What is Cascade?
For those unfamiliar with the Cascade mechanic, it was introduced during the Shards of Alara block. Whenever you cast a spell with Cascade, you reveal cards from the top of your deck until you reveal a nonland card that has a lower converted mana cost than the cast spell. So, in the case of The First Sliver, which costs 5 total mana to cast, any spell that you reveal that costs a total of four mana or less is automatically cast.
Cascade is a very popular mechanic that is best known on Bloodbraid Elf. In fact, Cascade was so powerful that at one time, Bloodbraid Elf was banned in Modern. This is no longer the case. Two other powerful Cascade cards in Modern are Demonic Dread and Violent Outburst, both of which cost three mana each. They are both played in the Living End deck in Modern, as Living End has no converted mana cost, meaning that it can either be suspended or cast through Cascade spells. To ensure that those Cascade spells always hit, every other spell in the deck costs 3 mana or more. It’s a pretty powerful deck.
How will Cascade work with Slivers?
As Slivers are meant to multiply quickly, The First Sliver finally creates an opportunity for Slivers to become a much quicker deck archetype. While five-color decks can be tricky to make work in Modern, the payoff of The First Sliver may be worth it. After all, there is Sliver Hive, which helps to fix mana for casting Slivers - which is a card that immediately got bought up when Slivers were revealed in the Modern Horizons set. There have been Sliver decks in Modern in the past, but they were never top-tier competitive decks. This may now change with the existence of a boss monster that gives the deck instant card advantage.
Because The First Sliver also gives other Slivers you control Cascade, every Sliver you then cast will cast yet another spell. While this is powerful, it does force the deck builder to be careful about setting up a mana curve that takes full advantage of Cascade. It’s also important to remember that if you hit another card that has Cascade, because that spell is actually cast (for free), that Cascade trigger will occur.
But, hold on for a moment before you get too, too excited. While The First Sliver will likely hit another Sliver with its Cascade ability, that Sliver doesn’t get Cascade until The First Sliver resolves. This means that The First Sliver doesn’t immediately bring a whole bunch of Slivers with it. However, once The First Sliver and the other Sliver have resolved, each Sliver spell cast afterward WILL set off a chain.
So, let’s say that you cast The First Sliver and it cascades into a Blur Sliver. That Blur Sliver will only gain Cascade after both spells resolve. But then, any Sliver you cast afterward WILL have Cascade. So, say you have a four-mana Sliver like Bonescythe Sliver. If you cast that, you will then hit a three-mana or less spell.
If that spell you hit with Cascade is a three-mana Sliver, such as Blur Sliver, it will now have Cascade and then hit a two-mana spell or less. If you hit a two-mana spell that’s another Sliver, such as Manaweft Sliver, it will then cascade into a one-mana or zero-cost spell. Then, if you hit a one-mana Sliver such as Galerider Sliver, it will then again attempt to cascade into a 0-cost spell. Mox Tantalite, anyone?
Of course, you won’t always hit a perfect chain of four mana into three mana into two mana into one mana, etc. A lot of times you will just have The First Sliver hit a one-mana spell. But that’s OK, because the possibility for a Cascade chain exists, and that’s why The First Sliver allows lines of play that are very powerful.
How Will The First Sliver Improve Existing Competitive Modern Sliver Decks?
Previously, the best competitive Modern Sliver decks utilized Collected Company to give the deck the ability to cast one or two Slivers at once. Of course, Collected Company doesn’t guarantee that you will hit anything, as it only looks at the top six cards of your deck. Collected Company is quite powerful in that you can put up to two creatures with converted mana cost 3 or less into play for only four mana. It’s actually pretty consistent, but it greatly limits how you can construct your deck.
Because Collected Company is suddenly no longer necessary, you have much more freedom in what Slivers you decide to play in your deck. One card that will definitely remain in Slivers is Aether Vial - which you could also hit with Cascade. Aether Vial is actually OK in interrupting the Sliver chain because of what it does. The Vial has the ability to let you put a charge counter on it at the beginning of each of your upkeep steps. Then, at any time, you can tap the Vial to put a creature from your hand into play that has a converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on that Aether Vial.
Having multiple Vials in play is OK, because you can choose to not put a charge counter on one Vial, but choose to tick up another. Aether Vial is fine in this deck, even with Cascade. That’s because having Vial in play only speeds up the deck further and ramps up the consistency of the deck.
Will the First Sliver be a Good Sliver Commander in EDH?
The early consensus among Commander players is that The First Sliver is better served as one of the 99 cards in a Sliver Overlord deck. It would seem players seem to consider The First Sliver as the second best option now ahead of Sliver Hivelord, Sliver Queen, and Sliver Legion. As powerful as The First Sliver is, its power is much more concentrated in a 60-card deck where you can play multiple copies of key Slivers. That being said, there are enough Slivers and other Cascade cards, such as Maelstrom Wanderer and Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder, that can make Cascade with Slivers extremely powerful in Commander.
We will definitely return to examining the most powerful build of The First Sliver in EDH as players begin to upload lists online.
Are There New Slivers in Modern Horizons to Complement The First Sliver?
There are a few new Sliver creatures in Modern Horizons. One is a two-mana red and white Sliver called Cloudshredder Sliver. This little guy is actually quite powerful, in that he gives Sliver creatures flying and haste (himself included). Another is Lavabelly Sliver, a three mana red and white Sliver that gives all Slivers you control an enter the battlefield ability: “When this creature enters the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to target player or planeswalker and you gain 1 life.”
Tempered Sliver is a three-mana Green sliver that gives your Slivers “Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.” I’m not sure this is one that will see a bunch of Modern play, but it will certainly see play in Commander. There’s also the 3-mana Red Hollowhead Sliver, which turns all of your Slivers into Merfolk Looters - tap to discard a card and draw a card. It’s not bad.
One of the most interesting new Slivers is Dregscape Sliver, a two-mana Black Sliver who gives all Slivers Unearth for 2 mana. Unearth gives a creature the ability to return to the battlefield from the graveyard and gain haste. However, that creature is exiled at the next end step and Unearth can only be used as a Sorcery. Still, considering all of the abilities that Slivers can give one another, this is a Sliver that could prove relevant.
Other new slivers include First Sliver’s Chosen, Scuttling Sliver, Enduring Sliver, and Lancer Sliver.
Could Morophon, the Boundless and The First Sliver Be Best Friends?
Also, while he’s not actually a Sliver, Morophon, the Boundless could prove to be important in a five-color Slivers deck. First off, he’s a Changeling, meaning that he counts as a Sliver because he is every creature type at once. Also, when he enters the battlefield, you choose a creature type. Creatures of the chosen type have their mana costs reduced by one of every color of mana (WUBRG). This makes The First Sliver and other 5-color Sliver legends essentially free to cast. If that wasn’t enough, Morophon also makes other creatures of the chosen type gain +1/+1 while he’s on the field.
While Morophon is a whopping 7 colorless mana to cast, he’s pretty much good no matter when he comes down in a game. He’s going to be dramatically cutting the casting costs of your Slivers, or he’ll serve as a Sliver himself, or he’ll be helping you Cascade. He seems like an auto-include in any Sliver deck at this point. He’s also going to be a mighty fun Tribal Commander.
Also, existing Changelings such as Chameleon Colossus and Mirror Entity will likely see play in a deck built around The First Sliver. They see Modern play already and can fit into the Sliver game plan already, so expect to see deck builds that incorporate those two. There’s also the common Imposter of the Sixth Pride, a 2 mana 3/1 vanilla Changeling, who may end up being relevant.
The First Sliver is a creature that breathes new life into a Tribe that was becoming stagnant. It’s a tribe that’s already hung around the outskirts of Modern. Sliver Tribal has always been a fun deck, but now it has the tools to become an actual contender in Modern. Slivers can become a deck that can overwhelm the board in a hurry. There’s a lot to be excited about here and a lot of creative decks will likely come out of the new Slivers introduced in Modern Horizons.