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Editor's note: this article contains spoilers from the Magic storyline
Hey Readers, welcome back! It's been a while since I've done a Commander Corner article, but what better way to break the drought than writing about one of my favorite Magic characters of all-time?
I'll admit I was upset when I learned Nicol Bolas killed Niv-Mizzet, Parun because I was afraid Niv might not get any new cards in the future. Niv has always been one of my favorite characters in the Magic storyline. I even constructed a Niv-Mizzet, Parun EDH deck back in the winter and have continued upgrading it ever since. I also have had a fascination with dragons since I was a kid, so Niv being a favorite of mine shouldn't come as any surprise.
The EDH community has been mostly on a hiatus since Feather, the Redeemed was spoiled. My day-to-day news feed usually filled with EDH love has been completely overshadowed by the Mythic Edition fiasco, the new format being proposed called Oathbreaker, Modern Horizons speculation, various Magic Pro League issues and drama, and the shake-up of the Standard meta caused by War of the Spark.
I'm ready for all of the buzz to settle and refocus on my favorite eternal format, so to recalibrate myself I figured I would share some thoughts and specs based on the Niv-Mizzet Reborn EDH deck I'm brewing.
Questions to Ask Ourselves
Before speculating, I always preach asking yourself one very important question: would you play with those cards?
If the answer is a resounding yes because you brewed, play-tested, or saw a friend have success doing the same, then there is a strong likelihood you are onto something. In the case of Niv, my answer to that question ended up being a "yes". It helps that I preordered two boxes of War of the Spark and one of the mythics I pulled was Niv. It is also of equal importance to note that my wife and I welcomed a new baby boy to the world a couple of weeks ago, so despite the mostly-sleepless nights I have found reprieve in brewing EDH decks while he sleeps.
The combination of that sanctuary-esque feeling of brewing and having a physical copy of Niv-Mizzet Reborn in hand motivated me to evaluate the merits of Niv in an EDH setting, particularly as a general. It also led me to do a lot of research and find what I believe are some really strong targets for speculation purposes should we determine Niv to be popular enough to generate meaningful demand.
I have always felt I have a fairly strong pulse on the EDH scene, but like any content creator I have my misses and over-exaggerations, which I have learned are often spurred by my own clouded judgment and self-fulfilling prophecy. In this instance, I want to be extra transparent given all of the details I mentioned already:
- I am a Niv-Mizzet fan
- I love and am fascinated by dragons
- I happened to pull a copy of Niv in one of my War of the Spark booster boxes
- I am brewing more than ever as a new dad
With that in mind, let's move into the guts of my rationale for why I think A) Niv-Mizzet Reborn will be a popular general for years to come and B) why I think my specs are worth consideration.
Developing the 99
As with any EDH deck, cutting down to the final 99 with Niv-Mizzet Reborn was difficult. In fact, I am still working on final cuts two weeks after beginning my brewing journey (details on that to follow on Twitter). I struggled to determine a strategy for my Niv-Mizzet Reborn deck which only further complicated the choices in the 99.
Eventually, I decided I wanted to pursue a "legendary-creatures matter" deck that wins using an aggro strategy and which leverages Niv to consistently refill the hand. I saw an article put out by our friends at www.EDHREC.com while I was working on my own and the Niv strategy discussed by the writer there was to leverage Niv in a control/spell-wielder capacity because of the card advantage he can generate.
I don't dislike this approach, and frankly think it is probably quite effective, but my general demeanor in EDH is not to turtle but rather to strike fiercely with a more aggressive approach. I want my opponents to feel like my deck could win at any time to encourage them to play attentive Magic, and also to generate fun combat interactions I might not otherwise get by casting a lot of board wipes or cards like Counterspell and Anguished Unmaking. There is a moral to this story, though:
Important Takeaway #1
By Niv-Mizzet Reborn being a 5C commander, a dragon, and a commander who can generate consistent card advantage, he gives brewers a ton of options to pursue. That's extremely important when considering the longevity of a commander and determining whether speculating around the general is wise.
Conversely, if the general only offers a single, narrow-focused strategy or wincon, such as Prime Speaker Vannifar, the hype might be huge during spoiler season but will Snuff Out faster than the candles in the first War of the Spark teaser.
Chalk this up as a reason to consider Niv-Mizzet Reborn EDH-related specs.
Important Takeaway #2
The fact that Niv-Mizzet Reborn can enable so many different approaches and strategies makes it much tougher to focus on important specs. As a result, we have to narrow down the few cards which would be near-universal-includes. These are the cards which, no matter what strategy is chosen, are necessary to make Niv successful. As such, I contemplated this heavily and it reflects in my choices for cards to consider for Niv-Mizzet Reborn EDH purposes.
Important Takeaway #3
Niv-Mizzet Reborn has been consistently holding a top spot on the EDHREC weekly top commanders list and ranks #2 only to Feather, the Redeemed for overall weekly deck creation. This tells us that there is some non-zero demand to consider in the EDH community, and if nothing else Niv should have our attention.
Let's dive into the cards I love the most which would benefit tremendously from an increase in popularity due to Niv-Mizzet Reborn EDH decks. Note that all but one of these cards has reasonable crossover between strategies employed by Niv (i.e. would be an inclusion in the Niv deck regardless of the wincon/strategy used).
Pillar of the Paruns is all but guaranteed to show up in any deck that uses Niv-Mizzet Reborn. Much like a recent callout I made on a QS Insider Podcast (Mana Confluence), Pillar of the Paruns adds the beautiful dynamic of mana-fixing to an otherwise very complex mana base. To be successful with Niv's ETB trigger, brewers will need to be running 80%+ of their total non-land 99 as multicolored guild-pairings. This makes for a complex and expensive mana base short of running fetches and dual lands. Thus, while Pillar of the Paruns only gets brewers one land closer to mana-fixing, it will be absolute-must in any Niv deck. It will not be showing up as a reprint in Modern Horizons which only buoys its upside.
Niv has also been briefly showing up in some fun lists for Modern where he is complemented by Pillar of the Paruns as 4-of. I'm a lot less sold on Niv in Modern, but it has been mentioned in QS Discord and on Twitter as something to watch, and certainly won't hurt the upside of Pillar of the Paruns.
(Note: Mana Confluence is an equally intriguing card to watch and in full transparency, I picked up a handful of NM copies of the Mana Confluence Expedition when Niv was first spoiled).
- I like Pillar of the Paruns nonfoils at $6 (NM) if you can still find them --> I picked up four copies at this price when I first mentioned cards to consider for Niv-Mizzet Reborn in the QS Discord (a week early)
- I like foils at or under $15 (NM) but those appear to have dried up quickly --> I picked up eight NM foil copies at $12.99 when first calling specs in the QS Insider Discord for Niv last week
- Nonfoils (NM) --> $15 (and higher if you are a Direct seller on TCGPlayer); turnaround time = 1 month or less
- Foils (NM) --> $30 (with a much higher ceiling if Niv in Modern gains any traction); turnaround time = 1 month or less
Flickering Niv-Mizzet Reborn is the best way to achieve value off his ETB trigger, but recasting him is a good backup option. What better way to do that than having the first recast at a discount? Urza's Filter has always been one of those really old cards I have watched rot in my bulk rare bin with little to no love. The primary reason for that is because it makes all multicolored spells cost two less (even opponents). But, if you are casting 80%+ of your deck as a multicolored spell, that downside is more than offset.
Because it is a single-print rare from Invasion, Urza's Filter is the type of card that won't take much demand to drive prices up significantly. I believe it will be an auto-include in Niv decks even just to act as a second Sol Ring for Niv himself.
The downside case here is a reprint in Modern Horizons; if that were to happen, all bets are off on non-foils. Foils, on the other hand, could become very attractive long-term because of the "old border" premier look and feel.
- I took a gamble and purchased 16 LP non-foils for $0.79 --> I think any price sub-$1 for NM and LP is fine
- I like acquiring NM and LP foil versions for sub-$15 if you can still find them --> when I called Urza's Filter last week to QS Insiders, there were a handful of NM foils still available for $12.99 on Card Kingdom, but those have since been purchased
- Barring reprint, nonfoils (NM) --> $3 (with a good buy list play if you are quick); turnaround time = 1-3 months
- Reprint resistant foils (NM) --> $30, turnaround time = 1-3 months
I just mentioned flickering Niv-Mizzet Reborn as the best way to achieve value, so of course, one card that does just that had to make the cut, right? When I was reviewing Flicker options for my personal Niv brew several cards stood out and made the cut:
Venser, the Sojourner, Voyager Staff, Synod Sanctum, and Turn to Mist to name a few.
That said, Conjurer's Closet foils really stood out to me because of the single-print status and current supply on TCGPlayer and surrounding vendors. I believe this card could be an auto-include if you are building a Niv-Mizzet Reborn EDH deck and thus I believe it warrants a solid spot on my cards to consider list.
- Nonfoils are more expensive than you'd expect but due to the multiple prints I don't like them as a spec
- The foils are in much shorter supply likely because existing demand for flickering exists due to Roon of the Hidden Realm popularity and thus any near mint copies sub-$12 is a solid buy still --> I called Conjurer's Closet foils on QS Discord last week when you could still find NM copies sub-$10 but I suspect that price is gone
- Foils (NM) --> $20; turnaround time = 1-3 months
I had to throw one card in which I am using as a wincon in my "legends-matter" build: Heroes' Podium. To date, this card only sees fringe play in casual EDH decks like Captain Sisay and Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage. With a Niv-legends deck running around, I believe this card could have enough newfound demand to boost its foil print out of bulk status.
Heroes' Podium is interestingly one of those rare cards stuck in limbo by the $2 price requirement on TCGPlayer - if you look at buyable foil copies, the list is very short. There are hardly any vendors carrying four or more (I am actually one in full transparency). Additionally, its current bulk status (foils are available sub-$1) makes it a nice buylist play should any amount of new demand drive that price up over $2.
- Ignore nonfoils as there is too much supply and will not be enough demand to offset it
- Near mint foils thrown into your cart for $0.50 to $1 to top-off free shipping on TCGPlayer (or other vendor sites) is a nice option --> it is worth paying a small premium such as TCG Direct to guarantee the NM condition as very few of those are available (note: I have seven LP copies listed which were all originally listed as NM by other vendors)
- Foils (NM) --> $3 or a buylist out; turnaround time = 3-6 months to be safe as this one could take more than just Niv-Mizzet Reborn to push over the hump
I am a big fan of Niv-Mizzet and of dragons in general, so take all of my cards to consider with a grain-of-salt and do your own research to make sure you agree.
That said, I do believe Niv-Mizzet Reborn will be a general worth watching in EDH circles throughout the summer and into the latter part of 2019. He has consistently ranked #2 on the top weekly commanders list shown on the EDHREC home page and top 5 on the overall EDHREC commanders list. This tells me people are definitely brewing around Niv
The buzz around EDH as a whole is tame right now because of competing priorities, Standard/Modern hype, and other community news taking the spotlight. But, I believe Niv-Mizzet Reborn will continue to rise in popularity, especially when EDH circles start to focus and brew again, and I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually dethroned Feather for most popular War of the Spark general.
As always, you can catch me on the QS Insider Discord or on Twitter (@ChiStyleGaming) with reactions, commentary, or miscellaneous banter! Thanks for the read!