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[Primer] - Ad Nauseam Combo [[Procellam Legit]]

Modern Combo Competitive Creatureless Primer


So... Have you ever wondered how that Lightning Storm combo deck kills you? Well, you are in the right place.

Thassa's Oracle and Veil of Summer Update Now Live

Competitive Ad Nauseam, my primary and favorite modern deck, I play Ad Nauseam pretty religiously I will admit, however I have never stopped loving it. I was drawn to it mainly due to the fact that I am a Latinist, so in many ways it bridges the gap for me between two of my main interests.

A more detailed description and primer will follow here as I find the time, but for now for those who are unaware of this deck, Ad Nauseam, built around its namesake card Ad Nauseam is a two-card combo deck that is looking to do one thing and one thing only, its effectiveness lying in how consistently it can do that one thing. You may be asking what that one thing is right about now:

The Goal

Resolve Ad Nauseam after having cast Angel's Grace or with Phyrexian Unlife active, this allows us to go into negative life totals upon casting Ad Nauseam which notably involves "lose of life" as opposed to "damage", two terms that are not synonymous with each other (see rule 118.2 and 119.3a). Becasuse of this technicality, upon resolving Ad Nauseam we simply draw our deck, exile three Simian Spirit Guide for and use this to cast Lightning Storm maintaining priority and discarding enough lands to kill our opponent. Alternatively, with the availability of Laboratory Maniac followed by Serum Visions is our other route to victory.

I will leave that little blurb about Laboratory Maniac there for posterity's sake, but as you can probably tell, the card is no longer commonly played in this deck having been surpassed by the cheaper and much more versatile Thassa's Oracle. In addition to the added utility of the ability of Thassa's Oracle, the card enables a fairly reliable turn 3 win, and a very rare but possible turn 2 win. Without going into the nuances of playing out this combo, which will be included later, the basic idea is to spend turn 2 playing a Pentad Prism giving you access to 4 mana on turn 3. From there the combination of Angel's Grace, Spoils of the Vault, and Thassa's Oracle with an empty library courtesy of naming a card with Spoils of the Vault that is not in our deck wins the game. How to correctly sequence this combo is explained below in the relevant section.

There are an incredible amount of little nuances to this deck that I hope to share with you all; I just have to find the time to do so :P

These three cards; 4 copies of Ad Nauseam, 4 copies of Angel's Grace, and 3-4 copies of Phyrexian Unlife; constitute the core of the combo outlined above. The basic idea, once again, is to cast Ad Nauseam with either Phyrexian Unlife on the field or Angel's Grace's effect active. One will note that the deck has significantly more enablers than Ad Nauseam itself to provide redundancy, however one must then take into consideration what this means when playing the deck. Because of this distribution Ad Nauseam is logically harder to find and should be prioritized in your hand, in other words if opponent ticks up Liliana of the Veil and your hand is Angel's Grace and Ad Nauseam then 9/10 it is correct to discard the Angel's Grace.

A further note on the enablers: Angel's Grace, owing to the fact that it is near-impossible to interact with, is the "better" of the two and, if possible, is the preferred option. Note that it is an instant enabling the deck to win at instant speed with both Ad Nauseam and Lightning Storm also being instants. Phyrexian Unlife has one advantage over Angel's Grace in that, if the situation arises, for example against Lantern Control after Lightning Storm has been named with Pithing Needle, Ad Nauseam can be cast and resolved leaving one card in your library to draw on your next turn (this play should be done on your opponent's end step) allowing for the Laboratory Maniac win the next turn with access to all your untapped mana and deck in hand. Notably Angel's Grace can not do this as the moment the turn is passed we lose as a state-based action for having less than 0 life. With Phyrexian Unlife however, this does not matter as the enchantment is removing this action; although if our opponent removed the Phyrexian Unlife we lose on the spot. This situation is exceedingly rare and I personally have only had it come up twice, once against the aforementioned Lantern Control and once against Bogles.

1-2 Lightning Storm: The preferred wincon of the deck, with Ad Nauseam drawing our whole deck one has, by coincidence, all of their lands in hand to feed Lightning Storm. As explained above, to cast Lightning Storm the most common method is to simply exile 3 Monkeys, although occasionally when this isn't possible remember if comboing on your turn that you have a land-drop. When playing Lightning Storm you MUST maintain priority, if you do not maintain priority your opponent can simply say that they elect not to add any counters to Lightning Storm and then it will resolve only dealing 3 damage. To maintain priority in paper announce when you cast the card that this is what you are doing, on MTGO hold CTRL when casting the Lightning Storm. Moreover, when adding counters to Lightning Storm NEVER add more damage than is needed to kill your opponent at that moment, there is always the possibility that your opponent has a land in hand or if they respond by gaining life you can simply discard more lands.

It is also always good to be aware of your damage potential with Lightning Storm at any given time in the game, the table below illustrates the damage potential for a list with 20 lands:

                                Damage Potential

/* Usually you will have played 2-3 lands as 3 gives you 6 mana with Bloom */
1 Land on Field = 20 - 1 = 19 = (19 x 2) + 3 = 41
2 Land on Field = 20 - 2 = 18 = (18 x 2) + 3 = 39
3 Land on Field = 20 - 3 = 17 = (17 x 2) + 3 = 37
4 Land on Field = 20 - 4 = 16 = (16 x 2) + 3 = 35
5 Land on Field = 20 - 5 = 15 = (15 x 2) + 3 = 33
6 Land on Field = 20 - 6 = 14 = (14 x 2) + 3 = 31
7 Land on Field = 20 - 7 = 13 = (13 x 2) + 3 = 29
. . .
11 Land on Field = 20 - 11 = 9 = (9 x 2) + 3 = 21
12 Land on Field = 20 - 12 = 8 = (8 x 2) + 3 = 19

Please note that all information regarding the play patterns of Laboratory Maniac is out of date in light of recent developments within the archetype. That said I am leaving the information here in case someone for whatever reason elects to play this older version, and for posterity's sake.

The second wincon of the deck comes in the form of Laboratory Maniac. The basic premise, as outlined above once again, is to have Laboratory Maniac on the field and then cast Serum Visions. To this end there are two scenarios where this win comes into play.

The first, and by far most common, is to win with Laboratory Maniac as part of the Ad Nauseam combo. Doing this requires one more mana than winning with the aforementioned Lightning Storm does and two of that mana has to be . There are two ways to create this mana, option A is to already have an untapped source on the field, or the ability to play a land after resolving Ad Nauseam. In this scenario, one taps the source and exiles 2 Simian Spirit Guide to cast Laboratory Maniac, then the other 2 Simian Spirit Guide to play a Pentad Prism on 1, removing the counter for and casting Serum Visions. Alternatively, with any land one can tap it and exile a Simian Spirit Guide to play a Pentad Prism on 2, then remove one counter for and exile 2 Simian Spirit Guide to cast Laboratory Maniac and removing the last counter to cast Serum Visions. Either way the result is the same. Also worth noting is that if you are playing 2 Desperate Ritual in your 75 then the Laboratory Maniac win can be pulled off on turn 4 with the availability of Lotus Bloom if you had missed a land-drop like Lightning Storm as you will have the ability to create 6 and filter 4 of it into 2 with Pentad Prism, however in my opinion this is not a sound reason to be playing Desperate Ritual.

Since it's printing 3-4 Thassa's Oracle have established themselves as stock in the vast majority of Ad Nauseam lists. The reason for this is twofold. On a far less glamorous note, Thassa's Oracle has usurped the other options such as Laboratory Maniac and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries in that Thassa's Oracle adds the most in terms of utility to the deck being able to dig towards the combo in a way similar to one of the cards that has been trimmed due to its printing in Sleight of Hand. Add to this that Thassa's Oracle is a respectable blocker against more aggressive decks that Ad Nauseam tends to have some difficulty racing at times, and overall the card serves as a direct upgrade to the cards it has replaced. All of this is just supplementary to what Thassa's Oracle offers the deck, the most pertinent feature being its addition of a relatively straightforward turn 3 win, with a much rarer turn 2 win, in an increasingly fast modern format. As outlined above, the basic idea here is to use a combination of Angel's Grace and Spoils of the Vault to create an empty library with which to win the game with the trigger from Thassa's Oracle. Do make note that the text on Thassa's Oracle is indeed a trigger, this means that if our opponent removes the Thassa's Oracle the trigger will still resolve and we will STILL WIN the game, in other words, don't be afraid to play out this line in the face of removal, it has no bearing on the effectiveness of the combo. A quick note should also be made as concerns sequencing of this line. No matter the order, Angel's Grace needs to be cast prior to Spoils of the Vault when attempting to pull this off due to how priority works upon casting Spoils of the Vault. On this note regarding priority however, keep in mind that in the majority of cases, i.e. when Teferi, Time Raveler is not on the opposite side of the board, that you can cast Thassa's Oracle prior to casting Spoils of the Vault. A reason to do this being that, if your opponent is holding a counter, they are generally more likely to counter the last piece of the combo, and in every conceivable circumstance we do not want that piece to be Thassa's Oracle. Spoils of the Vault will exile our deck using this line and set our life total to a very high negative, thus we don't want to create a circumstance where we effectively lose to ourselves. Casting Thassa's Oracle first, if your opponent does not counter it, the trigger will go onto the stack, priority is then passed to our opponent to affirm that the trigger can happen without response, after this action priority passes back to us and we are given a chance to respond to the trigger created by Thassa's Oracle, it is here that we attempt to resolve Spoils of the Vault and attempt to exile our deck (I generally name Rowdy Crew when doing this). If our opponent has a counter they will be forced to use it at this point or lose the game in normal circumstances (keep in mind that Nimble Obstructionist has seen fringe play before but is very unlikely). If then we have forced our opponent to use a counter and we lose the exchange, unlike if we had casted Spoils of the Vault prior to Thassa's Oracle where this would result in a loss for us, now, while we do not win, we continue to play and added to this generate some value in being able to dig using the trigger off of Thassa's Oracle. Another play pattern to keep in mind while sequencing this combo is post-board when Veil of Summer is in our deck. If you have casted the Spoils of the Vault prior to the Thassa's Oracle you effectively turn off Veil of Summer as a form of protection against counters. The reason being that if Veil of Summer resolves we would draw on an empty library and immediately lose. In other words, a smart control player is not going to allow the Thassa's Oracle trigger onto the stack in this circumstance, and by saving that step for last we dilute our ability to protect it. Thus, considering Veil of Summer, and at the very least in the interest of bluffing Veil of Summer, it is almost always correct to play Thassa's Oracle prior to Spoils of the Vault.

I have also alluded to the fact that, while this combo is generally more likely to take place on turn 3 facilitated by a Pentad Prism on turn 2, making the requisite 4 mana available the following turn. However do be aware that it is possible to win using this combo as early as turn 2. To do so we require a total of 9 cards meaning we have to be on the draw and need everything to go perfectly. To pull this off we must do the following:

Draw a card; Play any land, if you have a [[card: Serum Visions (PSG)]] play it as it can replace itself and set up this perfect circumstance.

Play any untapped land; 
Exile 2 [[card: Simian Spirit Guide (PLC)]];
Use one [[symbol:R]] and a mana from the lands to play a [[card: Pentad Prism (5DN)]] on 2;
Repeat the previous step to have 2 [[card: Pentad Prism (5DN)]] on 2 mana;
Continue to play out the combo in the sequence laid out above;
Win the game.

Again the probability of this happening is astronomically low as it requires a perfect set of circumstances, however it can come up from time to time, personally, since the printing of Thassa's Oracle up until June 2020, in a sample of a few hundred matches based on my own estimate, I have had this line pop up twice, once against Grixis Control, and once on the play against Burn helped along by Goblin Guide. The primary method of winning the game remains the two card combo involving Ad Nauseam, however the added speed and auxiliary nature of this additional line has served to significantly upgrade the deck at a time where it desperately needed one to keep up with the developments in the modern format.

0-3 Peer Through Depths: This is a card that has fallen out of favor in recent years since its initial inclusion in Ad Nauseam. The effect itself is powerful and very likely to hit what you need, however that is the problem with the card, it is simply "likely" to hit as opposed to Spoils of the Vault which has come to replace it. Regardless of it's falling out of favor the effect remains powerful and is recommended to players just picking up Ad Nauseam for the first time. The appeal to Peer Through Depths is that it is not nearly as random as Spoils of the Vault and cannot kill you on the spot. Spoils of the Vault is by far harder to know how to play and can be frustrating to new players when it exiles all the wincons from the deck (this will happen from time to time). Peer Through Depths is thusly a great beginner option that can still be played once one has garnered a ton of experience with the deck. Personally I do not play it as the flexibility of Spoils of the Vault appeals to me more, however that is by no means a knock to Peer Through Depths which shines in the right build.

0-3 Sleight of Hand: Of the two cantrips in the deck Sleight of Hand is the worse of the two, hence why it has been a casualty of the rise of Thassa's Oracle which has a similar effect. The lack of a scry and its only digging two deep makes Serum Visions the better cantrip as the game goes on. On turn one however, Sleight of Hand is the preferred option as it gives one the greatest possibility of hitting a turn 1 Lotus Bloom. Whereas Serum Visions has to draw Lotus Bloom, Sleight of Hand offers a choice of 2 cards making finding the all important mana acceleration slightly easier. Additionally, in regards to sequencing cantrips, it is always correct to Sleight of Hand prior to Serum Visions so as not to disrupt the scry of the latter, and to this end to play Sleight of Hand prior to playing a Temple of Enlightenment or Temple of Deceit, again to preserve the scry and dig as deep as possible in search of the combo pieces needed to win. Also notably, Sleight of Hand does not work with the Laboratory Maniac win as you never actually draw a card.

4 Serum Visions: In addition to enabling the Laboratory Maniac win as outlined above, Serum Visions is the best blue cantrip in the modern format, and that does not change here. The playset is mandatory for the deck as it provides the ability to dig three deep in pursuit of the combo. As a note on sequencing, if possible, always play Serum Visions after a scry land to set up the draw, and in the worst case scenario, dig four deep instead of only three, a significant difference as digging four deep is equivalent to seeing 6.6667% of a 60 card deck whereas three deep is 5%.

4 Spoils of the Vault: In the lifetime of Ad Nauseam, Spoils of the Vault is comparably a newer addition to the deck, however it has proven to be by far the perfect card. The drawback itself is often inconsequential as when one casts Spoils of the Vault the intent is often to win, protect the win, or set up the win. In other words, it is very rare that casting Spoils of the Vault blind is the only option available, however, even then the card has an appeal to it, allowing the Ad Nauseam player to set up a win out of nowhere. With Angel's Grace or Phyrexian Unlife active the drawback of Spoils of the Vault is a non-issue, and from experience it is not uncommon to tutor for a Pact of Negation to counter a Cryptic Command for example targeting your game-winning Ad Nauseam. With all this said Spoils of the Vault can be very frustrating owing to its randomness. Usually, one should wait until they have at least one combo piece in hand and have put at least one wincon to the bottom before casting this card. Moreover, an interaction that is sometimes lost on newer players is that with Serum Visions or a scry land, it is possible to set up a Spoils of the Vault to essentially work as an extra draw by tutoring for the card put on top; this can come in handy, allowing us to see two cards instead of one in some spots. Since the printing of Thassa's Oracle, Spoils of the Vault has become a necessity for the deck, whereas before it was common to see a list playing 2 copies and no more than 3, the emergence of the win using Thassa's Oracle has made the card indispensable to the deck.

Additionally, as concerns Spoils of the Vault, izzetmage, the co-author of the original MTGSalvation primer years ago, wrote a useful tool to calculate your chances of dying to your Spoils of the Vault under virtually any conditions. The tool is great if you want to get a clearer picture as to how Spoils of the Vault being cast could adversely affect you under any set of hypothetical conditions. I have included the python script in the code block that follows, and here is a link to where izzetmage has publicly posted his code: izzetmage calculator.

#by izzetmage

#ls_needed, ssg_needed, land_needed = number of LSs/SSGs/lands that you need to kill your opponent
#grace: True if Angel's Grace or Phyrexian Unlife are active, False otherwise
#ls, ssg, land, an, x: number of copies of LS/SSG/lands/ANs/irrelevant cards in your deck
#life: your life total before Spoils

d = {}

def solve(ls, ssg, land, an, x, life):
    if (ls, ssg, land, an, x, life) in d:
        return d[(ls, ssg, land, an, x, life)]
    if ls < ls_needed:
        return 0
    if ssg < ssg_needed:
        return 0
    if land < land_needed:
        return 0
    if grace == False and life <= 0:
        return 0
    t = ls+ssg+land+an+x
    if t == 0:
        return 0
        pls = ls/t
        pssg = ssg/t
        pland = land/t
        pan = an/t
        px = x/t
        ans = pls*solve(ls-1,ssg,land,an,x,life-1)+pssg*solve(ls,ssg-1,land,an,x,life-1)+pland*solve(ls,ssg,land-1,an,x,life-1)+pan+px*solve(ls,ssg,land,an,x-1,life-1)
        d[(ls, ssg, land, an, x, life)] = ans
        return ans

def die(ls, ssg, land, an, x, life):
    return 1-solve(ls, ssg, land, an, x, life)
ls_needed = 1
ssg_needed = 3
land_needed = 10
grace = True

print(die(2, 4, 18, 4, 20, 10))

0-1 Mystical Teachings: Personally, I am an advocate for the inclusion of Mystical Teachings in Ad Nauseam in a slow meta. The card does everything we want it to do, often in control matchups providing much needed redundancy and flexibility to the deck that is not as painful or random as Spoils of the Vault. In addition to any combo piece, out of the board, if you so chose to play them, it can grab Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir as well as Vendilion Clique; both solid options, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir in particular being great in a control heavy meta. I would never not have a copy in my 75, however to those picking up the deck who consistently play more aggressive decks on a regular basis and do not face much control, 3 Spoils of the Vault is a fine option. Also note that one should never run more than 1 Mystical Teachings, its high cost is a bit too ambitious in multiples for the deck.

0-1 Grim Tutor: With the reprint of Grim Tutor in Core 21, there is a legitimately great tutor effect in the modern format, the question however is whether or not, at 3 mana and 3 life, its application is practical in the modern format. It likely replaces a Sleight of Hand if one chooses to play it, the thinking there being that Thassa's Oracle is an adequate cantrip and that the tutor effect on Grim Tutor is better than having a fifth dedeicated cantrip like Sleight of Hand. That said, unlike Sleight of Hand which is generally always just "okay" against every deck, Grim Tutor is more hit or miss. It has certain matchups where it can be great, against control variants for example it has proved its usefulness, but in other matchups, such as against burn, the card is pretty much dead in the vast majority of circumstances due to both its speed and the loss of life. Note that the loss of life does play well with Phyrexian Unlife, but that when choosing to play Grim Tutor, you do have to live with the fact that there are matchups where the card is horrible in anticipation that you are more likely to play against the decks where the card shines. In other words, really wish it was Demonic Tutor or Vampiric Tutor but it still serves a purpose within the right meta.

0-2 Island | 0-2 Plains | 0-1 Swamp

The basics used in the deck vary from player to player, some will argue that 2 Plains is the most important as the only relevant cards in the deck that you must cast are Angel's Grace and Phyrexian Unlife. While I understand this argument, I do not put it into practice as I find it too focused on the points where you have the combo. As of writing this I am playing one of each relevant basic, not because I think this the best split, but because I matchup against Blood Moon on a regular basis, if this was not the case I would be running 2 Island and 1 Plains as I believe it is important to have as many possible lands to cantrip on turn one.

2-4 City of Brass | 2-4 Gemstone Mine

The five color sources for the deck, these are, in terms of just creating mana, the most important lands in the deck. One should have a combined total of at least 5 in their deck at all times, the split is up to you however, in a meta of control City of Brass tends to be better, against more aggressive decks Gemstone Mine tends to be better.

2-3 Darkslick Shores | 2-3 Seachrome Coast

In a deck where one does not generally play more than 3 lands in a single game Darkslick Shores and Seachrome Coast essentially function in this deck as Underground Sea and Tundra respectively. Outside of grindier matchups, and even occasionally still then, going past three lands (bar a scry land or a utility land) is not in our best interest. That makes the fast lands perfect for this deck as the draw back is very rarely relevant to us. A note on quantities, while I have seen players play as low as 1 of each, I believe this to be incorrect due to the efficiency they have in this deck and would recommend 2-3 of each dependent on the number of 5-color sources you wish to play.

2-3 Temple of Deceit | 1-3 Temple of Enlightenment

The scry lands, as they are called, serve a fundamental purpose to the deck in that they act as pseudo-dig for it, allowing us, via just playing a land to dig one card closer to the missing Ad Nauseam or Angel's Grace. In addition to this they provide mana to actually cast the cards so it's a win-win. A note on the quantities, one will first notice the disparity between the recommended amount of Temple of Deceit to Temple of Enlightenment, the reason for this is simple, we want as many black sources as possible in the deck as Ad Nauseam requires two black. To this end when cutting scry lands from the stock 3-3 split, it is generally correct to cut down on Temple of Enlightenment first. The replacement for this cut will likely be a 5-color source or a utility land. In addition to this, one must take into consideration their Pentad Prism math when playing scry lands. In other words, if in your hand you have the following:

Pentad Prism, Temple of Deceit, Seachrome Coast, Serum Visions/Sleight of Hand, Ad Nauseam, Angel's Grace, Monkey

On turn one, while it is tempting to play the Seachrome Coast and cast a cantrip, there is no guarantee that you will hit another land or Lotus Bloom, and if you do not hit a land you cannot play Pentad Prism on turn two. To this end it is correct to play the Temple of Deceit first, taking the scry and setting yourself up to play Pentad Prism on turn 2 which, depending on your hand can enable a turn 3 win with a Simian Spirit Guide (for the hand above drawing one more land would yield a turn 3 win). To say it simply, prioritize what you have in your hand, our goal is to get to 5-6 mana as quickly as possible, playing Pentad Prism on turn three is sometimes too late and can disrupt an on-curve Phyrexian Unlife regardless.

0-1 Nephalia Academy | 0-2 Dreadship Reef | 0-1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All | 0-1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth | 0-1 Polluted Delta

These represent the various utility lands one can play in Ad Nauseam to their own liking, I will go through them sequentially. Firstly, Nephalia Academy is a card that sees very fringe play, although it can be useful. The effect itself is that of a Library of Leng, and against discard heavy decks like Jund or Grixis Death's Shadow can be useful. The problem with it is that the effect replaces your draw, not to mention how painful it is to see it disrupting playing Pentad Prism on turn 2. Dreadship Reef is a card that sees moderate play however I personally hate it. It again messes up the Pentad Prism math, and ever since the printing of Field of Ruin has been, in my opinion, obsolete. The investment is high and modern control now has a tool where, unlike before, they don't lose a land for dealing with the Dreadship Reef, others will tell you that Dreadship Reef is great, however I have always found it to be a wasted slot where I would rather have a coloured source, the matchups it is good in are now prepared to deal with it, and after that it too often can slow us down. Boseiju, Who Shelters All has suffered the same problem as Dreadship Reef, where it used to be acceptable to play it in the sideboard, Field of Ruin has rendered it fundamentally useless in many situations, the redeeming quality for Boseiju, Who Shelters All as opposed to Dreadship Reef is that it HAS to be dealt with or we will win, but regardless it is unfortunately hard to justify playing while Field of Ruin is popular. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is a fine card to play. It's biggest downside is that it does not really add anything to the deck, our mana is generally fine so Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth can feel surplus to requirements at times; this one would be left to personal preference of the pilot. Polluted Delta used to be in the stock Ad Nauseam manabase, however with the move towards Spoils of the Vault has fallen out of favor. The two cards do not play well together as often before casting Spoils of the Vault one is putting valuable cards like Lightning Storm to the bottom of the deck, Polluted Delta would cause us to shuffle which isn't ideal considering, unlike Mystical Teachings, we are not getting a combo piece or something else needed. If you are not playing Spoils of the Vault and instead are playing Peer Through Depths however, then Polluted Delta can be very good, providing a shuffle after putting potentially relevant cards to the bottom with Peer Through Depths.

4 Pentad Prism | 4 Simian Spirit Guide | 4 Lotus Bloom

All of the above cards are absolutely necessary for the deck, with each providing the mana necessary to win. To wait for 6 lands in modern is both unrealistic and a virtual death sentence. To combat this enter Pentad Prism and Lotus Bloom, with Pentad Prism providing a rare but possible turn 3 win, and both allowing the deck to win consistently on turn 4. Pentad Prism in specific has added value as a tool for filtering mana when comboing or in a tight spot, and unlike Lotus Bloom does not have to be used all at once. Another point with Pentad Prism to be aware of is that if opponent has Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on board then your prisms can potentially be played with Sunburst 3 instead of two, a point that makes those matchups slightly more interesting.

Simian Spirit Guide is our way to win the game, providing the necessary mana to cast both Lightning Storm or, in conjunction with Pentad Prism, Thassa's Oracle on the combo turn. With this in mind however, do not be afraid to expend Simian Spirit Guide to play your cards, ideally make sure you have access to 2 in deck, however if you are facing down an Inquisition of Kozilek that can take your Phyrexian Unlife the turn before you play it then it can be correct to get it down before the discard, the same is true for Pentad Prism, not allowing your opponent to cut you off your acceleration.

1-2 Fatal Push |

Fatal Push is our removal spell of choice. Of the three premier removal spells of the modern format: Fatal Push, Path to Exile, and Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push provides this deck with the most flexibility and has the least risk associated with it. It does it's job of removing problem creatures such as Ethersworn Canonist, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Baral, Chief of Compliance. It shines most in our worst matchup, infect, where it is quite literally the difference between winning and losing.

1 Echoing Truth |

Echoing Truth provides a nice catch all answer to any potential problem we may face. It is not uncommon for one to play Echoing Truth to bounce something problematic like a Runed Halo preventing the deck from winning that turn. It can also be used to essentially buy a turn against decks such as infect by bouncing the Glistener Elf. It is not uncommon to see 1 Echoing Truth in the mainboard and have an additional Pact of Negation moved to the side as a hedge against humans which without it is an auto-concession to Meddling Mage game one.

1 Slaughter Pact |

In this deck Slaughter Pact is a free removal spell at all times, the upkeep trigger being able to be fizzled with an Angel's Grace (the same goes for Pact of Negation). Slaughter Pact also opens up some interesting lines as with 6 mana available, lets say opponent is playing humans and has a Meddling Mage on board naming Ad Nauseam. In this situation one can cast the Slaughter Pact removing the Meddling Mage and still have the 6 mana necessary to win that turn, so in addition to being free and a great catch-all removal spell, Slaughter Pact has the unique ability to allow a win at any given moment.

2-4 Veil of Summer |

I feel like quite a few words have been written about the power of Veil of Summer at this point so I will refrain from adding unneeded oversight in that respect. What I can attest to is the way in which this card has more or less warped Ad Nauseam around it, specifically its mana base which now includes more 5-color sources to accommodate its cost. The best comparison for this card when it comes to spell-based combo decks is likely something like Xantid Swarm, which is a card I have wanted in modern for a long time. Now these cards are still very different, their effects aren't even the same, but they functionally serve the same purpose, a resolved Veil of Summer virtually guarantees that our opponent will not be able to interact with us as we go through the motions of our combo (there are a few ways around Veil of Summer after it has resolved but none are commonly played) as does Xantid Swarm. Add to this that Veil of Summer is not only a one-mana counter that replaces itself, but also insulation against Thoughtseize and similar effects, whilst, again, replacing itself, effectively becoming a cantrip whilst blocking our opponents ability to strip our hand of potential combo pieces. Most builds of the deck will run at least 3 in the board and bring it in in the aforementioned matchups (though do note that Veil of Summer is significantly better on the play than the draw against a deck like Jund), though it is possible to see people trim 1 copy for more board based interaction or add another copy in an effort to go even more all-in on the combo.

0-3 Darkness |

I prefer Darkness to any other wrath available to the deck. The reason being that I find Darkness to be far more flexible and efficient. Unlike Bontu's Last Reckoning which has its drawbacks and is 3 mana, Darkness allows me that extra second of evaluation and has the potential to force our opponent's hand in certain matchups, i.e. Infect or Bogles. As a personal point of preference I believe Darkness is sufficient for this deck being both mana efficient and more of a surprise when played.

1-2 Pact of Negation |

This is simple, against decks with countermagic one wants as many Pact of Negation as possible, often against control the goal is to set up a turn where you can cast Ad Nauseam with at least 2 Pact of Negation for protection. Generally speaking most lists will run 1-3 Pact of Negation in the mainboard and generally it is correct to include the rest of the playset in the board. There are times where players can choose to only play 2-3 on main and none in the board, in part due to the printing of Veil of Summer, though I personally believe this to be a mistake bar extreme circumstances in one's local meta.

0-3 Grand Abolisher |

A recent innovation in Ad Nauseam lists, Grand Abolisher has grown in popularity particularly for its ability to single-handedly win the Ad Nauseam player games against Bant Spirits, a deck that we have a notoriously bad matchup against as their best cards, namely Spell Queller and Mausoleum Wanderer match up well against Ad Nauseam. Unlike Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir which quite frankly is too expensive for this matchup and does not turn off vial shenanigans, Grand Abolisher provides the deck with the same effect but cheaper and more relevant to the spirits matchup while being almost just as good against control as Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. If spirits is a deck you suspect to be playing I would not play without at least 1 Grand Abolisher in the sideboard.

4 Leyline of Sanctity |

Leyline of Sanctity is truly the only mandatory sideboard card that the deck MUST play. It is because of this card that decks like Jund and B/G Rock are fair matchups in my opinion. Essentially, when playing Ad Nauseam you get yourself into a mind-state where you think in terms of angles your opponent can attack you from; to that end there are three main ways people will do this, those being via pressuring your life total, discard, and countermagic. The fair to poor matchups are the ones that can attack you from two or more of these angles, hence why burn, which only attacks our life total, is a good matchup, jund, which attacks our life total and packs discard, is a fair matchup, and Grixis Death's Shadow, which attacks us from all three angles, is a poor matchup. Leyline of Sanctity effectively cuts off one of the angles from which we can be attacked, the discard angle. In essence this takes a deck like jund, which is favored game one, and makes the matchup more 50/50 or even favorable for the Ad Nauseam player as now jund has to remove the leyline before unlocking its second angle of attack, and until then is playing functionally as a sub-par aggro deck. This is why Leyline of Sanctity is a mandatory 4-of in the sideboard; it is important when playing Ad Nauseam to begin to think in this strange manner, to think in terms of these three angles and which options are available to opponent at any given time.

1-2 Thoughtseize |

A utility card with serious implications for the outcome of the game, Thoughtseize is a great card to have in the deck serving a few purposes. Firstly, it is great against our worst matchup in infect on the play, it is also our own safety net against some of the other combo decks in modern, notably storm. Besides this, it also makes the control matchup less stressful, as you will either get to see their hand or they will waste a counter preventing you from seeing, a win-win scenario for us in most cases.*

*What is the idea of this section? Below I am going to try my best to list every possible card that Ad Nauseam could realistically play in its sideboard and provide a bit of information as to why you would consider playing it in your build. This will (hopefully) be updated continuously as new innovations are made, and if when reading this you know of something not included, leave a comment below.

Bontu's Last Reckoning: Actually a fairly stock card in most Ad Nauseam sideboards, I personally am not a huge fan hence why it is not in my list although this should not take away from the card. It is an incredibly efficient wrath at the cheap cost of only three, with a draw back that potentially can be rendered obsolete with the artifacts in Ad Nauseam. It is a good card against any creature deck; notably humans which represents one of our worst matchups.

Boseiju, Who Shelters All: Great against control decks with access to a lot of counters, it has fallen out of popularity due to Field of Ruin but is still an option that has to be answered or we will win.

Disenchant: A fine card in the right meta, if your area is filled with Blood Moon or other problem enchantments like Runed Halo, or Rule of Law, then this should be a consideration.

Godhead of Awe: Great against most go-wide creature decks and an all-star against Death's Shadow variants.

Patrician's Scorn: A free removal spell, Patrician's Scorn has proven to be a very flexible card out of the sideboard in the right meta (though is probably too narrow for most big tournaments). Unlike other enchantment removal, Patrician's Scorn has the ability to cause a win out of nowhere via casting it upon the resolution of Angel's Grace or in response to Phyrexian Unlife removing problem enchantments. Very meta-dependent card however.

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir: Amazing against control, in this matchup where games tend to go long Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir can often be the make or break point, flashing it in on opponent's end step with the mana available to combo and win the next turn, opponent has an onus to counter the Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir as if they do not they lose, if they do they can also lose however as they are down a vital counter and mana. This is where the card shines, however it has very few applications elsewhere. Also worth noting is it can be grabbed with Mystical Teachings.

Sphinx of the Final Word: Good against control, and decent against spirits if you can get to it, but nothing else, if it sticks the game is functionally over, if it does not then mana has been wasted by our opponent to deal with it.

Inferno Titan? : This one goes over my head, I only include it because Xavier Biron piloted a list with three in his side to a 17th place finish at GP Toronto 2019, however his reasoning escapes me. It doesn't feel particularly good against the most popular decks at the tournament (Izzet Phoenix, GDS, and 4-color Prison) so I'm a bit unsure as to why it is played. It feels like it would be fine against Humans or Spirits however I cannot say definitively having never played the card.

Grave Titan: Apparently the worse of the titans, Grave Titan traditionally fulfills the role of the backup plan in the sideboard. We have no trouble getting to 6 mana and with our opponent likely off removal Grave Titan can quickly take over the game. I believe part of the reason it has fallen off in popularity is the move to Assassin's Trophy making it harder to fade removal, though in reality the deck has just shifted to be more focused on the combo.

Lightning Storm: In the not too distant past it used to be fairly common practice to run an extra Lightning Storm in the sideboard for when Laboratory Maniac was bad or we just needed an extra win-con. It is still possible to do this if one wishes.

Dragonlord Dromoka: Another control finisher option, Dragonlord Dromoka can also very reliably end the game on its own if we cast it. This is a personal favorite of mine, the mana can sometimes be hard, but if your meta allows it then this is a very good option.

Wear / Tear: Great in its flexibility, being able to remove problem cards such as Eidolon of Rhetoric, Stony Silence, Blood Moon, Chalice of the Void and more at a very efficient rate.

Fragmentize: Efficient enchantment removal with a draw back that is virtually non-existent.

Timely Reinforcements: Hard to evaluate, on one hand has the ability to steal games out of nowhere, buying often 1-2 extra turns and providing 3 whole blockers. The argument against it is that it is not better than simply playing a wrath in most cases. Beautiful in foil.

Supreme Verdict: A wrath that can't be countered used to be our best friend, now however, while Supreme Verdict is very good, people have moved to the less expensive Bontu's Last Reckoning, as Supreme Verdict, in one of the most relevant matchups, can still be got by Spell Queller. I am personally a fan of this as the wrath of choice however as it forces our opponent to have exactly Spell Queller, and is a less likely Meddling Mage name.

Wrath of God/Damnation: Functionally these cards are the same as variations on a basic wrath effect, the choice between them would boil down to how you built your manabase. Generally, you want to split this with another wrath as Meddling Mage protection.

Vendilion Clique: Both a great tempo play and owing to flash a very flexible way to check our opponent's hand before we combo. The card is also very good against Tron, to the point that when Tron is overly popular it is possible to even run Vendilion Clique on main.

Painful Truths: Decent against grindier and control decks, it often reads draw 3 cards for our deck which is ideal in these kind of games.

Swan Song: An extra counter for control, and an answer to decks packing problem encahntments (here looking at G/W company decks with Eidolon of Rhetoric).

Path to Exile: The most flexible removal spell in modern fulfills the same role here, it is efficient and can hit virtually anything, and when Amulet Titan is popular it is the right choice. When Arclight Phoenix is king however, Fatal Push functions better, matching up with Thing in the Ice   and Pteramander, and not ramping them to Crackling Drake.

Duress: Serves the purposes we want for most matchups without paying life, can be great against storm, and is an extra tool for the control matchup.

Gigadrowse: Can buy an extra turn at a less painful rate being able to cast it at the beginning of combat or at our opponents upkeep to stunt their development. Also noteworthy is its ability to dodge Chalice of the Void due to replicate.

Settle the Wreckage: Admittedly, I have been putting off seriously testing this card personally. It is a flexible wrath type effect that, though it has a downside, is perhaps the most flexible way of dealing with a large board, allowing us to wait until attackers to make our decision on whether we need to wrath; a fact that can catch some players being greedy for the win. The drawback with it is that, like with all wraths, it gets got by Spell Queller, and it ramps our opponent to potentially something worse. It is however, very good against decks like Phoenix and Dredge.

Keranos, God of Storms: A sort of pet card for myself, and one that may be even a bit better when decks are running Surgical Extraction in the mainboard. Keranos, God of Storms is strictly a plan B sideboard card, and to this end is best against control decks, or slower creature decks (bar GBx due to Assassin's Trophy). His problems largely boil down to the same point, which is that he is very slow and doesn't actively hate on any matchups. However, in a vacuum if you are running a plan B, he remains my first choice out of nostalgia more than anything else.

Crovax, Ascendant Hero: The only time one would ever consider running Crovax, Ascendant Hero is in an infect heavy meta. While not a reliable plan B in most other matchups, in a meta where infect is very popular/good Crovax, Ascendant Hero can serve as an answer, potentially as early as turn 3, perhaps buying us the time we need to win the game. Most of the time the infect player will not have an answer to this, in fact it makes their best plan functionally a pumped up Spellskite which is never where infect wants to be. The fact that he is somewhat insulated to removal is useful, however be aware that a Crovax, Ascendant Hero does not guarantee a win, if your opponent has kept in some number of Dismember (unlikely at least in game two), then they can win with Inkmoth Nexus through your hate if you can't counter the removal. Other than in this matchup Crovax, Ascendant Hero is not great (though he has some use against Affinity) and really should only be used when one expects to play against a lot of infect.

Hurkyl's Recall: A card that is very situationally good in the modern format, it is one of those cards that is great against a group of decks and useless against everything else, in other words it is the quintessential sideboard card. For Ad Nauseam, I like playing the Hurkyl's Recall as my meta is full of affinity. With KCI gone there is an argument that there is no single artifact deck that needs to be meta-gamed for in modern. I would disagree in that Hurkyl's Recall can often be our only way out from under the Whir of Invention prison decks roaming around, and it remains good against affinity style decks which will always have their supporters. This being said, if you are not going to large tournaments and you know your meta to not have any or much affinity then it may be wise to consider dropping Hurkyl's Recall for something more relevant to your needs.

Gideon of the Trials: Gideon of the Trials is what I would call a low-opportunity cost Plan B. Unlike many of the other commonly played secondary ways to win the game out to the board, Gideon has the added flexibility of being able to act as an extra copy of Phyrexian Unlife in the deck via his emblem. Add to this that his other zero can close out the game relatively quickly, and that his +1 against a deck like Death's Shadow can at times be a Fog every turn, and Gideon of the Trials presents itself as an incredibly versatile option out of the board that also overlaps with the central gameplan of the deck.

Assassin's Trophy: With the movement towards a mana base that places a heavier emphasis on 5-color sources, Assassin's Trophy has presented itself as a legitimate option for inclusion in the sideboard as a catch-all type answer similar to what Echoing Truth is in this deck. As it can answer virtually any permanent or problem card our opponent can muster, in a more hateful meta towards combo decks, this should be a consideration.

Teferi, Time Raveler: Basically the planeswalker equivalent of what Grand Abolisher is to this deck, but with a few differences. First, owing to its -3, Teferi, Time Raveler has an added level of utility that we do not get from similar effects. Second, be aware there is a large difference between, "sorcery speed" and "on your turn" meaning you can play out certain cards, say for example Mystical Teachings, on your opponents end-step with confidence it will resolve. In the right build this can be very valuable. Though Teferi, Time Raveler has its downsides, it isn't particularly good in a meta that isn't saturated with fair decks that are not looking to kill you quickly; it can be killed be your opponents creatures; and it doesn't stop Aether Vial shenanigans. That said, in the right meta Teferi, Time Raveler can be a consideration, however it is hard to find space at times with Veil of Summer also in the format.

Chandra, Awakened Inferno: I will be honest and say I am not a huge fan of this card from a play perspective or even a design perspective. Its greatest strength is its ability to make control players play faster than they would like, and therein lies its primary purpose. We can effectively power this out as early as turn 3, a perfect set of circumstances technically allows it on turn 2 on the draw but is very unlikely and is very much all in on Chandra, Awakened Inferno, meaning we can begin to tick it up and create emblems at a scary pace, but the card can still be beaten, especially by builds with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath which can negate the damage some. Additionally, because you are going all-in on Chandra, Awakened Inferno, adding this pressure often doesn't equate to creating openings for the combo while our opponent is pressured. I would only recommend this card if you are the type of person who likes to see control players sweat a little bit, but even then I think there are better options than Chandra, Awakened Inferno which are harder to answer and have applications outside of the control matchup.

As most know, Sideboard Guides are reactionary in nature. As the meta shifts the sideboard changes to react, and as other decks change, the concerns that we may have also are affected. With this in mind, I will try and maintain this guide to the best of my ability and update it as the modern meta changes, including the sample sideboard I am using below, as well as an update date for reference so anyone reading this knows exactly when the guide is relevant. I will attempt to provide some context here as to the choices, further clarification should be directed to the comments below however as I don't want to have this section be excessively long. Assume the maindeck is what the actual list says.

Sideboard (15)
1x Bontu's Last Reckoning
1x Echoing Truth
1x Gideon of the Trials
4x Leyline of Sanctity
2x Pact of Negation
1x Path to Exile
1x Slaughter Pact
1x Thoughtseize
3x Veil of Summer

LAST UPDATED: July 24, 2020

VS. Eldrazi Tron (Favourable 60/40):

OUT: -2x Pact of Negation | IN: +1x Bontu's Last Reckoning | +1x Thoughtseize / Echoing Truth

We are generally favored here so the key is not to over board, the worst card in our deck is Pact of Negation which doesn't do much against their deck. We bring in a wrath, particularly on the draw as this is fundamentally a race. Karn, the Great Creator is a bit of a concern so making space for one of Thoughtseize or Echoing Truth, especially on the draw, should be your second consideration so that you can continue to race them. Thought-Knot Seer may make you want to reach for Leyline of Sanctity, however I feel we have to live without it or risk diluting our speed too much.

VS. Jund/Rock Variants (Fair 50/50):

(ON THE PLAY) OUT: -2x Pact of Negation, -1x Sleight of Hand, -1x Phyrexian Unlife, -1x Thassa's Oracle, -2x Spoils of the Vault | IN: +4x Leyline of Sanctity, +3x Veil of Summer

(ON THE DRAW) OUT: -2x Pact of Negation, -1x Sleight of Hand, -1x Phyrexian Unlife, -1x Thassa's Oracle, -2x Spoils of the Vault | IN: +4x Leyline of Sanctity, +1x Veil of Summer, +1x Path to Exile, +1x Slaughter Pact

On the draw against Jund and Rock I like to play a bit more reactionary, bringing in some removal as they will likely be looking to kill us realtively qucikly. On the play, I want to try and race them a bit more, and Veil of Summer becomes much better as an answer to the turn one discard.

VS. Control Variants (Bant, Jeskai, UW, Esper, Sultai) (Favourable 55/45):

OUT: -3x Phyrexian Unlife, -2x Thassa's Oracle, -2x Lotus Bloom | IN: +1x Gideon of the Trials, +1x Thoughtseize, +2x Pact of Negation, +3x Veil of Summer

Generally I want to cut a couple Lotus Bloom as a concession to Teferi, Time Raveler, and I personally do not think Phyrexian Unlife is very good here, I would rather have cantrips than a blowout involving Cryptic Command. Additionally, the Thassa's Oracle kill is less important here, as often you are going to want and attempt to win on your opponents turn to play around Force of Negation. I leave 2 sometimes 3 for the cantrip and potential to threaten an early win. This is not a race however, you want to craft a hand with protection and pick your moments. I don't bring in removal as I find fighting the Stoneforge Mystic package to be futile and just diluting the deck. Also note that against Esper and Sultai builds you may have need to insulate against discard depending on the opponent.

VS. Burn (Very Favorable 80/20):

OUT: -2x Pact of Negation, -1x Sleight of Hand, -1x Thassa's Oracle / Spoils of the Vault | IN: +4x Leyline of Sanctity

The choice between Thassa's Oracle and Spoils of the Vault comes down largely to preference, though I tend to favor cutting the former in the current build with 4 on main, against a more "Blitz" style build though consider the latter. We only need Leyline of Sanctity bar some truly strange sideboard tech from our opponent, this is a matchup where it is easy to over-board, be careful; you still need to get to the combo fast.

VS. Gruul Midrange/Ponza (Favourable 60/40):

OUT: -2x Pact of Negation, -1x Sleight of Hand (Dependant on Build) | IN: +1x Bontu's Last Reckoning, +1x Echoing Truth, +1x Slaughter Pact

ON THE DRAW CONSIDER ADDITIONALLY -1x Thassa's Oracle for +1x Path to Exile

This is largely a race as they don't have much interaction for our combo. I play Bontu's Last Reckoning as they tend to go fairly wide with Seasoned Pyromancer. The Echoing Truth and Slaughter Pact should largely be used to deal with Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon in tight spots. On the draw the additional removal spell can slow them down to the point we win the race. Note that Thassa's Oracle adequately blocks a lot of their creatures.

VS. Goblins (Not Enough Data, seems 50/50 maybe slightly unfavourable so far):

OUT: -2x Pact of Negation, -1x Sleight of Hand, -1x Spoils of the Vault, -2x Thassa's Oracle | IN: +1x Bontu's Last Reckoning, +4x Leyline of Sanctity, +1x Slaughter Pact

The Goblins list is very much still developing so this will likely have to change. Some builds play a significant amount of discard in addition to the combo with Conspicuous Snoop, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and Sling-Gang Lieutenant. Thus we bring in Leyline of Sanctity to both deal with this discard and shut off their combo. With this done they tend to play out as an aggro type deck and we need to win the race, Bontu's Last Reckoning aids in this pursuit. Slaughter Pact insulates us against fringe tech as well as providing a removal option for Conspicuous Snoop or another problem creature both in general and if we do not have Leyline of Sanctity.

VS. U/R Gifts Storm (Favourable 65/35):

OUT: -3x Phyrexian Unlife, -1x Sleight of Hand, -2x Thassa's Oracle, -1x Spoils of the Vault | IN: +4x Leyline of Sanctity, +1x Path to Exile, +1x Slaughter Pact, +1x Thoughtseize

I tend to believe that 2 Pact of Negation is enough for this matchup unless your opponent gives you a reason to believe otherwise; they tend to have some form of bounce so Phyrexian Unlife can be underwhelming.

VS. Gx Tron (Favourable 60/40):

OUT: -2x Phyrexian Unlife | IN: +1x Thoughtseize, +1x Echoing Truth

Try not to overboard here, you may not even need the Echoing Truth if you don't see Karn, the Great Creator. We want disruption here, so bring in any discard you have. Vendilion Clique is especailly good here if you are playing it.

VS. Dredge (Favourable 60/40):

OUT: -2x Pact of Negation | IN: +1x Echoing Truth, +1x Bontu's Last Reckoning

Pact of Negation is bad here, so I remove it for the best utility cards I have available, Bontu's Last Reckoning can buy a turn, and Echoing Truth is both cute with Prized Amalgam and can answer fringe tech. Be cognizant if your opponent is on Stain the Mind making these changes however.

VS. Amulet Titan (Slightly Unfavourable 45/55):

OUT: -2x Phyrexian Unlife, -2x Thassa's Oracle, -1x Sleight of Hand, -1x Spoils of the Vault | IN: +4x Leyline of Sanctity, +1x Path to Exile, +1x Slaughter Pact

Their fastest way to win involves Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, so I bring in Leyline of Sanctity to cut off that line as its faster than us. They tend to have a small amount of counters so I leave in Pact of Negation, otherwise I want to be able to answer Prime Time.

VS. Humans (Close to Unwinnable 10/90):

OUT: -2x Pact of Negation, -1x Sleight of Hand, -1x Lotus Bloom | IN: +1x Bontu's Last Reckoning, +1x Path to Exile, +1x Slaughter Pact, +1x Echoing Truth

Bring in interaction for their creatures, I find the Thassa's Oracle kill is our best chance at beating them so I don't touch it. Removal gives us a chance but we will more than likely lose game one.

VS. Devoted Devastation/Company Variants (Fair 50/50 leaning to them):

OUT: -2x Pact of Negation, -1x Sleight of Hand | IN: +1x Bontu's Last Reckoning, +1x Path to Exile, +1x Slaughter Pact

They are faster but lack meaningful interaction. Win the die roll basically, bring in ways to stop their combo.

VS. Infect (Very Unfavourable 20/80):

OUT: -3x Phyrexian Unlife | IN: +1x Path to Exile, +1x Slaughter Pact, +1x Thoughtseize

Thassa's Oracle gives us a fighting chance with its speed and ability to block early, but they are still faster. Bring in spot removal, leave Pact of Negation as, if they bring in anything, they bring in Spell Pierce.

VS. Death's Shadow Variants (Unfavourable 35/65):

OUT: -2x Phyrexian Unlife, -2x Lotus Bloom, -1x Sleight of Hand, -2x Thassa's Oracle, -2x Spoils of the Vault | IN: +4x Leyline of Sanctity, +3x Veil of Summer, +2x Pact of Negation

They attack us from all three principal angles: discard, life, and counters. We have to try and account for all of this which makes the matchup difficult, I trim on a number of cards and try to focus in on resolving Ad Nauseam to win. If you can steal game one you are in good shape, game two and three Veil of Summer has made the matchup much easier.

VS. G/W Hexproof (Favourable 60/40):

OUT: -2x Pact of Negation | IN: +1x Path to Exile, +1x Slaughter Pact

Bogles lacks any meaningful interaction for our deck, however, the majority of lists will be running some number of Gaddock Teeg in the side which we need to hedge somewhat for, hence why we bring in the removal.

VS. Neobrand (Pilot Dependant; unfavourable 35/65):

OUT: -3x Phyrexian Unlife, -1x Lotus Bloom | IN: +2x Pact of Negation, +1x Thoughtseize, +1x Gideon of the Trials

The Neobrand deck is much faster than us so we have to play with that in mind, also be aware that Nourishing Shoal is an instant, meaning Lightning Storm may not be viable. Part of this matchup comes down to pilot ability on the Neobrand side, those pilots who know the deck well and how to mulligan providing the toughest matchups. Postboard I trim on the more expensive enabler, leaving the combo with Thassa's Oracle intact, and a Lotus Bloom which can often just be too slow. Gideon of the Trials is great here if it resolves and you can emblem it as they have to answer him, this effectively can buy us a turn in the face of their combo.

The user has asserted their commitment to testing out more fringe and "weird" cards in the archetype "as [they] see fit." They also have a small primer in the works that provides some more insights into the archetype. Check out their list and send them some love.

  • izzetmage and epdt's old primer still available for view on MTGSalvation at the following link MTGSalvation Primer

While now out of date, this is still likely the most comprehensive primer available to players wanting to pick up the deck, and goes in depth as regards individual card choices. It also includes an ample amount of resources (again, now out of date) for you to follow as well. If nothing else it is worth a read, and additionally worth going through for the python script included that helps to calculate your chances of dying to Spoils of the Vault at any given time.

  • Again now out of date, Chris Flink published a primer of the deck for FacetoFacegames.com on 04.24.2017, at this address Chris Flink's Primer.

As he mentions in the primer, Chris Flink has spent more time with the deck than almost anybody on the planet, meaning, even though it's out of date, his opinions and insights into the individual cards, many of which are still played in the deck, are helpful to any new player. Additionally, his sideboard guide, while again very much dated, does provide some insights into what he is prioritizing in each individual matchup.*

*As far as I am aware, there have been three times in the past that Ad Nauseam has been treated to a tournament report and guide by Channel Fireball, all from a few years ago now which include:

1. Bob Huang on 05.25.2016: Link

2. Andrea Mengucci on 11.30.2016: Link

3. Eric Froehlich on 02.25.2017: Link*

  • The Deck was Highlighted on MTGGoldfish's "Know Your Combos" Series on 05.30.2020 offering a video that looks at the state of the deck following the printing of Thassa's Oracle, and the resurgence of the deck as a result. Link

  • The Deck was again Highlighted on MTGGoldfish as part of their "Much Abrew" Series on 07.06.2020, including video of a league played with the deck. Link

  • Featured in a now very old article from Melissa DeTora on WOTC's own page on 05.18.2015: Link

  • A video interview by Jonathon "Nikachu" Zaczek with Ad Nauseam master and devotee G. Ryan "GR_Donkin" Donkin at the following address: GR_Donkin Interview*

  • GR_Donkin on twitch where he regularly streams Ad Nuaseam Link. As well as his twitter where among other things he occassionally offers sideboard guides Link.

  • The Public Ad Nauseam Facebook Group with over 1,700 members, though I have no association with them myself it could be a useful resource for anyone looking for more opinions, Link

  • The following link to a free hypergeometric calculator; for those of you who are familiar with these, you know that, at its most basic level of application, it is an invaluable tool for determining the mathematical probability of satisfying a set of circumstances, i.e. having X card on turn 4, at any given moment. Hypergeometric Calculator

  • Land (20) Acceleration (12) Sideboard (15)
    3x City of Brass4x Lotus Bloom3x Bontu's Last Reckoning
    3x Darkslick Shores4x Pentad Prism1x Echoing Truth
    2x Gemstone Mine4x Simian Spirit Guide2x Fatal Push
    2x IslandTutor/Dig (11)1x Hurkyl's Recall
    1x Plains4x Serum Visions4x Leyline of Sanctity
    3x Seachrome Coast4x Sleight of Hand1x Pact of Negation
    3x Temple of Deceit3x Spoils of the Vault1x Slaughter Pact
    3x Temple of EnlightenmentProtection (3)2x Thoughtseize
    Combo (12)3x Pact of Negation
    4x Ad Nauseam Wincon (2)
    4x Angel's Grace1x Lightning Storm
    4x Phyrexian Unlife 1x Laboratory Maniac

    I love Ad Nauseam and I hope that this will serve to inspire many others to take up the deck! If you like the deck please give this page an upvote!


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    Updates Add

    Over the weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to compete in a small modern tournament at my local game store under multiple restrictions due to COVID-19. When I say small, I mean very small, only 6 players were given entry due to social distancing measures taken by the store; temperature was taken at the door, no cutting decks, and we played behind screens. All in all the tournament was run rather well in line with local guidelines during COVID-19. Given the small amount of players only 3 rounds were played before prizing, the results of which are outlined below:

    RD 1 vs. Eldrazi Tron 2-0

    E-Tron has always been a fairly good matchup as the deck tends to not interact with Ad Nauseam in a meaningful way. Be aware of Thought-Knot Seer stripping your hand and Karn, the Great Creator shutting off your mana acceleration however. Game one was a non-game, opponent mulled to 5 and didn't get off to a fast start, largely relying on a Mazemind Tome to even out their draw, a strategy that didn't end up working out in the end, won turn 4 via Thassa's Oracle + Spoils of the Vault after resolving Phyrexian Unlife the turn previous.

    OUT: -1x Sleight of Hand, -2x Pact of Negation | IN: +1x Thoughtseize, +1x Echoing Truth, +1x Path to Exile

    Game 2 followed a similar pattern to game 1, opponent had a bit more of a clock but lacked any interaction, was able to curve Phyrexian Unlife into Ad Nauseam on turn 4 and win without any resistance. Good start to the tournament. 1-0.

    RD 2 vs. Sultai Uro Field Pile 2-1

    Game one can be chalked up to human error on the part of the opponent. After 7 turns of developing mana and playing draw-go magic, opponent decided to attempt to resolve an escaped Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath to provide some form of a clock leaving 2 mana up, having the combo in hand and a Pact of Negation, I went for it. Opponent attempted to use Force of Negation not realizing the free clause does not apply on their turn, a poor mistake from the opponent as Force of Negation was their only counter in hand and they had no responses.

    OUT: -2x Phyrexian Unlife, -2x Thassa's Oracle, -1x Sleight of Hand, -1x Spoils of the Vault | IN: +3x Veil of Summer, +1x Thoughtseize, +1x Gideon of the Trials, +1x Pact of Negation

    Game two I simply didn't find the combo, I had three counters in hand and enough mana but never found the Ad Nauseam. Opponent for their part got Field of the Dead going fairly quickly, and later after 5 turns of draw-go was able to find a window to resolve Jace, the Mind Sculptor, from there I was simply outvalued and eventually beaten down by Zombies. Moving to game three, again the opponent made a fairly high profile error, on turn 6, whilst I had combo mana up, they cycled a Shark Typhoon at the end of my turn using all their mana (presumably because they had Force of Negation in hand). This gave me a window, with a Pact of Negation also in hand, to attempt to win, luckily they only had the one Force of Negation, the unfortunate part for the opponent however was that they also had a Veil of Summer in hand which would have been enough meaning they only needed to leave up one mana from the cycle to win. They didn't though and they made their second large mistake of the match, acknowledging their own lack of focus following game three. 2-0.

    RD 3 vs. Jund 2-0

    Opponent here was a good friend I know well which added a bit to this match. I entered as the sole undefeated in the field so I knew a win would secure the tournament in my return to paper magic, if I lost the tournament would go to tiebreakers. As I have articulated before I feel fairly confident about the jund matchup, yes they are interactive, but if you can steal game one you are in great shape. Opponent here had no opening hand discard which was a huge plus, instead hoping to win with a fast clock via Tarmogoyf. Unfortunately for opponent I was able to win turn 3 using a Pentad Prism on turn 2, and a Simian Spirit Guide to create 6 mana for Angel's Grace + Ad Nauseam. Opponent promptly scooped.

    (ON THE DRAW) OUT: -2x Pact of Negation, -1x Sleight of Hand, -1x Phyrexian Unlife, -1x Thassa's Oracle, -2x Spoils of the Vault | IN: +4x Leyline of Sanctity, +1x Veil of Summer, +1x Path to Exile, +1x Slaughter Pact

    As I state in the sideboard guide in the primer, I like to be slightly more reactive against jund variants on the draw, Veil of Summer becomes worse when it can't block a turn one discard spell, and as such I only bring in 1 as some additional cover and bring in some removal as I expect my opponent to look for a balance between discard and a faster clock due to Leyline of Sanctity. That said, here I began the game with Leyline of Sanctity. Opponent, to their credit, kept a hand largely built around Liliana of the Veil invalidating this, but unfortunately this plan was too slow and I was able to win off the back of a Lotus Bloom and holding my draw in the face of Liliana of the Veil. 3-0!


    In summary then, the first paper tournament back was a good success and a welcome addition back into non-mtgo games. The deck performed quite well and I was overall happy with the results. I expect to adjust the sideboard for local tournaments as I see what is showing up consistently in these small tournaments over the next couple weeks, notably Abrupt Decay does not feel particularly great locally coming out of this tournament but more data is needed in this regard. I feel though, despite only having three rounds, that the small meta was relatively diverse, so these changes will take some time to be implemented.

    I finished as the sole undefeated, with the prizing, which understandably was low this time out, I purchased a Modern Horizons pack, pulling The First Sliver, not a bad conclusion to the day. Really it was just great to get back to playing in paper after such a long time off, hopefully we will be able to expand entry soon and the deck keeps performing.



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    Top Ranked
    • Achieved #8 position overall 1 year ago
    • Achieved #1 position in Modern 1 year ago
    Date added 2 years
    Last updated 1 week

    This deck is Modern legal.

    Rarity (main - side)

    3 - 0 Mythic Rares

    39 - 10 Rares

    6 - 3 Uncommons

    9 - 2 Commons

    Cards 60
    Avg. CMC 2.11
    Folders Uncategorized, eskere,