An Introduction To Niv-Mizzet Parun in cEDH

Shauna Gilles • January 23, 2024

I feel that cEDH repels most Magic players due to its inflexibility. The best decks are already solved, and all 98-99 cards within are vetted by its dozens of faithful testers.

But what if we took a step back? To a deck that's a little more glass-cannon, a little more casual, and a hell of a lot more fun? Niv-Mizzet, Parun is for the player who wants a hardcore format and hardcore opponents but also silly cards like Stubborn Denial. If Breach lines bore you and Thassa's Oracle wins make you want to vomit, I implore you to try this deck. It's just that much fun. Having Ophidian Eye in your hand and passing the turn will put you on the edge of your seat as you wait for an instant or sorcery to hit the stack. 

The First Thing You Need to Know About Niv-Mizzet Parun

Now, despite what Niv-Mizzet's abilities may lead you to believe, this deck isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Casting cost aside, Niv is an incredible threat that, if your opponents choose wisely, will paint a target on your head the size of a glacier. I've never had a problem getting Niv onto the field. As you'll learn later in this article, the deck is built to make all six of those color pips a little less daunting.

The real battle starts when he hits the table. Niv is a harbinger of insane card value and unparalleled board control. My hardest days are when my opponents compile their resources to kill it as soon as it lands. But fear not, I've built this deck to face off against three deadly players and come out on top... most of the time. 

While winning an insane counter-war is an awesome experience that will skyrocket your ego, it starts to get a little frustrating. Niv-Mizzet is a "bad deck" because we're in Izzet. Finding our win conditions is a task akin to finding a needle in several haystacks. But our opponents won't realize that. They'll see eighteen cards in our hand and watch their boards fall to pieces and they will form one single thought: "Kill the big Dragon."

Despite the Rhystic Study player with nineteen cards in hand, despite the Tymna/Kraum player that Demonic Tutored and passed last turn, and despite the Kinnan that's about to untap with four activations, they will come for Niv when we have no wincon in sight. After dozens of tournaments, my pleas for my opponents to "for the love of God, wait to kill Niv until I put Curiosity on the stack because THAT dude is about to cast Ad Nauseum," are starting to fall on deaf ears. Playing this deck is fun, but you have to be patient with your opponents when their knee-jerk reactions lead them to spend their Otawara on Niv during their main phase only to immediately lose to a Grand Abolisher

Niv-Mizzet Parun's Primary Gameplan

So you've decided to keep reading despite that extensive warning? Boy, I hope you're ready to spend an entire cEDH game with only one goal in mind. All you need to worry about while playing this deck is how to make six colored pips...and how to keep them on the field. Using some extremely broken acceleration pieces that I'll touch on below, we need to get Niv out by turn 3. Keeping this path in mind is vital because the entire deck orbits around him. Every spell you cast prior to Niv is wasted value that we desperately need while stuck in Izzet.

Once he hits the field, we'll use all 26 of our counterspells to make sure he sticks around. Niv is an insane value engine that easily churns counter wars into card draw: the more our opponents try to remove him, the closer we'll get to finding one of our Curiosity win conditions. Any counterspells that weren't spent on keeping Niv will protect our Curiosity. Then, all that's left is moving to combat or casting an instant or sorcery to start the combo loop to kill the table. But before we get to the fun part, we need a strong foundation. 

The Mulligan

Let's get into the most important part of this deck. Believe me when I say that you will do nothing if you don't mulligan to the following pieces:

This list may seem pretty short, but acceptable cards also include most of our tutors: 


While I haven't been counting, I'd estimate that I've played about 800 games with this deck. Please do not make the mistake of keeping trap hands that do not advance the Niv plan or contain broken Magic cards. Your turn-one seat-one Timetwister sucks if you draw only counterspells and lands. 

How Should I Protect Niv-Mizzet, Parun?

Once you've cast your commander and thus cleared your first major hurdle, get excited because a much MUCH bigger hurdle still lies before you. That is the "getting Niv to stick for a single turn cycle," hurdle. It will make you want to switch sports. You'll want to quit Track & Field in favor of basketweaving or a similarly hurdle-less sport. You'll have to do anything you can to convince your opponents not to kill Niv. Tell them that you have two ways to tutor your three win conditions. Show them that your hand contains one single Dispel and nothing else. Offer them your least favorite leg. Make sure Niv survives until you untap by any means necessary.

But seriously, don't cast Niv all willy-nilly with no gameplan. Six color pips don't grow on trees, and your opponents will do everything they can to remove Niv regardless of whether their threat assessment is correct or not. Make sure you at least have one counter in hand, and if you don't, wait a turn and see what you draw. If you still don't draw a counterspell, analyze the board for a moment and see if you can afford to wait another turn. Recovering after getting your Niv bounced or removed is some of the most boring Magic: The Gathering you will ever play, and I just don't want you to go through that. 

Winning With Niv-Mizzet, Parun

When you're waiting to draw your Curiosity effect, you'll often be dubbed the "Board Police" because everyone will run out of interaction before you do. Only counter the spells that lose you the game or severely hinder your ability to protect Niv. If you see any stax effects that limit you to one spell/card per turn, get rid of it immediately. Think of this point in the game as you and Niv against the rest of the table; your opponents will watch you draw ten-million cards and immediately pass priority to you on most threatening spells. However, even though you're basically the Archenemy, spend your resources wisely.

Don't be afraid to slap your hand on the table to make sure they understand that you're out of interaction. In order to avoid getting to that point, you have to over-communicate. Don't just pass priority with cards in hand because you think someone else has an answer. Pass priority while also giving them some information to work with. For example, "I don't have anything for this, but I can interact later," or, "I do have interaction, it just doesn't apply here just yet." Make sure your opponents know that you're just policing the table until a win magically pops into your hand... and that'll take a minute. 

When you finally find Curiosity, you should have enough cards to back it up. If not, wait until you do. Win conditions are like good teammates in League of Legends: once you find one, it's going to be a long time before you see another. Go into every win attempt with absolute confidence that you can win the ensuing counter-war. If you draw Ophidian Eye, wait until someone else puts a win on the stack and the table spends their interaction on that before attempting a win. It's absolutely the strongest of the three win conditions for exactly this reason. Don't waste it during your main phase. 

A Promise

This deck has a lot of shortcomings. Imagine Achilles with six heels instead of one. But it's unique, ever-changing, and the good games feel better than any other deck. Holding down an entire board with one big Dragon is a feeling unlike any other...and it's worth every difficulty to get there. I can't wait for you to experience it. So finally, the decklist itself

Shauna's cEDH Niv-Mizzet Parun

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Commander (1)
Instants (41)
Lands (27)
Artifacts (11)
Enchantments (4)
Creatures (11)
Sorceries (5)

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Shauna is a member of Eminence Gaming and Sad Naus MTG. She is a caster for Eminence’s West Coast cEDH events and looks forward to meeting new players. While she plays Control now, she misses the days that she played Yidris and Selvala Brostorm.