Ever since the release of Ravnica: City of Guilds, Niv-Mizzet Reborn has been one of my favorite characters in the multiverse. I mean, who doesn’t love a temperamental draconic genius, right? He was an obvious choice as my go-to commander for the Brawl Hub League.
Now, most people will default to Niv-Mizzet, Parun, and I don’t blame them. The card is a control player’s dream, but I find the “draw-go’ style of play really boring. What I do love is playing big flashy bombs every turn. I love having access to the best gold multicolor spells in Historic Brawl. I love having card advantage just by casting my commander. I adore Niv-Mizzet Reborn, and by the end of this guide, I hope you do, too!
About this Guide
MTG Arena Zone is expanding deeper into Historic Brawl content, and we will be supporting the community! We will be working with the Brawl Hub community and sponsoring their weekly leagues and tournaments for competitive Historic Brawl.
Each week, we will invite the player who went 3-0 in the league to guest and showcase the Historic Brawl deck that they used here. Enjoy the experience and refining that each player brings to the deck!
For more information, join the community and secure your spot in the league and tournament. We’ll post the relevant links below:
Niv-Mizzet Reborn is the definition of “value.” Once he hits the battlefield, he’s going to net you up to ten cards. The general idea of the deck is to ramp, play as many threats as possible, and refill our hand with Niv as often as possible. Which threats we value, and how we play the game will largely depend on the matchup, but “attack with 6/6 dragon and play good stuff” is the name of the game here.
- Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger
Uro, Titans of Nature's Wrath
In a deck full of cheap ramp and removal spells, the Titan Twins are amazing. In control matchups, Kroxa serves as a hard to remove threat that starves your opponent of resources. In contrast, Uro shrines in aggressive matchups. The lifegain and card advantage can be crucial to help you survive long enough to close out the game with your other bombs.
- Tasha, Unholy Archmage
- Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
- Kaya the Inexorable
- Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
- Chandra, Awakened Inferno
- Vraska, Relic Seeker
Niv-Mizzet Reborn wins by building as much value as possible, so we want our win conditions to have as much utility as possible. Teferi is an obvious choice because he wins games by himself. Ashiok and Vraska serve as both removal and threat generators. Kaya can take out any threat on the battlefield and gives us away to recur out non-titan bombs through her spirit counters and her ultimate. Tasha is good against both aggressive decks and control decks. Most control decks in Historic Brawl only run a few creatures, so Tasha’s ultimate can win games by itself.
Chandra might seem like an odd choice because Niv can’t grab her out of your deck, but she’s included in my 99 for two reasons. First, her -3 can be game winning against aggressive commanders. Second, she’s uncounterable. Since we are disregarding countermagic for the most part, we want to prioritize threats that disregard our opponent’s interaction entirely.
- Klothys, God of Destiny
- Yasharn, Implacable Earth
- Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
- Orcus, Prince of Undeath
- Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
- Koma, Cosmos Serpent
Just like our planeswalkers, we want to squeeze out as much value out of our creatures as possible.
Klothys is graveyard hate stuck to a sizeable body. She provides mana acceleration, and her damage is nothing to scoff at. I’ve won several games because Klothys spent every turn casting Shock.
Golos… Well, I’m going to be honest. Golos is here to grab The World Tree and that’s about it. He doesn’t usually survive long enough to do anything else, but that’s okay. If Golos eats a removal spell while fixing our mana, he’s done his job. If we do get to untap with him, the game is usually over soon after.
Bolas and Koma are our threats against control matchups. We can’t grab Bolas with Niv, but Bolas’s ETB trigger and the looming threat of his activated ability more than make up for it.
Orcus is a new addition, and I’m not sure how good he is, but I like him in theory. He wipes the board, and can grab Niv out of the graveyard to avoid the command zone tax.
Ramp and Manabase
At its heart, this deck is a Golgari midrange deck that splashes the rest of the MTG color pie. Your early game should be focused on using your mana dorks, mana rocks and ramp spells to develop your mana base for dropping Niv as soon as possible. Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea is the best mana dork we have since it allows Niv to come down on turn four. If you have Kroxa to follow up that’s even better!
Barring three exceptions, every piece of removal can be grabbed off of Niv’s ETB trigger. In a format like Historic Brawl, you want to squeeze as much value as you can out of your cards, and you’re never sure what kind of threats your opponents will have, so our removal spread tries to cover all the bases. Even though Niv can’t put them into your hand, cards like Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, and Farewell are just too good to pass up.
The reborn Firemind isn’t interested in winning a counter war. When you have Nicol Bolas threatening to take over your home, you don’t have time to waste on holding up mana to counter something. What we do have are cards like Duress, Inquisition of Kozilek, Mind Spike, Thoughtseize, and Thought Erasure to rip our opponent’s hand apart to make sure our threats resolve. They also can take out key combo pieces like Paradox Engine.
Even though our general gameplan is to tap out each turn to ramp or play threats, some counterspells like Dovin's Veto, Wash Away, and Bind to Secrecy are too good to pass up. Countering an early commander like Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy with Wash Away or making sure a Emergent Ultimatum gets vetoed is crucial.
Now Historic Brawl’s (enigmatic) matchmaking system means that we’re going to go up against commanders with “similar power levels.” In this section, I’m going to cover the ones I see the most.
Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy
Early removal is key in this matchup. Try to mulligan for cheap removal and ramp spells. If you can send Kinnan back to the command zone a few times, it’s easy to win off of Niv’s ETB trigger.
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
In general, this matchup is pretty easy. We have enough removal to make sure our opponent never untaps with Golos. Just be sure to hold up a counterspell if they try and hard cast Emergent Ultimatum.
Esika, God of the Tree
This matchup is similar to Golos. You want to prioritize removal that can destroy or exile Prismatic Bridge before your opponent’s upkeep.
Baral, Chief of Compliance and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
These are probably our worst matchups. It’s hard to win the game with value if our value engine never resolves. Here, we want to mulligan for our discard package and any uncounterable threat. Just try not to walk into getting our ramp spells countered by things like Jwari Disruption. In the Baral matchup, it’s very hard for them to win if Koma resolves, but don’t get cocky. They can steal it with Mass Manipulation or Invoke the Winds, so make sure you have Dovin's Veto up just in case.
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
This matchup can be rough if the opponent can resolve multiple planeswalkers since we have no way of removing them. If you’re seeing a lot of Bolas, bringing in a card like The Elderspell might be worth it.
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
In this matchup, you have to work fast, or your opponent will just combo you to death. Sticking an early titan or walker is crucial. Cards like Cindervines and Klothys can also apply early pressure. Use Assemble the Team to dig for Farewell.
In the mirror, the player who resolves Niv more will usually win, so prioritize your own ramp spells and any removal that can hit Niv. Just remember that Maelstrom Pulse will destroy your Niv, too!
Niv-Mizzet Reborn is a blast to play. It plays some of the flashiest cards in Arena, and it can adapt to any commander. It does have mana issues from time to time. That’s inevitable when playing a five color commander, but the Triomes, Shocklands, and Checklands provide a solid foundation for all of our multicolored shenanigans. Thanks for reading through my guide! Have fun brawling, and I hope to see you on the ladder!