Your Time is Up, My Time is Now
— John Cena


Deck of The Week: Modern Ad Nauseam

Combo decks have long been a staple in the modern meta game, dating back to the format's inception many years ago. As the format grew larger and cards added became more and more powerful, so called infinite combos ran roughshod over the format, enemy number one for years being Birthing Pod/Melira combos.

With Birthing Pod banned, players have returned to combo decks that were overshadowed by Pod's ability to deal infinite damage, gain infinite life or even make infinite copies of creatures. Scapeshift has seen a resurgence in play along side another far more irritating deck to play against, this week's deck courtesy of Kriple 947, Ad Nauseam

Kriple 947's Rat Nauseam

Creatures (4)

4 Simian Spirit Guide

Instant and Sorceries (20)

4 Serum Visions

4 Peer Through Depths

2 Mystical Teachings

4 Angel's Grace

4 Ad Nauseam

2 Lightning Storm

1 Slaughter Pact

3 Pact of Negation

Enchantments (3)

3 Phyrexian Unlife

Artifacts (8)

4 Lotus Bloom

4 Pentad Prism

Land (21)

1 Island

1 Plains

1 Swamp

4 Gemstone Mine

2 Tolaria West

1 Temple of Deceit

1 Temple of Enlightenment

1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

1 Boseijo, Who Shelters All

2 Flooded Strand

2 Polluted Delta

1 Hallowed Fountain

2 Watery Grave

1 Godless Shrine

Sideboard (15)

3 Leyline of Sanctity

2 Hushwing Gryff

2 Relic of Progenitus

2 Timely Reinforcements

2 Damnation

4 Pack Rat

For those who are unfamiliar with how exactly the deck wins, A pilot will basically stall the game using Angel's Grace until he or she can play a Phyerxian Unlife. At that point a player will play Ad Nauseum to place his or her entire deck into their hand, finishing by casting a Lightning Storm for a bunch. Here's the deck's pilot with a few words as to why he feels this is the deck for him.

“The main reason why I like Ad Nauseam is the ability to 'go off' at instant speed without using any creatures. Most combo decks require using creatures as part of their win condition and creatures are susceptible to removal. Most players are unfamiliar with this deck and game 1 usually is in my favor. Game 2 is is typically a little more difficult due to the opponent being familiar with combo and after side boarding, most opponents will remove all creature hate during the sideboard because Ad Nauseam doesn't use creatures. This is where I become unique, I board in 4 pack rats. Pack rats get out of hand very quickly if left unchecked and typically my opponents simply don't have enough ways to deal with them and I can overrun them. Even if my opponent is able to deal with the pack rats typically they use up to many resources and then I can 'go off' with the traditional combo.”

Ad Nauseam works in part due to some creative bending of the rules and the likelihood that the opponent is unaware how to play around Phyerexian Unlife. Since combat damage all happens at once, a clever Ad Nauseam pilot can ride in the red zone for sometime without taking a single poison counter. Couple that with the fact that Ad Nauseam causes loss of life, and doesn't deal damage and you've got a bit of a conundrum to play around.

The deck isn't without its weaknesses though. The deck is obviously very susceptible to counter magic, although with Remand being the current counter of choice for many. Hard counters and burn spells can easily disrupt the deck's late game and post board, Pithing Needle can all but shut the deck down. Which is where Kriple's choice of Pack Rat and Hushwing Gryff comes into play.

Post board, an Ad Nauseam pilot can expect a bevy of counter spells added to disrupt the deck's combo pieces. However by putting the combo pieces on the bench and sending in a play set of Pack Rats, the deck begins to change shape a bit. Pack Rat is certainly an interesting choice, however it's success seems to largely depend on a successfully cast Damnation or an empty battlefield.

With the deck essentially running zero creatures, the choice of adding some sort of heavy hitter to the sideboard is interesting and can easily swing the composition of a game two. Is Pack Rat the best choice though? With the deck having access to all five colors, really any good, cheap creature could get the job done. However, Pack Rat's ability to replicate itself at instant speed certainly helps. Perhaps looking at cards like Siege Rhino, Geist of Saint Traft as replacements shouldn't be out of the question.

A problem with tooling combo decks are that for the combo to work, deck lists are usually copy and pasted with little room for a flair piece. The core of the deck is solid, especially with the addition of Pact of Negation (remember, this deck can win on your turn). Most of the tooling is going to take place on the sideboard.

We've already discussed Pack Rat's inclusion and Hushwing Gryff would fall under that same category as well. Timely Reinforcements is normally a blowout against Burn Decks with Leyline acting as the first line of defense against burn and hand disruption. While likely a meta decision, Relic of Progenitus can be easily slotted out for more powerful counter spells or even another creature if the pilot were to choose to go all in on the aggressive post board strategy.

If you're looking for an introduction to the world of tournament level combo decks, then may I suggest beginning your search right here. Play lands and Angel's Grace until you play Phyrexian Unlife. Cast Ad Nauseam and do it again. For those that want to make it to the next level in Magic, but don't like all the pesky interactions with another player... this is the deck for you.

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