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Much Abrew: Nivmagus Pacts (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we are heading to Modern for one of the crazier decks we've seen in a while: Nivmagus Pacts. The idea of the deck is to play a Nivmagus Elemental on Turn 1 (or, in the worst case, a Kiln Fiend on Turn 2), cast a ton of free pacts to pump our creature, use Tainted Strike to give our creature infect, and hopefully one-shot kill our opponent as early as Turn 2 or 3! When everything comes together, Nivmagus Pacts can be one of the fastest and scariest decks in the Modern format. The question is just how often we draw our cards in the right order because if we don't find one of our few creatures (or if that creature gets killed), Nivmagus Pacts looks like the worst deck in Modern, as we spend our turns drawing pact after pact that we can't even cast without killing ourselves on our next upkeep. Is Nivmagus Pacts consistent enough to compete in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Nivmagus Pacts (Modern) 

Discussion

  • As for the record, it was pretty brutal: we played five matches and won just one, making Nivmagus Pacts the equivalent of an underwhelming Against the Odds deck. 
  • Furthermore, as far as the combo goes, we managed to pull it off three times: once against Tron and twice against KCI Combo. 
  • The good news is that Nivmagus Pacts is incredibly powerful when we get the right draw and are in the right matchup. We won on Turn 3 a couple of times and were close to killing on Turn 2 against KCI (being just a land short). Nivmagus Pacts is the best deck in Modern in approximately two out of every 10 games.
  • The bad news is that Nivmagus Pacts looks like the worst deck in Modern during the other eight games. The biggest problem with the deck is that there's a surprising number of things that ruin our plan. Most obvious are removal (like Fatal Push or Path to Exile) and discard (like [[Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek) taking out our creature. Because we only have 12 creatures in our deck and only eight that really work with the Pact combo, if our first creature dies, it's likely that we won't find another. Blockers can also be a problem. While we have Apostle's Blessing and Ground Rift to get past our opponent's defense, if we don't happen to have one of these cards, our opponents can often chump block us into oblivion. 
  • Basically, for our combo to work, we need one of our combo creatures (Nivmagus Elemental or Kiln Fiend), one of our "can't be blocked" spells (Apostle's Blessing or Ground Rift), and a Tainted Strike to essentially double up our damage. Unfortunately, we don't really have many ways of finding these pieces, so we are mostly at the whim of the Magic gods. The deck is insane when we happen to run well and dodge an early-game removal or discard spell. The rest of the time, we mulligan to five into a handful of uncastable pacts.
  • Speaking of our pacts, Slaughter Pact is the only one that we can cast like a real Magic card on a regular basis. While we can very rarely cast Pact of the Titan without dying as well, the odds that we actually get to five lands are pretty low, considering there are only 19 in our deck. As such, the best way to think about our pacts is as additional copies of Mutagenic Growth—free spells that pump our Nivmagus Elemental or Kiln Fiend—except they come with the downside of killing us on our next turn if they resolve and we don't manage to kill our opponent.
  • As far as fixing the deck, I'm not sure it's possible. A more competitive idea would probably be to play something like UR Kiln Fiend Prowess, but then the deck wouldn't be Nivmagus Pacts. If the goal is to stay true to the name of the deck, the best option is probably to cut the budget as much as possible. A deck that does something really sweet 20% of the time but loses the other 80% of the time can work (see: Zombie Hunt) if it's cheap enough, but it's hard to justify paying $500 for a deck as lacking in consistency as Nivmagus Pacts. If I were going to play Nivmagus Pacts again, I'd probably start with an ultra-budget build that looked something like this: 

  • Is the ultra-budget build of Nivmagus Pacts going to be good? Probably not, but I'm guessing it can win on Turn 2 or 3 about 20% of the time, just like the $500 build of the deck! 
  • So, should you play Nivmagus Pacts? If you already have all of the pieces and want to do something super sweet and explosive a small percentage of the time, the build from the videos is a fine (although very inconsistent) option. If you don't already have the cards, I'd build the $60 version of the deck and treat it like Zombie Hunt—a deck you can pull out once in a while, lose a lot, and win in an awesome manner everyone once in a while. Please don't run out and buy hundreds of dollars of pacts for this deck though; even though the wins are fun, it simply isn't worth the cost.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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