6, Jul, 24

Broken MTG Wizard Surprisingly Resurrects Elf Typal Strategy!

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At this point, there’s no surprise that Nadu, Winged Wisdom is one of the most broken cards to come out of Modern Horizons 3. The combination of Nadu and Shuko has been tearing up the Modern format for a while now. Many players are clamoring for bans, as the deck continues to dominate.

Interestingly, though, Nadu is now starting to find a home in Legacy in a rather unusual place. Legacy Elves, a deck that has become nearly nonexistent since the printing of Orcish Bowmasters, has been putting up decent results as of late thanks to the power of Nadu.

Recently, one player even made top four of a Magic Online Legacy Challenge with Nadu Elves, showcasing the card’s importance to the archetype. There’s no Shukos to be found in this decklist, as the deck relies on more unique synergies that have likely gone under the radar. Let’s take a look at what Legacy Elves is trying to accomplish and the role that Nadu plays in the archetype.

Building A Mana Advantage

Gaea's Cradle

A huge part of the Elves gameplan in Legacy involves gaining a large mana advantage. The easiest way to complete this task is by finding a copy of Gaea’s Cradle. Gaea’s Cradle is a messed-up card in a deck filled with small creatures, which this deck has plenty of.

This deck plays a ton of one-drops to enable Gaea’s Cradle, and they all synergize well together. Basic mana dorks like Fyndhorn Elves let you play more creatures to the board quickly. These mana producers pair nicely with Quirion Ranger, which lets you return Forests to your hand to untap them and further build out your board.

One of the most important one-drops that the deck has at its disposal is Allosaurus Shepherd. Allosaurus Shepherd is crucial in helping you resolve key cards against Force of Will decks. Natural Order is a game-breaking card, but having to sacrifice a creature can be a big cost in the face of potential counter magic. Luckily, Allosaurus Shepherd completely negates this risk. On top of that, if you draw Gaea’s Cradle and build out a big board of Elves, Allosaurus Shepherd can do a solid Craterhoof Behemoth impression.

Helping add some consistency to the deck, Green Sun’s Zenith and Once Upon a Time are also impactful inclusions. Green Sun’s Zenith can find Dryad Arbor or a one-drop early, and once you have your engine rolling with Cradle, searching for Craterhoof is quite realistic. Once Upon a Time digs for Gaea’s Cradle, which is by far the strongest card in the deck.

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Nadu’s Role

Nadu, Winged Wisdom

Where this version of Legacy Elves starts to differentiate from previous iterations of the archetype is with the presence of Nadu. If you look closely at the decklist, you’ll notice the complete omission of Glimpse of Nature. Glimpse of Nature is undoubtedly a powerful card and used to be one the deck maximized for card advantage. In fact, Legacy Elves used to be driven by card advantage, abusing the combination of Wirewood Symbiote and Elvish Visionary to grind through opposing interaction.

Unfortunately, the printing of Orcish Bowmasters forced many Elves players to put the deck back on the shelf. Having Bowmasters kill one of your creatures is bad enough, but Bowmasters threatens to mow down your whole board if you cast Glimpse of Nature or try to bounce and replay Elvish Visionary repeatedly.

This is where Nadu comes in. Nadu is capable of providing card advantage in a way that doesn’t actually trigger Orcish Bowmasters. Any time you activate Wirewood Symbiote or Quirion Ranger, Nadu will trigger. Sure, you only get to use either of these abilities once each turn, but this still provides a ton of value in attrition battles.

Nadu’s ability to put lands directly into play is also exceptionally important. Any time you reveal a Gaea’s Cradle, you get an enormous boost of mana to play out any cards you draw. This deck makes use of Bristly Bill, Spine Sower as a way to truly go off with Nadu. Each Fetchland you reveal with Bristly Bill out lets you trigger Nadu another two times. Obviously, Nadu’s ability only triggers twice each turn per creature you control, but this deck has an abundance of efficient creatures to play.

Thanks to the huge amounts of mana that Gaea’s Cradle can make at a time, sometimes you’ll even want to use Green Sun’s Zenith to tutor for Elvish Herder. From there, you can activate Elvish Herder and target your creatures over and over, letting Nadu go absolutely ballistic.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Grief

Being able to at least hang with Orcish Bowmasters gave this deck a huge boost. Elves has historically had a reasonable matchup against Delver of Secrets decks, and Nadu’s presence further improved things. Against decks like Eldrazi, assuming you can dodge or answer Chalice of the Void, it’s not too difficult to race with a big Craterhoof Behemoth or Allosaurus Shepherd turn.

The biggest area of weakness this deck has is against fast combo archetypes. Storm is incredibly tough to beat, as this deck doesn’t have access to counter magic outside of a couple copies of Mindbreak Trap out of the sideboard. Reanimator can be problematic in games where you don’t draw Leyline of the Void. Considering how popular Dimir Reanimator is currently, it’s tough to envision Legacy Elves becoming tier one (at least until a Grief ban occurs).

With a ban announcement coming in August, though, it’s possible Legacy Elves can gain more representation in the near future. The deck is clearly capable of putting up strong results once again, so it’s definitely worth monitoring if the deck starts trending upward. For now, Elves is still a decent choice, showcasing just how powerful Nadu is even outside of its typical Modern environment.

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