Playing The New Niv-Mizzet Fairly

Bennie is excited for a few different Commander projects going on, but he wanted to tell you about something else: his joy in working with Niv-Mizzet’s third iteration!

I had a secret for a couple weeks that was finally revealed last Thursday.
The Professor from

Tolarian Community College

was given a sweet preview card for Guilds of Ravnica!

And since it was a cool legendary creature you could build a cool Commander
deck around, he contacted me to see if I could collaborate on building the
deck. Being a consummate deck brewer, I leaped at the chance. Even better
though was being able to get a peek behind the curtain on how The Professor
takes ideas and turns them into entertaining videos. In fact, it inspired
me to finally do something I’ve thought about doing for a while, and that
was starting up my own

YouTube channel

. If I was going to do it, this seemed the ideal time considering The
Professor’s huge number of subscribers.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the video, check it out! The decklist
can be found in the comments. Let me know what you think of it!

And do me a solid and

subscribe to my channel too

! Right now, I’ll be posting Top 5 cards from each of my Starcitygames.com
columns as a preview for each article, but I plan on adding other content
too. Also, I’ve gotten some cool video editing software that I’m slowly
learning, so the video quality will improve as I learn better techniques.
Here’s the video preview from last week:

Okay, on to the main event! The Dragon, the Myth, the Legend. The boss of
the Izzet, who’s so amazing he’s gotten three different incarnations.

Now, the first Niv-Mizzet very quickly got everyone’s attention in its
ability to combo-kill with cards like Curiosity. Which is fine if that’s
how you want to roll. Dracogenius was clearly printed to avoid that sort of
combo kill. Niv-Mizzet, Parun harkens back to the first version, letting
you go combo kill again. He even can’t be countered to push one of the
combo pieces through permission.

So, I’m just going to say right here-if you want to combo kill with
Niv-Mizzet, Parun and Curiosity type of cards, I have no doubt there will
be plenty of decklists out there that do just that. mine will not. Since
this Niv-Mizzet, Parun cares about instant and sorcery spells, a theme that
Wizards seems to be supporting more and more of late, it seems like a good
time to go ahead and build around that. So, let’s get brewing!

Dragons and Wizards, Oh My!

Before we dig into the meat of our theme, I want to note all versions of
Niv-Mizzet are both a Dragon and a Wizard, and there are some cards that
care about that. I decided to include the other two version as a little bit
of redundancy in case our commander Niv-Mizzet keeps getting neutralized by
our opponents. The two Dragon lands will help us cast our Dragons, and
Riptide Laboratory will bounce our Wizards back to our hand to avoid a
deadly fate.

Docent of Perfection and Adeliz, the Cinder Wind are cool in this deck
since they play nice with our instant and sorcery spells matter theme and
gives a boost to our Wizard Dragons.

Okay, now on to the main course!

Instants/Sorceries Matter

It actually surprised me how many cards there were to support and play with
the theme of instants and sorceries. So many in fact that I didn’t even
include all of them in my initial pass. If you have any questions about why
some of them didn’t make it here, please ask!

I really like cards like Docent of Perfection that turn your spells into a
battlefield presence, so I found room for Young Pyromancer, Talrand, Sky
Summoner, and Metallurgic Summonings.

It’s nice to be able to include Rowan Kenrith and Will Kenrith since both
work quite well in a spell-heavy deck.

I like Chaos Wand in general for the fun things it can do in Commander, but
I think it does even better work here since it can turn four open mana into
a relevant spell time if you don’t want to cast one yourself.

Control Spells

Now, I’m not usually all that big on counterspells in Commander. If I play
blue, I’ll have a few so that I can play hero when someone is trying to do
something totally degenerate way too early in the game, but if ever I’m
going to lean hard into a control role this sort of deck seems to be the
right time to do it. I’ve got most of the usual suspects here, and I
particularly like that Unwind and Rewind let you untap lands to keep your
options for other turns.

Direct Damage/Removal

We’ll want some other ways to control the battlefield too, including some
pinpoint removal like Pongify or even Lightning Bolt, and a sweeper like
Blasphemous Act.

Keranos, God of Storms was a late addition to the list, and while it
doesn’t necessarily fit the theme, both sides of its trigger are quite good
in this deck.

Utility Spells

More instants and sorceries for every occasion! Preordain, Ponder, and
Serum Visions are potent one-mana spells that help us smooth our draws
while triggering all the cards that like spells resolving. Fumble can help
take care of Voltron creatures, and then Polymorphist’s Jest and
Illusionist’s Gambit can handle larger assaults. I like having the red for
fun Commander staples like Wild Ricochet and Radiate.

Mana Ramp

Last but not least, some mana ramp. Curious Homunculus only ramps for
instants or sorceries, but given the theme of our deck, that’s not much of
a restriction. Plus, when it transforms into Voracious Reader it can
deliver some beat down. Or you can just sit back and be amused at having a
Voracious Reader on the battlefield.

Of all the three mana rocks, the recently reprinted (hooray!) Chromatic
Lantern seems a must-include given Niv-Mizzet, Parun’s mana cost.

Mana Geyser all by itself can provide a massive lategame rush of mana, but
it also can combine with Reiterate to generate a bunch of mana. If you’ve
got Niv-Mizzet, Parun on the battlefield, you can basically draw most of
your deck and dish out a bunch of damage, but just be careful you don’t
accidentally lose to decking yourself since Niv-Mizzet’s trigger isn’t a
may-you must draw a card whenever any player casts and instant or sorcery

Sweet deck! But wait… there are too many cards! Let’s figure out where to
make our cuts.

Let’s start by looking at our mana curve:

1 mana: 9

2 mana: 16

3 mana: 13

4 mana: 11

5 mana: 8

6 mana: 6+Commander

7+ mana/X-spells: 5

69 total cards plus 37 lands equal six cards too many. I would probably
lean towards playing playing one or two more lands, but since I’ve got
cards like Preordain and some early cantrip spells I feel fine running 38.

Six cards aren’t bad so let’s see where to make cuts.

Thinking about it, I think Niv-Mizzet, Parun himself provides us with
enough card drawing power that I imagine we won’t be hurting for not having
enough cards in our hand, so these seem like safe cuts.

We’re already running the full boat of one mana blue card selection spells,
so I think we can safely cut Impulse and Supreme Will. And as much as I
like the Snoop Dog pronunciation of Hypo-The-Sizzle, I don’t think the rate
is all that good for five mana.

Okay, we have one final cut to make. Which one would it be for you?

I know, blasphemy, right? Hey, I already mentioned I’m not exactly thrilled
to play counterspells in Commander, and I prefer to play ones that have
some additional utility attached to them. I still have a ton of control in
here, and I’m glutted at two mana even after gutting Impulse.

Here’s how the deck ended up:

Niv-Mizzet, Parun
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 09-18-2018
Magic Card Back

So, what do you think? What sort of spells matter cards that I left on the
sideline would you have found room for? Have there been any new cards from Guilds of Ravnica previewed since I wrote this up that are a slam
dunk include?

Deck Database

Below I’ve got links to decks I’ve written about going back to January
2017. If you want to read the associated article, just put “Bennie Smith”
and the commander name into the Google and it should pop right up. I’ve
written a lot about Commander – and Magic in general – so if you want to
explore further the

Starcitygames.com article archives

have my articles all the way back to January 2000!

Commander 2018

Aminatou, the Fateshifter


Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

, Lord Windgrace

Core Set 2019

Sai, Master Thopterist


Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma


Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire


Chromium, the Mutable


Grothama, All-Devouring


Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle

, Grand Warlord Radha
, Arvad the Cursed,

Muldrotha, the Grave Tide


Slimefoot, the Stowaway


Yargle, Glutton of Urborg

, Squee, the Immortal

Firesong and Sunspeaker


Jodah, Archmage Eternal

Masters 25

Hannah, Ship’s Navigator

Rivals of Ixalan

Azor, the Lawbringer

, Etali, Primal Storm

Nezahal, Primal Tide


Zacama, Primal Calamity


Tetzimoc, Primal Death


Zetalpa, Primal Dawn


Ghalta, Primal Hunger


Grusilda, Monster Masher


Dr. Julius Jumblemorph


Vona, Butcher of Magan


Tishana, Voice of Thunder


Admiral Beckett Brass


Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Commander 2017

Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith


Inalla, Archmage Ritualist


Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist


O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami


Mairsil, the Pretender


Taigam, Ojutai Master

Hour of Devastation

Razaketh, the Foulblooded

, Zur, the Enchanter
(Mummy’s Curse),

Djeru, With Eyes Open

, The Locust God, Karona, False God
(All the Deserts),Nicol Bolas, Neheb, the Eternal


Oketra the True

Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun

, Atogatog
(Cartouches & Trials),

Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons


Samut, Voice of Dissent


Rhonas the Indomitable

, Hazoret the Fervent

Kaladesh Block

Yahenni, Undying Partisan

, Nicol Bolas, Child of Alara (5
Color Energy),

Rishkar, Peema Renegade


Kari Zev, Skyship Raider


Sram, Senior Edificer

Commander 2016

Breya, Etherium Shaper


Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice


Tymna the Weaver // Ravos, Soultender

Other Commander Decks

Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

(no green creatures),

Kytheon, Hero of Akros

(Tribal Gideon)

Commander Strategy

Let’s Talk About Lands

Who Should I Attack?

Targeted Removal in Commander