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Hello everyone! Tell me if you’ve heard this one. Here you are playing Standard, when suddenly, your opponent slams two copies of Ob Nixilis, the Adversary on turn 3. You look at your hand, look at the board, and shake your fist at the sky cursing fate for letting this transpire.
Too dramatic? Fair enough, but Ob Nixilis is here and, as you likely know, is absolutely tearing up Standard ladder. Let’s set the record straight, Ob Nixilis is both very popular and very powerful, but it’s far from unbeatable. Better yet, since we know so many players are going to play it, we can actually get ahead of the game and start playing cards that are excellent against it!
Whether you play some copies in your main deck or relegate them to the sideboard, all these cards are very effective against Ob Nixilis while still having a lot of utility to see play otherwise. What’s the point of a hate card if it only has one purpose right? Before I start, I’ll note that these cards are not ranked, but just in color order. With that, here are my top 10 cards to help quell the Ob Nixilis menace.
Playing Creature Decks
This of course isn’t a card so it won’t contribute to my top 10 count, but it’s something worth mentioning. Two Ob Nixilis coming down early in the game in definitely scary, but even without tech cards, it isn’t unbeatable by any means.
Considering they’ll have to sacrifice a creature to get both, having an aggressive game plan yourself can put a lot of pressure on Ob and make it a loss let tenable to create a copy.
Ob can make a Devil which is annoying against some aggro strategies, but in general, having early pressure will be the greatest antidote to your planeswalker woes.
Runner Up: Orvar, the All-Form
While we are looking for all our tech cards to be multipurpose, Orvar is definitely much more dedicated in its approach. Orvar became a popular tech tool in Alchemy where Citystalker Connoisseur was running rampant in Alchemy and I could definitely see it functioning pretty similarly here.
It would be pretty funny for an opponent to plus up their Ob just for you to get one of your own or even something better. I do worry that this may be a bit narrow in it’s application considering Alchemy had Connoisseur and Undercity Plunder for outlets, but it is something worth considering.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
If we’re talking about cards that are good against Ob Nixilis, it is very hard to do better than Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. A mainstay in decks like Mono White Aggro, I feel it’s mostly been relegated to aggressive decks when it can have applications in so many other strategies. The tax ability on Thalia is so brutal for a lot of decks, as with the advent of Streets, I feel that the metagame is going to be comprised of more spell dense decks.
That said, Thalia is almost the perfect card to counter Ob Nixilis. It’s a solidly sized creature that can pressure it, it can always come down a turn before, and it make the copy of Ob Nixilis cost 1 more as well so it’s harder for them to copy it! The main downside of Thalia is that the effect is symmetrical and the Devil lines up very well against Thalia, but it’s such a good card in general that I believe it’s still an amazing inclusion.
This is a simple one. Since there’s going to be a lot more spells present in the metagame, Spell Pierce is a great answer to it. While this can’t cleanly answer both copies of Ob Nixilis, countering the main body at a rebate only requires you to kill the token one with much less loyalty than the original. In a deck that’s looking to play Spell Pierce, you probably have a creature or two laying around while your opponent may not!
This one is for the slower Blue decks of the format. A sad part about the state of Blue counterspells right now is that they aren’t great. We have no amazing 3 mana one as both Saw it Coming and Dissipate leave a lot to be desired. Wash Away, however, I think is going to be excellent right now.
So it can function as a normal Cancel, but it can also counter the Ob Nixilis token for one mana, any spell that was cast from Foretell for one mana, cards cast off Expressive Iteration for one mana, and any Flashback spell as well! That is a pretty good amount of value, and while only being specifically strong against the token isn’t ideal, that’s still a much better deal than a Cancel effect would normally get!
Wow Bob, recommending a card that every Black deck already plays 4 of, great idea! Duress is obviously a known quantity, but that’s not my exact recommendation. Main deck this card!
There are so many good spells right now and against most decks you should always be able to hit something. Sure you shouldn’t play 4 main (in most metagames anyway), but having a few copies can proactively solve your Ob Nixilis problem or tag other annoying spells!
I haven’t seen a Shadows' Verdict cast in a long time, but I think it’s time for it to come back! Between how good Ob Nixilis is and how good exiling creatures against Rakdos(x) can be with Skyclave Shade and Tenacious Underdog, 5 mana is not a bad price to pay to wipe the slate clean.
The downside to this card is that 5 mana can be somewhat slow if you’re hit with a turn 3 Ob Nixilis, but if they find one later in the game, this is a great way to mop them up alongside any other creature they’re likely playing.
End the Festivities / Seismic Wave
Now this inclusion may be a little too cute, but I think the applications of it are real. For the most part, the Ob Nixilis decks play a lot of 1/1s to sacrifice to Ob, and a common play pattern is when they come in, the original Ob will make a Devil and the copy will plus up.
So if they have a Devil and presumably another small creature, for ONE MANA, you can wipe their board clean barring their token Ob Nixilis with 1 loyalty. If you have any creature with more than 1 toughness that the Devil can’t ping, you’re getting a lot of value at a premium rate. Not too many decks want to play this, but those that can should definitely consider it if you’re getting aggressive.
For this slot we have a double feature! If End the Festivities is too hard for you to palate, Seismic Wave has an extremely similar play pattern, but at 3 mana rather than 1. Not sure which one of these are better, but both are something to consider!
While I’ll admit that End the Festivities is a little niche, Magic Missile is just a solid card. Arc Lightning has seen play in many formats when there were a lot of small things that needed killing and I think this is definitely the case now.
Considering the most common play pattern with Ob Nixilis I’ve been seeing renders their loyalty at 1 and 2, answering both of them for 3 mana is quite the deal. They do get some value out of the exchange, but killing both walkers at once and only losing 2 life and them getting a Devil is a much better deal than most decks are going to get.
Burn Down the House
In a similar idea to Shadows' Verdict, Burn Down the House is a great option for the bigger Red decks to consider. This will pretty much always wipe the slate clean by dealing 5 to all creatures and walkers, but unlike Verdict, you can use this to make Devils if their Obs are at low loyalty and relatively undefended. That type of utility is definitely nice to have, even if realistically you’re going to be dealing 5 most of the time.
Toluz, Clever Conductor
While this is pretty hard to cast and will be relegated to Esper decks, this is easily one of the best answers to Ob Nixilis. You have a solid body that can be pinged to death and more or less blanks the plus ability as you can freely discard cards knowing you’ll get them back later. This allows you to pressure their Ob Nixilis freely as you’re not afraid of this dying considering you’re guaranteed value out of the deal.
While I was doing this in color order, we did save the best answer for last!
Pithing Needle is one of the OG answers, but it’s still just as good today. Shutting down all copies of Ob Nixilis pre-emptively is a great deal for just one mana and Needle can pretty much always get utility otherwise at any stage of the game. Esika's Chariot? Enjoy your worse Call the Calvary. Creature lands? Nah I’m good. Other planeswalkers? Same deal! Needle is not normally a main deck card, but you can super easily slot this in to any sideboard and get your money’s worth.
Do you think I missed any choice cards to beat the Ob Nixilis menace? Let me know in our Discord!
Thank you for reading!