Darling it’s better down where it’s wetter…

The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake…

So before starting this article, there are a few things you should know about me.  For starters, I love quoting things, especially music and movies.  Second, I love The Little Mermaid.  I’m not even ashamed of that like most men are.  When I was a child I had the full Little Mermaid setup, bed sheets, curtains, everything.  As a grown man, I can’t explain what it was about that movie that I loved so much, but toddler Gweivyth loved it very much.

Obviously when you love something that much as a child you’re going to love it as an adult, too.  My friends were all getting into commander at one point, and they all picked pretty obvious commanders.  Our playgroup before I joined it consisted of [mtg_card]Rafiq of the Many[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Omnath, Locus of Mana[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Sharuum the Hegemon[/mtg_card].  These decks all wanted to do pretty obvious things, but being clueless about the format, I just picked something I liked to play: aggro.  I planned on playing a deck that could easily “go under” other decks.  My friends were pretty helpful and supportive of my idea, listing off commonly used tron commanders.  [mtg_card]Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief[/mtg_card] was one that was thrown around a lot.  [mtg_card]Kaalia of the Vast[/mtg_card] had just come out pretty recently and was all the rave too.  But none of those seemed cool to me.  So I spent a little time rooting through the $.50 binder looking for legendaries.  Then I saw him.  [mtg_card]Sygg, River Guide[/mtg_card].

My initial thought when I saw this card was “Whoa dude, this guy protects himself well AND can be basically unblockable?  That’s nuts.  And he’s a fish!?”  Maybe I was just too deeply invested in the idea that your commander was central to your deck, but either way I decided that this was the route that I wanted to take, and so I went ham.

I should mention that most of my friends were making alternate art proxies of their commanders, and so when I told them who I picked, I knew exactly what I wanted as my proxy.  So Sygg underwent a sex change and became Ariel, River Guide.  Overall I was pretty thrilled with my choice, and as the deck came together piece by piece, it started to look an awful lot like an artifact deck that happens to be splashing colors.  So I decided to add even more pressure I would run a land destruction package on top of the aggressive cards.

Sygg and her Dinglehoppers.
 The Princess. (1)
[mtg_card]Sygg, River Guide[/mtg_card]  

Dinglehoppers. (21)
[mtg_card]Argentum Armor[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Crucible of Worlds[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Grappling Hook[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Heavy Arbalest[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Darksteel Plate[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Lightning Greaves[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Manriki-Gusari[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Masterwork of Ingenuity[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Orbs of Warding[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Sculpting Steel[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Sol Ring[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Swiftfoot Boots[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Sword of Body and Mind[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Sword of Feast and Famine[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Sword of Fire and Ice[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Sword of Light and Shadow[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Inquisitor’s Flail[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Sword of Vengeance[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Talisman of Progress[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card] Umezawa’s Jitte[/mtg_card]

 Triton’s servants. (23)
[mtg_card]Etched Champion[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Solemn Simulacrum[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Wurmcoil Engine[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Mirran Crusader[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Auriok Steelshaper[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Galepowder Mage[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Hanna, Ship’s Navigator[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Kemba, Kha Regent[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Leonin Relic-Warder[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Merrow Harbinger[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Mizzium Meddler[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Puresteel Paladin[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Steelshaper Apprentice[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Stoneforge Mystic[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Stonehewer Giant[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Taj-Nar Swordsmith[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Thada Adel, Acquisitor[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Restoration Angel[/mtg_card]

 Mysticism. (4)
[mtg_card]Detention Sphere[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Oblivion Ring[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Spectra Ward[/mtg_card]

 Allakhazam! (9)
[mtg_card]Frantic Salvage[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Muddle the Mixture[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Path to Exile[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Psychic Rebuttal[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Stoic Rebuttal[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Swords to Plowshares[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Thirst for Knowledge[/mtg_card]  

Shazam! (5)
[mtg_card]Open the Vaults[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Steelshaper’s Gift[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Transmute Artifact[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Summon the School[/mtg_card]

 Coral Reefs. (38)
[mtg_card]Academy Ruins[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Adarkar Wastes[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Ancient Tomb[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Ancient Ziggurat[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Azorius Chancery[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Azorius Guildgate[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Boseiju, Who Shelters All[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Buried Ruin[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Cavern of Souls[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Celestial Colonnade[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Faerie Conclave[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Flooded Strand[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Ghost Quarter[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Halimar Depths[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Hallowed Fountain[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Inkmoth Nexus[/mtg_card]
5 [mtg_card]Island[/mtg_card]
5 [mtg_card]Plains[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Reflecting Pool[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Reliquary Tower[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Rogue’s Passage[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Strip Mine[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Command Tower[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Temple of the False God[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Tectonic Edge[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Vivid Creek[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Vivid Meadow[/mtg_card]
[mtg_card]Winding Canyons[/mtg_card]

One of my favorite things about the deck is that the original build wasn’t very cost prohibitive.  I started out with a lot of the money cards being just random equipments that are normally unplayable.  Things like [mtg_card]Piston Sledge[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Trepanation Blade[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]General’s Kabuto[/mtg_card], etc.  Over time as I picked up the pieces I started to replace those things with Swords, Jitte, etc.

There are some cards in the deck that look a little weird on paper but are pretty sweet in practice.  I’d like to take a moment to talk about some of those.

[mtg_card]Etched Champion[/mtg_card]: Metalcraft is actually super easy to achieve in this deck, for obvious reasons. He has the advantage of being an incredibly difficult to kill threat while also allowing you to block pretty much all the creatures you would need to.

[mtg_card]Mirran Crusader[/mtg_card]: Double strike is good.  Colored protection is great.  With the right swords, this guy is pretty much unstoppable.  He isn’t great in every situation, but in most situations he’ll do the job.  In a format where Reliquary Tower and large hand sizes are common, this guy can just randomly shred someone with [mtg_card]Sword of War and Peace[/mtg_card].

[mtg_card]Galepowder Mage[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Restoration Angel[/mtg_card]: These cards are basically in here to bounce your tutor effects.  [mtg_card]Restoration Angel[/mtg_card] on [mtg_card]Stoneforge Mystic[/mtg_card] is always gas.  You’ll also use Resto Angel to save creatures from removal a lot.

[mtg_card]Open the Vaults[/mtg_card]: This card is basically in the deck as a way to play a longer game when playing multiplayer.  When I first built this deck the playgroup was only 3 people, once we added another person games tended to go a lot longer, and I needed a way to recover from [mtg_card]Fracturing Gusts[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Shatterstorm[/mtg_card]s, [mtg_card]Creeping Corrosion[/mtg_card], etc.

[mtg_card]Heavy Arbalest[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Soliton[/mtg_card]: I mostly put these in as a way to have tutor-able removal.  It isn’t the best combo in the world since you don’t have a ton of colored sources in your deck, but sometimes you need to kill a Titan and have 3 blue on board.  These are pretty lame slots honestly.

The Importance of our Princess

When you play Sygg is very important because you want to make sure that you’re set up to protect her.  When my friends play the deck they often play her as soon as they have UW available, which is often very wrong.  Sygg is a lot like [mtg_card]Olivia Voldaren[/mtg_card] in the sense that while she does technically cost 2 mana, you really want to play her when you have 4 to 6 mana available.  In larger games it may even be later than that in case you need to protect yourself from multiple removal spells across a few turns.

Though Sygg does a lot of work with her dinglehoppers, you want to make sure that you have the right dinglehopper for the job.  You have a lot of ways to tutor.  Even one of your counterspell tutors for your best equipment!  ([mtg_card]Muddle the Mixture[/mtg_card] into [mtg_card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Manriki-Gusari[/mtg_card], for instance.)  [mtg_card]Manriki-Gusari[/mtg_card] is a very “weird” dinglehopper that fills a very important role: you need a way to kill things like [mtg_card]Strata Scythe[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Bonehoard[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Batterskull[/mtg_card], etc.  Sometimes you’ll even just need to kill your opponent’s [mtg_card]Lightning Greaves[/mtg_card] to keep their commanders from getting out of control.  Playing artifact sweepers is pretty much out of the question for you, so Manriki takes care of those things without turning off your gameplan.

As you probably noticed, the deck is very light on counter magic and removal, which flies right in the face of UW.  The deck isn’t trying to operate on a “fair” plane like your typical UW control deck would be, instead your ideal situation is killing a single player in 3 or 4 attack steps.  Sygg is integral to this plan.  All of the other creatures in your deck have to work significantly harder to kill an opponent than she does, so your primary role is to make sure that she can grab her dinglehoppers and go to work.  Tutoring for the right equipment is integral to this.  While you may want to search for [mtg_card]Argentum Armor[/mtg_card] because it’s sweet, you need to be aware of what your opponents can do to you in the next few turns.  It’s often correct to simply search for [mtg_card]Darksteel Plate[/mtg_card] to keep Sygg in play, then use your second or third tutor to find your shinier dinglehoppers.

While the deck shines in 1v1, it isn’t unreasonable to have very interesting multiplayer games where you basically become an archenemy because you amass enough equipment to 1shot people.  At that point your entire existence becomes a political powerhouse, which is pretty cool.

If you’re looking for a deck that’s a little different than your normal tron deck, I think this deck is awesome and I have had more than my fair share of fun playing with Ariel.

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