This entry is part 14 of 26 in the series Staple Remover

Posted by Chris-B
email – olwhiskeyboots@gmail.com
Twitter – @0hn0s3

Welcome to Melvin week. Why the psychographic that enjoys the subtlety of rules gets the worst possible name I’ll never know. Melvin sounds like a kid who has his own name written and his underpants and a bad case of asthma. Anyhow for Melvin week I have a spectacular deck for you all. On Staple Remover I like to discuss how to improve the synergy between cards in your deck rather than just play cards that are powerful on their own. This deck takes that concept to a new level with an assortment of synergies and card interactions. If you like techy plays you’ll love this list. I actually got the idea from an old 60 card tournament deck called Astral Slide. So put on your dancing shoes we are going to do the Astral Slide commander style.

 

I’ve had the idea floating around in my head for while about taking old popular 60 card tournament decks and evolving them into commander viable lists. I’ve actually built Borborygmos Enraged as my take on Standard Valakut / Legacy Lands. I had been tossing around the idea for a Damia Prosbloom EDH deck, but as I was putting together that deck list and realized it was much more powerful than I thought it would be, so I shelved it. Then Melvin  week came along and I dusted off the idea of transforming a 60 card deck into a viable 100 card singleton commander design. With some help from a friend I decided that Astral Slide had a lot of potential for synergy and tech plays.

For those that aren’t familiar with the Astral Slide decks of yor, here’s a list:

Creature [6]
3 Eternal Dragon
3 Exalted Angel
Instant [9]
3 Renewed Faith
4 Spark Spray
2 Starstorm
Sorcery [7]
2 Akroma’s Vengeance
2 Slice and Dice
3 Wrath of God
Artifact [4]
4 Damping Matrix
Enchantment [7]
3 Astral Slide
4 Lightning Rift
Land [27]
4 Forgotten Cave
8 Mountain
9 Plains
4 Secluded Steppe
2 Temple of the False God

 

During it’s time in the tournament scene it typically came in two flavors, W/R and W/G. The idea behind the deck was that you could use cycling spells and Astral Slide to flip morphed creatures, nullify attackers, and rescue your creatures if they were targeted. Now that we have had an explosion of powerful ETB creatures in the past few years, Astral Slide is primed to do even more.

First I had to choose which colors the deck would be. Since this decks heyday a lot of blink effects have cropped up in U/W, so that seems like a good place to start. Adding green to this U/W base has a lot of great creatures to blink as well, like Thragtusk, Eternal Witness, Armada Penis Wurm Thing, Coiling Oracle, etc. Plus, including green pays homage to the original lists. Bant is a fine choice and it would give us plenty of options. However the selection of Bant generals available don’t really fit what we are trying to do and this is Melvin week so it would only make since if the general had some type of interaction with the rest of the deck.

To stay true to the original Astral Slide lists we could go American by adding in red to the U/W base. The selection of ETB creatures isn’t quite as powerful from red. Cards like Mindclaw Shaman and Zealous Conscripts aren’t bad, but they don’t allow for as much synergy as I was aiming for. Lightning Rift was a big reason the original decks ran red, and that card really loses it’s luster in a 40 life multiplayer format.

At this point I was faced with the choice of staying in just U/W and using a commander that could be blinked, like Lavinia, or I could be bold.  Ultimately I decided to go Esper since black adds some strong ETB creatures like Nekrataal and Angel of Despair as well as a worthy assortment of cycling cards such as Decree of Pain. For the general I made the choice to go with Zur. In some groups this choice could draw a ton of hate no matter what the deck does, so if this is the case for your playgroup you might want to switch generals. I thought it would be fun to play around with the idea of using a general to accomplish one thing and one thing only during the course of a game: getting Astral Slide into play.

Now lets take a look at Esper Astral Slide:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tech Plays:

I’ve given you a brief overview of what my goal was with this deck, so now I’ll go over some of the cool little synergies that you can start peeling apart like a cycling onion.  Astral Slide will let us blink a creature when we cycle a card.  What else triggers by cycling a card?
When you cycle a card it is technically discarded so both Spirit Cairn and Telekinetic Bonds give us some extra value.  For example if you cycle Choking Tethers you could potentially draw a card, blink a creature, tap two creatures and make a 1/1 flier.  It will be rare you’ll have all three enchantments out at once, but this gives you the idea of the interactions we’ll be working with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Wraith makes for a cheap trick where we don’t need to leave mana untapped to cycle it.  If you have Nekrataal and Astral Slide in play you could have this guy in hand and appear to be tapped out.  Then, bam, you cycle him for two life and blow up the big dude that just hit the board while drawing a card.  Sword of Light and Shadow is in the list to return cycling creatures back to your hand for multiple uses.  It works particularly well with Street Wraith since it also gains your life back for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun Titan provides a lot of utility for this deck.  He fetches your Astral Slide, should anyone be cruel enough to kill it.  He is also the reason we are running the Cluestone cycle for our mana rocks.  Aside from recycling 3-or-less drops you could also cycle Esper Soujourners to draw and card and twiddle something, then get a 2/3 blocker into play with Sun Titan that will twiddle something else should it die.  Feel free to add another layer like Mentor of the Meek.  With him in play you can cycle the sojourners, untap a land.  Attack with titan bring the sojourners back to life and use the land you untapped to draw another card off the mentor trigger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of more cards that Sun Titan can rescue we have Mentor of the Meek and Spirit Cairn.  Cycling a card with these two permanents in play lets you draw a card off the cycle, create a 1/1 flier and draw another card off the flier’s Mentor trigger.  Also if you have slide play and you flickered a creature with power two or less you get another Mentor trigger.  Cycling something as mundane as a Polluted Mire could potentially net you an ETB effect from the creature you flickered via slide + a 1/1 flier + 3 cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are basically three components working together here to make the whole deck function.

Cycling Cards – I tried to pick a lot of cycling cards that also give us another effect besides just replacing itself.  The cycling cards are going to be activating our three enchantments.  Cycling cards are also pretty versatile in that they can also be cast for their main effect if needed.  They are never dead since at worst they are a cantrip effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ETB Creatures – These are the dudes that we are going to be flickering via Astral Slide.  In esper we have access to lots of fun effects like creature destruction, bounce and recursion.  We even get token generation off of cards like Blade Splicer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flicker Effects – Even with Zur and plenty of tutors we can’t guarantee that we will have Astral Slide in play with a cycling card in hand.  Back up flicker effects will allow us to still get value out of our ETB creatures even if our plan A fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The deck isn’t going to win by going infinite or creating some unstoppable 30/30 monster, the idea is to get incremental advantage through all the synergies that have been packed in.  If you love rules interactions from cards like Ichor Slick or especially if you loved Astral Slide while it was in standard this offbeat version of Zur is sure to appease your inner Melvin.

 

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