If you want to sacrifice creatures and influence people, but you don’t want to ruin your hipster street cred by playing Meren of Clan Nel Toth, have I got the Commander for you:
In addition to being queen of the Golgari, Savra is queen of my EDH heart. This is the first Commander deck that I took the time to design and acquire cards for. I was looking for a Commander who had a unique and strong effect in multiplayer, and boy does Savra deliver.
Let’s dive into the deck’s basic and not-so-basic strategy, and we’ll touch on some individual card choices along the way!
The Full Decklist and Plan A
Click here if you want to view the list on TappedOut.net in a separate window. Viewing the TappedOut list alongside this article will let you quickly reference some of the cards I’ll talk about below. For those who want a quick visual breakdown, here it is:
The deck’s primary plan is to do four things fairly quickly:
- Put cheap creatures on the battlefield, most of them Black and recurrable.
- Put a sacrifice outlet (hopefully one that doesn’t cost any mana to sacrifice creatures, or is Birthing Pod) on the battlefield.
- Put Savra on the battlefield.
- Start sacrificing creatures and triggering Savra’s abilities (mainly the first one).
From there, the plan is to keep casting and creating creatures and keep feeding them to Savra, so that opponents can’t keep creatures on the board. Then, using reanimate and enters-the-battlefield effects, the deck slowly creates an overwhelming advantage that opponents can’t overcome.
Of course, things often don’t go exactly the way you want them to. I’ll cover Plans B and C below, but first I want to talk about the best cards in the deck.
The Best Cards in the Deck
These cards are the fuel that makes this deck run. This deck’s best draws have one or more of these cards in them, along with something like Ashnod’s Altar, Phyrexian Tower, or Birthing Pod to sacrifice them to. These cards (as well as, to a lesser extent, Nether Traitor) let the deck get started on its creature-denial plan very early and easily keep it going into the mid-game, which puts opponents in a bad place.
These cards might not be the typical, flashy bombs that you think of when you think of Commander, but they get the job done and they do it well. I’ll keep almost any opening hand with a Shambling Shell in it, which is pretty neat.
Plan B (or “Um, there are way too many creatures on this board.”)
Sometimes, opponents will outrace you in committing creatures to the board, and just sacrificing creatures alongside Savra won’t be enough to clean everything up. In those cases, you’ll want to break the deck’s emergency glass by using Sidisi, Undead Vizier or Increasing Ambition to tutor for one of these cards (or just get lucky and draw one):
After you’ve cleaned everything up, you’ll want to start cranking out creatures to start controlling the board again. In that case, look for one of these cards or something like them:
Plan C (or “Breaking the emergency glass didn’t work, Matt. What now?”)
Time for a hail mary, my friend. Here’re your last ditch win conditions.
First, we’ve got this bad boy tag-team:
Use Jarad to throw Lord of Extinction at all of your friends at once (now I’m picturing it and it’s gross and I’m going to stop now) then watch them tremble as they witness the power of your fully operational graveyard-powered elemental.
The other hail mary play is to cast Rise of the Dark Realms and convince everyone to scoop in response to all of the enters-the-battlefield abilities you’ll have to resolve:
Seriously, you’ll want to try to convince everyone to scoop. It’s almost as bad as resolving a Warp World.
Why Aren’t You Playing Card X? Also, Skeletal Vampire? Skeletal Vampire???
Second answer first, Skeletal Vampire is a boss. He was one of my very first rares, from a Guildpact theme deck. While I included him in the first version of this deck primarily out of nostalgia, his two Bat tokens keep on coming up big and so he keeps getting to stay in the deck.
Don’t underestimate Skeletal Vampire, my friend. Otherwise he’ll suck the blood out of you for no reason (guy has no muscles, why does he have veins, who knows?).
As for the first question, if a card’s not in the deck it’s likely that it’s either:
- Too expensive
- Not good enough
- Currently on the sidelines but has been a different version of the deck
Seriously, I’ve tried so many cards in this deck. Genesis, Feed the Pack, Champion of Stray Souls, Dread Return, Hell’s Caretaker even, and those are just some I can name off the top of my head. If there’s something that seems like it’d be good in this deck, I’ve likely either tried it or it’s on the shortlist. That said, I’m willing to try anything that looks good, so leave any suggestions in the comments!
The only card I haven’t tried that I know should be in the deck is Survival of the Fittest. But Fauna Shaman will have to do for now.
Savra is still one of my favorite Commander decks, partly because it’s so synergistic and unique. Now that Commander is very popular, it seems like every new Legendary creature shows up at the head of a deck somewhere, but older Legends like Savra can still hold up and surprise people!
I hope your first Commander deck is still treating you as well as mine has treated me, and I’ll be back next week with my current Standard Pauper brew.