Ob Nixilis, the Adversary – Streets of New Capenna
Date Reviewed: May 10, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.17
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
It’s interesting that Ob Nixilis’ new title is “The Adversary” – that’s usually more the kind of phrase you see in a quasi-mythical setting, rather than a modern-ish setting like New Capenna. But Magic seems to be all about subverting expectations this year, and Nixilis does so in at least one way – he’s only the second planeswalker with an innate ability to make direct copies of himself. There have previously been twists on allowing players to use more than one of a planeswalker’s abilities per turn, but Nixilis essentially asks you to find a way to make his copy have higher starting loyalty than his own (note how his +1 and -2 connect to each other). That’s not too hard late in the game, and not even out of the question early – though you’d either need a very particular subset of creatures that may not be optimal for your deck or a very specific set of circumstances.
As a mid-game card in an aggressive deck, an un-copied Adversary is quite solid, though not necessarily spectacular. I think it’s probably a better policy to make sure your deck has some kind of cheap token generator or one-cost creature you don’t mind sacrificing, so you can get a low-loyalty copy even early in the game and have that one start with the +1. There are very few planeswalkers that do the sorts of things Nixilis (theoretically) can do, so I think we’re going to see him used in some way just for that.
Commander [EDH]: 3/5 (this is where you can make some big copies with him, but his ability is sometimes relatively minorly disruptive here, not to mention life totals being higher)
Three-mana planeswalkers are sometimes quite intriguing, and Ob Nixilis, the Adversary brings a wrinkle in the form of a second copy of himself. In theory, this means you can sacrifice a creature with 7 or more power to his casualty trigger and ultimate him then and there; drawing 7 cards may well be worth the price of admission in that case!
All the same, he’s an interesting bit of incremental value. His +1 forces opponents to give up a resource, and his -2 makes friends to improve your leverage. He does protect himself, albeit shakily, though making two copies will always be the main attraction of this Ob Nixilis, since none of his abilities are phenomenal day-to-day (but still fine for grinding out a long game).
I do think our demonic friend is good, but he’s definitely more of the engine than the centerpiece. Technically, he can use his ultimate as a kill outlet…which is not nothing, don’t get me wrong, but you’ll likely only ever use his -7 on yourself unless you’re going to kill them then and there. Still, a cheap mana cost and flexible tranche of abilities all add up to a card that punches slightly above his weight class.
Limited: 4 (slow at grinding out games, but between his +1 and -2, you can get there)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
Three mana planeswalkers can be some of the most powerful in the game and this allows you to make a copy of it which can be great in the right situations. The problem with this card is that none of the abilities “wow” and it’ll take at least four turns for the ultimate to go off, even then it is a one time effect that should put you over the edge.
At the end of the day he’ll be pinging your opponents or having them discard cards until he gets too annoying and they try to remove him. At the end of the day, it is worth picking up in limited but it would take the right constructed strategy to put this in a standard deck.
Commander [EDH]: 3
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