Sometimes it’s hard to break through. You have the same people playing Commander week after week. They are playing the same cards week after week. The same
old metagame is there. How do you break out of the malaise? How about forcing yourself to do something different and random, perhaps a little unexpected?
How about building a deck around a random commander?
It’s very simple. Head on over to Gatherer and then the random card button until you get a
legendary creature. And assuming that this creature is not one you are already using (or one that is banned), you simply build a deck around it.
I hit the Random Button and get a….Plains. Well that’s not very exciting. What’s next? Illusionary Angel, Blaze, Arid Mesa, and Urza’s Tower round out the
first five. We also hit Animal Boneyard, Arcane Spyglass, and Sengir Vampire. Demonic Tutor and Frontline Sage bring me to 20 cards, but not a legendary
creature in sight. It takes another 20ish cards including Wu Longbowmen before the first one hits Gatherer. She’s not the most uncommon leader, I’ve run
into her before, but there are some cards from Magic Origins and Battle for Zendikar that I can add to her shell, so let’s…
Who wants to get their Esper on?
- 1 Metalworker
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Hanna, Ship's Navigator
- 1 Memnarch
- 1 Vedalken Archmage
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Neurok Transmuter
- 1 Scarecrone
- 1 Filigree Sages
- 1 Master of Etherium
- 1 Sharding Sphinx
- 1 Sharuum the Hegemon
- 1 Sphinx Summoner
- 1 Sen Triplets
- 1 Pilgrim's Eye
- 1 Steel Overseer
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Palladium Myr
- 1 Grand Architect
- 1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
- 1 Etched Champion
- 1 Shimmer Myr
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Drogskol Reaver
- 1 Baleful Strix
- 1 Archangel of Thune
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Sydri, Galvanic Genius
- 1 Muzzio, Visionary Architect
- 1 Soul of New Phyrexia
- 1 Chief Engineer
- 1 Whirler Rogue
- 1 Chief of the Foundry
- 1 Sire of Stagnation
- 1 Ruination Guide
- 1 Tide Drifter
- 5 Plains
- 5 Swamp
- 5 Island
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Darksteel Citadel
- 1 Dimir Aqueduct
- 1 Orzhov Basilica
- 1 Azorius Chancery
- 1 Academy Ruins
- 1 Terramorphic Expanse
- 1 Urza's Factory
- 1 Arcane Sanctum
- 1 Esper Panorama
- 1 Drowned Catacomb
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Bojuka Bog
- 1 Evolving Wilds
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Buried Ruin
- 1 Isolated Chapel
- 1 Foundry of the Consuls
- 1 Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
- 1 Shambling Vent
- 1 Spawning Bed
- 1 Kusari-Gama
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Diabolic Tutor
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Acquire
- 1 Desertion
- 1 Well of Lost Dreams
- 1 Mindslaver
- 1 Gilded Lotus
- 1 Cranial Plating
- 1 Argivian Restoration
- 1 Dromar's Charm
- 1 Akroma's Memorial
- 1 Armillary Sphere
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Elixir of Immortality
- 1 Tempered Steel
- 1 Unwinding Clock
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Spear of Heliod
- 1 Utter End
- 1 Thopter Spy Network
- 1 Hedron Archive
- 1 Painful Truths
And there’s our random deck!
Lots of folks will run stuff like Caltrops or Lightmine Field. What they do is animate the permanent, and then give it deathtouch/lifelink with Sydri. You
can see the results – any one that attacked would die. Once you have that basic idea, you can see where a lot of Sydri decks will delve into that space and
grab cards from Pestilence to Thrashing Wumpus.
I didn’t want to belabor the obvious, so I headed into a different direction.
In a news story that will shock precisely none of you, Magic Origins had a bit of an artifact creature and Thopter theme from Chandra’s home of
Kaladesh. Breakout star Hangarback Walker is in this theme. Considering that, it seemed like a good place to dip Sydri. Sydri has a variety of ways to
build into that theme.
One of the first places that I dug was with the interesting Chief of the Foundry, who is a great lord for our deck. We can amp up all of the stuff that’s
artificial, and as Sydri turns things into artifact creature, they will be pumped by the Chief as well. Other friends along this bend, like Master of
Etherium and Steel Overseer, similarly make an appearance.
I dug into some other cards from Magic Origins as well. Take a look at something like Thopter Spy Network. We have a ton of artifacts in the deck
already, so making one for free seems like a good deal and a way to build up an army over time. I like to have a few cards like this in every multiplayer
deck to break out of a stall or to help build power over time and answer mass removal.
Meanwhile, a simple card like Whirler Rogue brings Thopters and the ability to tap artifacts to swing unblockably through various defenses, and again, it
can be used to get through a gamestate where everything has stagnated.
certainly isn’t the only recent set to offer some suggestions for a Sydri build. While it’s no longer 100ish% true post-Shards of Alara, most
artifact creatures are colorless, and the artifacts that Sydri would animate tend to be as well. Therefore, cards that care about colorless things will
likely have a home here as well. Blue has a pair of lord-esque creatures that have devoid and pump half of a creature that’s colorless: Tide Drifter and
Ruination Guide. From Thopters to animated Sol Rings, they can get amped up as well.
Another way that Sydri is used is really annoying combos like with Mycosynth Lattice. With it in play, your opponent’s permanents are all artifacts.
Including their lands. Then you just tap a U and turn a land into a creature, and since it’s a 0/0 creature, it dies immediately. You can kill as many
lands a turn as you have blue mana open. That’s not a direction I’m usually comfortable mining.
Sydri sort of opens up a lot of those problems. Now I’m sure there are a few combos accidentally in here that can go off, but I didn’t intentionally add
any. You can abuse Sydri with a lot of shenanigans, by turning mana rocks into creatures, and then tapping that creature for mana and using something like
Voltaic Construct or Umbral Mantle to untap and reuse.
Like Caltrops, a lot of decks focus on the deathtouch ability of her and use her with things like Thornbite Staff, Staff of Nin, and Masticore to kill
stuff quickly. But I’m mostly going to steer clear of most of that as well. Instead I want to focus on the life gaining part with lifelink. (But we do have
Kusari-Gama as a different take on that style of effect.)
Don’t forget that she gives artifact creatures lifelink and deathtouch.
And we have a lot of fun ways to abuse that. Consider something like Well of Lost Dreams, a card that you don’t see a lot of in Sydri builds. And I’m not
sure why, because it works. Are you gaining life with your lifelink stuff? Then why not toss it in? Shoot, it works so well that you might want to turn
that Swords to Plowshares on yourself to draw a fistful of cards.
If you like the drawing-cards trigger of Well of Lost Dreams, why not also run that of Drogskol Reaver? It often triggers itself with its lifelink and
double strike combination. Then add in the lifelinking fun your leader provides and you can draw a bunch of cards, mana-free, with the Reaver. How about
Archangel of Thune? If you are gaining life here and there from various sources (and the Archangel has lifelink too), then why not pump the whole team with
+1/+1 counters when you do?
And you could certainly push the lifelink theme into darker territory with cards like Vizkopa Guildmage, Defiant Bloodlord, and Sanguine Bond with their
combo-kill friend Exquisite Blood. That would be a different take on Sydri. Make the deck a little less Esper Artifacts and a little more Oloro, Ageless
Ascetic lifegain. By the way, why not run Oloro in your Sydri deck as well?
Sydri is great at playing with permanent types. At first she can turn an artifact into a creature, enabling you to swing or block with anything out there.
That’s a pretty cool way to play hijinks at the kitchen table. Because she threatens to turn untapped non-creature artifacts into creatures to block and
untapped artifact creatures into annoying deathtouch stuff, you can also threaten to block with the advantage. As long as you keep your mana and stuff up,
you can create a powerful incentive to not attack you. Sydri is great at keeping folks away.
There are some other cards that play with type out there too, and I tossed in a few. You can turn something into an artifact with good ol’ Memnarch. You
can steal it as well. Note that Memnarch doesn’t require you to use its first ability on opposing stuff. You can turn one of your own permanents into
artifacts prior to Sydri coming along. This gives your non-artifact dorks a permanent boost from cards like Master of Etherium and Chief of the Foundry.
And you can turn a newly minted artifact like Thopter Spy Network into an artifact creature as well with Sydri.
Want to play more with type? What about Grand Architect or Neurok Transmuter? I didn’t want to overegg the pudding too much, but a few cards here and there
are to be used to remove artifacts to “counter” a Disenchant effect or to pump something in response to an attack. They are a great way to boost the
synergy of this deck considerably.
I don’t like running mana rocks that do little beyond making the mana unless their casting cost to mana production is tight – like Sol Ring or Gilded
Lotus. Anyone that has ever played Commander regularly knows that one of the great issues of mana rocks is that invariably they get destroyed almost
accidentally by someone’s mass removal effect when they tap that Nevinyrral’s Disk or activate that Pernicious Deed or cast Akroma’s Vengeance. So I always
prefer something like Commander’s Sphere or Darksteel Ingot that can have additional value. I’m also skipping Everflowing Chalice and Paradise Mantle here
because the zero in their cost isn’t exactly the best enabler for turning into a creature with Sydri and company.
I wanted to toss in some artifact creatures that are serious threats. There are a ton of great options, like Steel Hellkite and Scuttling Doom Engine. But
I’m only going with cards like Soul of New Phyrexia to bring both beats and protection, or Wurmcoil Engine, with lifelink and deathtouch already built in.
From there it’s not too hard to flesh out the rest of the deck. There are so many directions that you can turn to find pro-artifact artifacts. Do you find
space for Golem Artisan? It’s mana heavy but always has been a solid card.
What about Master Transmuter? Cards like Transmute Artifact and Tinker have had a heavy hand in what artifact tutoring looks like today. Tinker may be
banned, but you could run many of the other cards here. I chose Kuldotha Forgemaster since sacrificing a lot of creatures is expensive (and therefore, more
fair), and I’m not running a lot of cards like Darksteel Colossus in this deck. But you could go down the route of Master Transmuter, Arcum Daggson, and
I instead chose enablers that are fun for folks, like Shimmer Myr. Flash it out and you can flash out other artifacts too. It’s a lot more fair than
something like Master Transmuter, and therefore, gets killed less quickly. You can play stuff instantly, but you are required to pay all of the normal
costs, and that’s okay. Besides, dropping a Well of Lost Dreams, tapping the mana to make it a 4/4, and blocking some 2/2 that swings is pretty keen.
So I’ve been talking about Staff of Nin for a while, because it’s one of the few assets from a normal deathtouch-ing Sydri deck that you would see. You can
make it a creature, give it deathtouch/lifelink, and then tap it to shoot and kill any creature. Since I run it regularly as a card drawing engine, I slid
it into this deck as well. But I wanted to make you aware of some timing rules with the Staff if you just played it.
1). Play Staff of Nin.
2). Tap the Staff of Nin to shoot something.
3). While that ability is on the stack, use Sydri to turn the Staff into a creature.
4). Let that ability resolve, but leave the shooting on the stack. Now use Sydri again, and this time activate her second ability and give the Staff
5). Resolve and kill the targeted creature.
It’s do-able, you just have to know how.
This is a deck that relies on a lot of card drawing naturally through cards like Staff of Nin, Well of Lost Dreams, Drogskol Reaver, Vedalken Archmage, and
more. Then add in card advantage from drawing cards with abilities like Solemn Simulacrum and Baleful Strix. Then we have activations that bring more stuff
to the party like Scarecrone, Hanna, and Muzzio. With all of this innate card advantage, I didn’t feel to need to add on cards like Bident of Thassa and
Mind’s Eye. But you certainly could, and I’d get it.
I decided to keep the deck focused on theme, and so we aren’t running ten counterspells or a bunch of mass removal. This is not a control deck; it’s an
Esper artifacts deck, and I want to feel that way.
Don’t forget that Sydri lives on something that has been in blue from all the way back in Alpha and Beta with Animate Artifact and has
had an impact on Magic all the way to Ensoul Artifact in Standard recently. Animating artifacts is awesome, and swinging with Jayemdae Tome and Disrupting
Scepter back then was just as fun as turning Staff of Nin and Hedron Archive into creatures today!
And that’s our next random deck, all done and ready to rock. Sometimes a random commander arrives and it’s really outside the box. Some of our previous
random options I grabbed include Thriss, Nantuko Primus and Selenia, Dark Angel. Sometimes we get cards that people play pretty regularly such as The
Mimeoplasm and today’s Sydri, Galvanic Genius. And that’s the great aspect of this challenge – no one can guess what you’ll get!
So grab a random commander and get to building!
Here are all of the previous random commanders that we’ve done:
1). Grimgrin, Corpse-Born – The random machine pulled out a fun little Dimir sacrifice deck all laden with lovely
2). Yomiji, Who Bars the Way – We flipped over a mono-white legendary creature from Kamigawa who has a serious legendary permanent theme. Let’s let the good times roll!
3). Thriss, Nantuko Primus – Our good legendary leader inspires the
use of the fight mechanic to defeat
foes with aplomb. And to have fun too!
4). Lady Caleria – What happens when I flip over one of the least exciting legendary creatures of all time? One of my favorite decks, that’s what!
5). Balthor the Stout – Sometimes you flip over a tribal legendary creature, and I love when it’s an odd, less obvious tribe like Barbarians that is being built around.
6). Verdeloth the Ancient – Man, speaking of tribes, how do you deal with this Saproling and Treefolk-enabling leader ? By hitting both themes right out of the park.
7). Mirri, Cat Warrior – Here come the Forests. Let’s make a deck that Gaea’s Liege is proud to call home.
8). Iroas, God of Victory – It’s God Time on the Random Commander Challenge. Let’s craft a red zone inspired deck that’ll make Ares downright proud.
9). Selenia, Dark Angel – I built this fun deck around cards like Lich,
Worship, and Platinum Angel. Are you ready for the fun to roll?
10). The Mimeoplasm – Ooze into your next Commander match with this graveyard-based fun deck.
11). Tividar of Thorn – What happens when you flip a small fry Knight like Tividar? Well, you could always make a fun tribal Knight-tastic deck!
12). Sydri, Galvanic Genius – She’s quite the Genius indeed.