Rad Nauseam

Posted in Building on a Budget on March 19, 2009

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of Building on a Budget. I've been receiving a lot of email regarding Ad Nauseam decks that attempt to kill the opponent with Seismic Assault. I always liked the deck idea, but it seemed to me that the deck would have trouble beating anything with a hefty dose of counter-magic or an aggressive clock.

Ad Nauseam
Seismic Assault

Then I saw a thread somewhere that had a number of people posting solid results with a list that packed Guttural Responses and Burrenton Forge-Tenders in the main. It seemed like it might just be crazy enough to work, so I put on my thinking cap and decided to make a list.

Guttural Response
Burrenton Forge-Tender

How it Works

You run your Seismic Assault out and use it against your opponent's creatures to keep your life total at a reasonable number. Eventually you want to play Ad Nauseam. Once you play Ad Nauseam, you peel cards off the top until you draw enough land to kill your opponent with Seismic Assault. I've been playing with the deck, and it has a lot of game.

The Combo

Ad Nauseam: This is one of the most powerful card-drawing spells ever printed. It can allow you to do very naughty things at instant speed. Picture this scenario, your Faerie-toting opponent attempts to land Mistbind Clique during your upkeep. With this "opportunity" you cast Ad Nauseam, draw about twenty cards, and fire off about 30 damage with your Seismic Assault.

Seismic Assault: Run this out there as quickly as possible. You can use Seismic Assault to stop aggressive opponents from overrunning you. It's important to note that you don't "need" a Seismic Assault in play to go off. If your life total is reasonable you can cast an Ad Nauseam on your opponent's end step and peel ten or more land along with a Seismic Assault for the win the very next turn.

Support Cards

Burrenton Forge-Tender: Some forum lists have this card and others do not. I've played the deck a bit now and I'm pretty confident the deck needs cards like this to survive long enough against the red decks. Our deck needs a reasonable life total to go off and it seems awkward if we're just letting the red decks run over us.

Mogg Fanatic: It's essential to stay alive in the early game, and Mogg Fanatic is a great blocker and an even better speed bump. Better opponents will wait a turn to play their Figure of Destiny, but we want them to slow-roll threats—it gives us more time to set up our big finish.

Guttural Response: It's pretty important to have an answer to decks with heavy counter-magic. Guttural Response gives you real game against decks with draw-go in mind.

Diabolic Tutor: Where's my Ad Nauseam?


Quicksand: Again, it's pretty important to preserve your life total against creature-based decks. Quicksand provides us with a land that doubles as a removal spell.

Ghitu Encampment: Probably one of the most important cards in the deck. You would be surprised at how well a single Ghitu Encampment prevents an opponent from attacking.

Spawning Pool: Spawning Pool never gets any love. In our deck it's just what the doctor ordered. You pay two mana and activated it, then you block and tap it to regenerate. It preserves our life total very well.

Forbidding Watchtower: The more man-lands the better in a deck like this.

Vivid lands: One of our combo pieces costs to cast. The other requires . Some of our support cards demand white mana. We need the Vivid lands to smooth out what could be a really messy land base.

Once we put the whole deck together it looks like this:

Rad Nauseam

Download Arena Decklist

The Sideboard

I'm not sure on the exact numbers, but I'm pretty sure the sideboard to a deck like this would play some combination of the following.

Goldenglow Moth: Slowing down opponents and gaining life are key to this deck's ability to win against aggressive decks.

Pyroclasm: We don't like it when our opponents play cards like Spectral Procession with Glorious Anthem on the table. We need an inexpensive way to deal with this problem.

Blightning and Volcanic Fallout: It seems strange that I would talk about these cards in the same breath, but if you want to stand a chance against Faeries it's probably a good idea to pack a playset of each of these in your sideboard. Comboing against them seems very unlikely. (They have countermagic to back up a reasonably fast clock.) The best plan against Faeries with a deck like this is to win through incidental damage. Cards like Blightning and Volcanic Fallout help your Faeries opponent kill themselves with Bitterblossom. Your Mogg Fanatics and Seismic Assaults can provide you with enough damage to put them on the ropes.

I invited my buddy Chris over to celebrate his PTQ win on Saturday with an all-day Street Fighter IV battle-thon. Once he got to my house I surprised him with the new deck and asked if he would play some games with me before we got down to fighting on the street.

Game 1 vs. Faeries

I keep Mogg Fanatic, Seismic Assault, Vivid Meadow, Mountain, Ghitu Encampment, Vivid Marsh, and Guttural Response on the draw. Chris plays a Secluded Glen showing me Bitterblossom on turn one and passes. I draw another Mountain, play a Mountain and a Mogg Fanatic, and pass. Chris plays Bitterblossom and passes. I play my Ghitu Encampment, attack for one and pass the turn back. Chris goes to 18 during his upkeep, plays a third land, and passes. I draw a Diabolic Tutor, play my other Mountain, activate my Ghitu Encampment, and attack for 2. (I leave the Fanatic back because I want to take out a pair of tokens when I attack with it.) Chris plays a Vendilion Clique on my end step and puts my Seismic Assault on the bottom of my library, I draw another Mogg Fanatic. I use the first Mogg Fanatic to kill his Vendilion Clique. Chris goes to 15 during his upkeep, attacks me for one, and passes without playing a land. I draw another Seismic Assault, play my Vivid Marsh, and activate the Ghitu Encampment and attack for another 2. Chris plays a Scion of Oona on my end step. Chris goes down to 12 during his upkeep, attacks me for 5, and passes, again with no land. I draw Ad Nauseam, play my Vivid Meadow, and attempt to play Seismic Assault, Chris has the Spellstutter Sprite and I can't use my Guttural Response. Chris draws his fourth land the next turn and has a pair of Mistbind Cliques to seal the deal.


I didn't have the Volcanic Fallout and Blightning sideboard plan as of yet. I strongly recommend trying that plan as a way to beat Faeries. I would side out my Burrenton Forge-Tenders, Diabolic Tutor, one Ad Nauseam, and the Forbidding Watchtowers to bring in the eight sideboard cards. I played a Seismic Swans deck at Nationals last year and I know how good a natural Seismic Assault is against Faeries. Resolving a Seismic Assault will likely win you the game.

Game 2 vs. Five-Color Control

I keep Seismic Assault, Guttural Response, Vivid Marsh, Vivid Crag, Spawning Pool, Mountain, and Swamp on the play. I play a Vivid Crag and pass. Chris plays a Vivid Creek and passes back. I draw a Ghitu Encampment, play it, and pass the turn back. Chris plays another Vivid land and passes. I draw Burrenton Forge-Tender, play my Mountain, and play my Seismic Assault. The game degenerates into a draw-go frenzy for a while here. I can't find my Ad Nauseam, but I have six lands in play to pay for it with Guttural Response backup. Chris knows he can't ever tap out because I'm threatening the win. I play a few creatures, but I can't attack because Chris has resolved an early Plumeveil. Eventually, I draw the Ad Nauseam. With Chris sitting on about eight untapped lands it still doesn't seem all that great. I draw into a second Ad Nauseam and decide it's still worth waiting. Eventually I draw a Diabolic Tutor and play it. Chris decides to let it resolve. I go and find a second copy of Guttural Response. On Chris's turn he plays a Cruel Ultimatum leaving six mana open. (Yes, he has that much land in play.) I discard a bunch of irrelevant cards and am left with Ad Nauseam, Ad Nauseam, Guttural Response, Guttural Response. Chris draws some cards before announcing his discard. I try for Ad Nauseam on his end step, but it meets Cryptic Command. I play one of my Guttural Responses, and it meets a Negate. On my turn I draw a land and play the second Ad Nauseam. It resolves, and I draw enough land to win the game.


The Five-Color Control matchup seems pretty good. The trick is resolving Ad Nauseam; nothing else really matters. Most opponents won't understand what's going on and they'll do something not so smart like tapping out for a Broodmate Dragon. You can win Game 1 quite handily simply with the surprise factor. Games 2 and 3 are obviously a bit different, but the matchup shouldn't be too difficult.

Game 3 vs. Brian Kowal's Red-White Reveillark

(I think Kowal's is the best list available.)

I keep Burrenton Forge-Tender, Ad Nauseam, Guttural Response, Vivid Marsh, Spawning Pool, Mountain, and Mountain on the play. I play my Vivid Marsh and pass the turn. Chris plays a Windbrisk Heights and passes back. I draw Diabolic Tutor and play my Burrenton Forge-Tender and a Spawning Pool before passing the turn back. Chris draws and plays Figure of Destiny, makes his Figure a 2/2, and passes. I draw a Vivid Crag, play it, and pass the turn back. Chris plays a Kitchen Finks and passes. I draw another Ad Nauseam, play my one of my Mountains, and play Diabolic Tutor fetching up a Seismic Assault. On Chris's next turn he attacks me with both creatures and I block the Figure, then he plays Ranger of Eos finding two more Figure of Destiny. I draw a third Ad Nauseam, play another Mountain, and pass. Chris attacks with everyone and I chump one of the 3-power creatures and sacrifice Burrenton Forge-Tender to prevent the damage from Figure of Destiny. On Chris's end step I cast Ad Nauseam. I'm able to find ten lands before killing myself (it's a close one, though.) I flip a Seismic Assault in the process of finding the ten lands, and Chris concedes.


I like our odds against a deck like Red-White 'Lark. They don't put enough pressure on us in the early game to make our life total very low by turn five. It's important to use preserve your life total in the best way possible here. Do the math and find out how you can take the least damage before casting your game winning spell.

Game 4 vs. Black-White Tokens

I keep Burrenton Forge-Tender, Mogg Fanatic, Seismic Assault, Ad Nauseam, Vivid Crag, Vivid Crag, and Vivid Meadow on the draw. Chris plays a Thoughtseize on turn one off a Caves of Koilos and takes my Seismic Assault. I draw a Ghitu Encampment, play a Vivid land, and pass the turn. Chris plays a Knight of Meadowgrain and passes. I draw another Burrenton Forge-Tender, play my Mogg Fanatic and Ghitu Encampment, and pass the turn. Chris untaps, attacks for two and plays a Spectral Procession. I draw a mountain, play another land, and pass the turn. Chris untaps, plays a fourth land, and plays Ajani Goldmane. When he attempts to pump his team, I use my Fanatic to shoot down a token, but I still take 7 from the attack. I draw another Seismic Assault for my turn and play it and another land. Chris gives his team more counters and plays a Glorious Anthem, and I'm dead.


This seems very difficult to me. The Black-White Tokens matchup is very difficult. They have disruption and a very reasonable clock. You don't want to play against this. The Pyroclasms in the sideboard are good here, but likely not enough to swing the match in our favor.

Game 5 vs. Blightning Beatdown

I keep Burrenton Forge-Tender, Seismic Assault, Diabolic Tutor, Vivid Crag, Ghitu Encampment, Forbidding Watchtower, and Mountain on the play. I lead with my Vivid land and pass the turn. Chris plays Mogg Fanatic and passes. I draw a Swamp, play my Burrenton Forge-Tender and a Ghitu Encampment, and pass. Chris plays a Goblin Outlander and passes. I draw another Mountain, play one of my Mountains and Seismic Assault and pass. Chris plays a Boggart Ram-Gang and attacks with his team, so I block Boggart Ram-Gang and shoot Goblin Outlander with a discarded Forbidding Watchtower. I draw Vivid Meadow, play Diabolic Tutor finding Ad Nauseam, and pass. Chris plays another Ram-Gang and attacks with his team again. I block a Ram-Gang. On my turn I draw another Ad Nauseam and play the one I tutored for the turn before. I find my tenth land at 2 life (and 2 is essentially 1 with his Fanatic looming) and win the game.


This is probably a difficult match, but I feel it's very winnable. The Moths in the sideboard are definitely good here.

In retrospect I think this deck did very well. It has a favorable matchup against Red-White Reveillark and Five-Color Control. (The two decks that seem to define the current metagame.) It's not really my style of deck, but I hope those of you that have asked me to build a deck featuring these cards will be happy with it.

Until next week, happy brewing.

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