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Sidisi's Reign Of Filth

Commander / EDH

Nakhla


Welcome to my Sidisi, Undead Vizier primer!

Sidisi Ad Nauseam is a fast-paced storm deck focused around the power of its namesake card. It's lithe, linear, and arguably the fastest deck in the format. The deck in its current form goldfishes an average win of turn three (3.16 based off a pool of fifty practice games), and demands opponents answer it, or lose.

Why Sidisi?

Sidisi is an unconditional tutor in the command zone, allowing us to build an entire deck around the most powerful "draw" spell in the format.

Why Ad Nauseam?

Ad Nauseam is a broken card in a 40-life multiplayer format with huge quantities of fast mana, and provides us a one-card win condition we can tutor for with our general.

Because of Sidisi's fast and largely non-interactive nature, certain myths have grown up around it that are worth dispelling.

"It only wins once."

While Sidisi can catch a table by surprise if they've never seen it before, that's neither its main plan nor its main advantage. This deck regularly wins against people who know exactly what it does; even against people who are experienced pilots of it.

"You concede at the first stax piece."

While stax is a painful matchup for us, it is not game over even if we have no tech for answering it. Learning how to win through various stax effects is a key part of piloting this deck well.

"You need to have a total converted mana cost lower than forty, so you can draw your entire deck."

This is a notion that lingers due to a few popular ultra-budget versions that win off of Dark Sphere and Sickening Dreams. These decks are considerably more fragile and are on a fundamentally different plan than we are, other than both decks focusing on Ad Nauseam. The heavy saturation of acceleration and tutors in our deck are enough to let us win off a third, sometimes even a quarter or less of our deck.

You will enjoy this deck if:

---You love winning quickly. We win on average on turn three, and turn two wins are common.

---You love storm. Our storm turn gives us a bunch of victory avenues after a resolved Ad Nauseam, and it makes for entertaining goldfishing.

---Your meta is primarily either fast combo or midrange. The greedier the meta the more we're favored, but slow decks without stax we also outrace constantly.

---Your playgroup is mature and can handle competitive strategies. This deck can easily turn into pubstomping against weaker, more casual lists. You're neither challenging yourself nor others by bringing it to that environment.

You will not enjoy this deck if:

---You love slow, interactive games. We aim to win quick, and we have one of the narrowest interaction suites in the format.

---You want multiple avenues to victory. Turns out, this deck wants to cast Ad Nauseam every game, who'd have guessed?

---Your meta is all stax. While the idea that this deck dies to a single Thalia is patently false, if your meta features 2-3 stax decks every game this is a poor meta call among the competitive options available.

This deck first and foremost wants to resolve Ad Nauseam as soon as possible. Our curve is very low to ground, allowing us to draw between a third and a half our deck on average (going to less than five life from Ad Nauseam is quite typical of the deck).

From there we begin chaining mana positive rocks and rituals, together with massive mana-generation engines like Paradox Engine (allowing us to untap our mana rocks with each spell we cast) and Skirge Familiar (converting unwanted cards off of Ad Nauseam into large amounts of black mana). From here, we win either through casting a very large Exsanguinate, or (our primary win condition) gaining life from Aetherflux Reservoir until we can activate it for lethal versus three opponents.

Unlike many decks that run Ad Nauseam, our curve is low enough to the ground that we can typically win tapping out, with no floating mana, when we cast Ad Nauseam. Any extra is welcome, but the deck runs enough 0cmc mana rocks that it almost always draws one or two and can begin using its other rituals from there.

Our storm turns can be long and involved if we’ve drawn minimal mana sources, as we may have to tutor for rituals like Cabal Ritual or lands like Lake of the Dead to get us to the point where we can cast Paradox Engine or Skirge Familiar. Fizzling is rare unless we're starting from a low life total or some specific stax effect is interacting with our play negatively.

Sidisi’s answer suite is slight as our speed allows us to ignore most slower decks and their board presence: some targeted removal for problem creatures, and preemptive discard typically to grab a waiting counterspell or problematic hate permanent (like Trinisphere).

Because free countermagic like Force of Will and Pact Of Negation exist in this format, one can rarely be 100% sure that no-one can counter Ad Nauseam. The key is to either power it out early enough that people neither have the resources nor cards to answer it, or, wait for that key moment when enough people are tapped out to cast it. If you have it early, it’s often worth taking the chance, and the deck tends to reward taking risks over playing an excessively cautious game.

We are a one-card deck. With that being said, there are routes to victory without it: namely, assembling Rings Of Brighthearth and Basalt Monolith to generate infinite mana, and from there either winning via a large Exsanguinate or drawing our deck with Sensei’s Divining Top and Rings and winning with Aetherflux Reservoir.

Stax effects are the bane of this deck, but it’s frequently possible to win through them. A Thalia can be negated by a Helm of Awakening; a Null Rod can be ignored through a Skirge Familiar; Ethersworn Canonist can make you craft an artifact-combo-only turn. Resist the temptation to start flooding your decklist with answers, as too many will both dilute the mana and tutors you would have drawn, and potentially increase the average cmc of the deck, weakening the power of Ad Nauseam.

Rather than break it down deck by deck, I feel that Sidisi’s matchups form four broad categories based on my experiences piloting her:

Fast Combo Without Blue

Fast, non-blue combo decks favor us, as they share our issue of not being able to answer cards on the stack (namely, instants like Ad Nauseam). Only thing to be watchful of here is not keeping a slow hand: we’re faster generally, but their fast hands are still faster than our weak hands.

Examples:

---Selvala, Heart of the Wilds

---The Gitrog Monster

---Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Fast Combo With Blue

Fast combo decks with blue can pose much more of a threat to us through a waiting counterspell, but essentially run no problem permanents in most builds. Frequently we can race them, however, if you sense them positioning themselves defensively, it can be worth hitting their hand with discard or tutoring for Boseiju for uncounterability.

Examples:

---Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge

---General Tazri

---The Mimeoplasm

Midrange & Control Without Stax

The majority of midrange decks we tend to want to race if possible, but like the previous category, slightly more defensive plays can be relevant. Some decks like these play some hate permanents, the most common being Null Rod in green based midrange, or one-sided hate such as Aven Mindcensor we need to watch out for. We try to win here in the early turns, just as they’re setting up.

Examples:

---Edric, Spymaster of Trest

---Tasigur, the Golden Fang

---Rashmi, Eternities Crafter

Midrange & Control With Stax

These tend to be hard-mode matchups for us, and typically we’re forced into racing here, especially against decks running a lot of Sphere of Resistance and Rule of Law type of effects. Race first, make them discard a sphere if you can, and then start building towards more mana intensive options for winning if they bring in stax early enough.

Examples:

---Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

---Tymna the Weaver / Tana, the Bloodsower

---Captain Sisay

Teferi, Temporal Archmage

Wait, why does one general have its own category? Because, while Teferi is on the bridge of stax and combo, none of its stax cards actually affect us severely. It can't run spheres, turn off artifacts, or run Arcane Laboratory effectively. For the purposes of our playing across from it, treat it like another fast combo deck with blue.

Navigating through stax effects can be a bit intimidating given our lack of answers, but the vast majority we can simply win through with the correct plays.

Taxers:

Grand Arbiter Augustin IV ; Sphere of Resistance ; Thalia, Guardian of Thraben ; Thorn of Amethyst

These slow us down at all stages of the game, but aren’t entirely unanswerable when stuck on a creature. Plus, they’re effects we can negate on the combo turn with Helm of Awakening. Paradox Engine also helps us here on the storm turn, negating them with just a few rocks on board.

Rules Of Law:

Arcane Laboratory ; Eidolon of Rhetoric ; Ethersworn Canonist ; Rule of Law

These are the true bane of the deck. The worst for us are the two non-creature enchantment versions - short of running some very niche removal (e.g. Universal Solvent) we have no real answer to those two, and probably want to slowly work our way towards Rings of Brighthearth + Basalt Monolith + Exsanguinate while keeping an eye open for an opportunity if another opponent removes them. The other two we can answer with our removal, and Ethersworn can be combo'd through as long as we can chain artifacts into Aetherflux Reservoir.

Untap Restrictions:

Static Orb ; Winter Orb ; Rising Waters ; Hokori, Dust Drinker

These slow us down down, but they don’t interfere with the combo turn, or affect artifact mana other than Static Orb. More nuisances than real threats to our plan.

Draw Hate:

Chains of Mephistopheles ; Notion Thief ; Spirit of the Labyrinth

Very few cards in our deck actually draw cards, so we can more or less ignore this family of cards.

Enter The Battlefield Tapped:

Blind Obedience ; Manglehorn ; Root Maze ; Frozen AEther

Artifacts entering tapped is problematic for us, lands a little less so for the purpose of our combo turn, but irksome on the turns leading up to it it. Our friends here are Skirge Familiar and Paradox Engine, typically the former leading to the latter, letting each cast trigger an untap.

Mass Land Destruction

Armageddon ; Ravages of War ; Sunder ; Wildfire ; Decree of Annihilation

More of a tempo swing than stax effect, we weather these spells better than most given our extreme lean towards artifact mana. All but Geddon/Ravages tend to come after we’ve either already won or are out of the game for other reasons.

Tutor Hate

Aven Mindcensor ; Stranglehold ; Shadow of Doubt

Search hate is incredibly annoying if we haven't already tutored Ad Nauseam, but not as much trouble if we have. In both cases, we're somewhat the mercy of the topdeck gods, but these effects don’t stop us winning, just assembling that win.

Other Effects

Blood Moon ; Magus of the Moon

These shut off Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Lake of the Dead notably, but overall, these don't impede our progress much given our high Swamp count. A good reason for not going overboard on utility lands, however.

Null Rod ; Stony Silence

Given the largest percentage of permanents in our deck are artifacts, we are are hurt considerably by these, and they tend to push us towards an endstep Ad Nauseam. Two cards that really excel here are Lake of the Dead and Skirge Familiar. A typical line in this scenario would be end-step Naus into casting Skirge Familiar, into Exsanguinate, into Yawgmoth's Will, into Ad Nauseam, into Exsanguinate for the kill.

It’s worth noting these only shut off activated abilities, so you can still get the lifegain triggers off of Aetherflux Reservoir, quite relevant for reusing our Ad Nauseam.

Cursed Totem ; Linvala, Keeper of Silence

Shuts off Skirge Familiar and Overeager Apprentice, but affects us fairly marginally otherwise.

Grafdigger's Cage

This affects some reanimation lines involving our general, Skirge Familiar, and Overeager Apprentice, but little else besides.

Humility

Shuts off our general which is obnoxious; Skirge Familiar too, but we run many other tutors besides, and making potential beats 1/1’s loosens up pressure on our life total while making all the staxbears ability-less potatoes. In the average pod, this probably benefits us more than it hurts us.

Kataki, War's Wage

It’s typically worth keeping our good mana rocks alive through this effect, pushing the combo turn slightly later but having more resources available. Affects the combo turn not at all.

Nether Void

At first, this might seem like just an extreme version of the taxers, but its wording is key: it counters the spell, meaning we can still cast it for its printed cost. This is exceptionally important for Aetherflux Reservoir and Paradox Engine, which have cast triggers. Getting even a couple good rocks in and one of these, then letting lots of our mox spells get countered to generate mana and storm, is often our best escape hatch here.

Card:The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

We barely notice this effect; our creatures don't tend to hang around too long.

Trinisphere

A more severe effect for us than regular Sphere effects. Similar to them, Paradox Engine is great for getting us to a point where that no longer matters. Remember that Helm of Awakening and Jet Medallion don’t help here.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier acts as a Demonic Tutor in the command zone, getting us our one-card combo of resolving Ad Nauseam. Because Sidisi can exploit herself, we are typically sending her to the command zone or, if we have reanimation in hand, the graveyard, so we can reuse her ability.

As a general, Sidisi allows you to always guarantee you'll be able to have access to Ad Nauseam, which allows us to build an entire deck around that one card.

The downside of Sidisi is obvious: being mono black. Black has no good counterspells, and no effective way to answer artifacts and enchantments once they’ve resolved. On the positive side, black's cardpool contains all the best rituals and most of the best tutors, things that synergize very well with what we’re trying to do.

Swamp

Obvious include, but in general, you want a high basics count due to Lake of the Dead and Bubbling Muck. These could easily be Snow-Covered Swamp if your meta warrants it (e.g. Extraplanar Lens is hitting snow-covered swamps in your area), or if you want to try Mouth of Ronom as zero cmc removal.

Ancient Tomb; City of Traitors; Crystal Vein; Ebon Stronghold; Peat Bog

All lands with the potential to generate two mana. This deck maximizes acceleration, and is more than willing to sacrifice lands to get there. Be careful in your pre-Naus use of Ancient Tomb, but don’t be afraid to use it every turn if that’s what gets you to the finish line.

Gemstone Caverns

Turn zero acceleration, at the cost of occasionally being a colorless land.

Phyrexian Tower

Takes advantage of all our low cmc creatures to accelerate.

Lake of the Dead

One of the trickier lands to use, but arguably the most powerful in the deck. Adding four black is incredible, and worth the sacrifice.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Helps us use some of our lands-with-downsides as regular Swamps, at the disadvantage of occasionally assisting opponents with fixing. If you don’t need its effect and have other Swamps in hand, play those first.

Cavern of Souls

Usually naming Zombie for the sake of casting our general, and occasionally Imp for Skirge Familiar.

Boseiju, Who Shelters All

Enters the battlefield tapped (bad), and costs two life to use (even worse), it's none the less one of the most important cards in the deck as it’s the only way we can make Ad Nauseam uncounterable. In blue heavy pods, this is a frequent tutor target.

Phyrexian Walker; Shield Sphere; Ornithopter; Memnite

Useful for Phyrexian Tower, Culling the Weak, Cabal Therapy, Diabolic Intent, and occasionally - blocking. We almost never sacrifice these (or our other creatures) to Sidisi, as we want to reuse Sidisi either through recasting her or reanimation.

Blood Pet

A lotus petal for B that’s also a creature for the purposes mentioned earlier.

Hope of Ghirapur

Turns off one person's countermagic for a turn cycle, and has similar utility to our mox creatures.

Overeager Apprentice

Stores mana for our combo turn, and occasionally converts colorless to black. Frequently a good target for reanimation to generate extra mana.

Skirge Familiar

One of the most important cards in the deck, Skirge familiar helps converts our mountains of cards into black mana. Often, this is our only way around effects like Null Rod.

Animate Dead and Dance of the Dead

Reanimation with minimal downsides. Typically used for reanimating Sidisi for extra tutors, and Skirge Familiar or Overeager Apprentice for mana, always remember you can target opponents’ graveyard with this effects. Stealing a Jin-Gitaxias or a Necrotic Ooze can steal a victory.

Chrome Mox; Grim Monolith; Lotus Petal; Mana Crypt; Mana Vault; Mox Diamond; Sol Ring

Mana-positive artifacts: a fairly standard suite for most storm decks in this format.

Fellwar Stone; Fractured Powerstone; Mind Stone; Prismatic Lens; Thought Vessel

2 cmc rocks that come into play untapped: we run every one we have access to. Being mono color means no signets or talismans, sadly.

Lodestone Bauble; Mishra's Bauble; Urza's Bauble

On our storm turn count for storm and mox Paradox untaps; in our early game they cast be cast and sacrificed to cantrip. If you want additional similar effects, the spellbombs are playable, too.

Astral Cornucopia and Everflowing Chalice

For the sake of Ad Nauseam, effectively mox acceleration. These can be worth pumping a considerable amount of mana into on combo turns driven by Paradox Engine.

Chromatic Sphere and Chromatic Star

Eggs that filter colorless into black and cantrip.

Codex Shredder and Conjurer's Bauble

Black is surprisingly terrible at non-creature graveyard Regrowth-type effects, which makes artifacts are go-to choice here (as they are in general: Sidisi runs more artifacts than any other card type, including lands). Codex Shredder brings cards directly back to hand, while Conjurer’s puts them from our graveyard back in our library, making them easy to tutor again. Don’t be afraid to cast and sacrifice Conjurer's early game for a card, even if there are no graveyard targets.

Helm of Awakening and Jet Medallion

Cost reducers are amazing in any deck that loves to race, but be careful with Helm’s mirrored effects - especially around opponents with a single blue mana source open. Helm is also extremely useful at getting ahead versus Thalia-type tax effects.

Jeweled Amulet and Wayfarer's Bauble

Some of our weaker acceleration, I consider these flex slots. Remember that you can store colorless mana on Jeweled Amulet, making Swamp-Sol Ring-Jeweled for example a turn one play that will give you turn two Sidisi with a Swamp in hand.

Aetherflux Reservoir

Our primary win condition, with the considerable benefit of making us gain a considerable amount of life. If we don’t have enough spells to simply win by casting spells with this in play, using this to gain life, and then cast Ad Nauseam again, is a common play.

Basalt Monolith

Stores mana for a turn, and acts as a combo piece with Rings Of Brighthearth for infinite mana.

Defense Grid

One of the few means of protecting our combo. If you’re uncertain of your opponents’ interaction capabilities (say, for example, you cast Ad Nauseam off Boseiju), getting this out early in the combo turn is an added layer of protection.

Expedition Map

A land tutor on a 1cmc artifact. Frequently targets Boseiju or Lake.

Lion's Eye Diamond

Easily the most complex artifact to use in the deck, remember to hold priority if you wish to crack this in response to casting a tutor or Yawgmoth's Will. This deck casts its hands so rapidly that is often worth cracking it early to power out Sidisi and tutor for Ad Nauseam.

Paradox Engine

For a long time, this spot was held by Krark-Clan Ironworks, however, numerous games and playtests have proven to me that on average, Paradox generates much more mana, which makes it worth the additional converted mana cost. As they serve similar functions are are both high cmc, I wouldn’t recommend running both.

Rings of Brighthearth

One of the more narrow cards in the deck, this forms an infinite mana combo with Basalt Monolith, which, once active, forms a three card combo with Top that allows you to draw your deck.

Sensei's Divining Top

1cmc card-selection EDH all-star.

Springleaf Drum

Turns our mox creatures into hasty mana dorks.

Voltaic Key

Allows us to reuse and double up on the mana from cards like Mana Vault, Grim Monolith, and Basalt Monolith.

Cabal Therapy; Duress; Inquisition of Kozilek; Thoughtseize

Our discard package. Usually used to root out a counterspell for Ad Nauseam or a problem stax piece.

Demonic Tutor; Diabolic Intent; Imperial Seal; Grim Tutor

This deck loves its tutors more than most, so we run all the good ones.

Bubbling Muck

High Tide, for Swamps. Gets stronger the longer the game goes on, but is frequently still a ritual for three or more black as early as turn three.

Deathmark

Hits almost all the creatures that cause us issues.

Exsanguinate

Our other win condition, and much like Aetherflux, don’t be afraid to use this for non-lethal levels so we can Ad Naus again deeper.

Reanimate

1cmc reanimate-anything is extremely powerful, but the downside does affect us more than most other decks that would run this card.

Yawgmoth's Will

One of the most powerful cards in Magic, and with multiple uses in the deck. Frequently used to recast multiple spells during our storm turn, it can be used before to chain rituals and/or tutors that get us to an Ad Nauseam, as well as acting as recursion for a countered Ad Nauseam.

Ad Nauseam

The namesake of the deck, needs no introduction.

Cabal Ritual

Good at 1B for BBB; amazing at 1B for BBBBB. Always keep an eye to your graveyard and threshold count, as this ritual is often key to powering out an early Ad Nauseam.

Culling the Weak

Converts our undercosted creatures into a huge ritual.

Dark Ritual

The original, and still the best.

Rain of Filth

Our riskiest yet potentially our largest ritual: the very definition of all-in and the kind of card this deck is all about.

Slaughter Pact

Hits almost every creature that causes us trouble, for 0cmc. We’re very light on removal, but this costs us nothing in life off of an Ad Nauseam.

Songs of the Damned

Potentially one of our weaker rituals, it can none the less generate quite a bit of mana on the storm turn.

Vampiric Tutor

Possibly, our best tutor.

Cycling Lands (e.g. Barren Moor )

They primarily enter tapped, which makes them poor as mana sources, and don’t count towards storm count or Paradox triggers the way similarly-functioning cards like the baubles do. Blasted Landscape is the most playable of them in Sidisi.

Dark Confidant

This was ran for a long time, but the general consensus among Sidisi pilots has been his effect is too slow pre-combo turn, and dead during the combo turn.

Necropotence

This card is a powerhouse in even marginally slower decks, but having to pass the turn after sinking a large portion of life into it is often problematic, and exiling what we've drawn is problematic given how much our deck is designed for storming off of a large quantity of cards in hand. While some builds do use it, and it's well worth trying with and without it to gauge its use in the deck before coming to your own conclusion in this matter.

Sickening Dreams

Many of the earliest versions of this deck used this card, however it requires you to have a land-drop free for Glacial Chasm, or, running a cmc so low almost all your deck is almost entirely lands rather than acceleration or tutors. If it's countered, you've already sacrificed a large portion of the cards you've drawn from Ad Nauseam that could be fuel for alternate storm turn wins.

Tendrils of Agony

A core card in the deck until the printing of Aetherflux Reservoir, Aetherflux has consistently performed better at the same cmc. This deck really doesn't need more than two win conditions, especially two four cmc ones, which meant cutting what was our old secondary wincon for our new primary one was a natural swap.

Walking Ballista

While perfectly acceptable as a tertiary win condition, the deck by and large just doesn’t need this effect. Our other win conditions can also win with much less mana (Walking Ballista almost always infinite off of Rings/Basalt to win).

A big thanks to Asm and Monkey for all their assistance with this list, and to Razzliox's whose Sidisi ANT list this deck sprang from.

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