Thanks to everyone who participated in the second community Brew Off!! Again we received over 100 deck submissions with a variety of clever ideas of how to take advantage of Near-Death Experience.

While I am picking only 1 winner, as always I hope you enjoyed participating in this fun experiment and learned something useful along the way.

Now, let’s see what people came up with!

Near-Death Experience Combos

Worship

Worship with Near-Death Experience was a commonly submitted combo, for good reason. To win with Near-Death Experience you have to leave yourself vulnerable at 1 life.

Worship solves this problem by protecting you and setting up the win.

Plunge into Darkness and Spellskite

Plunge into Darkness and Spellskite were two of the most common ways to get down to 1 life. Plunge into Darkness is a versatile instant-speed dig that can set your life total at the end of the opponent’s turn.

Spellskite is a great Modern card that hoses many decks and can adjust your life total all the way down to 1 or 2 by itself.

Both of these cards work great.

Wall of Blood and Volcano Hellion

Wall of Blood and Volcano Hellion were also commonly submitted to eat into your own life, but for the most part they are less useful than Spellskite. Both are budget options, though.

Lands

Lots of builders had the idea to drain their own life total with lands—fetchlands, shocklands, painlands, life payment lands of any kind.

I’m a big fan of this approach because you don’t need additional cards to reset your life total—that ability comes from the foundation of your deck.

Hex Parasite/Vampire Hexmage and Lost Auramancers

Hex Parasite or Vampire Hexmage + Lost Auramancers came up as a way to dig out Near-Death Experience.

However, using 2 cards and 6-8 mana to find 1 card that costs 5 mana is not value. It’s trading down on both cards and time.

This is a sweet combo but let’s save it for digging up Omniscience.

Master of Cruelties and Soul Conduit (!)

There were a lot of hilariously convoluted combinations to get yourself to 1 life submitted.

While these combos tickle the brain, competitiveness is an important consideration in picking the top deck—fast and consistent is important.

Near-Death Experience Runners-Up

It was hard to pick just one winning deck this time around with so many sweet brews submitted. It’s hard to even pick runners-up as there were at least a dozen decks that really stood out.

Let’s look at some of the best/my favorite submissions.

Most Intriguing Shell

The most intriguing shell I saw was from David Warshawksy with an Enchantress/Enduring Ideal-powered Near-Death Experience deck. I love both of these strategies and merging them into one in Modern is something I want to do.

David Warshawsky’s Near-Death Enchantress

Most Versatile Combo Deck

The overall most versatile deck was presented by Thibaud Ginoux. This deck is full of different strategies—self life loss for Death’s Shadow and Avatar of Woe beatdown, control elements in Thoughtseize and Damnation, and of course Near-Death Experience for the win.

Thibaud Ginoux

Best Control Deck

There were a few great control decks submitted, but what I consider to be the best control deck was presented by Joao Marreiros. This brew uses the obnoxious Sylvan Caryatid + Worship lock, and dedicates only Mana Confluence and Spellskite to adjust your life for the Near-Death Experience win.

I especially like Pact of Negation to force through victory on the final turn.

João Marreiros’s Until My Last Breath

Near-Death Experience Winner

There were many great brews, no perfect brews, but necessarily one winning brew.

I selected the deck that looked the most fun for me to play—this deck looks competitive, explosive, tricky, and inevitable. There are a variety of unique combos in this version and it comes together in a shell that makes sense.

Joe Lam

“Strategy:

Tree of Redemption + Mirror Entity=1 life

But before that, there are several ways to keep you alive:

Package A: Worship + Sylvan Caryatid
Package B: Tree of Redemption + Gavony Township
Package C: Tree of Redemption + Temur Sabertooth + Reveillark + Eternal Witness

The whole combo can be searched out with Genesis Hydra (with Summoner’s Pact, and reuse with Temur Sabertooth + Eternal Witness), which makes the combo uncountable.

Gaddock Teeg and Terastodon are the silver bullets which can be searched for with Pact.

The huge Hydra would be generated by Overgrown Battlement + Axebane Guardian + Nykthos.

If we named “Plant” for Cavern of Souls, the following creatures get counter protection: Sylvan Caryatid, Wall of Roots, Genesis Hydra, Mirror Entity, Tree of Redemption.

Otherwise:

I. Mirror Entity, Horizon Canopy + Brushland can make life total to 1

II. Tree of Redemption / Near-Death Experience, Reveillark + Eternal Witness + Temur Sabertooth are perfect for grindy games, Gavony Township + Mirror Entity can finish off the game.”

My only nitpick is that Genesis Hydra does not make sense in the 2-mana slot. While this technically follows requested guideline formats, Genesis Hydra belongs at the cost where it is intended to be played.

Cost sorting is merely a tool for improved idea communication, and there are times where strategically breaking this rule makes ideas clearer, and that is the case with X-spells.

Overall though, this is still my favorite submission this time around.

Again, thanks to everyone who participated making this column a success, and I’m excited to continue and grow with this new tradition!