“… that perfect girl commander is gone… “
I’ve decided to retire a deck, folks. And rather than “conceal, don’t feel”-ing about it, I’ve decided to share the story.
Shu Yun wasn’t originally a voltron deck—a deck where you suit up a commander with powerful effects and swing for combat damage.
No, Shu Yun started out as an artifacts deck. His colour identity in Commander is blue, white, and red—perfect colours for caring about artifacts. And, artifacts count as non-creature spells, so I could trigger Shu Yun’s ability by casting, say, an equipment.
So I crammed a bunch of artifacts-matter cards in there like Daretti, Muzzio, and Nahiri, I traded for sweet enablers like Jeskai Ascendancy and Narset, Enlightened Master, I tossed in fun stuff like Darksteel Forge and Mycosynth Lattice. I liked to think of the deck as a whole bunch of planeswalkers and legendary creatures meeting at Dirgur, a Jeskai monastery, to figure out how to build artifacts that would kill the Eldrazi.
And I shuffled up for some games.
… and I quickly found that Shu Yun was ill-equipped for artifact shenanigans.
Specifically, I didn’t enjoy playing him for the artifacts—I wanted to swing with him. He was there for the colours, and that wasn’t enough for me.
Time for more pieces, right? Good equipment. Darksteel Plate, the various Swords of X and Y (eg. Feast and Famine above, along with War and Peace, Body and Mind, Light and Shadow, and Fire and Ice—although I have yet to acquire those last two). Better enablers, like Steelshaper’s Gift and Puresteel Paladin. Spellslinging, too—Distortion Strike, still the best spell ever printed for Shu Yun, was joined by a host of counterspells, exile effects, and damage redirection.
And I went at it. And I won, typically, when I was facing one or two opponents (which is when voltron is at its best, as I mentioned last week), as long as their decks weren’t of a certain tier.
But I was never happy, and I couldn’t figure out why.
The answer is that I had hamstrung myself.
Check out Grafted Exoskeleton, there. It’s a pretty deadly piece of equipment. If I can trigger Shu Yun’s double-strike ability on himself and hit another player with Grafted Exoskeleton active, that’s a guaranteed one-hit kill.
But I have a lot of hurdles to jump first.
To cast and equip the Exoskeleton and use Shu Yun’s trigger to give himself double strike all in the same turn would require eight mana. This deck has a low curve and not a lot of ramp, so most of the time, I’ll only get to five or six mana. This means I end up casting the Exoskeleton early—wasting Shu Yun’s double-strike trigger—then equipping it next turn, casting another spell just to get the double-strike trigger, then swinging.
And, more often than not, I’ll have no mana left over for countermagic or removal spells—which I need for a voltron deck, to protect my commander.
All of which is not to say that Shu Yun is a bad commander—he is a fantastic commander. But he is at his best when he’s spellslinging, not when you have to constantly blow mana on equipment and equip costs.
By insisting on an equipment-focused build for him, I had hamstrung myself. Shu Yun could do very, very well, but would get destroyed at one of A Muse N Games’s Competitive Commander events.
So, I’ve decided to retire Shu Yun for now. I’ll keep the decklist online in case I ever need it, and his cards will go into other decks—a Yasova voltron I’ve been eyeing, and a truly competitive deck I’ll be talking about in the coming weeks.
Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. Here he stands, in the light of your computer monitor, with his column every two weeks, “The Mana Dork”.