The Spirit of EDH – Niv-Mizzet and the IJLSA

Hello everyone! I’m Literally a Ghost That Pushes Over Candles and welcome back to The Spirit of EDH. This is my first article back after a long time away, so let’s catch up on some stuff! War of the Spark came out, I’m still the Spirit of EDH that the Commander Rules Comittee keeps talking about, and Kaya still scares me to… death? Double death? Something like that, I’m sure.

War of the Spark struck my brewers muscle like nothing has since Battlebond and I’m brimming with excitement for some exceptional new cards. Take, for example, Niv-Mizzet Reborn! What an exciting prospect to build around: A five-color commander that actually wants you to play an even split of two color cards! Here’s the decklist I came up with, with a very specific theme in mind: the International Justice League of Super Acquaintances.

Spells (34)

Assassin's Trophy
Countersquall
Farseek
Growth Spiral
Hull Breach
Izzet Charm
Nature's Lore
Prismatic Omen
Reborn Hope
Savage Twister
Anguished Unmaking
Bedevil
Chromatic Lantern
Ionize
Last One Standing
Pernicious Deed
Wear // Tear
Ancient Excavation
Hunting Wilds
Kaya's Wrath
Skyshroud Claim
Solar Blaze
Supreme Verdict
Assemble the Legion
Oath of Teferi
Obzedat's Aid
Sylvan Reclamation
Time Wipe
Windgrace's Judgement
Casualties of War
Merciless Eviction
Primeval's Glorious Rebirth
Treacherous Terrain
Commander
Niv-Mizzet Reborn

Creatures (8)

Baleful Strix
Joiner Adept
Merfolk Skydiver
Captain Sisay
Spark Double
Bioessence Hydra
Keranos, God of Storms
Kruphix, God of Horizons
Novablast Wurm

Lands (37)

Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Breeding Pool
Canyon Slough
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacombs
Fetid Pools
Flooded Strand
Forest
Glacial Fortress
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Hinterland Harbor
Irrigated Farmland
Island
Isolated Chapel
Mountain
Overgrown Tomb
Path of Ancestry
Plains
Rootbound Crag
Sacred Foundry
Scattered Groves
Sheltered Thicket
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Sulfur Falls
Sunpetal Grove
Swamp
Temple Garden
Watery Grave
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Woodland Cemetary
Planeswalkers (20)

Ashiok, Dream Render
Dack Fayden
Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast
Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Teferi, Time Raveler
Ajani Unyielding
Ajani, the Greathearted
Kaya, Ghost Assassin
Kora, the Crashing Wave
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Angrath, the Flame Chained
Huatli, Warrior Poet
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
Ral, Izzet Viceroy
Venser, the Sojurner
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Rowan Kenrith
Vraska, Relic Seeker
Will Kenrith
Garruk, Apex Predator

Niv-Mizzet, the Living Guildpact

Niv-Mizzet has always been important to Ravnica, whether or not his ego grated on the other denizens. Now, he’s the Living Guildpact, with all five colors of mana at his disposal. With this new powers, he gets an exciting new ability:

“When Niv-Mizzet Reborn enters the battlefield, reveal the top ten cards of your library. For each color pair, choose a card that’s exactly those colors from among them. Put the chosen cards into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.”

Since we can only get one card of each guild, Niv-Mizzet encourages us to give equal space to each guild in order to maximize his ability to draw us cards. While it is possible to draw ten cards when he enters the battlefield, more often we’ll draw three or four, which is still quite powerful! The fact that we need to split the deck semi-evenly among all ten color pairs was an exciting prospect, and I decided to use this opportunity to make a superfriends deck, in honor of War of the Spark.

Besides drawing us a ton of gas each time he comes down, Niv-Mizzet is also a creature that can’t exactly be ignored. A 6/6 flier can be dangerous if no removal ever goes his way and, with the number of haymakers we crammed into our deck, sometimes we will be stretching them quite thin.

The Guilds United

Spells (34)

Assassin's Trophy
Countersquall
Farseek
Growth Spiral
Hull Breach
Izzet Charm
Nature's Lore
Prismatic Omen
Reborn Hope
Savage Twister
Anguished Unmaking
Bedevil
Chromatic Lantern
Ionize
Last One Standing
Pernicious Deed
Wear // Tear
Ancient Excavation
Hunting Wilds
Kaya's Wrath
Skyshroud Claim
Solar Blaze
Supreme Verdict
Assemble the Legion
Oath of Teferi
Obzedat's Aid
Sylvan Reclamation
Time Wipe
Windgrace's Judgement
Casualties of War
Merciless Eviction
Primeval's Glorious Rebirth
Treacherous Terrain
Commander
Niv-Mizzet Reborn

Creatures (8)

Baleful Strix
Joiner Adept
Merfolk Skydiver
Captain Sisay
Spark Double
Bioessence Hydra
Keranos, God of Storms
Kruphix, God of Horizons
Novablast Wurm

Lands (37)

Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Breeding Pool
Canyon Slough
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacombs
Fetid Pools
Flooded Strand
Forest
Glacial Fortress
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Hinterland Harbor
Irrigated Farmland
Island
Isolated Chapel
Mountain
Overgrown Tomb
Path of Ancestry
Plains
Rootbound Crag
Sacred Foundry
Scattered Groves
Sheltered Thicket
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Sulfur Falls
Sunpetal Grove
Swamp
Temple Garden
Watery Grave
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Woodland Cemetary
Planeswalkers (20)

Ashiok, Dream Render
Dack Fayden
Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast
Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Teferi, Time Raveler
Ajani Unyielding
Ajani, the Greathearted
Kaya, Ghost Assassin
Kora, the Crashing Wave
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Angrath, the Flame Chained
Huatli, Warrior Poet
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
Ral, Izzet Viceroy
Venser, the Sojurner
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Rowan Kenrith
Vraska, Relic Seeker
Will Kenrith
Garruk, Apex Predator

Since our deck needed to be semi-evenly split among the ten color pairs, I also divided up the decklist to show you the rough distribution of colors. We’re going to be talking more about the different categories of cards, and I’ll talk about some of the cards that didn’t quite make the cut afterwards. We’ll discuss the planeswalker choices, then the non-planeswalker guilded cards, then finally the non-guilded cards that needed to make the cut for one reason or another.

The International Justice League of Super Acquaintances

Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Garruk, Apex Predator, Vraska, Relic Seeker and Huatli, Warrior Poet – The first round of planeswalkers are the most obvious inclusions. We need ways to protect ourselves and build up value over time, which these planeswalkers do in the form of creatures. Daretti can offer repeatable removal in the form of creating a defender, then sacrificing it to destroy something, Sorin can build up Vampires and offer an irremovable way to buff up those tokens, Garruk keeps opposing planeswalkers at bay while giving us beasts and offering removal, Vraska works a lot like Daretti with better creatures and less trade off for that removal, and Huatli spits out dinosaurs every turn.

Venser, the Sojurner, Ajani, the Greathearted, and Kiora, the Crashing Wave – The next wave of planeswalkers is the supporting cast. Each of these three plays well with other planeswalkers, protecting or helping our other cast. Venser allows us to use minus abilities from planeswalkers and reset them by flickering them. Ajani lets us add loyalty to our entire team, as well as buffing any of the tokens that were given to us by our other planeswalkers. Kiora helps us keep our planeswalkers safe by neutralizing the biggest threat each turn. In addition, Venser and Ajani both work with our token creatures in other ways, by making them unblockable with an ability of Venser or granting them vigilance just by having Ajani out.

Angrath, the Flame Chained, Ajani Unyielding, Kaya, Ghost Assassin, Dack Fayden, Domri, Anarch of Bolas and Ral, Izzet Viceroy – This is our suite of of planeswalkers that help us stay ahead on card advantage and board presence. Angrath knocks down our opponents hands, which helps keep our planeswalkers safe as well. Ajani and Ral both offer card advantage and removal, in the form of a Path to Exile and a Beacon Bolt respectively. Dack can help us better sculpt our hand with a Faithless Looting as well as being able to steal any problematic or powerful artifacts our opponents play. Domri buffs our tokens, ramps us into our more expensive cards and offers some removal with Niv on the field. Finally, we have Kaya, who can flicker our commander for another guild-draw as well as drain out our opponent’s hands and life totals.

Ashiok, Dream Render and Nahiri, the Harbinger – These are the most narrow planeswalkers we have access to, but they both offer something important. Ashiok stops our opponents from tutoring up answers to our planeswalkers, forcing them to draw answers naturally. In addition, Ashiok can wipe out all of our opponents graveyards, keeping strategies like Meren of Clan Nel Toth in check as well. Nahiri, meanwhile, offers us repeatable removal against a variety of card types while also letting us sculpt our hand better by pitching some of our draws for better cards. We can also tutor up a couple of key creatures if need be, although they won’t always win us the game like Emrakul could. Spark Double and Novablast Wurm are fine targets to tutor up.

Krakatoa!

Time Wipe, Supreme Verdict, Last One Standing, Savage Twister, Novablast Wurm, Merciless Eviction, Kaya’s Wrath, Pernicious Deed, Casualties of War, and Solar Blaze – Our best strategy to protect our planeswalkers is board wipes and a plethora of them. All of our board wipes are stuff we can get with Niv-Mizzet, which lets us keep a stockpile in our hand for when our opponents try to rebuild. Novablast Wurm is repeatable, Pernicious Deed gets all nonland, nonplaneswalker permanents, Merciless Eviction solves one of any problem we might have, Time Wipe lets us pick up Niv to let us guild-draw once more, and the rest fill out the color distribution in our decklist while still wiping the board clean.

Ancient Excavation, Treacherous Terrain, and Sylvan Reclamation – All three of these cards can be grabbed when we guild-draw off of Niv-Mizzet but have an important second use: They can be landcycled. While getting to one of each color isn’t too difficult with our landbase, getting MMNN cost cards is a bit more difficult. These let us cycle them away for a basic to play, as well as offering other utilities as well.

Reborn Hope, Obzedat’s Aid, Primeval’s Glorious Rebirth – Sometimes, our planeswalkers end up in the graveyard. It’s a fact of life, or, well, death. We do want some ways to recur our planeswalkers, which all three of these do in varying strengths. Reborn Hope lets us pick up any multicolored card while also being multicolored itself, Obzedat’s Aid lets us reanimate anyone we may have lost, and Primeval’s Glorious Rebirth gets back all of our planeswalkers to the battlefield (so long as we have at least one legend out on the battlefield.)

The Non-Guilded Among Us

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion – A planeswalker so good that even being monocolored won’t stop her from being included in a superfriends list. Her ability to make soldiers to protect herself, as well as our other planeswalkers, is a headache for opponents to get through without going wide. The problem is, going wide leads to a blowout at the cost of her second ability, a culling of the strong. Her ability to keep stronger creatures off the board makes it difficult to try to get to our planeswalkers past the tokens that several of them make. Her ultimate, of course, is a path to victory through our tokens, letting them swing in with wings as well as a double-anthem to make them larger.

Will and Rowan Kenrith – A pair of planeswalkers that can tutor for the other, they both have their uses in a superfriends style list. Will is the more obviously useful of the two, being able to turn two creatures into blocks of ice with no abilities until your next turn with his plus ability and discounting your instant, sorcery and planeswalker spells while drawing you two cards with his minus ability. His ultimate will let you copy your removal spells, which can end up with some great synergies with cards like Casualties of War or Windgrace’s Judgement. Rowan, however, seems like an odd choice at first. Her first ability sparks your opponents creatures to attack, which can be a liability if they’re still ice-blocks courtesy of Will. Her minus ability can Flamebreak your opponent’s tapped creatures,which synergizes with her first ability quite handedly. If you can get her ultimate off, however, it’s not easy to lose. Being able to copy every activated ability, like all your planeswalker abilities, is an advantage that can’t be understated.

Spark Double – This is the most Swiss-army knife card you’ve got access to. Spark Double can copy any of your planeswalkers while staying nonlegendary, meaning that whichever planeswalker you have that is most useful to you you can have a second copy of. Rather than just copying their abilities, you can choose different abilities which gives you a ton of flexibility. Sparky mimicking a Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast can give you two-thirds of a Bedevil each turn by alternating creating a defender and sacrificing it.

Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God – This is more of a spicy inclusion than an important piece of our deck, but his abilities are powerful nonetheless. The Dragon-God allows us to use any single ability of any of our (or our opponents) planeswalkers twice, by having access to them all himself. This means if you want to copy Rowan Kenrith‘s +2, or Ashiok, Dream Render‘s -1, or Sorin, Lord of Innistrad‘s -2 twice in a turn, you can! Nicol Bolas can also win you the game, if you can wipe up any legendary creatures and planeswalkers away before you use it.

Cards to Consider

Oath of Teferi – This is one of the most powerful cards you can play after developing a board of planeswalkers. Oath of Teferi can let you reset Niv-Mizzet to guild-draw or reset a planeswalker if they’re very low on loyalty. After that, however, Oath of Teferi can quickly stack up value by letting you activate your planeswalkers twice a turn. All the benefits of a Spark Double plus some extra! This will let you reach your ultimates in half the time, or work up to extra minus abilities as well.

Assemble the Legion – A win condition all in its own, Assemble will get you an army of tokens with which to either defend your army of tokens or offer you a way to end the game. Assemble works with cards like Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Domri, Anarch of Bolas, Ajani the Greathearted to make a formidible army that can threaten life totals while defending you. Each turn they need to deal with steadly more soldiers defending your planeswalkers and if they can’t get rid of it, well, they’ll be overrun.

Captain Sisay – All planeswalker cards are now legendary, making Captain Sisay a tutor for any single one of your planeswalkers. This great Captain is the best chance to draw the non-guilded planesalkers we included, as well as finding any one of the planeswalkers that could help us in the moment. The longer she’s out, the bigger crew she can call from across the multiverse.

Notable Exclusions

The biggest reason a card was excluded from this deck is to help balance the color distribution. Since Niv-Mizzet, Reborn can only get one card from each guild, we want to as evenly distribute cards between guilds as we can without crippling ourselves. So there are many cards, like Defilier of Souls, Batwing Brume, and Privleged Position that were simply cut because of better cards in their colors. The cards that are discussed below were contentious cuts, but cuts nonetheless.

Sorin, Grim Nemesis and Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain – Cards that offered card advantage were quickly cut from the final decklist when I realized just how powerful Niv-Mizzet’s draw ability was. Our challenge was almost never having cards to play, it was playing everything we had access to. They just simply weren’t their space above other cards that capitalized on our card advantage by affecting the board directly.

Fracturing Gust – Selesnya was one of the most contentious spaces, so cards needed to be cut down quite a bit here. Fracturing Gust was filling a similar role to Merciless Eviction, in being a non-creature board wipe, but my pod never had enough to warrant running this as well as Merciless Eviction, Casualties of War and Pernicious Deed. This would be a consideration if your pod is more artifact and enchantment heavy.

Bring to Light – While this can fetch any one of your boardwipes, allowing some flexibility in fetching them, the fact that it couldn’t get enchantments lowered its utility for me considerably. I opted for another win condition through Nahiri, in the form of Bioessence Hydra, a big enough beater that her ultimate can end the game for an opponent in a single swing.

Other Considerations

Your removal needs to match your pod. If your playing against less creature decks, think about adopting some counterspells like Dovin’s Veto or other two-color counterspells. Board wipes like Fracturing Gust could be better against certain decks, and you might even want to think about The Elderspell as a way to win out of nowhere with a surprise ultimate. If mass land destruction or blood moon effects are played in your group, you need to be aware and be able to play around them, since five-color decks like this fold quickly to that type of hate. You’ll find out quickly how badly you can lose to a sorcery the first time someone resolves a Wave of Vitriol or From the Ashes against you.

Parting Thoughts

Niv-Mizzet is a spell that you’ll understand how fun it is to play the first time you guild-draw off the top of your deck. Refilling your entire hand from the command zone cannot be understated and amassing planeswalkers while your opponents can’t muster creatures against you is a very empowering feeling.

So tell me, what did you think? Did I offer information you thought was helpful, raise some insights you might not have thought of, miss stuff you thought I should mention, or any other thoughts I didn’t call out? Leave a comment below to let me know, or you can haunt me directly on Twitter (@FrigglishTGhost) or spook my email (AMillionDifferentColors@Gmail.com).
Make sure you join me next week, where I’ll be talking about a Boros deck!

Until then, may the Spirit of EDH possess you with creativity.
— Literally a Ghost that Pushes Over Candles

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