Building Around The Best Card In Streets: Ob Nixilis, The Adversary

Even though Streets of New Capenna is relatively tame for an eighth Standard set, there’s plenty to be excited about. Namely, there’s Ob Nixilis, the Adversary.

A three mana planeswalker that can copy itself for a low opportunity cost easily gets my attention. There’s no shortage of sacrificial fodder for Ob, so I’d expect the games involving Ob to play out similarly.

If you have a one-drop or two-drop and aren’t already under immense pressure, you will casualty Ob. From there, I imagine that the copy will be ticking up and the original will go up or down as necessary. 

With two Obs aggressively using the +1 ability, your opponent will be under massive pressure. Either their life total will be dwindling quickly or they’ll have to ditch resources to stay alive, both of which are massive wins. With some additional chip damage, the +1 will back them into a corner in short order. Not only that, but you’ll be building toward the ultimate on either copy. 

Keeping the copy in play is more important because it’s non-legendary, which means if the original dies, you can simply cast another one. By using casualty again, you could end up with three total copies in play! Having two Obs should be strong enough on its own, so I wouldn’t bank on a third copy hitting the battlefield, but it’s technically correct that the copy is more valuable. 

Rakdos Sacrifice

Standard

4 Shambling Ghast

4 Voldaren Epicure

4 Bloodtithe Harvester

2 Tenacious Underdog

4 Ob Nixilis, the Adversary

4 Oni-Cult Anvil

3 The Meathook Massacre

4 Deadly Dispute

4 Voltage Surge

2 Experimental Synthesizer

2 Shatterskull Smashing

4 Blightstep Pathway

4 Haunted Ridge

1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

2 Hive of the Eye Tyrant

1 Den of the Bugbear

4 Mountain

6 Swamp

Sideboard

3 Duress

3 Ray of Enfeeblement

3 Go Blank

2 Sorin the Mirthless

2 Lolth, Spider Queen

2 Infernal Grasp

View this deck on Moxfield!

Before Streets of New Capenna, the Rakdos Sacrifice decklist had solidified. With Ob Nixilis, the Adversary in the mix, things need to change. It’s imperative that you’re able to use casualty, so more early creatures should enter the mix. That also means that slower cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker are out. 

Some previous versions utilized cards like Mukotai Soulripper, Sokenzan Smelter, or Sanguine Statuette to be a little more aggressive. Some of those could work quite well with Ob, both as casualty enablers and additional sources of damage. 

Although it’s clear that Ob requires more sacrificial fodder than the previous Rakdos lists, the real question is whether Ob benefits from being more aggressive or focused on sacrifice synergies. The more aggressive you are, the more threatening Ob’s chip damage becomes. 

It might be heresy to suggest, but I could see a world where we play without Oni-Cult Anvil since it doesn’t curve particularly well into Ob unless you have Voldaren Epicure on Turn 1. The more I want to support Ob, the less appealing the artifact subtheme becomes, even if I’d keep the Vampire package regardless. 

Experimental Synthesizer is worse than Unlucky Witness in many situations, but Voltage Surge is irreplaceable. It’s the only thing keeping me on the artifacts for now. Maybe you can still play Voltage Surge without Oni-Cult Anvil and Experimental Synthesizer, but it will be much worse. 

Overall, Rakdos in some form looks poised to take over Standard. My confidence level that this is the best version is low, but it’s a good place to start. 

Maybe the most messed up part of Ob Nixilis, the Adversary is that the non-legendary token can be copied by Esika’s Chariot.

Jund Midrange

Standard

4 Jaspera Sentinel

4 Prosperous Innkeeper

4 Magda, Brazen Outlaw

2 Valki, God of Lies

4 Ob Nixilis, the Adversary

3 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker

4 Esika’s Chariot

4 Goldspan Dragon

2 Infernal Grasp

4 Riveteers Charm

2 Shatterskull Smashing

4 Ziatora’s Proving Ground

4 Blightstep Pathway

4 Darkbore Pathway

4 Cragcrown Pathway

1 Deathcap Glade

1 Rockfall Vale

1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

2 Lair of the Hydra

1 Boseiju, Who Endures

1 Forest

Sideboard

2 Burning Hands

3 Ray of Enfeeblement

4 Duress

2 Go Blank

2 Culling Ritual

2 Sorin the Mirthless

View this deck on Moxfield!

Even though I wouldn’t consider this the best possible home for Ob, it’s the deck I’m most excited about. 

Jaspera Sentinel and Prosperous Innkeeper are fine cards to sacrifice, but I prefer extra early-game cards. Nothing seems truly appealing unless you’re also willing to play some copies of Deadly Dispute. 

Riveteers has the best charm of the bunch and it’s not particularly close. Soul Shatter is excellent in a format where Goldspan Dragon is a massive threat. It also works just fine against the smaller creature decks because you’ll often want to kill their most expensive card anyway. Exiling graveyards won’t come up often, but if it does, you’ll probably be glad. 

Many people heralded the “draw 2” from Abzan, Esper, and now Brokers Charm. Surely, Riverteers Charm deserves some praise for its ability to draw 3. Red’s version of card drawing is certainly weaker than actually drawing the cards, but it doesn’t take much to make them functionally similar. 

The worst case scenario for Riveteers Charm is that it feels bad to aggressively dig for land on Turn 4, which you could easily do with those other charms. Ideally, you’re using Riveteers Charm on your opponent’s turn, so you can fully utilize your burst of cards with untapped mana. If you hit two lands, it could be a feel bad, but then you probably got two cards like you would with the other charms. 

Keep your mana curve as low as possible in order to be able to cast two spells off it, or have some mana acceleration. In most scenarios, you won’t be firing it off until Turn 5 or 6 anyway, so there shouldn’t be much of an issue. 

With so many high-value targets to return, I could see a second copy of Takenuma, Abandoned Mire in each of these decklists. Naturally, there are concerns with drawing both early, so I can see the argument that a creature-land would be stronger. 

We could also lightly splash Esika’s Chariot into Rakdos, which could be the best of both worlds. 

Jund Sacrifice

Standard

4 Shambling Ghast

4 Voldaren Epicure

4 Bloodtithe Harvester

3 Tenacious Underdog

4 Ob Nixilis, the Adversary

4 Esika’s Chariot

3 The Meathook Massacre

4 Deadly Dispute

3 Riveteers Charm

2 Infernal Grasp

2 Shatterskull Smashing

4 Ziatora’s Proving Ground

4 Blightstep Pathway

4 Darkbore Pathway

4 Cragcrown Pathway

2 Deathcap Glade

1 Hive of the Eye Tyrant

1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

1 Den of the Bugbear

1 Swamp

Sideboard

4 Ray of Enfeeblement

1 Infernal Grasp

4 Duress

3 Go Blank

2 Sorin the Mirthless

1 Lolth, Spider Queen

View this deck on Moxfield!

This version does away with the Oni-Cult Anvil synergy completely, which allows you to play generic powerful cards like Esika’s Chariot. Despite having less synergy, it looks like it could be very powerful. Maybe trying to maximize Ob and focusing on power is better than attempting to mix synergies.

Another version I’m going to work on involves basically replacing the blue in Esper with Ob, but that’ll be farther down the line. There’s no shortage of ways to utilize Ob. It’s a powerful card that requires very little help and has plenty of support across Standard. 

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