Tutors are a key component to any combo deck. The consistency of always hitting exactly the card you need kicks variance to the curb and guarantees you’re always playing the right cards for the situation. With tutors, you are able to run several powerful 1-ofs, also known as “silver bullets”, that can turn the tide of a game, offering you plenty of flexibility. One deck that’s notorious for packing on the tutors is Nic Fit, a Green/Black value deck centered around abusing Veteran Explorer to ramp themselves into powerful threats like Grave Titan and Thragtusk. However, as the Legacy metagame has evolved into something much faster, so too must the value deck, and Nic Fit has started to adapt the Modern combo of Scapeshift and Valakut to give itself a means of winning without needing a combat step.
VALAKUT NIC FIT
Veteran Explorer, the key card in the deck, allows each player to get two basic lands when it dies. Normally this would be a drawback, but since so few fair decks in Legacy actually play basic lands, this is often a one-sided effect. But how do we get Explorer into the graveyard? One of the most powerful tools Nic Fit has is Cabal Therapy, as it not only acts as a discard spell to clear away Force of Wills, it’s also a sacrifice outlet for Veteran Explorer. This gives you both the necessary information you need and the basic lands to continue playing more spells.
As well, the deck runs a whopping 17 spells that tutor out cards. Between Veteran Explorer, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Primeval Titan, and Scapeshift to find your lands, the deck also has Green Sun’s Zenith to fetch your silver bullet creatures, Burning Wish to get whatever sorcery you need out of your sideboard, and Diabolic Intent to act as a straight up better Demonic Tutor! This abundance of tutors gives you the ability to find exactly what you need at all times. In addition, the deck runs three copies of Sensei’s Divining Top to help fix your draws once you’re done tutoring. All this fetching has a unique synergy with Top since one of the easiest ways Sensei’s Top decks such as Miracles lose is getting “Top locked”, or getting stuck with three undesirable cards on top of your deck. By constantly tutoring, you can easily get rid of unneeded cards that you would otherwise draw.
The creatures in Nic Fit vary from build to build, but in this version, they serve either two purposes: finding lands, or surviving long enough to kill the opponent with Valakut. With Veteran Explorer and Sakura-Tribe Elder, you can find the deck’s many basics and ramp into your larger spells like Primeval Titan, which is necessary for finding lands like Valakut and Phyrexian Tower. On the other side, we have creatures that can prolong the game past the point where decks like Delver want to go. Cards like Obstinate Baloth, Huntmaster of the Fells, and Thragtusk gain chunks of life and provide large, often multiple, bodies to combat opposing creature. The size of the creatures in the deck stack up very well against cards like Young Pyromancer and Shardless Agent, and the life gain keeps you out of range of burn spells like Fireblast and Price of Progress. Finally, the miser’s copy of Eternal Witness is there to return whatever card you need from your graveyard, effectively giving an additional copy of your tutor targets.
For removal, the deck runs both Abrupt Decay and Pernicious Deed. While enough has been said about how powerful Abrupt Decay is to fill a novel, it bears repeating that if you are playing Green/Black, you are playing Abrupt Decay. The versatility of beating everything from Delver of Secrets to Counterbalance to Umezawa’s Jitte is crucial for a deck trying to get to the long game. Pernicious Deed, a staple of Legacy days long past, is the closest thing to a total board wipe effect in the format. Hitting creatures, artifacts, and enchantments is no joke, and can single-handedly shut down entire archetypes. The only caveat it had, and a big reason why it fell out of favour, was that putting mana into it became difficult as Wasteland grew in popularity. However, in a ramp deck like Nic Fit, you can crack Pernicious Deed for enough mana to clear away even Titans, turning it into a truly valuable card.
WHAT SHOULD MY SIDEBOARD LOOK LIKE?
As it runs Burning Wish, the sideboard for Nic Fit should be equal parts Wish targets and instant-speed catch-all answers. For Wish targets, the above list opts to run Scapeshift, Slaughter Games, Massacre, Toxic Deluge, Innocent Blood, Tsunami, Shattering Spree, and Reverent Silence. The inclusion of Scapeshift is obvious, as it effectively gives you five copies of your win condition in the maindeck (1 Scapeshift and 4 Burning Wish), while Slaughter Games is your ace in the hole against combo decks like Storm and OmniTell. An uncounterable means of getting rid of their win conditions like Slaughter Games leaves these decks crippled, floundering, and easy to steamroll with our giant beatsticks.
Massacre, Toxic Deluge, and Innocent Blood form a tutorable removal suite to handle most threats. Massacre is especially potent against Death & Taxes and UWR Delver, since it will almost always be free to cast in these matchups. For more swarming decks like Shardless BUG, RUG Delver, and TES’s Empty the Warrens plan, Toxic Deluge is an efficient means of clearing the entire board at the cost of a couple life. This gives you the flexibility to clear away 1/1 Young Pyromancer tokens to a 6/7 Tarmogoyf for only three mana. Innocent Blood, on the other hand, is our out against Show and Tell decks putting one giant monster like Emrakul into play. For a single mana we can make them sacrifice their largest creature while we lose our smallest. It’s the cheapest sorcery speed sacrifice spell available, and it’s certainly powerful enough to warrant a spot in the sideboard.
Finally, we have three board wipes to blow up opposing noncreature permanents. Shattering Spree is fantastic against MUD, Affinity, Stoneblade, Stompy, and even Tezzerator as we can dump a bunch of Red mana into Spree and blow up either multiple artifacts, or put multiple copies on the same artifact to play around countermagic. Reverent Silence is a “free” spell like Massacre that’s perfect for board wiping Enchantress, as well as Leyline of Sanctity, Sneak Attack, Oblivion Ring, and Counterbalance. Tsunami, on the other hand, might just be my favourite card in the sideboard. As one of the oldest land destruction spells, Tsunami has the honour of wiping away all Islands on the battlefield. This is often a one-sided Armageddon against Blue decks like Delver and OmniTell, and can easily garner a concession on the spot.
The deck also runs three copies of Nihil Spellbomb and Red Elemental Blast in the sideboard as answers for opposing countermagic and graveyard decks that require things to be done at instant speed. Decks like Reanimator and Dredge cringe at the thought of seeing a Nihil Spellbomb on the battlefield, as it not only clears away their graveyard at instant speed, it also gives you to option of paying a Black mana to cantrip, putting it slightly ahead of Tormod’s Crypt in terms of value. Red Elemental Blast, on the other hand, can help you force your spells through countermagic, or even destroy opposing Blue permanents like Jace, the Mind Sculptor. It’s a catch-all tool against Blue decks that every Red deck in Legacy needs in their sideboard.
WHAT DO MY MATCHES LOOK LIKE?
First and foremost, your fair matches like Delver and Death & Taxes are incredibly good once you get going. The power of having access to your sideboard cards in game 1 as well as the ability to go bigger and over the top of their cards is often enough to put away games in these matches. Even something slow and plodding like Miracles, which can handle the majority of your creatures, can fall to the inevitability of Valakut. With Miracles, your Abrupt Decays and Sensei’s Divining Tops are critical for destroying the opponent’s Counterbalances and keeping your draws live. Another excellent matchup, especially once Burning Wish is a factor, is Elves. Elves typically doesn’t have much in the ways of grinding out damage, as they tend to opt for one big turn where they dump their hand and find Craterhoof Behemoth. This often gives you enough time to stick a Pernicious Deed or tutor out a Toxic Deluge to get rid of their entire board.
Bad matches for Nic Fit tend to be decks that are either too quick for you to keep under control, or can simply ignore you. For example, if Dredge or Reanimator can get going before you can stick a Nihil Spellbomb, or even worse, they destroy your Spellbomb, you’re often just dead. Sneak and Show is another awful matchup, since they will more often than not use their early Show and Tell to put Sneak Attack into play, then drop both Griselbrand and Emrakul into play with haste. It’s incredibly difficult to play around something like that, especially given the sorcery-speed nature of our answers. Here you essentially have to hope that they stumble long enough to get your own engines going, though it is awkward as they also run enough basics to make Veteran Explorer, the core engine of the deck, unappealing. Another deck that can flat out ignore you is ANT which you have very little disruption for save for Cabal Therapy. Should you whiff on a Therapy, or if they have a relatively quick start, you could be dead as early as turn 2. Nic Fit isn’t exactly known for handling slews of spells being thrown at it, so a deck dedicated to putting out as little a board presence as possible is incredibly difficult to fight. You really just have to get a hit your Cabal Therapys and hope for the best.
SO WHY SHOULD I BUILD NIC FIT?
Nic Fit is the perfect combination of ramp, beatdown, and combo. Between ramping out Thragtusks and Primeval Titans like it’s 2013 and blowing up swaths of smaller creatures with Pernicious Deed, the deck just has the feeling of “going bigger” down to a tee. The deck takes you back to the Standard ramp decks of 2011-2013 like Valakut and Wolf Run Ramp, and rewards this nostalgia with gigantic creatures outmuscling your opponents. The deck also boasts incredible consistency with its multiple tutors, which makes it feel fantastic as all the pieces fall into place. You are almost never out of options with Nic Fit, so if you’re in the mood to go over the top, you can’t go wrong with Nic Fit!
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