Mardu Nahiri (Modern)

I've been meaning to make up this deck since I picked up a set of Nahiri, the Harbinger months ago, but hadn't gotten around to it until recently. It's not exactly an unknown quantity, but if saying the words "attack, trigger Emrakul" get you going, read on. It's super sweet, I promise.

[Editor's note: scroll to the bottom to see the updated list]

Best Friends Forever.

Best Friends Forever.


But first, the boring stuff.

Casting turn one Inquisition of Kozilek is already where I want to be in Modern, but since the printing of Fatal Push, I have been even more incentivised to do so. Unsurprisingly, this list starts with a full set of both Inquisition of Kozilek and Fatal Push. Some older lists I saw ran Lightning Bolt over Fatal Push, but since the rise of Death's Shadow I feel Lightning Bolt's stock has gone down in Modern. Even without Revolt, Fatal Push kills mostly everything that Lightning Bolt does, but has the added benefit of hitting some four drops that Bolt misses. It's also easier on the mana, since you always want black on turn one. For everything that Fatal Push misses, Terminate and Path to Exile have your back. Liliana of the Veil does double duty, acting as more removal (so...much...removal) as well as attacking the hand of combo and control decks, complimenting our discard suite.

Speaking of discard, I've been running a pretty standard package of 4 Inquisiton of Kozilek with 2/3 Thoughtseize and 1/2 Collective Brutality in most of my black decks lately. It seems to be the sweet spot. Collective Brutality and Liliana of the Veil in particular are both excellent in this deck as they allow us to discard Lingering Souls for value and the lone copy of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn that randomly turns up from time to time to ruin the party. Nahiri, the Harbinger can obviously loot away the Emrakul, too, meaning the Emrakul bricking in your hand is less of an issue that you would think. Moreover, Nahiri is a great walker with high starting loyalty, and counts as additional removal in a pinch, even though the aim is obviously to ultimate her, grab a hasty Emrakul and wreck your opponent's face.

The three drops in the deck protect Nahiri rather well, and Lingering Souls is a great way to get in incremental damage over the course of a game. I have won games just on the Lingering Souls / Shambling Vents plan alone, which gives us a rather decent fallback option. Wall of Omens holds the ground decently in the early game while drawing you more answers. Other builds I have seen ran Dark Confidant, but I much prefer Wall of Omens in this deck, as flipping Emrakul is...well...yeah. Blanking opponents' removal spells is nice, too, as you already get value from Wall of Omens upon it entering the battlefield. Dark Confidant eating removal the turn you play it is a real thing because you really want to use the discard in this deck to strip problematic cards rather than removal from your opponent's hand. Not running Dark Confidant also allows us to squeeze in the single copy of Painful Truths (the real MVP) and cut Lightning Helix, which was often awkward to cast. The maindeck Collective Brutality is another reason to cut Lightning Helix—it is easier to cast, more versatile, and allows us to discard Lingering Souls, Emrakul, and other dead discard spells in the mid-late game. The full set of Shambling Vent also provides us with some incremental life gain, while fixing our mana.

Enough rambling; here is the list.

Creatures
4 Wall of Omens
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Planeswalkers
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Nahiri, the Harbinger

Spells
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Thoughtseize
2 Collective Brutality
4 Fatal Push
4 Path to Exile
2 Terminate
4 Lingering Souls
1 Painful Truths

Lands
4 Shambling Vent
4 Marsh Flats
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Arid Mesa
2 Godless Shrine
1 Blood Crypt
1 Sacred Foundry
2 Concealed Courtyard
1 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Swamp
1 Plains
1 Mountain
1 Vault of the Archangel

Sideboard
2 Timely Reinforcements
2 Collective Brutality
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Painful Truths
1 Damnation
1 Zealous Persecution
1 Stony Silence
1 Crumble to Dust
2 Fulminator Mage
1 Slaughter Games
2 Wear // Tear
 

The sideboard, as all sideboards are, is a work in progress. There are a decent number of slots devoted to Burn and Tron because I see those decks quite frequently. I would like to fit in more hate for Tron, but there are only so many slots. You'll want to play around with what works for you.

All in all, the deck is a blast to play, and I much prefer the more stable manabase of this version as opposed to the versions more reliant on red. The archetype is far from "solved," however, and there is plenty of room to brew. There are really a bunch of different directions you could take this deck, and one thing I've been wanting to try is Blood Moon in the main. It's tough to make the correct cuts in order to do so, though, and Blood Moon would probably take the slot of Lingering Souls, pushing the deck in a different direction. Adding Blood Moon also means you need to cut Path to Exile, and then Wall of Omens becomes questionable, meaning that Nahiri is the only real reason to run white.

I've also considered throwing together a pile of value cards like Grave Titan and Pia and Kiran Nalaar into the deck alongside Kolaghan's Command and perhaps a spicy Unburial Rites for maximum shenanigans, but that's a list for another day...

If anyone reading has an idea of another direction to take the deck, or thoughts on a Mardu Blood Moon / Nahiri list, hit me up in the comments.

Happy brewing!

 

Updates to the deck:

After more testing, I have made some minor changes to the list. Notably, I added a Grave Titan as another finisher. It has been an absolute house against fair decks, and Grixis Shadow in particular. It is the threat I most want to see when the dust settles from trading our removal for their threats, and gives us one more bomb in the matchup. It is also insane with Vault of the Archangel, and gives us another bomb to tutor for with Nahiri, the Harbinger in the case that either our Emrakul is extracted, in our hand, or can be answered by something like a Drowner of Hope (The last case actually came up in one of my games vs Bant Eldrazi, and I was super happy to be able to get value from Grave Titan and then hard cast it the following turn. Also; nice Eldrazi Displacer, bro).

The more I played, the more I found myself becoming less and less impressed with Wall of Omens. They are a fine proactive cantrip, but just aren't high-impact enough. Grave Titan replaced one copy. I added two Night's Whisper in place of two of them, and a single Ob Nixilis Reignited in the final slot. Night's Whisper has performed well, but it's really Ob Nixilis that has been an all star. Ob Nixilis plays to the deck's strengths, giving us yet another high-impact card that fills multiple roles. It is a card advantage engine, win condition, and removal all in one. It plays incredibly well with what the deck wants to do, and gives us yet another card to lock the game away after the dust settles from all the discard and removal.

I also tweaked the manabase a little. I cut one of the Shambling Vents and the Blackcleave Cliffs, and went up to the full set of Concealed Courtyard. Finally, I added a single copy of Canyon Slough in place of the Mountain. I never wanted to fetch the basic Mountain, and Blood Moon gives us plenty once it hits play. We can still fetch Canyon Slough at the end of turn as a second copy of Blood Crypt, but it also gives us a re-draw in the late game when we draw it. Small edges add up.

I have also changed the sideboard around a little. Here's the updated list:

Creatures
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Grave Titan

Planeswalkers
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited

Spells
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Thoughtseize
2 Collective Brutality
4 Fatal Push
4 Path to Exile
2 Terminate
4 Lingering Souls
2 Night's Whisper
1 Painful Truths

Lands
3 Shambling Vent
4 Marsh Flats
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Arid Mesa
2 Godless Shrine
1 Blood Crypt
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Concealed Courtyard
2 Swamp
1 Plains
1 Canyon Slough
1 Vault of the Archangel

Sideboard
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Timely Reinforcements
2 Collective Brutality
1 Blessed Alliance
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Blood Baron of Viskopa
1 Stony Silence
1 Wear // Tear
1 Vandalblast
1 Kolaghan's Command
3 Blood Moon


It's no secret that I love Blood Moon, especially when played along a healthy amount of discard (shameless self plug: check out this sweet Black Moon deck), and it continues to perform well. Honestly, I think I'll play some number of Blood Moons in Modern as long as I play the format. Blood Moon looks a little awkward with our mana, especially with the creature lands, but in the match ups you want them, there's not really any substitute. Just fetch correctly and profit. Blood Moon is the most obvious change to the sideboard, and definitely the biggest.

I also increased the number of Kalitas by one, as he is great in a bunch of different match ups. I love bringing Kalitas in against Burn, and his exile ability is great vs Dredge and Death's Shadow. As an aside, Grixis Shadow trims removal and packs more copies of Stubborn Denial post board, so sideboarding in creatures is often quite good. Both of these points led me to throwing a single copy of Blood Baron of Viskopa in the side along with Kalitas. It has been very good so far. Protection from both black and white is super relevant in this Path to Exile / Fatal Push metagame, and it attacks through Lingering Souls to boot. Bringing in these creatures made a single copy of Kolaghan's Command an obvious choice. The split of artifact hate might seem strange, but it works well, giving me a desired amount of flexibility.

There are a lot of cards to shore up our Burn matchup, and one thing I would like is a little more grave hate (preferably a second Nihil Spellbomb). But I'm happy with this 75 so far.

I'm currently 6-0 with this list at our local Modern events, beating 3 Grixis Shadow decks, Bant Eldrazi, Ad Nauseum, and Esper Control. Even though my sample size is small, I sincerely believe the deck has legs, and would happily play it at a large event. I'll continue to run it for the foreseeable future. Try it out!