Much ado has been made about the Slivers from the Magic 2015 (M15) Core Set. Are they good? Actually, yes, they are all actually quite good. The only trouble is that there is only one in each color, plus Sliver Hive, and the Legendary Creature Sliver Hivelord. Today, we’ll take a look at each of them and see just how good each of them is, in WUBRG (White, Blue, Black, Red, Green) order.
We’ve taken a look at Constricting Sliver at Win Target Game, and came to the conclusion that 6 mana is a lot for Constructed. It has a great effect, though, turning all of your Slivers into Banisher Priests. SolemnParty pointed out some great synergies that it would have with commonly played Slivers in Commander. But for Standard and Modern, it’s fairly highly costed. It’s a new addition to the Sliver toolbox, but not one that really should see any play outside of “kitchen table” Magic or Commander.
Diffusion Sliver is one of the better Magic 2015 Slivers by far. It’s a bit similar to a Sliver from Time Spiral called Opaline Sliver, but with that card, you got to draw a card whenever a Sliver was targeted by a spell an opponent controlled. With Diffusion Sliver, you get to counter a spell or ability an opponent controls that targets a Sliver unless its controller pays 2 colorless mana. These abilities stack as well, meaning if you have two Diffusion Sliver, an opponent has to pay 4 mana. In Modern, this wouldn’t get around Abrupt Decay (which is also still in Standard until October 2014), but overall this card is a great way to protect your key Slivers from being targeted by removal. It’s one of the best of the bunch by far, and definitely Constructed playable.
Leeching Sliver is another strong Sliver from Magic 2015 that doesn’t look strong on the surface. It’s a 1/1 for 1B that says “Whenever a Sliver you control attacks, defending player loses 1 life.” Like Diffusion Sliver these effects stack. I did have this to say about Leeching Sliver previously:
“It has been mentioned by some players that Thorncaster Sliver is already in Standard and does pretty much the same job as Leeching Sliver, and in fact, is able to make Slivers deal damage to creatures as well. However, Thorncaster Sliver is 5 mana. Leeching Sliver is two mana, and their abilities stack as separate instances. So Leeching Sliver is overall a far more aggressive card and even though it’s only a 1/1, Thorncaster is merely a 2/2.”
I definitely like this card over the Thorncaster Sliver. As a two-drop, it may be fairly easy to remove, but it also is going to help deal its fair share of damage before it’s gone.
Belligerent Sliver is a fairly strong card that essentially acts as a Goblin War Drums for all of your Slivers. This means that any of your Slivers cannot be blocked except by two or more creatures. This is a very powerful effect. However, this effect actually did exist on a previous Sliver: Two-Headed Sliver, which cost one mana less at 1R. The difference is that prior to the Magic 2014 re-imagining of Slivers, all Slivers affected all Slivers on the board. That was a common from Time Spiral, so for Modern purposes, that card is actually better unless you’re in a Slivers mirror-match – which is not incredibly common in the Modern meta-game. It’s probably worth running in Standard, though.
While deathtouch is not a new ability for Slivers, Magic 2015’s Venom Sliver is a definite improvement over Toxin Sliver, a rare from Legions that cost 3B to play for a 3/3. It gave all Slivers deathtouch, not just your own, but was created before Deathtouch was keyworded. Venom Sliver only affects your own Slivers and is much more cost-effective at 1G. It’s highly Constructed playable. That isn’t to say that Toxin Sliver is bad – it’s still extremely good. But it’s four mana, and not Modern playable, only Legacy-playable. (Doesn’t stop it from being about $12, though.) In Commander, it will pair well with Venom Sliver, a format in which reduncancy is perfectly fine. But for Constructed Slivers, Venom Sliver definitely wins here.
Sliver Hivelord is easily an auto-include in any Sliver Commander deck. Still, he isn’t quite the Commander that the other three 5-color Sliver Legendary Creatures in Sliver Legion, Sliver Overlord, or Sliver Queen are. The Legion and Queen, however, are quite pricey money-wise, and Overlord himself is about $20 USD. Also, only the Legion is Modern-playable, and he would definitely be played considering he’s a 7/7 for 5 mana (WUBRG) and the weight of his effect: “All Sliver creatures get +1/+1 for each other Sliver in play.”
That being said, making all Slivers you control indestructible is huge, especially in a Slivers mirror match-up – unlikely, but possible. Being able to survive most board-wipes definitely helps your cause. He’s also currently the least expensive of all of the Sliver Legendaries (at this time). He is definitely a potential Commander, but his best place is in Constructed.
Lastly we have the Sliver-friendly land, Sliver Hive.
Modern already has Cavern of Souls and Ancient Ziggurat to help cast Slivers, but having yet another play-set of a land that fixes mana for any of your Slivers very much helps. In Standard, Sliver Hive and Mana Confluence is all you really have. The fact that it also can tap for 1 colorless mana is a nice bonus, and the third ability to create a 1/1 colorless Sliver creature token for 5 mana is just a nice little bonus you can use as a mana sink (as long as you control a Sliver, that is.) It’s a very strong non-basic land, even though its usage is so narrow.
So the problem right now is that Magic 2014 has a bunch of Slivers, too. Right now, Slivers would appear to be a playable deck with Galerider Sliver at a single Blue mana able to give all of your Slivers flying and Manaweft Sliver at 1G to help all your Slivers become five-color mana rocks. You also have Predatory Sliver at 1G to give all of your Slivers +1/+1 and Blur Sliver to give all of your Slivers haste. To top it all off, you have Bonescythe Sliver at 3W to give all of your Slivers double strike. All things considered, you could have an extremely nasty Sliver list. You even have Obelisk of Urd in Magic 2015 to help with Tribal! It’s 6 mana but it has Convoke and gives all creatures of the chosen type you control +2/+2.
So are the Slivers good in Magic 2015? I would say that Constricting Sliver is only Commander playable, and Two-Headed Sliver may be a bit better than Belligerent Sliver in Modern. Until October 2014, there is some potential for Slivers to make some noise. But unless the Khans of Tarkir block has more Slivers, they are going to be a curiosity for awhile. Most of these Slivers are quite Modern-playable, though, and they have all definitely strengthened Slivers in the Commander format. Five of them are also uncommon, which makes them easier to get, and the Hive is only a rare in a Core Set.
I like that Wizards put these new Slivers into the M15 Core Set, but it felt like a plant for Casual Constructed more than anything else. Slivers are not really a viable draft strategy in M15 Limited because there simply aren’t enough of them and there aren’t any at common. I do like all of the Slivers overall, however, and I’m excited to see them potentially start showing up in Modern on a more competitive basis. I love the tribe, and I wish they would bring back their original “hive-mind” flavor of affecting all Slivers, but I’ll live with these. After all, it’s always better when you get to enjoy the effects and not your opponents.
Final verdict: M15 Slivers are good. We’ll just need more in the Tarkir block for them to have much impact in Standard. But Modern needs to watch out: they have some new ammunition to play with.
– Elspeth for the Win