Historic Five-Color Niv-Mizzet Deck Guide: Smash the Meta with Historic’s Coolest Deck

Niv-Mizzet Reborn Art by Raymond Swanland
Niv-Mizzet Reborn Art by Raymond Swanland

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be talking about one of the coolest decks that’s still quite good in Historic: 5 Color Niv Mizzet. Pioneered by Autumn Burchett, Chris Botehlo, and Arya Karamchandani, Autumn took Niv to a clean 6-0 run, facing only Izzet Phoenix opponents. With that, the deck was actually designed to destroy Phoenix and looking at the list, it’s no surprise that it did. Let’s take a look at the original list.

(H) 5 Color Niv 

Companion
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Planeswalkers (2)
2
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Creatures (5)
1
Hydroid Krasis
4
Niv-Mizzet Reborn
Spells (25)
2
Cling to Dust
3
Inquisition of Kozilek
4
Thoughtseize
4
Drown in the Loch
4
Expressive Iteration
3
Lightning Helix
4
Vanishing Verse
1
Mortality Spear
Enchantments (1)
1
Binding the Old Gods
Lands (27)
1
Breeding Pool
1
Concealed Courtyard
2
Dragonskull Summit
1
Drowned Catacomb
2
Glacial Fortress
2
Indatha Triome
1
Ketria Triome
2
Overgrown Tomb
4
Raugrin Triome
2
Rootbound Crag
2
Sacred Foundry
2
Savai Triome
1
Swamp
2
Watery Grave
2
Zagoth Triome
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Grafdigger's Cage
1
Aether Gust
1
Assassin's Trophy
2
Dovin's Veto
1
Lightning Helix
3
Deafening Clarion
1
Mystical Dispute
1
Extinction Event
2
Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring

Niv decks of the past were mostly midrange or ramp decks, but Autumn took a new approach to the rarely seen archetype. Why try to outmuscle your opponents with bug swingy spells when you can just be a Control deck? Every card in this list is either card advantage or interaction, with nothing just being a standalone threat.

I definitely enjoyed playing this deck, but there were still adjustments to be made. Autumn played this deck so she can crush Phoenix, but ladder is much more diverse than just Izzet Phoenix. With that in mind, I wanted to make a few small changes to help account for the more diverse and aggressive ladder I was seeing in Mythic. Here’s what I came up with.

(H) 5 Color Niv v2 

Companion
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Planeswalkers (2)
2
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Creatures (5)
1
Hydroid Krasis
4
Niv-Mizzet Reborn
Spells (26)
2
Inquisition of Kozilek
4
Thoughtseize
4
Drown in the Loch
4
Expressive Iteration
3
Growth Spiral
4
Lightning Helix
4
Vanishing Verse
1
Mortality Spear
Lands (27)
1
Breeding Pool
1
Concealed Courtyard
2
Dragonskull Summit
1
Drowned Catacomb
2
Glacial Fortress
2
Indatha Triome
1
Ketria Triome
2
Overgrown Tomb
4
Raugrin Triome
2
Rootbound Crag
2
Sacred Foundry
2
Savai Triome
1
Swamp
2
Watery Grave
2
Zagoth Triome
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Grafdigger's Cage
1
Aether Gust
2
Dovin's Veto
4
Deafening Clarion
1
Mystical Dispute
2
Extinction Event
2
Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring

When you think Niv-Mizzet Reborn, generally you think a deck that’s all multicolor cards, but we actually start our curve off with Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize. Having early interaction is critical for any slow deck, but it’s doubly important here as 5 Color can unsurprisingly have quite slow starts. Furthermore, the mana base was built with Black mana in mind to ensure that we’re casting these spells early and often.

The next step up is the 2 drop slot. The interaction suite is mostly the same here with Drown in the Loch, Lightning Helix, and Vanishing Verse, the only difference being the 4th Helix main. Furthermore, I shaved a Mortality Spear as although it can be 2 mana in conjunction with Hydroid Krasis, it was still rather clunky. ]We still have 4 Expressive Iteration as a source of card advantage (even though it’s a spiritual 3 drop). The main change though from the original list is the inclusion of 3 Growth Spiral. The deck performs at it’s best with a lot of mana so I wanted to add some Ramp into the deck to help make that happen.

That being said, why only 3 Growth Spiral? It’s not an exact science, but drawing multiples is pretty bad and it’s not so important that it’s a needed 4 of. Most decks in Historic right now are so fast that sometimes even playing Growth Spiral can disrupt your starts too much so I don’t want to have multiple early compared to something like Expressive Iteration which can find us a land drop and an interactive spell. Of course Spiral is the best 2 drop, but drawing it past turn 2 is not ideal.

Lastly, we have our threats suite. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a card that needs no introduction and performs extremely well in a deck with a lot of 2 mana interaction. We could easily go up to 4 considering how good it is, but we have to make room for the actual best 5 drop. Hydroid Krasis is a really nice 1 of as you only want it very late in the game and drawing multiples is generally bad unless you are extremely far into a game. Most importantly, we have Niv-Mizzet Reborn. Autumn did a great job constructing this deck as my average Nivs have been a 6/6 with an Opportunity attached. Considering how all the spells belong to different guilds (beyond the new overlap of Hydroid Krasis and Growth Spiral), Niv is poised to win the game once it comes down assuming you aren’t already dead.

This deck does look a little bit gimmicky, but resolve your first Niv-Mizzet and you’ll quickly learn why this is quite the competitive option.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Vanishing Verse Art by Chris Seaman
Vanishing Verse Art by Chris Seaman

IZZET PHOENIX

INOUT
+2 Grafdigger’s Cage-1 Inquisition of Kozilek
+1 Aether Gust-3 Growth Spiral
+1 Mystical Dispute-2 Thoughtseize
+2 Extinction Event

This is what the deck was designed to beat so we have a pretty good plan for Phoenix. You really want all your cards to be high impact which this sideboard configuration does allow. It is a shame as none of the cards we’re cutting are bad per se, but I believe they are the worst cards in this matchup which forces our hand. The main concern coming from Phoenix is they establish pressure and hold up a counterspell, so although hand disruption generally isn’t good against Phoenix, having ways to strip them of their counterspell is very important. Keep their threats under control and you’ll be able to win with any of your big threats.

AURAS

INOUT
+2 Extinction Event-1 Hydroid Krasis
-1 Expressive Iteration

This matchup is generally pretty good for us as they need a creature to live and we’re just a pile of removal, but their fast starts can be very hard to beat. With that in mind, keeping a hand that can interact early is pivotal to winning so if you’re on the draw and you have a good hand of lands, Growth spiral, and threats, you can’t really keep that in good faith. Most players are opting for the Azorius version of Auras over Orzhov right now which makes the Thoughtseize effects significantly more effective than normal.

TEMUR KOMA

INOUT
+1 Aether Gust-4 Lightning Helix
+2 Dovin’s Veto-2 Vanishing Verse
+1 Mystical Dispute
+2 Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage

Although this deck is mostly interaction which presumably would be good against a Combo deck, I believe this is unfavored. They play very well on the instant speed axis with Commence the Endgame and Shark Typhoon which is a luxury we don’t have. Furthermore, if you’re tapped out and they combo, that can be very hard to deal with. My best advice is to try and always leave some interaction up as tapping out is a recipe for disaster. 

JESKAI CONTROL

INOUT
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage-2 Lightning Helix
+2 Dovin’s Veto-4 Vanishing Verse
+1 Mystical Dispute
+2 Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage

I haven’t faced this much recently, but I believe it’s relatively even. We have a lot of interaction and powerful threats, but Jeskai does the exact same thing. We have Niv-Mizzet Reborn to give us insane value, and they have Magma Opus in conjunction with Torrential Gearhulk and Mizzix’s Mastery. Make sure to hold your Discard spells until they can start deploying scary threats like Teferi or Gearhulk so you aren’t caught flat footed. Furthermore, be careful when tapping out as a Gearhulk into Magma Opus can wildly swing the game into Jeskai’s favor.

GRUUL AGGRO

INOUT
+1 Aether Gust-4 Thoughtseize
+4 Deafening Clarion-3 Expressive Iteration
+2 Extinction Event

Normally I have Selesnya Company in this slot, but I’ve seen functionally zero Selesnya and a boat load of Gruul, so here it is. Obviously, the matchup is going to come down to if they can run you over versus if you can hold them off. With that, the matchup is unfortunately very play/draw dependent as you can generally edge them out on the play, but you can get easily run over on the draw. Don’t keep slow hands and try to have at least one Lightning Helix and/or Deafening Clarion in your opener.

MONO BLACK AGGRO 

INOUT
+4 Deafening Clarion-4 Thoughtseize
+2 Extinction Event-2 Expressive Iteration

A similar plan to a similar matchup. The nice part about Monoblack vs Gruul is that they are significantly slower so they will naturally give you more time. Furthermore, your Niv-Mizzets are super busted since if they don’t Thoughtseize them, you’re likely to get anywhere from a 4-6 for 1. That being said, they’re still a fast deck with disruption so I wouldn’t say this matchup is necessarily good, but it’s certainly manageable.

MIRROR

INOUT
+2 Dovin’s Veto-4 Vanishing Verse
+1 Mystical Dispute
+1 Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage

There’s not much to say about the mirror except good luck. This matchup will entirely come down to who draws Niv first as neither party has great answers to it beyond Thoughtseize or Drown in the Loch. Opt for land and threat dense hands as your answers are much less good than they are in most other matchups.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Hydroid Krasis Art by Jason Felix
Hydroid Krasis Art by Jason Felix
  • Expressive Iteration is a functional 3 drop, but if you don’t have the time to cast it then, using it on turn 2 as an Anticipate is fine as well. Furthermore, try to save a Black land in your hand or on board when casting Iteration as hitting a discard spell is very common.
  • Although Drown in the Loch gets better as the game goes on, don’t be afraid to fire it off early if you’re struggling to get cards in the opponent’s graveyard. The worst thing that can happen is you can’t use it on a threat you need when you could’ve saved a lot of life by using it earlier.
  • You want to cast Hydroid Krasis for as much mana as possible, but casting it for x=2 before landing a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or Niv-Mizzet Reborn is a very good use of it as well. Additionally, you don’t have to spend all your mana on Krasis like you normally do. Consider leaving one mana open for the potential Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek.
  • In most decks you want to Growth Spiral as early as possible, however, waiting until you can cast it and interaction is also a great use of it, especially if you’re facing an aggressive deck.
  • Try to avoid minusing with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria as this deck is really good at having universal 2 mana answers, the perfect compliment to Teferi.
  • Sequencing your lands correctly is more important in this deck than it is in most others. Always start with your Triomes as you’re rarely be cycling them, then map out your curve from there, figuring out if you need to deploy Shocklands tapped and such. Checklands are your best lands, so make sure you save them for the right turn.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

6 Responses

  1. Deneuve says:

    I use two K-command, I think is superb.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Very reasonable! The card is very powerful, is an early play, and would be the lone Rakdos card which makes it better with Niv as well. My only gripe is that the Raise Dead mode won’t get much use, but you never know.

  2. Dasein says:

    I’m sure your sideboard plan for the mirror meant to sideboard out Vanishing Verse…