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Commander Deck Tech: Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker

Magic: the Gathering

Multiplayer

Commander Deck Tech: Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker

Today, I present you a budget Shirei Control deck, which extracts value from enters the battlefield/leaves the battlefields effects on an Aristocrat-based strategy.

By Eduardo, 12/21/21, translated by Humberto, with help from our readers

Versions:

Introduction

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty's first spoilers came out and to celebrate we bring a list with one of my favorite commanders, Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker. Our deck is a mono black control dedicated to utilizing Shirei's ability in a tribal ETB and LTB, adding value to our creatures while drastically reducing opponents' resources.

The Commander

Shirei is a death kami that has a mission to take care of Shizo's bloody battlefield. She has the ability to "deny death to the dead", effectively creating the undead.

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Its ability returns creatures with power 1 or less from the graveyard to the battlefield, generating numerous interaction possibilities with effects triggered by incoming creatures, called

ETBs

("

Enters the battlefield

"), and also with

LTBs

("

Leaves the battlefield

").
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Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker is a creature that generates immense value and has a mana value of 5 in a 2/2 body (making it especially fragile), however, with proper protection, the Kami leads a strong and resilient strategy.

The Strategy

Our strategy is built around Shirei's ability, which triggers all turns, that is, in our turn and in the opponent's, allowing us to reuse our creatures several times in the same turn. For this, we use cards that generate advantage when sacrificing creatures: sacrifice engines, whether these are aristocrats, creatures that generate advantage when sacrificing others, or spells that have โ€œsacrifice a creatureโ€ in their costs. In early turns, our main objective is to develop our board while delaying opponents. For this, we have hand control in the form of creatures, Elderfang Disciple and other creatures that generate discards, and Thoughtpicker Witch allows controlling their draws, as well as occasional removals until our commander enters the battlefield.
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The moment Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker enters the battlefield, we start to pressure our opponents with numerous tokens using abilities such as Sling-Gang Lieutenant and Marsh Flitter, or dealing huge direct damage with Vindictive Vampire and Falkenrath Noble. Alternatively, we can generate a loop of infinite turns with Magistrate's Scepter.
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Mana Sources

The use of creatures for acceleration in this deck has been prioritized. Cards like Blood Pet, Soldevi Adnate and Overeager Apprentice, allied to Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker's ability generate a lot of speed. Treasure generators like Shambling Ghast, Skullport Merchant and Gleaming Barrier also make up our mana options.
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Our lands are mostly basic swamps, and we complement them with some utilities like the black

cycling lands

: Polluted Mire, Barren Moor and Desert of the Glorified. Ifnir Deadlands is a one-off removal, as is Blighted Fen. Witch's Cottage and Mortuary Mire act as recursions for major creatures, used especially in early turns.
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Card Advantage

Most of our draw spells are tied to cards from creatures like Dusk Legion Zealot and Novice Occultist, which are our main source. Morbid Opportunist is an interesting recent addition that guarantees an additional draw every turn.
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Spells like Bankrupt in Blood and Costly Plunder are especially good within our strategy as they double the rewards you receive. Sultai Emissary speeds up the game by manifesting our creatures from the top of the library.
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Viscera Seer in turn is one of our engines, sacrificing creatures and scrying, selecting our draws. Tutors are another way to select draws, so cards like Shred Memory, Dimir Machinations and Dimir House Guard can

Transmute

, allowing you to search your deck for cards with the same mana value when discarded.
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Among our recursions are Scarecrone, which when tapped returns an artifact creature from the graveyard to the battlefield, which can be used as a replacement for Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker in our combo. Apprentice Necromancer is especially strong since the creature that would be sacrificed at the end of the turn returns thanks to our commander's ability. Elixir of Immortality returns our entire graveyard to the deck generating a protection against removals.
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Interactions

Our deck has strong hand control elements in the form of discards. The cards Burglar Rat, Elderfang Disciple, and Elvish Doomsayer force each opponent to discard a card. Miasmic Mummy and Rotting Rats force each player to discard, which is not a problem when you draw multiple cards in a single turn.
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Black Cat and Ravenous Rats are point discards aimed at an opponent and Yarok's Fenlurker exiles a card instead of discarding. Thoughtpicker Witch controls the top of an opponent's deck preventing them from having relevant threats again. Dimir Machinations removes up to three cards from the top of the target opponent's deck, which is very effective against some tutors and recursions.
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One of the most important features of the game is life points, and we have a few cards dedicated to this feature. Lampad of Death's Vigil in addition to being another one of our sacrifice engines, whenever its ability activates our opponents lose one life, and we gain one life, and Falkenrath Noble and Vindictive Vampire have similar triggered abilities. Sling-Gang Lieutenant can sacrifice a goblin to deal one point of damage to an opponent and grant us one life. He is a goblin himself and each time he enters the battlefield he generates two goblin tokens. Syr Konrad, the Grim is a classic, whenever a creature is sent or taken from the graveyard it deals one point of damage to each opponent.
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Black mana has among its characteristics the vast amount of removals, and in this deck we have several types of them. Sacrifices deal with creatures that normally couldn't be targets of spells or abilities and in this category we have: Abyssal Gatekeeper, which when going to the graveyard triggers its ability that says each player sacrifices a creature, and for sweepers we have Fraying Omnipotence which cuts all the resources of all players in half. The negative counters are due to Tragic Slip, Ulcerate, Fume Spitter and our Plagued Rusalka engine, which are useful for removing indestructible creatures.
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On direct removals, Big Game Hunter destroys creatures with power 4 or greater, Bone Shredder destroys non-black and non-artifact creatures, Perilous Myr deals 2 damage to any target, useful against planeswalkers. Bone Splinters, Eaten Alive, and Spark Harvest are fast removals against targets. Earthblighter is our land removal and Shred Memory is a one-time graveyard removal.
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Dark Privilege is a sacrifice engine that makes the enchanted creature an aristocrat that sacrifices a creature to regenerate, preventing removals. Mirror Shield grants the equipped creature hexproof and protects against deathtouch.
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Tokens

An effective finisher in many control decks are tokens. We opted for creatures that when entering the battlefield, put two or more tokens, even if these creatures are small, to quickly create a relevant amount. Weaponcraft Enthusiast, Marsh Flitter, and Sling-Gang Lieutenant each creates two tokens upon coming into play.
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Ghoulish Procession and Ogre Slumlord synergistically create tokens with our strategy when sending non-token creatures from the battlefield to the graveyard. Desecrated Tomb creates tokens whenever a creature leaves our graveyard, having great synergy with our commander's ability.
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Victory Lines

Our version of Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker uses strong control elements to set the pace for the match. Our goal is to have the commander, a sacrifice engine, one or more control elements, and an additional form of card draw into play. As the control elements are creatures that remove threats and resources from opponents and our additional draws are also through creatures, generating sacrifice cycles every turn, creating an exponential advantage until the end of the game. We've already mentioned some deck engines throughout this article, but there are some creatures that have been added for their abilities that have the cost of sacrificing another creature. Relevant threats are cards such as Carrion Feeder, Bloodflow Connoisseur and Bloodthrone Vampire, which grow as we sacrifice other creatures.
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Our alternate victory line centers on an infinite-turn combo involving Coretapper and Magistrate's Scepter, which works as follows: we tap Coretapper to add a charge counter to Magistrate's Scepter and sacrifice the Myr to add two more charge counters. Then we tap the Magistrate's Scepter and gain an extra turn. To go for infinite turns, we need a recursion for Coretapper which can be Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker that will return the Myr at the end step, thus creating a loop.
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When using Scarecrone as our commander's replacement in this interaction, we're going to need him not to be summoned sick and have four generic mana available. We return Coretapper to the battlefield by using Scarecrone's tap ability.
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Upgrades

There are many possible additions to this deck, for example we can improve the mana curve by replacing creatures with similar ones, like Zulaport Cutthroat and Blood Artist.

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We can opt for stronger engines like Altar of Dementia, Ashnod's Altar and Phyrexian Altar, and add more efficient mana-generating creatures like Pawn of Ulamog and Pitiless Plunderer. Other lines can add Tortured Existence, Tormod, the Desecrator. Nim Deathmantle allows for more elegant interactions involving infinite sacrifices, having access to the aforementioned cards, or giving yet another option for the Coretapper + Magistrate's Scepter combo.

Conclusion

This commander is one of my favorites for being extremely cheap to build and refined to play with, allowing from the simplest to the most sophisticated strategic choices. Besides, it doesn't leave the fun aside, as it is a themed and extremely interactive deck, with great consistency, and I would love to see other commanders like that in

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

. I also recommend you to take a look at my Nicol Bolas Suspend Control deck tech. Thanks for reading and good games!
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Eduardo

Visual Artist and Art Mediator, passionate about Magic since the launch of Mirage, alternative deck builder.

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