisay seemed like a great plan!
I started with the original decklist, and looking at the cards I would have to remove on my way to creating an EDH legal deck. The first pass removed all the duplicates, and all the cards that were a color other than white or green. This left me with Captain Sisay, a bunch of green elves, a Dragon Arch, a couple of spells, and a few lands.
Birds of Paradise
Darigaaz, the Igniter
Dromar, the Banisher
Numot, the Devastator
Priest of Titania
Sisters of Stone Death
Sol’kanar the Swamp King
The benefit of Dragon Arch in the original deck was that it allowed me to play all my big legends since they were all multicolored. I started to realize just how few gold creatures I would have in my deck. I considered how often I would likely need the Arch, as opposed to simply having green and white mana. I dumped the Arch as well.
I looked at my mana producing green creatures and realized Nomadic Elf was pointless with only two colors in the deck. With only three elves in a 100 card deck, the Priest of Titania was going to be nothing more than an expensive Llanowar Elves.
The legendary lands that made the deck so nasty to play against were annihilated. With only green and white mana producers available, I was down to just Pendelhaven, Eiganjo Castle and Karakas, and Karakas wasn’t even legal.
The legendary creatures were completely gone as well! I’d been running 3-colored dragons and none of them were available in a Commander Sisay deck. Suddenly the skeleton I’d expected my 60 card deck to provide had turned into a piece of charred bone days after the flaming pyre was extinguished. Commander Sisay was pretty much all that was left.
While I was deflated, I continued on. I brought up Gatherer and started to look through the lands. The most valuable aspect of the 60 card deck was the ability to get any land you wanted. If I could still do that with this Commander deck, I would be in good shape. While I did find several legendary lands that produced green or white mana, the majority were lands that did something other than provide green or white mana. I’ve listed off the lands I found below, but I’m not sure that all of them will make the cut. Serra’s Sanctum is a nice card, but it seems unlikely the deck will have enough enchantments to make it worthwhile.
Hall of the Bandit Lord
Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
Flagstones of Trokair
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
While I was hardly wowed by what I found, I figured it would be more than enough to make Sisay work the way I wanted her to work.
The list of legends was pretty impressive. While some of them were cards I do not own and will likely never own, I was surprised by how many of them I did own.[i] I made an early decision to skip Gaddock Teeg. While he is in the right colors and seems to fit perfectly in this deck, he will take over the deck. I will be using Sisay to find him first every single time, then immediately be searching for the next piece to controlling the board. I’m also pretty sure Teeg will bring a world of hate on this deck that I don’t want to see right away. Perhaps Gaddock Teeg would break into the deck in future iterations, but I decided to take a pass on him during the initial build.
Reki, the History of Kamigawa
Yomiji, Who Bars the Way
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Chorus of the Conclave
Darien, King of Kjeldor
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Mangara of Corondor
Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker
Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Orim, Samite Healer
Rhys the Redeemed
Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
Dosan the Falling Leaf
Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
Mirri, Cat Warrior
Omnath, Locus of Mana
Silvos, Rogue Elemental
Thriss, Nantuko Primus
Thrun, the Last Troll
While a number of these are just straight up fatties or creatures with some kind of evasion or skill in the red zone, there was definitely a subset that involved token production and pumping those tokens. Reki, the History of Kamigawa was the card that surprised me the most. I had no idea that he even existed! This fellow is finding a place in my original 60 card build and will undoubtedly be a star in this deck! That is some serious card drawing, when you realize I can probably play a legend every turn.
The artifacts were surprising as well. While the Dragon Arch was out, there were several legendary artifacts that would likely work quite well. Champion’s Helm and Shell of the Last Kappa were two legendary artifacts that I found useful and interesting. While the Shell will likely be dumped in the future, it was something I had never seen played before, and I wanted to try it out. Others I considered included Predator, Flagship and Sword of the Chosen.
Before I added too many more cards, I knew I would want to leave space for the obligatory cards, Sol Ring and Command Tower. Sensei’s Divining Top is usually included in this list, but I knew I didn’t have any that weren’t already in decks, and I wasn’t buying another, so I left it out. While I hate auto-includes, they are auto-includes for a reason. There is nothing particular about this deck that says these cards should be excluded, so in they go.
I had several cards for the deck, but I hadn’t added even included any of the utility spells! Artifact mana is an absolute essential. While they are vulnerable to artifact hate, they do allow some mana ramping and protect you from being completely vulnerable to land destruction.
If I am basing my deck around particular creatures, I want ways to protect the creatures once they are in play. While Whispersilk Cloak and Lightning Greaves are the well-known ways to protect your dudes from targeted destruction, Swiftfoot Boots and the brand new Mask of Avacyn are other equipment that should also be considered.
Creature destruction spells were added. Swords to Plowshares is like a safety blanket for me whenever I run white spells. Oftentimes, once I get comfortable with a deck, I’ll switch it out for a different instant or a creature that can do the same thing, but for an initial build like this, Swords is in. Artifact and enchantment destruction are a requirement in my artifact and enchantment heavy metagame, so they were added as well. I am generally willing to pay a little extra if I can draw cards while destroying opponents’ permanents so I focused there. Ways to search for artifacts, enchantments and creatures were cards that needed to be in the deck as well, so they were also added.
At this point, I was just above 100 cards, so I started to go back through the cards, looking at the mana curve. While some may eschew the mana curve in their Commander decks, I do not. While I tend to stretch the curve higher up and run it longer (an acceptable average for card cost to me is somewhere in the 3.5 to 4.5 mana range, and I will include more cards in the 7 mana and up range than others), I do pay attention to it. I do not want to be caught with my pants down, waiting for the mana for the three 6 mana spells in my hand, while I get pounded by 2/2 flyers that were cast for four mana.
As I went through the cards, I felt completely uninspired by the deck. This deck wasn’t interesting or exciting to me in any way. I just slapped a bunch of legends into a deck that lets me search for them. There were no interesting combos. The deck offered almost none of the cards that I had wanted to model from the original 60-card deck. The original deck had ways to protect my legends and legends of a wide variety of colors that could do practically anything. This deck just felt like a beatdown deck with a legend theme.
Playing in a casual format is all about the fun. Commander offers some limitations on the decks you can build that is supposed to add to the fun of the format, but instead, I had built a deck that I found mostly uninteresting. Without ever even sleeving up the cards to play a single game, I discarded it.
I’m not saying this is a bad deck… or a good one. It may turn out that this deck is a few tweaks short of amazing. I am not someone who can look at the deck and tell you how it will play without shuffling it up and playing a few games. If you are interested in trying Captain Sisay as your Commander, feel free to run this deck or just a skeleton of the deck. This happens to many ideas for many deckbuilders: what seemed like a great idea at the start, in the end just doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.
Thankfully there are plenty of other generals, card combinations and random deck ideas. I’ve already started on another idea, but that will have to wait for another week!
Before wrapping up, I would appreciate everyone checking out Gift Given, a charity project being put on by the good people over at Commandercast. Donate some cards or cash, with the money all going to Childs Play, a charity that provides toys and games to children in hospitals. My wife works at Children’s Hospital inBoston and watches these kids deal with diseases and injuries that would leave the rest of us questioning the value of life. Anything you can do to help out would be great.
[i] I like to believe that my collection is crap. I was shocked to see just how many good cards I have in my collection that aren’t in decks. This deck was going to ensure that many top notch cards found homes in my deckbox.