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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / "Sliver Swarm" Precon Upgrade Guide | Commander Masters

"Sliver Swarm" Precon Upgrade Guide | Commander Masters


Commander Masters preconstructed decklists have been revealed and with it comes another round of my precon upgrades. We're going to do a thorough analysis of each deck, highlighting its goals and how well it accomplishes them, check out its deckbuilding fundamentals, identify its strongest and weakest cards, then use all that information to create an optimized $50 upgrade path!

Check out all the Commander Masters precon upgrades here:

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Sliver Swarm is a five-color deck that is all about Slivers, a creature type where each member brings a unique buff to all your Slivers, from granting them all flying with Galerider Sliver to drawing cards with Synapse Sliver. Slivers are the ultimate toolbox creature type because the tribe can do pretty much anything and it's up to you to decide what specific archetypes you want to focus on when constructing a Sliver deck.

The archetype that Sliver Swarm focuses on entirely is Combat: the deck provides tons of cards that greatly increase its effectiveness in combat, from dishing out extra damage with Bonescythe Sliver to providing evasion with Cloudshredder Sliver to drawing card on combat with Synapse Sliver. All the Slivers and their support cards lend themselves to combat!

So if you want a Sliver deck that focuses on beating face, then Sliver Swarm is the deck for you!

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The Precon List

Before we talk upgrades, let's take a look at the stock list to see what we're working with:

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Sliver Swarm lives up to its name with a complete focus on Slivers: I count 40 sliver creatures in the deck plus 3 cards that can count as slivers like Titan of Littjara, and then 9 more nonland cards that care about slivers. For our Combat subtheme, 27 cards either care about combat damage happening (Descendants' Fury) or buff attacking (Sentinel Sliver). 

When Sliver Gravemother was first revealed a month or so before the rest of the deck list I assumed this would be a Sliver Reanimator deck since face commanders always tie into the main themes of the precon, but it turns out I was wrong: in fact the Gravemother is the only graveyard recursion in the entire deck! The Gravemother is simply there to provide reach for the deck, reanimating token copies of your slivers for one last beatdown. So if you were looking for a Sliver Reanimator deck this ain't it, but if you want Sliver Combat then heck yeah this is for you!

Choosing Our Commander

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There's three potential commanders to lead the deck: the new face commander Sliver Gravemother, the other new option Rukarumel, Biologist, and the reprint option Sliver Hivelord.

The only commander that makes no sense to lead the stock list is Rukarumel: this is a really cool and open-ended commander that acts as an Arcane Adaptation in the command zone, but the thing is that Rukarumel herself is the only non-Sliver creature in the entire deck! So she's great in a deck built from scratch around her, but not here.

Between Sliver Gravemother and Sliver Hivelord, both are acceptable commanders but I gotta give it to the Gravemother: encore is a powerful mechanic and even though the precon isn't really built around it outside of some discard or sacrifice slivers it's still a great way to get more value out of your deck, and the buildaround potential is huge. Whereas the Hivelord is a very good card all on its own and protection is something Slivers desperately want as board wipes are the bane of their existence, the buildaround potential is far less interesting.

So for this guide we're sticking with the Gravemother!

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Analyzing the Precon & Identifying Weaknesses

Now that we've glanced at the stock list and settled on our commander, let's take a closer look at the deck itself to identify what parts benefit the most from upgrades.

As I often explain in my Budget Commander articles, every time I build a rough draft of a deck, I make sure I have a certain ratio of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. My general ratio is:

  • 50 mana; lands and ramp, usually a 37–13 split
  • 10 card draw; cards that net you 2+ cards in hand
  • 8 targeted removal; split between creature / artifact / enchantment removal and countermagic
  • 3 board wipes; creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less
  • 2 graveyard recursion
  • 2 flexible tutors; higher budgets I recommend more tutors
  • 1 graveyard hate; since you need to keep Graveyard decks honest 
  • 1 finisher; something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup

That's always my starting point, which is then tweaked to suit the individual deck's strategy and further tweaked with playtesting. I always find it immensely useful to figure out some quick ways to improve the deck in question.

Let's see what the rough ratios are for Sliver Swarm and how it compares. I count:

The ratios here is okay: we have lower than average mana sources but the deck has an aggressive curve, and there are 2 notable ramp bombs Manaweft Sliver and Gemhide Sliver. The interaction package is underwhelming, not much to consistently stop opponents, but in fairness the deck is trying to solve problem players by just killing them instead of removing their stuff. There are a LOT of ways to protect our creatures from Clot Sliver to Crystalline Sliver, ways to go over blockers with Winged Sliver, and ways to do enough damage like Megantic Sliver. Does that mean this deck doesn't need interaction? No, but at least it's coming up with an answer.

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Slivers And Spikes

Sliver Swarm is a tricky precon to upgrade because a lot of the most obvious upgrades have spiked like crazy. The cause of this is because 1) Slivers are incredibly popular 2) we haven't had Slivers in a main set for a decade and reprints are few and far between, so supply is low 3) Sliver Swarm did a bad job reprinting Sliver staples.

High demand + low supply = cards like Sliver Hive spiking to $50!!!! 

Don't worry though, Sliver Hive is absolutely not worth its asking price! It's literally an Unclaimed Territory 99.99% of the time as spending 6(!) total mana to make a 1/1 Sliver token is such an awful rate that it might as well not even be on the card -- if you regularly activate it then I'd recommend rebuilding the deck, maybe add some more card draw so you have better things to spend your mana on. Like sure, it's a good mana-fixer for our deck and I would've recommended it had it been like $4, but $50?!?! Get outta here!

So in honor of Sliver Hive's absurd new price thanks to speculators, I'll show you how good you can make this precon with a $50 budget!

$50 Upgrade

Disclaimer: Card prices are volatile and may be different at the time you read this article.

The best and most obvious Sliver upgrades are the flashy 5C ones: Sliver Overlord, Sliver Legion, Sliver Queen, and The First Sliver. Of these, I actually think Sliver Legion is the best for the deck since it works so well for our Go Wide Combat plans, turning even a modest army into a lethal attack. It also works incredibly well with our Sliver Gravemother since if we encore the Legion we get three 7/7 hasty attackers that are giving all of our slivers +3/+3 for each other sliver in play -- with just Sliver Gravemother and encored Sliver Legion that's a 15/15 Gravemother plus 3x 16/16 hasted Legions! That's some super dead opponents!

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But my single favorite sliver upgrade is actually going under the radar and currently goes for just 25 cents: Homing Sliver turns all the slivers in our hand into instant-speed sliver tutors! Like imagine if you said that your deck runs a 25 cent Survival of the Fittest, that's how absurd Homing Sliver is! Tutors are especially important in Slivers because slivers do literally everything but the trick is to find the sliver for any situation, which we solve with tutors. It works so well with Sliver Gravemother too as we can discard slivers to then encore with our commander!

The same logic applies to Pyre of Heroes, a dirt-cheap Birthing Pod that allows us to tutor up the slivers we need for any given moment while putting encore targets in our graveyard!

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Since the deck is severely lacking recursion -- Sliver Gravemother is our only source that I don't recommend being reliant on -- I decided to add the two best options for the deck, Patriarch's Bidding and the absolutely busted Eerie Ultimatum. Then we add Kindred Discovery the absolute best draw engine for our combat-focused tribal deck and I also beefed up the lands a bit with the remaining trilands, most notably Murmuring Bosk which counts as a Forest to be tutored up with Three Visits and the like!

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Additions:

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Cuts:

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We cut the weakest slivers for better ones: Blade Sliver out, Predatory Sliver in for example. Other upgrades like Decimate out for Ruinous Ultimatum. The swaps here are all pretty straightforward.

Here's how the deck looks with the upgrades added:

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Also to pre-emptively address some comments: one direction that you can take the upgrades is to really lean into Sliver Gravemother's encore ability and turn the deck into a straight-up Encore deck -- Buried Alive and Entomb cards to put slivers into your graveyard, Convergence of Dominion and Zirda, the Dawnwaker to make encore cost less (though PSA Training Grounds doesn't work, I see people suggesting it but sorry no), Mondrak, Glory Dominus to double the encore tokens, Sundial of the Infinite to keep the encore tokens permanently -- that sounds sweet and all but you'd need to do a massive rework of this entire precon, turning it from a Go Wide Sliver Combat deck to Sliver Reanimator essentially.

Plus going all-in on a 5-Drop commander that has no built-in protection and requires you to spend additional mana to do anything seems very sus at least in my meta where interaction is so prevelant, as the deck would just fall apart if Gravemother died like 2 times. So it's a cool idea but not the direction I'm taking!

Further Upgrades

The remaining good Slivers for this deck are The First Sliver, Sliver Overlord, Sliver Queen, and Magma Sliver. I don't think any other sliver creatures are worth it for this combat-focused version of Slivers.

After that I would focus on the manabase: for lands you'll want the remaining 5C lands Sliver Hive, Cavern of Souls, Mana Confluence, City of Brass, The World Tree, and Reflecting Pool. After that I would mix fetchlands with duals / triomes, the usual stuff.

Finally I would cut some of the redundant slivers for flexible tutors: you don't need Galerider Sliver and Firewake Sliver when you can just run Cloudshredder Sliver and a bunch of ways to tutor it up. Focus on the best sliver for each buff you want, cut the rest, and replace them with tutors like Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor, Bring to Light, and Wargate.

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1 Down, 3 To Go!

Check back tomorrow for the next precon upgrade!



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