Calling Up Ghouls With Sidisi

Sure, Halloween was last week, but that was before the new Commander 2014 set! With new stuff hitting the shelves today, our favorite Khan has lots of new minions to dump into the graveyard and dig up later! Bennie, show us the way!

It occurs to me that I got my timing all wrong: I should have done Sidisi and her Zombie minions last Friday on Halloween and did Zurgo Helmsmasher this
Friday. Oh well, never too late for some walking dead action, no?

While Sidisi herself isn’t a Zombie, I think she still makes a mighty fine Commander for a Zombie deck. She pumps out 2/2 Zombies like it’s going out of
style – especially if we build around her triggered ability – and having access to green opens up deckbuilding options for us, such as Dredge cards and
ways to deal with enchantments.

Sidisi’s Brood

Nephalia Drownyard, Dakmor Salvage, Entomb, Sensei’s Divining Top, Gaea’s Blessing, Life from the Loam, Cellar Door, Strionic Resonator, Sylvan Library, Cephalid Illusionist, Sultai Ascendancy, Jarad’s Orders, Corpse Connoisseur, Deadbridge Chant, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Sidisi’s zombie-making prowess comes from her triggered ability: “Whenever one or more creature cards are put into your graveyard from your library, put a
2/2 black Zombie creature token onto the battlefield.” She herself can trigger this by milling three cards when she comes into play or attacks, but we can
surround her with other ways to put a creature card into the graveyard. Nephalia Drownyard, Cephalid Illusionist, and Sultai Ascendancy mimic her milling
ability to some degree, and we can manipulate the top of our library and our draws with Sensei’s Divining Top and Sylvan Library to try and ensure that a
creature is always on top to be milled away and turned into zombie food. The anti-tuck tech Cellar Door can net you two zombies when you hit a creature
from the bottom of your library and Sidisi is on the battlefield. Then there are cards like Entomb, Jarad’s Orders, and Corpse Connoisseur that put a
creature directly into the graveyard from your library, guaranteeing the Sidisi trigger. I had Buried Alive in my original draft of this deck, but you only
get one zombie whether the effect puts one creature or three into the graveyard, and three mana slots are at a premium in Commander decks anyway (not to
mention all the three mana zombie “lords” we’ll want). Deadbridge Chant doesn’t necessarily guarantee putting a creature into the graveyard from the
library, but with 1/3 of the deck being creatures the odds are pretty good. Strionic Resonator can double up both of Sidisi’s triggered abilities, or any
other of the plentiful cards in our deck with triggered abilities.

Since I’m not really pushing a reanimator strategy here and focusing more on zombie tribal, I thought we could take advantage of green’s Gaea’s Blessing to
“churn” our graveyard back into our library over and over again. Kozilek of Truth can do the same even better by being a perfect target for some of the
aforementioned “put creature card from library into your graveyard” cards when you want to restock your library and resume the milling. You could pull off
the old school “breakfast” combo with Cephalid Illusionist and Lightning Greaves to generate an unlimited number of zombies with Sidisi triggers. In case
you’re not familiar with the combo, equipping a creature targets it with an ability, and you may activate a card’s equip ability targeting the creature
that it is currently attached to, even if it’s the only creature you control. Since the equip ability of Lightning Greaves costs zero, you can do this as
many times as you like during your main phases and continuously trigger Cephalid Illusionist’s ability.

Life from the Loam is obviously pretty sweet with all these cards flying from the library to the graveyard, letting you trade a draw step (and potentially
making a zombie with the Dredge mill) to retrieve up to three lands that have been milled.

Tribal Synergies

Unholy Grotto, Gravecrawler, Runed Stalactite, Shepherd of Rot, Diregraf Captain, Unbreathing Horde, Cemetery Reaper, Death Baron, Lord of the Undead, Zombie Master, Lich Lord of Unx, Vengeful Dead, Soulless One, Undead Warchief, Distant Melody, Noxious Ghoul, Corpse Harvester, Gravespawn Sovereign

If you’ve ever built a zombie tribal deck before then hardly any of these selections will surprise you. We’ve loaded up on all of the zombie “lords” to
boost our zombies and occasionally give them some sweet abilities. Lich Lord of Unx is a fun card to churn out little mini zombies while also giving us the
potential to deck an opponent or two. Vengeful Dead and Noxious Ghoul are the co-MVPs of any zombie deck, often outright killing opponents or all
non-zombie creatures. Blue gives us access to the fantastic tribal card Distant Melody for raw card drawing. Even though I made a conscious decision to
limit the number of non-zombie creatures in the deck, Runed Stalactite will allow the few we do have – including our Commander herself – to benefit from
all the zombie goodness we’ve got going on.

The Good, The Dead, and the Ugly

Mutavault, Svogthos, the Restless Tomb, Necromancer’s Stockpile, Shapesharer, Lotleth Troll, Withered Wretch, Glissa, the Traitor, Undead Gladiator,
Shambling Shell, Ashen Ghoul, Balthor the Defiled, Chameleon Colossus, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, Stitcher Geralf, Ghoulcaller Gisa, Grimgrin, Corpse-Born, Havengul Lich, Kheru Dreadmaw, Vengeful Pharaoh, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Pontiff of Blight

Even though a fair number of zombie tribal cards are themselves zombies, there aren’t enough of them to truly populate a hundred card tribal deck so I went
searching for zombies that are individually powerful enough for Commander and get even better with tribal synergies. Having access to green gives us
Lotleth Troll, Glissa, the Traitor (which can help retrieve artifacts we mill into the graveyard), Shambling Shell (Dredge!), Chameleon Colossus, and
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord. Green lets us run Kheru Dreadmaw, which I’m not entirely sure is “Commander-worthy” but it’s a zombie that’s big enough to defend
and can also repeatedly munch on other creatures of mine that are already dying to recoup some life. Gutless Ghoul might be slightly better, but three mana
is a tough spot on the mana curve to earn a place. Green also gives us Svogthos, the Restless Tomb which animates into a Plant Zombie. Having access to
blue gives us Shapesharer (a zombie clone!), Grimgrin, Corpse-Born, and Havengul Lich. Necromancer’s Stockpile can really shine here by making zombies at
instant speed while drawing deeper into our deck. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is a zombie that makes nearly all our other zombies much harder to kill, but keep
in mind that our few changeling creatures are also humans in addition to being zombies so they won’t get the Undying ability.

I like really like Vengeful Pharaoh here. He’s always surprisingly good (except when the attack kills you), but I like that his trigger puts him on top of
your deck where Sidisi can just mill him back into the graveyard while making a zombie. Sometimes you just want your Pharaoh to stay in the ground.

We also get to add zombie-loving creatures from two of the new Commander 2014 decks: Stitcher Geralf and Ghoulcaller Gisa! Geralf’s milling provides
another way to get Sidisi to trigger while stitching together potentially huge zombie creatures from our opponent’s prized creatures – how nice would it be
to nab someone’s Lord of Extinction for the stitching?

Of course, Ghoulcaller Gisa is the real prize for any zombie deck. Even with one lone 2/2 zombie on the board, she can sacrifice it to make two 2/2 zombies
and slowly build the army from there. But think about the potential zombie swarm you can unleash with zombies like Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord or Chameleon
Colossus? I almost want to stick Howl from Beyond or Berserk in here!

Okay, so we’ve got the three mainbases covered here and rounding the deck out here’s what I’ve got cooking for Commander Sidisi:

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 11-07-2014
Magic Card Back

I was a little leery about putting Wave of Vitriol in the deck since I’m running a fair number of artifacts and enchantments and non-basic lands myself,
but with Life from the Loam to recover sacrificed lands, and a few ways to shuffle graveyard cards back into the deck, I figured why worry? The card is
just incredibly powerful and quite devastating to a lot decks that are heavy on artifacts/equipment or enchantments. It even kills off the Theros Block
gods. All must fall beneath the green slime tide, hahaha! Just about any deck with green in it that isn’t heavily focused on enchantments or artifacts is
going to want to run this potent sweeper.

Running Wave of Vitriol has me leaning towards another card from Commander 2014, Commander’s Sphere. Where usually I’d be running the incredibly resilient
Darksteel Ingot, I really like Commander’s Sphere here. Not only can you cash it in for a card if you’re going to cast Wave of Vitriol anyway, but it plays
very nicely with Glissa, the Traitor-whenever an opponent’s creature dies, you can cash in the Sphere for a card, and then get it back from Glissa’s

What do you think of the choices I’ve made? Would you do anything differently? I was leaning towards including Waste Not and Mind Slash in the deck. Waste
Not can produce zombies, and with a bunch of cannon fodder that this deck can produce, Mind Slash can pretty much end up Mind Twisting people’s hands. I
figure with both in play, you can sacrifice something to Mind Slash, and if they discard a creature, you get a Zombie from Waste Not to sacrifice again; if
they discard a land you’ve got two black mana you can use to activate Mind Slash twice. If they discard a noncreature nonland card, well you get to draw a
card which ain’t bad either. Unfortunately, with all the zombie “lords” costing three mana there wasn’t much room on that spot in the mana curve, and I
ended up cutting Mind Slash. Once I cut that, I ended up cutting Waste Not too, but I think the two cards are something I want to consider for another
deck. Hm, maybe when I get around to building Ghoulcaller Gisa a tricked out Commander deck?

Speaking of which, let me take a moment to say I’m totally impressed by the new Commander 2014 product. During the spoiler week I was constantly impressed
by all the new cards I saw, and once I saw the entire decklists I was doubly impressed by so many of the reprints. A heartfelt bravo to lead
designer Ethan Fleischer and the whole R&D team for a truly fantastic Commander product-I have yet to speak to a fan of Commander who isn’t totally
stoked about it! After I get off work this Friday I’m heading down to my local game shop and eagerly picking a full set of all five decks to cannibalize
into my Commander stock (as you may have noticed, the past few Commander decklists feature cards from Commander 2014). After that I’m sure I’ll be picking
up a few more individual decks to keep intact for dueling others who just want to battle with the decks straight from the box (I still have a couple from
last year’s Commander product). Which Commander 2014 decks are you most looking forward to getting your hands on?

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)