Niv To Light is a midrange deck which means that its focus is on getting the most value out of its plays. The namesake of the deck is the combo of Niv-Mizzet Reborn and Bring to Light. Bring to Light allows you to search you library for a card with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of colors spent to cast Bring to Light and exile the card you pulled. Then you may cast that card from exile without paying its mana cost. If you can use 1 mana of each color, you can select Niv-Mizzet Reborn. Niv-Mizzet Reborn is a 6/6 flying creature that costs 1 mana of each color and, upon entry to the battlefield, permits you to look at the top 10 cards of your library and add to your hand 1 card of each color pair that matches those colors exactly. The color pairs referred to are the color combos of the Ravnica guilds; Azorious, Dimir, Rakdos, Gruul, Selesnya, Boros, Izzet, Simic, Golgari, and Orzhov. The idea is to refill your hand and give you a bunch of options for cards to play. Being able to look 10 cards deep is pretty good, that’s about 1/5 to 1/4 of your deck by the time you can pull this combo off and hopefully that amount of searching will find you exactly what you need. Now of course you can simply hard cast Niv-Mizzet as well since it will cost the exact same mana as Bring to Light. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, Bring to Light can serve to find other cards that you may need and I will get to what those are in a moment. The point is that once you get up to enough mana, you can search your library for whatever you need. With Bring to Light you can search your whole library for a single card while Niv-Mizzet can pull multiple cards, but only out of the top 10. It’s a pretty interesting paradigm between these two cards.
The hardest part of the deck is having WUBRG mana available. It’s hard enough in a format that has access to fetch lands and pioneer only has Fabled Passage and Evolving Wilds, the latter of which is horrible and should never be played in a competitive setting. Needless to say, the mana base should be very diverse. The only land card that you want 4 of is Fabled Passage which you are going to use to find any 1 of the 5 basic lands in the deck, and yes, you will want 1 of each. A few copies of Mana Confluence should help with any missing color with shock lands and check lands and any other good dual lands filling out the rest of the lands in the deck, 23 to 28. Green is a color that you want in your opening hand because you will want to get down a Gilded Goose or a Sylvan Caryatid which can produce any color of mana. If there is a second color that you want, it would be blue, because this will get Bring to Light online and give you access to Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath which will draw you a card and potentially allow you to get two lands into play on the turn he is cast.
As for the rest of the cards in the deck, it really depends on how you want your deck to function and what you want Niv-Mizzet or Bring To Light to find. The cards that you use should be exactly 2 colors and remember to pick things that generate a lot of value for you. Since this is a midrange deck, you can run more creatures for aggro or more noncreature spells for control or any combination of the two. You don’t need too many copies of the rest of the cards you want to use, 2 or 3 at the most. The more variety you can put into it, the better prepared you will be to tackle a wide range of scenarios.
Let’s start with some planeswalkers. War of the Spark is still fresh in players’ minds and standard is loaded with planeswalkers right now. Some are more creature based and some are more noncreature based so you should think about running a few no matter which direction you go. Teferi, Time Raveler comes to mind as a great ant- control card with his static ability preventing your opponent from casting spells during your turn. His -3 bounces a creature and draws you an additional card. His +1 is also decent, but it often goes underutilized in some decks and instead only builds up to his -3 again. Nahiri, the Harbinger is a strong choice. Her +2 allows you to rummage while her -2 can exile a threatening enchantment, tapped artifact, or tapped creature. If you can ever get to her -8, it can allow you to find Niv-Mizzet and use his enter the battlefield trigger without using any mana. Then he returns to your hand and you can cast him again on a subsequent turn. Ajani, the Greathearted gives creatures vigilance. His +1 gains you 3 life and his -2 puts a +1/+1 counter on your creatures and a loyalty counter on your planeswalkes. Ral, Storm Conduit is great in a noncreature heavy deck. Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell he deals 1 damage to an opponent or planeswalker. His +2 allows you to scry 1, which isn’t that great, but better than nothing. However his -2 allows you to copy the next instant or sorcery spell you cast which is always some great value. Vraska the Unseen has a great built in win condition. Sure it takes awhile to get to it, but it forces your opponent to focus their efforts on either you or her. Her +1 destroys anything that deals damage to her so that should make the opponent think twice about attacking her with a creature and her -3 can destroy any nonland permanent if you need it to.
For creatures, you still want cards that do more than just swing in. Remember, midrange is about perpetual value. Hostage Taker is a great example of this. It can exile something and then if you have the mana, you can cast whatever was exiled and you still have a body to attack or block with. I have already mentioned Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, but why not use Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger as well? When used in tandem, these two elder giants are designed to put you ahead and your opponent behind. One draws you a card and gains you 3 life while the other forces the opponent to discard and potentially lose 3 life. If you find yourself with a ton of mana, why not pump it all into one massive creature that can refill your hand and gain you some life, like Hydroid Krasis? The Scarab God is a creature that just won’t die and it gets value out of others that have died by bringing them back as 4/4 zombie versions of their former selves. Yes, this can be another way to get Niv-Mizzet’s trigger if he makes his way into the graveyard. Knight of Autumn is a great versatile card that can either gain you 4 life, destroy an artifact or enchantment, or get two +1/+1 counters on it making it a sizable 4/3 for 3.
Spell heavy versions should focus on control, answering the opponent, and using Niv-Mizzet not just for his ability, but also as a finisher. Supreme Verdict is the best board wipe in pioneer right now as it can’t be countered. Unmoored Ego can wreck the entier strategy of your opponent’s deck, especially if it’s a combo deck. Absorb not only counters a spell, but also gains you some life. Remember how I said planeswalkers have really taken over since War of the Spark? Dreadbore should help keep them in check as well as any problematic creatures. You could also run modal spells like the guild charms from the Return to Ravnica block or the dragon commands from Dragons of Tarkir.
The shell of Niv to Light should look something like the following:
Gilded Goose x3-4
Sylvan Caryatid x3-4
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath x2-3
Niv-Mizzet Reborn x4
Bring to Light x4
lands x23-28 (Fabled Passage x4, Plains x1, Island x1, Swamp x1, Mountain x1, Forest x1, Mana Confluence x2-3)
This deck is like a Swiss army knife. In an ideal game you should be able to easily shift the game into your favor with a single card, maybe two. The sideboard can house even more answers so you can really optimize your deck for games 2 and 3. With the right combination of mainboard cards and sideboard cards, you’ll be able to adjust your game plan to your opponent’s deck no matter what you find yourself up against. I think the best part about this deck is that nothing it runs is really a potential problem in pioneer right now. What deck do you want to see next? Let me know in the comments down below.