MTG Commander Deck Of The Week: Glissa Sunslayer

Longtime Golgari mage Bennie Smith chooses Glissa Sunslayer to lead his counter-manipulating Commander Deck of the Week.

Glissa Sunslayer
Glissa Sunslayer, illustrated by Krharts

For this week’s #30YearsOfMagic Tweet, the card I highlighted from Revised was Bayou. I used to have a bunch of the original dual lands, but over time I’ve traded and sold a bunch of them. I do still have a playset of Bayous, though, because green and black have long formed my favorite color combination in Magic.

One of my early Commander decks had at the helm Glissa, the Traitor, a black and green card that I built fun Standard decks around and had fun with as a commander. I still have that deck together, but when the new version, Glissa Sunslayer, came along last year, I knew I wanted to build yet another Glissa Commander deck!

Glissa Sunslayer

I love that this version of Glissa keeps a lot of the same stats from its previous version– three mana, a 3/3, and the awesome combination of deathtouch and first strike that makes blocking or attacking a real nightmare for your opponents. What’s cooler about Sunslayer, though, is that the other abilities are tied into it dealing damage to your opponent. While the Traitor could just sit back and passively get its triggers from opponents’ creatures dying, Sunslayer wants you to go on offense, and I really like that in a commander these days.

Sunslayer Triggers

Assuming Glissa Sunslayer connects, you get one of three choices for your triggered ability.

You get to draw a card and lose a life. This is the default mode and pretty much always a good choice.

Or you get to destroy target enchantment. Sometimes Smothering Tithe or Rhystic Study must go.  Note that you get to destroy any target enchantment with this trigger, so you can work some politics by asking someone to take the Glissa hit in order to help the table out and get rid of that pesky enchantment that’s bugging everybody else.

Or you get to remove up to three counters from target permanent. Now this is where things get interesting. It’s tacked on to Glissa here because Sunslayer came out in Phyrexia: All Will Be One and the next set, March of the Machine, featured the new card type battle, which had counters you’d like to remove.  But in the larger context of the Commander card pool, what might be some sweet cards we can include that we want to remove counters from?  Read on and find out!

Giving Glissa Evasion

Rancor Demonic Embrace Trailblazer's Torch Hero's Heirloom Gaea's Gift Giant Inheritance Trailblazer's Boots Surrak and Goreclaw Spitting Dilophosaurus

Step one is to help ensure Glissa deals combat damage to a player each turn, so I’m running a fair amount of cards to help with that. Trample combines quite nicely with deathtouch: since a single point of deathtouch damage counts as lethal, the rest of the damage tramples through, so even if an opponent has two gigantic blockers to set in front of Glissa, you’ll still get one or more points of damage trampling through (depending on Glissa’s power).

Rancor is an oldie but a goodie, while Giant Inheritance is the new hotness. Demonic Embrace is a gem that sees little play, but giving Glissa flying will often finish the job. I’ve also recently added Spitting Dilophosaurus, which can be handy in neutralizing blockers that may also have first strike.


Invasion of Fiora Invasion of Ikoria Invasion of Ixalan Invasion of Ulgrotha

I’ve included a few battles to peel away defense counters with Glissa’s ability. Invasion of Fiora is perfect here because the transformed side, Marchesa, Resolute Monarch, plays so great with the theme of removing counters.  I have to admit I’m playing Invasion of Ulgrotha mainly because I want to flip it into Grandmother Ravi Sengir and say aloud, “I do enjoy a good apocalypse.”


Binding the Old Gods Phyrexian Scriptures The Mending of Dominaria The First Iroan Games The War in Heaven Rite of Belzenlok The Eldest Reborn The World Spell

Sagas are awesome permanents to remove counters from. Removing lore counters don’t cause earlier chapters to trigger, but rather the chapters will trigger when lore counters are added back, typically after your draw step. You can cast Binding the Old Gods, destroy a blocker, attack with Glissa, and remove the lore counter so that you can remove another blocker next turn. Phyrexian Scriptures is even more insidious; assuming you targeted Glissa with Chapter I, making her an artifact creature, Chapter II triggers to blow away all nonartifact creatures, attack with Glissa, and remove a counter to run it back next turn. Of course, this is gross, so don’t be surprised when the Saga eats a removal spell, as it should!

Other Counters

Dark Depths Tornado Tombstone Stairwell

Dark Depths only has ten ice counters to remove to unleash Marit Lage. I’ve got other ways to remove counters in the deck, so I figured this sweet land deserved a slot. Age counters from cumulative upkeep cards might be nice to remove with Glissa, so I’ve got Tornado and Tombstone Stairwell. Tornado also adds velocity counters each time you use it, and you pay three life for each velocity counter, so there are two counter types you’d like to remove with Glissa each turn!

Removing Counters

Hex Parasite Vampire Hexmage Render Inert Aether Snap Thief of Blood

I’ve included a few other cards that can remove counters to potentially free up Glissa for other things, like enchantment removal or drawing cards. These effects can be used on your opponents’ things too, like planeswalker loyalty counters, +1/+1 counters, ability counters, and the like. Aether Snap and Thief of Blood can take care of all the things in one fell swoop!

Card Draw/Selection

Barren Moor Tranquil Thicket Castle Locthwain Phyrexian Reclamation Sign in Blood Deeproot Wayfinder Mosswood Dreadknight Gruesome Realization Grim Haruspex Midnight Reaper Eternal Witness Dig Up Seasons Past Doomskar Warrior Ojer Kaslem, Deepest Growth

Even though I have card draw attached to my commander, often you’ll not be able to attack, or you’ll need that trigger for something else, so I’m running plenty of ways to keep the cards flowing. I really like Doomskar Warrior for its backup ability. Giving trample to Glissa for a turn can be clutch and should mean an excellent combat step.

Dig Up plus Seasons Past is a nice little package I like to run in Golgari decks; you can cast Dig Up early to help ensure you make your land drops, and then later, when you draw Seasons Past, you can pick Dig Up back to hand and then use its cleave ability to go find Seasons Past and do it all again, ensuring a hand full of options for your late-game.

I recently added Ojer Kaslem, Deepest Growth (AKA “Kaslem Shady”) from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan as just a fantastic card for aggressive green decks. It hits hard, tramples, and can potentially put both a land and a creature from your library to the battlefield.


Nature's Claim Haywire Mite Cankerbloom Golgari Charm Go for the Throat Heartless Act Return to Nature Toxic Deluge Glissa Sunseeker Gemrazer Soul Shatter Bitter Triumph

If I had an extra Damnation, I’d probably put that in here, but I’ve plenty of removal options otherwise. Gemrazer is sneaky, since it’s nice to mutate onto Glissa to make her a 4/4 with trample in addition to deathtouch, first strike, and all the other abilities.


Hive of the Eye Tyrant Bojuka Bog Demolition Field Restless Cottage Wirewood Lodge Withering Boon Manglehorn

It’s nice to have not one, not two, but three graveyard control options in my land slots! Wirewood Lodge offers to give pseudo-vigilance to my commander, since Glissa is still an Elf and can make opponents reluctant to attack, given the threat of untapping Glissa and having a lethal blocker. Withering Boon is a fun old-school card that can be a surprise counterspell to a problematic creature spell, such as someone’s commander.  And then there’s Manglehorn, doing excellent work these days, slowing down Treasure nonsense by having them enter the battlefield tapped.

Mana Ramp

Blighted Woodland Wild Growth Sol Ring Sakura-Tribe Elder Kodama's Reach Bear Umbra

I’m a little light on mana ramp, compared to other green decks, but my commander is inexpensive, and I have lots of card draw to ensure I hit my land drops each turn. Bear Umbra is a spicy number here, buffing and protecting Glissa and effectively doubling your mana from lands during each of your turns.

The Deck

Okay, here’s the full decklist!

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

So, what other must-have cards might I have missed including here?  Which version of Glissa do you like the best?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and start conversations about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl, and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews.  

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!