Archetune-Up – Shanna’s Motley Crew

(Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy l Art by Magali Villeneuve)

A Most Cherished Legacy

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, an article series devoted to using the Theme pages on EDHREC to help tweak a reader-submitted deck!

Taking a break from the past two months of five-color decks, this month we are looking at a two-color deck submitted by reader Nathan! Nathan submitted a Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy list that he’d put together after pulling a foil Shanna from a Dominaria prerelease.

The goal for this deck was to be a bit different than the typical Rhys the Redeemed or Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice deck: we want to utilize creature tokens to provide considerable power and toughness boost to Shanna, and we want to take advantage of the fact that most token decks don’t go tall, opting instead to go wide.

Another thing that Nathan mentioned is that his meta is very diverse, ranging from competitive Narset, Enlightened Master decks to very casual kitchen table decks. Nathan is looking for the deck to be tweaked in such a way that it can do a little something no matter what deck he is playing against.

 

G/W Shanna Tokens by Nathan

Comander (1)
Creatures (22)
Instants (16)
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (6)
Enchantments (13)
Planeswalkers (3)
Lands (35)


Just glancing at Nathan’s deck, you can see his theme is clear: tokens! Lots and lots of tokens! Unlike the new Populate deck from Commander 2019, here we care about quantity over quality. Forget a single 4/4 Rhino, give us four 1/1 Soldiers!

There were a few things that stood out to me when going through Nathan’s deck. Token-makers that only do so once, like Raise the Alarm and Servo Exhibition, seemed like they weren’t pulling their weight. Conversely, slower, repeatable token-makers such as Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter, and Hanweir Militia Captain seemed too slow to make an impact. The last thing I noticed was there were a lot of cards that rely on being ahead on board like Inspired Charge, Second Harvest, and Strength in Numbers. These cards are only helpful to you when you’re in a good position and are complete duds when you’re behind.

I’m excited to show you all that I came up with after taking these considerations into account, so let’s get into it!


Hah! The Convoke’s on You!

One of the newest themes on EDHREC is the Convoke theme; it’s an interesting one, as it’s similar to the Token theme page that we’re going to be discussing later. The difference here is that while it focuses on a specific mechanic, it also includes cards that care about tapping your creatures for an effect, or cards that inevitably care about creatures, such as Cryptolith Rite or Loxodon Hierarch.

Sitting in the top row of the High Synergy cards on this page are March of the Multitudes and Glare of Subdual. March was already in Nathan’s deck, and it was the card that inspired me to check out this theme in the first place. Glare is a powerful card that gives your tokens a new lease on life: normally a bunch of 1/1s without any anthems aren’t that much of a concern, but with Glare of Subdual, your 1/1s can tap down any beefy beaters or troublesome artifacts, either offensively or defensively! They can even do this the turn they come out because it’s Glare’s activated ability, not the creatures’, so summoning sickness doesn’t apply! This enchantment is a great utility piece that, when combined with cards like March of the Multitudes, can either end games quickly or take you from being behind to being ahead.

The last two cards I added from this theme are Citywide Bust and Assure//Assemble. Citywide Bust is a board wipe that will keep your tokens alive while also clearing away the biggest threats on the board. Conditional board wipes in this deck are quite good, as they will usually only hit Shanna, who can easily be cast again on the cheap. Assure//Assemble, on the other hand, can either protect a key creature from removal *cough*Shanna*cough*, or allow us to quickly rebuild after a board wipe. Creating 6 power spread across three bodies (each of which has vigilance, mind you) for 6 mana at instant speed is no joke! What puts this over the top of other one-shot cards I mentioned earlier is its versatility, since it’s able to shift function throughout the game.


Hate is a Strong (but Accurate) Word

While looking through the deck, I noticed cards like Mother of Runes, Runic Armasaur, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. This reminded me of my Odric article a few months ago; I took note of all the Hatebears that were available in green/white when writing that article, and I decided it was a good place to check once again, and I was not disappointed.

The cards I picked come in two distinct flavors. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist are creatures that help your team in combat. Elesh is a well-known monster, creating a 4-point difference between your creatures and your opponents’, making favorable combat for them nearly impossible. Mirri on the the other hand makes it so that only one of your pumped up creatures will get blocked, allowing the rest to get through. Talk about a way to quickly end the game! She also provides double duty on defense, ensuring that only one creature from each player can attack you every turn!

The last three cards from this theme page are Teferi’s Protection, Dauntless Escort, and Selfless Spirit. These three cards, along with a few others that I included, will protect a healthy board from being decimated when the inevitable Wrath of God or Supreme Verdict comes down. These cards allow you to be a bit more aggressive with your approach, letting you commit to the board with less fear of repercussions. That being said, only Teferi’s Protection will help against popular wipes like Toxic Deluge, Cyclonic Rift and Merciless Eviction, so be cautious if your opponents are in those colors!


A Token of Appreciation

Finally, we make it to the meat of the deck: the Token theme! Here is where I added the interesting synergies to the deck. This also happens to be the theme that I pulled the most cards from, which is why I saved it for last.

Nathan had mentioned that in his meta, the planeswalkers in his deck help stabilize games until his main plan with Shanna could get moving. Since they performed so well, why not crank up the planeswalker count? That’s where these four additions come in: Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, and Ajani, the Greathearted.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is the third-most-played planeswalker in the format, and for good reason. She pumps out soldiers every turn, she has the exact kind of conditional board wipe we need, and she can give us a game-winning emblem all on her own.

Garruk, Primal Hunter gives us a large token every turn, or he can come down and draw us cards equal to (usually) Shanna’s power, giving us a good way to refill our hand.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Ajani, the Greathearted can immediately put +1/+1 counters on our entire team, which is a fantastic buff. Nissa can also create plant tokens when necessary, and Ajani can gain us life while providing vigilance to our entire team. None of these walkers are ever a dead draw in our deck thanks to their utility.

Trostani Discordant and Tendershoot Dryad are two solid token-makers that work in two different ways. Trostani makes you two 1/1 Soldiers with lifelink upfront, while also buffing your entire team and giving you a Homeward Path effect at the end of each of your turns. Just having Trostani enter the battlefield will pump Shanna by 4 right away!

Conversely, Tendershoot Dryad will take a second to start rolling, but the situation will soon spiral out of control for your opponents if they don’t have a response: every upkeep the Dryad will make a 1/1 Saproling, and in EDH, that’s usually four creatures by the time it gets back to you, growing your board state while also increasing Shanna’s power!

The final three cards are a bit of a potpourri of effects that token decks want.

Martial Coup fills your board up after wiping the slate clean, giving you a brand new slew of 1/1s. Couple that with the next choice, Divine Visitation, and you’ve got yourself a party! None of the tokens in the deck are better than 4/4 Angels with flying and vigilance, so any token you create with this out is a strict upgrade. It’s basically a super anthem!

Finally, what do you do once you have all of these 1/1s or 4/4s out? You cast Shamanic Revelation, of course! Shamanic Revelation will quickly refill your hand, and in some instances it’ll gain you a chunk of life, as well! Don’t get too greedy with this spell, though; drawing three cards off of it is good enough on its own. If you can draw a few more, great, but don’t wait too long, or you may end up with no creatures on the board to draw off of!


Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

For this article’s Bonus Round, I’ll be taking a look at interesting interactions contained in this deck that help set it apart from traditional token decks. Some of these cards will be ones that were in the original decklist, while others are ones that I ended up adding in.

  • This is one deck where I feel comfortable playing cards like Birds of Paradise and Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Usually mana dorks like this are almost strictly worse than land-based or artifact ramp. In this deck, though, these creatures will provide Shanna with a +1 to her power and toughness, making them a bit more valuable in this deck than others.
  • Dragon-Throne of Tarkir is an often-overlooked Equipment, as most decks don’t facilitate a go-tall and go-wide strategy. Luckily for us, this is perfect in a Shanna deck, as it acts as a repeatable Overwhelming Stampede, which will be sure to Overrun your opponents whenever it comes down.
  • Interesting tech for this deck is Aura Mutation. It’s a tricky little piece of removal that doubles as a pump spell in this deck. You can catch opponents off guard with some extra commander damage if you blow up an opposing Zendikar Resurgent or Leyline of Anticipation, so keep that in mind!
  • Fists of Ironwood pumps Shanna by making two tokens, plus it gives her one of the most important keywords she could have: trample. This will allow her to connect with massive amounts of damage while not needing to worry about being chump-blocked. Worried about crack back? Remember, you’ve got two tokens to block with, so swing away!
  • I’m usually not a fan of Doubling Season in token decks, as it ends up painting a big target on your back, but I think we are running enough Planeswalkers and +1/+1 counter synergy to make it a bit more palatable to me. Good-Fortune Unicorn. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Ajani, the Greathearted: all cards of this kind help increase Doubling Season‘s usefulness, so hopefully, once it eventually gets removed, you’ll have gotten some value from it.
  • Another group of spells that I couldn’t fit into this deck are ones like Rishkar’s Expertise and Monstrous Onslaught. Usually these cards aren’t that great in token decks, but similar like with Dragon-Throne of Tarkir, these cards excel thanks to Shanna and how big she can get.

Making Our Ancestors Proud

There we have it, another deck in the books! Green/white is one of my least-played color combinations, so this was a bit of a challenge for me. For some reason, I can’t wrap my head around token decks if they aren’t running Young Pyromancer, Talrand, Sky Summoner, or Monastery Mentor. Hmmmmmm… how strange…

In all seriousness though, this deck was really enjoyable to break down specifically because I’m not familiar with this style of deck, so thank you for your submission, Nathan! I want to shout out to my fellow writers for help with this deck as well. Their suggestions and cuts helped me out a ton as I tried to narrow down the deck to try and function properly. It wouldn’t have come out as well as it did if it wasn’t for them!

Here is the point that I would normally tell you that you can submit an deck to be featured on Archetune-Up, but just for now, I’m closing my submissions. I’ve filled up on submissions from awesome readers and now have the next few months planned out already, and I want to try and change some things up starting in December. Regardless, if you’d like to get in touch, feel free to reach out to me at thejeskaiguy@gmail.com, or get my attention on Twitter @thejesguy!

Thank you so much for reading, and once again arche-tuning in!

Oh Captain, My Captain!

Comander (1)
Creatures (23)
Instants (9)
Sorceries (10)
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (11)
Planeswalkers (6)
Lands (36)

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Angelo is a Connecticut native who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. With at least 20 EDH decks constructed at all times, it's an understatement to say that he loves Commander. Angelo trusts counterspells over creatures, and is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation rotation out of Standard.