For the past few weeks I’ve been alluding to the fact that my favorite deck in Modern is Ad Nauseam, so I thought I would write an article detailing my list of the deck. Over the years, my list has changed rather significantly as new cards have entered Modern. Below is my current list for the deck.

Lands (20)

4 Gemstone Mine

4 Temple of Deceit

2 Seachrome Coast

2 Temple of Enlightenment

2 Darkslick Shores

1 City of Brass

1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All

1 Plains

1 Island

Creatures (5)

4 Simian Spirit Guide

1 Laboratory Maniac

Spells (35)

4 Serum Visions

4 Sleight of Hand

4 Phyrexian Unlife

4 Ad Nauseam

4 Angel’s Grace

4 Lotus Bloom

4 Pentad Prism

3 Spoils of the Vault

3 Pact of Negation

1 Lightning Storm

Sideboard (15)

3 Leyline of Sanctity

2 Thoughtseize

2 Sudden Shock

1 Slaughter Pact

2 Echoing Truth

2 Ethereal Haze

2 Hurkyl’s Recall

Up until quite recently, my Ad Nauseam list looked very different from the one you see now. Prior to three weeks ago, I was piloting a list that ran three Anticipate as well as a few copies of Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta and a maindeck Mystical Teachings. Clearly, things have changed.

The first decision that I made, was that I wanted to play Spoils of the Vault in this deck. If there was a stock list of Ad Nauseam running around in Modern, it would be playing Spoils of the Vault. For a long time, I had seen players using Spoils of the Vault to great success online, and this culminated in a Grand Prix win by Andreas Ganz a couple of months ago. I used to be one of the people who did not see the merit in playing Spoils of the Vault, because sometimes you cast it and lose from a winning position. I realized after testing it however, that this card is amazing. Not only does it greatly increase the consistency of the deck, but it also gives the deck a lot more play in sticky situations. Also, it loses you the game such a small percentage of the time, that the opportunity cost of not playing the card is greater than playing it. Once I decided to play Spoils of the Vault, things were rather simple.

The maindeck is rather standard, not much stands out. Something to note: if you want to play Spoils of the Vault, you also have to play two win conditions so as to lower the chance of putting yourself in an unwinnable position once you finish resolving Spoils. Another thing to note: four Phyrexian Unlife is really good not only in this Modern format, but also with Spoils of the Vault. Apparently not losing the game is a good Magic ability.

There is not much out of the ordinary in the land base either. Fast mana is critical in this deck – it provides you with the appropriate colors of mana without making you shuffle your deck. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth allows you to always have black mana, which is pretty important when you’re running both Ad Nauseam and Spoils of the Vault, and it has performed very well. Mikokoro, Center of the Sea is probably the only card that is out of the ordinary in this list. After piloting this deck at Grand Prix Charlotte, I spoke with fellow Ad Nauseam player, Khyler Fields, who was running this card. He described something that I have experienced many times – playing draw-go with your opponent while waiting to draw the combo. The reason that this is good in that situation is that your opponent’s bottleneck is mana, and yours is cards. Each 2 mana your blue opponent has could be considered a theoretical Counterspell, and they can only play 1 land per turn, so Mikokoro allowing them to draw helps them significantly less than it helps you. This card does a lot of good work against Control decks but also against a lot of the field as well. Drawing cards is very good, especially in a combo deck.

The sideboard that I currently use is a bit unorthodox, so I will go through the cards one at a time. Leyline of Sanctity is an obvious inclusion. Constant discard effects can tear this deck apart, so being immune to that strategy is invaluable. Additionally, it is amazing against Burn decks. Also, blanking Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is pretty great too. I bring in two Thoughtseize against Control decks,  as well as Tron and Infect. Sudden Shock is another concession to Infect decks (our worst matchup) because it allows you the option to interact with an Infect deck in combat without worrying about being blown out by Vines of Vastwood. It also has applications killing random hatebears in the format. Additionally, it gives you a massive edge in the mirror match. Normally, neither player can combo because the other one will have Angel’s Grace and it will all be for naught. But, with Sudden Shock, you can combo off, force your opponent to Angel’s Grace, then kill them with Sudden Shock at the next opportunity. Slaughter Pact is present to kill Spellskites if you are not in a position to win through the Spellskite. Echoing Truth is paramount in dealing with permanents like Stony Silence or Rule of Law. Ethereal Haze is great because it can act as a fog effect, and it can nullify damage done by Eidolon of the Great Revel and Grim Lavamancer. It is a versatile, cheap answer to a lot of threats in Modern. Tolaria West can come in against slow decks that allow you time to search out bullets such as a land or a pact. And last but not least, Hurkyl’s Recall is an answer to Affinity and other decks that rely on artifacts. Often times that matchup is a race and this card puts the race in the favor of the Ad Nauseam pilot.

In addition to the list I have provided above, there are a list of cards that I am currently testing in the maindeck and sideboard that I might add to this list in the future, and they are below.

As you can see, the majority of the cards I am testing are in the sideboard, as I am fairly happy with where the maindeck is right now. I may tweak a few things moving forward if I notice increases or decreases in particular decks in the metagame, but I expect things to stay primarily the same.

My biggest tips for the deck are this:

  • Turn one, if you do not have a Lotus Bloom and one piece of the combo, you are best off casting Sleight of Hand over Serum Visions because it gives you a higher chance of finding the Bloom. If you have no parts of the combo, Serum Visions is better because even if you find Lotus Bloom you will not have the combo in hand yet.
  • If it is your turn, you have four mana, and you have not played your land for turn, you can use two Simian Spirit Guides to cast the combo and still win with Lightning Storm, because you can still play a land for turn after you have cast the combo. Using more than one monkey is not always a bad thing!
  • You do not have to write down every card you scry to the bottom, but keep track of it! When you play zero shuffle effects and Spoils of the Vault, it is important to know when is best to cast your spells. When you play Spoils of the Vault, the learning curve of this deck increases immensely.
  • Be careful of control decks these days. Previously, Boseiju was an automatic win in the matchup, but now-a-days people are playing Ghost Quarter which makes things tricky. Do not put all your eggs in one basket with Boseiju and get punished.
  • You can play conservatively. While sometimes you should just go for the win, other times it is ok to sit back with the combo in hand, and find a good place to cast your spells. Being over eager can cost you a game, or even a match.
  • Another upside to playing Laboratory Maniac, is that you have another bear to attack with game one in the mirror. If you did not know, that is what the mirror match is – attack with bears!
  • Sequence correctly. If you sequence correctly to maximize the cards you see from draws and scrys, your chances of winning will increase substantially.
  • If your opponent has an on-board Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, you can cast your Pentad Prism with three counters on it as opposed to two. I had the opportunity to go into day 2 of GP Charlotte at x-1 instead of x-2 but I lost to Eldrazi & Taxes because I missed this interaction. Do not be like me!

Moving forward, I want to try the Glittering Wish Ad Nauseam list that has been running around online. It adds a whole new element to this Ad Nauseam deck that could be a lot of fun as well as very powerful. If I get around to testing it, I will update you all moving forward. If you want to hear more about my take on that list, then I will definitely look into it for a future article.

Anyway, thank you all for reading! I plan to keep you all updated on list changes I make moving forward. This is a deck that I am very passionate about, and have played for years, so I am invested in the finishes and success of this deck in Modern tournaments large and local. If you have any suggestions or critiques, I encourage you comment below! Anyway, have a great Monday and a great week.

For a major trend I see taking place in Modern, click here.

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