Commander: Sharuum Control (Competitive 1vs1)

Few months ago, I went to my local store in Barcelona and some of my friends started talking about this new format called Commander, and that they wanted to try it out. I knew about the existance of EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander) but, honestly, it never caught my attention. Everybody was talking marvellous things about Commander,  the format where you could play with those old-school staples that were hidden in you dusty shoe boxes.

The dusty commons, uncommons and rares turned out to be a fun but losing machine. My friends and I tend to play for ante in every single format, so it took me few games (and bucks) to go from casual playing to designing a unbeatable deck for 1vs1.  So, what does it take to build a tier deck in commander?

The following article (which is free by the way) will try to cover my personal approach to competitive 1vs1 Commander based on the general Sharuum the Hegemon. This 99+1 card deck is designed to win games, and for that you need acceleration, protection, creatures, broken spells, removals, etc… but also, you need a well designed mana base.

The main reason why I chose Sharuum as my general was basically because its natural sex-appeal (is it a he or a she?), and then because it allowed me to play the colors that I own most cards: UBW. Regardless of the two previous reasons, Sharuum the Hegemon is a great general as it provides card advantage at any given state of the game (unless you are dumb or in need of a 5/5 chump blocker).

Did you noticed that Sharuum likes to drink?

I also liked the idea that you could do some sick infinite combos with Sharuum when combined with cards like Phyrexian Metamorph or Sculpting Steel. The recent new Super Legend rule released by WotC makes Sharuum unable to go infinite but, I don’t care much about it as in my local store we have our own rules, banning list, etc… so we play what we feel is most fair. I tried to use the infinite Sharuum loop to kill via Disciple of the Vault, Bitter Ordeal, Arcbound Crusher or Glassdust Hulk (to name some). Being Bitter Ordeal the one I liked the most (because it’s easier to tutor). I will cover this part of the deck later on.

First of all, let me show you the banning list we use, this way you’ll understand some card choices or missing ones:

(Keep in mind that we play to 30 lives)

ANTE CARDS
[cardlist]Amulet of Quoz
Bronze Tablet
Contract from Below
Darkpact
Demonic Attorney
Jeweled Bird
Rebirth
Tempest Efreet
Timmerian Fiends[/cardlist]
DEXTERITY CARDS
[cardlist]Chaos Orb
Falling Star[/cardlist]
OTHER CARDS
[cardlist]Ancestral Recall
Balance
Black Lotus
Biorhythm
Channel
Crucible of Worlds
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Fastbond
Gifts Ungiven
Hermit Druid
Intuition
Karakas
Library of Alexandria
Limited Resources
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Metalworker
Mind Twist
Mindslaver
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Necropotence
Painter’s Servant
Panoptic Mirror
Protean Hulk
Recurring Nightmare
Sensei’s Divining Top
Serra Ascendant
Sol Ring
Shahrazad
Staff of Domination
Survival of the Fittest
Sundering Titan
Sway of the Stars
Time Walk
Time Vault
Tinker
Tolarian Academy
Upheaval
Worldgorger Dragon
Yawgmoth’s Bargain[/cardlist]
GENERALS
[cardlist]Braids, Cabal Minion
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Vendilion Clique[/cardlist]

DECK HISTORY

My first approaches to the Sharuum deck were all based on the decklists that I found at MTG Commander. I tested most of the  versions but I fastly understood that none of those were actually designed to consistently win games.

Most of these decks based their strategies on putting big artifact fatties into play. Master Transmuter + Lightning Greaves proved to be an essential combo in this type of deck. Cheating creatures (like Ethersworn Adjudicator, Filigree Angel, MemnarchMagister Sphinx, etc…) into play with Master Transmuter or recurring a Sphinx Summoner to tutor up any creature in the deck was a fun line of play but, honestly, it was weak.

Another line of play you could go for with all these decks was to fill in your graveyard with artifacts via spells like Thirst for Knowledge, Careful Study, Fact or Fiction, Careful Consideration, etc… and then recur them back into play with Sharuum the Hegemon. This strategy is a lot more consistant but is a lot more mana intense. You need to be able to cast Sharuum several times to created some heavy advantage. My most common play when playing this type of deck would be to Entomb Magister Sphinx, bring it back with Sharuum, attack next turn and win.

THE COMBO

So I soon dropped that line of play and focused more on the combo part of the deck, aka “I WIN NOW BUTTON”. There’s multiple combos around Sharuum to win the game. I tested some (not all), but basically what you need is:

Sharuum in Play + Phyrexian Metamorph or Sculpting Steel in hand + one of the following cards:

The combo works the following way: You copy your own Sharuum with either the Metamorph or the Sculpting. The comes into play trigger goes on the stack and then both Sharuum and the copycut die because of the Legend Rule. With the trigger of the copied Sharuum get Sharuum back into play, a new trigger goes to the stack. The Sharuum trigger brings back Metemorph or Sculpting into play, with a new trigger to the stack, a new legend rule applies and repeat ad infinitum.

If you had Disciple of the Vault or Glassdust Hulk into play you gonna either make infinite damage or create an ∞/∞ creature. If you had Bitter Ordeal in hand, cast it and remove all his deck thanks to the Gravestorm hability.

BONUS FOR ARTISTIC IMPRESSION:

Add a Bridge from Below to your graveyard to create ∞ zombies! That way you can always bring up to life that collection of zombie tokens you have.

THE NEW SUPER LEGEND RULE:

Fuck it. Don’t use it!

THE CURRENT VERSION

Both aggro versions and combo versions of the deck were quite fun to play, but as stated before, they weren’t winning enough games in my local metagame. I had to focus a little bit more on the control part of the deck in order to combat the most played generals around: Godo, Bandid War Lord, Isamaru, Hound of Konda, Gran Arbiter Augustin or Oona, Queen of the Fae, Glissa, the traitor.

I added more counterspells, more mass-removal, spot-removal, less creatures, and more tutors to finally come up with the ultimate Sharuum list:

Sharuum Control for Competitive Commander 1vs1

General
[cardlist]1 Sharuum the Hegemon[/cardlist]

Lands: (37)
[cardlist]3 Island
2 Plains
2 Swamp
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Ancient Den
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Underground Sea
1 Scrubland
1 Tundra
1 Watery Grave
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Underground River
1 Caves of Koilos
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Fetid Heath
1 Mystic Gate
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Seachrome Coast
1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Command Tower
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Flooded Strand
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Mishra’s Workshop
1 Tolaria West
1 Maze of Ith[/cardlist]

Mana Accelerants: (13)
[cardlist]1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Talisman of Progress
1 Talisman of Dominance
1 Azorius Signet
1 Dimir Signet
1 Mind Stone
1 Grim Monolith
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Obelisk of Esper
1 Basalt Monolith
1 Thran Dynamo
1 Gilded Lotus[/cardlist]

Creatures: (7)
[cardlist]1 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Trinket Mage
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Consacrated Sphinx
1 Duplicant
1 Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur[/cardlist]

Planeswalkers: (3)
[cardlist]1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Gideon Jura
1 Karn Liberated[/cardlist]

Artifact Toolbox: (7)
[cardlist]1 Expedition Map
1 Pithing Needle
1 Meekstone
1 Sword of the Meek
1 Thopter Foundry
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Batterskull[/cardlist]

Enchantment Toolbox: (5)
[cardlist]1 Power Artifact
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Aura of Silence
1 Moat
1 Treachery[/cardlist]

Tutors: (5)
[cardlist]1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Imperial Seal
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor[/cardlist]

Mass Creature Removal: (4)
[cardlist]1 Wrath of God
1 Day of Judgment
1 Damnation
1 Austere Command[/cardlist]

Spot Removal: (4)
[cardlist]1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Path to Exile
1 Condemn
1 Vindicate[/cardlist]

Draw: (4)
[cardlist]1 Fact or Fiction
1 Braingeyser
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith[/cardlist]

Counter Magic: (9)
[cardlist]1 Mana Drain
1 Counterspell
1 Hinder
1 Spell Crumple
1 Dissipate
1 Faery Trickery
1 Forbid
1 Dismiss
1 Desertion[/cardlist]

Kill: (1)
[cardlist]1 Bitter Ordeal[/cardlist]

I’ve created a little video showing how the deck looks like (and because I wanted to put Holy Ghost in the soundtrack!). Soon to come videos of the deck in action, so stay tuned for more!

THE GAME PLAN

Eearly Game:

Unless you are playing against extremely aggressive decks such as Isamaru, hound of Konda or Ezuri, Renegade Leader, in which case you should always mulligan to have at least 1 spot or mass removal in your opening hand,  the main plan for the early game should be to develop our mana base the best you can to reach the mid game with guarantees that you can cast your own bombs and protect them.

I always recommend not keeping oppening hands that can’t produce less than 4 mana in the early game unless you can produce 3 mana but have some counterspells to hold the enemy horses.

Competitive Commander is all about speed and broken spells. Most decks will always try to do the same: Accelerate and then cast a broken spell, such the commander. For example: A turn 3 or 4 Godo, Bandid War Lord that fetches for Sword of Fire and ice could easily be good game if you don’t have a spot removal or a counterspell in your opening.

Key cards in the early game (besides of regular lands):

Mid Game:

In the Mid game you need to start building up your way to victory. Tutor for the key cards that will balance the game to your side. A Demonic Tutor for Moat, that you’ll be able to protect turns later from the enemy anti enchantment, is an excellent move against aggro decks. Against control, you should probably try getting some mini advantages with the drawing spells or by playing Sharuum to bring back a dead Solemn Simulacrum or Expedition Capsule.

At this point of the game you should be able to produce 6 to 8 mana and you should have a clean board on the enemy side.

Key cards in the mid game:

Late Game:

Let the show begin! If you’ve reached the late game in a good position and with a healthy amount of lives, now is the time you start being broken. How about an EOT Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur? Don’t be afraid to tutor Jin up! If you resolve and manage to defend it’s gonna be insta win.

You can also try go infinite with the Sharuum combo or creating infinite mana with Power Artifact + Grim Monolith/Basalt Monolith to cast a Braingeyser/Stroke of Genius/Blue sun’s Zenith for the win!

At this point of the game, most of the times your opponents will concede due to the huge advantage the deck can generate.

Key cards in the late game:

CONCLUSION

While the final version lost a little bit of the raw power that Sharuum can provide while combined with artifacts, it gained a lot of consistency in the 1vs1 matches against any given Commander deck. In the history of Magic, control decks were designed to defeat the rest of the decks by killing the enemy creatures and cutting the rest of the spells with your counter magic. Commander is a creature based format, meaning that control decks such as Sharum Control or Augustin will keep winning as long as they are well designed.

I really hope you liked the article! Feel free to leave comments regarding the decklist, possible additions (but keep in mind that I’ve test shitload of cards already, so you better bring solid arguments :P) and suggestions about future commander articles.

Cheers!

 

Jordi Amat

Co-Founder of Eternal Central, Jordi was one of the first Magic bloggers, penning over 1000 articles, and is a contributor to the Spanish magazine Cantrip. Father of the European Pimp movement, he launched The Luxury Journal in 2011, chronicling luxury outside of Magic. <a href="https://twitter.com/amatpuig">@amatpuig</a> on Twitter.

  • Jumbo

    Can you enlightend me as to what the New Super Legend Rule your talking about? Thanks! Great deck by the way!

    • Basically, the Super Legend Rule says that your commander doesn’t die from having another card into play (or copy, token, etc…) with the exact same name.

  • Logan

    Hi
    Can you tell me where is the SUPER LEGEND RULE? In the official rules it doesn’t appear

  • Aderty

    You say 30 pv for 1v1 but the rule say it’s 40 pv ; can you confirm that and why (http://www.dragonhighlander.net/rules.php#license)

    • We use the 30 lives rule where we play since it makes games more dynamic and allows mono-colored decks to have a chance against control.

  • Genesis

    Hello, first thanks for you article and sharing your list!

    What would be cuts for Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Intuition, Sundering Titan, Mindslaver, SDT, Crucible of Worlds? Since all those are unbanned in official banlist what our playgroup use.

    Have you played any multiplayer games with this list? With numerous wraths i believe your deck could survive despite of hate what your General creates.

    Was Venser, the Sojourner in your list at some point? That being good with 5 of your 7 creatures and being awesome combined with Sharuum that seems good addition. So would be Magister Sphinx, but are those cards going that route you don’t wanna go?

    I’m also wondering why you don’t wan to run Force of Will or Pact of Negation here? You have enought blue cards to pitch FoW and you have Tolaria West to tutor up Pact for mid/late game. Also Cryptic Command could be fine here, in dismiss or faerie trickerys place.

    • Hi Genesis!

      For Sol Ring, Mana Crypt and Mana Vault I’d cut the 2 signets + Thran Dynamo.

      If Intuition/Gifts Ungiven were allowed then I’d rather focus the deck towards the combo part. Tutor for Intuition in the early game, cast intuition to search for the 3 pieces and start casting Sharuum until it resolves.

      I wouldn’t play Crucible of the Worlds unless Strip Mine or Wasteland weren’t banned. In that case, Mishra’s Factory should make it into the deck too.

      I’ve played few multiplayer games and yes, the deck is strong against multiple enemies, but you won’t make many friends to be honest 😀 A turn 3 o 4 Wrath of God that cleans the table from 4-6 creatures will most likely turn out in a 3v1 match, wich is fine 😉

      Venser was in the deck at some point, specially when combined with Sphinx Summoner but was replaced for Karn liberated as I needed more vindicate effects in order to control the board. With this current config you’ll find yourself many times with Venser in hand but nothing to bounce in and out of the game.

      Magister Sphinx is probably one of the best cards combined with Sharuum. Didn’t you get the BFF (Best Friend Forever) joke? It was also one of my favourite plans when playing Sharuum aggro strategy. Isn’t it lovely to turn your opponent’s life from 30 to 10 for 7 (or less mana)? But as you said, that’s a route I don’t wanna go.

      I ran Cryptic Command at some point too (together with Dismiss), but swap it for Dessertion. The tripple blue was sometimes an issue on turns 3-4 so in the end I chose to have a 5cc with double blue than a 4cc with triple. Force of Will is a card that’s on the edge here… What are you gonna pitch to FoW? Isn’t any card you are pitching to FoW strictly better or can find you an answer to what you are countering? That’s why I don’t run it.

      I like Pact of Negation though! I haven’t tested it and it well deserves a try. Thank you!

      Cheers,

      Jordi

  • Narglfrob

    Great to see people writing articles about 1v1 EDH, my favourite format.

  • mistikl

    @ADerty: MTGS and French rules for 1v1 have the starting life at 30.

    @PIZZERO: Sharuum still goes infinite under the “Super Legend Rule.”

    1: Sharuum in play.
    2: Play Sculpting Steel, copying Sharuum.
    3: SBA, Steel goes to the graveyard.
    4: Put the Steel’s trigger on the stack, targeting itself.
    5: Return Steel to play, copying Sharuum.
    6: Repeat however many times you need for Gravestorm, Disciple of the Vault, etc.

    • Protectorate

      Slight issue for this infinite combo. one if your Sharuum is your commander it does not go to grave. And even if it is not your commander and it does make it to the graveyard, when the ability goes on the stack it has to target. there for the Sharuum is not in GY when it is placed on stack.

      Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • mistikl

    Can you provide a source for the “Super Legend Rule?” I’m fairly sure it doesn’t even exist anymore, per this article: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/other/06282011e

    • 4. No More Super-Legendary

      Previously, Magic Online Commanders did not follow the legend rule. Now they will. If someone else in the game has the same commander as you, they won’t be able to be on the battlefield at the same time.

      This rule changed in MTGO as far as I know. The Super Legendary Rule now works in the way that Copies/Tokens of a Commander won’t make the commander die.

    • Anyways, thanks a lot for the insight!

  • craden

    Hello Jordi!

    Thank you for the Nice article and the good explainations. They were very essential for me as a EDH-Newbie.

    My question is: DO you have a current List of your deck. Because a Lot of time passed by since you have posted IT.

    Thank you and regards

    Craden