ChubbyStreams: Nahiri Control


A lot has been made recently about the downturn in TMD participation and the Vintage format in general. I'm not trying to stir the pot there as I think there are many valid views on what people want out of the format and community. However, it got me thinking about my own lack of participation on TMD recently, and I concluded that this was largely due to a lack of content in which I'm interested. Again, I mean this to be limited to my own perspective and I don't mean to be critical of others' interests or discussions. I'm merely mentioning my motivation: if there is content that personal appeals to me, then maybe I should take the first step and try to create such content. And so here is what I wanted to try....

For those that don't know, I enjoy streaming Vintage on MTGO on my Twitch channel, It's a fun way to interact with people in chat while promoting the format and testing new concepts. That said, there is a limit to what you can do during a stream. My idea was to create a relatively short companion post on TMD before I go live. On it I wanted to include more of the theoretical aspects behind the deck building, such as my overall strategy, individual card choices, sideboarding plans, etc. My hope is that this fosters a more in-depth discussion of the finer points of deck design and metagaming than is possible on twitch chat. I welcome your feedback and comments - just please try to avoid the topic of restrictions. This is what I'm planning to stream around 7:30 pm EST time tonight (1/23).



I approach brewing Vintage decks to conducting science experiments. You identify which aspects or hypotheses that you want test and design the experiment around those elements. Often the entire decks stems from one or two such questions. So what is the central idea I wanted to test with this deck? Honestly, I thought there were a lot of similarities between Deep Analysis and Painful Truth and wanted to explore a similar approach in a different archetype. "What is he talking about?" If you haven't been following MTGO Vintage lately, then you might not have seen this Grixis Control list that oRS used to win a Vintage Challenge a couple of weeks ago. The deck leans Painful Truths as a way of generating card advantage that compliments the Delve/Gush/Dack draw engine. The fundamentals here (+2 CA, -3 life) are actually similar to the flashback on Deep Analysis. Since casting the card from your graveyard doesn't cost you a card, the net effect is +2 cards. The advantages to Deep Analysis is that it doesn't require you to run black, is one mana cheaper, and the "alternative cost" of hardcasting from your hand is powerful in the late game. The cons are that it requires some amount of setup and DA is susceptible to Pyroblast effects from the opponent.

Card Choices

  • Nahiri, the Harbinger - JVP, Dack, and Nahiri are clearly the key ways to loot Deep Analysis into the graveyard. I feel I don't need to do much to justify including JVP and Dack as they are established Vintage staples. Nahiri is more of a Vintage oddball. The rationale behind her inclusion is that the MTGO metagame is rather Oath and Pyroblast heavy. Her -2 ability is a very powerful effect against Oath and Sylvan Library. At the same time her -8 provides a rather quick clock that many decks in the metagame will have difficulty answering since they are typically dependent on Pyroblast to remove planeswalkers like Jace and Dack. Crazy? Brian Kelly has been running Arlinn Kord, Xenagos the Reveler, and Sarkhan Vol mostly because they dodge Pyroblast.
  • Tinker + Blightsteel - Previous versions of Nahiri Control ran Moat and so I defaulted to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as my go to creature for Nahiri's -8 ability. With the restriction of Mentor and the downswing in various Eldrazi decks, I don't think Moat is as well positioned as it was previously. Because of that, I wanted to test another powerful, game-ending threat that works well with the decks many discard outlets. After deciding on Blightsteel, Tinker becomes an easy addition, though I will point out that the deck is hardly dependent on Tinker to win the game. As such, I'll be pretty aggressive pitching it to Force of Will and siding it out in matchups where it's going to be difficult to ride Blightsteel to victory (such as Jeskai Mentor with Swords and Dack Faydens).
  • Balance - I absolutely HATE balance in most Mentor shells. Yes, I know the card is powerful, but the typical Mentor deck tends to be Moxen light (running Sapphire, Ruby, and Pearl only) and creature heavy (running Mentor, Pyromancer and Snapcaster Mage). This deck has much more synergy. I have the full artifact package as well as only Mentor and Blightsteel as the only true creatures. Balance plays well with both JVP and Deep Analysis as these cards allow you to rebuild quickly following a Balance, even if you have to discard the majority of your hand.
  • Fire/Ice - Ice plays well with Dack's Emblem as well as Nahiri's -2 (Tap your artifact or creature, then Exile it). Fire is deceptively good right now at killing Pyromancers while dodging Misstep and killing many of the low to the ground Shops creatures like Overseer, Revoker, and Inspector. While it isn't the most efficient removal spell, it is never truly dead which is why I like it in the main deck.
  • Lighting Bolt - Apparently Arlinn Kord and Xenagos are things... Bolt their planeswalker, JVP their 2/2 token, then get on with your life.
  • Tsabo's Web - Stops Mishra's Factories which are pretty powerful against planeswalkers, Karakas which negates JVP, and hits Dredge. It's very similar to Pithing Needle but I like it because of the card draw and ability to dodge Misstep, which has been become more common in Dredge lists. Brian Kelly is also a fan and have you seen that foil version on MTGO? It's gorgeous - so dark and malevolent! The MTGO foil display glitch for old cards is one of the best features on the client.
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This wasn't meant to be an extensive write up, but I hope there are enough things to talk about. If you want me to try something like this again or have other feedback or comments, please chime in!

last edited by Guest

Won’t be able to watch tonight, but hope to watch some archives. Nahiri is one of my pet cards. Hadn’t really thought of her in the current meta against the Oath gauntlet running around, but that is some great insight into her position. I agree, Moat is (sadly) weak again.

Well, in the end, the deck kind of got out Vintaged. We didn't win a game in 3 matches before dropping and playing a Grixis control deck to a 3-2 record. Nahiri was underwhelming, though we played against broken decks like Storm and PO. She almost got there against Landstill but after balancing our opponent down to one card, Aaron hit Jace into Snapcaster + Time Walk. It's hard to evaluate the deck as these weren't really the matchups we were anticipating (Oath, Xerox, Shops), but it's hard to have much confidence in the deck given the results. I welcome any input and don't mind tinkering with this deck more, but I think I will move on to experimenting with Gifts next time. Thanks to everyone who tuned in.

Looking forward to a gifts experiment.


I'm sure you are aware but the VODs are about 40-50% muted due to music copyright issues. One way to make your videos more accessible (and therefore growing viewership) is to eliminate the music or use a provider that has a 100% approved for Twitch use channel. Spotify has a few I believe.

Thank you for putting yourself out there. I have thought very much about streaming matches in the evening but always talk myself out of it.

I played a deck similar to this for almost a year. It started as a Gush deck and I kept loosing to Mentor (before restriction), I changed it into a LandStill deck and it performed much better.

I gave up on the deck, because it was losing to fast aggro like Shop. The last list I tried is below.

I like the concept and I love Nahari, the Harbinger but I'm not sure the card is good enough. Looking at your list it looks like you can handle Control and Xerox.

I wonder about your Humans, Dredge and Shop match ups. Even the new Oath build can be very hard for a big blue style deck to deal with.

I hope it works. I'll check back for results.

4 Standstill
4 Swords to plowshare
2 Wear//Tear
4 Force of will
3 Mental misstep
2 Mana drain
3 Mindbreak trap
3 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Jace the mindscrupltor
1 Dack Fayden
1 Ancestral recall
1 Time walk
1 Brainstorm
1 Treasure cruise
1 Dig through time
1 Emrakul, the Aeon Torn
1 Moat
1 Supreme verdict
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Black Lotus
2 Island
1 Plains
3 Tundra
3 Volcanic island
1 Stripmine
2 Wasteland
3 Mishras factory
3 Flooded Strand
2 Misty rainforest

2 Red blast
1 Wear//Tear
3 Stoney silence
3 Tormod's crypt
3 Comtainment priest
1 Supreme verdiict
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Banesfire

last edited by moorebrother1

For what it's worth there's no real downturn, I have access to site activity history and we're getting more views/visitors/posts January 2018 than we did January 2017. January's just a slow month for vintage.

Still ... if it inspires you to make awesome content like this, I'm all for it!

It's a hot deck, and I LOVE the idea of a companion-piece for your stream. I know this stuff takes a lot of work, but it's real fun to read!

You know what? I think I actually undersold how much I like this thread 🙂

You built a deck, explained your reasoning, and then the deck didn't work out and you explained why. You never see people writing up stuff on this, even though it's like 80% of the experience of a successful player. I think newer players are sometimes afraid to post about decks that aren't winning a lot, and veteran players might not see the value in it.

If we had a post like this (from anyone) once a week? This would be one of the best strategy sites on the web for any format.

last edited by Brass Man

@pugsuperstar OBS has a record option...I'm going to try using that and posting to youtube. That might run into similar problems but I think the people in chat like the ability to request songs like the Baby Shark song or whatever they feel like. Best case scenario is that this works for both audiences.

@moorebrother1 I've had a hard time with consistency and mana in the 3 color Landstill decks. Still, it's an interesting approach. I wanted to play against Shops but no luck with the pairings. Thank you for sharing your list.

@brass-man Yeah, I noticed a similar downturn in online tournaments (not just Vintage). It's a busy time of year and Cube is also insanely popular and competes with other formats among the online player base.

Thank you for the kind words, Andy. It's much appreciated 🙂

@chubbyrain said in ChubbyStreams: Nahiri Control:

I think the people in chat like the ability to request songs like the Baby Shark song or whatever they feel like.



It got requested by accident and then was immediately requested about five more times.

Here's the moment where the song (and a player breaking their own Standstill) breaks Matt:

And here's the moment where he's accepted his fate and goes full Stockholm Syndrome:

@chubbyrain OBS also has a setting to automatically start recording video to disk whenever you start/stop streaming. I recommend that; it's a lot easier to remember.

Baby Shark Song is amazing. I feel like I've missed so much in my break from streaming.

last edited by Brass Man
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