Sigarda The Shepherd

The Complete Commander author Bennie Smith has been cranking out the great Shadows over Innistrad builds! His latest build involves one of the most beloved Angels of the bunch!

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When Sigarda, Heron’s Grace was previewed, it was a bit of a head-scratcher for me as a Commander fan. The first incarnation of this legendary Angel, Sigarda, Host of Herons, was clearly an excellent card to build a Voltron-style deck around. Just add in lots of equipment and/or aura enchantments, fill out with other green and white good cards, and you had yourself a powerful deck.

Sigarda, Heron’s Grace is more subtle, and her strengths a little more difficult to coax out. She carries over the hexproof ability, but instead of keeping it for herself she grants it to all Humans you control, and since you are Human and you control yourself, you get to be hexproof too! While that’s awfully selfless and kind of our legendary Angel, it does leave her a bit vulnerable, so we might want to address that when building our deck.

This ability of Sigarda to make your Humans hexproof is rather useless if you don’t have any Humans around, so luckily she also has the ability to turn cards in your graveyard into 1/1 Human Soldier tokens for two mana a pop.

Thinking through the implications of these two abilities, the look and feel of a Sigarda, Heron’s Grace Commander deck begins to become clearer.

Protect the Queen

Mother of Runes, Saffi Eriksdotter, Swiftfoot Boots, Nim Deathmantle, Champion’s Helm, Bastion Protector

Even though Sigarda, Heron’s Grace is selfless with her hexproof ability, it’s hard to lean too heavily on it if we’re constantly worrying that a pinpoint removal spell will kill off our Commander. We can pretty directly fix that issue with Swiftfoot Boots and Champion’s Helm and help against some forms of removal with Nim Deathmantle. What I really like is that Mother of Runes, Saffi Eriksdotter, and Bastion Protector help protect Sigarda, and they also happen to be Human, so she protects them back. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Hexproof Benefits

Rancor; Yisan, the Wanderer Bard; Angelic Destiny; Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker; Cho-Manno, Revolutionary; Captain Sisay; Jolrael, Empress of Beasts; Veteran Bodyguard; Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

So what do we do with most of our team having hexproof? One thing is we can safely enchant them with undying Auras like Rancor and Angelic Destiny, and how appropriate is Angelic Destiny in this deck? A Human rises up to become a flying, first-striking, hexproof beatstick Angel!

I also like that we can use the hexproof to protect Human cards with powerful abilities that might otherwise have a big target on their head. Given enough time, Yisan, the Wanderer Bard and Captain Sisay are card-advantage engines, so let’s help give them time! Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker provides a strong disadvantage for opponents attacking you with a large number of creatures, but as a four-mana 2/2 she’s normally a bit too fragile to be effective.

Jolrael, Empress of Beasts and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa are both quite punishing of players who load up heavily on mass removal to keep you from playing your game, but it is usually quite easy to destroy them with instant speed direct removal before casting the big sweeper. Cho-Manno, Revolutionary is a superb blocker and attacker if you need him to be, but he gets stomped by pinpoint removal, so it’s nice to give him hexproof.

I decided to dust off the old Veteran Bodyguard for duty here. He’s pretty good at saving you from an alpha strike, but if your opponent is smart he’ll deal with the Bodyguard first before the alpha strike; he can even just be tapped with an Icy Manipulator to turn him off. Hexproof makes him much better, right?

Growing the Humans

Bant Panorama, Naya Panorama, Blighted Woodland, Myriad Landscape, Krosan Verge, Warped Landscape, Windswept Heath, Strip Mine, Wasteland, Encroaching Wastes, Tectonic Edge, Crop Rotation, Knight of the Reliquary

During the normal course of the game you’ll cast spells and have creatures die, so there should be a fair amount of fodder in the graveyard to activate the ability to make 1/1 Human Soldiers. However, sometimes you don’t want exile cards that might end up coming back from the graveyard, since we are playing green.

The easiest way to do this is to load up on a bunch of lands that get sacrificed and put into the graveyard, since this deck will rarely want to recur those. Crop Rotation by itself gives you two future Humans. Knight of the Reliquary can fuel a bunch of future Human activations once you don’t need to concern yourself with making her huge.

I included some land destruction lands like Strip Mine, Wasteland, and a few others mainly as a way to combat Arcane Lighthouse, which rudely turns off all our hexproof!

Humans Matter

Avacyn’s Collar, Bladed Bracers, Champion of the Parish, Silver-Inlaid Dagger, Sharpened Pitchfork, Thalia’s Lieutenant, Duskwatch Recruiter, Veteran Cathar, Devout Chaplain, Gallows at Willow Hill, Slayer’s Plate, Angelic Overseer, Dearly Departed, Angel of Glory’s Rise

Since Sigarda is able to make Humans on demand and encourages us to play with a lot of Humans, it makes sense to play a good number of cards that care about the creature type Human. Luckily for us, we can even stay on-theme, since both times we’ve been to Innistrad, being Human has mattered.

Champion of the Parish and Thalia’s Lieutenant can grow into giant threats pretty quickly, and if we give them double strike with Veteran Cathar, that can be a giant beating. Duskwatch Recruiter has made a huge splash in Standard as a card-advantage engine and I think it can do even more work in Commander where we have Gaea’s Cradle. I love the utility a group of Humans can give us with Devout Chaplain and Gallows at Willow Hill.

Oh, the Humanity!

Kytheon, Hero of Akros; Ulvenwald Tracker; Weathered Wayfarer; Experiment One; Hanweir Militia Captain; Pianna, Nomad Captain; Tireless Tracker; Mirror Entity; Champion of Lambholt; Eternal Witness; Chameleon Colossus; Citanul Hierophants; Reveille Squad; Juniper Order Ranger

To fill out the deck, I went through available Humans and pulled these together, but there are a bunch that didn’t make the cut that most certainly could fit. Ulvenwald Tracker is pretty cool here, since once way to disrupt its ability is to destroy the creature you’re trying to fight with in response to its activation, so if your creature has hexproof, you can bank on it better.

Tireless Tracker is another new Standard all-star that I think is going to have a long and storied career in Commander decks for years to come, especially in one like this one with lots of lands that sacrifice to search up other lands, dropping Clue tokens all over the place to keep the cards flowing. As honorary Humans, the changelings Mirror Entity and Chameleon Colossus are potent weapons that certainly benefit from being hexproof.

Champion of Lambholt is a real powerhouse in this deck. It’s fantastic in regular decks that play a lot of creatures but in this deck that can generate Human creatures at instant speed with Sigarda you can boost the Champion’s power to very quickly make your team unblockable.

Citanul Hierophants do a nice job of escalating your mana production by sinking mana to make Humans with Sigarda, which can next turn be tapped for mana to make even more Humans. I also added Cryptolith Rite to the deck to do the same sort of thing.

A few other things I peppered in here. Since I’m playing white, we certainly want to use the card-advantage engine of Land Tax and Scroll Rack. Weathered Wayfarer provides a backup to Land Tax. Those land search activations from Land Tax, Weathered Wayfarer, and the sacrifice lands do a nice job of resetting Sylvan Library too. In addition, I added in the raw card-drawing power of Greater Good and another new Standard all-star, Seasons Past, which I also expect to have a long and storied career in Commander for years to come.

Eldrazi Monument seems like a no-brainer in a deck that can generate sacrificial fodder so easily.

Here’s what I’ve got cooked up for Sigarda, Heron’s Grace:

Sigarda, Heron's Grace
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 04-29-2016
Magic Card Back

I really like how this deck turned out. It looks both fun and powerful without being too oppressive. What cards did I overlook? How would you do things differently with Sigarda, Heron’s Grace?

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:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visionary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

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)

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)

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