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Pretty Fly For A Blue Sai

Mono color builds are having a resurgence in competitive viability due to several factors:

  1. refinement of meta: as brewers attempt to solve the format, certain axioms begin to emerge. As Low mana curves enabling card:Ad Nauseum, tuned combo packages with the likes of Thrasios, Triton Hero / Tymna the Weaver , Flash hulk builds and other routes to victory emerge, the hallmarks that make a deck perform well begin to emerge. This allows us to look at cards in different colors that perform similar functions and imagine other commander choices being cedh viable. I will elaborate on this point in the card choices section.

  2. Critical card mass: with every printing of cards like Paradox Engine , we can either add to existing decks, or choose to focus around these new cards in new and exciting ways. Every powerful addition to magic allows us to imagine new commanders at the helm. Redundancies to existing cards also allow us to strengthen potential options, as Paradox Engine did for Selvala, Explorer Returned .

  3. Creative restraints. Mono color options limit impose restrictions and open up opportunity at the same time. One bonus is clarity. When forced into a single color and options fall away, we focus on what win condition are left and in particular, how to strengthen them and improve consistency. Not having access to black tutors is beneficial as we have to focus on increasing resiliency and synergy instead of tutoring for the answer or combo piece we need all the time. Another surprising advantage is a lower land count. If we don't have to worry about getting out colors for a 3+ color deck, it often turns out that less lands are needed (especially if we have a low curve). A third bonus is that we are often forced to run strange cards that surprise the meta. Don't have access to Eternal Witness ? try a Recall instead!

There are several reasons why Sai makes a good pilot and my favorite artifact commander.

  1. Sai is cheap. Turn 1 or turn 2 commanders are excellent for build around decks. Making use of the card that you have the most access to is especially good in mono color decks as your options are more limited anyway. Sai also has an above average butt which further increases his staying power.

  2. Sai is blue. Again, somewhat obvious, but blue is probably the best mono color to have. You have the best draw potential, lots of interaction from the humble Mana Drain , to bounce Cyclonic Rift Chain of Vapor , to straight removal Pongify Imprisoned in the Moon .

  3. Sai is an artifact commander. This is almost a subset of Sai is blue. Blue has the best synergy with artifacts by far. Blue has the best artifact tutors Transmute Artifact Whir of Invention which makes the lack of black tutors hurt less. Artifacts are an integral part of nearly every cedh strategy, if only in the form of ramp. Why not make all the artifact you control perform double or triple duty? Sai plays almost like a mana rock tribal commander which goes toe-to-toe with the rampiest of green decks.

  4. Sai is an artifact commander. No this is not a repeat. It merely can't be overstated. With infinite mana and tokens, Sai lets you draw your deck from the command zone. But before we get to that point, the value Sai generates is immense. Would you play a free 1/1 with flying that can tap at instant speed for 2 mana and can draw you a card in response to it dying? This is what mana crypt becomes with Sai. The token army can be capitalized on with Skullclamp , Bident of Thassa or can even just dish out damage to the Ad Naus player or block a Tymna. Also they fly! Sai's activated ability lets you recoup some losses from boardwipes or just add in some value when you block in addition to potentially keeping a storm-like chain going or just drawing your entire deck.

let's take a look at some combos

  1. Package 1: Paradox Engine While this card combos with everything, it really shines with cards like Skullclamp and Sensei's Divining Top , allowing us to clamp the fresh tokens created each iteration. We run an insane amount of mana rocks as well as some truly spectacular rampers in the form of Chief Engineer and Grand Architect (these will be discussed in more depth in the ramp section) in this deck so paradox will usually always go off fairly easily. Ancestral Statue works well in tandem with all the cost reducers (which, bonus, are all artifacts!

  2. Package 2: Clock of Omens This card functions essentially as a second Paradox Engine as every artifact we cast will give us the 2 artifacts necessary to activate Clock of Omens. With cost reducers and something like Gilded Lotus out, we can essentially just draw until we fizzle on artifacts.

  3. Package 3: card:Tidesout Tyrant Possibly the weakest package, being both difficult to tutor for and difficult to cast, Tidespout tyrant is nonetheless formidable in this deck. Any two artifact such as Sol Ring and Mox Amber that tap for +1 mana, will give us infinite arbitrary amounts of tokens and mana. If some of that mana is blue (by producing blue or we can inject a gilded lotus into the chain from arbitrary mana), then we draw our deck! In addition to this, Tidespout tyrant can serve as a win condition in itself by bouncing the opponents board. It also only costs us 1 slot of the deck as we play every mana rock under the sun anyway.

  4. Package 4: Scrap Trawler This card is insane value in this deck without even needing to combo. Our commander being a sac outlet means that we can nab some grave goods any time our opponent deigns to use removal (in response to exile effects is nice as well!). The power of this card is highlighted in conjunction with some other cards we would almost certainly play anyway: Krark-Clan Ironworks , Ashnod's Altar Myr Retriever . With this package, we can loop scrappy, myr retriever and KCI together with the extra token to generate all the colorless mana and tokens we want. With a way to get colored mana such as Phyrexian Altar we can then proceed to draw our deck. This package's probability of success can be augmented by including Junk Diver and Workshop Assistant , which while not great are somewhat better with Sai as they give us a 1/1 flyer out of the deal and can be sacced for value whenever.

  5. package 5: Dross Scorpion Weaker than clock of omens or even scrap trawler, Dross Scorpion is nevertheless a valuable addition. With sufficient support, this card lets us minimize the color/ resource intensive nature of our commanders activated ability. It also works very well with the Sensei's/ skullclamp package, allowing our deck to be drawn if we have a +2 mana mana rock.

The strength of this combo packages is that it does not force us to run sub-optimal cards or cards we would never play otherwise (im looking at you Tymna/Thrasios) barring a few minor weaknesses (Tidespout tyrant is hard to cast and scrap trawler might need additional support).

Tutor:

Let's talk about our tutors:

Transmute Artifact , Reshape , Whir of Invention are our three best tutor spells. They can all get us Paradox engine for cheap. Artificer's Intuition is basically Survival of the Fittest in this deck as we can get multiple mana rocks to fuel paradox engine as well as Skullclamp, Sensei's divining top and can even get a win condition in the form of Walking Ballista . Inventors' Fair land tutor is always nice, and the life gain isn't the worst. Tezzeret the Seeker can get any non-paradox engine combo package into play and occasionaly perform double duty with untapping. Early Tezz is great when fetching Bident of Thassa . God help the opponent that lets this thing ultimate. multiple turn to tutor is also excellent. Muddle the Mixture doesn't really cost us a slot as it is also a good counterspell and allows us to hit excellent non-artifact 2 drops such as card:Cheif engineer etc. Trinket Mage is great for skullclamp and Trophy Mage might make the cut for ashnod's altar.

The unfortunate situation sometimes comes up where we have infinite tokens, but have to wait a turn to win with them. This is where card draw synergy helps out

Card Draw:

  1. Artificer's Assistant : If we have some combo going, we can scry until a win-con presents itself, we just need one card draw. also just fantastic if you get it out early!

  2. Riddlesmith : Arguably better than the previous as it is a may clause and we get the win-con into our hand off a combo. We also have a bit of recursion in case you dump something you need later.

  3. Vedalken Archmage : My least favorite in terms of mana cost and mandatory draw, but it gets the win-con into your hand off a combo. Just be careful to remove him before you deck yourself.

  4. Merchant's Dockhand : A wonderful card. Chosen over Muzzio due to low mana cost, artifact trigger and tendency to have go wide rather than tall on board. It also lets you put not just artifacts revealed into hand sic. tutor/ counterspell.

  5. Scroll Rack : a great card in any deck, it also happens to be an artifact and lets you stack your draws very nicely for a combo finish!

  6. Bident of Thassa : Best played early on in the game, we can occasionally get there by casting this baby and swinging with all of our accumulated thopters to draw into the next step of of a stormy turn. excellent card as it makes a thopter as well as it's activated ability can occasionally allow us to snipe some of our opponents dorks (a 1/1 for a lotus cobra you say?) as well as guarantee a chance to attack next turn. Should be regarded as psuedo-removal as well as card draw.

  7. Skullclamp Sensei's Divining Top : needs no further mention here apart from the fact that it is extremely tutorable, functions as an independent combo with paradox eingine and even clock of omens, and that it pays to just tap Sensei's Divining Top and recast whenever you can because it is a free thopter.

  8. Paradoxical Outcome , Dramatic Reversal and friends: This suite of cards can quickly transform Sai into a storm deck. In conjunction with any of the synergistic draw outlets above, we can chain massive, stormy turns together. Isochron might warrent a spot alongside dramatic reversal but requires additional support as well as playtesting at this point.

    Ramping

We have creature ramp in the form of:

  1. Chief Engineer : exceptionally good in this deck as it usually pays for itself the turn we cast it. Every artifact we play essentially costs 1 less thanks to the thopter tokens produced. We can also effectively combo out with paradox engine without a single mana rock on the board.

  2. Grand Architect : Grand architect performs a similar function as chief engineer in this deck, but can also surpass it. While it does not allow us to use our tokens in the same explosive manner, it does allows us to activate artifact abilities such as Sensei's divining top and Skullclamp. Grand architect can also be more explosive in the early game, allowing us to often cast paradox engine the same turn. Although not included, the combo with Pili-Pala should not be overlooked.

  3. Artifact ramp. All artifact ramp is contained here, ranging from every 0-drop mox to most of the 2-drop ETB tapped mana rocks. Mana rocks are just too good to be ignored in this deck. Every rock brings a 1/1 thopter to the table which can further synergize with the deck. Of note in this deck are: Paradise Mantle , Springleaf Drum Astral Cornucopia (0 drop artifact that can allow us to channel infinite colorless into infinite colored mana to draw our deck) and Coveted Jewel , which I have recently tested in this deck to be a premier piece of artifact storm. Being 1 mana more than gilded lotus is rarely an issue and the "downside" of transferring to an opponent rarely comes into play with our token army while also opening a door for political play. It is far more important to have a gilded lotus #2 to use with every single one of our combo packages than potentially giving up card advantage. Also the draw 3 cards is SUPER powerful when storming off!

There are other potential build for sai. There is the retraction helix combo and even a straight beatdown route to consider. Stax would also be a good route if the meta calls for it and I frequently substitute cards for Damping Sphere Back to Basics Winter Orb as they can all be sacrificed the turn before storming off. For specific meta matchups, card:Pithing needls Sorcerous Spyglass Phyrexian Revoker have all done wonders. Some more counter-spells are always a good idea. The build I have shown has given me the greatest amount of consistency and the nearest experience to a top tier cedh deck that could be hoped for. The aim of this deck has been to mirror the speed and brutality of a top tier cedh deck while plugging the weaknesses of mono-color with low curve and high synergy. If there are any cards included or otherwise that make you question my ability as a deckbuilder, please let me know!

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Casual

100% Competitive

Date added 7 months
Last updated 6 months
Legality

This deck is not Commander / EDH legal.

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Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.30
Tokens 1/1 Thopter, 1/1 Bird
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