Rebuilding Captain Sisay after Ixalan

 

When last my baby brother was in town a few years back, he’d given me an Invasion copy of legend Captain Sisay as a gift, as he knew that I’d been looking to build an EDH deck around her for a long time and couldn’t find a copy. I had since built the good Captain for EDH, and it was a lot of fun to play, with lots of wacky cards to Tutor for.

Now, with Ixalan, the time has come to revisit the deck, as Ixalan’s planeswalker change (planeswalkers are all now legendary) gives Sisay even more things to Tutor up.

Which planeswalkers should I add? What do I cut? And is there anything else I should be adding in to the deck? That’s what we’ll be taking a look at today!

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Years ago, I started a series of Random Friday articles dedicated to rebuilding my EDH decks, with the ultimate goal of making them all fun to play, and fun to play against. The plan is always to rebuild any decks that aren’t performing the way I wanted them to.

Thus far, I’ve built, retooled, and rebuilt several of my EDH decks in this series.

In 2012:
• I put together Arcum Dagsson, a dangerous general who could Tinker up win conditions at will here.
• The original incarnation of Karona, False God and her Allies, here and here.
• I looked at my initial attempt to build a Rakdos deck here, here, and here.

In 2013:
• Our Abzan deck was transformed from Ghave, Guru of Spores into Doran, the Siege Tower‘s “toughness matters” deck here.
• I’d changed my Boros list, from Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer into Brion Stoutarm‘s sacrifice-based deck here.
• The lovely Angela had changed our Dimir deck from Vela the Night-Clad to the milling-based Lazav, Dimir Mastermind here and here.
• I changed our Rakdos deck to Rakdos, Lord of Riots after the release of RTR here.
• I rebuilt the powerful Bruna, Light of Alabaster‘s combo-control deck here.
• I rebuilt the Planechase 2012 duo, Thromok the Insatiable and Krond the Dawn-Clad here.
Nekusar, the Mindrazer‘s Painful Wheel was built here.

In 2014:
• The Jeskai deck that finished off The EDH Project, Zedruu the Greathearted, was built here.
• Angela’s tribal Soldier build helmed by Coldsnap’s Darien, King of Kjeldor here.
• I went over my brainstorming and the final list I looked at for Khans newcomer Narset, Enlightened Master (who is just ultra-powerful), here.
• The first rebuild of our Izzet deck, from Nin, the Pain Artist to Melek, Izzet Paragon, was done here.
• I rebuilt our Clone and Shapeshifter “tribal” deck, Sakashima the Impostor, which is chock-full of copy effects, here.
• I went over the changes to our Equipment-friendly mono-white deck, Kemba, Kha Regent here.
• I looked at the changes to the budget-friendly Nath of the Gilt-Leaf here.

In 2015:
• I went over the changes to Commander 2014’s Titania, Protector of Argoth, my favourite of last year’s Commander generals, here.
• I rebuilt our U/R control deck, from Melek, Izzet Paragon into Keranos, God of Storms, here.
• I rebuilt the very first EDH deck that I’d ever put together, our Jund deck helmed by Adun Oakenshield, into one led by Kresh the Bloodbraided from Shards block here.
• I rebuilt our Boros deck again, this time changing it from Brion Stoutarm to Tajic, Blade of the Legion, a R/W control deck, here.
• I looked at a huge culling of my decks, where I disassembled Kemba, Kha Regent, Volrath the Fallen, Zedruu the Greathearted, and more here.
• I retooled two artifact-based decks: Karn, Silver Golem changed into creatureless artifact-based control, and our Esper deck Halfdane turned into Sharuum the Hegemon artifact aggro, here.
• I went over my first new Rakdos build of the year, building around Innistrad’s Olivia Voldaren here.
• After Olivia failed to be any good, I built a ‘new’ Rakdos deck (again), this time using Malfegor the Demon Dragon as general, and a hellbent theme here.

In 2016:
• I had reworked our five-color Ally deck, and changed the deck from Karona, False God to a more token- and combo-based General Tazri here.
• I finally sat down to build around Captain Sisay, a deck where “legends matter”, here.
• Two decks were merged into one as I merged the +1/+1 counter-based Skullbriar, the Walking Grave and our Abzan deck, Doran, the Siege Tower, into new +1/+1 counter deck Anafenza, the Foremost, here.
• I redesigned the five-color manabases for each of my five-color generals here.
• Our Jeskai deck, Zedruu the Greathearted, and our mono-white token swarm deck, Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”, were merged together to form Narset, Enlightened Master, here.
• I rebuilt our Golgari deck, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, and took pieces from Titania, Protector of Argoth, to form our new Golgari deck The Gitrog Monster here.
• I went over big changes to our Izzet control deck, Keranos, God of Storms, here.
• I went over some big changes to our Jund deck, Kresh the Bloodbraided, here.
• Our Temur deck was changed, from fun-loving Maelstrom Wanderer, to Khans bear-puncher Surrak Dragonclaw here.
• I looked at what our five-color Superfriends planeswalker deck, Progenitus, would look like after dropping the red cards and switching to four-color general Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice here.
• I went over the changes to our artifact aggro deck, as I added red to Sharuum the Hegemon, changing it into Breya, Etherium Shaper here.
• Our “copycat tribal” deck, Sakashima the Impostor, gained the use of white and black cards, and became our new Esper deck with the same theme, Halfdane, as shown here.
• I looked at the third of our four-color decks, led by partner generals Vial Smasher the Fierce and Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix (who were a surprise entrant in The EDH Battle Royale V), here.
• I went over the hostile takeover of our Mardu deck, instigated by Conspiracy II’s Queen Marchesa and the monarch mechanic, here.

In 2017:
• I looked at my build for my favorite general from Commander 2017, the highly-aggressive Saskia the Unyielding here.
• I went over our build for the difficult-to-brainstorm WURG color combination (which was our final four-color deck) based on partner generals Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa and Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist here.
• I rebuilt our BUWG deck, Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, from a planeswalker deck, to “+1/+1 counters matter” here.
• I went over major changes to Saskia (over 20 new cards!) here.
• I rebuilt another of our four-color decks, Vial Smasher the Fierce/Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix by changing one of the partners; the new deck is Vial Smasher the Fierce/Thrasios, Triton Hero, as seen here.

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capt-s

It took me a long time to build Sisay. Part of this hinged on me finding all of the legendary cards that I wanted to run, which took a lot of trading, time and effort, etc. I finally put the deck together last year, and I can say that it’s a lot of fun to play.

Sisay is a very unique general. The ability to Tutor every turn is not one that I’d normally use (since repeatable Tutor effects generally tend to slow games to a crawl), but hers is unique enough that I don’t mind using it, and I am quite good at using it very quickly in-game. There are a lot of different and very strong legendary cards that Sisay can find, and I did feel that I had a good starting mix of these in my Sisay deck.

Going into this article, this was the current Sisay list:

Captain Sisay - Current decklist:

General (1)
Captain Sisay

Creatures (33)
Saffi Eriksdotter
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
Sensei Golden-Tail
Selvala, Explorer Returned
Mangara of Corondor
Hua Tuo, Honored Physician
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Reki, the History of Kamigawa
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Jazal Goldmane
Gisela, the Broken Blade
Surrak, the Hunt Caller
Polukranos, World Eater
Heliod, God of the Sun
Nylea, God of the Hunt
Karametra, God of Harvests
Mageta, the Lion
Arashi, the Sky Asunder
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Sigarda, Heron’s Grace
Tolsimir Wolfblood
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Yosei, the Morning Star
Jugan, the Rising Star
Dragonlord Dromoka
Linvala, the Preserver
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Bruna, the Fading Light
Yomiji, Who Bars the Way
Myojin of Cleansing Fire
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Reya Dawnbringer
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Card drawing spells (7)
Skullclamp
Gift of the Gargantuan
Zendikar Resurgent
Harmonize
Tamiyo’s Journal
Staff of Nin
Coercive Portal

Wrath effects (3)
Phyrexian Rebirth
Fated Retribution
Akroma’s Vengeance

Disenchants (3)
Relic Crush
Ray of Distortion
Serra’s Liturgy

Recursion effects (2)
Bow of Nylea
Grimoire of the Dead

Equipment (5)
Sword of the Animist
Sword of Kaldra
Shield of Kaldra
Helm of Kaldra
Hero’s Blade

Overruns (4)
Day of Destiny
Dragon Throne of Tarkir
Heroes’ Podium
Akroma’s Memorial

Other (1)
Predator, Flagship

Land (40)
Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Yavimaya Hollow
Kor Haven
Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
Eiganjo Castle
17 Forest
17 Plains

However, there are now a lot of new legendary cards that can be added into Sisay. Let’s take a look at what we have to work with.

LEGENDARY PLANESWALKERS:
The addition of planeswalkers to Sisay’s suite of toolbox answers is a huge game-changer. Each planeswalker gives the deck a trio of powerful spell-like abilities, letting the deck gain a repeatable advantage over its foes each turn.

Looking at the planeswalkers in W/G, we see a large range of powers and abilities, as these are the ‘walkers we have access to:

3 Elspeths (Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Elspeth Tirel, and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion)
5 Gideons (Gideon Jura, Gideon of the Trials, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Gideon, Champion of Justice, Gideon, Martial Paragon)
6 Ajanis (Ajani Goldmane, Ajani Steadfast, Ajani, Caller of the Pride, Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, Ajani Unyielding, Ajani, Valiant Protector)
6 Nissas (Nissa Revane, Nissa, Vital Force, Nissa, Nature’s Artisan, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Nissa, Genesis Mage, Nissa, Worldwaker)
3 Garruks (Garruk Wildspeaker, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Garruk, Caller of Beasts)
1 Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury
1 Nahiri the Lithomancer
1 Karn Liberated
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

That’s a very large chunk of powers and abilities for Sisay to have access to. We have several repeatable removal spells with Karn/Freyalise, two Wrath effects in Ugin/Elspeth III, repeatable card-drawing with two of the Garruks/two Ajanis, and scads of token-making cards.

There are so many options that we could use (just looking at planeswalkers alone), I was really having trouble narrowing things down!

Looking at other cards with the ‘legendary’ subtype that have been printed since I built Sisay, we also see a legendary Vehicle (Skysovereign), and Ixilan’s legendary green transform card (Growing Rites of Itlimoc, which turns into a functional copy of Gaea’s Cradle). I knew going into this edit that I’d likely want not only the planeswalkers, but both of these cards as well.

Another card to consider with the planeswalker change would be Kamigawa card Honor-Worn Shauku, which could now be untapped using your planeswalkers, giving it additional utility. I was definitely considering it, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a cut.

Let’s take a look at the other things that have been printed since I built the deck:

THE OATHS:
Though good ol’ Nicol Bolas kicked their collective asses in Amonkhet block, the one thing I did like about the Gatewatch was the cycle of legendary Oath spells from Oath of the Gatewatch (and later Aether Revolt), which Sisay can also Tutor for.

These are the G/W members of that Oath cycle:

Oath of Nissa
Oath of Gideon
Oath of Ajani

Depending on how much of a focus we want on planeswalkers, we could certainly use these Oaths in the deck. I already have a “planeswalkers matter” deck in Angus Mackenzie, however, which has all the Oaths; do I really need another deck with them?

VEHICLES
With the release of Kaladesh last year, we added a new legendary card type that Sisay can look for: vehicles. There are two legendary vehicles, Heart of Kiran and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, and I do like the idea of including one of the two in here. A Vehicle would give the deck a way to keep attacking even after an opponent Wraths, which I really like.

Plus, if I add a bunch of planeswalkers to the deck, Heart of Kiran gets much better (since you can use loyalty counters to crew it).

NEW GODS
One of several things that Amonkhet gives the deck is more legendary Gods that can be Tutored for (in this case, Oketra the True and Rhonas the Indomitable).

As with the three Theros Gods that are currently in the deck, these new Gods would give the deck additional creatures that could survive a Wrath effect (thanks to indestructibility), and some very useful activated abilities. My only real concern here would be whether or not adding them would be more detrimental than beneficial; if I add both, I’d have five creatures out of the deck that could only attack or block with if I meet their conditions to do so. I’m not sure I like having that many creatures that just can’t do anything by themselves.

I do, however, really like the resilience to Wraths that they would give the deck. What to do, what to do…?

THE AMONKHET MONUMENTS:
In Amonkhet, each of the primary-color Gods had an uncommon Monument (in this case, the ones we could use would be Rhonas’s Monument and Oketra’s Monument). These artifacts offer a mana discount for your creatures, and a subtle bonus as well, so they are also under consideration for the edited decklist.

Of the two, I greatly prefer Oketra’s Monument. Free tokens is no joke, and the deck is mostly white creatures, making the mana discount very relevant.

AN EQUIPMENT SUBTHEME:
There have been a number of new cards printed with the “Equipment matters” theme recently, and a lot of these are legendary (meaning Sisay can Tutor for them, and they are considerations for this deck). From the Commander 2017 Cat legends Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith and Balan, Wandering Knight, to Hammer of Nazahn, there are a lot of legendary cards that care about Equipment that I could use.

This is quite interesting and potentially useful for the deck, since I was already running a minor Equipment theme in the Kaldra trio and Sword of the Animist.

In theory, I could use these new ‘Equipment matters’ cards if I wanted, and add an entire subtheme to the deck.

There are already a number of older Equipment-related legends that I could add in (Kemba, Kha-Regent, Raksha, Golden Cub, etc.), as well as other legendary Equipment (Godsend, Konda’s Banner, Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang, etc.), so this is an interesting possible subtheme idea.

But is running an Equipment sub-theme stronger than running planeswalkers, or any of other things I’ve mentioned?

FINAL CHANGES:
So what did I end up adding?

In the end, I wanted to keep the planeswalkers section of this deck as tight as possible, so I went with seven different ‘walkers, seven of the most powerful in this color combination:

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
Ajani Unyielding
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Garruk, Caller of Beasts
Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

This gives me a wide selection of abilities that Sisay can Tutor for. I have repeatable card-drawing (both Ajanis and both Garruks); I have a repeatable Disenchant effect in Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury; I have lots of token-making; and I have two Wrath effects (Elspeth and Ugin).

Realistically, the only ‘walker I miss from this selection is Karn Liberated, who could give the deck yet another repeatable Disenchant effect (that also happens to hit any permanent).

This is the final new list:

Captain Sisay - Current decklist:

General (1)
Captain Sisay

Creatures (32)
Saffi Eriksdotter
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
Sensei Golden-Tail
Selvala, Explorer Returned
Mangara of Corondor
Hua Tuo, Honored Physician
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Reki, the History of Kamigawa
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Jazal Goldmane
Gisela, the Broken Blade
Surrak, the Hunt Caller
Polukranos, World Eater
Heliod, God of the Sun
Nylea, God of the Hunt
Karametra, God of Harvests
Mageta, the Lion
Arashi, the Sky Asunder
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Sigarda, Heron’s Grace
Dromoka, the Eternal
Tolsimir Wolfblood
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Yosei, the Morning Star
Jugan, the Rising Star
Linvala, the Preserver
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Bruna, the Fading Light
Yomiji, Who Bars the Way
Myojin of Cleansing Fire
Reya Dawnbringer
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Vehicles (1)
Heart of Kiran

Planeswalkers (7)
Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
Ajani Unyielding
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Garruk, Caller of Beasts
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Card drawing spells (4)
Harmonize
Tamiyo’s Journal
Heroes’ Podium
Growing Rites of Itlimoc

Wrath effects and removal spells (4)
Phyrexian Rebirth
Fated Retribution
Akroma’s Vengeance
Oblation

Disenchants (2)
Relic Crush
Aura Shards

Recursion effects (2)
Bow of Nylea
Grimoire of the Dead

Equipment (4)
Sword of the Animist
Sword of Kaldra
Shield of Kaldra
Helm of Kaldra

Overruns (2)
Day of Destiny
Akroma’s Memorial

Land (40)
Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Yavimaya Hollow
Kor Haven
Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
Eiganjo Castle
17 Forest
17 Plains

 

As a decklist to start with, I like this a lot. The new batch of planeswalkers gives the deck a lot of new options to work with, and the shiny new vehicle (Heart of Kiran) will help make the deck more Wrath-proof, since it ignores most sweeper spells. Finally, Ixalan card Growing Rites of Itlimoc is making an appearance, and it’ll be doing it’s best Gaea’s Cradle impression.

For now, I have left the Kaldra trio of Equipment in, though I have the feeling this is my next cut (likely for the trio of Honor-Worn Shaku, and the two Amonkhet Monuments). I do want to see how this version of the deck plays first, though.

All in all, I really like the new decklist, and I’m looking forward to trying it out!

 

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