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The Basics of Modern Bant Nadu

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Bant Nadu was both the most popular and most successful deck of Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3. Not only did Nadu variants take five of the Top 8 positions on Sunday's Day Three, but they occupied all four spots in the Top 4.

So very clearly a Nadu deck was going to win Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3!

Given the deck's success on the Pro Tour, there is a very real chance that Nadu or one of the deck's core components will find itself banned before Modern takes over the RCQ circuit; but it's also possible that if you want to make the Regional Championship, you'll have to know the ins and outs of this landmark deck.

Oko, Thief of Crowns
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Nadu, Winged Wisdom
Watch out for 1gu. It's a heck of a casting cost.

Nadu: First Impressions

Nadu, Winged Wisdom

When I first saw Nadu, Winged Wisdom, I kind of just wrote off my favorite Modern deck, Burn. With 4 toughness and that triggered ability, I figured that it would just be too expensive to get Nadu off of the battlefield. Two cards - maybe six damage - and the opponent gets to de facto draw two extra cards?

On the one hand, I can't believe how naive I was about this card.

But on the other hand, I was right about the efficacy of removal. Because of the prevalence of Nadu, Winged Wisdom; point removal is at an almost all-time low in Modern. While you might see a Dismember coming out of a sideboard for the mirror match, at least right now, the coast will often just be clear if you have the core combo components.

Nadu: The Basic Combo

Nadu, Winged Wisdom
Shuko

Keep in mind that you will often start the game with Arboreal Grazer (ideally for the Shuko-finding Urza's Saga) or Delighted Halfling; so chances are you'll have more than one creature in play at the point that you assemble Nadu + Shuko.

Sometimes you'll cast Summoner's Pact with only three mana in play; grab Nadu, and YOLO.

When you put together the Legendary Winged Wisdom and Shuko, you will turn over a combination of cheap creatures, tutoring, and lands... Because that's basically what's in the deck. Every additional cheap creature gives you two more looks.

The "Full" Combo

Nadu, Winged Wisdom
Shuko
Springheart Nantuko

The so-called "full" combo occurs when you add Springheart Nantuko to Nadu and Shuko. You will often turn over a Springheart Nantuko (or just have one in hand) and be able to deploy it by revealing two untapped lands with Nadu's triggered ability.

Once Springheart Nantuko is in play you can generate an enormous amount of mana. Every land you turn over will create an additional creature to target. While not 100% deterministic, you're in a really good spot once these three cards are on the battlefield together. Simply, for zero mana you get some amount of untapped lands; and every time you get any land you have two more looks at getting any land. Rinse. Repeat.

I Got the Full Combo... So Now What?

The simplest way to win is to flip over your entire deck once you have the full combo and cast your one copy of Thassa's Oracle.

Thassa's Oracle

Of the Nadu decks in the Pro Tour Top 8, only Daniel Goetschel played Thassa's Oracle.

[Goetschel from https://magic.gg/news/pro-tour-modern-horizons-3-top-8-players-and-decks]


The problems with this card are two.

  1. It's kind of clunky. If you have to cast it for some reason before you win the game, uu is not the easiest to accrue.
  2. For the most part all it does is win the game. You can win other ways.

How exactly do you win?

For a thoroughly busted combo deck, Bant Nadu wins a shocking amount of games by random creature beatdown. This is due in part because of the paucity of creature removal in Modern, and part because you just generate so much materiel.

If all you do is trigger Springheart Nantuko a bunch of times you'll eventually pass the turn with an army of 1/1 creatures that far exceeds your opponent's paltry 20 life points.

The winning version ran Bristly Bill in the Thassa's Oracle "slot" which obviously makes for better beatdowns. You can also just put enough +1/+1 counters on a creature that started the turn on your side that you can attack for lethal without doing anything fancy.


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Alternates to Shuko:

Outrider en-Kor
Sylvan Safekeeper

Outrider en-Kor is a more expensive Shuko that has multiple bonuses. First of all, you can find it with Chord of Calling (though not Summoner's Pact). That's great! It also has an amazing fail state.

In the unlikely event you have to pass the turn without winning outright, you can immediately re-activate Outrider en-Kor on all your creatures twice during the opponent's upkeep. You might make an army or more-or-less draw your deck on their upkeep! You can only use Shuko on your own turn, but Outrider en-Kor has no such limitation!

Sylvan Safekeeper is a trickier alternative. First of all, making all your own lands disappear is kind of awful (except when it's not, see below); but perhaps even more awkward is giving your creatures shroud. This will prevent you from further targeting the same creature(s) the same turn Sylvan Safekeeper has another function, though.

There is technically an upper limit to how much you can draw / flip over... And that upper limit is your deck. You can extend that number by the use of Endurance.

Endurance

The default way to do this is to evoke Endurance using one of the many Green cards you've not-drawn over the course of your combo. Make sure to stack it so that Endurance will be shuffled back into your deck along with your graveyard. This will let you keep going.

In the vast majority of games your opponent will just concede well before any Endurance tricks become necessary, but it is probably important to know how to win if you have to.

Passing with a huge advantage isn't a lock: The opponent might have a Supreme Verdict, for instance.

The first thing you'll want to do is make a ton of mana using Springheart Nantuko. You get extra 1/1s to target, which lets you find all your lands; some of these will come into play untapped, so you can make mana with them. Eventually you can sacrifice all your lands to Sylvan Safekeeper, evoke Endurance, and do it all over again.

And again.

And again.

One you have a lot of mana cast Endurance rather than evoking it. With Endurance in play Bestow a Springheart Nantuko onto the Endurance. You should have hundreds of mana floating at this point.

Endurance
Springheart Nantuko

At this point use Sylvan Safekeeper only to sacrifice the one copy of Waterlogged Grove and either Boseiju or Otawara. You should only have two lands in your graveyard.

Now when you next activate Shuko you'll possibly turn over the Waterlogged Grove. Rather than making a 1/1 with the Nantuko, you can make a duplicate copy of Endurance. With its 187 trigger on the stack you can sacrifice the Waterlogged Grove to draw Boseiju or Otawara; then Channel that land. If you turn over the Kamigawa Legendary Land instead, you can always sacrifice it. Your Endurance copy will help you set up the Waterlogged Grove next activation, anyway.

In this way you can make a prohibitive number of Endurances while blowing up all the opponent's non basic lands and returning all their permanents to their hand. When you're done with everything you should have thousands of power in play whereas your opponent should have no non-land permanents and precious few lands.

Key Alternates:

Shifting Woodland

Becuase sometimes a mean man will kill your poor Nadu.

Dryad Arbor

Not only is this card great to turn over with Shuko - being both a land and a potential creature to target - Bestowing Springheart Nantuko onto it can be a riot. Any land entering the battlefield will trigger the Nantuko, which will give you the option of copying the Dryad Arbor. If you do that is a land coming into play, which will give you another copy opportunity. Your only limitation being how much free mana you've got!

Singletons and Oddities:

Suncleanser

This card can single-handedly defeat not only the Energy decks, but uw or Jeskai control decks. Wrath of the Skies, in particular, stops being the godsend against Shuko.

Volatile Stormdrake

An amazing main-deck card if you expect the mirror. With Chord of Calling, it makes for an efficient solution to an opposing Nadu.


Malevolent Rumble

Found in Jason Ye's build, this card has many potential functions. The most hilarious I saw was being able to block Grief repeatedly by putting two bodies on the battlefield.

Haywire Mite

Findable by both Chord of Calling and Urza's Saga, this card can notably remove The One Ring.

Vexing Bauble

Another Urza's Saga target, this one is a foil to Soul Spike and other problematic "free" spells.

Bant Nadu is a deck of almost unprecedented popularity and dominance. Even if you foolishly decide to play something else, knowing how it works will be invaluable to your ability to succeed in Modern. I hope these basics help!

LOVE

MIKE

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