Taking Fifteen with Dark Confidant and Nahiri in Modern
Have you ever been playing control, but get frustrated because your opponents are conceding too early? The best part of playing a control deck is the feeling of dismantling each and every plan of your opponents, but too frequently, after doing that once, your opponent concedes! They see that they can no longer win, and strip the joy of playing all your sweet card advantage from you! How could we solve this, I wonder?
The answer is to give them hope. This deck, at its core, is a Superfriends deck. We play powerful planeswalkers that help us grind down our opponent and remove their ways to win the game. It just so happens that the best win condition we could play is Nahiri, the Harbinger + Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and the best two-mana planeswalker is Dark Confidant. I want to be extremely clear that these are the best options for this strategy in their slots and it’s simply a coincidence that they synergize so poorly together.
For those who don’t know, Nahiri’s ultimate ability happens simply two turns after she lands and immediately puts a hasty Emrakul into play from your deck. Huge flavor win and likely a game win as well.
It’s this poor synergy that makes the deck so attractive for the truly sadistic control players. It looks on the surface like a drawback, but after playing the deck for several weeks at every given opportunity, it is clear that the interaction is so unlikely that it can be mostly ignored. However, for your opponent it represents an out they always have. As long as that Dark Confidant is in play, you might accidentally just die at any given opportunity, which means you get to take even more turns and activate more Loyalty abilities before you inevitably win the game.
My selection of planeswalkers in the deck is catered to my local metagame, as should yours be. I was seeing a ton of Phoenix and Burn locally, which made Kaya particularly attractive and Liliana not as backbreaking as she would be in the Midrange or creature-focused match-ups. Additionally, your number of Lingering Souls should be included in this count, as they are simply more alternative threats. The card is terrific against phoenix in this deck that can reliably kill Thing in the Ice, but I couldn’t justify all four, as it’s so embarrassing against Burn.
Nahiri, in particular has been more impressive the more I’ve played with her. There are so many powerful enchantments in Modern right now. I have exiled Blood Moons, Pyromancer’s Ascensions, Detention Spheres, Eidolon of the Great Revels, and so many more. Additionally, taking one hit off a Death’s Shadow or Champion of the Parish is usually acceptable in this deck with 3 Kaya’s and 3 Lightning Helixes to recoup the life loss. She also does such a good job of digging you through your not-so-great interaction into exactly what you need for the deck you’re sitting across from.
Our disruption suite looks pretty similar to a Rock deck, and that’s intentional. The play pattern of hand disruption into powerful threat with some cheap removal to back it up is an even more attractive one when your threats are planeswalkers with repeatable effects instead of just some beefy Tarmogoyf.
The specific mix of spells once again is decided by my metagame. I wanted as few Path to Exiles as possible so that fewer of my cards were a liability against Burn and UW Control. Opting for the full four Fatal Push and three Lightning Helixes means that more of my cards are live more of the time and come with fewer drawbacks. I wanted to not play Thoughtseize at first, but it quickly became apparent that there are enough misses for Inquisition out of UW Control and other decks that some number of Thoughtseize and less than four Inquisitions was necessary.
Finally, Nihil Spellbomb is a key piece of this deck. Not only is it good against so much of what people are doing, in addition to being one-sided so it doesn’t disrupt your Lingering Souls, but it also just cycles when you don’t care about their yard. The hidden mode, which I admit has only come up once, is as a burn spell in combination with Kaya. I have ulted Kaya many times in this deck, and the sweetest time by far was when she was at eight counters against a Death’s Shadow player who had saved up their fetches and interaction to try to keep their grave mostly empty until they exploded in one turn. They cast two Thought Scours, cycled a Street Wraith, Thoughseized me, and fetched three times. I proceeded to top-deck Nihil Spellbomb, exile their whole grave, and ult Kaya for lethal.
The sideboard for this deck is a hodge-podge of hate pieces for different match-ups. Teyo has been good against burn but much better against The Rock and Ad Nauseum, where you brick a huge number of spells from The Rock and cannot die to Lightning Storm out of Ad Nauseum. Ashiok is mostly for Tron and Primeval Titan decks, where shutting off their search effects is hugely impactful. Pithing Needle is of particular importance now that Karn, the Great Creator exists and we have to be wary of Lattice combo and want something to proactively shut off their Karns. And finally, The Elderspell is the final interesting card in the ‘board, and it’s mostly meant for the control match-up. More and more planeswalkers are being run in UW Control and this gives you the chance to really hose them with this targetted hate card. The first time I cast it, I was able to kill my opponent’s Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, put two counters on my Nahiri, the Harbinger, and ult her immediately. I won that game.
Play this deck. The asynergy doesn’t matter and you get to draw cards and do sweet things. You have game against basically the whole format (except Tron) and a semi-fast combo kill if your opponent is a little unlucky.
Honestly, it’s some of the most fun I’ve had playing Modern in a long time and I’m looking forward to playing more of this sweet pile.
See ya next time.
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