Most good Standard decks are created based on a deckbuilding philosophy centered around maximizing the potency of certain powerful interactions that are found in everyday cards in Standard. For the Jund Sacrifice deck, that means maximizing the board and hand impact of every activation of Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar. For Jeskai Fires, that means making the best use of Fires of Invention by using all of the untapped lands that aren’t used when casting your Cavalier of Flames. Fires lets you double your mana, but why not triple it? For Simic Flash, that means maximizing the impactful plays that can be represented with untapped lands on your opponent’s turn. This philosophy of maximizing a certain powerful interaction or gameplay pattern can be found in almost every Standard deck.
Today, I’ll be going over one particular piece of interaction that I’ve been toying around with for a while. It might not be the best in Standard or the simplest to play, but it sure is fun! Introducing… 5-Color Niv-Mizzet Combo!
5-Color Infinite Mana Combo by Jonah Gaynor
4 Teferi, Time Raveler
What is this deck trying to do?
There are a few interactions and play patterns that this deck is trying to take advantage of. Firstly, there’s the 3 card combo that deals infinite damage to your opponent. Faeburrow Elder combined with High Alert produces infinite black, red, and green mana, assuming you can also get a black-red permanent into play.
Niv-Mizzet Reborn is one such black-red permanent, and firing off a Niv-Mizzet with infinite black, red, and green mana is extremely powerful. However, Faeburrow Elder and High Alert also combine with Theater of Horrors to deal infinite damage to each opponent. Theater of Horrors checks off both of the boxes that the Faeburrow Elder + High Alert combo is looking for, as it is both a black-red permanent and a way to kill the opponent if you have infinite mana.
The second interaction, and calling it that is a bit of a misnomer, is casting Niv-Mizzet Reborn on turn 3. Standard’s power level tends to be centered around turns 3, 4, and 5. However, this Standard format is a bit different, and most decks are looking to interact and play their powerful cards on later turns, or over many turns. Nissa, Who Shakes the World’s power in this format is a good indication of this. Casting Nissa before your opponent can get a foothold in the game is a very viable strategy in this format, and I believe doing the same with Niv-Mizzet Reborn can be just as effective. Casting a 6/6 flyer on turn 3 (especially in a format where removal is at an absolute premium) that draws you several cards shifts the tempo of the game in your favor, and is an extremely exciting proposition.
Teferi, Time Raveler – The three mana walker doesn’t slot into this deck perfectly, but frankly, the power level and curve could use some smoothing out, as well as some card draw that doesn’t demand massive heaps of mana. Additionally, ensuring that your opponent can’t interact with you on the turn where you’re killing them adds another angle to how this deck can attack the opponent.
Fires of Invention – This is probably the least efficient Fires of Invention deck I’ve ever seen or built, but I still believe that the powerful enchantment merits a slot. At its core, this deck is slow, vulnerable to any interaction, and ambitious mana-wise. Fires speeds the deck up, allows it to use the cards drawn by Niv-Mizzet Reborn quickly, and solves the deck’s mana issues. Yes, Fires of Invention is at its best when it’s casting two 5-drops, perhaps from M20… not Gilded Goose and Faeburrow Elder, but it does its job here as well.
Discovery // Dispersal – Fun fact: this card is not very good. We have no way of taking advantage of the graveyard and the back half of the card is basically blank cardboard. However, the deck needs something to smooth out its draws and something to do with the leftover mana that is frequently lying around because of the 12 mana-generating creatures in this deck. Additionally, if you have created infinite black, red, and green mana, Discovery gives you 3 more looks at a Theater of Horrors.
Hydroid Krasis – Krasis is a pretty important card in this deck. As previously mentioned, this deck has 12 mana-generating creatures and few meaningful payoffs. What Hydroid Krasis offers is a meaningful place to dump mana, a source of card advantage, and very threatening stats when this deck plays fair (we’ll get to that in the next section). Additionally, with infinite mana, you can Krasis to draw your entire deck, and assuming you haven’t played a land yet, find one that produces blue to activate High Alert (just remember to leave a white floating!).
Patterns of Play / Play Advice
This deck relies very heavily on Faeburrow Elder. You will frequently run into situations where you want to cast it as a 2/2 or where you’ll need to eat a food with Gilded Goose in order to cast it. In these situations, I highly recommend that you remain patient and wait for Elder to outgrow your opponent’s removal spells or play other threats until the opponent runs out of gas.
Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Faeburrow Elder, and Hydroid Krasis all combine to make a very impressive suite of large creatures, even rivaling the Jeskai Fires deck’s threats. Because of this, most games are played out in such a way to try to maximize that angle of attack, and then killing your opponent through the infinite mana combo if the initial big creatures plan doesn’t work out.
As sideboarding goes, if the matchup is going long, it’s perfectly reasonable to take out some of the mana creatures in favor of larger, more expensive cards such as Ethereal Absolution, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, and Agent of Treachery. As for the aggressive matchups, the big creatures plan takes a bit of a backseat, and we board into Prison Realm, Devout Decree, Deputy of Detention, Knight of Autumn, and Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves. The infinite mana combo is usually the way to win those matchups, so ensuring that we have enough time to find the 3 pieces is the best plan of attack.
All in all, this deck is not a world-beater, and it’s certainly not going to win you any large competitive tournaments like a SCG Open or a Grand Prix. However, it is definitely the most fun I’ve had in this current Standard format. If you want to have fun, aren’t afraid of losing, and can embrace the 260 clicks that it takes to kill your opponent from 20 life, then this is the deck for you! Go have some fun! Your cats, Nissas, and Cavaliers can wait, I promise.
Until next time,
@jonahgaynor on Twitter