How can you play a format that was previously entitled Elder Dragon Highlander and not enjoy the idea of playing with another crop of Elder Dragons? We are
all required to serve a new set of masters when commanders like Nicol Bolas and Chromium have grown old.
And it’s easy to figure out who is the one to serve. It’s the one that demands service. There is one that forces you to willingly serve, to fight, to
bleed, and to die. All for making himself more powerful. We are his serfs, his slaves, and his fanatics.
There are a few things that I really enjoy about the potential of Dragonlord Silumgar. He’s my second favorite card from the new set, and I think there are
a lot of fun ways to support him. Magic has had a great black/blue control deck ever since Hypnotic Specter, Terror, and Sengir Vampire joined forces with
Control Magic, Counterspell, and Clone.
Despite that strong pedigree, how many Dimir legendary creatures truly suggest control? If you want to build a classic control build around your commander,
too many choices reflect compromise. There are too many with a milling theme or some such.
Dragonlord Silumgar is now the 22nd blue/black legendary creature. Most of them just aren’t rocking your control world. From Ur-Drago to Phenax, God of
Deception and the many creatures between, you just aren’t going to find many entries for a strong control build.
This version of Silumgar, all grown up, gives you a stealing ability which you can direct at planeswalkers or creatures. Taking that planeswalker is a
great way to set things up. These days there always seem to be one or four ‘walkers on the table in a four-way Commander game. You can steal someone’s
Sarkhan Vol or that Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
Plus, don’t forget that Silumgar has flying and deathtouch. Why is that important? Because Silumgar protects the planeswalker you just stole. You can steal
their Liliana Vess, use its second ability to tutor, and then keep her alive by threatening to block an attacker that might otherwise come your way.
Imagine your foe has two 4/4 flyers out. You steal their planeswalker, use it, and then threaten a back-breaking board position soon. If they attack with
both flyers at your stolen ‘walker, you block one, and the other kills your misbegotten deeds. Your Dragonlord gave you the use of a ‘walker’s ability
once, and then killed both a creature and their Ajani Goldmane. You are in a great place, and it was all because your commander could steal stuff every
time it arrives at the battlefield.
It’s going to be hard to fight against that theft when you can protect that which you stole.
So let’s build a quick control shell for our good Silumgar leader!
- 1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
- 1 Nekrataal
- 1 Keiga, the Tide Star
- 1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
- 1 Seasinger
- 1 Old Man of the Sea
- 1 Stronghold Assassin
- 1 Possessed Aven
- 1 Deep-Sea Kraken
- 1 Draining Whelk
- 1 Mulldrifter
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 1 Oona, Queen of the Fae
- 1 Sygg, River Cutthroat
- 1 Roil Elemental
- 1 Liliana's Specter
- 1 Scythe Specter
- 1 Rune-Scarred Demon
- 1 Snapcaster Mage
- 1 Clever Impersonator
- 1 Silumgar, the Drifting Death
- 1 Dragonlord Silumgar
- 1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
- 1 Deathbringer Regent
- 1 Ruthless Deathfang
- 1 Icefall Regent
- 1 Hinder
- 1 Nevinyrral's Disk
- 1 Counterspell
- 1 Living Death
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Forbid
- 1 Night Dealings
- 1 Honden of Seeing Winds
- 1 Honden of Night's Reach
- 1 Compulsion
- 1 Vedalken Shackles
- 1 Desertion
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Phyrexian Arena
- 1 Syphon Mind
- 1 Helm of Possession
- 1 Fact or Fiction
- 1 Annihilate
- 1 Spelljack
- 1 Dimir Signet
- 1 Mystical Teachings
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Profane Command
- 1 Mimic Vat
- 1 Geth's Verdict
- 1 Spell Crumple
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Crypt Incursion
- 1 Tempt with Immortality
- 1 Silence the Believers
- 1 Perilous Vault
- 1 Silumgar's Command
The goal of this deck is simply to illustrate how useful your good Dragonlord Silumgar can be.
I once had a Lawful Evil wizard that I played in 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons called Alzar the Mighty. Alzar penned a book called the Fivefold Path to
Power wherein he created his own specialist school of Magic that outlined all of the most powerful ways to create long lasting power (such as animated
undead or conjuring allies).
Because of the sheer synergy that black and blue have when played together, particularly with an eye to control, Silumgar brings several paths to power. He
does the same thing as Alzar the Mighty. These are paths only an Elder Dragon Legend would know.
Path to Power #1
– Dragonlord Silumgar’s first path to power revolves around the annulling of your opponent’s plans. Anytime your foes try to summon evil forces or try to
further their own goals with artifacts or enchantments, you are there to stop them if you care enough. Sometimes it’s fun to let them think they’ve gotten
something past you, when in reality, you don’t care about it at all.
This countering path to power can be seen in cards like Forbid and Counterspell. But it doesn’t just end there. The best part of interfering with your
opponents’ plans before they even begin is that you can often turn their plans around on them! Check out cards like Desertion and Spelljack.
Path to Power #2
– The second path to power revolves around stealing opposing cards to turn them against their master. It’s one thing to summon your own allies, and we’ll
look at that path in a moment, but it’s another to turn the tables and invest your opposing forces with sedition. As our fearless leader Dragonlord
Silumgar does, so do the rest of us. He is a great inspiration to the people.
We have a few ways to harness this aspect of Your Lordship’s Power. Take a look at cards such as Vedalken Shackles and Old Man of the Sea. We even have
Seasinger to tap and steal a creature from anyone who controls an Island. Think playing blue is going to let you mess with your opponent’s stuff? You are
about to get outflanked on the seas!
Path to Power #3
– One of the subtle paths to establishing dominance is to use the creature you stole as fuel for more important causes. The creature taken by Dragonlord
Silumgar is only yours for as long as you control Silumgar. You might as well get full value while you control it, right? Accordingly, we have some ways to
sacrifice creatures in here.
You can sacrifice a creature for life (Miren, the Moaning Well), destroy another creature (Stronghold Assassin), and exploit (Sidisi, Undead Vizier). All
of those are useful, but take a gander at Helm of Possession. You can sacrifice the creature you stole with Silumgar to steal another creature permanently.
You can see the usefulness of other similar stealing effects like Shackles, Roil Elemental, Seasinger, and the Old Man in giving you temporary fodder.
Don’t forget that Ruthless Deathfang suits this Path to Power quite nicely.
Path to Power #4 –
It’s extremely difficult to win without creatures of your own. Their own conjuring requires a great deal of focus and control. You need a strong
creature-based identity to win. We have just the ticket.
Several sorts of creatures come to mind. You want some creatures that you can play early on that provide advantages over time. A simple Sygg, River
Cutthroat can linger on the battlefield and draw you quite a passel of cards. The same is true of Shadowmage Infiltrator and similar cards.
You also want the sort of game-winning threats that will take over and dominate. A Deep-Sea Kraken can be dropped early and begin the beats extremely
quickly. I’ve suspended it on turn 3 and then had it out and ready to rock on turn 4. You can also see cards like Oona, Queen of the Fae as a strong
Don’t forget that creatures are a valuable sort of card advantage. Sometimes that’s literal, as a creature like Mulldrifter or Sphinx of Uthuun can provide
multiple cards to your hand when it arrives. Rune-Scarred Demon and Snapcaster Mage are close to doing the same as they provide you a precise card.
Creatures are a vital ticket to power, and not even Dragonlord Silumgar can win against similarly armed opponents without them.
Path to Power #5 –
In addition to handling creatures by stealing or countering them, or summoning your own to face your foes, you can also kill or exile opposing creatures by
killing them directly. Ideally, we’ll have a few options that are solid card advantage, such as Damnation, to blow them down. When timed correctly, a
Living Death can give you a blowout by swinging the battlefield from one that favors your foes to one that favors you.
One great addition to your horde is the Deathbringer Regent. If there are enough creatures when it arrives to the battlefield, then it will kill everything
else with aplomb. Since it’s the only card left after its arrival, it can begin to swing at people without worrying about unsightly defenders.
Not only is Sorin Markhov creature removal, with its ability to dole out two damage to a creature (and gain you two life), but it’s also player removal.
You can set someone’s life total to ten from whatever heights it may have held, and our good vampire can turn the first feeding ability onto them and get a
kill a few turns later. Even vampires will serve the Elder Dragon!
You can strive Silence the Believers to exile more than one creature, while Annihilate will kill and draw you a card too. And that’s not all! You can play
Shriekmaw or Nekrataal to blow out a creature while still having one of your own in play. Your Elder Dragon Lord demands that you dig deeply into the
troves of yesteryear. And do you know what goodies you might find there? What about our good bird solider horror, the Possessed Aven? When you have
threshold, this guy is a 4/4 flyer who can tap and destroy blue creatures. It’s pretty solid. Creature removal is the fifth path to power. Even a card like
Silumgar’s Command can be easily set on a two-for-one trade.
Path to Power #6 –
The next path to power that Silumgar unlocks is that of card drawing or discard – pure changes in the math. Silumgar is an Elder Dragon, and as such, he
understands the ability required to control and madden, to develop one’s own mental fortitude while blasting others’ similar preparations.
You can force discards with cards like Liliana’s Specter or Scythe Specter. And note that we aren’t running a bunch of one-for-one trades with junk like
Coercion or anything. Nope. This is pure card advantage stuff. Syphon Mind is a perfect example as both card drawing and discard, and the twinned Hondens
also play that game nicely.
Liliana Vess can be used to force a discard turn after turn, yield strong card advantage, and when you need, you can tutor for the best card for the
situation. She’s perfect. Meanwhile, Jace, Memory Adept can be used to draw you a card every turn and can be used to mill cards from a player’s library to
their graveyard if that is ever called for.
Meanwhile, you can draw cards in large numbers with cards like Phyrexian Arena. Don’t ignore the potential card drawing that takes place turn after turn by
slower card drawing options. Cards like Compulsion or Night Dealings can prove to be very interesting routes to unlock further cards of power from your
Path to Power #7 –
There is one final road that is unlocked here: the use and harnessing of the graveyard. We can bring back dead things with cards like Profane Command or
Tempt with Immorality. Don’t forget that cards like Mystical Teachings can be used once from the hand and another from the graveyard. We have Volrath’s
Stronghold for some serious value.
After those seven paths are used, there are some additional cards that support our theme. We can fight graveyard abuse from other foes with Bojuka Bog and
Crypt Incursion. We can also protect and speed up our team with Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves. You’ll find some other cards here and there, ready
to serve the greater purpose that Silumgar requires.
Why should you serve Silumgar? Because Silumgar has a way of explaining existence that makes you want to serve, to sacrifice, to survive, to win.
And that’s the true path to power. Every knee shall bow. Sometimes even of their own accord.
What did you think of today’s deck? Any thoughts or suggestions? What other paths would you want Silumgar to harness?