Command the Hive – Budget MTG Modern Slivers – Deck Guide

Dominaria, a plane plagued by countless world-ending threats. From the ancient Elder Dragon War to the Phyrexian scourge that will soon be coming back around for round two, it feels like the plane just can’t catch a break. While everyone has their favorite existential threat (or maybe that’s just me…), there is one species looking to invade Dominaria that stands well above the rest in terms of popularity. Modular, adaptable and nearly impossible to eradicate, The Meathooks have won the hearts of players throughout the ages. Let’s join jagged appendages and dive into the Sliver Hive with Modern Budget Slivers. 




Budget Modern Slivers by Darren Magnotti


Header - The Deck

Slivers is a bit of an oddity when it comes to conventional deck building, as really the deck consists of 35 copies of “the same card” with a ton of overlap, while also being flexible enough to fall into the toolbox deck category as well. The main game plan is to create an overbearing creature swarm, jam packed with lords, evasion and protection, which then quickly outpaces an opponent’s board development. Slivers work by using each individual to bolster the collective, which means that a density of creatures in play is key, as the keyword stacking increases their strength exponentially with each additional member. The deck dedicates as much room as possible to the Slivers, as their flexibility is capable of making up for most of the usual pitfalls that come with dedicating so much to one line of thinking. 

When piloting a Slivers deck, there are three main lines of thought that need to be taken into account when deciding on an order of sequencing. The deck comes with aggressive Slivers, defensive Slivers and Slivers that make it easier to play more Slivers. No singular group is more important than another, as each group has its focus both within a singular game and against the metagame as a whole. This breakdown will look a little different than others for this reason, as the end state of any game with Slivers is to have 100 creatures in play that all do the same thing. 


Header - They Protecc

In order to have this gimmick with the headers make sense, let’s start off with the defensively-oriented Slivers. One of the biggest follies to any creature based strategy is the strategic disassembling of its board state by way of removal spells. While there isn’t a spectacular option to prevent mass board wipes, a majority of removal in Modern is targeted.

Diffusion SliverUnsettled Mariner

Diffusion Sliver and Unsettled Mariner are the primary forms of addressing this problem, frequently buying just enough time with their taxing effects to either outgrow damage-based removal or pinch the opponent’s mana enough that their flurry of spells turns into a dribble. Mariner (legally a Sliver) plays double duty here as well, preventing any myriad of effects from targeting the player as well. Countering Valakut triggers, Lightning Bolts and Furys alike can be extremely impactful when it comes to keeping up with some of the higher powered decks in the format.

Dregscape SliverStriking Sliver

Dregscape Sliver is less about immediate protection as it is about those long term plans. One line I frequently found myself doing was to play the Dregscape into a scenario where I knew it would go to the graveyard, say an impending Living End or into an opponent’s counterspell, and using it in one of the following turns to grant haste and pseudo regeneration for removal. While it isn’t the most practical card in the deck at all times, under the right circumstances it can be absolutely devastating. Striking Sliver also fills a defensive role in the deck, which is unexpected considering that it’s a red card with a combat ability. One thing that tends to happen with these creature-based aggro decks is a board stall, where neither player can profitably attack into the other. Striking Sliver helps to ensure these scenarios happen more often, and makes it so that it’s easier to get out of them as well, as first strike can completely stonewall any of the high power, low toughness threats in the format like Ragavan, Strangleroot Geist or Solitude


Header - They Attac

If there’s one thing that Slivers are known for, it’s ganking unsuspecting opponents with an all-out flunge. For my boomers out there, that means surprising an opponent with a game-ending alpha attack with the entire team. The most common ability that Slivers have is to give +X/+X to each other sliver, otherwise known as a lord effect. When several of these are stacked on top of each other, things can get out of hand quite quickly.

Predatory SliverSinew SliverLeeching SliverCloudshredder Sliver

Predatory Sliver and Sinew Sliver are the main culprits in this particular build, ensuring at least a team of 2/2s – often 3/3s – basically every game. Leeching Sliver plays a similar role, though instead of a direct buff to stats, it enables some trickery as damage is dealt upon attacks being declared. This is mostly included as an out against the previously mentioned board stalls. Continuing with the trend of evasion, Cloudshredder Sliver and Two-Headed Sliver both make blocking much more challenging. 

Sidewinder SliverVirulent Sliver

Some of the most important Slivers in the deck are in the mana value one slot. Sidewinder Sliver further adds to the pile of Slivers that make blocking difficult, though it’s generally more useful as just a vanilla first turn play. The real hero of the deck, however, is Virulent Sliver, which offers an alternate win condition to the deck that most opponents, in my experience, either severely disrespect or fail to properly account for. While most players are used to the infect mechanic delivering poison counters, the poisonous mechanic actually stacks with multiple instances. With two Virulents out, it’s very common for an opponent to go from one to 10 poison in a single swing. This ability to close out games in a way that the opponent doesn’t typically expect offers a lot of percentage points in the grand scheme. 


Header - The Abilities Stacc

Alright, so that header gimmick didn’t really work out. Anyway, to tie the deck together are the cards that help to ensure the flood of additional Slivers can keep on coming.

Manaweft SliverGemhide SliverLead the Stampede

Manaweft and Gemhide Sliver allow for incredible amounts of mana over time, as well as additional fixing to help fight through the various Blood Moon decks of the format. To spend all of that extra mana, the deck packs a set of Lead the Stampede, which can draw up to five Slivers for additional Slivering. While I shouldn’t need to tell anyone why drawing five creatures in your creature deck is a good thing, this deck operates by overwhelming opponent’s board states and removal suites, so the additional cards can help push that plan further or recover from a devastating blow such as a board wipe. 

Some deck builders out there may find issue with a deck whose mana curve effectively stops at two. However, maintaining such a density of cheap creatures in this deck doesn’t pack the same downsides as it might in a more traditional archetype because of the Slivers’ propensity to become exponentially more powerful. Typical cheap creature decks work on the principle of addition, where the plan of 1 mana + 2 mana + (1+1+1) mana is enough to burst through in the earlier turns. Slivers are more inclined to go later into the game, and are rewarded much more when they do so as their value per card compounds with each additional card, turning the one-mana card from the beginning of the sequence into the same collectively-six-mana card that was just cast. Frank Karsten can do a better job of explaining the logistics of it, I’m sure, but in the meantime just take my word for it that the advantages are plentiful.


Header - How Does It Play?

Slivers offered an unexpected play experience that I found myself repeatedly wanting to come back to. On the one hand, there’s a gentle simplicity to the strategy, where you cans see your tower of creatures grow and grow until it quickly outsizes whatever the opponent has going on. On the other hand, there was a confounding puzzle to be solved on most turns in terms of sequencing, where nuance really seemed to matter.

Because the Slivers grant their abilities to each other creature in play, it’s usually more correct to lead with your worst cards rather than your best ones because they seem innocuous and opponents will be more inclined to leave them be during their turns. One of my most common decisions was whether to play a Virulent Sliver or one of the other one-drop plays on turn one, and I found that Virulent was almost always the incorrect choice due to its impact on the game in the later turns. Turn two is almost always dedicated to a protection Sliver, Mariner if applicable, though if there is a hand with multiple one-drop creatures and a mana generator, it was more correct to play the mana generator and the additional one-drop on turn two.Discovering such play patterns offered a fair amount of mental exercise, but once they’re learned, the familiarity of them was rather comforting, leaving time to revel in an opponent who was forced to read all of my cards for the first time and piece together how their deck would attack my game plan.

On the whole, the deck was capable of delivering turn three wins on occasion with turn four being the norm. Perfectly average for a Modern deck, for the most part. I was quite happy with the play experience the deck offered, and even though it wasn’t the most competitive against the broader field, it was a lovely change of pace from the typical slog that Modern can sometimes offer. 


Header - Upgrades


Modern Slivers by DemonicTutors


On the whole, there aren’t a ton of changes to the deck with an increased budget. Aether Vial and Cavern of Souls offer a lot of points, especially considering that counterspell decks like Murktide and Azorius were some of the more difficult matchups. Galerider Sliver as an additional one-drop that offers one of the most relevant combat abilities is a huge gain as well, otherwise the configurations are mostly up to the local metagame. Darkheart Sliver, a card included in the sideboard of my list, actually offers huge game against two of the most prevalent decks in the format in Burn and Living End, so this may want to live in the main deck as well.

Otherwise, the deck stands the most to gain from its non-budgeted sideboard options. Cards like Force of Vigor, Chalice of the Void and Torpor Orb pull tremendous weight against the metagame at the moment, and are near essential to bring the deck up to a legitimately competitive level.

That’s all for this one. As spoilers have just ended and prereleases are upon us, you can be sure that I’ll be covering some more Dominaria-flavored goodness in the coming weeks. The set seems to bring enough with it to make some real impact in both Modern and Pioneer, at least on the budget front, so make sure to stick around for the ride. But until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading. 


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