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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Feb 12 2015 1:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to a landmark 50th edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  In this article I plan to look at a deck that I have been meaning to pick up for some time, Ad Nauseam.  Unfortunately a draft I had saved of this article managed to delete itself so this article might not be as in depth the second time around.  Anyway, let's take a look at a successful list:

 

DECK TECH

The Combo

Ad NauseamPhyrexian UnlifeAngel's Grace
Ad Nauseam/Phyrexian Unlife/Angel's Grace
The basic combo is to use the repeatable draw effect of Ad Nauseam to draw our whole deck and then win in a single turn.  The problem with doing that is that Ad Nauseam will cause you to lose a large amount of life for doing that, which is where Phyrexian Unlife and Angel's Grace come in.  Both Unlife and Grace prevent you from dying to the life loss of Ad Nauseam.

Phyrexian Unlife and Angel's Grace are also useful in general as ways of buying you time to put your combo together.  Unlife usually gains you at least an extra turn against aggro decks, as will a spare Angel's Grace.  The fact that these combo pieces also have utility in drawing out the game is a massive help.

Lightning StormSimian Spirit Guide
Lightning Storm/Simian Spirit Guide
Drawing your deck in itself will not win you the game.  That is where Lightning Storm comes in.  Once you have drawn your deck you exile the Simian Spirit Guides until you have enough mana to cast Lightning Storm, you then discard enough lands to make the Lightning Storm a one-shot kill.

TOP TIP: You MUST hold CTRL down when casting Lightning Storm otherwise it will simply resolve dealing 3 damage.  Holding CTRL allows you to maintain priority and so you can start discarding land cards to power it up.  This is a real pain but it's crucial to actually being able to win.

One of the big advantages of the combo is that all the components are instants so you can combo off at instant speed.  This means that you can combo in response to a Pact trigger or an Abrupt Decay on your Phyrexian Unlife or other such scenarios.  This is particularly useful against Control decks as it makes tapping their mana a whole lot more difficult.

Mana Ramp
One of the disadvantages of the deck is that the combo is rather expensive.  As such, we require mana ramp to speed things up.

Lotus Bloom
Lotus Bloom
Lotus Bloom is the big mana producer for the deck.  Turns out Black Lotus is still pretty good even when you have to wait three turns for it come into play.  Lotus Bloom generally provides you with more than enough to combo by Turn 4.

Pentad Prism
Pentad Prism
Prism is another temporary mana generator, fortunately we should only need the mana for a single turn.  Turn 2 Prism into Turn 3 exile Simian Spirit Guide, Angel's Grace, Ad Nauseam is one of the fastest starts the deck can achieve.

Draw
Obviously we need a way to dig out our combo pieces which is where our draw spells come in.

Serum VisionsSleight of Hand
Serum Visions/Sleight of Hand
The two best one-mana draw spells in Modern, at least when it comes to card selection.

Peer Through Depths
Peer Through Depths
Peer allows you to look pretty deep into your library and can find you either Ad Nauseam, Angel's Grace or failing that a draw spell to dig you that bit further into your deck.

Mystical Teachings
Mystical Teachings
Teaching is a bit on the expensive side for Modern, particularly in a deck that has very little in the way of interacting with early pressure.  However, there is certainly something to be said for being able to find the exact piece of the puzzle you need at instant speed.  Teachings gives you certainty in finding the missing Ad Nauseam or Angel's Grace you need or can even find a Pact of Negation to counter a critical spell from your opponent.
I have to say I haven't been overly impressed by Teachings but it definitely has its uses.

Pacts
Pacts are nice bit of tech in that they give you a manaless answer to a variety of problems you may face when you are looking to combo off.

Pact of Negation
Pact of Negation
Pact of Negation is the only 'free' counterspell in Modern.  It can really help protect your combo against the various ways you may be disrupted.  It's probably not as important in the main deck in a Control light environment but if you happen to be in a position where you may end up in a counter war you really want Pact of Negation.

Slaughter Pact
Slaughter Pact
Slaughter Pact is one of the few ways we can actually deal with creatures in this deck.  Pact can help buy us time by taking out their main attacker or can be used to take out problem creatures like Platinum Angel or Gaddock Teeg.

Lands

Tolaria West
Tolaria West
Tolaria West is a nice complement to our Pact package, as it is able to search up either.  It can also search up Boseiju, Who Shelters All from the sideboard in matchups where that is relevant.  Having a tutor for Pact of Negation or Slaughter Pact is really useful a variety of scenarios.

Temple of EnlightenmentTemple of Deceit
Temple of Enlightenment/Temple of Deceit
The Scry lands don't see heavy play in Modern because generally the format is just too fast and greedy for them.  However, if there is a deck that they fit nicely into it is this one.  The deck isn't doing a whole lot with its mana until it needs to combo so it can usually afford to take a land coming into play tapped for the added value of the Scry.

Sideboard
Due to the three parts to the combo - Ad Nauseam, Grace/Unlife and Ramp - the deck doesn't sideboard particularly easily.  I'm still not very confident sideboarding with the deck though I guess the ramp is the most expendable element of the deck in general, if you can afford giving your opponent the extra time.

Phyrexian UnlifePact of NegationSilencePatrician's ScornBoseiju, Who Shelters AllDamnationDrown in SorrowEchoing TruthLaboratory ManiacLeyline of SanctityThoughtseize

  • Phyrexian Unlife is actually just a generally good card against most creature-based aggro decks.  Sometimes you want the fourth copy.
  • Pact of Negation comes in against any deck that might be looking to counter your Ad Nauseam.
  • Silence plays a similar role to Pact of Negation - casting it on the turn you combo against Control means you should be able to go off without trouble.  At the very least you will bait one counterspell, which makes it a lot harder for them to disrupt you.
  • Patrician's Scorn is a nice piece of tech.  Leyline of Sanctity turns off your combo but if you have this in your deck you can cast it for free on the turn you combo once you've drawn your whole deck.  Though it is worth noting that you have to cast Angel's Grace to achieve this rather than have Unlife in play, so you may need to factor in one extra mana if you require this and don't have the Grace.
  • Boseiju, Who Shelters All is another anti-counter measure, making your Ad Nauseam uncounterable.  If you bring in your Pact of Negations then you shouldn't have to worry about your Lightning Storm once you've drawn your whole deck.  It can also be tutored up with Tolaria West.
  • Damnation and Drown in Sorrow are both sweepers for the deck.  I think I prefer Drown in Sorrow as at least it furthers your goals in giving you a Scry.  It's harder to justify cutting cards for Damnation.
  • Echoing Truth is a nice answer to most hard cards and difficult permanents, hopefully allowing you to bounce the permanent in question in time for you to combo.  Often worth having one copy in post-board just to give you an out to something unexpected.
  • Laboratory Maniac is the alternate win condition of the deck - which has the advantage of being able to win through Leyline of Sanctity.  It is however more difficult to protect and requires more mana to work.
  • Leyline of Sanctity is here to protect you from hand disruption spells, which are a real pain for the deck to deal with.  It does dilute your deck somewhat but you'll be thankful if you ever bump into 8-Rack or something similar.
  • Thoughtseize can be used to disrupt other strategies, such as opposing combo decks, or can preemptively tear a hand disruption or hate card out of the opponent's hand.

GAMEPLAY


Our first matchup is against Red Deck Wins.  This is not an easy matchup as they are obviously very fast and we need time to put things together.  That said they don't really have any way to interact with our combo so provided we can outspeed our opponent we will be fine.  Phyrexian Unlife and Angel's Grace can be used to buy valuable time to put your combo together.


This matchup is against Affinity.  This is another fast-aggro deck but at least it doesn't have burn spells, which means Angel's Grace and Phyrexian Unlife are slightly more effective than against RDW.  That said Inkmoth Nexus does give them the option of poisoning you to death, which neither Grace or Unlife can do much to help you with.


This matchup is against Abzan, the deck that looks to be the new boogeyman of the format.  The main thing to be worried about is their hand disruption spells which can really slow you down.  Obviously their large and cheap creatures are pretty scary too but provided they can't disrupt you too badly they are susceptible to the combo.

CONCLUSION
I wasn't too excited by this deck initially but the more I played it the more I liked it.  It's certainly not the most powerful but there are some cool interactions in the deck and quite a lot to learn.  The deck actually reminds me a lot of the old Hive Mind decks, which was my first Modern deck, in that it is essentially a two card combo but you need the third element of ramp due to the cost of one of your combo pieces.

The strengths of the deck lie in the fact that it is a combo deck that is entirely spell-based, which means you don't have to worry about creature removal in the same way that Splinter Twin does.  The fact that the combo can be performed at instant speed is also a nice bonus and one that makes it that much harder to disrupt.

The main weakness of the deck is that is essentially a three-card combo, you need Ad Nauseam, Angel's Grace/Phyrexian Unlife and Pentad Prism/Lotus Bloom if you want to go off quickly (not to mention hitting your land drops too).  Putting all the pieces together takes time and usually draw spells and ultimately makes the deck pretty inconsistent.  You will get your fair share of Turn 4 wins but you can also just never draw that third piece to the puzzle and lose against fairly basic opposition.  The deck also invites pressure by not having space for cards that actually deal with your opponent's threats.

Ad Nauseam is unlikely to ever be a major player but it does have a surprise factor to it and is a solid fringe deck.  I certainly enjoyed playing it and would recommend giving it a go if you like slightly wacky combo decks.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)

6 Comments

I love this deck! Saw Travis by CalmLittleBuddy at Thu, 02/12/2015 - 16:04
CalmLittleBuddy's picture
5

I love this deck! Saw Travis Woo pilot something similar a few months back and was intrigued. Drawing the entire deck always is fun. Great article and fund deck to watch!

Thanks. The deck is a lot of by olaw at Sat, 02/14/2015 - 06:59
olaw's picture

Thanks. The deck is a lot of fun, unless you don't enjoy combo decks I guess. Like I say I was big fan of the old Hive Mind deck and this reminds of it a lot. Glad you enjoyed the article.

Congrats on turnin' 50! Your by Procrastination at Thu, 02/12/2015 - 23:26
Procrastination's picture
5

Congrats on turnin' 50! Your articles are always rock solid and enjoyable. I'm happy when you talk about a decks that don't get as much attention as the known players.

Keep up the great work! Here's to the next 50!

- Gio

Thanks a lot Gio. Yeah, I do by olaw at Sat, 02/14/2015 - 06:55
olaw's picture

Thanks a lot Gio. Yeah, I do enjoy covering fringe decks. It's just a balance of finding something that is both fun and reasonably competitive.

I've got a lot more ideas for articles so I'm sure the series will continue onward.

I've lost to this deck by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 02/14/2015 - 14:52
Joe Fiorini's picture
5

I've lost to this deck before. I've also had a guy ragequit from playing slaughter games naming Ad nauseam.

Yeah, the deck is really weak by olaw at Sun, 02/15/2015 - 15:26
olaw's picture

Yeah, the deck is really weak to Slaughter Games or Surgical Extraction type effects just because there is no plan B for the deck. Take away Ad Nauseam and the deck just can't win. Pretty devastating.