Deck Building Exercise – The Marvellous Madam Nin

30 Sep

So finally we get to what I plan to actually use this blog for – discussion (well, it’s only a discussion if I get comments… hint hint!) on the building of future decks. As you can plainly see from the title, this time it’s Nin, the Pain Artist. Let’s have a look at her:

(image from, and presumably (c) Wizards of the Coast Gatherer search engine)

Well, we can tell straight away this isn’t a deck that’s reliant on the General getting through for the big damages. Despite stories around my playgroup of Kiku, Night’s Flower or Azusa, Lost but Seeking getting there for 21, a point at a time, this won’t be the focus of this deck. Nin is pleasantly cheap though (not like that 😉 ), and so will hopefully be having an effect on the board from as early as turn 2. Neither is her type particularly relevant; as much as I love tribal decks, this isn’t going to be a Vedalken or Wizard deck (although there may be a card or two that interact with those types). No, I chose this general because of her activated ability. As someone somewhere on the internets said, it turns every creature on the board into a Stroke of Genius. But how to break this? Can it be broken? Of course it can… there are some bits and pieces around this ability which aren’t immediately apparent:

 – The creature doesn’t have to die, to draw the cards
 – You can deal more damage to the creature than it has toughness, and get more cards out of it
 – Drawing cards can be a bad bad thing….

With those not-very-stunning revelations in mind, this is how I decided to build the deck:

1. Have a smattering of indestructible creatures of my own that I can ping to get cards
2. Make big amounts of mana to make a player (could be me, could be someone else) draw a ton of cards
3. Punish my opponents for drawing cards
4. Punish my opponents for me drawing cards
5. With a side order of “make sure my hand size is unlimited”

How to accomplish these things? Well, lets go through them in order

1. Indestructible Creatures to Target

When it comes to indesctructible creatures (in red and blue) the choice is actually pretty limited. We have:

 – Blightsteel and Darksteel Colossi: Too expensive
 – Creepy and Stuffy Doll: Definite potential, esp since Stuffy Doll helps me to kill somone deader than a doornail.
 – Darksteel Gargoyle, Juggernaut, Myr, and Sentinel: The only one I’d consider here is Darksteel Sentinel; the others don’t do enough (in my opinion) for their cost
 – Manor Gargoyle: This guy is interesting. He’s indestructible when you want it to be, and gets in there for 4 when you need him to.
 – Myojin of Infinite Rage: I don’t do mass land destruction. Pass.
 – Myojin of Infinite Drawing: This, on the other hand, is an absolute shoe-in.
 – Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre: See Collosi.

So from that list, I think I’m going to end up with Creepy Doll, Stuffy Doll, Manor Gargoyle, Myojin of Seeing Winds, and maybe Darksteel Sentinel. The only problem with that plan is that of those, I only own a Darksteel Sentinel. To the trading post! In the meantime, I’m going to run Sentinel, Darksteel Myr, and Darksteel Brute (not even a creature, really)

2. Make mana, for making the damage, for drawing the cards.

There are some very interesting one-shot effects in red which can net you a TON of mana. The two that fit into this deck particularly well are Mana Geyser (which, really, goes in any red multiplayer deck. This card is sick) and Inner Fire, which is usually not very good but in this deck could be fantastic. There’s also Koth of the Hammer, and Mana Seism, although that’s a pretty risky proposition. Blue gets, ah, shafted in the fast/lots of mana category. Other random thoughts on what should go in here:

 – Izzet Signet (Is It??!)
 – Dreamstone Hedron
 – Journeyer’s Kite
 – Darksteel Ingot
 – Gilded Lotus
 – Some variety of lands which tap for the manas (pity there’s no R/U storage land, but)
 – Braid of Fire. Yes, really. Now that the mana disappears in the upkeep, right after you’ve paid for it, I have to do it before I draw for the turn, but what else am I going to do with 1,342 mana in my upkeep? Besides, with no mana burn any more, this card is pure upside.

3. You drew cards! You’ve fallen into my trap!

Runeflare Trap, that is! Cards that perform a similar role:

 – Sudden Impact
 – Gaze of Adamaro (aka Sudden Impact mk II)
 – Cerebral Vortex
 – Molten Psyche
 – Adamaro, First to Desire (I’ve been looking for a deck for this guy for AGES)

4. You let me draw cards? What were you thinking?!

Simply letting me draw cards in the first place is a bad idea, but when I have these bad boys in play, you’re in for a world of hurtin’….

 – Sokenzen Spellblade (read his non-Bushido ability. Then read it again. Now imagine I’ve activated it four times. How much damage do you think you’re taking?)
 – Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
 – Psychosis Crawler

5. You know what they say about people with big hands…

Pretty standard set here, there aren’t many options and they all fit into this deck

 – Library of Leng
 – Reliquary Tower
 – Venser’s Journal
 – Spellbook (I’ll probably leave this one out)
 – Graceful Adept

 Other Stuff

Ill need a bunch of other stuff as well; burn spells, counters, creatures, recursion, bounce (having a dead opponent makes Stuffy Doll a sad little toy), and so on. A few thoughts I’ve had in regards to other bits ‘n pieces:

 – Looks like I’ll have a few wizards scattered through here, and I happen to have a Riptide Laboratory. Might throw it in here to see how well it works.
 – Nin’s a bit fragile, so Greaves/Boots/Helm (or combination thereof) should go in too
 – More draw spells. I don’t own either Stroke of Genius or Blue Sun’s Zenith, but will try to trade for some. In the meantime things like Jace’s Ingenuity, Concentrate, maybe Whispers of the Muse? Maybe Think Twice? When you start really looking, there’s an awful lot of blue spells that don’t actually use the word “draw” on them! Suggestions on the back of an envelope please, or in the comments section below
 – Thousand-Year Elixir, for the lols.
 – Random burn spells. Since I’m gonna be makin’ the mad mana, I think X spells will work ok in here. I’m particularly partial to Molten Disaster, Comet Storm, Demonfire, Banefire and Red Sun’s Zenith. Any other suggestions for decent burn spells?
 – Counters. I’ll probably start with my “standard” package of Hinder, Dream Fracture, Faerie Trickery and Draining Whelk. To add to that, Overwhelming Intellect obviously goes in this deck

Season to taste, and you’ve got yourself a Nin deck. What do you all (both of you 😉 ) think?


Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Challenge of Doom, EDH/Commander


Tags: , , , , ,

12 responses to “Deck Building Exercise – The Marvellous Madam Nin

  1. A Random Nin Player

    October 1, 2011 at 2:09 am

    You should try to add Vicious Shadows, it fits perfectly in any Nin EDH, especially when you try to kill your opponents with the draw.

    • labnrpg

      October 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

      Definitely. I was going to mention this but it somehow slipped my mind. Thanks!

  2. John

    October 1, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Add Sturmgeist from Innistrad, Aeon Chronicler from Planar Chaos, and Soramaro, First to Dream from Saviors to go with Psychosis Crawler. Realize that their power increases upon resolution of Nin’s ability, prior to State Based Actions killing them. Profit.

    • labnrpg

      October 1, 2011 at 8:31 am

      I knew I was missing some obvious guys from that section, and that’s all of ’em 🙂 Cheers!

    • Thaumaturge

      October 1, 2011 at 8:35 am

      Stealing Viscious Shadows and Aeon Chronicler for my own Nin deck… thanks for the tech, everyone!

  3. Thaumaturge

    October 1, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Some good ideas here. I’ll probably steal a couple for my own Nin deck, which is going to be my next project, once I get some Innistrad cards. I’m going to focus on making it more of a Red/Blue Sorcery and Instand theme with stuff like Wee Dragonaughts, Spellbinder and the new Runechanter’s Pike to abuse the Sorcery/Instand themes. But mostly I just want to have a reason to play Past in Flames – it’s like a Red version of Yawgmoth’s Win!

    I don’t know if you got the Commander precon decks, but Chaos Warp and Spell Crumple could be worth looking at for your build.

    • labnrpg

      October 1, 2011 at 8:35 am

      I thought about going that way, but I’m not sure if it would be able to handle a whole table at once – I’d be very keen to see your list when it’s done. Thanks for the comment!

      • Thaumaturge

        October 1, 2011 at 8:36 am

        Yeah, i’m not super confident it’ll win me games, but it seems fun enough to play… I do think that IF I live long enough into the late game and resolve Past in Flames I should pretty much win 99.9% of the games at that point, but that’s a big iIF…

  4. Brad Houston (@herodotusjr)

    October 1, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Just to note: I tried to build this deck, but it morphed into Nicol Bolas once I realized that I really, really wanted to put Kederekt Parasite, Underworld Dreams, and Spiteful Visions in. Making them hurt for big hands is fun; making them hurt for the very act of DRAWING CARDS is even more fun, at least in my opinion. Of course our buddy Niv-Mizzet and the Brain-In-A-Jar are some of fun, too, so there’s definitely a case to be made for keeping it U/R.

    Anyway. You want to make people pay for letting you draw cards? Make sure you are drawing cards ALL THE TIME. Teferi’s Puzzle Box is my favorite way to do this, closely followed by Mindmoil, although both of those mean you have to fill your deck with spells you don’t necessarily mind losing. Windfall and Windfall on a Stick, AKA Jace’s Archivist, let you have a little more control about when to dump your hand; same with the Red counterparts, Wheel of Fortune, Winds of Change, Wheel of Fate, etc. You’re going for quantity of actual ‘draw a card’ rather than card advantage per se, so cards like Careful Consideration might be better for you than Think Twice or even Fact or Fiction in this particular case.

    • labnrpg

      October 1, 2011 at 8:38 am

      Yeah I was going mention the draw-punishing power of black but figured I’d rambled on long enough 😉 Windfall and Jace’s Archivist are earmarked for this deck, and I can’t believe I’d forgotten about the Puzzle Box of Doom. Thanks!

      • Thaumaturge

        October 1, 2011 at 8:43 am

        A couple of cards that I think would just be hilarious to try out in any Nin deck…
        Repercussion (can backfire, but if you are careful, you can kill someone VERY fast with this)
        Plagiarize (Sorry I killed your dude, but at least you got to draw some… oh, wait, no you didn’t!)

        • labnrpg

          October 1, 2011 at 8:55 am

          That’s hilarious 🙂


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