Today I'm going over one of the premier combo decks in Modern: Ad Nauseum. The weird thing about Modern is we think of it as a format with a lot of combo strategies that can win very early in the game, but right now there aren't actually that many strong ones. The days of Splinter Twin are over, and the days of Humans have begun. The fact that Humans plays disruptive creatures like Meddling Mage and Phantasmal Image certainly make life difficult. There are creature decks like Infect that can produce fast kills, but in terms of straight-up combo decks Ad Nauseum, Ironworks, and Storm are probably the top three right now. This is the deck that "DaSneakyPete" has been playing online to great success, and recently took down a Pro Tour Qualifier with.
As mentioned, Humans can be a tough matchup for combo decks, and it is the worst matchup for Ad Nauseum. Game one is pretty rough without much removal to get opposing creatures off the board. However, we saw in the match we played against Humans that we definitely had a good chance to win, and while that didn't happen, the removal spells after sideboard give the Ad Nauseum deck much more game. If you can get a Phyrexian Unlife into play against aggressive creature decks it can provide a ton of time to eventually cast an Ad Nauseum.
Phyrexian Unlife is a card that is very good in matchups like Humans or Burn, but there are other matchups where you are up against Inkmoth Nexus or lots of enchantment removal. This is something to be aware of when sideboarding as you can take out Phyrexian Unlifes as needed, as you can still win with Angel's Grace plus Ad Nauseum. The other type of disruption this deck can face is countermagic. Countermagic can be tricky to play against, as oftentimes you are relying on a timely Pact of Negation to stop opposing interaction.
When playing decks with a lot of permission, the idea is to go up to the full playset of Pact of Negations, and on the flipside if you are playing against a Cavern of Souls deck you want to be sideboarding them out. Sometimes it is important to bring in the creature removal, but also be sure to recognize that oftentimes over-sideboarding will dilute your ability to combo off consistently. For instance, against Merfolk it proved to be correct to not try to answer their creatures, and just try to combo as quickly as possible.
The trickiest card to play with in the deck is definitely Spoils of the Vault. Knowing when to cast it isn't easy, as sometimes it can potentially kill you, and other times it could exile important parts of your combo because of how far you dig through the deck. It is a high-variance card that I like to avoid casting if I can afford to, but sometimes it is necessary in order to be able to combo off, so you need to cross your fingers and hope it works out. Moving forward, Ad Nauseum is a deck to keep an eye on, and I really like this version of the deck.
Thanks for reading,