Magic Memories: Sliver Queen

Discussion in 'Single Card Strategies' started by Oversoul, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    In junior high school, I went to the "model school for technology" for one of the largest school districts in the state of Washington, so that meant they were haphazardly throwing students into random, technology-themed classes in which we learned to use borderline-deprecated hardware and software. The one I remember best was that when I first started going to the school, I was put into a class where we used ClarisWorks, some Apple software from 1991 (this was in 1997). We were running it on computers that were even older. One of our minor projects toward the end of the class involved making a document that described what we had learned in the class and how we could apply it in the future. So I wrote an essay stating that the whole thing was a waste of time, that the computers we were using were already obsolete, and that I would never use ClarisWorks again. My teacher told me he thought that I was wrong (for some reason), but conceded that my little essay was well-written and gave me full marks for it. And then I never used ClarisWorks again. I mean, that was obvious, right?

    Anyway, the following year, in another one of these technology-themed classes, we used internet research for various projects. For me, this was an opportunity to mess around on the internet and look for stuff about Magic cards. I was still rather new to the game, owned few cards, and exploring showed me a lot of new things. While I was in this class, I discovered her...

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    She was a 7/7, which seemed huge at the time. She could let me make as many creatures as I wanted. There was that gorgeous Ron Spencer art. And she was all five colors. I had to have her. Back then I didn't have much money for acquiring new cards and buying singles, while I'd seen them in the local game store and grasped the concept, was still kind of new to me. But it wasn't long before I was rocking a five-color slivers deck.

    I took to calling my Sliver Queen deck "SQ." At first, it was just a few slivers and all of the best cards in my collection that I could squeeze into one deck. Five-color good stuff. It seems like it is less prevalent now, or maybe it's somehow tied to youth, but back then, it was a common experience for new players to make a deck that just crammed in all the best cards, in all five colors, they happened to personally own.

    Somewhere, I saw the card Heartstone. I forget if I noticed the Sliver Queen + Heartstone + Ashnod's Altar interaction on my own or if I saw someone mention it on the internet. I was immediately sold on it. Infinite creatures? Such a thing was possible? I already had my precious Queens and, thanks to the glut of Chronicles cards foisted as bulk cards onto new players so they could pad out their collections, Ashnod's Altar was taken care of as well. But I didn't have a lot of Stronghold yet and owned no copies of Heartstone. Thematically, this makes sense. Finding a true heartstone is even harder than finding a true heart. So I got my mom to help me order them through eBay or somewhere. My first ever online purchase of Magic cards. And that's how I got my start as a combo player.
  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    At some point, I finished collecting complete playsets of every sliver card. But by then, I was experienced enough to see that just packing them all into the same deck was not ideal. I did eventually build a three-color tribal slivers deck, separate from my five-color combo "SQ" deck. It was more practical, at least for duels. SQ was always sort of my baby for multiplayer Magic. Most memorably, it was successful in the "Emperor" multiplayer variant, which used to be a thing. Well, Emperor is actually in the Comprehensive Rules. But I haven't seen it played in like 18 years. We were running teams of five, which seems crazy in retrospect. I can barely be bothered to find one other person to play some wacky casual Magic with, let alone nine.

    In free-for-all games, sometimes assembling a Sliver Queen combo won the game fairly quickly, but if one of the pieces was missing, I was more vulnerable, often for a long time. To facilitate my combo I employed card-drawing spells and leaned on Mnemonic Sliver. But in some games, this got me dangerously close to decking myself. I don't recall actually losing to decking myself, but I certainly came close. Looking for an answer to that, I tried out a strange enchantment I owned from Fifth Edition (a lot of my collection was Fifth Edition back then). Necropotence let me get rid of my draw phase, and it also functioned as a powerful card-drawing spell of a sort. I found it to be a very fun card once I got used to it, and when some older, more experienced players saw how much I liked Necropotence, they gave me some pointers on building a cheap monoblack Necropotence deck. And that's how I got my start as a control player.
  3. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    It started out with Heartstone and Ashnod's Altar, but I discovered that, like Enduring Renewal, Sliver Queen was one of those cards that enabled lots of different combos. Another favorite of mine was Sliver Queen + Argothian Elder + Intruder Alarm. The most efficient one I've seen is probably Sliver Queen + Mana Echoes, but I wasn't using "new" cards at the time. And at some point when I was in high school, I scrapped my SQ deck for parts. Along with my Burn deck, SQ had been my longest-running deck, and it was the end of an era for me in a way, but the deck had always been kind of clumsy and I'd developed a better understanding of the game over the years. I decided that it was time to move on. I still used Sliver Queen on occasion. I had it in a Reanimator deck for a while, and it showed up in my first Dream Halls deck (I liked the idea of being able to pitch it to cast anything and being able to pitch anything to cast it).
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Did anyone else pick up Commander's Arsenal? I remember it being rather obscure. They made the original Commander preconstructed decks in 2011 and then failed to capitalize on that as an annual thing at first, so in 2012, instead of Commander decks, they released a much cooler product: a box of goodies. It had probably the coolest life counter I've ever seen, a bunch of little coin things to use as +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters, some sleeves, a selection of card reprints including some new artwork, and some oversized cards for use as commanders. Because WotC decided that oversized cards, not being tournament-legal, don't count for the Reserved List (which seems fair), the oversized cards included two cards on the Reserved List: Sliver Queen and Karn, Silver Golem (which was also reprinted in a From the Vault product because WotC makes their own rules anyway). The box insert had a little blurb by Aaron Forsythe about building a Sliver Queen commander deck. I forget what it said, but I still have the insert in a box, so I suppose I could find out...
  5. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    So off the topic, but since it's now 20 years later, have you ever gone back and confirmed to your teacher that you've never used it? Followed up with classmates on FB or reunion to see if they ever used ClarisWorks again? :D
  6. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Haha, not really. To be fair to the teacher, I think he was mostly just trying to work with what he had, take an optimistic approach to the class and all that. I did see him again, not 20 years later but probably about 10, but didn't bring that class up.

    My impression was that he was basically a tech-savvy gym teacher who had been roped into teaching a class in a computer lab that still housed obsolete technology, and he was trying to make the most of it. Can't tell a bunch of 13-year-olds that the class you're teaching them is a load of crap.
  7. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    LOL. Yeah, that's true...
  8. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    At some point in 2005 or 2006, I pooled my cards with my friend Nick's cards. It was weird, but it was preceded by some other things. He had planned to quit Magic at various points, and by storing his cards at my place, he didn't have to deal with them. But then later, I lured him back to the game and we brought the communal collection back to him in 2007. This worked out for me because the house I was living in at the time had considerable moisture problems, and I was worried that it would damage my cards. Also, I was going to school and working at the same time, so I didn't play much Magic anyway, and when I did it was usually through the "Apprentice" software. I wasn't buying any new cards (couldn't afford it, of course) and Nick was more involved that I was. He was a better deckbuilder anyway, so I mostly let him build decks and then I'd refine them a bit after testing them. In 2010 and 2011, we were roommates, so all of the cards were at our apartment. And before we moved out, Nick up and quit Magic again, leaving me with the whole collection. Anyway, back when Nick had been more active in Magic, he'd traded away cards we didn't need for Legacy staples (since Legacy was the tournament format we played, although we attended few actual tournaments). Mostly, I didn't even notice, and I'm sure that most of the cards he traded away had been his to begin with. What I did notice didn't really bug me anyway (he traded away most of my copies of Morphling before the market value of the card plummeted). But what he didn't get was that the Sliver Queens were of sentimental value, and I had collected the old Rath Block slivers. Once he found out, he had intended to replace them, but didn't get a chance. Not that I really minded, getting way more value out of the cards he'd contributed (which was, up to that point, easily much more than all the cards I'd accumulated myself). It wasn't until 2015 that I finally got around to making my old-school slivers collection whole again.

    I've sometimes thought of collecting the slivers from later sets. I don't know how far off I might be. Probably still missing a lot of the rares...
  9. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Here's Aaron Forsythe's blurb for the inclusion of Sliver Queen in Commander's Arsenal...

    "The level-one deck for Sliver Queen is, well, a bunch of Slivers and mana fixing. But you don't need me to tell you that, right? Sliver Legion and Sliver Overlord are perfectly good at doing that job, so how can we take the Queen to the next level? My deck uses her in infinite combos that can kill an entire table!

    The easy combo is Sliver Queen plus Mana Echoes from the Onslaught set. You activate the Queen to get a token, then Mana Echoes gives you two mana right back for another activation. Repeat ad infinitum, then attack everyone—or use your ever-growing mana supply for something more sinister of your own devising! More complex combos include the Tempest set's Earthcraft and any of a number of Wild Growth or Mana Flare variants that give you a land that taps for two or more mana. Make a token, untap the land with Earthcraft, repeat!"
  10. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Echoing Aaron Forsythe there, I think the consensus is that for a tribal slivers EDH deck, Sliver Overlord is the optimal commander. Although for a faster, more aggressive deck, one could arguably go for Sliver Legion's dramatic turn five boost, although I'd be hesitant to give up the huge advantage of versatility offered by Sliver Overlord as a commander. In the years since, another five-color option emerged in Sliver Hivelord, but it has little to offer in the commander slot, despite being a solid maindeck inclusion. But where Sliver Queen shines here is that she is the mother of infinite combos. Also, she's just so cool.

    Commander seems to have become the home format for Sliver Queen. Competitive slivers decks aren't really viable in Legacy anymore, and Sliver Queen isn't legal in Modern. Even when she was more broadly available, slivers decks didn't really need her and going for all five colors was a bit too greedy. Sure, I played a casual, 60-card, five-color slivers deck with Sliver Queen back in the day and loved it, but it's just not the most practical thing.

    On the one hand, I am very fond of the card and using it as a commander sounds like a blast. On the other hand, that seems gimmicky and I'd guess that it would be prone to eliciting unfavorable responses. As soon as the other players see your commander, you're basically saying, "Hey guys, guess who's going to try to win with infinite combos..."
  11. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    As the original five-color creature, never reprinted, a centerpiece of a popular tribe, a token-generator, a combo enabler, an historic part of the lore, and a rare from and old set, Sliver Queen is sought after by casual players, despite a general lack of tournament relevance. This makes it a bit unusual as a sort of big money card that has never really been relevant in competitive Magic. Usually cards that have high secondary market price tags at least were tournament staples at some point. Sliver Queen commands the third highest price tag in Stronghold, behind Mox Diamond and Ensnaring Bridge, both of which were and are significant tournament cards. Unlike them, Sliver Queen is pretty much relegated to casual Magic, and has been for a long time.

    But Sliver Queen has seen some competitive play. Old Reanimator lists in Standard had strong options for getting cards into one's graveyard and cheating them into play, but they were short on gamebreaking creatures to actually be reanimating in the first place. Verdant Force was the most popular choice, but Sliver Queen was a passable option. Perhaps more prominently, in the old Type 1.5, Sliver Queen was the most popular kill condition in Dragon decks. I mentioned this in my Eternal Masters article...


    If Worldgorger Dragon hadn't been banned for most of Legacy's history and had survived as a competitive deck, Sliver Queen would eventually have been superseded in this role by Oona, Queen of the Fae.

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