Ad Nauseam in Modern

December 6, 2015

Hello all of you – who am I?

Well my name is Michael Bonde, and I am Danish guy playing the GP, SCG, BoM circuit and just having fun playing magic, I love to play magic, and I try to do it as much as possible and to win as much as possible.

Some people only play Standard, Legacy, Modern etc. but – I just like magic, and I don’t really care about the format – the only thing I really care about is to have fun with the people around me and new people that I meet, and of course to win.
So far I have managed to win a SCG open in Standard, BoM #8 Vintage, 10th place in GP San Diego, 22nd place in Bilbao Modern and 4th in Strasbourg in Legacy, so as I said I play magic, across the formats.

Well that was a short introduction – if you want to know more, you can always ask, but back to what I actually want to write about,

Ad Nauseam in Modern!

With Richmond being the largest Modern GP ever, and taking a sweet 2nd place overall next to Vegas, I think it is the time to talk a bit about what I think is the best deck.

I would like to say that I did not invent this deck, due to it having been in extended along time ago, and it has also been played in modern. But roughly a year ago I picked up a shell of it and started to make it better then it was originally, those where the cards I had for Modern on MTGO and I had to make it work.
Eventually I made a list that only had 1 soft spot – Jund. Jund being the boogieman in the Modern format, made the deck really hard to succeed with, but when I didn’t play against it, I usually did really well.
so you could probably. imagine how happy I was, when Deathrite Shaman got banned just before an upcoming modern PT! The only problem was, I am not qued to any PTs, so I had no where else to play a major event with my sweetheart.

I eventually talked to Jared Boettcher, after he beat me in 3 tight legacy Esper mirror matches in round 4 of GP Paris, and we arranged that I would help him out with a decklist that he could see was worth anything against the current meta.
I don’t know If you saw, but he eventually came in as 9th at PT Born of the gods, having optimized the deck a bit after testing it a lot with some of the new cards.

Well let me walk you through the deck.

The first thing I will talk about is the kill condition which in this particular build is Lightning Storm
The way it works is when you cast it, you keep priority and discard x amount of lands and it deals 3 damage + 2x the number of lands you discarded. The downside of playing this card compared to Conflagorate is that you can only deal so much damage – having the average being somewhere in between 35-39, and a total amount of 45, if you go off with 0 lands on the battlefield, which you never do. This is not really relevant, due to the fact that only Affinity and Batterskull decks gain this huge amount of life (and occasionally a random Baneslayer Angel), and they will not do it before 2-4 swings, which is often turn 5-8. The upsides on the other hand are that it is INSTANT. Having an instant kill condition makes you a threat in every single state of the game, UWR not being able to tap out after turn 3, being able to kill your opponent with pact triggers on the stack, and in general just being able to go for the throat, when the best opportunity shows itself.

I talked about us discarding lands to Lightning Storm, so let me show you the “draw engine” in the deck, which is basically the main combo piece

Angel’s Grace and Ad Nauseam

Some of you might know these cards from former Legacy decks etc. but here we are again in modern. So the engine is that Angel’s Grace tells us that we can’t lose this turn NO MATTER WHAT, and Ad Nauseam gives us the chance to go for it, by drawing all our cards, and lose life equal to their converted mana cost – the key in this scenario is that ad nauseam doesn’t have a requirement to flip the cards, but you lose after you flip it, so even though we don’t have any life left, we still get the cards, which eventually will make us be at -30 life total being ready to set up our giant Lightning Storm – due to us having all our lands in hand at the moment.

Here’s the tricky part then, cause Angel’s Grace is W Ad Nauseam is 3BB, and Lightning Storm is 1RR, which totals up in a sum of 9 mana we have spend on our turn 2-5 – that is a lot, and that is why we play “ramp”

4xLotus Bloom
4xPentad Prism
1xGemstone Caverns
4xSimian Spirit guide

Lotus Bloom is one of the best cards to ramp, having it being free, and giving any 3 mana, having it turn 1, makes you set up sweet ramp in your turn 4, should make sense.
The same goes for Pentad Prism, that allows us to make a 2x Ramp spell in turn 2, which gives us 5(6) mana out in turn 3, and a potentially kill (I put (6) in here, and will tell you about this in 2 sec)
Gemstone Cavern is somewhat tricky, should it be there or not – but I think it should. First of all it gives us a turn 1 ramp instead of a random land in our hand, this is good against all the unfair decks, where we can be slightly behind on the draw, second it fixes our mana, and third it is the 3rd or 4th land that doesn’t matter if it is colorless or not when we go off – so having the chance of getting it on the draw is worth it in my opinion.
And finally the Simian Spirit Guides. These are somewhat a bit trickier, due to the fact that we are only “allowed” to use 1 of these in our drawing combo, there are of course corner cases, where we can use both 2 and 3 maybe all 4, but in 90% of the time, only use 1. The reason for us only to use one is that when we draw our entire deck and get all cards in hand – we can now remove the remaining 3 Spirit Guides giving us instant speed mana for Lightning Storm and BAAAAAM! DEAD! Instant kill with “only” W and 3BB at any time we feel for it – In my opinion that is a great deal!

Then we have some cantrips:

4xSerum Visions
3xSleight of Hand
2xPeer through Depths
1xMystical Teachings

An important thing in a combo deck is to get the combo pieces assembled, this is why we play as many cantrips/searchers in our deck as possible – one can say, that when the mana, the combo and the disruption is put in, we fill out with search abilities, to utilize as quick a combo as possible.

First of all we have Serum Visions, which is a worse BrainstormPonderPreordain, but it still gives us the possibility to manipulate our deck with 2 cards and still be a cantrip – this is in my opinion the best combo cantrip in the format, and not being able to play more than 10-12 utilizers, the scry ability becomes really relevant in this deck.
Sleight of Hand is way worse, but still a necessary evil, because it also helps us cantrip through 2 cards.
the split of 2 Peer/1 Teachings is up for debate, but I find it helpful to have a card like teaching in the late game, searching up, pacts or grace in the situations where it is key to be able to win – where Peer is a effective way of going through a big chunk of the deck to get either a way to dig deeper or an actual combo piece (hopefully not lightning storm)

Before we talk about the lands there are 8 more cards I need to introduce. The following cards are:

3xPact of Negation
1xSlaughter Pact
1xConjurer’s Bauble
3xPhyrexian Unlife

First of all are the pacts – Negation, which counters for 0, and Slaughter, which kills for 0. These cards are pretty good in the situation where you need to protect your combo, whether it is killing a hate bear, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in particular, or just a lethal attacker. The main problem with the pacts are their upkeep cost – but the smart thing in our scenario is that we have the ability to cheat our way out of sure death, with an Angel’s Grace in response to the trigger of the Pacts –NEAT!
The deck has, as almost every other combo deck, a hard time playing against discard – and we want to be able to win through a turn 1 Inquisition of Kozilek taking our Lightning Storm. We can do that with the Conjurer’s bauble, drawing our entire deck, putting storm in (as the only card) and then drawing it – for the win! It can also be used as a cantrip in other MU, dropping it and just cycle it for the cost of 1 mana – not the worst.
The last card Is Phyrexian Unlife, which is somewhat a pretty weird card, with a funny “ruling”
It is basically a shield against aggro decks, but also our 5, 6 and 7th angel’s grace. Not being able to die when we play ad nauseam is an important thing in the deck, and this is why we play 7 copies of the effect, but also to stay alive in the situations where we don’t have a kill turn 5-. The fun thing about it is that if you are at 5 life total, and your opponent attacks you for 30 dmg, you don’t die on that turn, but go to -25, and then the next damage taken will give you poison counters. This is actually pretty relevant, due to the effect from Angel’s Grace that helps us stay at 1 life total – so in a potential lategame stall, we can keep ourselves alive for several turns against a lot of decks with an active Phyrexian Unlife and Angel’s Graces.

This gives us with a list of the following 39 cards:


4 X Simian Spirit Guide


4 X Ad Nauseam

4 X Angel’s Grace

4 X Serum Visions

3 X Sleight of Hand

2 X Peer Through Depths

1 X Mystical Teachings

1 X Lightning Storm

3 X Pact of Negation

1 X Slaughter Pact


1 X Conjurer’s Bauble

4 X Lotus Bloom

4 X Pentad Prism


3 X Phyrexian Unlife


2 X Gemstone Mine

1 X Hallowed Fountain

1 X Seachrome Coast

2 X Temple of Enlightment

1 X Darkslick Shores

2 X Temple of Deceit

2 X Watery Grave

2 X Marsh Flats

2 X Scalding Tarn

1 X Plains

2 X Island

1 X Swamp

1 X Gemstone Cavern

1 X Boeiju, Who Shelters All


The mana base is made so that we have the opportunity to have blue on turn 1, white on turn 3 and BB on turn 4/5 ish – there is no calculations behind this, and it might be wrong, but after testing a lot these are the mana symbols I found out that I wanted.
The scry lands are a later edition for the Pro Tour made by Jared, which makes the deck even better than it was before, making a Hallowed Fountain and Watery Grave a cantrip in a deck where we really need cantrips is insane!

A quick review of The Sideboard:

4xLeyline of Sancity

Against decks with discard – mainly the old jund – but also a protection against the UR storm deck, having them being faster sometimes

1xPatricia’s Scorn

Should makes sense by its ability, please don’t use it when you are keeping yourself alive with Phyrexian Unlife


even though we have Boseiju +3 pacts in our deck, we can still get killed by a random Counterflux – Silence gives us a way to play around that card, and we really don’t need the Slaughter Pact in the control MU

1xDrown in Sorrow

a good card against a versatile amount of creature decks, with their package of hatebears.

3xHurkyl’s Recall

Affinity = GG


This card is a bit spicy, it can Time Walk against creature decks, but also gives us the possibility to tap our opponent’s mana down at end of turn, making him not have counters for our combo the next turn

1xTolaria West

helps us find Pacts and Boseiju in the MU where that matters

1xTormod’s crypt

This should give itself as well

1xFavor of the Mighty

Some of our hard MU’s are Infect and Auras, having infect being 1 or 2 turns faster, and auras having a lot of lifegain – we really want this card to hit the board. Making infect killing us with a land and Auras not being able to resolve Daybreak Coronet

1x Echoing Truth

This card is basically an all around good guy, it can deal with a lot of irritating situations, and I tend to always find space for it after board.

Now I have showed you guys the deck, so now I will just tell you quick about the match ups:

UWR (or similar control): Good MU

They are depending on their counterspells on curve and creatures. In this MU we are in no hurry, we can calm and slowly build up our mana, and then eventually go for the combo in either their turn or in our own turn with 0,1,2 or even 3 backup plans.

Affinity: Good MU

Affinity has the chance to out rush us, but often they cant do this without Cranial Plating, so if there isn’t a Plating, we are all good. A fast Vault Skirge with a Plating equipped can be a problem due to our damage cap, but after board we have a card like Hurkyl’s Recall that wrecks the affinity player if it resolves

Jund/Fearies: Bad MU

Them having a tool box of Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize and Liliana of the Veil, where Liliana is the biggest problem, makes this MU really hard. Fearies doesn’t play Liliana, but they play counters, which can also be a problem. We really need our Leylines in this MU, and hope the jund player doesn’t get a Liliana that sticks and that the fearies player is greedy with his few counters. We can win against these decks, by keeping our resources tight, and slowly set up a combo with the scry abilities that can’t get disrupted. In this MU it can sometimes be necessary to fire off an Ad Nauseam early to fight the discard spells.

UR Storm: Mediocre

They can go off really fast – but so can we, but we have some disruption in our Angel’s Grace, keeping us alive in their combo turn, and then winning next turn or doing the same trick with Grace

Pod decks: 60/40 in our favor

The pod decks are a little similar to the Storm deck due to that they can just go off and kill us on the spot. Again like against Storm, we are as fast or faster against pod, and we have Angel’s Grace, that Time Walks their turn. This doesn’t work against Melira pod, but here we can both sideboard, and we are somewhat faster then they are.

Zoo and other Aggro decks: Good MU

These MU’s are often pretty good, they can’t kill us before we win, and often we win before they have a threatening board state.

Auras/Infect: Bad MU

They can be really fast with either life gain or an actual kill, and we can’t really do anything about it – the thing is that not many players except Olle Råde, play these decks, so its pretty hard to really be afraid of them.

Tron/Living End: Best MU

Both decks want to go broken on turn 4, but not really having any disruption for our combo, this tends to be one of the absolute best MU’s, they can turn 3 Karn and start killing lands, and the same goes with Fulminator mage, but it still isn’t enough to get through our combo.

Twin: 60/40 in our favor

Having Grace and Phyrexian Unlife at our side, they need more then 1 turn to kill us. In this match up we can often wait a long time, and use our life total as a resource, not going off until the exact right moment, whether it is them going for it, tapping out only leaving mana up for 1 counterspell. They can have Counterflux in their board, and this is why we play cards like Silence, Gigadrowse and Boseiju, Who Shelters All

So this was a walkthrough of what I think is the best deck in Modern at the moment. Hope you enjoyed it, and that you will leave a comment.

Thank you for reading and may you opponents mulligan to 5.

if you want to ask me about anything, write in the box below or on:

Facebook: Michael Bonde Pilgaard
Twitter: Lampalot

If you have any suggestions about what you want me to write about next, I am all ears!

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