Last updated on March 30, 2023
Shadrix Silverquill | Illustration by Raymond Swanland
There’s something special about using Elder Dragons to helm your Commander decks. After all, the format started under the moniker “Elder Dragon Highlander.” While the original cycle of Elder Dragons isn’t nearly as relevant to the format as they once were, there’s a new cycle of Elder Dragons that can lead the way.
The Elder Dragons from Silverquill are the founders of the plane’s grand university, and they each lead one of the five schools on the campus. Today we’re looking at Shadrix Silverquill, founder of the Silverquill college, known for students passionate about poetry and with sharp wits.
Let’s get to it!
Orzhov Advokist | Illustration by Jason A. Engle
Magister of Worth
Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion
Knight of the White Orchid
Nils, Discipline Enforcer
Master of Ceremonies
Deep Gnome Terramancer
Breena, the Demagogue
Loran of the Third Path
Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor
Return to Dust
Swords to Plowshares
March of Otherworldly Light
Path to Exile
Secure the Wastes
Cut a Deal
Blot Out the Sky
White Sun's Twilight
Elspeth Conquers Death
The Restoration of Eiganjo
The Cruelty of Gix
Talisman of Hierarchy
Temple of Silence
Caves of Koilos
Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Vault of Champions
This is a midrange deck through and through. You’ve got good removal, card advantage, and solid creatures to play throughout the game. The deck has a moderate amount of group hug to it, with some cards that help you make allies throughout the game.
This works well with your commander since it starts with a bit of a group hug ability itself. You also have a token subtheme to help maximize Shadrix’s ability to spread +1/+1 counters across your team.
Shadrix Silverquill makes a great leader for this deck because it does a little of everything. Midrange is all about versatility. Shadrix can draw you cards or make creatures or make the board state you already have stronger. Double strike and flying also help to make it a solid threat in its own right.
The group hug aspect of its pre-combat ability gives this deck an extra bit of flavor. The deck leans into this idea a bit with some of the card choices, making it possible to politic throughout the game. Giving opponents cards, tokens, and counters can be a drawback, but it can also give the table the tools necessary to shut down players who are getting too far ahead and help you make deals that benefit you in the long run.
We’re All in This Together
These cards are the ones that let you spread the love to your opponents and help make friends before turning around and going for the win yourself.
Noble Heritage is a neat little background from Baldur’s Gate that lets your opponents get some counters on their creatures while giving you literal protection from them. You also get to stack counters on your creatures, letting Shadrix quickly get out of hand.
Tenuous Truce helps you draw some extra cards while hopefully shutting off aggression from another player. Nothing’s better than two pals drawing cards.
Benevolent Offering gives you a wide board and a good life buffer. It can also turn combat in your favor by providing instant-speed blockers and a chunk of life.
Baleful Mastery is just a great card. You can make friends by letting somebody draw a card while exiling the biggest threat at the table, but even the 4-mana mode is okay.
Secret Rendezvous and Cut a Deal both make you friends while drawing you cards, which keeps the pace of the game flowing.
Master of Ceremonies lets the group hug flow, giving your opponents whatever they want while ensuring you get some of the same.
Combat Calligrapher is one of the cards that incentivizes your opponents to attack another player by giving them tokens. The ability that prevents Inklings from attacking you also helps Shadrix’s ability.
Orzhov Advokist is another card that spreads around counters while stopping your opponents from attacking you.
Nils, Discipline Enforcer takes the choice of counters out of your opponents’ hands. Unlike your other options, Nils lets you choose where the counters go, but its defensive ability is less restrictive than the others.
Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor encourages your opponents to direct their creatures elsewhere with the promise of extra cards while letting you draw plenty thanks to your double-striking commander that creates evasive fliers.
Breena, the Demagogue keeps the attention off you while letting your opponents draw cards and giving you even more counters to stack on your flying creatures. There’s a theme here, isn’t there?
Keen Duelist is another source of card advantage and friendship making. In the late game, you could try to use it to finish off an opponent if they flip a big enough spell.
Flumph is just… fantastic. A jellyfish that draws cards and has a name that’s fun to say? This is a top-tier card design.
This deck also has plenty of cards that give you value without helping your opponents.
Dark Confidant is a former Modern staple and one of the strongest 2-mana creatures ever printed. It provides a steady source of card advantage for you in this deck.
Deep Gnome Terramancer and Knight of the White Orchid both give the deck some ramp that’s hard to come by in these colors.
Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion doubles up all the counters you get from your commander and other effects, letting your board get out of control in no time.
Skyclave Apparition is a powerful card that turns one of the biggest threats on the board into a relatively uninteresting Illusion token.
Basri's Lieutenant is another +1/+1 counter synergy card that gives you some board protection by making wraths mostly ineffective at clearing your board.
Wandering Archaic helps this deck fight against counterspells, which these colors have basically no access to. It can also provide sneaky value when it copies other spells, like tutors.
Secure the Wastes is a fantastic token generator that changes games when cast. You can punish an opponent for a greedy attack by generating blockers, or end a game by making a ton of tokens on the end step before your turn and giving them a bunch of counters with Shadrix for surprise lethal.
Grand Crescendo also makes instant-speed tokens while giving you a way to protect your board.
Stinging Study is a super powerful draw spell that costs a bit of life but always refills your hand. Card advantage like this is super important to the deck with so much one-for-one removal.
Bloodthirsty Blade is a neat piece of equipment that makes your opponents attack each other. It can effectively Fog the biggest threat on the board, but you can also attach it to small-value creatures to force your opponents to chump attack into bigger boards.
Together Forever spreads counters around and helps you recur your creatures if your opponents unleash a board wipe.
Elspeth Conquers Death is a fantastic card that does a little bit of everything. It gets rid of a threat forever, and the second mode shuts down lots of decks for a turn. The reanimation in the final chapter caps this disruptive saga off by adding a big threat.
The Cruelty of Gix also generates tons of value. Its first chapter can be a bit weaker, but the tutor and reanimate effect that hits cards outside of your graveyard are quite strong.
Sigarda's Summons is a great finisher that can add massive pressure to the board in tandem with Shadrix giving all your creatures +1/+1 counters.
Master of the Board
You’ve got a couple board wipes in this deck that all share a goal: do more than just reset the board. These wraths put you ahead.
Damning Verdict can be Plague Wind, full stop. It’s best to cast in your second main phase after Shadrix has protected your team from this. You have a few ways to give your opponents counters, so this is a card best played a bit earlier.
White Sun's Twilight, Martial Coup, and Blot Out the Sky are all wraths that obliterate everything but the tokens they produce with sufficient mana pumped into them. These cards make great finishers, wiping away your opponents’ hard work while giving you a commanding board state. They’re also flexible since they can produce tokens if you don’t want to destroy everything.
The Mana Base
Neither white nor black are known for their ability to ramp. Black has plenty of rituals, but those aren’t quite the effects this deck wants. It leans pretty hard on artifacts to get the job done instead.
Sol Ring and Arcane Signet are cards you can’t leave out of a Commander deck.
You’ve got a host of other 2-mana rocks to help you accelerate Shadrix into play that either fix your mana like Orzhov Signet, or provide value like Thought Vessel.
You’ve also got some solid value lands in the mana base to help have more relevant cards. Malakir Rebirth and Emeria's Call are strong modal double-faced cards that let you be a bit greedier with your land count.
Castle Ardenvale and Castle Locthwain give you outlets for excess mana and provide card or board advantage.
Bojuka Bog gives you an answer to graveyard strategies, while Demolition Field ensures that none of your opponents get away with playing high-value lands of their own like Gaea's Cradle.
Most of the other lands are just mana fixers that ensure you get to play your spells on time without worrying about mana costs.
This deck is all about how you play it. It doesn’t have infinite combos or sneaky locks to facilitate fast wins. It’s focused on combat damage alone, and making friends is a big part of how this deck works.
You have lots of ways to spread around counters and strike deals to keep the heat away from you. The cards that benefit your opponents for attacking each other, like Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor, and that stop them from attacking you, like Windborn Muse, are especially important for this.
Deflecting attention is one of the best ways for this deck to get a lead. You want to let your opponents take each other out of the game as much as possible. You’ve got a bunch of one-for-one removal and some card advantage spells that let you grind out opponents. The ideal scenario for this deck is to maneuver the game into a 1v1 scenario where your opponent succumbs to your interaction and card draw.
One of the biggest threats to this deck is opposing decks looking to win through less honest means. Keep an eye out for combo pieces and try to save applicable pieces of removal to disrupt explosive plays. You’re looking for a bit of a longer game.
Shadrix Silverquill’s power is another thing to keep an eye on. This isn’t a proper Voltron deck, but commander damage is a legitimate way for you to close out a game. Those +1/+1 counters you distribute stack up quickly when you’re dealing damage twice each combat. Shadrix only needs four counters to two-tap an opponent.
Combos and Interactions
As noted above, there aren’t any infinite combos or even particularly strong interactions outside of your few cards that care about +1/+1 counters. This deck leans more on each card being individually powerful than making something greater than the sum of its parts.
One strong interaction comes from Deathbringer Liege, which turns all your white-black spells into kill spells. Both of its triggered abilities trigger when you cast a white-black spell. You stack them so that the first ability that taps the creature resolves first, which then meets the condition for the second ability, destroying the creature.
This means you get to kill something every time you cast Shadrix. You’ve also got plenty of other Orzhov () spells to trigger the ability.
Rule 0 Violations Check
There’s nothing to really make a playgroup salty in this deck. You aren’t using infinites to close the game, and you’re not using any of the excellent stax pieces in these colors to slow your opponents down until you can win the game. Some tables might not appreciate the large amount of interaction in the list, but it’s integral to how the deck wants to play the game.
There are a couple cards that could be replaced by cheaper options to help make this deck easier to pick up.
Dark Confidant isn’t nearly as expensive as it once was, but it still costs a pretty penny. Something like Phyrexian Arena which provides a steady source of card advantage can replace it.
Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor is harder to replace. A card like Curse of Disturbance that incentivizes attacking players other than you works in its place.
Grand Crescendo provides pressure and protection. You could swap it for a cheaper protection piece like Make a Stand and rely on your other finishers to get the job done.
You could also make some budget cuts by addressing the mana base. A lot of the utility lands like Castle Locthwain and Emeria's Call can be replaced by a basic of the applicable color. This makes the mana base a bit weaker, but cheaper and still functional to provide you with plenty of colored mana.
There are a few ways you could build Shadrix other than the one listed here. You could lean harder into any of its abilities. This deck takes a very broad, middle-of-the-road approach to its triggered ability. You could go harder into tokens or +1/+1 counters and always choose the relevant ability for a more focused and synergistic deck.
Another route would be to look at more of a Death & Taxes or stax-based build. Shadrix would make a great commander for that kind of strategy by bulking up the small creatures normally associated with those builds into reasonable threats while providing extra pressure and aerial support.
Blot Out the Sky | Illustration by Olena Richards
Shadrix Silverquill is a powerful and flexible commander that offers a lot of interesting choices while it’s on the battlefield since its ability benefits both you and an opponent. This makes for an engaging play experience in a social format like Commander.
As an Elder Dragon, it also feels like there’s a sense of nostalgia for building a Commander deck around a card with those types. What did you think of the list? How would you build Shadrix? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.
Until next time, stay safe and take care!
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