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Bonescythe Sliver – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

The Sliver creature cards printed in Magic the Gathering’s 2014 Core Set were a fairly impressive bunch. One of these Slivers, printed at rare, was Bonescythe Sliver, a four-mana White Sliver that gave all Sliver creatures you control the powerful double strike ability. This means that your creatures will literally attack twice, often dealing double combat damage directly to an opponent.

While Slivers never became a top-tier competitive tribal deck in Standard, they were a deck to beat for a time at Friday Night Magic events at local game stores. The popular nonbasic land Cavern of Souls was around for another three months after the release of M14, which could tap for any color of mana to cast a creature spell of a chosen type. This meant any Tribal deck could conceivably run creatures of that type in all five colors. 

Mutavault was also reprinted in Magic 2014, giving you another colorless Sliver, since Mutavault can become a creature of all types for just a single generic mana. With these two lands, along with the solid Sliver options in the 2014 Core Set, there was a solid Sliver tribal deck being played at the time.

However, there was a very important difference between these Slivers and those printed in the past. Older Sliver cards affected all Sliver cards on the battlefield – possibly including even your opponent’s; but, these new cards affect only your Sliver cards. This means that in Sliver mirrors, if you can get the more powerful effects on the board before your opponent can, you likely have the game won. Having double striking Slivers is certainly one way to do that.

Would Bonescythe Sliver be a part of that competitive Sliver puzzle? It was certainly possible. Having a casting cost of 3 generic and one White mana seemed fair. It also helped that you had Manaweft Sliver from the same set giving all of your Slivers the ability to produce any color of mana. As mentioned earlier, double strike is quite relevant, as well. With how quickly Slivers can mass an attack, the Bonescythe could help you stage a finishing blow just by being in play on your side.

When I first looked at this card in July of 2013, I thought players would find a way to fit at least one copy of this card in a Sliver deck. This is knowing even then that White wasn’t going to be an important color for Slivers, although Sentinel Sliver and Hive Stirrings were definitely playable cards from the 2014 Core Set. Simply on the strength of giving all your Slivers double strike, there seemed to be room for this card to serve as a lynchpin for an aggressive Sliver strategy.

Unfortunately, outside of casual Sliver decks and Commander players built around the several very strong Sliver Legendary Creatures printed over the year, Bonescythe Sliver rarely saw play. Even when the very next Core Set, Magic 2015, introduced even more Slivers which made the archetype even better in Standard, Bonescythe was basically forgotten. It just didn’t seem worth the deck slot, as Slivers could be overwhelming enough even without the benefit of double strike.

Fortunately, while it proved to not be an optimal include in competitive 60-card Magic, Bonescythe Sliver became a staple in Sliver Commander decks everywhere. This Sliver’s value only increased with the Modern Horizons printings of The First Sliver and Morophon the Boundless as additional Sliver Commanders. The addition of many Changelings – which also count as Slivers – being printed in the Kaldheim set among others – meant Bonescythe Sliver could appear in even non-Sliver decks on occasion. 

Over time, based on its Commander play alone, Bonescythe Sliver isn’t among the best Sliver cards, but it still holds value. There’s also a foil Duels of the Planeswalkers promo printing with some value, as well as a 2019 Secret Lair Drop printing that’s quite valuable. Based purely on the fact that Double Strike is one of the best combat related abilities in the game, Bonescythe Sliver will always find a home in Sliver Tribal Commander decks. 

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Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy. Personal Website: https://www.thephoenixdesertsong.com

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