Happy Thursday everyone!
After a two-week hiatus from reviewing interesting deck lists from online deck dumps, we’re back with a pretty take on 5C Niv-Mizzet in Modern. Many of the top decks in Modern right now have “stock” lists, and save for the occasional flex spot or piece of sideboard technology, are fairly similar across the board.
5C Niv-Mizzet, however, seems to be an ever-evolving archetype, that has the advantage of selecting its ancillary cards in a meta-dependent fashion. As such, the deck is not only incredibly fun to review, but it is also a great barometer for the general state of the Modern format.
Now even though 5C Niv-Mizzet doesn’t necessarily have a “stock” list, there have historically been some consistent card choices that helped leverage the powerful aspects of the deck. One of those cards was Arcum’s Astrolabe, a card which while relatively innocuous, helped the deck both find its copies of Niv-Mizzet as well as cast them and the spells that come along with the dragon.
Before we dive into the list any further, however, let’s take a look at the decklist.
5c Niv by TennTyou – 5th at Modern Super Qualifier
1 Blood Crypt
1 Breeding Pool
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
2 Marsh Flats
1 Overgrown Tomb
4 Pillar of the Paruns
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Stomping Ground
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Windswept Heath
1 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Ashiok, Dream Render
1 Fulminator Mage
1 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
1 Kaya, Orzhov Usurper
1 Knight of Autumn
1 Kunoros, Hound of Athreos
1 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
2 Mystical Dispute
2 Veil of Summer
1 Wheel of Sun and Moon
As I mentioned earlier, one of the aspects of this list that stands out most prominently is the lack of Astrolabe in the main deck. In many ways, this list harkens back to earlier versions of the deck where a mana dork was often run over Astrolabe.
Additionally, in understanding that Astrolabe’s utility in the deck goes beyond mere mana-fixing, the deck compensates for the dearth of velocity and card draw in the deck by adding a copy of Nahiri, the Harbinger and a copy of Eladamri’s Call to the list as well. These cards not only line up nicely with the deck’s fixing, but also allow for more consistent Niv-Mizzets, which is the most powerful play the deck can make.
Another interesting choice that the pilot of this deck made was departing from the now-common Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath that appears in most of the recently-successful 5C Niv-Mizzet builds online. In the creature threat slot, the pilot played one card that is somewhat familiar to Niv-Mizzet lists in Klothys, God of Destiny, and one card that is a new addition in Kess, Dissident Mage.
Klothys helps the deck leverage it’s graveyard assets more, although its interaction with Wrenn and Six can be awkward. But the two cards can also work well together in this deck. While Wrenn and Six can provide the tools necessary to play a long game, recurring lands for fixing and being efficient with spells, Klothys can help close out a game through direct damage or ramping into a large threat. So in that way, there is synergy in the presence of both cards in the deck, and given the “swingy” nature of games with 5C Niv-Mizzet, having the appropriate tools for both eventualities is key.
The inclusion of Kess, Dissident Mage is a more interesting inclusion into the 5C Niv-Mizzet deck. First, this list has a higher number of instants and sorceries than the average list, no doubt due to the copy of Kess in the main deck. Second, this card, similar to Klothys, makes Nahiri and Izzet Charm a lot better as well. Kess is an on-board threat with very respectable stats that also makes an opponent worry about graveyard threats — attacking on two axes — and that is very powerful in a deck like this one.
This deck clearly wanted to beat creature decks, which makes sense in a metagame that is being dominated in large part by Mono-Red and Lurrus Jund decks. This most likely plays into the rationale of running Supreme Verdict, as mentioned before. Kess and the many ways of finding her, like Eladamri’s Call and Niv-Mizzet, mean that the deck is effectively running two copies of the sweeper, making those creature matchups even better. In this deck, Kess really feels like it doubles the advantage of many of the critical cards you need to close out some close games
Finally, the sideboard definitely warrants a glance. It exists in a middle ground between a sideboard one would expect in a deck running Glittering Wish, and a traditional 5C Niv-Mizzet list. Ashiok, Dream Render, Veil of Summer, Mystical Dispute, and Wheel of Sun and Moon are examples of cards that are not uncommon to these decks.
One card that is interesting is the one copy of Lavinia, Azorius Renegade. Once deemed unplayable and not very relevant, this card seems like an all-star sideboard inclusion now. Not only can you find it easily through with Niv-Mizzet or Eladamri’s Call, but it also has a lot of relevant text in this meta. While it’s first ability still doesn’t do much these days, its second ability does a lot of work. It stops Lotus Blooms from Ad Nauseam, Pact of Negation and Summoner’s Pact out of Amulet Titan, various shenanigans out of Dredge, and maybe most importantly, the synergy between Lurrus and Mishra’s Bauble.
Finally, in the same theme of silver bullet creatures, I am intrigued by Kunoros, Hound of Athreos in the deck’s sideboard, not because I don’t understand why it’s there, but more because I would have expected to see larger numbers of this card across the Modern format. This is a 3/3 for three mana that very effectively limits an opponent’s ability to use their graveyard, and it just so happens to also have lifelink, menace, and vigilance. The rate on this card is insane, and it fits so well in 5C Niv-Mizzet. I expect to see more copies of this card moving forward, especially with Sram Auras picking up popularity recently.
5C Niv-Mizzet has the potential to be a top control deck in Modern, but the deck’s difficulty may keep it on the fringes of Modern. Regardless, I think if you want a very powerful deck that can always undergo further improvement and tweaking, this is the deck for you. Its versatility means it’s difficult to hate out, and none of its cards are currently deemed a ban-risk. Jump in now while the mana is good!
Thanks for reading.
Interested in a modern deck that does use a companion, but is still capable of explosive finishes after having controlled the game? Check out Andrew Eaddy’s article on Gyruda Abzan right here on Reasons Past.