With the new War of the Spark set, we were given a ton of new cards to play with. While certain cards like Liliana, Dreadhorde General, Dovin’s Veto, and Teferi, Time Raveler are already making waves in Standard, we wanted to shine a light on the seemingly forgotten champion of the Dreadhorde: Neheb.
A 5/4 trampler for 4 is nothing to balk at. Sure, he’s legendary, so running 4 of him is probably a bad idea, but with his big box of text you most likely will be able to wheel away your hand into another copy of him if you need to. The idea here isn’t to do this, however. Instead, we want to gain the most from discarding any number of cards to hopefully draw into gas. First, let’s go over how we can benefit from discarding cards.
Amonkhet and Discarding
It’s probably no surprise that Neheb synergizes with cards from Amonkhet block. In fact, I’d wager that was done on purpose. Archfiend of Ifnir is a very good card when paired with Neheb to board wipe your opponents once you’ve connected with Neheb, and it’s even on curve. Curator of Mysteries lets you set up your next few draws or next big discard with Neheb. Faith of the Devoted and Drake Haven allow for you to use the red mana Neheb creates to drain opponents or build a board presence.
There are other cards from both Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation that grow in size from discarding cards, like Flameblade Adept, Grisly Survivor, or Hekma Sentinels, but unless Neheb has First Strike or you’re planning on Flinging one of those cards at an opponent’s face, there isn’t much else to explore in those worlds.
Expanding our horizons a bit we really only find one more card that likes when we discard: Confessor. He gives us a life per card we discard. It’s probably no surprise the real shenanigans begin when we start drawing cards with Neheb.
The Best Part of Magic
Drawing cards is one of the most powerful things to do in Magic, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of cards that care about that very thing. Here are some of my favorites.
First off, The Locust God, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, and Niv-Mizzet, Parun all love when you’re drawing cards. There’s a reason Wheel of Fortune-like cards are played in those decks. Pair the Locust God with Impact Tremors and you’ve got a fast clock. Horizon Chimera gains us life per card we draw. Jace’s Erasure and Sphinx’s Tutelage can take us down a secondary win route if damage somehow isn’t cutting it.
Similar to discarding cards, there are creatures that grow when you draw cards. Chasm Skulker and Lorescale Coatl immediately come to mind. Of course, they benefit more if Neheb can get First Strike or if we’re somehow throwing them at our opponents in our post-combat main phase or if we have multiple combat phases (more on that in a moment), but at least the growth is permanent instead of temporary like the Amonkhet counterparts.
Making the Most of Drawing
One of the more peculiar things I want to do with Neheb is fix my draws. There aren’t too many ways to fix draws by drawing and discarding that don’t end up being big hoops to jump through, at which point you probably should just start tutoring out cards instead. That’s where Abundance has you covered.
Sure Sphinx’s Curator could let me Scry X where X is the number of cards I discarded to Neheb, but that means I have to wait a turn to potentially reap the rewards. Instead, Abundance allows you to choose which kind of cards you want to draw, which has the potential to be extremely powerful. Being able to discard four cards and decide to draw four nonland cards can easily turn a game around for you. Yes your opponents will know what cards they are, but that is a minor price to pay for four (hopefully) better replacements.
Another interesting synergy is with Blood Scrivener. This essentially adds an additional card draw to the amount you discarded. If you discard 4 cards to Neheb with Blood Scrivener in play, you would draw 5 cards and lose 1 life because you had 0 cards in hand while Neheb’s ability was resolving. Nothing game-breaking of course, but a nice way to draw slightly more than you had in hand initially.
Lastly, I want to talk about the potential for Neheb to go infinite. There is a very simple way, a mildly annoying way, and then a wishful thinking way. In each scenario, the goal is to have infinite attack steps, meaning you need some way of keeping Neheb alive. Whether it’s with Indestructibility or Rogue’s Passage or something else is entirely up to you and any deck restrictions you may have.
The easiest and most straight-forward way is to have 5 cards in hand when Neheb attacks and to control Aggravated Assault. Once Neheb attacks and deals combat damage, you will discard your hand and activate the Assault. Then you can repeat this as many times as Neheb can connect, just don’t empty your deck in the process. You can prevent that with something like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
In a slightly less straight-forward but extremely similar vein we have Hellkite Charger. You need 7 cards in hand and the ability to generate 7 mana. Since the Charger let’s you pay 7 mana to have an additional combat phase, when you attack the first time you need to pay this cost. Neheb will take care of this for the rest of the turn, but the first time you need to be able to do it yourself. Discarding 7 cards to Neheb when he connects will then net you 7 red mana. Use this mana next combat to pay for the Charger’s ability. Repeat as many times as you like and make sure not to empty your library as well, and you should be able to attack infinitely for the rest of your turn.
Assuming you don’t control Aggravated Assault or Hellkite Charger, the other way to go infinite is with wishful thinking. You will want to run instants and sorceries that give you additional combats and hope you draw into them with each Neheb activation, along with having enough mana to spare. Neheb should be able to get you to that mana assuming you can discard enough cards in the first place. Ideally we’d want to be looping around 7 cards or so to ensure we don’t run out of mana or whiff on a draw. Basically we run all cards similar to Fury of the Horde, Savage Beating, Relentless Assault, and Seize the Day and hope Neheb drawing us a bunch of cards will result in seeing at least one per activation.
While not the most entertaining of ways to get to victory, at the very least you can turn sideways and ride the wave of uncertainty through your draws in the hope of seeing a beautiful extra combat card. And the best part is you can do any of the above strategies this with Neheb as your commander since all the listed cards are mono-red.
I think Neheb is a really neat card. His Hour of Devastation version had the potential to make your postcombat main phase devastating, but his newest rendition I think is the most flexible. While we didn’t cover his ability to generate mana outside of a select few cards, I think the more fun thing to do is to make every portion of his ability relevant. Drawing cards and having mana to spare is always going to be relevant, so you can do whatever you want with it. More importantly, whether it’s attacking infinitely, getting bonuses for discarding and drawing, or just finding really unique interactions with obscure cards, I think he has a ton of space to brew around and be a great addition or centerpiece to your next deck.
Either way, happy brewing!