Ob Nixilis, the Adversary Art by Igor Kieryluk

Standard Jund and Grixis Ob Nixilis Deck Guide: How Good is the Adversary?

Hello fellow gamers. Today I am here to tell you with your first four Wildcards you spend on Streets of New Capenna, you might want to consider acquiring Ob Nixilis, the Adversary.

  1. Jund (Riveteers)
  2. Grixis (Maestros)

If you followed popular streamers CovertGoBlue and Crokeyz during the Early Access Streamer Event, you will know they were soon wise to the fact that this card’s power level is off the charts. Parallels have been quickly drawn between this Planeswalker and Oko, Thief of Crowns from Throne of Eldraine. For just three mana, both are quite durable, can defend themselves and will quickly take over the game if left unchecked.

If I am being honest, I did not personally evaluate this card correctly. I do not think it’s as good as Oko, Thief of Crowns but having gotten a chance to play it, I do think it is very powerful.

Early on, I heard chatter about how this would be fun in Historic because of a sequence such as turn 1 Llanowar Elves, turn 2 Rotting Regisaur, turn 3 Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, sacrifice Rotting Regisaur and go ultimate with Ob Nixilis’s copy.

That all sounds fun in theory but what is your plan after drawing 7 cards for 7 life? Truth be told, Ob Nixilis generally ends the game via its +1 ability (life drain or discard) with a couple devil tokens thrown in if needed. The game will be over long before the ultimate becomes relevant.

There are a few other things working in Ob Nixilis’s favor including its multicolored nature, which allows it to dodge common removal card Vanishing Verse. Not that spot of removal is that good anyway since it only takes out one copy Ob Nixilis. In addition, Rakdos (Red and Black) seems to have a very strong supporting cast at the moment with usual suspects such as Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Invoke Despair coming along for the ride.

There seems to be two dominate forms of this deck at the moment, Jund (Riveteers) and Grixis (Maestros). Personally, I like the Jund version better. Jund offers Esika's Chariot (which can copy token versions of Ob Nixilis) as well as Riveteers Charm and other new-comer Black Market Tycoon.

Grixis, on the other hand, offers Kaito Shizuki, but this ninja competes with Ob Nixilis in the three-drop Planeswalker spot. There is also Expressive Iteration and a few other goodies that might appeal to blue mages. Overall, I gravitate towards the Jund list, but we are going to show you examples of both in this article.


Jund (Riveteers) Ob Nixilis

Riveteers Charm Art by Steve Argyle
Riveteers Charm Art by Steve Argyle

Let’s take a look at a Jund version first:

Riveteers Ob Nixilis Midrange
by Josh
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
10 mythic
39 rare
8 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Creatures (10)
Instants (4)
1
Infernal Grasp
$0.79
3
Riveteers Charm
$0.87
Sorceries (7)
4
Invoke Despair
$1.96
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (7)
Lands (24)
1
Forest
$0.25
1
Mountain
$0.25
1
Swamp
$0.25
3
Darkbore Pathway
$26.97
4
Haunted Ridge
$63.96
2
Deathcap Glade
$19.98
60 Cards
$716.9
Sideboard
1
Infernal Grasp
$0.79
2
Power Word Kill
$0.50
1
Riveteers Charm
$0.29
3
Duress
$0.75
2
Culling Ritual
$8.98
14 Cards
$57.66

The Plan

As you can see, our curve topper is Invoke Despair, but most of the deck is low to the ground putting it thoroughly in the midrange category. Like most midrange decks, it’s important to know your role; are you the aggressor or are you controlling the tempo? Both are valid options and knowing when to pivot from one to the other will lead you to a lot of victories.

Early on we want to exert pressure or ramp with our assortment of two-drop creatures. The best opening hand on the play would be Tenacious Underdog, three lands, and Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, and pretty much any other cards. Hopefully, by turn three, we get to swing in with the Tenacious Underdog, use the Causality mechanic post-combat, and create two copies of Ob Nixilis, the Adversary. Depending on the opponent’s current board state it is likely going to be an uphill battle to recover from this.

Generally, you want to value the token version of Ob Nixilis higher than the original as you can have multiple token copies (since they are non-legendary). Creating a devil with the original and then immediately using the +1 ability on the copy is normally the best line of play to take. Remember, Ob Nixilis needs a devil in play to get full value from the +1 ability.

Not every game will go down this way, but fear not, this deck is chock-full of value-added creatures and efficient removal to fill in for plan B. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is just a solid card on its own. Coupled with Black Market Tycoon, our deck can ramp surprisingly fast by generating a lot of easy treasure tokens. This allows us to cast an Esika's Chariot on turn three or an accelerated Invoke Despair. Even casting Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter is not out of the question and happens far sooner than you would think.

Card Choices

I am going to breakdown the new cards from the Streets of New Capenna and even touch upon a few cards from older sets that I think have become more relevant due to this injection of new cards.

First, Riveteers Charm has been a solid addition. Soul Shatter was already considered a playable card; if you are in Jund colors, Riveteers Charm is strictly better. When I am not blowing up their best threat, I equally enjoy using the exile-three-cards mechanic offered by this charm. Having the option for either, depending on the state of the game, is really powerful. I want to call out that there seems to be a bug with this card right now in Arena. When cast during your turn, it actually gives you two turns to use these cards much like Light Up the Stage does. I am assuming this will be corrected eventually, but in the meantime it’s actually a good play to use this on your main phase instead of your opponent’s end step until this addressed.

The exile graveyard ability on the charm has not come up much, but it’s nice to know it’s there if we see more graveyard-centric decks. In fact, during the early access event I saw that some folks’ response to the proliferation of Ob Nixilis decks was to build reanimator. Thus, the thing that this pesky Planeswalker made them discard was fuel for their reanimation later.

Next is Black Market Tycoon, this card is really interesting. It’s a little tricky to navigate because two-damage per treasure can quickly add up. Let’s just say you are not going to be stockpiling treasure because of this. That said, a few self-inflicted wounds are a small price to pay to get your cards deployed in a hurry. Not to mention, Ob Nixilis’s life drain can go a long way to offset this damage.

I also want to spend a moment to talk about Burn Down the House. This card is here in the sideboard as the mirror-busting tech. It is one of the best ways to recover from your opponent’s own Ob Nixilis shenanigans. Incidentally, it can help clear up a super friend’s type deck with a plethora of Planeswalkers and small bodies.

We already talked at length about Ob Nixilis and the interaction between it and Esika's Chariot. Having three plus copies of Ob Nixilis can be a pretty tough pill to swallow for most decks. Not to mention, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker provides two other copying targets for the Chariot: the treasure goblin plus the treasure tokens it generates.

Tenacious Underdog has been a really solid card as well. We talked about how it’s the ideal fodder for Ob Nixilis. It is also an excellent value in its own right. You are able to recur this constantly from your graveyard and draw a card, which ensures your deck rarely runs out of gas. It can also snipe an unprotected Planeswalker due to its haste ability.

Notable Exclusions

I wanted to cover a few cards that did not make the cut for whatever reason.

Goldhound is an interesting card. On the surface it seems to have a lot of text for a one-drop. I do think there is a place for this card in other decks. The main reason I cut it was because of the negative interaction it had with Black Market Tycoon (since this hound itself is a treasure).

I am on the fence about Strangle. It does seem like yet another fair imitation of Lightning Bolt in a long line of imitations. Kudos to this card’s efficiency. I think the lack of instant speed is what really sinks this for me.

Not being able to hit Hive of the Eye Tyrant and Den of the Bugbear is a pretty big deal in this current meta. We will look at a list by Crokeyz later where he is much higher on this card than me so make your own call about it.

Graveyard Trespasser may yet sneak back into my deck, but for now I am giving this werewolf a well-deserved rest to try out Riveteers Charm in its place.

Flame-Blessed Bolt does not have enough relevant targets to interest me, and without Bloodthirsty Adversary to recur this card, I am even less interested. Let’s see how popular Tenacious Underdog becomes.

Bloodthirsty Adversary is definitely a card worth considering, but it would have to change the makeup of the deck significantly as we are somewhat more creature-focused at the moment. I think this vampire is simply a victim of not being able to squeeze enough relevant targets into our 60 cards.

Abrade is certainly good against Oni-Cult Anvil and while Anvil decks are still out there, they do seem slightly less prevalent than before. Abrade also does not hit Planeswalkers which is significant. Lastly, since we are playing green, Culling Ritual seems to fill this spot better.

Prosperous Innkeeper has been replaced by Black Market Tycoon. As mentioned above, both can enable a turn three Esika's Chariot. The difference is the Tycoon can continue to produce treasure while the Innkeeper is a bit of a one-trick pony (ok, two-trick pony if we count its passive life gain ability). The larger body on the Tycoon also gives it the edge in my estimation.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Mono Green

The first game likely favors you as your creatures are not that much smaller and you have more staying power. Don’t be afraid to cast Valki, God of Lies on turn two in hopes of snagging an Old-Growth Troll from their hand.

In game two, you have to be aware of Snakeskin Veil as this will make you want to take advantage their tapped-out state to remove threats. If it goes to a game three, and you are on the play, you might want to consider putting copies of Invoke Despair back in as Ranger Class is their best form of card advantage.

InOut
+2 Power Word Kill-3 Invoke Despair
+1 Culling Ritual-2 The Meathook Massacre
+1 Valki, God of lies 
+1 Burn Down the House 

Mono White Taxes

Obviously, cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Reidane, God of the Worthy are prime targets for removal. Landing an early Esika's Chariot will go a long way to stabilizing and Black Market Tycoon should help you power past some of the tax effects of this deck. Play defensively and hope for a decisive casting of The Meathook Massacre.

InOut
+2 Power Word Kill-4 Invoke Despair
+1 Infernal Grasp 
+1 Culling Ritual 

Red Based Aggro

This matchup is about persevering life total and trading creatures when offered. As in so many matchups, The Meathook Massacre will be huge in stabilizing and getting your life total out of the danger zone. Post sideboard, you hope to clog up the lanes with additional Planeswalker support and attempt to grind them out.

InOut
+2 Power Word Kill-4 Invoke Despair
+1 Sorin the Mirthless 
+1 Lolth, Spider Queen 

Grixis/Jund/Rakdos Midrange

The count of Duress may go up if they show Invoke Despair. Hopefully, Burn Down the House will surprise them. Honestly though, it often comes down to tempo in these matchups.

You want to apply heavy pressure, but be aware they probably have The Meathook Massacre so leave some in the tank to recover. Cards like Tenacious Underdog that provide sustained card advantage will be huge here.

InOut
+1 Duress-2 Bloodchief's Thirst
+2 Burn Down the House-1 Infernal Grasp
  

Orzhov/Black/Esper Control

It may be unfair to clump these three decks together as each of them plays slightly differently, but all of them have many valid targets toDuress. Most look to finish the game with Planeswalkers that generate bodies. Thus, Burn Down the House could be the ace up your sleeve. Valki, God of Lies and Invoke Despair can really help you pull ahead here. This matchup is a careful dance of applying pressure while not overextending.

InOut
+3 Duress-2 Bloodchief's Thirst
+2 Burn Down the House-1 Infernal Grasp
+1 Riveteers Charm-3 Black Market Tycoon

Naya Runes

This sideboard plan is with the understanding that Naya Runes is going to get creatures so large that certain removal abilities like The Meathook Massacre and Bloodtithe Harvester are going to be quickly outclassed. Culling Ritual is pretty hilarious here as it destroys most the cards in their deck.

We really hope they cannot connect with a sufficiently large lifelink creature as that would put the game totally out of reach. We have to trade blow for blow and keep the pressure on them since they will likely out draw us in the end. Don’t forget that Riveteers Charm can exile Kami of Transience as well as runes from their graveyard.

InOut
+2 Culling Ritual-3 The Meathook Massacre
+1 Infernal Grasp-2 Bloodtithe Harvester
+2 Power Word Kill-1 Invoke Despair
+1 Riveteers Charm 

Okay! Now let’s switch to the Grixis version of this deck.


Grixis (Maestros) Ob Nixilis

Maestros Charm Art by Steve Argyle
Maestros Charm Art by Steve Argyle

Here is a list that Crokeyz piloted recently with a decent 67% win rate:

Grixis Ob Nixilis
by Josh
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
12 mythic
32 rare
7 uncommon
9 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (8)
3
Kaito Shizuki
$32.97
Creatures (8)
Instants (8)
4
Voltage Surge
$1.00
4
Hagra Mauling
$3.96
Sorceries (7)
4
Strangle
$1.00
Enchantments (8)
60 Cards
$781.98
Sideboard
2
Negate
$0.50
2
Abrade
$0.50
4
Duress
$1.00
15 Cards
$13.35

The Plan

He has decided to reduce the count of Ob Nixilis, the Adversary to three which I find surprising. Also of note, this list is running only 21 lands supplemented by 4 copies of Hagra Mauling. On the low-end of the curve, we are favoring efficient red burn spells Voltage Surge and Strangle. Bloodtithe Harvester serves as a supplemental form of a removal that also provides a fuel to power up the Voltage Surge via Blood Tokens. With four copies of Bloodtithe Harvester and four copies of Tenacious Underdog, we will be well prepared to power up our Ob Nixilis, The Adversary when it arrives.

We have completely removed all traces of Invoke Despair from this list, but this allows us to get more utility out of our lands and eliminates the steep quad-black mana requirement. This is a significant switch in our game plan. While we are still midrange, our curve topper is a far less scary Sorin the Mirthless. All of this makes us want to be more tempo oriented. That being said, we have a full set playset of The Meathook Massacre as a reset button. Between Kaito, Shizuki, Sorin the Mirthless, and Expressive Iteration, card drawing should not be an issue either.

I do like that Orvar, the All-Form has made a reappearance in the sideboard. For those of you who have played Alchemy where Undercity Plunder and Citystalker Connoisseur run rampant, you will be familiar with this shapeshifter by now as a great way to gain value from an opponent’s discard-centric deck. Copying an opponent’s Ob Nixilis, the Adversary in response to its +1 ability is no exception.

Notable Exclusions

A 3/3 for 2 mana with flying and deathtouch sounds amazing. But the fail-case for Aven Heartstabber is not great. Some may argue that worst-case, it is an improved Spirited Companion since it can replace itself upon death. I have two counter arguments to this:

  1. Blue has better forms of card advantage and
  2. White has Rite of Oblivion.

I think the final nail in the coffin of this card is that unlike Delver of Secrets, it’s not going to become a large flyer on turn two. In fact, by the time you are able to enable this card, it will be far less impactful. What we are left with is a weird aggro card that requires a more midrange curve.

Tainted Indulgence is a card I still have hope will be good. But since this list is running Expressive Iteration, we have to go with the proven entity.

Sorry Test of Talents, we have Negate in the sideboard now. Since The Meathook Massacre and Planeswalkers are everywhere, Test of Talents makes less sense. Though Goldspan Dragon and Hinata, Dawn-Crowned decks have not gone away completely so this could change.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Mono Green

Pre-sideboard we are pretty close to the optimal card selection which is a good thing. We need to remove threats as our opponent plays them and try to avoid getting blown-out by Snakeskin Veil. If we can protect our Planeswalkers it will allow us to pull ahead in card advantage.

If we see them playing Invoke the Ancients we might want to up the count on Bloodchief's Thirst.

Likewise, if they feature a heavy count of Esika's Chariot we might want to slide in Abrade.

Look for opportunities to blow them out if they attempt to use Blizzard Brawl or some other fight spell a with removal of our own in response.

I honestly like the Jund version of this list versus Mono-Green better than the Grixis. I worry that cards like Strangle are going to get outclassed by Old-Growth Troll and Hagras Mauling is too slow to pick up that slack. If you are seeing Mono-Green frequently, you might want to invest in more black spot removal such as Power Word Kill.

InOut
+1 Abrade-1 Sorin the Mirthless
 +1 Bloodchief's Thirst-1 The Meathook Massacre

Mono White Taxes

I like our chances versus monowhite. Here is where our highly efficient red removal really shines. Post sideboard we can even up the count of removal. Most of this game we will be playing the control role until they run out of steam. Then we should be able to mop them up quite quickly when they start living off the top of their deck.

InOut
+1 Abrade-2 Sorin the Mirthless
+2 Bloodchief's Thirst-1 Kaito Shizuki

Grixis/Rakdos/Jund Midrange

It is really hard to tell you what exactly to sideboard here, as almost every card in our sideboard could be relevant versus these sorts of decks.

If they are showing a lot of copies of Invoke Despair, then we will side in Duress and Negate accordingly.

Likewise, if they are running Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, we can get to test out Orvar, the All-Form as a countermeasure.

If they are playing an Oni-Cult Anvil style deck or are running Esika's Chariot, we should side in our copies of Abrade.

If they feature a heavy count of Bloodthirsty Adversary, then we should respond with Graveyard Trespasser.

Do not undervalue The Meathook Massacre in this matchup. If you are cutting removal it might be better to reduce the copies of Strangle instead. Most of their creatures are not very large so it’s quite easy to reset the board with The Meathook Massacre.

Black/Orzhov/Esper Control

These numbers could shift slightly depending on their list. For example, if they are running heavy copies of Wedding Announcement then value The Meathook Massacre higher and reduce spot removal.

Make no mistake, one commonality with decks like this is the cards you want to stop tend to be non-creature in nature so cards like Duress and Negate are very solid here. You want to be the aggressor, but do not overextend into a board wipe. Whoever finds and protects their Planeswalkers better will likely win this.

InOut
+2 Negate-1 The Meathook Massacre
+4 Duress-3 Strangle
 -1 Bloodtithe Harvester
 -1 Voltage Surge

Naya Runes

This is a tricky matchup for us. We are bringing in Negate solely to stop Showdown of the Skalds so be conscious when they are getting to four mana.

We need to aggressively remove their creatures before they outgrow our red burn spells. We especially want to kill Jukai Naturalist and Runeforge Champion as soon as possible to prevent them from chaining runes. At the same time, we want to apply heavy pressure because the long game tends to favor them.

InOut
+2 Negate-2 Sorin the Mirthless
+2 Bloodchief's Thirst-2 The Meathook Massacre

Conclusion

I will be interested to see how the meta game shifts around Ob Nixilis, The Adversary. Is this a card that can be put down with a targeted sideboard plan, much like how Naya Runes was recently suppressed by Archon of Emeria? Or will this card turn out to be so oppressively good that Wizards of the Coast is forced to take action?

We are still very early on in this new set so jumping to hyperbolic conclusions and knee-jerk reactions can be dangerous. I will say for right now that this card is well positioned and there are some easy wins for the taking so take advantage while you can.

I also think that the Rakdos, which seemed like one of the best color combos, has only gotten stronger with the introduction of Streets of New Capenna. In the end, it wont be Ob Nixilis, The Adversary that wins it alone, but rather just a collection of highly efficient spells at red and black’s disposal. Good luck and enjoy!

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Josh

Josh has been playing Magic: the Gathering since Ice Age (that came out in 1996 for you whippersnappers out there). He was a MODO grinder and early beta tester for MTGA where his handle is Parabolian. He is no stranger to Mythic ladder and has frequently finished in the top 1200. Josh loves to brew decks but he loves to win too. Sometimes those two interests align and sometimes he goes on epic losing streaks.

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