Building An All Secret Lair Commander Deck

There have been a lot of Secret Lair drops over the past few years, but are there enough to make a cohesive Commander deck? See what shenanigans Chase Carroll is up to!

Sisay, Weatherlight Captain, illustrated by Volkan Baga

It’s no secret that I love Secret Lairs. Their uniqueness in both theme and art style is what draws me in and excites me. I started out as buying a few singles, then moved to a few bundles, and now entire Superdrops. What can I say? When I see gorgeous cards, I can’t help but buy them. Over time, however, I noticed that I had excess Secret Lairs sitting in my binder. I didn’t want such gorgeous pieces to go to waste, so I did some brainstorming. Was it possible for me to brew a deck made entirely out of Secret Lairs?

The answer was yes! There are over 756 Secret Lair cards covering all card types. While this may seem like a rather large card pool, it’s actually rather limited as there are over 23,000 cards legal in the Commander format. Talk about a small selection! This, of course, prompted the question: who would be the commander? 

Choosing A Commander

At the time of this article, there are currently 123 legendary creature cards that are also Secret Lairs. Many are very niche, mono-colored, or are less than stellar in their abilities. It was only until recently that the Finally! Left-Handed Magic Cards Secret Lair provided me the perfect commander to use: Sisay, Weatherlight Captain

Sisay seemed like the perfect choice. She created a natural theme for the deck whilst simultaneously allowing me to run all five colors. She deepened my cardpool by a significant margin, plus her tutor ability made her an incredibly attractive commander. Sisay finds answers quickly and gets big! With my commander set, so began the hardest part of the deckbuilding process: actually building the deck. 

Decklist images courtesy of Moxfield

The Legends

Let’s start with the most fun part of this deck: the legendary permanents. My favorite thing about Sisay is that she searches specifically for legendary permanents. That includes creatures, enchantments, artifacts, and planeswalkers! As long as it’s legendary, she can snag it. This proved to be incredibly exciting, as there are 181 viable Secret Lair legends that Sisay can fetch with her ability. This is a five-color player’s dream! So with our pool established, which legends ended up making the cut? 

When looking at all of the legendary cards, I wanted to avoid narrow legends. While yes, the Street Fighter Secret Lair is interesting and fun, their abilities seem very clunky for a deck like Sisay. Pieces like Breya, Etherium Shaper and Reaper King also fall into this narrow category. They’re too specific for what we wanna do, which is to accrue value and overpower our opponents. Now that we know what we don’t want, let’s talk about what we do want.

Essentially, this list craves value, protection, and combat synergies. Thankfully, there are tons of cards to choose from. Starting with value, there are quite a few creatures that hit the mark. Reiki, the History of Kamigawa draws you cards, Garruk, Caller of Beasts helps you find creatures, Captain Sisay tutors for legends, Chief Jim Hopper creates Clue tokens to help you draw cards, and Old Gnawbone gives you Treasure tokens! You have access to mana, card draw, and tutors all of which are baked into your creatures. And this only scratches the surface.

On the protection side, we are also heavily covered. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben increases the cost of non-creature spells, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner protects your creatures, and Shalai, Voice of Plenty gives you, your creatures, and your planeswalkers hexproof. Where this deck really shines, however, is combat synergies!

Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker makes your opponents sacrifice permanents when a source they control deals damage to you, Saskia, the Unyielding serves as a form of player removal with dealing damage, Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder lets you cascade spells from your hand if he deals combat damage, and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight doubles damage to an opponent and halves damage dealt towards you. This is only just a scratch at to pool of cards that your commander can tutor up for you for just a measly payment of WUBRG.

The Setup Spells

Now that we have our tutorable pieces covered, let’s hop into our set up spells – cards that help set up Sisay for success. When researching cards for this decklist, I knew that card draw and ramp was going to be a bit of a struggle… or so I thought. As it turns out, there is a lot of access to mana rocks, mana creatures, ramp spells, and card draw in Secret Lair printings. Let’s start off with rocks!

This deck has every mana rock that anyone could ever need in a five color deck. You have: Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Chromatic Lantern, and Commander’s Sphere! That’s not including all of the signets that were recently printed in the Dan Frazier Secret Lair. This list even runs two iconic mana creatures: Bloom Tender and Birds of Paradise! The more mana you have access to, the better! Speaking of more mana, we aren’t even close to being done with ramp and mana generation. This deck has access to some insane pieces of ramp. Cultivate, Nature’s Lore, and Kodama’s Reach are three iconic ramp spells that are also printed in Secret Lairs. Heck, this list even has access to Burgeoning and Heartbeat of Spring! You want more lands? You have more lands! Want double mana? Wish granted! 

Moving on to card draw, this was something I was worried about at first. Thankfully, our card pool comes through once again. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is interesting because he functions as a sort of a triple-threat for value. He gains you life, draws you a card, and helps you put a land into play. All of that is on top of his fulfilling Sisay’s color ability. Next, we have Brainstorm and Howling Mine. One is more iconic than the other for sure, but both allow us to get some card draw in. Lastly, we have Rhystic Study. I am so thankful that we received a Secret Lair printing of this enchantment and Mystic Remora, as they are infamous for providing insane card advantage.

The Interaction

The number one thing people mention when talking about commander deck building issues is interaction. Run more interaction! Surprise, surprise, this deck has no issue with interaction as well! This deck is crazily synergistic and well-rounded despite the insane theme and price point. Let’s take a peak at what we have!

One thing I love about Secret Lairs is that they don’t skimp out on removal at all, and this deck is full of it. For sweepers, we have Blasphemous Act, Wrath of God, and Damnation. Maybe one day we’ll get a Cyclonic Rift, but until then, these three will have to do. We also have access to a lot of single target removal. Vandalblast, Jaya’s Immolating Inferno, Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, Assassin’s Trophy, Artifact Mutation, Beast Within, Krosan Grip, Fire Covenant, and Generous Gift. Wooh! I’m out of breath just typing all of that. Creatures, artifacts, even permanents in general aren’t safe when this deck hits the table!

Now, this isn’t the only form of interaction in this list. We also have ways to protect and buff our creatures! Unbreakable Formation is a great addition to this deck because it gives your creatures indestructible and possibly a +1/+1 counter. Teferi’s Protection is such an iconic piece that needs no explanation. It can save your butt and even win you the game if played right. Lastly, we have the deck’s latest addition — Berserk. This spell is a game ender when slapped onto our already large commander. Sure, you have to sacrifice her after the fact, but I’d say a game win is more than worth it. 

The Lands

Ooooooh boy was I dreading this part of the deckbuilding process. Lands are already the most expensive part of building a deck, so when you toss a Secret Lair theme into the mix, it can makes things even weirder. Yes, this deck’s entire mana base is made up of Secret Lairs… even the basics.

I am so incredibly thankful that Wizards of the Coast printed shocklands and fetches in Secret Lairs. That alone made assembling this mana base a lot easier. We’ve got Steam Vents, Verdant Catacombs, and Temple Garden, but sadly no triomes (maybe one day). The mana base also consists of a Command Tower from the Arcane Secret Lair and a Mana Confluence from the Pride Secret Lair. Of course, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove helps with this, but it doesn’t hurt to run them nonetheless. Our final land of note is Rogue’s Passage. This card is indeed a Secret Lair but doesn’t come in any main bundle. In fact, it was included in some Lairs as a random bonus card amongst the blueprint series. Since Sisay is a commander that gets rather large over time, making her unblockable is a great alternate win-condition to sneak into the mix. 

Wrapping Things Up

Why did I make an all Secret Lair deck? Because I was bored!

It was wild to see if this was a viable theme for a deck and it surprisingly, it was. Is this theme budget friendly or cost effective? Not in the slightest! This deck came from years of drop purchases and snagging of singles at my LGS. Ultimately, I adore Secret Lairs and I wanted this deck to serve as a love letter to the amazing art styles and wacky borders they have created for us.

Let me know what you think of my list and if you would like to see any changes or tweaks to it. Are there any new Secret Lair cards that you feel belong in here? Let me know. As always, happy brewing, deckbuilders!