We’ve received a fair few requests to play Niv-Mizzet Reborn recently, which came as something of a surprise due to the Arena Boys’ reputation for playing streamlined, powerful, and extremely competitive decks. Still, if the people want bread and circuses, that’s what we’re here to deliver. Never let it be said that the Arena Boys are out of touch.
We had a few lists submitted from alert viewers, but it was the list we received from Jan Grinsdoof that really piqued our interest. His approach included a list brimming with one-for-one removal and other excellent value cards, all of them 2-color. Our favorite thing, however, was the mana base—one of each shock and checkland, and six 5-color lands. A work of art.
Leaning into the one-of theme, we cut every single nonland card down to just one copy with the exception of Chromatic Lantern and the marquee card itself, Niv-Mizzet Reborn. This resulted in the marvelous monstrosity we brought to bear in this week’s video!
1 Dragonskull Summit 1 Rootbound Crag 1 Watery Grave 2 Rupture Spire 1 Woodland Cemetery 1 Glacial Fortress 1 Isolated Chapel 1 Clifftop Retreat 4 Gateway Plaza 1 Steam Vents 1 Sacred Foundry 1 Overgrown Tomb 1 Sulfur Falls 1 Blood Crypt 1 Hinterland Harbor 1 Temple Garden 1 Hallowed Fountain 1 Stomping Ground 1 Drowned Catacomb 1 Breeding Pool 1 Godless Shrine 1 Sunpetal Grove 1 Knight of Autumn 1 Hostage Taker 1 Ravager Wurm 1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves 4 Niv-Mizzet Reborn 1 Deputy of Detention 1 Hydroid Krasis 1 Niv-Mizzet, Parun 1 Regisaur Alpha 1 Despark 1 Angrath's Rampage 1 Assassin's Trophy 1 Deafening Clarion 1 Mortify 4 Chromatic Lantern 1 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Oath of Kaya 1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained 1 Find/Finality 1 Solar Blaze 1 Justice Strike 1 Discovery/Dispersal 1 Warrant/Warden 1 Bedevil 1 Ionize 1 Enter the God-Eternals 1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales 1 Vraska, Golgari Queen
I’ll preface this section by saying that while we usually make an earnest attempt to make the deck the best it can be while still doing the “thing” we want to do (last week’s deck is a good example of this), we completely went off the rails this time around. This list is rough, raw, and severely sub-optimal.
Instead of going for a tight 60 that combines making the best of Niv-Mizzet’s ability while still retaining as much competitive viability as possible, we instead built this deck with two wildly different guiding principles: we wanted to draw as many cards as possible with Niv-Mizzet, and we only wanted to play one-ofs.
This meant scouring through lists of 2-color cards in every guild and spreading out our choices across all of them as evenly as possible. As can be seen in the list, we have either three or four cards from each guild, and when it came to some guilds (particularly the green ones), we were really reaching.
Ultimately, however, the focus we decided on was to include as much removal as possible. As Toffel mentions in the video, deploying one-for-one removal, then playing a 6/6 that draws you three or more cards, isn’t such a bad game plan! To that end, we played all the top-tier gold removal such as Bedevil, Deafening Clarion, and Enter the God-Eternals.
Almost every card in the deck will guarantee a one-for-one trade, and many of them do better than that. Hostage Taker, Ravager Wurm, and Niv-Mizzet, Parun generally generate a lot of value pretty readily. Additionally, the abundance of planeswalkers, such as Angrath, the Flame-Chained, Teferi, Time Raveler, and Vraska, Golgari Queen are all ready to keep the engine ticking while diversifying your threats against slower decks.
Finally, Chromatic Lantern is an absolute all-star in this list. Not only does it ramp you from three to the all-important five, it allows you to play Niv-Mizzet, Parun and Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves in the same deck!
Control decks typically look to draw out the game, answering opponents’ questions before pulling ahead on card advantage and transitioning towards a win condition to lock things up. The best-case scenario for control decks is when their engine cards also happen to be their win conditions (for example, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria), and Niv-Mizzet Reborn fits that particular bill extremely well.
Put simply, all this deck seeks to do is empty out its hand in the early turns, play lands, ramp with Chromatic Lantern, and manage the board. With plenty of cheap removal, this is usually pretty achievable. Quite surprisingly, the deck doesn’t often run into mana issues. Having 26 lands—six of which produce 5 colors—plus a playset of Chromatic Lanterns means you can usually cast your spells.
Obviously there’s a lack of 2-drops in this deck, and that’s partly due to the fact that there’s not a lot of excellent 2-drop removal. The six 5-color lands are also secret 2-drops. Often you’ll open a game with a tapped dual into a Gateway Plaza or Rupture Spire, and in this way your 2-drop slot kind of has six extra cards in it. Keep this in mind when planning out your early turns.
Despite the huge number of one-ofs, this deck is relatively consistent. Ideally, cards such as Oath of Kaya, Mortify, Ionize, and Bedevil all allow you to use your third turn to effectively neutralize a threat, despite all being different cards. This almost-Highlander deck still offers a weirdly streamlined game plan.
A lot of the time, your Niv-Mizzet will die the turn it’s played, as your opponent will often have otherwise dead removal. This is fine. As long as it draws you a stack of cards, you’re laughing. One downside of Niv-Mizzet is that it never draws you lands, which is a little awkward when you’re looking to empty out a newly-clogged hand. That’s the other thing—you’ll regularly have to discard to hand size after casting Niv-Mizzet. If possible, sandbag it until your hand is getting empty.
Given that this deck is more of a concept than a fiercely tuned killing machine, there’s no suggested deck list this week. There are simply too many different ways you can choose to build it. We chose to pursue the one-of approach, but you absolutely do not have to do this—pick your favorite gold cards and slam them in as four-ofs, if you like. Just keep in mind that an even-ish spread across all ten guilds gives you the best chance to draw a million cards off your Niv-Mizzets.
I think the core concept of the deck, however, is a strong one. Playing good removal before refilling your hand while also getting an undercosted beater online sounds like a pretty excellent plan A, and the plan B of relying on good-quality top-end like Hydroid Krasis and Niv-Mizzet, Parun will still get you across the line.
Remember, however, that at the end of the day this deck’s primary goal isn’t to win games of Magic, but rather to do cool things and have fun. The wins are nice, of course, but the real joy is the thrill of flipping your top ten and wondering just how many you’re going to get this time!
Next week, we’ve got a spicy combo deck to test out. Demonlord Belzenlok hasn’t gotten a lot of love in Standard, but we’re looking change that. See you then!