@ten-ten thanks for all the questions! No need to apologize I’m glad someone shows interest in the archetype!
Bear with me this will be a long post.
Pact of negation v. Daze v. Spell pierce (you didn’t ask about this but I wanted to expand more on why I chose daze and why it’s good)
Traditionally a lot of Ad Nauseam lists ran 4 pact of negation as a way to protect the combo. I tested this a lot and I’ve played it in the past. I found a few problems with the card in the current meta. 1) the card is purely “offensive” meaning it can only really be used in the deck to defend a combo, you’re never actually using it to stop your opponent from doing something broken and with the speed of the meta it felt too narrow, 2) the card is totally dead against Lavinia which is a big boogey man for the deck, if she’s down you can’t play pact at all and your odds of winning go down even further (yes daze has an alternate cost but you can still actually cast it for 1u), 3) the upside to pact is that it keeps your curve even lower meaning more cards off of Ad Nauseam but this didn’t feel like enough up side in testing.
Daze did literally everything I wanted it to do and more. During testing and in the current meta in general decks across the meta like to tap out on turn 1/2 for a big threat of some kind or a restricted card I.e recall, Ouphe, Lavinia, karn, forge, even grim monolith as an engine. This led me to a few conclusions with daze: 1) it lets me protect a turn 1-2 combo and traditionally ad nauseam wants to be a turn 1-2 deck (as opposed to defense grid which is normally a turn 2-3 card or later), 2) it generally let me do something proactive turn one like duress, cantrip, imperial seal, and either protect that play or snatch their first turn play with daze and then move forward on my next turn 3) it doesn’t get misstep and it’s not dead under Lavinia. This was actually a huge factor in testing and at the NYSE. Having to force a daze feels horrible for the opponent and unless they’re protecting something very busted even if they do have force it feels great and is a win for you, 4) as I mentioned above you also add to storm count and can protect your seas from wasteland. The one down side to daze is you do have to mess with your mana base some and there are times when you really need to fetch a swamp and daze feels bad but it’s better than getting wasted out of the game. Overall it’s a much more versatile card than people give it credit for in vintage and I will continue to utilize it.
This is definitely the worst of the theee. As you mentioned it gets missted. It can’t protect a turn one combo and it doesn’t allow you to progress the game turn one (I.e you can’t duress and hold it up) as opposed to pact this is a purely “defensive” spell and the list tends to run really thin on mana so holding it up would be an issue.
So misstep is literally my least favorite card in magic. I loathe the card, but it is a necessary evil. It’s also very good in Ad Nauseam and it works on the same axis as daze. It lets you fight those “awesome” misstep battles to protect your rituals while adding to storm count and it also keeps your blue opponent off of recall/brainstorm, your shops opponent off of key/top/sol ring/vault etc, and your combo opponents off of vamp tutor and even rituals in the mirror. The reason I separate recall and brainstorm is because those are the cards I would be willing to misstep defensively with this deck as opposed to holding my misstep to protect my own combo. Imo it lets the blue mage see entirely too many cards and get too far ahead of you.
The biggest thing you need to be wary of is life total with the card. You don’t want to get carried away misstepping everything because you’ll get too low. This did not come up for me at NYSE but it did come up in testing.
As a good rule of thumb for life total staying above 14 has been my sweet spot before going off. If you go off above 14 you probably have a 70% chance of seeing enough cards to get there. If you go off between 11-14 that percentage is proabsbly around 55-60%. If you go off below 10 you’re just crossing your fingers and hoping everything you need is directly in a pile all in a row on top of your deck and you avoid all the other ad nauseams lol. However, If you go off above 18 it’s basically lights out for the opponent with a 95% chance of seeing enough cards to get there (unles you’re extremely unlucky).
Overall the card is really good in the deck. However I did cut gitaxian probe at NYSE for life considerations because it can add up fast taking 2 at a time.
Another card I did extensive testing with and played between 0-3 and landed on 0 for a few reasons. 1) mana cost/curve considerations. By adding the dazes and removing what would have been pact of negation or possibly a discard spell I pushed the curve of the deck higher. This may seem inconsequential. But 2s start to add up fast when you’re going off, especially at the magical 14 number or if you might need to misstep something, 2) cabal is not actually as good in this list as it is in traditional DPS And was actually making me slower. You have to find something to cut for cabal and often times I was cutting some number of moxen which made my density of zero cost fast mana lower. That along with the fact that the deck has very few cantrips meant that it was harder to get to 5 mana with several cabals in the list because you have less zero mana acceleration and it’s much harder to reach threshold in this list than in dps. It’s easier to reach threshold once you put ad nauseam on the stack but then you run into the first issue of dying to it and once you put 18 cards in your hand mana isn’t that much of a concern, 3) again unlike DPS ad nauseam often runs off a single land which makes cabal much worse, it simply doesn’t add enough mana I.e. you need a much higher density of cards in your hand to get to 5 in the very early stages of the game. The biggest upside by far is that it lets you more easily play around null rod effects which traditional DPS again does much better than this list and it can also let you win a longer game while smoothing out draws with cantrips. Overall the card is simply much better in that list than here where you’re more “glass cannon” and turn one based.
I also tested burning wish in the deck which is actually really good and a ton of fun and I have a really cool list with it. However it’s just too slow for this meta but I would be glad to share the list.
I hope these answers helped and feel free if you have any more questions. Apologies for such a long winded post.