We’ve looked at a mono-red list that requires heavy recursion and card draw.  Mono-white Legendary tribal.  A green list that needs to be more than 50% Forests.  A black list that really just should not work at all, hand disruption that can only hit one card at a time, and a tokens list that really doesn’t do a lot with the tokens it creates.  

I love this series.

Today, I want to look at a general that is really not that bad:

Sisters

Sisters of Stone Death is, in a vacuum, really quite solid.  They force combat decisions, they exile creatures, and then recur those creatures for you.  The card itself is a little mana-hungry – a casting cost of 4BBGG is pretty steep, and every ability on the card costs mana as well – but you’re in green, and that does a lot to minimize the costs involved.  

For some reason, though, the Sisters don’t get played that often.  I’ve only personally seen one deck – and it was my own.  EDHRec.com only has 42 decks in their database for this general, which is pretty low overall.  Compare that to Geist of Saint Traft at 127, or Avacyn, Angel of Hope at 154.  

So why are the Sisters passed over so much?  The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that the options in BG are so much better.  Take a look.  Just a quick skim through that return sees cards like Glissa, the Traitor, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, and Meren of Clan Nel Toth – all objectively better options.  (Indeed, Meren is kind of the golden boy at a lot of tables lately, with everybody and their dog building the exact same deck with it in the command zone.)

Nonetheless, lets look at the Sisters and see what makes them a bad choice.  First off, we have the mana requirement.  Eight is a lot – even in green – and you really need to have 2BBGG available every combat to make her work.  The second problem is the requirement that the exile target has to be blocking or blocked by Sisters of Stone Death; people will not attack into her, so you need to be swinging.  The third problem is really a matter of rules – if you exile something with Sisters and they subsequently die, you can’t bring that creature back when you recast Sisters.  The second time she is on the battlefield, she is technically a different card, and when a card references itself it is VERY specific.  

There is another niche problem as well; if you exile a card that is only temporarily a creature, you can’t get it back.  A Forest animated by Liege of the Tangle, for example, is a Forest in exile, not a creature.  This is unlikely to ever matter, but I mention it to be thorough.

 

Now, let’s see what we can do with the Sisters.

 

First off, we need to solve the mana problem.  Easy enough – we’re in green.  Land ramp is cheap and easy, and you should be able to reliably hit eight mana by turn five in most games without even really trying.  

Because we’re going to be wanting to spend a lot of mana during combat, we’re not really going to be packing a lot of spells; we really want permanents.  These are things that will continually affect the board in our favour; Soul of the Harvest is a prime example of this.  All of those creatures you are bringing back from exile will now net you cards.  Infiltration Lens will do the same, and is a neat little card that nobody plays.  Nemesis Mask reduces some of the cost of forcing blocks, though I would recommend caution.  Planeswalkers like Garruk, Apex Predator and Liliana of the Veil (if you have the budget for that) also do good work here; you’re unlikely to exile every creature your opponents control, so you need ways to handle the rest.  

You also want to throw up some rattlesnake cards like Vampire Nighthawk and Wurmcoil Engine – you want people to really be hesitant to attack you.  The reason for this is two-fold.  For one, you’re swinging with your general as often as you can.  At 7/5, that is a huge body that will not be blocking for you.  If you surround it with things that are almost guaranteed to be a straight trade with your opponents, they will often swing elsewhere.  And if they don’t, even better!  When your opponents choose not to attack, you can use the first ability on the Sisters to have your pick of targets.

With all of the deathtouch creatures you’ll be floating, Deathreap Ritual – one of my favourite cards from the Conspiracy set – is pretty fantastic.  I recommend this card for any deck running these colours anyway, but when you’re killing things left, right, and center, it’s a mitt-full of free cards for very little investment.  

In the end, the real gas in this deck comes from your opponents.  The creatures they play will often end up working for you.  Your best bet is to build your deck so that you’re the least-palatable target.  Build yourself a fortress, and strike from behind your defenses.  Every enemy that falls is another stone for your walls.

-James