Sygg, River Guide Commander

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The letter T!oday, I'm going to look at one of my oldest Commander decks, Sygg, River Guide.

The great thing about Sygg as a commander is that he costs so little that you'll almost always have him in play, and he's not especially threatening.

This deck is entirely designed for multiplayer, where always having creatures in play can put you in a good position diplomatically, but the creatures don't have to be aggressive to be productive, so you don't have to be making enemies.

Playing a lot of creatures in multiplayer games can be risky, because there are so many effects that clear the board, but this deck focuses on drawing enough cards that it can recover well, and it plans to have its creatures all killed periodically. Death or Glory in particular is excellent after a long game, when many of your creatures have been killed. Also, it's one of the primary win conditions—just build a big graveyard (possibly by casting Tunnel Vision on yourself for Death or Glory) and then cast Death or Glory, returning enough creatures to lock the opponents out in some way. This likely involves Patron Wizard and/or a Reveillark combo with Body Double.

They key to the strategy is to play enough bad Merfolk that it looks like the deck doesn't do anything—that it's just a silly tribal deck that isn't going to threaten anyone—but then it can use those cards to do something real and significant in a multiplayer game, like the combos mentioned above, or Mindslaver lock, or Opposition lock. This deck isn't weak, it just has enough of a fair game to put on a show.

Aside from being well-positioned politically, by appearing to be a fair deck and creating a board presence that isn't overly threatening, I think this deck makes good use of the commander. The ability to start by playing Sygg means that you can always have one extra creature toward your board presence without exposing any cards you've drawn. This makes it easy to keep a full hand while spending all of your mana making productive plays and developing your board. This is key to any game of Magic, but in multiplayer, the ability to do it without expending cards (by using cantrip creatures like Silvergill Adept and other creatures that reload your hand like Sage of Fables and Sky Hussar) means that you'll never really be overextended.

I find this deck particularly fun to play because you get to play so many relatively weak cards and take so many actions without disrupting or dominating the game. It's very easy to be an active participant in a long, political game, which I find fun in a casual multiplayer game.

Sygg, River Guide

Main Deck

99 cards

Academy Ruins
Adarkar Wastes
Ancient Den
Arid Mesa
Azorius Chancery
Calciform Pools
Celestial Colonnade
Cephalid Coliseum
Command Tower
Eiganjo Castle
Flooded Strand
Glacial Fortress
Halimar Depths
Hallowed Fountain
Magosi, the Waterveil
Marsh Flats
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Misty Rainforest
Mouth of Ronom
Mystic Gate
Mystifying Maze
Nimbus Maze
Polluted Delta
Reliquary Tower
Riptide Laboratory
Scalding Tarn
Seat of the Synod
Sejiri Refuge
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Temple of the False God
Wanderwine Hub
Windbrisk Heights
Windswept Heath

39 lands

Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Body Double
Coralhelm Commander
Cosi's Trickster
Drowner of Secrets
Enclave Cryptologist
Glen Elendra Archmage
Harpoon Sniper
Judge of Currents
Lord of Atlantis
Master of the Pearl Trident
Merfolk Looter
Merfolk Sovereign
Merrow Reejerey
Mirror Entity
Patron Wizard
Puresight Merrow
Sage of Fables
Scroll Thief
Sigil Tracer
Silvergill Adept
Silvergill Douser
Sky Hussar
Stonybrook Banneret
Stonybrook Schoolmaster
Thada Adel, Acquisitor
Tideshaper Mystic
Trinket Mage
Venser, Shaper Savant
Vodalian Illusionist
Voidmage Prodigy
Wake Thrasher
Wanderwine Prophets

39 creatures

Æther Vial
Austere Command
Cryptic Command
Death or Glory
Mana Crypt
Merrow Commerce
Mox Diamond
Sage's Dousing
Sol Ring
Springleaf Drum
Summon the School
Tunnel Vision
Umezawa's Jitte

18 other spells

Ajani Goldmane
Jace Beleren
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

3 planeswalkers

Sygg, River Guide

Sam Black
Sam Black
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Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for StarCityGames.com. He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013. If you have an original deck you'd like to see featured, email him with the link above.

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