Monday, February 11, 2013

Nin, the Pain Artist

Holy crap, a new decklist! I haven’t posted one of these in a while, but to be fair this deck was a bitch to get into working order. It’s still a long way from “perfect” if such a state can even be said to exist in this format, but I have finally managed to win exactly ONE game with it. It was a hard-fought battle, uphill all the way, and required some of the tightest play I could pull off to get that one win. In short, I had to play like I was in the Top 8 of a high-level tournament with fat stacks of cash on the line. I had to focus and play the best Magic I’m capable of, but in the end I got there.

The only problem is, I play EDH to avoid having to play tight, optimal games. I play to relax and have fun, so eking out such a grueling, hard-fought win is satisfying but not the experience I was hoping to craft.

That said, I knew the deck was far from perfect, and was going to be one of my weaker decks, and I was specifically playing it to “stress test” it to really find out what it was made of, so to speak. And I got a really good sense of that. I played another game with it that I came fairly close to winning but couldn’t quite get there. With just those two games, I got enough data to make a few more changes to the deck and now I think it is finally ready to be shared with the world.

Again, it’s still not “complete” but it’s definitely playable at this point. I expect it to undergo quite a few more changes over the next few months, and depending on what happens in Dragon’s Maze it may wind up being drastically altered… but that’s mere speculation at this point. The gist is, there are obviously some existing kinks that still need to be addresses, but at least it’s not a steaming pile of garbage.

Few decks have puzzled and plagued me the way this one did. I’ve actually had it sleeved up since shortly after AVR came out, but it was just basically an unplayable piece of crap until the Return to Ravnica brought new Izzet cards. In the end, I didn’t actually include that many RtR cards, but regardless, the set did inspire a shift in direction and helped guide me to the point it’s at today. In the end I had to make some really tough choices and abandon a bunch of really cool ideas, but there was no way to make the deck do everything I wanted it to do. I needed to narrow down the focus to make it good at executing a plan, rather than being capable of half-assing a variety of different plans.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the current list:

So, as you can see, it’s a bit ugly. I am still struggling to make Nin more important and useful, and to make winning a bit easier without the game turning into a gruelingly long and grindy ordeal. Stuff like Insurrection should help with that, but Insurrection is notoriously unreliable in my group due to the high popularity of sac outlets in my group. Stuffy Doll is cute and can kill of one player but is unlikely to outright win games. I think the best win con at the moment is Blasphemous Act + Repercussion, but that has to be timed just right – when you have few or no creatures, and you opponents have several. And, again, they have to not have sac outlets.

No clue yet if Epic Experiment is going to be any good, or a total dud. I haven’t even drawn it yet.

There are a few notable cards that I really think need to be in here, but haven’t yet acquired:

Chamber of Manipulation seems incredibly useful here. Constipated Sphinx is an over-played “good stuff” card, but you have to admit, the synergy with Nin is irresistible. Plagiarize is a cute trick and nothing more, but I have to try it out. Venser’s Journal actually seems pretty good here, or at least has potential. The deck definitely needs more Reliquary Tower effects, and the lifegain from the Journal should also be very relevant as this is an incredibly slow deck.


  1. i've been toying with the idea of putting together a nin deck for a while now, my idea was to place nin more as the centerpiece and have a few diffent wincons either through "milling" my opponents (forced fruition) or myself (lab maniac) or just blowing up their life with vise type effects. the ine thing i think my build was going to do differnetly was more artifact ramp (gilded lotus, mana vault, thran - and mana doublers, planar lense etc.) that in conjuction with training ground like effects and braids of fire will i hope make it rediculously easy to dump tons of mana into her abulity. also, wheres the mind over matter and ... ffs always forget the name of the card (6 mana, rebound, draw as many cards as target opponent has in his hand)- also this is screaming for mimick vat.

    1. Mimic Vat is definitely on the short list, but I wanted to try out other things a while before going back to that well.

      I already tried out Braid of Fire and it just never did anything for me. The timing restriction on using that mana just made for really awkward decisions.

      Thran Dynamo is pretty awesome, and I will try to squeeze that in as well.

      I like the Lab Maniac idea too, but I'll have to play the deck a bit more, see if self-milling is even a realistic end game or not. If I can get close to decking myself as-is, then adding Lab Maniac and a few more support cards could help it go all the way.

      Constipated Sphinx + Jace's Archivist, too, can burn through a 100 card library in a turn or two, fairly easily. Hmmm.... you have given me much to think on.

      I will make buying another Sphinx my top priority for now, then once I have that, I'll see where it takes me.

      Thanks for the feedback!!

  2. recurring insight! sorry about the poor typing , on my phone ><

  3. no, thank you for writing great articles, I always thoroughly enjoy reading them. I totally understand about avoiding staples too- the ideas I had for my nin deck revolved around wonky combos involving trade routes and seismic assault along with furnace of wrath type effects also windfall, forced fruition and molten psyche effects add in some mass mana production of high tide and doubler artifacts to fuel the shenanigans.

    Ideally this would either lead to one of two situations- I draw an absurd amount of cards and either dump my land to seismic assault (which hopefully would be doubled/quadrupled by furnace effects) or dump all my cards to firestorm (imagine repercussion on the field!).

    Or option two of making my opponents draw a shit ton of cards (either milling them outright) or blasting them with damage from molten molten psyche/cerebral vortex or Psychosis Crawler. Boost up the dmg through black vise possibly? anyway you get the point, theres some cool interactions but its pretty much all janky combos which is kinda what i wanted the deck to be. I'm just not sure if the deck would be too janky/mana hungry to ever get off the ground.

    Btw, I really enjoyed the article on altered art. I went to art school as well and the art of magic is part of the draw for me (I was actually taught by a couple of the artists and a couple of my friends do some card art as well) and I had never seen paint over done so well. I guess I had only been exposed to some really janky ones that I saw on ebay while looking for cards and it was really nice to see it done with some skill instead. Thanks for that article and I'm looking forward to future ones :)

    1. RE: Alters

      Yeah, there are far more mediocre/bad/terrible alterers out there than good ones.Used to be, only the truly talented folks did it, but as it took off in popularity, more and more people joined in that had no business doing so.

      But, to be fair, I've witnessed a couple of alterers start out doing alters that I frankly thought looked like shit, but after a couple years of perseverence, they turned out to be pretty decent at it.

      Almost anyone can, with practice, get better. But there are a lot of alterers who I think overestimate their abilities and ruin a lot of expensive cards. Some people should stick to doing commons and basic lands until they get better.