This past weekend, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) gave us a big peek behind the curtain for the most eagerly anticipated product for Commander fans this year: Commander Legends! In his article, Gavin Verhey gave a rundown of how drafting Commander Legends would work, and we also got to see a few new cards from the set, including the much-anticipated return of one of Magic’s coolest legends: Sengir, the Dark Baron!
Commander Legends also marks the return of the open-ended partner mechanic, last seen in Commander 2016 on fifteen two-color legends. This time around, the partner mechanic will be on a number of mono-colored legends, including Sengir himself!
Which begs the question: who would want to partner with the Dark Baron? And the follow-up question: who would Sengir wish to share his rule with?
As the trees rustled in the stiff breeze heralding the coming thunderstorm, a wolf’s howl sounded in the darkness; solitary, mournful. Seconds later there arose an answering call; searching, reassuring. A third and fourth wolf joined the chorus that would bring the pack together to join the hunt.
Sengir nodded, pleased that the children of the night were so adept at finding one another to serve a greater purpose. But his smile twisted as he let out a melancholy sigh. If only he was so fortunate to have such companionship. He wouldn’t deceive himself that he was looking for love; the centuries he’d spent as a vampire, the things he’d done to sustain himself with blood, and how he’d built and ruled his empire, had long ago washed away any human emotions. But he did crave a partner he could talk with and share things with.
Behind him, a light cough pierced the quiet of the tower. “You don’t really think I didn’t know you’re there, Nedrick?”
“No sir,” Nedrick sputtered. “I just, I’ve been standing here an hour…”
Sengir slowly turned around and regarded his manservant. He could feel the blood begin to course in the man’s veins as his heart raced in terror, but to his credit he did a passable job of hiding it and looking his baron in the eye. If you couldn’t master your fear working in Castle Sengir, you were quickly added to the menu.
“I know when you arrived.”
Nedrick drew himself as tall as he could and clicked his heels. “Of course, my lord.”
“I summoned you here because I have a very important task for you. I require companionship, a partner worthy of my time and stature. My kingdom and powers are vast and impressive, and I’d like to share them with someone who will appreciate them.”
Nedrick’s heartbeat eased a bit, no doubt reassured that he’d been set on a task that would keep him alive and useful for a while yet. “I shall gather together dossiers on suitable candidates for you can choose from, my lord. I’ll have them prepared for you within the week.”
The Baron turned away and stepped through the window into the night air. As his master flew off to hunt for his nightly meal, Nedrick hustled down the stairs to begin his difficult task.
“I have 15 candidates for you, my lord. All of them are legends in their own right and are also looking for a partner.” Nedrick stepped over to the full-length mirror, not at all bothered he couldn’t see his master’s reflection standing behind him.
Sengir recited a quick incantation and the mirror’s surface grew cloudy. “Go,” he said.
“Her name is Tymna the Weaver,” Nedrick said.
“Even though she’s blind, she has mastered the magic of the Fates. She meticulously twines the strands of destiny.”
Sengir considered. “She is lovely, but I know my destiny. I don’t know what she could tell me that would be of interest.”
Nedrick blinked, turned back to the mirror and waved his hand to the left. A new image appeared. “His name is Sidar Kondo.”
“He is an accomplished knight, expert horseman, and war leader.”
Sengir laughed. “I am also all of those things. Would he dare to think himself my equal?”
Nedrick cleared his throat. “I thought you might enjoy sharing war stories?”
Nedrick nodded as waved his hand left over the mirror. A new image appeared. “Her name is Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper.”
“She is ruthless, cruel and deceitful,” he began.
“Ah,” Sengir smiled and ran his tongue along one fang. “Fine qualities, indeed.” He drew closer to the image. “Is she reptilian?”
“A Naga, my lord.”
“Hm. It gets quite cold in my lands. I’m not sure a Naga would appreciate the delights of our climate here.”
Nedrick waved his hand left over the mirror and a new image appeared. “His name is Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder.”
Caught by surprise, Sengir actually laughed. “Nedrick, what… what made you think…” The Baron couldn’t remember the last time he’d been at a loss for words. 100 years or more.
“Bruse Tarl was once a humble nomadic herder known mostly for the colorful way in which he motivated his oxen. But when godlike monsters invaded his lands, he organized his people into a very successful resistance force.”
The edges of Sengir’s terrifying mouth quirked at the edges. “What was… colorful… about the way he motivated his oxen?”
Nedrick blushed furiously, and the rush of blood to his face brought the smile full upon his master’s face. “His use of creative insults is legendary sir. It is said he could knock men down with his shocking vulgarity alone.”
“Now that is very interesting Nedrick,” Sengir chuckled. “I am intrigued if I could weather the onslaught while resisting the urge to tear his head from his shoulders.” Sengir walked closer to the mirror’s surface. “He is also… very, very muscular.”
“My lord, herding oxen is a labor quite physical,” Nedrick observed. “Shall I contact him for you?”
Sengir considered, amused. “Perhaps. Is there anyone else as enticing as this fellow?”
“One other perhaps,” Nedrick said, waving his hand right across the mirror. “Her name is Tana, the Bloodsower.”
Sengir’s eyes grew wider. “Bloodsower eh? That’s very promising!”
“Tana is a feral prowler, viciously hunting and killing people who trespass her forest and feeding them to her adopted plant family.”
“Did you say adopted plant family?” Sengir took a step back.
“Yes, my lord. She was abandoned in the woods as a child, and a family of intelligent carnivorous plants raised her.”
“Fascinating,” Sengir rumbled. “She’s like a wolf, hunting and providing for her pack. She’s obviously not going to be squeamish about my own need for blood. She’s never before enjoyed the luxuries that my castle and vast lands could provide her, but at the same time she could help me reconnect with a more rustic and simpler existence.”
Sengir crossed his arms behind his back and paced the floor for several minutes while Nedrick waited.
“Plus, she’s an Elf. She’d have a lifespan many times longer than most mortal creatures.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“She’s perfect. Swipe right Nedrick. Let’s meet.”
There are actually some great synergies between Tana, the Bloodsower and Sengir, the Dark Baron. Tana’s ability makes Saprolings and if we lean in hard on Saproling production there are a lot of ways you can sacrifice Saprolings for fun and profit. Sengir likes it when creatures die, so if you can sacrifice a lot Saprolings each death grows Sengir’s power and toughness by two—nine deaths and Sengir can kill with commander damage.
Ok, let’s get brewing!
1. Rhonas’s Monument
Tana’s starting stats are quite small for the mana cost, so the first order of business is to boost Tana’s size so she can crash into the red zone and start dealing combat damage to players and making Saprolings. That’s why I really Rhonas’s Monument; each time you cast a creature you can give Tana +2/+2 and trample, and with the mana discount you could chain a couple creatures in one turn for a big boost and generate a bunch of Saprolings.
I’m including some other ways we can boost Tana so we can push through combat damage:
Eldrazi Monument is particularly nice since it provides a power and toughness boost, evasion, and durability, while Tana’s triggered ability can feed the upkeep cost of sacrificing a creature. And if the Baron’s on the battlefield, he appreciates the extra dying.
2. Power Matrix
Power Matrix has been showing up in my lists of late, and it’s another home run here in this list. The flying, trample and power boost helps Tana punch through combat damage, and you can make good use of the trample ability when the Baron gets huge.
Since trample helps out both of our commanders, I’ve made room for a few more cards that help in that department:
3. Thelon of Havenwood
To really lean into Saprolings I decided to go run deep on Thallids and other Fungus to represent Tana’s adopted family, and there’s no better way to boost those creatures than Thelon of Havenwood. Thelon’s static and activated ability can really make your humble Fungus army into quite the formidable force.
The Fungus selection provides a nice collection of abilities, making Saprolings and then sacrificing them for a wide variety of effects that can help both Tana and Sengir:
4. Slimefoot, the Stowaway
I also wanted to include some other ways to make a large number of Saprolings faster than waiting on spore counters to accumulate. Slimefoot turns extra mana into Saprolings, and then whenever a Saproling you control dies you get to deal 1 damage to each opponent and gain life. This card could easily win you the game if you start to snowball Saproling production.
I’d like to call attention to Fungal Sprouting, which might not make the cut in most Saproling-themed decks due to the relatively small size of Saprolings and Fungus, but with a high-flying Baron easily growing to a huge size, Fungal Sprouting can generate a ton of Saprolings!
5. Ohran Frostfang
In the Jund colors we have plenty of great choices for card drawing but one of the best here is going to be Ohran Frostfang. Nobody wants to use actual creature cards to block a bunch of 1/1 tokens with deathtouch, so if you’re bound to draw a fair number of cards the turn you cast Ohran Frostfang.
6. Return of the Wildspeaker
Outside of a gigantic Sengir, the Dark Baron killing people with commander damage or Thelon boosting an army of fungus, I wanted a few other ways to finish off opponents, and Return of the Wildspeaker seems like a perfect choice. Being attacked with ten 1/1 Saprolings is one thing, but when they all get +3/+3 at instant speed, that can be game over. Plus, the other mode can draw a ton of cards when Sengir is large and in charge.
7. Plaguemaw Beast
Between spore counters on select Fungus and +1/+1 counters on the Dark Baron, I wanted to make room for a few cards that would allow us to proliferate. Plaguemaw Beast sacrifices a creature to proliferate, and we all know Sengir loves creatures dying, so this is a slam dunk.
8. Cryptolith Rite
Since Tana gives us green, we have access to a lot of great green mana ramp, but I really like Cryptolith Rite in a deck with the potential for a lot of token creatures, especially since some of the activated abilities of our creatures require mana. Tapping a Saproling for mana that you then use to sacrifice it sounds like Baron-style poetry.
Since Sengir gives us black we get access to Phyrexian Tower, which can help us ramp to cast him a turn earlier.
9. Deadly Rollick
Jund colors gives us access to a lot of great removal options, but since we’re running two commanders Deadly Rollick easily shows up as the best of the bunch. Exiling a blocker for zero mana can be exactly what you need to get Tana’s Saproling train chugging, or crashing in for lethal with Sengir.
10. Skirsdag High Priest
I’ve still got room for a few “good stuff” options, and I definitely wanted to slot in Skirsdag High Priest. Since Saprolings are going to be both plentiful and dying left and right, it’ll be easy to satisfy the morbid ability to churn out 5/5 Demons. And since we don’t have many fliers outside of our Vampire commander, having additional air force is going to be quite helpful.
Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Deathspore Thallid
- 1 Sporesower Thallid
- 1 Thallid Germinator
- 1 Thelon of Havenwood
- 1 Psychotrope Thallid
- 1 Vitaspore Thallid
- 1 Sporoloth Ancient
- 1 Utopia Mycon
- 1 Mycoloth
- 1 Plaguemaw Beast
- 1 Skirsdag High Priest
- 1 Korozda Guildmage
- 1 Thunderfoot Baloth
- 1 Tana, the Bloodsower
- 1 Bloodsworn Steward
- 1 Tendershoot Dryad
- 1 Slimefoot, the Stowaway
- 1 Sporecrown Thallid
- 1 Thallid Soothsayer
- 1 Evolution Sage
- 1 Ohran Frostfang
- 1 Liliana's Standard Bearer
- 1 Radha, Heart of Keld
- 1 Sengir, the Dark Baron
- 1 Pendelhaven
- 12 Forest
- 1 Llanowar Wastes
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 1 Karplusan Forest
- 1 Swamp
- 1 Mountain
- 1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
- 1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
- 1 Phyrexian Tower
- 1 High Market
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Mosswort Bridge
- 1 Twilight Mire
- 1 Jund Panorama
- 1 Savage Lands
- 1 Rootbound Crag
- 1 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Woodland Cemetery
- 1 Kessig Wolf Run
- 1 Blighted Woodland
- 1 Westvale Abbey
- 1 Sheltered Thicket
- 1 Path of Ancestry
- 1 Spire Garden
- 1 Karn's Bastion
- 1 Rancor
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Spontaneous Generation
- 1 Berserk
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Artifact Mutation
- 1 Terminate
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Night Soil
- 1 Power Matrix
- 1 Invigorate
- 1 Phyrexian Reclamation
- 1 Hull Breach
- 1 Golgari Germination
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Go for the Throat
- 1 Triumph of the Hordes
- 1 Blasphemous Act
- 1 Tragic Slip
- 1 Fungal Sprouting
- 1 Vandalblast
- 1 Burn Away
- 1 Painful Truths
- 1 Cryptolith Rite
- 1 Rhonas's Monument
- 1 Blackblade Reforged
- 1 Fungal Plots
- 1 Guardian Project
- 1 Rhythm of the Wild
- 1 Tome of Legends
- 1 Return of the Wildspeaker
- 1 Shadowspear
- 1 Deadly Rollick
Here’s how the deck looks graphically, thanks to our friends at Archidekt:
What do you think? Are there any cards I’ve overlooked? What partners are you interested in pairing up with Sengir, the Dark Baron?
Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter! I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun! I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do a deckbuilding stream every Monday evening, and pepper in some other Commander-related streams when I can. If you can join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.
And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy.