Ping for the Win in Commander with Ob Nixilis Captive Kingpin

Ping for the win in Commander with Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

Janel SantaCruz CampbellCommander

After losing his spark, Ob Nixilis returns to creature form in flample fashion. How should you build this big, criminal boy? Janel gives you the rundown on how to ping your way to victory with the Captive Kingpin.

From unleashing an apocalyptic extinction on his home plane to The Chain Veil turning him into a literal demon, it’s fair to say that Ob Nixilis has been through a lot. Now he’s lost his spark after March of the Machine, turning him into a legendary creature that really wants to ping your opponents. Since even he deserves success on the battlefield, let’s get into how to grow this demon by draining your opponents, one poke at a time.

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin offers card advantage in the form of exiling cards that can be played until your following end step, which is valuable in a color combination like black/red. To get there, we have to damage one or more opponents for exactly one life, meaning this deck wants to ping for the win. Luckily, we have plenty of creatures and enchantments to help get us there.

While we’ve seen plenty of exile-focused commanders before (like Rakdos peer Prosper, Tome-Bound), that’s not really Ob’s main focus. What makes this him so special is his ability to grow by gaining +1/+1 counters. With trample as a key ability, this makes for quite the dangerous Commander to play against.

What Does an Ob Nixilis Deck Look Like?

With flying and trample, Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin offers excellent combat evasion to get through damage. This is exactly why you want to make this guy as big as possible and support him with plenty of protection.

Bolt Bend is a great inclusion in this deck as Ob Nixilis starts off as a 4/3, letting redirect removal targeting him for only a single, red mana. Deflecting Swat is more pricey in terms of real world money, but with the potential to cast it for free, it might be worth the outlay.

Imp’s Mischief is also a great way to avoid removal of Ob Nixilis with the trade off of losing a bit of life. Luckily, plenty of the ping effects in this deck also offer life gain, like Bontu’s Monument — which also happens to make your black spells cheaper to cast. These cards can enable your win condition of big beats (or even be used to combo off with format stalwarts Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood).

Ob Nixilis can also be protected more long-term by equipment like Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots, but we can get more creative than that. Think of something like Commander’s Plate, which gives Ob Nixilis protection from white, blue and green. That means you’ll be safe from cards like Beast Within or Imprisoned in the Moon while also making it harder to be blocked by players in those color identities.

Then there are cards like Basilisk Collar, which protect your ability to stay in the game as much as they help you close it out. Because some ping triggers will also damage yourself, (like Manabarbs or Rug of Smothering), giving a big Ob Nixilis lifelink will benefit you immensely. At the same time, the deathtouch from Basilisk’s Collar also lets you assign one point of damage to any blockers and then trample the rest of your commander damage right on through. 

Ultimately, the meat and potatoes of this deck is made up of cards that punish our opponents for doing anything. Enchantments like Underworld Dreams ping our opponent for one damage each time they draw a card, triggering Ob Nixilis and making it tougher to avoid commander damage when he swings at them in the air. 

Chandra, Awakened Inferno ticks up to give each of your opponents impossible to remove emblems that do a single damage on their upkeep. And after you get your +1/+1 counters, these ping effects can be amplified by multipliers that trigger more damage, such as Wound Reflection, an enchantment that causes your opponents to lose life all over again.

Card Packages

In Rakdos, we have some usual suspects that often make the cut, but we can also have a little fun with treasure and the damage it can inflict by purely entering or exiting the battlefield.

Pain Distributor is a March of the Machine creature that gives players treasures but pings opponents for a single damage each time they sacrifice an artifact. Mayhem Devil is another devil with a similar effect and cost, ramping damage up fairly quickly and growing your commander to massive proportions.

While opponents might be conservative about using treasures in an attempt to avoid pain triggers, a card useful in encouraging them to sacrifice those artifacts is Manabarbs. With Manabarbs on the battlefield, folks will have their mana sources further limited even further if they don’t want to take damage.

Speaking of treasure, let’s talk about Prosper, Tome-Bound, one of Rakdos’ most popular commanders. Prosper works great in Ob Nixilis’ 99, as he rewards you with treasure for playing cards from exile — something your commander enables with his ability. Prosper is also a 1/4 with deathtouch, letting you fulfill Ob Nixilis’ single damage condition, making these creatures two peas in a pod.

The Reaver Cleaver is also nice for a treasure subtheme in an Ob Nixilis deck, as it helps accelerate your board as Ob Nixilis continues to grow bigger and bigger. 

Making treasures also works well in Ob Nixilis because you can get some damage triggers when artifacts enter the battlefield, like with Reckless Fireweaver. Covering treasures entering and exiting the battlefield makes sure you get those pings no matter the circumstances. 

In this deck, an overloaded Vandalblast can also make for a juicy finale if your opponents’ health are low enough, as a card like Last Laugh will deal damage for every permanent destroyed this way.

A flavorful inclusion that basically wins you the game on the spot is All Will Be One. This enchantment triggers when a creature gets  +1/+1 counters and deals damage equal to the number of counters. Well, since Ob Nixilis gets a single counter with his effect, this deals one damage — triggering Ob again. Repeat infinitely until your opponents are dead, possibly as early as turn five (with a Sol Ring and an unblocked Memnite, you can do this on turn three…).

If you want to play a bit more fair, Bastion of Remembrance gives you a consolation Ob trigger when a creature dies — though there’s nothing stopping you from triggering it yourself. And as a Chatterfang player, my personal favorite board wipe and potential win condition is The Meathook Massacre, which is equally perfect for our captive kingpin. 

This legendary enchantment can easily wipe a board, but what it does after sticking around is much better. Opponents lose one life whenever a creature you control dies and you gain a life whenever a creature an opponent controls dies. It’s all upside!  


There are a lot of solid packages that work well in this Ob Nixilis deck, and we didn’t even touch on cards like Firebrand Archer and Fate Unraveler. With so many options, you’ll be sure to ping your opponents consistently each turn, making Ob Nixilis quite the creature to have on your side during combat.

However you want to build Ob Nixilis, you can find my deck list here. Lift it wholesale or use it as a starting point. Just go have some with this unfortunate, demon mob-boss!