Saturday 9 April 2016
Ad Nauseum Combo
Obviously as soon as I post my definitive list of combo decks in cube I remember one that has been done to moderate success and that merits mentioning. The Ad Nauseam combo reared its head in modern with Angel's Grace and Phyrexian Unlife however it existed in cube without these white things long long ago. They gimmick with this deck in cube was simply to have a sufficiently low CMC deck that you can basically just draw everything in one hit without the need of the silly white stuff. Yawgmoth's Bargain works as good redundancy for the Ad-Nauseam but it also a huge risk hit target at six mana, you may be better off running a Vampiric Tutor instead. The win condition was Siesmic Assult, a weaker version Lighting Storm generally speaking. Both are fine for this list but it is always nice to also pack a Tendril's of Agony. Not only does it give you a solid backup win condition but it also can provide valuable life when things are not going to plan and you still need to do the massive draw. There is a significant overlap between this deck and purer non-blue storm decks but it is a distinct combo deck from storm in its own right even when you pack Tendrils.
As the deck is so driven by life total for its ability to draw deep into the deck there are some awkward things that are not nearly as playable as usual. This list has no sac lands, no pain lands and no shock land. It has no Vamp, no Thoughtsieze and so on. It makes beating turn one Bolt to the face really hard to beat. The speed at which you can go off is overshadowed by the fact you somewhat need to win before you take damage rather than before you take fatal damage. As such, perhaps Angel's Grace and Phyrexian Unlife is the way to go. White gives you Academy Rector which is a lovely tool to have access to but the Unlife and Grace do little with the Bargain, only the Ad Nauseam so there isn't actually great synergy there. The deck would need many more tutor effects and card quality effects to assemble the things, it would be significantly slower but it would solve the taking no damage issue. They would be completely different decks in look and feel, lifting the low CMC restriction changes how you can afford to build things. I have only played with this version of the deck, it is a great meta choice when there are not any super aggro out of the gate players. There is very little wiggle room in the list, you can add a little more card quality or a little more disruption than this fairly streamlined list but you can't differ more than a couple of cards from this general layout.
Talisman of Malice
Simien Spirit Guide
Siezmic Assualt/Lightning Storm
Tendrils of Agony
Vault of Whispers
City of Traitors
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Ancient Tomb and Talisman of Dominance are a little dodgy in the list because of the pain they cause you. You could arguably use more Signets that are just black or red and that would be better. Tomb I think is worth it, you are rarely forced into using it and it is pretty obvious when it is a good idea to speed yourself up by a turn with it at the cost of two life. 15 Lands is sensible, it is important to have options on what to lay, you need 10 for part of your win and you generally use 3. You could even go to 16 and add some utility with something like a Rishadan Port but there is so much stuff you want in the deck too I settled at 15 and was very happy with that balance. A deck with this level of non-land based mana could easily get away with 12 and usually wouldn't run more than 14 but that isn't wise here.
Zuran Orb is a godsend on the other hand, it helps with metalcraft and storm and lets you draw another 5 cards or so. The choice between Lightning Storm and Siesmic Assualt is a tough one, you can't really afford to run both and each has merits over the other. The Storm is 3 more damage which is very significant, with only 15 lands in the deck and only 20 life you tend to draw around 90% of your deck. If you lay three lands and don't draw a couple things get very tight indeed. Then lifegain from your opponent can be just as much trouble as direct damage! The Assualt you can pre-make, you can even use it to keep a bit of damage at bay and you don't run the risk of them having a handful of lands and killing you with your own combo! The RRR versus 1RR cost is negligible in this list, if you have one red you can almost always have three.
Lions Eye Diamond and Lotus Bloom feel like they should be good inthe deck but the circumstances in which they become useful is just too rare. The Mox and the Lotus Petal are significantly more reliable and effective. A very fun to play deck that does loads of things but is substantially less complex than decks like eggs or storm to pilot. It is fragile to some common things and not overly capable of solving problems but it makes up for this with blinding speed and decent consistency. Most hands you get can cast a turn 3 Bargain, it is just about having the Bargain or Ad Nauseam (as well as the Duress if you fear counter magic) by turn three as well.