Uncommonders – No Swole Snakes in this Forest!

(Sosuke, Son of Seshiro | Art by Carl Critchlow)

It Runs in the Family

Hello again, all of you fine Commander-loving friends! Welcome to the newest installment of the Uncommonders series, presented by yours truly! My name is Seth Cross, but as my friends, you can call me DM. As always, I am excited to spotlight legendary creatures who are printed at the uncommon rarity.

Last month, we discussed Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro, and realized that she has an uncommon-stamped brother. Instead of doing my normal Twitter poll for folks to vote on which uncommon legend they’d like to see, I decided that we could close out the loop on the Seshiro family by looking at…

Sosuke, Son of Seshiro!

Sosuke shares a unique quality with Sachi in that, while they do have lord effects for Snake creatures, they mostly support a secondary creature type with their abilities. While Sachi was a Shaman-tastic commander, Sosuke feels right at home leading an army of green Warriors. If we wanted to get the most amount of value from Sosuke, we could say we want to run all the Snake Warriors in Magic so that they can be both swole snakes and pseudo-deathtouch Snakes.

However, the sad reality is there are only nine total mono-green Snake Warrior creatures – thirteen if you include Changeling creatures. If we review the data from EDHREC for Sosuke, it looks like most people are running the deck as a Snake tribal deck, making sure to include the father of the family, Seshiro the Anointed for even bigger Snakes that can also draw cards when they connect with a player.

 

While this is not a bad strategy by any means, I was curious why people were not running Sosuke with Warriors, so I did some quick searching on our favorite search engine, Scryfall.com, using the ‘EDHREC ranking’ sorting tool to see the format’s favorite Warriors first.

One of the first things I noticed is that the Warrior subtype tends most often to be centralized in the Human and Elf creature type, with a smattering of other types mixed in as well. Another trait I noticed many of the cards had in common was that they either cared about or created +1/+1 counters. Being married to a mono-green Elf player, I know that these two strategies can meet in the middle, so, as I am known to do, I decided to throw the deck a curveball.


Or should I say an Elfball?

Since so many Elves are also Warriors, it just makes good sense to lean into that strategy! “Just a few Elf creatures” can quickly surprise the table by swarming the field and becoming the biggest creatures in play. How do we create that army? Elvish Promenade and Sylvan Offering make tons of Elf Warrior tokens, serving two strategies at the same time. Lys Alana Huntmaster turns each of our Elf spells into a token generator. Imperious Perfect is an Elf lord that can sit in the background and make us some incremental value each turn, which we can ramp up by including Parallel Lives and definitely Doubling Season for both extra tokens and counters.

Even looking through all the best green Warriors via Scryfall, I realized early on that I was going to have to be somewhat flexible with the mission statement “Warrior tribal Elfball” for this deck. In several cases, we had to make sacrifices on one creature type or another. For example, Tuskguard Captain or Trollbred Guardian, aren’t Elves, but are both Warriors that can provide trample effects. Additionally, Yeva, Nature’s Herald can provide us with an instantaneous deathtouching Warrior blocker thanks to Sosuke, so she warrants inclusion even if her creature type is Shaman.

I enjoy these kinds of mix-and-match strategies because it can surprise the whole table, and lead us to victory by tricking our opponents, who aren’t sure what we’re up to and will therefore find it more difficult to evaluate which cards are our best cards, and more difficult still to disrupt that strategy as a result.


Keep it Up!

Okay, so if you are like me and you’ve already scrolled down to look at the list, you may have spotted an odd card for a mono-green Elf deck. I want to highlight it here very quickly because it has been my secret tech in so many of my decks and once you see it work, you will definitely agree. Oketra’s Monument does not benefit our mono-green deck at all, reducing the cost of none of our spells. However, I have learned that Monument is indeed a monumental addition to decks that care about tokens, especially a deck that cares about Warrior tokens. Under Sosuke’s command, they can be plenty scary and very deadly!

To bring things back to a very green place, I also briefly want to highlight how good green has gotten at drawing cards. I can’t stop singing the praises of new additions to this color’s repertoire, such as Guardian Project and Beast Whisperer, while still enjoying the classics like Shamanic Revelation, Lifecrafter’s Bestiary and Soul of the Harvest. Primordial Sage and Zendikar Resurgent are nothing to laugh at either, especially since the latter’s big mana is so scary in a deck full of so many creatures.

Oh, and as we’ll see in a moment, this deck likes +1/+1 counters, which means we get to make excellent use of Armorcraft Judge and Inspiring Call.


Power Up, Green Ranger – I mean, Green Creatures!

Deathtouching Warriors are great and all, but we also want ways to pump up the team, and as it turns out, a lot of Elves and Warriors (and other excellent green cards aside) are fantastic at providing +1/+1 counters to our army. Rishkar, Peema Renegade is a great source of both buffs and mana. Durable Handicraft can throw counters around too, and Joraga Warcaller is happy for any additional counters we can give it.

I like the idea of Elvish Champion giving our leafy army Forestwalk, then using Song of Dryads to both incapacitate a threat and give us a way to hit the big nongreen player at the table. Loyal Guardian is a new card from the latest Commander 2018 set that gives us more counters each turn. I debated adding Ridgescale Tusker into the list but ultimately decided against it because there did not seem to be enough bounce or recursion to justify it.

Another new card I think works well with this deck is The Crowd Goes Wild, which gives counters to our friends and also gives them trample. However, note the way that Sosuke, Son of Seshiro interacts with trample – he doesn’t give Warriors actual deathtouch, but a delayed version of it, so the “one point of deathtouch damage to the blocker, and the rest of the damage tramples over” trick wouldn’t actually work with him.


Finish It!

In case folks still worry that the deck has lost its way along the “Warrior tribal Elfball” theme, I should point out that many closers for traditional Elf decks are often not actually Elves themselves. Craterhoof Behemoth, for example, is a traditional closer for an Elf deck. The same will be true here, but we can still be sure to add folks like Ezuri, Renegade Leader to the mix as well.

Triumph of the Hordes can turn a few small creatures into Victory. Tribal Unity is an unexpected instant that has a tribal-based pump, and with both Elf and Warrior tribes, we can be flexible when we need to get the most value. The new End-Raze Forerunners has been called “baby Craterhoof,” and while some people are disputing its value, I do think it is well balanced, making up for a smaller power buff by providing vigilance so that we never leave ourselves defenseless. In this same thought process, Song of Freyalise does the same thing for the third chapter.

If we toss in a few more staples like removal, ramp, and some rambunctious Elf-folk, the deck turns out looking like this:

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Slithering Away

My favorite comment from last week’s Hallar, the Firefletcher article was written on /r/edh by /u/ManaBuilt, who said:

I actually made a Hallar deck recently but ran into the very issue mentioned; I threw in almost nothing but Kicker spells and ended up in a bind when my strategy got knocked off balance even slightly. Looking forward to improving that deck as it’s a super fun commander.

When building decks, I am a big soapbox speaker on not tunnel-visioning with your commander. It’s fun to build around a specific strategy, but over-reliance on a commander could mean the deck fails to function without them on the field, or it uses so many thematic cards and foregoes effects that will actually help make the deck function. I know I personally gravitate toward commanders like Muldrotha, the Gravetide and Lord Windgrace for this reason, to make sure the deck can stand on its own.

Sosuke is like that. Sure, having him on the field means our Warriors are scarier. If you want to run tribal Snakes, he has a nice pump effect for that too. Overall, though, it’s wise to find a strategy that synergizes with him, rather than one that depends on him. True to Elves, the deck above does not rely on any one creature to win the game, and I think that’s a pretty cool lesson to learn from the Son of Seshiro.

If you want to hear more of my ramblings, you can follow me on Twitter, check out my weekly streams on Twitch, catch the weekly podcast that I co-host or join my public Praetor Magic Discord! Until the next article, keep casting those big bomb spells! Peace.

DM Cross started playing Magic: the Gathering when he was 8 years old. Currently 29 years old, he's become an avid lover of the EDH/Commander format and is constantly keeping an eye on everything coming out to see how to tune and tweak his favorite decks. DM can be found on Twitter @DM_Cross