With the Pioneer bans of 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, Niv to Light deck took a hard hit since these 2 were not just great cards, but the most desirable hits off 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 as well. The deck, however, remains alive and kicking and today we’ll try to chart a course of its further development.
《Bring to Light》 and the Rest
First of all, 《Bring to Light》 is a centerpiece in this deck and most of your deck building and gameplay choices will be wrapped around it one way or another, so don’t be surprised 50% of the article will be about this one card.
Back in the 《Gifts Ungiven》 days, the toughest decision was to configure your deck to have ways to adjust to any board state without overburdening it with situational cards. It’s pretty much the same with 《Bring to Light》. I’ve preached this 10 years ago and am still confident you only need to worry about dealing with 3 board states:
《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 and 《Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor》 are good on high and middle ground and you can configure a set of 2-3 sweepers and some life gain effects. That’s it, 99% of the games you’ll be bringing to light 5 cards. For example, 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 is a sick card if your deck can cast it, but I rarely wanted to cast it with 《Bring to Light》, why not just play it the old way in 2-3 copies.
Is 《The Scarab God》 a powerful magic card? Of course, it is, as is 《Blood Baron of Vizkopa》, as is 《The Prismatic Bridge》! Given a choice to cast them or 《Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor》 what would you choose most of the time? There are numerous options people are trying to make their deck more “flexible” with, but in fact, it only makes it worse with situational cards lingering in the list, adding the random factor to where it shouldn’t be.
Despite 《Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor》 is one of your main win conditions, I prefer playing only 1 《Valki, God of Lies》 while most of the lists have 2, yes, it’s unfortunate to draw it since you can no longer have turbo 《Tibalt》, but he’s not your only win condition and 《Valki》 is not that useful, so I’d rather decrease the chance to draw a bad card over having access to 《Tibalt》 99% of the time.
Two Ways to Build Niv to Light
Right now there are two ways to build your 《Bring to Light》 deck:
I’ll start with 2 lists from Magic Online as examples and then proceed with my list.
60 Cards Version
Classic 60 cards are full of double color spells with the primary goal to resolve 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 and drown the opponent in resources, here’s the sample build with a challenge trophy to back it up.
This deck runs 3 copies of 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 and can hit 7 cards with it on its lucky day, let’s have a closer look at what we can find with it:
《Nahiri, the Harbinger》 is the only White-Red card in the deck and it’s quite solid on its own, huge loyalty plus the ability to fetch 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 with her ultimate makes this card awesome for this deck, but the abundance of different aggro in the format makes me think 1 is the correct number.
That’s a tricky one, 《Klothys, God of Destiny》 has quite a few pros to consider, but each of them only works under some condition:
Graveyard hate is an essential part of dealing with Rakdos Arcanist and Mono Black, but 3 mana enchantment (if she’s a creature you’re already winning) with no ETB against an aggro deck doesn’t seem that great. You really want her installed asap and 1RG on turn 3 will probably cost you either missed 2nd drop or some pain off the lands, both are not welcome vs aggro.
《Klothys, God of Destiny》 can also be considered a mana source to ramp you into 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 on turn 4, but that requires a cracked 《Fabled Passage》 from either player. Finally, the card is double-colored with no competition for the guild and I think that’s what tips the scales in its favor, but I’d think twice before registering it in the list.
I’m not a fan of this card, it looks like a placeholder in the White-Green slot. Both abilities are somewhat useful, but neither shines. Want to play 4 mana brick-play 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》.
Now we’re talking, 5 casting cost double 3/3 + removal + 3 life will be a backbreaker against aggro decks. Nice to bring it to light, nice to find it with 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》. Just a few tips about the ability:
《Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves》 is vulnerable to some removal in the format’s aggro decks(《Heartless Act》 and 《Wizard’s Lightning》 are the most dangerous ones), if he dies in response to the 1st ability, you won’t get either HP or fight.
Wolf is vulnerable to 《Fatal Push》. If you choose to fight and the Wolf dies in response, you’ll get 3 life, if the target dies in response, you won’t, you may choose not to fight to heal for sure. Fight damage is a non-combat one, keep that in mind against 《Soul-Scar Mage》.
I prefer the anti-aggro configuration of the deck in general and 《Lightning Helix》 is exactly what you need. Keep the second ability in mind, you have 《Nahiri, the Harbinger》 and 《Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor》 to benefit from.
Not sure 1 copy is worth space, despite being a cheap planeswalker she’s not that good against control or combo and aggro is swarming you down with a bunch of 1 mana 2/x, she’ll take one out and die right away. The only deck she’d be a nightmare to is probably Auras.
Cheap quality removal is always good, with the rise of that 《Fires of Invention》 decks 《Abrupt Decay》 may give way to 《Assassin’s Trophy》. Green and Black are the colors you want to open the game with, so you’ll most likely be able to play it on turn 2 with a shock land or on turn 3 painlessly.
The card looks decent on its own, but what if we have a way to blink it somehow?
The card fits the guild chart and is especially useful against Mono Green Planeswalkers.
Like many other cards, I think it’s in the deck just to maximize Niv’s payoff. Your creatures cost too much and 《Raise Dead》 mode becomes clunky. 《Shatter》 effect doesn’t have many targets in the format. 《Shock》 and discard effects are ok, but not for a deck with such limited card slots.
No introduction is needed. Don’t be confused by 《Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor》 and remember it only searches for Creatures, Instants, and Sorceries.
The card is not featured in this list, but it appears in the 60 card builds from time to time. Turn 2-3 ramping is cool. Drawing it with 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 is better than nothing, but you want to find 《Bring to Light》 as a Simic card. The problem is you don’t have many untapped Green and Blue mana sources and if you have to fend off early aggression 《Growth Spiral》 can stick in your hand a bit.
Summarizing 60 card builds, I think without 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 the deck tries to convert quantity into quality, meaning you need to draw more cards to reach the pre-ban power level.
80 Cards Version
The second way is to look for alternative sources of advantage. 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 is a perfect companion:
We already have too many cards to choose from, but now we are even rewarded for gluttony.
Any companion gives you an edge vs control decks, and these are problematic sometimes.
There are some choices I do not completely agree with, like 4 《Dovin’s Veto》, but the list is very close to how I see the deck evolving. As you can notice there is only 1 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 meaning he’s no longer the MVP card, but one more instrument in the toolbox, you’d be happy to play it, you’d be happy to bring it, but fewer copies are enough. That change shifts the game plan a lot, you play a control game now, not a midrange one.
I like the eight 1 casting cost Black cards, they provide the opportunity to comfortably play a slew of the tapped lands. 《Omen of the Sea》 is an awesome card here, just don’t rush to sacrifice it unless it’s vital, not only it’s Yorion-able, it also activates 《Fatal Push》’s Revolt to take 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 or 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》 down.
My Niv to Light
Finally, I’d like to present my take on the list:
It doesn’t differ from the previous list much and I’m working on it right now, but there some things I’d like to make a stop at:
Niv to Light is a popular deck right now (at least on MTGO) and, in my opinion, 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 build is heavily favored in the mirror.
《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 is good not just as a companion, but also as a main deck card, all your enchantments work well with it and I wouldn’t judge someone for playing the whole 3. Fewer threats, more disruption, and cantrips, all your threats hit like a truck and it’s unlikely you’ll need to resolve more than 2-3, that’s why I try to focus on staying in the game until that time.
Small amounts of singletons, as I’ve said before, if you’re not gonna bring it to light, just play it hard or don’t play it at all. The exception is 《Nahiri, the Harbinger》, I’m comfortable with eight 4th drops, don’t want more 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 or Saga, and can’t cut 《Extinction Event》, so she fits perfectly, even though 《Bring to Light》 doesn’t search for Planeswalkers. 《Abrupt Decay》 and 《Dreadbore》 may be split to your heart’s content.
7 Discard. I prefer discard over countermagic in game 1 against an unknown opponent. Even 《Thoughtseize》 is not that bad vs aggro since you have to do something on the first 2 turns and against Control or Combo 7 discard is a killer.
We have some complicated costs, so the first 3 lands you play are important, generally, you want either painless access to Black on turn 2(and it’s better not be a basic 《Swamp》 because of 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》) or Gx to play a 《Sylvan Caryatid》. With that in mind, the correct land order will come with practice shortly.
If you have no clue about what deck they’re on, an anti-aggro hand has a higher priority, aggro is much more represented in the format and you can try to suggest their deck based on companion: 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 is easy, it’s most likely 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 or some control. 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》 can be Arcanist, Burn, or Auras, no need to guess correctly, we need more or less the same cards against all of them. No companion 60 cards are impossible to guess without clues, but I’d rather keep a hand with multiple early plays instead of multiple showdown spells.
Still not sure about 《Kaya, Orzhov Usurper》, 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 is the more effective way to deal with Rakdos Arcanist and Jund Citadel, but 《Kaya, Orzhov Usurper》 can also be brought in against Mono Black and Boros, simply because there are a bunch of cards we’d want to side out. Even though she is not supposed to last long, that time may be crucial. I doubt she’ll cut it against Arcanist.
Concluding this I think if you can spare some time for practice and tuning, Niv to Light deck will be a solid choice for the event of any competition level.
Thanks for reading and see you online,
Dmitriy Butakov (Twitter)