Niv-Mizzet, Parun | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
Niv-Mizzet, Parun is a card that I had a lot of fun playing in Jeskai () control builds, especially in control mirror matches. It’s a good combo with another stellar control card (Teferi, Hero of Dominaria), and I miss that Standard format so much.
Since the rules of EDH don’t let me partner them, I’ll focus on the Niv-Mizzet, Parun part of it. I’m a huge Izzet () and spellslinger fan, so that’s my tribute to the Guild Leader.
Let’s take a look at a way to build Niv-Mizzet, Parun in a spellslinger way (focus on lots of cheap instants and sorceries) that’s probably going to annoy everyone around, but not that much that fellow players still want to hang with you. Let’s go!
Baral, Chief of Compliance | Illustration by Wesley Burt
Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Exalted Flamer of Tzeentch
Alandra, Sky Dreamer
Third Path Iconoclast
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Fact or Fiction
Commit // Memory
Blink of an Eye
Into the Roil
Witness the Future
Decanter of Endless Water
Talisman of Creativity
Elixir of Immortality
Temple of Epiphany
Haven of the Spirit Dragon
Niv-Mizzet, Parun is a commander that draws you cards every time any player casts an instant or sorcery spell. Each time you draw a card, you ping a target.
The best thing about this commander is the sheer amount of card draw that you get just by having Niv around. After all, green players cast sorceries fetching lands, red players play burn spells, and black players cast their edicts and the like. The pinging is nice, but it’s not the main feature. It helps to keep tiny commanders off the board, or you’ll kill a hate bear like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben for free.
Another nice thing is that the commander itself can’t be countered. It’s guaranteed to resolve, and you get a card back even if someone casts a removal spell or wrath on your commander. Oh, and ping something. The “cannot be countered” text avoids paying lots of mana only to have your commander countered.
Cheap Instants and Sorceries
You want cheap instants and sorceries to keep drawing more cards, pinging your opponents, and activating more synergies with your spellslinger creatures.
Brainstorm is a very nice card overall, and it’s even better for you because it acts as a cantrip and draws you three cards, pinging players or creatures in the process.
Let’s also add Gitaxian Probe, Ponder, and Preordain since that’s what you want to be doing to draw more cards and interact with your commander and spellslinger cards.
Red gives you Thrill of Possibility and Faithless Looting.
Frantic Search is technically free if you have the mana to pay for it, and it’s great synergy with your commander.
Protection and Interaction
You want cheap counterspells to protect your commander and your board.
Cards like Negate, Counterspell, Swan Song, Dispel, and Ionize are all fair game.
Arcane Denial is nice because it gives you a card.
Examples of more expensive counterspells are Dismiss, Rewind, and Dissolve.
Rapid Hybridization and Pongify are good interactive spells to have.
Abrade is an all-star in the format because it deals with mana rocks, expensive artifacts, and small creatures/commanders.
Aetherize is a fun card to have to protect yourself.
Blink of an Eye and Into the Roil are ways to interact on the board and also draw a card.
When things go south you can play sweepers like Starstorm and Blasphemous Act.
Niv-Mizzet’s Best Allies
There’s loads of Izzet and legendary creatures related to the theme since the spellslinger theme is very popular, and those help to up your commander’s power.
One of them is Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph, which says that if a source deals exactly one damage it deals two more to the same target, effectively amplifying Niv’s pinging abilities.
Harmonic Prodigy was made for this deck since your commander is a wizard itself, and there are other wizards/shamans in the list.
The original Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind adds redundancy to the “draw a card, ping you,” and it can draw a card itself.
Let’s add protection equipment in the form of Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves. The protection part here is more important than the haste, but it doesn’t hurt to have both.
The Cost Reduction
Here you have cost reduction in instants and sorceries you want to cast.
Haughty Djinn and Baral, Chief of Compliance work in the same axis.
Haughty Djinn is also a beater, so it helps your strategy twice.
Storm-Kiln Artist makes you Treasures, which helps cover the cost of later spells.
The new Mindsplice Apparatus from All Will Be One works wonders here. It can be cast with flash, and each turn makes your spells cheaper.
The Spellslinger Creatures
You want to play cheap creatures that give small benefits when you’re casting cheap spells since this is a spellslinger deck. This can be proactive or reactive. Proactive is when you play a creature and a cheap spell to get a benefit, and reactive is when you protect your already established board with a counterspell to reap more benefits.
Young Pyromancer and Guttersnipe damage each opponent which is nice, and you have the new Third Path Iconoclast to add more redundancy.
Electrostatic Field defends and pings.
Talrand, Sky Summoner and Archmage Emeritus give you better rewards for casting spells, like drawing cards and making a 2/2.
Exalted Flamer of Tzeentch retrieves an instant or sorcery for you each turn while also pinging on spells cast.
The Win Conditions
The main win conditions are Curiosity and Ophidian Eye. These are auras that draw you infinite cards and deal infinite damage if Niv is wearing one of them.
There’s a high probability that you’ll need to draw more cards than you have to kill your opponents, and that’s where Elixir of Immortality, Commit // Memory, and Witness the Future come in. Decking can be a problem, and these can help avoid it.
It’s important to mention that Niv-Mizzet, Parun’s pings don’t count as commander damage. Only damage dealt in combat does. That said, each Niv attack deals five damage, and winning a game via dragon attack is as old as MTG itself. It’s a win condition combined with the pings.
The Mana Base
Your commander is in Izzet colors. You’re not playing green, so no mana dorks. Your mana base and fixing come strictly from artifacts and lands. And hey, that cost isn’t easy to pay. Your best bet is lands that fix blue and red mana and colored mana rocks.
Your best mana fixers by far are Izzet Signet, Cascade Bluffs, and Izzet Boilerworks since they generate mana of two colors. Cascade Bluffs in particular is a blessing.
I’ve included a package of cycling lands (Lonely Sandbar, Fiery Islet, and Forgotten Cave) because your deck can use the extra draw and it’s a little mana flood insurance.
Frostboil Snarl should enter as an untapped land some amount of the time since you play basics and Island/Mountain lands. It’s also fine if it doesn’t.
Your deck is more blue than red, and this reflects in the mana base. You could even play less red mana sources if Niv were, say, or . You’re only playing two colorless lands, and those are Desolate Lighthouse and Reliquary Tower since they have card draw-related abilities.
A nice land for your deck is Haven of the Spirit Dragon. It generates a mana of any color for dragons, and it can recover a dragon from the graveyard.
With respect to the mana rocks you’re again prioritizing colored mana fixing (besides Sol Ring, of course), so mana rocks like Izzet Locket, Commander’s Sphere, and Arcane Signet get the nod.
An interesting piece is Decanter of Endless Water since it has the Reliquary Tower effect and adds mana of any color.
You initially want to deploy a creature that cares about instants and sorceries to get the most value out of your interactions and cantrips. The tokens produced by Young Pyromancer help you to block opposing creatures, and the pings from cards like Guttersnipe and Electrostatic Field add in the long term. The key part here is not to worry about anything and just go with the flow. You’re not in a hurry to win quickly.
Try your best to protect your commander with counterspells and the like when you cast it because it’s the main engine of the deck. There’s definitely a “protect the queen”-style to play this Commander deck, either with equipment or counterspells. People usually think twice before pointing a removal spell at your commander just to get countered and have you draw two cards.
If the board is wiped, you can cast it again. But if you have spell-related creatures already deployed, it’s nice to counter that wrath, draw a card, and do something else like ping something and make a 1/1 token.
Cards like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and Mechanized Warfare can spice things up in a late game scenario because each ping from your commander or your creatures is effectively three damage instead of one. Depending on your “support cast” and mana available, the game can end in a big turn since you’re chaining spell after spell with lots of card draw and damage dealt.
Combos and Interactions
The first thing to note is that every sorcery or instant cast in the table makes you draw a card and ping a target, so the stack interactions can be a bit complicated if you’re playing the deck for the first time. The ping happens naturally whenever you draw a card, including the first one you draw every turn, so it can be worth putting a reminder on top of your deck (like a little marker or counter).
It’s a little bit more complicated if you play a card like Preordain. Cast it, immediately draw a card, and ping something because someone cast a sorcery. Then scry 2 and draw a card, and ping something. With Brainstorm the three pinging effects happen at the same time but after you return two cards to the top of the deck.
When someone casts a spell using mechanics like flashback, you draw a card too because the card is cast from a graveyard. This isn’t applied for copying instants and sorceries.
Cards like Mizzix’s Mastery turn cards in your graveyard into spell copies, so they won’t trigger your commander.
The combo Niv + Curiosity works like this. Whenever you ping a player with Niv, Curiosity triggers because the enchanted creature dealt damage to a player. You draw a card and proceed to ping a player again, repeating the process.
To stop the loop, ping anything other than a player (Niv itself will do). Just be careful because you can deck yourself because you’re obliged to draw. It works if you have more cards than the damage needed to win, otherwise you won’t be able to combo without having a card to draw.
Rule 0 Violations Check
Yes, there are combo and combo pieces in this deck. And it’s somewhat quick to find when it gets the engine going, based on lots of draw and discard. Removing cards like Curiosity and Ophidian Eye can soften the combo power depending on what your playgroup agrees with.
This deck is already on a low budget (<$300). These kind of spellslinging decks are usually cheap because they rely on lots of commons and uncommons.
Here are a few replacements to make it even more budget-friendly:
- Lands like Fiery Islet, Stormcarved Coast, Steam Vents, and Training Center in the $10 to $20 dollar range can be replaced with Evolving Wilds, Izzet Guildgate, Highland Lake, and Vivid Creek.
- Metallurgic Summonings can replace Shark Typhoon.
- Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph can be replaced by Vadrik, Astral Archmage.
- Swan Song can be replaced with Annul or something similar. Unwind is another possibility that has a higher mana value but allows you to untap lands.
Niv-Mizzet, Parun is a flexible enough commander that you can do all kinds of stuff with it. Maybe focus more on the combo aspect of the deck, or maybe deal more damage. You choose in the end, and that’s the beauty of a format like Commander.
You can rely more on Narset, Parter of Veils and wheel effects like Wheel of Fortune, Diminishing Returns, and Tolarian Winds. This build also relies more on quickly finding combo pieces. Another possible win condition is Triskaidekaphile, where you’ll win if you have exactly 13 cards.
You can set up a mill wincon via Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, Thassa’s Oracle, and Laboratory Maniac.
A bigger build would focus more on spell cost reduction and cards like Ral, Storm Conduit and Thousand-Year Storm. Storm cards in particular are interesting with Niv-Mizzet, Parun since the deck already wants to cast lots of spells in the same turn, drawing cards and dealing damage in the process.
Dragon tribal. Some of the last few sets have introduced some good dragon tribal cards and synergies, ramping your commander with cards like Sarkhan, Fireblood and Lapis Orb of Dragonkind. Yes, I know there’s better dragon tribal commanders, but it’s at least an option.
Curiosity | Illustration by Igor Kieryluk
Niv-Mizzet, Parun is a fun card and commander to play, and it can be built in various ways, even cEDH and budget cEDH. Just pray that your opponents aren’t playing cards like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse or Nekusar, the Mindrazer, because that foils your main strategy of drawing lots of cards. It’s also easy to build in Historic Brawl too, so you should give it a go in that format!
What do you think about this Niv-Mizzet build? Let me know in the comments below or join the discussion over in the Draftsim Discord.
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