MTG – A Guide to Sydri, Galvanic Genius Esper Commander / EDH for Magic: The Gathering

MTG – A Guide to Sydri, Galvanic Genius Esper Commander / EDH for Magic: The Gathering


Sydri is a master of metalwork and mystical animation. She’s young, she’s brilliant, she specializes in custom solutions for the problems of the wealthy. Sydri can infuse life into almost any object which will then tirelessly do its master’s bidding. Although honest by nature, she’s fallen into a dangerous circle of elite priests – ‘The Custodi’ – who’ll do anything to gain the upper hand in the political sphere. ‘Sydri, Galvanic Genius’, is an exciting Commander and Esper colors that offers a unique take on an Artifact deck. For white, blue and black she’s a 2/2 Human Artificer with two abilities. For blue, target non-creature artifact becomes an artifact creature with power and toughness each equal to its converted mana cost until end of turn. And for white and a black, target artifact creature gains death touch and lifelink until end of turn. Ever wanted to bring your toaster to life and have it fight for you? Sydri can do that and more. There are others artifact Commanders with more colors and more combo potential *cough* Brea! *cough* Brea! But Sydri offers a different, and surprisingly effective game-plan. Play lots of useful artifacts that other decks can’t justify running, and turn them into an army at will. There are some fun interactions to be had when artifacts that aren’t supposed to be creatures grow legs and start walking around. Normally these videos save mana and ramp for the end, but we’re gonna start right off with ramp and acceleration. It’s vital here because the first thing Sydri wants is a whole mess of mana rocks. No, not mana, but mana rocks. Mana rocks are great in general and most non-green decks will run a bunch. But Sydri can make a better use out of them than other decks. As you’ll see this deck runs a bunch of really expensive artifacts that we want to power out and Sydri’s abilities have mana costs that add up. But Sydri can also animate your rocks in a pinch, turning your Sol Ring into a life-linking deathtouch 1/1 that can threaten to take a real creature down with it. In Esper colors we have three Signets; Azorius Signet, Orzhov Signet and Dimir Signet. Two talismans; Talisman of Dominance and Talisman of Progress. And Fellwar Stone, for cheap rocks that produce colored mana. While a lot of our deck is colorless artifacts, having Esper mana for Sydri’s abilities is important. Super-important! So Chromatic Lantern is worth running. Dark Steel Ingot has the upside of being indestructible, which is fun when it becomes a creature. I also like having the vertical cycle of rocks that can be cashed in for cards later, by which I mean Mind Stone Hedron Archive, Dreamstone. Finally, Aetherium Sculptor is a dork that makes all your artifacts cheaper, and dorks are in these days so we want to run it, because that ability can add up big time. Next, let’s look at card draw. Once we’ve spewn mana rocks onto the field, we need ways to refill our hand and find some action. We’re in blue and black, so we have no shortage of the usual good stuff like Phyrexian Arena and Rhystic Study. But we have some spicier options that leverage our artifact synergies. Staff of Nin is everything we could ever want. It lets us draw an extra card each turn, but we can also animate it with Sydri to great effect. it can be a 6/6 beater! But once you give it lifelink and deathtouch, its ping ability becomes lethal! Tamiyo’s Journal is the nest best thing. Clues are fun and occasionally useful for being artifacts. Mind’s Eye is a good way to turn an excess of mana into cards in any deck. But as with all these big artifacts, being able to use them in combat makes them so much more useful. in Syrdi than anywhere else. Beyond actual artifacts, Vedalken Archmage lets us draw off casting artifacts and Padeen, Council of Innovation as well as Muzzio, Visionary Architect are two legendary’s that reward us for having any of the high CMC artifacts that we run. Thopter Spy Network gives us a steady supply of Thopters, and rewards us for connecting with our various robots. Thought Cast and Thirst for Knowledge are solid draw spells here that become excellent with all our artifacts. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas lets us filter the top of our deck for artifacts, and turning our artifacts into creatures is very much in theme with this deck. Finally, Sphinx’s Revelation, and its little brother Pull from Tomorrow, are amazing top decks when you’ve got a board full of mana and nothing to do with it. So what are the payoffs in this deck? Now that we have plenty of mana and cards, let’s talk about all the fun ways to break the game with Syrdi. Caltrops is an unassuming little artifact. It pings each attacking creature for one damage, which isn’t going to do much in Commander. Ah, but if it were to become an artifact creature and gain deathtouch and lifelink, that’s when things get interesting. It becomes a political tool you can use against creature decks to funnel aggression away from you. Aetherflux Reservoir is my favorite win condition in the deck. This giant death laser lets you pay a 50 life, to deal 50 damage to target creature or player, and it also lets us gain life every time we cast a spell equal to the number of spells we’ve cast this turn. The combo here is that if you get up to 51 life, if you can animate the Reservoir and give it lifelink, so that when you deal the 50 damage to an opponent, you immediately lifelink it back, letting you repeat around the table until everyone’s dead. Kapow! A lot of decks take advantage of Aetherflux Reservoir’s second ability to gain life Storm style by casting a bunch of cheap spells in a single turn. It’s basically an entire archetype in competitive EDH, but we’re not so interested in that here. In this deck, if you get to 51 life, you’ve done so by attacking and blocking with giant lifelink refrigerators. Just like Richard Garfield intended! You do need to be aware that an opponent targeted by a lethal lifelink laser blast does have the option to concede with the trigger on the stack, which will cause the ability to fizzle, since you spend the life to activate the ability this means you just lose out on the lifelink, potentially leaving you in a bad position. Strategic, King-making concessions like this are considered bad form in many play-groups, so make sure you know where your group stands before putting this card in your deck. If you’ve got just one bad apple remember you can target them last. Another fun way to win is just destroying all of our opponent’s stuff. Scourglass is basically a one sided board-wipe if you’re the only artifact deck, although you have to wait until your next Upkeep to use it. Larry Niven’s Disk is another board-wipe artifact that can’t generally be used until next turn. But there’s a crucial difference; Larry Nivens Disk doesn’t sacrifice itself in order to blow up the board, which means if we can make it indestructible things get mean. The deck runs a few ways to do this. Darksteel Forge is the classic, making the Disk in all of our artifacts indestructible, so that we can just blow up the board every turn. The Forge at 9 CMC is not easy to get into play, but once it’s there it makes an excellent threat, attacking as a 9/9 with lifelink and deathtouch if we want, when we activate it with Sydri. Soul of New Phyrexia costs mana each turn to protect your board, but it saves all your permanence from a board-wipe including Sydri herself, which makes things easier. If you want to get really mean, there’s a hidden backdoor to land destruction and Sydri’s abilities. If a land were to become an artifact say via Liquidmetal Coating or March of the Machines, then since it has a CMC of zero, Sydri can make that land an artifact creature with toughness zero, and have it insta-die. I don’t run this in my deck because I like having friends, but you can make your own choices. Open the Vaults is a way to recover from the nasty board wipes, but if you want to get cute and live dangerously, you can have some fun with Tunnel Vision. Cast Tunnel Vision, naming Open the Vaults, and you’ll dump some random portion of your deck into your graveyard. Hopefully not too much or too little. You can then cast Open the Vaults to return all your artifacts and maybe you’ll have some winning combination. Obviously a lot can go wrong here, but when it works, it’s hilarious. There’s a bit of a Thopter sub-theme in this deck, mainly because having some Thopters around that we can give deathtouch to, shores up our weakness in the air. But there are some fun times to be had with our little flying friends. Sword of the Meek and Thopter Foundry make a non-infinite combo that was banned in Modern for a while, but should be tame enough in Commander for even combo adverse play groups. The way it works is that you pay one and sacrifice the Sword to make a Thopter and gain a life. Now the Sword is in your graveyard, so when the Thopter enters the battlefield you can bring it back to equip to that new Thopter. Repeat this and the net result is you can spend one mana to make a Thopter and gain a life as many times as you want with the Sword attached to your final Thopter. This won’t win you the game on the spot unless you go really deep with Krark-Clan Ironworks into cycle of the Vault or something, but instead it gets you some solid, incremental value for your excess mana. Left unchecked you’ll eventually assemble a lethal Thopter army, of course, but your opponents will have time to react so it doesn’t feel too unfair. Just play politically to avoid becoming the biggest threat on the board until it’s too late. The only actual infinite combo I have in the deck is Time Sieve with Thopter Assembly. On your Upkeep you can bounce the Assembly back to your hand to create five Thopters, then sacrifice all five to Time Sieve. Replay the Assembly and you have infinite turns, so long as you don’t have other Thopters hanging around. Not even remotely fair, but it’s good to have an “I win” button for when games go too long. Next on Tolarian Tutor- oh no, wait this is just Tutor for Sydri. All of our win conditions require assembling one or more artifacts, so we’re gonna need some tutors. With access to black, we can play all the usual suspects; Demonic, Vampiric, etc, but there’s a whole realm of artifact specific tutors we can benefit from, some of which are more budget. The weird little vertical cycle of Trinket Mage, Trophy Mage and Treasure Mage lets you search up artifacts in specific CMC’s when they enter the battlefield. Notably, Trophy Mage gets Caltrops which I always want against creature decks. Fabricate is just a straight-up tutor for any artifact to hand, while Whir of Invention from Ether Revolt is also super handy, letting you improvise to tap your artifacts at instant speed to find whatever you want and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Tezzeret the Seeker is reasonably cheap for a Planeswalker and is super flexible, letting you get extra mana by un-tapping your mana rocks, but also search out your cheaper artifacts. Tinker is a busted card that lets you sack a mana rock to get a Blightsteel Colossus! Wow! Or whatever other artifact you want out of your deck. We’d run it here but it’s quite understandably banned or restricted absolutely everywhere. But, Wizards has printed a few variations on the theme over the years, and even toned down being able to swap an artifact on your board for anything from your deck to super-powerful. Reshape is the same thing but you have to pay mana in proportion to the artifact you want to get. Kuldotha Forgemaster requires you to sacrifice three artifacts, but then you can get anything! Master Transmuter lets you swap an artifact on the battlefield for one in hand, which isn’t card advantage, but can still be pretty crazy. Arcum Dagsson requires you to sacrifice an artifact creature, but then you can get any artifact onto the battlefield. Wait, I thought Arcum was supposed to be against artifacts? I mean like in the flavor. That’s weird, cause he’s really good with artifacts. Ah, Ice Age! No, wait, Cold Snap, meaning an artifact creature is meant to be a real downside but we know how Sydri feels about non-artifact creature artifacts. So how does this deck interact? Next we need ways to protect our game plan and Esper colors gives us some of the most flexible and powerful options. Blue opens up a whole realm of counter spells and while we’re not really a control deck, we run Counterspell and Stoic Rebuttal just to keep people on their toes and protect our board from a Vandalblast at a key moment. Black and white offers some very general answers to problematic permanence and Anguished Unmaking, Vindicate and Utter End. Swords to Plowshares is the best creature removal and Dispatch is basically a second copy since, if we don’t have Metalcraft then we’ve probably already lost. Return to Dust goes in all my white decks since it hits Theros Gods, and Spine of Ish Sah is a funny one. 7 mana to remove something isn’t a great deal, but you can animate it with Sydri and if it dies in combat, you get to return it to your hand. Wraths are extra good in this deck since most of our foot soldiers spend their off hours as inanimate objects. Wrath of God, Supreme Verdict, Merciless Eviction; these are great and in these colors you have access to just about every real wrath effect, so go crazy! Don’t mind if I do! They also line up well with our indestructibility gameplan. If you’ve got one, the new Teferi’s Protection is a great way to save your board from Vandalblasts, as well as spells like Banes of Progress and Cyclonic Rift. But the card is stupidly expensive, for the reason that it’s stupidly good! In this example, stupid beats very! For lands, you can check out my three color mana based video, but there are some clear upgrades to help us with our artifact plans. Obviously the artifact lands Ancient Den, Darksteel Citadel Seat of the Synod and Vault of Whispers are an easy way to up our artifact count for the various synergies in the deck. Inventors Fair will gain us some extra life and acts as a one-shot tutor later on. Academy Ruins is a repeatable way to redraw an artifact from your graveyard, which can get very degenerate in the late game. It’s also not a cheap card, so Buried Rune is a more balanced budget one-shot alternative. Sydri may not be the most cutthroat, competitive artifact Commander, but she offers theme and synergy like no other out there. Take full advantage of her genius to propel your Galvanic ragtag army of animated appliances to victory. I hope very much this video has been of some help to you! Which Commander would you like to see attack on next? Let me know in the comments below! And this video is brought to you by my, and many other people’s local games store; CardKingdom a brick and mortar pillar of this community. 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