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Much Abrew: Ob Nixilis's Cauldron (Modern)

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Much Abrew About Nothing! This week, we're heading to Modern to play an infamous deck from a small Japanese tournament built around one of my favorite cards from Wilds of Eldraine: Agatha's Soul Cauldron! While there are a ton of different combos for Cauldron, the one we are trying to pull off today is Agatha's Soul Cauldron with Walking Ballista and Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin. The idea is simple: play Cauldron, get a Walking Ballista in the graveyard, and then exile it to Agatha's Soul Cauldron to put a +1/+1 counter on Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin to give it Walking Ballista's ability. This means we can remove the +1/+1 counter from Ob Nixlis to ping our opponent for one, which will then trigger Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin's ability to add a +1/+1 counter to itself, letting us repeat the process to deal infinite damage! Can the plan work? Is Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin a Modern all-star now thanks to Agatha's Soul Cauldron?  Let's get to the video and find out on today's Much Abrew About Nothing!

Much Abrew: Ob Nixilis's Cauldron

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  • Record-wise, Ob Nixilis' Cauldron wasn't great. We finished 2-4 with the deck overall, including going 1-4 in a Modern league. While the combo itself felt really powerful, the rest of the deck left a lot to be desired, which is odd considering it's full of some of the most individually powerful cards in the entire Modern format.
  • Let's walk through the combo and the ways we have to set it up, and then we'll talk a bit about the rest of the deck. To go infinite, we technically need three pieces, but we have some tutors to help add consistency.
  • Step one is we need to find Agatha's Soul Cauldron. For this, we can draw it naturally, tutor it up with Beseech the Mirror, or do a weird Goblin Engineer line where we tutor Cauldron into the graveyard and then sacrifice another artifact to reanimate it.
  • Second, we need a Walking Ballista in the graveyard, which is where Goblin Engineer is at its best since it can just tutor it up directly for two mana. If we happen to draw a Walking Ballista, we can always just cast it for zero mana to get it in the graveyard.
  • Finally, we need Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin, which we can tutor up with Beseech the Mirror. Rummaging through our deck with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker can also help.
  • Assuming we assemble the combo, the main challenge is dodging removal. The combo falls apart if our opponent can kill Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin with the Agatha's Soul Cauldron trigger on the stack. As such, it's sometimes better to wait until our opponent taps down to go for the infinite combo kill.
  • Perhaps the biggest positive about the deck is that Walking Ballista is pretty absurd with Agatha's Soul Cauldron. While the infinite combo is great, even without Ob Nixilis, we can get a lot of value out of turning our other creatures into Walking Ballistas. It's especially devastating with the amass Army from Orcish Bowmasters, which grows itself with +1/+1 counters naturally as our opponent draws extra cards. 
  • The rest of the deck is essentially a who's who list of the strongest cards in Modern—Ragavan, Bowmasters, Sheoldred, The One Ring, Dauthi Voidwalker, and Fable—which oddly ended up being my least favorite part of the deck. 
  • By far the biggest problem with the deck is a lack of interaction. Yes, we have a playset of Lightning Bolt, but that's about it. While our opponents are casting Thoughtseize to rip apart our hand and killing our creatures, we're mostly left playing strong but not exactly synergistic cards each turn, which is really awkward in a combo deck. While our deck's power level is incredibly high in a vacuum, it turns out that synergy beats power, especially if you are trying to combo.
  • In some ways, this feels like a flex deck, like someone wanted to show off that they own all of the strongest and most expensive cards in Modern, so they just jammed them all together. All this is to say, while the combo was sweet, I think the deck overall would be a lot better if we dropped some of the random good cards for more interaction (Thoughtseize for sure, and maybe removal like Fury) and more ways to assemble the combo.
  • On yeah, I'm still not sure what to think of Beseech the Mirror. We had some games where it was essential to assembling our combo, letting us snag our missing piece and win the game on the spot. But it was horrible in other games, a literal Diabolic Tutor. While it seems difficult to cut altogether because we need the consistency it offers, it was pretty hit or miss in practice.
  • So, should you play Ob Nixilis's Cauldron in Modern? Not in its current form. As I mentioned before, the combo itself felt great and is worth exploring more, but I wasn't a big fan of the rest of the deck. Dropping some of the bombs for more removal and interaction would go a long way toward fixing the deck's issues.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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