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Revisiting Niv-Mizzet for Best of One

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One of the most fun things to do in Standard is untap with a Niv-Mizzet, Parun in play.

One of the most miserable things to experience in Standard is for your opponent to untap with a Niv-Mizzet, Parun in play.

There have been a lot of changes for competitive Magic in the last few months. The shifts in the game have been so profound, it almost feels like it has been a shift over years instead of months. It isn't impossible that Niv-Mizzet, Parun won't be with us in Standard through 2020, but most likely, we can expect to see the Dracogenius running around for some time.

As I've gotten into streaming a little more, I've been doing a much wider variety of formats, but most specifically, I sometimes have been dabbling with Best-of-One. As a result, I stumbled onto something I hadn't really realized:

Niv-Mizzet, Parun may be even better in a world where you aren't having to deal with Nexus of Fate.

It isn't that Niv-Mizzet isn't great against an opponent who is trying to go off with Nexus of Fate; you can even run the smallest bit of protection for the Niv, and that single Dive Down will usually put the combo opponent into the position that a single Shock or even an Opt might just take them out (though certainly two will). The stronger situation is that you're at a pretty strong advantage, and they don't get to force you to respond by way of running any number of creatures that require answers. Be it Murmuring Mystic or Biogenic Ooze, not having to deal with these cards let's you play a bit more to the strength of your own deck as a problem for your opponent.

In Best-of-One, this literally doesn't matter in the case of Nexus decks, but it does matter in any other number of matchups. Esper, for example, can come to the table with Thief of Sanity. Izzet Drakes and Izzet Phoenix can come to the table with their own Niz-Mizzet. Carnage Tyrant and Exclusion Mage are more likely to cause a headache.

Outside of the creatures, just the sheer volume of spells that can come in to manage a card like Niv-Mizzet, Parun can cut into your percentages. Cindervines might not answer a Niv, but it can mean trying to win with a deck using Niv isn't wise. Collision of Collision // Colossus is a card that only some decks can afford to place in their main, but is all the more likely to be found in sideboards, with the same to be said for Fight with Fire or extra Vraska's Contempts.

Niv-Mizzet is such a horrifying card to deal with, building for it in Best-of-One seems like a great place to be - at least until the world alters course.

In addition to being excellent in a world without as many answers, the world is also likely to be a bit simpler. More Blue, White, and Red Aggro means that more decisions can be made that keep this in mind. Blue Aggro simply cannot abide a Niv-Mizzet, Parun; Red often plans on Experimental Frenzy to tear away games, a plan that often doesn't work so well versus the Legendary Dragon. White - well, White is more difficult to crack, but not impossible.

With all of that, I found myself with the following Niv-Mizzet, Parun decks.

Temur Reclamation

Wilderness Reclamation is a horrifying card to deal with, even if there isn't a Nexus of Fate going with it. Temur Reclamation is a simple, powerful home to place a Niv-Mizzet, Parun, and in Best-of-One, you are liable to be the only deck on the block running Wilderness Reclamation.

This is a far cry from the Temur Reclamation deck I thought about before Mythic Championship Cleveland, heading back to a much more traditional build.


The most important thing I do differently with Temur Reclamation than most typical main deck-builds in Best-of-One is I add the Niv-Mizzet, Parun usually found in the sideboard, in a traditional Best-of-Three build, and I place it in the main deck. In exchange for this, I cut into my least favorite card in the deck, Chemister's Insight.

Chemister's Insight is a great card, but one of the best places to use it is the turn that you've cast a Wilderness Reclamation, and you don't have anything better to do. With Blink of an Eye taking on some of the lifting here, this is an easy cut. The other Chemister's Insight gets an axe to make room for some of the other cards that I'm looking for, like Opts and more removal.

The removal suite is a huge part of this. First of all, I love at least a single Shock in a deck running enough Niv-Mizzet, Parun. In the lead-in to my prep for Grand Prix Milwaukee, eventually I learned that having access to this could create some surprising wins almost out of nowhere; the card is nearly an analog to Shivan Fire, so I cut one to make room. Adding this to Fiery Cannonade and Blink of an Eye is an important part of having enough removal in a creature-heavy world.

One thing that ends up falling out in the mix is that fourth Sinister Sabotage. While a fine card overall, against the expected metagame, the question is which of the six counters that the deck runs gets cut; currently my answer is Sinister Sabotage over Syncopate, though I'm still considering revisiting this. By that same token, I'm also thinking about including Ionize, though this seems less correct in a deck that is hunting for Wilderness Reclamation such much more easily assemble an Explosion kill.

This deck is a blast.

My other deck is also a bit of a blast.

Izzet Drakes

I've been playing variations of this deck since last year, when Rob Castro got into the deck in the lead in to his preparation for the World Magic Cup.

Here is the most recent build:


This deck gets to run the full set of Niv-Mizzet, Parun, something that brings a special joy to my heart. Unlike the more classic builds of Drakes, this deck recognizes that what it needs to do if it is going to get away with such a choice is run Treasure Map. This lets you have the explosive Niv/Map game, and also helps smooth draws in any game that goes long.

The cost, of course, is you lose out on the faster draws that some builds of Izzet Drakes can supply, particularly those builds that are running Pteramander. I don't mind this loss given the general need to be more reactive versus the numerous categories of aggressive decks. This does mean that the cut is (unsurprisingly for many of you, I'm sure) in Crackling Drake and not Enigma Drake to find room for extra Dragons.

Negate may be a surprise for many people. It's still an experiment - one that I may end up switching around for more copies of Dive Down or Spell Pierce - but the basic concept is that the hard counter may end up being quite relevant versus Esper Control (which also is a likely deck to uptick in the Best-of-One metagame), while still being solid against even the aggressive decks. Even if you often would board Negate out in these matchups, Standard is still heavy enough in spells, Autumn Burchett's Mythic Championship take on Mono-Blue Aggro still ran a copy main.

Jeskai

You may wonder what my Best-of-One Jeskai list looks like right now, since it would be a Niv-Mizzet deck.

Well, I don't currently have one.

Finding the balance to properly fight against Esper and the aggro decks just hasn't come together for me. There are too many cards that you need to run in the Jeskai deck to be able to fight aggro properly, and without having the proactive stance that the other two decks have, it couldn't just take the reins and aggressively win a game in as many ways as the other two decks could.

If you want to tinker around with it, my most recent list is still what I ran in Cleveland, with the minor updates I wrote about in my article about that tournament.

If I run into you on Arena's Best-of-One events, I hope we end up in a Niv-Mizzet, Parun mirror! See you online!

- Adrian Sullivan

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