The Serendipity of Sindbad

"Nevertheless, by the time I had buried the last of my companions my stock of provisions was so small that I hardly thought I should live long enough to dig my own grave, which I set about doing, while I regretted bitterly the roving disposition which was always bringing me into such straits, and thought longingly of all the comfort and luxury that I had left. But luckily for me [...] an idea struck me. [...] Why should I not build a raft and trust myself to its swiftly flowing waters? If I perished before I could reach the light of day once more I should be no worse off than I was now, for death stared me in the face, while there was always the possibility that, as I was born under a lucky star, I might find myself safe and sound in some desirable land."
 - Arabian Nights: The Sixth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor

And so Sindbad set out on his raft and woke up in the land of Serendib. A place that was twenty-four parasangs long by twenty-four wide, and held the highest mountain in the world, on which the first man Adam had lived for certain on his days. He met with the king and was bestowed many gifts, including a cup carved from a single ruby and a bed made from the skin of the serpent that swallowed an elephant. Sindbad's discovery of the land of Serendib (called Serendip by the Persians) became such a part of old pop culture that the word "serendipity" hails from the name of the country and the fortunate happenstance in finding it.
The naming of Serendib through the years is complicated enough that Wikipeida has a page covering just that subject. But basically it was known from the beginning of British colonial rule in the 1810s until 1972 as Ceylon, and these days it is known as Sri Lanka. On a temporary leave from the frozen icescape of Norway, this is where I find myself today.
The streets just outside my apartment in Oslo in the late afternoon a week ago. It's a frozen dark city. Winter has come.
I find the darkness of the Nordic winters kinda rough, and this time I had the best of excuses to leave. So my wife and I packed our bags and went to Sri Lanka to drink out of coconuts and chill with giant turtles. The in-flight magazine showed we were in Sindbad's tracks.
As a nerd of sorts, I did bring a couple of Djinns and Efreets with me to their home turf.
Chilling out at a tea plantation.
In a Buddhist temple about half a parasang above sea level.
By Adam's Peak, the highest mountain in the world(?) (Yeah, we climbed it, and yeah, I'm still sore.)
I've spent the evenings mostly away from Internet connections and had the time to read a few hundred nights in an early version of Arabian Nights btw. That's some damn weird stories. Some really good stuff, but a lot of strange filler and perplexing morals. Three stars, I guess?
Anyway, Sindbad, this is supposed to be about Sindbad. Sindbad is one of the most legendary non-legend cards in the history of Magic. There are like three Sindbads in Arabian Nights - the sailor we all know and love, as well as a porter and a king with the same name - but I strongly assume this guy is The Sailor, and we should shake our heads in distrust towards anyone who plays more than one. Surprisingly rarely do we see even one at the battlefields these days however.

Looking at the stats, Sindbad is a 1/1 for 1U. Not exactly breaking any records, but not overpriced in the way of a Quarum Trench Gnomes or Ichneumon Druid either (if you didn't have to google those two cards, you might consider yourself deep in the old school mire). Sindbad then has the ability to tap to draw about two fifths of a card, assuming that you play 40% lands. So every second or third turn or so he will draw you a card for no additional investment. Though not amazing, it is pretty decent. And flavor is clearly A+, in particular considering the very simple rules text. Sindbad goes away searching for land, and whenever he finds it value happens. Serendipity.
Sindbad becomes really solid when you can combine him with other cards. Field of Dreams might be the most obvious example. With the Fields in play, you can easily draw your extra lands from the top of your library, or just filter away cards by milling the ones you don't need. On top of that, Fields also give you some control over what your opponent is drawing. Combine that with a Millstone and you've built yourself an old school Lantern Control deck (it's a deck that won the last Modern Pro Tour for all you old foogies).

Thing with the Field is that it is kinda weak on its own. Sindbad at least give us some value on his own; he is a not-weirdly-overcosted body that draws you 40% of a card when tapped. Field does almost nothing and is a fairly useless play outside dedicated combo decks. So where do we go? To the Library of course!
Now here's a sick engine. UG Al-Qarawiyyin. Or something. With Master of the Hunt to abuse all those extra lands and play around City in a Bottle. Could even add some Transmute Artifact to fetch Meekstones and add extra shuffle effects for the Library. Or something less durdly, but the power of the Sindbad / Sylvan engine looks real. Both cards are playable without the other, but the sum is much greater than the parts.
Master of the Hunt is a sweet card, but it has one of those "once you see it, you can't unsee it" deals. The jovial sheep-dogs in the picture are some damn weird "wolves".
So that might be my next deck-to-build. Probably Serendib Efreet for flavor, if not for power. It's funny, I've played this format for eleven years now and it never seizes to amaze me just how deep the first year of Magic, August '93 to August '94, really is.

I wish you a great evening wherever in the world you might be on this Valentine's Day. Cheers from the island of serendipity :)


  1. Nice post! I´ve have Sindbads in a GWu reanimate build. Resurections and Reincarnations and some sweet Arcades Sabboth beats (and a Sir Shandlar of Eberynn of course!) Lands and fatties makes a more than 50% hit ratio with Sindbad! Look at the german Renassiance version of Sindbad btw, some clues to which Sindbad is depicted :)Nice post! I´ve have Sindbads in a GWu reanimate build. Resurections and Reincarnations and some sweet Arcades Sabboth beats (and a Sir Shandlar of Eberynn of course!) Lands and fatties makes a more than 50% hit ratio with Sindbad! Look at the german Renassiance version of Sindbad btw, some clues to which Sindbad is depicted in our belowed cardboard:)


    1. sorry for the double-post-in-one. used to repeat myself when talking to the kids i guess..

    2. Haha, Sindbad, der Seefahrer! Hadn't noticed that before, thanks for the additional trivia :)

      Reanimate deck sounds sick. Extra style points for managing to build a reanimate deck without black!

  2. If you google irish wolfhound you will find out what kind of "wolves" there is in Master of the hunts picture. ;) see you in 2 weeks!


    1. Haha, well spotted Markus! So it looks like the artist assumed that he was actually hunting wolves rather than hunting with wolves :P

  3. Den här kommentaren har tagits bort av skribenten.

  4. np!

    well, the nonblack reanimate deck is more like a t4 deck, but you will come a long way by packing the White P9 (4 disenchant, 4 swords to plowshares, 1 balance). There are not that many reanimate enablers in 93/94. Animate Dead is of course the best but Reincarnation kan do a lot of work in a deck filled with 1/1 utility cards (like der Seefahrer and manabirds). Resurection is kinda clunky, Triassic egg is sweet because it can drop them fatties from you hand as well (but cost way to much mana) and the buy cost of 4 All hallows Eve is kinda high... Would like to try Soul Exchange in FE but those cards dont feel oldshool to me. I rather play CE/IE cards and FBB 4th cards than FE for some wierd reason.


  5. There is also Hell’s Caretaker, wich is, once combined with Sindbad and perhaps the ever usefull Mishra’s Factory quite the reanimation ‘spell’.

    I’ve tried to put together a ‘The Machine’ kind of build with Sindbad. The problem is that The Machine is a controlling deck, wich doesn’t want to see it’s cards go to the ‘yard without the option of keeping is, hence Jalum’s Tome is better.

    I haven’t looked into a reanimator (read: more combo-focused) deck with Sindbad, Hell’s Caretaker, Animate Dead, Tetravus and Triskelion. Maybe some Yawgmoth’s Demons? All Hallow’s Eve...
    Might be worth it...

  6. I love my Sindbads and tried them with both Fields and Sylvans. No one ever really has much fun with the Fields (myself included) so I much prefer the Sylvan approach. Thanks for the article I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  7. Thanks for all the nice comments! Glad you enjoyed it, and fun to hear about other players' experiences with the card. Looking forward to try it out myself :)

  8. A little of topic but nevertheless regarding Sindbad. I bought an korean FBB 4th Sindbad (cannot afford the Arabian ones any more, so I have to manage with the FBB ones) of Svenskamagic and lo and behold, it fits perfekt in my monoblack reanimate deck! (

  9. And the Roc of Kher Ridges noticed something in his leg and stopped at Adam's Peak to have a snack.


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