In keeping with his character, the latest version of Niv-Mizzet offers near limitless Commander deckbuilding opportunities:
All Niv asks is that you play a large number of exactly two color cards, spread throughout the ten guild combos, in your Commander deck. From there, Niv will do his best to put a bunch of your deck into your hand each time you summon him from the Command Zone.
When faced with so very many possibilities, it can be helpful to remember that (as Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater is so fond of saying) restrictions breed creativity. As I began thinking through restrictions that could help me build a fun-yet-unusual Niv-Mizzet Reborn deck, I almost immediately hit upon one that delighted me.
Ravnica (home of Niv-Mizzet and the guilds) is one of my favorite Magic planes. Niv-Mizzet now represents all of Ravnica in the Magic story, so why not let him do so in Commander as well?
And that’s how I hit upon building an all-Ravnica Niv-Mizzet Commander deck. If the card wasn’t printed in the Ravnica, Return to Ravnica, or Guilds of Ravnica block, you won’t see it in this deck. Instead, you’ll see a deck that boils Ravnica down to its essence – a world of guilds, gates, cooperation, and chaos.
This deck will not be competitive. In fact, it will be absolute jank. But it will allow me to play a lot of my favorite cards, from my favorite plane, and feel oh-so-good about winning on the rare occasions when I actually do so.
Let’s start by looking at the mana that Ravnica has to offer.
Gates, Shocks, and Signets (But Not Bouncelands)
The three Ravnica blocks offer a wealth of dual lands and mana-fixing, both of which are essential for a five-color Commander deck. Between the shocklands, bouncelands, and gates, a Ravnica-only Commander deck could easily play up to 30 dual lands.
The only problem is, most of those lands enter the battlefield tapped. And while a Commander deck can play SOME “comes into play tapped” lands, it can’t play 20 of them. Especially when half of those lands (the bouncelands) are actively bad in Commander.
The Ravnican gates, on the other hand, are completely serviceable dual lands. Including them not only fixes our mana, but also allows us to include one of my favorite alternate win conditions: Maze’s End.
Additionally, to give us a better chance of casting all our multi-color spells on time and ramp us toward casting Niv-Mizzet just a bit faster, we’ll also include one of each Ravnican signet, as well as Chromatic Lantern. Between the shocks, gates, and signets, we should stand a chance of being able to cast all our spells each game – which is going to be essentially if we stand even a chance of winning.
What the Guilds Have to Offer
With exactly 50 cards now accounted for, we have 50 remaining spots to spread among the ten Ravnican guilds. To maximize our chances of “going off” with Niv-Mizzet (and putting ten cards into our hand at once), we’re going to include exactly five cards from each guild.
Below, I’ve broken down each guild’s five card contribution. Each offers something a little bit different, but overall, this deck is designed to:
- Control the game via card draw, counterspells, spot removal, and board wipes.
- Resolve a “game-winning” spell like Assemble the Legion, Dovescape, Explosion, or y’know, Maze’s End.
- If all else fails, beat down with (a potentially buffed-up) Niv-Mizzet.
Azorius provides some of this deck’s best control cards, as well as a hilarious win condition:
Boros provides my favorite army-making enchantment, as well as some weirdly flexible removal spells:
Dimir draws us cards and lets us play with our opponents’ spells:
Simic provides a couple experimental cards, which I’m not entirely sure will be good:
Golgari offers removal, recursion, and a bit of filtering:
The Finished Decklist
This deck seems like absolute nonsense, and it has no chance of winning within a competitive playgroup. But if your group plays fun, on-flavor decks (or your group is just less competitive), you might want to give this weird all-Ravnica version of Niv-Mizzet Reborn a try. I’m excited to cast as many guild-centric cards as possible within a single game – and figure out what sort of weird cross-guild synergies I can find!
If you’ve got your own off-kilter Niv-Mizzet Reborn list, be sure to share it below. Otherwise, I’ll catch you back here in a couple weeks for a look at recent card templating mistakes, and how they might have happened.