Greetings once again, readers, and welcome to the eighth segment of my ongoing series, Let’s Build, where I talk about the deckbuilding process for various generals or basic strategies.

For those who aren’t aware, I’ve dedicated the month of August to submissions from social networks on this segment, and today’s is no different. Nate Buckwell gave me the idea of doing a mono-colored deck, because all of my Let’s Build segments thus far have focused on multicolored decks or strategies. At the same time as that discussion was going on, Derek Meloche was asking how to best use Shadowborn Apostle in EDH, and my mind clicked with inspiration.

The Apostle is an interesting concept overall – you have limitless number of copies of it in your deck, and having 6 lets you tutor any Demon from your deck to the battlefield at-will for a single black mana.

There are a number of other reasons why you’d play the Apostles, however. Once you amass a large amount of them, you have a bunch of dinky 1/1′s, which may not seem impressive on the surface, but then you remember you’re playing Swamps in your deck, and everything is okay.

So how do we ever realistically tutor with the Apostles more than once? There are always going to be more than one decent target for the activated ability. The answer is actually quite simple:

Shirei makes the trouble of having to work for the activated ability of the Apostle child’s play. You can devote resources to making it work, and you can basically tutor on every turn with its trigger.


Shirei by itself is a disgusting engine of attrition and abuse with a number of nasty toys to make the wheels turn. How the engine adopts the gears that are its Shadowborn Apostles is admittedly a little difficult.

Theoretically, you want to devote a lot of deck space to an arbitrarily large number of Apostles, as they are the best targets with the activated ability, and the best cards to make the engine function.

For the record, the Shadowborn Apostle engine is certainly not a necessity, but there are a number of reasons why it’s good in this deck, that I’ll explain later.



The casting cost is equal parts demanding and liberating. The lack of intense black makes utility lands a very powerful choice. At the same time, the effect feels like it could very well cost 4, though 5 isn’t the worst thing in the world. When you get to the later stages of the game, its mana cost shouldn’t be an issue.

Legendary Creature – Spirit

Honestly, being a black Spirit creature is by far not as good as being practically any other color. Black (and red as well) gets the short end of the stick when it comes to interaction with Spirits, making tribal an inferior option.

Whenever a creature with power 1 or less is put into your graveyard from the battlefield, you may return that card to the battlefield under your control at the beginning of the next end step if Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker is still on the battlefield.

There are a vast number of reasons why this ability is good. Let me go through them real quick:

-You don’t have to control the creature as it dies. Few cases will come up where this ability is incredibly relevant, but it’s still worth mentioning.
-It returns to the battlefield. Utility dorks are virtually invincible as long as Shirei’s survivin’.
-”[...] at the beginning of the next end step…” You’re reading that right. This happens every end step. This can get absolutely ridiculous with specific abuse cases, and in general is just stupidly easy to break wide open.


Clearly a balance thing, but 2/3 would mean it survives Volcanic Fallout and Infest, which can be very popular cards if your meta has a lot of Edric, Spymaster of Trest.


Assembling Apostles and throwing out Demons is the guise of the deck’s true purpose – The deck’s truest way of winning is through bleeding opponents out. With multiple sacrifice outlets and multiple death trigger cards, the deck can rack up a surprisingly large Blood Artist bite or Black Market incredibly fast.

While getting Apostles into play and spamming monstrous demonic forces is generally the glitz and glamour of the deck, you’re generally going to be working with Shirei to amass an army of Apostles to sacrifice for various effects that will eventually deplete your opponent’s resources. Some of those just happen to be Demons, which is how the deck all ties in.

A number of effects sacrifice your Apostles to wreak havoc through making your opponent’s creatures typically disappear, like black can tend to do. Played properly, counterattacks against this deck can be quite difficult.

After horsing around and assembling an army of Apostles that you’re sacrificing for the greater good, winning the game is usually done either through a specific win condition, or through barreling down your opponents’ faces with a massive army of 1/1 Clerics.


First thing’s first – we need our Apostles. It’s a bit bland from the strict deckbuilding pespective, but it’s a necessary evil, and gives us a baseline of how many slots we have left after we’ve dedicated some to the game plan.

I don’t know that this is the right number, but it feels like it might be. Go lower if you feel they’re too common draws.

30 Shadowborn Apostles

The next thing we do is dedicate the slots necessary for the Shadowborn Apostle plan. These are our Demon targets, as well as the best card to get the Apostle engine going.

Rune-Scarred Demon
Pestilence Demon
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Reaper From the Abyss
Harvester of Souls
Extractor Demon
Lord of the Void
Thrumming Stone

Next, we establish the cards that are good just because of how much they work with Shirei. There are a number of good creatures that synergize well with Shirei’s ability, some of which are downright abuse cases.

Bone Shredder
Viscera Seer
Cadaver Imp
Coffin Queen
Plagued Rusalka
Blood Artist

One thing black is very good at doing is accelerating its mana. Though many of the spells in this deck are cheap, we want to make sure we can always cast Shirei to keep it on the battlefield.

Crypt Ghast
Nirkana Revenant
Black Market

Of course, no black deck is complete without its tutors and card advantage.

Demonic Tutor
Diabolic Intent
Increasing Ambition
Phyrexian Arena

Lastly, what would an EDH deck – especially one made by me – be without some goodstuff?

Butcher of Malakir
Decree of Pain
Rise of the Dark Realms
Darksteel Plate
Lightning Greaves
Grave Pact

Now that spells have been taken care of, we move onto utility lands, of which there are many. Of course, you may have guessed two of them, being a deck with Swamps and all, but there are a number of useful lands for this deck to utilize.

Volrath’s Stronghold
Cabal Coffers
Thespian’s Stage
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Terrain Generator
Bojuka Bog
Barren Moor
Polluted Mire
Phyrexian Tower
High Market
Temple of the False God
Reliquary Tower

Lastly, we move onto our basics, which if you’ve been doing the math…

25 Swamps

And with that, we arrive at everyone’s favorite part, the final product!


So there you have it – my take on Shirei! Again, feel free to make edits at your leisure – this is simply a template I whipped up to give you an idea of how I’d use Shadowborn Apostle.

I’m still open to suggestions from Tumblr or Facebook on my last submission segment for the month that will be put up this time next week, so feel free to suggest a general or strategy in the comments!

Until then,

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323 

Let’s Talk M14:

Planeswalking and You:

Resource Management:

Trial & Error:



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