Last updated on March 20, 2023
Silverquill Command | Illustration by Bryan Sola
I’ll be the first to admit that I spend too much time thinking about the fantastical lives of fictional characters. Magic doesn’t exactly help this particular habit of mine as it weaves complex stories and lore within each set’s cards, flavor text, and art. Not to mention the actual novels behind the cards.
If you pay any attention to the lore of each set then you’ve probably heard the term Silverquill before. If not, then don’t worry. I’ve got you covered since today I’m going over everything you need to know about Silverquill.
Let’s get started!
What Is Silverquill?
Silverquill College promotional art ft. Killian Lu
To put it simply, Silverquill is a college at the prestigious Strixhaven University. You remember Strixhaven, right? The set is still Standard-legal until fall 2022 so I sure hope so. Did you also know that the set’s full name is Strixhaven: School of Mages? Well, now you do!
Similar to the-series-that-must-not-be-named, Strixhaven is a fantastical school for wizards, warlocks, and all manners of magic-wielding creatures found in the plane of Arcavios. The school’s students are sorted into five unique “colleges” based on a variety of factors, each rooted in one of MTG’s enemy color combos.
Unlike the aforementioned series, though, Strixhaven colleges focus a bit more on the type of magic their students specialize in, not the kind of person they are… for the most part. But I’ll get to that in a second.
Silverquill combines the prosperous nature of white with the power and freedom of black. In “classic” Magic terms, Silverquill is the Orzhov college of Strixhaven.
What is Silverquill all about? I’m so glad you asked!
The college’s mechanical identity is very well married to its flavor and theme which greatly pleases the little lore goblin living in my brain. Silverquill uses a particular kind of magic unique to its college: ink magic. There are a variety of mages among the college’s ranks that wield this magic in their own unique ways including glyphweavers, shadelocks, battle poets, duskmages, and more.
But before I get carried away waxing poetic about it all, here’s a quick-and-dirty list of Silverquill’s highlight mechanics:
- Inkling tokens
One of my favorite things about Silverquill that merges the lore’s flavor with the game’s mechanics are Inklings. These little guys are blobs of inky darkness that float around the black-aligned mages who summon them They serve as helpers, pets, and even battle companions and I absolutely adore them.
These spooky (and adorable) little ink gremlins aren’t very tough, but they can fly and they pack at least a little punch with a base power of 2. Flavor-wise they act as Silverquill’s mascots even though they’re exclusively conjured by black-aligned shadewing mages using shadow magic. Inklings also dart around the high-windowed ceilings of Grandloft Hall, the college’s main building.
There are plenty of Silverquill cards that summon Inkling tokens, though they’re not really the best when it comes to token creation. I just think they’re cute.
I’d be remiss to mention the flying blobs of animated shadow without pointing out that flying is also a mainstay in Silverquill’s mechanical identity. Of the 14 cards that specifically reference Silverquill or depict a Silverquill student or faculty member, half include flying.
Birds, humans, and vampires are the three races featured as part of this college in Strixhaven (aside from their Elder Dragon, of course, but I’ll get to that later), and two of those are known to fly more often than not. It’s no surprise, then, that Silverquill mages tend to have the gift of flight.
Next up we have counters. Silverquill mages tend to bestow +X/+X counters to themselves and their allies, but a few strays also curse their enemies with negative counters.
There’s also a bit of mentor action and magecraft thrown in here and there along with the regular counter distribution. Plus there are some payoffs you might enjoy if you’re looking to maximize your counter use, like Tenured Inkcaster’s second ability.
The Minor Stuff
First up on the list of “minor” mechanics you’ll find in Silverquill is life pay. Lifelink, lifegain, paying life, your opponent losing life, etc. Want to feel powerful as you cast spells that manipulate the essence of life itself? This college has a few cards to quench your thirst.
Next up is magecraft. Silverquill students want you to cast instants and sorceries galore, and this mechanic rewards you handsomely when you do.
Silverquill won’t disappoint if you’re looking for some card advantage. Card draw is another mechanic that you’ll find sprinkled throughout the college’s ranks. It also mixes with some of the main mechanics I covered, namely counters.
Embrose, Dean of Shadow could also enable some pseudo-sacrifice play with its abilities. Not to mention that the Mystical Archive copy of Village Rites features a quote from Embrose, which is definitely a hint at this strategy considering the instant’s effects.
There are also a handful of one-off mechanics and keywords that appear on Silverquill’s students, staff, and spells. Take a look:
- Double strike
- Preventing combat damage
- Treasure token
- Return card from graveyard
Silverquill vs. Orzhov
I mentioned earlier that Silverquill is the Orzhov college of Strixhaven. So, what, Wizards just renamed the color combo to something semi-fantasy sounding, shoved it into a magical school setting, and called it a day?
I mean, kind of. But also no, not at all.
I’ll cover what Orzhov is all about first and then I’ll get into how Silverquill really only shares the most basic foundation with this enemy color combo.
To paraphrase Ethan from his piece of the color combos of Magic, Orzhov refers to the Orzhov Syndicate from Ravnica. It’s the white/black business guild first introduced in Guildpact that merges white’s order and comradery with the selfish determination and power-hungry nature of black. This guild craves power above all else, and they get it by owning and controlling as much as possible.
Mechanically, Orzhov decks tend to use every resource at their disposal to get the job done. Even if that means sacrificing their own for “the greater good.”
- Primary Mechanics: lifelink, afterlife, taxing
- Main Races: angels, vampires, spirits, humans
- Main Classes: advisors, clerics, wizards
Flavor-wise, Silverquill is known as the college of eloquence; their motto is “Sharp Style. Sharper Wit.” I already covered that they specialize in ink magic, which is true, but that’s also kind of burying the lead. Silverquill mages use the magic of words to achieve their goals.
This college is stylish, intimidating, and driven. They tend to be natural leaders since they’re very intelligent and charismatic and have a never-second-place attitude that pushes them to never quit. Their charisma also extends into their appearance. Silverquill mages tend to be very good-looking and put-together, following the essence of the first half of their motto.
Strixhaven is a college of magic, so Silverquill is all about those who can conjure and control magic. There are no non-magic users, mechanics, or flavor in Silverquill. That’s kind of the whole point.
- Primary Mechanics: token creation (specifically Inklings), flying, counters
- Main Races: birds, humans, vampires
- Main Classes: clerics, warlocks, wizards
Shadrix Silverquill: the Founder
I mentioned earlier that there was an Elder Dragon involved, and it’s finally time to talk about it.
In case you weren’t aware, the Strixhaven colleges were each founded by an Elder Dragon. Silverquill owes its creation to Shadrix Silverquill, the legendary dragon that truly embodies what this college is all about.
We don’t really know a whole lot about Shadrix or where he came from other than Arcavios is his home. And that he founded Silverquill, of course.
Silverquill College Deans
Each of Strixhaven’s colleges has two deans that are aligned to one of the college’s colors. Silverquill has Shaile, the white-aligned dean, and Embrose, the black-aligned dean.
Mechanically, each dean does a good job at embodying what each color of the college is about. Shaile boosts her allies while Embrose uses underhanded tactics to get what he wants.
Let’s pivot over to flavor.
Shaile, Dean of Radiance uses her magic-infused words to uplift and inspire others with advice like her flavor text, “You are so much stronger than you know.” It may be bit cliché, but backed by magic that literally makes you glow? I’ll happily take the cliché.
On the other end of the spectrum, Embrose, Dean of Shadow is cynical and merciless, often using his words to cut down those that can’t take it. While he believes that most people are selfish and encourages students to use their magic to “get what they deserve,” he also holds deep respect for those that prove themselves.
Silverquill Info and History
Strixhaven University art
Silverquill mages wield the magic of words, sometimes on their own but other times through ink as a medium. The conflict within this college centers around the power that they have and how it should be used: following ambition for personal gain as a black-aligned mage, or bettering society through order as a white-aligned mage?
We agree that language is civilization’s most powerful weapon. We argue over whether to use it to inspire our allies or shatter our enemies.Rinald, Silverquill inkmancer
Since Silverquill magic is crafted through the spoken word, it’s the fastest of the five colleges and also the most adept in combat. Their majors are unsurprisingly grounded in communication and language including teachings like linguistics, rhetoric, and foreign languages.
Silverquill Campus | Illustration by Titus Lunter
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the Silverquill Campus, you’ve come to the right place!
This college’s main building is Grandloft Hall. Featuring enchanted windowpanes, expansive balconies, and plenty of other spaces where mages can perform their craft, Grandloft is the place to go if you’re looking to practice your studies. But be careful; start using powerful magic and you might just find yourself highlighted by an enchanted spotlight.
Are you itching to practice an upcoming performance? Maybe you’re sparring with a fellow student to sharpen your combat abilities or have been challenged to an honor duel. Whatever the case, you’re headed to the Rose Stage. This rotating circular platform features a background of ink-roses left as tributes from past spectators and has excellent acoustics.
And finally, the Dramarium is your destination if you’re training in physical fitness, dance, martial arts, or any other physical performance. Head to the chain of rooms known as “the Gray Room” to use the hair and makeup salons, voice rehearsal booths, mirrored oration rehearsal spaces, and spa facilities to prepare yourself. Or you can visit the sensory deprivation chamber at the back of the Dramarium to meditate and center yourself in complete silence.
Other Notable Characters
We know of a handful of other Silverquill mages including some staff and a couple students. Strixhaven features several students and apprentices, but I’ll only cover the named characters here.
The Professors: Breena and Nils
First there’s Breena, the Demagogue, an owlin professor who’s as persuasive as she is feathered. While she’s a fearsome competitor in battle, Breena prefers to use words to defeat those that oppose her.
Nils, Discipline Enforcer is a bit less admired than the other Silverquill professor. While he’s a staunch optimist, his belief in his students’ potential for greatness often leaves him disappointed by their choices.
The Students: Killian and Felisa
Killian, Ink Duelist is a second-year Silverquill student that has a lot to live up to as Embrose, Dean of Shadow’s son. That’s right; Killian “Killy” Lu bears the ever-watchful eye of one of Silverquill’s Deans, who never forgets to remind him of their family’s lineage of inkmasters.
Though usually only showing detached professionalism to his fellow students, Killian managed to befriend Dina, Soul Steeper when they worked together to stop a colossal swamp creature (of their own creation) on its way to destroy Strixhaven. He also eventually earned his father’s approval by defending Silverquill from mage hunters after finally learning to use white magic with his inkling, Doco’s, help.
Felisa, Fang of Silverquill is a vampire wizard student and the reigning queen bee of Silverquill. Stylish, popular, and devastatingly witty, she’s the picture of charm and grace when you’re on her good side. Piss her off, though, and you’ll see just how vicious Felisa Fang can be.
The Broker: Fain
Do you need something that you’re not supposed to have? Maybe you lost an important textbook and don’t want to ask your Dean for a replacement? You’re going to want to talk to Fain, the Broker.
Nobody has connections as extensive as Fain’s. As long as you can afford it, Fain will get you just about anything you could possibly want.
Is Silverquill Good?
The short answer? Yes, Silverquill is good.
The longer answer: while Ghash77 ranked Silverquill Aggro as a tier 2 deck in Strixhaven’s draft environment, Silverquill had the highest win rate of all the color pairs when we actually analyzed the draft data.
Silverquill was the aggro build of Strixhaven’s limited format and it was a good strategy if you got into it. The college’s staple mechanics definitely helped push the aggro synergy into high gear.
With vampires featuring among Silverquill’s elite I can see some of these mages joining the likes of Crimson Vow’s Olivia, Crimson Bride in a fast-paced vampire tribal deck. Considering Olivia’s reliance on legendary vampires to keep her resurrected creatures from exile, Felisa, Fang of Silverquill in particular would fit right in.
Bonus: Sample Silverquill Decks
Silverquill Inkling Tempo in Standard by MTG Jeff
Dramatic Finale | Illustration by Steve Argyle
Clever Lumimancer x4
Extus, Oriq Overlord
Professor of Symbology x2
Elite Spellbinder x4
Killian, Ink Duelist x3
Heartless Act x4
Umbral Juke x2
Bloodchief’s Thirst x3
Silverquill Command x3
Blot Out the Sky x2
Savai Triome x2
Shineshadow Snarl x4
Brightclimb Pathway x4
Inkling Summoning x2
Reduce to Memory
I mentioned that I absolutely love Inklings, right? Well, this Standard deck by MTGJeff is right up my alley. Jeff does a great breakdown of the deck in his gameplay video, so I’ll just paraphrase his analysis.
Extus, Oriq Overlord is definitely a highlight of this build. Inklings unfortunately fall short in this set and this deck kind of highlights that. Dramatic Finale can be a good card if you’ve got plenty of tokens about, but there just isn’t enough Inkling support to make it specifically an Inkling build-around.
Felisa Silverquill Counters in Commander
Felisa, Fang of Silverquill | Illustration by Sara Winters
Nils, Discipline Enforcer
Fain, the Broker
Knight of the White Orchid
Shaile, Dean of Radiance
Author of Shadows
Keeper of the Accord
Breena, the Demagogue
Teysa, Orzhov Scion
Thalisse, Reverent Medium
Elenda, the Dusk Rose
Krav, the Unredeemed
Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Return to Dust
Blot Out the Sky
Promise of Loyalty
Talisman of Hierarchy
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Vault of the Archangel
Caves of Koilos
Temple of Silence
Vault of Champions
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really like Felisa, Fang of Silverquill. Her lore, her art, her vampiric state… I’m eager to see more builds featuring her.
I’m particularly looking forward to trying this deck out sooner rather than later. Counters are probably one of Silverquill’s strongest mechanics, and Felisa leads the charge here very well. If you’re looking to harness her vampiric prowess as you throw counters every which way in your next Commander showdown, you should take this list for test drive.
Silverquill College art
That’s all there is to know about Strixhaven’s Silverquill college.
What do you think of Silverquill? Is it your favorite college or do you prefer one of the other four? What’s your favorite aspect or character in Silverquill? Let me know down in the comments below, or head over to our Discord for a longer conversation if that’s more your thing.
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what a well written, informative article. I could really feel the passion for the college and magic itself, and it was incredibly refreshing to read something focused on the story and lore itself, rather than the viablity of card 29 of the 9th set of the year.
So glad you enjoyed it!