Ad Nauseam with Andrew Brown: A Control Player Goes Combo

Posted in Event Coverage on August 27, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

Team East-West Bowl's Andrew Brown had quite the season. He achieved his first two Pro Tour Top 8's and also hit Platinum Pro Player status for the first time in his career.

Though many player's ascent is marked with changes in deck choice and play style, Brown is and always has been a control player—well before his Grand Prix win with a control deck deemed “unplayable” at the time. Whenever his team designs a control deck, Brown's fingerprints are always all over it.

But here he is at Grand Prix Indianapolis piloting Ad Nauseam—the most combo-y of combo decks. For those unaware, the deck revolves around the deadly card-draw namesake, Ad Nauseam. The card becomes decidedly less deadly with an Angel's Grace or Phyrexian Unlife in tow, so the deck aims to combo those spells and draw out its entire deck. After that cast either Lightning Storm, or Laboratory Maniac and a draw spell to win the game on the spot.

It's a combo-lover's dream, but how did it end up in the hands of this control maven?

“For most of my early traveling career,” Brown explained, “I played control [in Modern]. ... Even an Esper Teachings deck I built.” He continued, “And I'd always go 6-3, and I'd be so pissed about it.”

One day, he snapped. “I realized I have to fight unfair. And this deck is the most unfair.” It wasn't the deck specifically that drew him. It was what the deck represented—unbridled, unchecked unfairness.

After the Eldrazi invaded Modern—another unfair deck brought partially by Team East West Bowl, which gave him his first Pro Tour Top 8—he saw the potential.

“The Angel's Grace and Phyrexian Unlife were just so good against [Eldrazi],” he said. The ability to effectively “Fog” them for multiple turns was just too good. “And they don't play enchantment removal.”

Though Grace and Unlife aren't literal “Fog,” blanking all damage for a turn for a low price sure feels like a Fog to Brown—a card that is deceptively powerful in Modern. “If Modern is a four-turn format, if you buy yourself two turns, you're probably just going to win.”

So keep yourself from dying for a few turns, then just Ad Nauseam for the win. It was this can't-beat-‘em-join-‘em attitude that melted this control player's heart. “It's a play-what-you-know format. And I know Ad Nauseam.” Brown smiled.

However, you can take the player out of control, but you can't take control out of the player.

“You're playing Dragonlord Dromoka? And Grave Titan?!” Teammate Eric Severson said when he caught wind of Brown's odd sideboard strategy.

“You expect me to build a deck and not put creatures in the sideboard?” Brown retorted.

This creature-based transformation plan from a completely creatureless deck is a staple for Brown, but really here, it's often a way to fit in more Fogs.

“In match-ups against counterspells and burn, Dromoka does so much.” Brown explained. “It's basically like seven Fogs.”

“Bring it in against Naya Zoo, Burn, and against any counterspells.”

On the other choices, “Now the Grave Titan is for Jund.” Though usually just worse than the dragon, Jund's Liliana of the Veil provides an easy answer to the winged one. But the Grave Titan drags some extra bodies with it onto the battlefield—ready to sacrifice to the powerful Planeswalker. “It's built-in anti-Liliana.”

Oh, and not to be outdone with his Fog-dom, Brown is even playing a copy of Darkness in the sideboard—a real-life Fog.

“Look, the sideboard is basically a bunch of conditional Fogs—actual Fog—and the Tolaria West, Boseiju package.” (You can transmute the Tolaria West to find Boseiju, Who Shelters All when you need an uncounterable Ad Nauseam.)

Overall, the craziness of the deck, and the help from the sideboard was too much for Brown to pass up. He told a story about drawing his entire library, but then had to redirect his would-be-game-winning Lightning Storm to a creature because of Deflecting Palm. So now with no cards in his library, ready to die, he cast Angel's Grace on his upkeep, then Laboratory Maniac, then Serum Visions to win. Though his opponent tried to burn the Maniac in response—surprise! Pact of Negation.

“Really, it's just so fun.” Brown said, summing it up.

C'mon dudes, Ad Nauseam. Amirite?

Andrew Brown's Ad Nauseam – GP Indy

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