Last updated on July 25, 2022
Sliver Queen | Illustration by Ron Spencer
Slivers are a beloved staple tribe of Magic. While they’re not quite as popular as goblins, elves, or dragons, slivers enjoy a hardcore cult following. Today I’ll be looking at some of the best slivers as well as some decks you might want to try out in EDH or Pauper.
Let’s get started!
What Makes a Sliver?
Harmonic Sliver | Illustration by Luca Zontini
Slivers are a type of creature in Magic. If you’re asking how you determine if a card is a sliver, all you need to do is take a look at the card’s type line. Does it say “sliver” in there somewhere? If it does, congrats! You’ve got a sliver on your hands. If it doesn’t, then you don’t. It’s that simple.
Slivers were introduced in 1997’s Tempest as a group of hive-minded creatures that could share their abilities with other slivers. That’s kind of their thing. Almost all slivers can share an ability or stat bonus with all other slivers on the field (or on your side of the field). There are some exceptions, though, like Sliver Queen.
Now that you know what makes a sliver, it’s time to rank them!
How Many Slivers Are There?
There are 109 total slivers in Magic. Today I’m looking at the top 15 of the hive. These are truly the best of the best.
1. Sliver Queen
The archetypal sliver commander, Sliver Queen, provides what many sliver decks lack: an easy way to get lots of slivers on the board. It’s easy to amass a lot of mana with cards like Gemhide Sliver, which you can then funnel into the Queen’s ability to make a massive board. The head of the hive is also part of some very unique infinite combos with Mana Echoes, Ashnod’s Altar, and any outlet.
And to top it off, it’s five colors!
2. Gemhide Sliver and Manaweft Sliver
Gemhide Sliver and Manaweft Sliver are auto-includes in pretty much any EDH sliver deck. They each offer almost the same ability with Gemhide being marginally worse in that it lets your opponent’s slivers (including changelings…) also tap for mana if they have them. Gemhide and Manaweft are crucial pieces for more midrange-focused sliver decks.
3. Cloudshredder Sliver
Getting both flying and haste on all your slivers for is an amazing deal. It’s no wonder that Cloudshredder Sliver is played in many sliver decks ranging from EDH to more niche Modern combo decks.
4. The First Sliver
The First Sliver is one of the best sliver commanders out there and has even seen niche play in formats like Modern and Legacy. Giving all of your slivers cascade can do anything from powering a quick infinite combo to helping you amass a critical mass of slivers to swing for the win.
5. Harmonic Sliver
Harmonic Sliver turns all of your slivers into removal. In EDH where artifacts and enchantments are the name of the game, Harmonic can devastate your opponent’s boards if you drop just a couple slivers after it.
6. Sliver Overlord
Since a lot of slivers have very specific abilities that help disrupt your opponents’ gameplan, provide protection, or just help you beat down, it’s no wonder tutoring them is a powerful effect. Sliver Overlord is one of the most played slivers in Commander because of this.
7. Crystalline Sliver
Look at all the powerful slivers we have so far. They all provide a massive impact when they hit the board but they’re largely unprotected. A single Murder can be the end of them. Crystalline Sliver lets you protect your valuable slivers.
8. Sliver Legion
Most sliver decks can quickly put four or five slivers on the board. Sliver Legion becomes an absolutely massive anthem effect to the point where it was included in some The First Sliver combos in Modern.
9. Sliver Hivelord
Sliver Hivelord has a similar benefit to Crystalline Sliver. It protects your slivers (including itself) from all destruction effects and by extension most board wipes. One of sliver decks’ largest counters is now a dud.
10. Quick Sliver
Quick Sliver turns your slivers into interaction you can flash in. This is sometimes a Crystalline Sliver to fizzle a Murder effect and other times it’s Harmonic Sliver to get rid of crucial combo pieces. In any case, this is an extremely powerful effect to have.
11. Necrotic Sliver
Necrotic Sliver turns your slivers into colorless Vindicate effects. While Vindicate isn’t the best piece of black removal, it’s certainly attractive when you can make multiples and it costs colorless mana to activate. This is especially great with Sliver Queen since you can sacrifice the tokens the Queen makes.
12. Galerider Sliver
13. Muscle Sliver, Sinew Sliver, and Predatory Sliver
Muscle Sliver, Sinew Sliver, and Predatory Sliver give all of your slivers +1/+1 for just plus either or . While not as impactful as some of the utility slivers I’ve covered, they’re the unsung heroes of sliver decks.
14. Synapse Sliver
Synapse Sliver keeps sliver decks from running out of gas in longer games like in EDH. This is what makes it an extremely attractive include in any sliver deck looking to go for a longer game.
15. Dregscape Sliver
Dregscape Sliver gives slivers the potential to unleash explosive comebacks. You might be sitting on a pile of lands after a couple board wipes with no slivers to tap them for. Dregscape gets you out of this bind by giving them all unearth and giving you one last swing, or allows you to trigger effects that proc when slivers enter the battlefield.
The First Sliver in EDH
The First Sliver | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
The First Sliver makes for a great sliver commander. A lot of sliver commanders are very expensive, with Sliver Queen even being on the reserved list. The First Sliver is not only relatively cheap but also offers some really fun and explosive turns.
Fill up a deck up with as many slivers as possible and ramp spells with the goal of getting to five mana. When you cast a sliver and you cascade into another sliver, you can cascade again. This means that it can be worthwhile to include some impactful cards that technically cost like Ancestral Visions or Profane Tutor so that all your 1-drop slivers can cascade into extremely impactful pieces.
The First Sliver is great at solving one of sliver deck’s biggest issues; running out of gas. Sliver decks are usually able to kill one or two players over the course of a game, but repeated board wipes and removal can leave them spinning their wheels for quite a while. The First Sliver avoids this by building card advantage in each sliver you cast.
Sliver Overlord List in cEDH
Birds of Paradise
Emiel the Blessed
The First Sliver
Force of Will
Pact of Negation
Swords to Plowshares
Veil of Summer
City of Brass
While The First Sliver can helm an amazing Food Chain deck, the advantages it presents relative to other Chain commanders are relatively slim. Sliver Overlord, on the other hand, presents a very unique way to build a competitive Commander deck.
You’ll (unsurprisingly) be playing a lot of tutors in this deck. Demonic Tutor and Profane Tutor are staples of the format, after all. This deck really separates itself from the cEDH metagame in its win conditions.
Unlike The First Sliver, which plays no slivers whatsoever in its most powerful lists, Overlord uses the likes of Sliver Queen and Basal Sliver to assemble infinite mana combos. The fact that it’s capable of tutoring out other combo pieces by itself, especially when aided by cost-reducers like Biomancer’s Familiar and Training Grounds, makes it the best cEDH sliver commander that plays actual slivers.
Naya Slivers List in Pauper
Predatory Sliver | Illustration by Mathias Kollros
For a 60-card aggro sliver experience, look no further than Naya Slivers in Pauper. This is a tribal aggro deck that often rears its head as a black horse in Pauper tournaments. It isn’t tier 1 but it has quite a few MTGO 5-0’s and a few tournament wins in its portfolio.
The trinity of Sinew Sliver, Muscle Sliver, and Predatory Sliver is here to buff all your low-cost slivers like Plated Sliver and Sidewinder Sliver. Red mainly brings sideboard options plus Heart Sliver.
The deck could be a force to be reckoned with in the Pauper meta if any more powerful slivers are printed at common since the deck has such a strong core.
Sliver History: Changes to the Tribe
All For One and One For All: 1997 to 2007
Gemhide Sliver | Illustration by John Matson
As I already mentioned, slivers were first printed in Tempest all the way back in 1997. This set introduced us to Metallic Sliver, the only sliver creature with no abilities whatsoever and one of the few exceptions to the “boost the hive” theme. Speaking of, all of the slivers in Tempest that had sliver-boosting abilities gave them to all slivers. I’ll come back to that in a second.
Slivers came back to Magic just a year later with Stronghold in 1998. Just like wth Tempest, all of the slivers here gave their boosts to all slivers on the board. It was a few years before slivers returned to Magic with Legions in 2003, followed shortly after by Scourge in the same year.
The next time slivers were printed in Standard was in 2006 with Time Spiral. Planar Chaos was next in 2007 and then Future Sight came just a few months later.
All of the sets I mentioned so far printed slivers with abilities that affected all slivers on the board. Your slivers would get the boosts, of course, but so would every other players’ slivers. Assuming that any of your opponents were also running sliver decks, of course.
But that changed the next time slivers were printed in Magic.
My Precious: 2014 Forward
Galerider Sliver | Illustration by James Zapata
2014’s core set was the next time we got new slivers, and there was a pretty big change that came with them. 14 slivers were printed in Magic 2014, and these only affected your side of the board.
That’s right. Instead of all slivers, these 14 new slivers had abilities that affected your slivers and your slivers only. No more unintentional group hug effects when you’re really, truly, actually trying to smash everyone’s face with your slivers. You’re free to flood your board with slivers and not provide a smidge of advantage to any of your opponents.
This continued with Magic 2015, which brought the mythic rare Sliver Hivelord with it. Slivers weren’t printed again after this until Modern Horizons in 2019, though they were originally considered for Dominaria. That fell through, obviously.
A handful of slivers from the Time Spiral block were also reprinted in Time Spiral Remastered in March 2021.
The First Slivers
Metallic Sliver Token | Illustration by Carl Critchlow
Slivers originate from a yet-unidentified plane. They were first discovered by Volrath who brought the Sliver Queen to Rath where he took some of her brood to study. He genetically modified the slivers he took, but it’s unknown how much exactly or to what end. Volrath tried to make artificial slivers but they were a poor imitation and had no abilities of their own. He sent these failed Metallic Slivers to spy on their hive.
The hive was then used to protect the Legacy and Volrath used it to attack the Weatherlight and its crew. They were inevitably defeated and Karn was able to convince the Queen to give him the Legacy, saying that the artifacts were as integral to his existence as the slivers were to hers.
The Rathi Overlay led to slivers being transported to Urborg with most of them dying in the volcano and others falling in the battles during the invasion.
Sliver fossils were discovered on Otaria 100 years after Rathi Overlay. Wizards attempted to recreate the slivers but they neglected to recreate the Queen so the slivers went on a leaderless rampage across the island.
The slivers’ growth was accelerated thanks to the Mirari event and they went to the mainland having mistaken the Mirari-caused magical oscillations for the call of their Queen. Most of these slivers died in the magical explosion at Sanctum, but a small group survived and fused into the Sliver Overlord.
Synapse Sliver | Illustration by Thomas M. Baxa
Some of the slivers that survived Karona, False God’s destruction found themselves on Dominaria along with some that were “timeshifted.” While other species had issues surviving because of the lack of mana, the slivers flourished. They mimicked vampires, Birds of Paradise, Basal Thrulls, and many other creatures to enhance their abilities.
The slivers were still rabid since they were without a queen. Although Freyalise and Lord Windgrace kept some control over the slivers, the Weaver King took leadership of them. The slivers were eventually left queenless again when he was destroyed, but they started to develop sentience and even self-awareness.
Slivers presumably still live on Dominaria, taking on more and more abilities to help the swarm.
The slivers of Shalandar are distinct from the ones on Dominaria. They’re split into lesser brood, slivers that have one claw and tails, and primes, slivers that have a bipedal, almost humanoid appearance. This hive is run by the Sliver Hivelord.
First Sliver’s Chosen | Illustration by Steven Belledin
Some players speculated that there are slivers on Alara since The First Sliver, First Sliver’s Chosen, and Dregscape Sliver have abilities with keywords native to Alara. This hasn’t been confirmed one way or another, though.
With that out of the way, let’s move onto your frequently asked questions…
Are Slivers Commander Legal?
Yes, all 109 slivers are legal in Commander.
Can Sliver Overlord be a Commander?
Since Sliver Overlord is a legendary creature and is also legal in Commander, it can be your commander.
Are Slivers Good?
Yes. Slivers are an excellent tribe in Commander, have a playable Pauper deck, and they even have some fringe Modern combo decks. They’re most popular in Commander where their ability to amass a massive board presence with high power and toughness values makes them very difficult to beat.
How Do You Beat Slivers?
Sliver Legion | Illustration by Ron Spears
Slivers can seem unbeatable, especially in casual Commander. It’s easy to see why many players consider slivers to be an oppressive tribe with their tendency to quickly create massive boards and swing with huge attack values.
With that being said, they have some clear-cut vulnerabilities. Board wipes can do a number on any sliver deck that doesn’t have a source of indestructibility. Even if they do have one, cards like Cyclonic RiftTerminus and All is Dust can still put them back to square one.
Slivers also tend to win through combat damage. This means that cards that make combat difficult like Silent Arbiter or just outright negate damage like Fog and Spore Frog can throw a wrench into any sliver player’s plans.
Does MTG Arena Have Slivers?
Is There a Sliver Planeswalker?
Ess-Nelek is a sliver planeswalker in Magic’s lore but there are no sliver planeswalker cards printed in the game.
Are Slivers Coming Back?
With slivers making a comeback in Modern Horizons it’s likely we’ll see other slivers pop up in supplemental sets. The biggest issue with making slivers in a Standard set is that it needs to have a heavy sliver theme to make them playable, and the design space for slivers is relatively narrow. With that being said, WotC has shown that they’re able to create some very unique designs with The First Sliver, so there’s no need to lose hope just yet.
Necrotic Sliver | Illustration by Dave Allsop
That’s all I’ve got your for when it comes to slivers. What are your thoughts on this unique tribe? Do you like playing with them or do you wish they’d do away? Let me know in the comments down below, or head over to our Discord if that’s more your thing. And don’t forget to check out the blog for more content like this.
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