Nadu, Winged Wisdom | Modern Horizons 3 | Art by Daren Bader
1, Jul, 24

MTG Pro Tour Winner Calls For Their Own Deck To Be Banned!

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Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 is now officially in the history books and what a weekend it was. Defined by the format-warping power of Modern Horizons 3, all eyes were on one card in particular: Nadu. Winged Wisdom. Facilitating a frighteningly efficient combo win, it’s no wonder MTG players want to ban the tournament-winning menace that is Nadu.

Not only is Nadu, Winged Wisdom strong enough to win Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3, but it was absolutely everywhere during the event. To start, 25% of the overall completion was playing Nadu in one form or another. Throughout the weekend, Nadu’s dominance only became more apparent, as five of the top eight players were running this newfangled combo.

Now that Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 is done and dusted, there’s absolutely no disputing the power of Nadu, Winged Wisdom. The only question remaining appears to be whether or not Nadu will be on the receiving end of the ban hammer soon.

Nadu Summer Is Here

Nadu Key Cards

For those who have somehow managed to avoid hearing about our Lord and Savior Nadu, Winged Wisdom, let me fill you in. The card is a hyper-efficient Simic threat from Modern Horizons 3, quickly identified as one of the best cards in the set during preview season. Combined with cards like Shuko or Outrider en-Kor, and enablers like Springheart Nantuko, it can allow you to draw your entire deck and ramp a bunch of lands for an easy Thassa’s Oracle win.

Players figured this strategy out long before preview season was over, and it started putting up results right away after release. Even with all of that in mind, however, its performance at Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 was still outrageous. Five of the top 8 decks were Nadu lists. Four of these were Bant Nadu, while one was Four-Color Nadu. For reference, Sam Nielsen’s winning deck was the Bant variant, so Four-Color may be more of an interesting anomaly than a genuine meta player.

It’s been a long time since we saw numbers like these in Modern. In fact, as we’ll discuss later, the last time this happened was probably with Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis decks at Pro Tour Modern Horizons 1. Given that Hogaak is one of the most infamous design mistakes in Magic history, you can get an idea of the level Nadu is operating on here. Results like this always stir up big reactions in the MTG community, and this time has been no different.

Enemy Of The People

Nadu-Ban-MTG-Community-Reaction

Even before the Pro Tour, even before the card was released, MTG players were advocating for a Nadu ban in multiple formats. The community outcry has been huge. Now that players have some concrete results to work with, they’ve only grown more vocal. “It was one of the most miserable PTs to watch in recent memory,” said _Hinnyuu_, in a Reddit thread discussing Nadu’s performance. “This deck is completely stupid, they should ban the Bird immediately. Nothing the deck does is fun or interesting in any way.”

It’s often easy to dismiss Magic criticism like this as the ranting of armchair designers. In this case, however, it’s backed up by the Pros themselves. _Hinnyuu_’s quote above was in direct response to something that Simon Nielsen, winner of the Pro Tour, said in his winner’s interview: “This deck is just crazy stupid and I’m glad I got to play it before it’s gone because it’s gonna be gone. Do not invest!”

When even a notable Pro player, someone who has just won a major event off the back of a Nadu deck, is calling for a ban, you know something is up. The deck’s power level is just too high for the rest of the format, it seems. Beyond that, it also commits another cardinal sin of Magic design: it encourages unfun play patterns. “The design is explicitly incentivizing a slow and fiddly combo that feels a lot like old eggs, and any fixes would just keep the gameplay the same, but bad.” noted dlollolb, on Reddit.

A Second Hogaak?

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis | Modern Horizons

This is a very fair observation. When Nadu decks work, the resulting games end up looking a lot like Solitaire. The combos aren’t necessarily infinite, either, so the Nadu player needs to manually play out every step rather than just proving the loop and going to the next game. This results in un-interactive games, which, as we’ve seen above, players don’t find particularly fun to watch.

All of this brings us back round to Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. This was the breakout card from Modern Horizons 1, and its story is eerily similar to Nadu’s when you look at it. The card came out, dominated the next Pro Tour, and caught a lot of flack from players. The main difference is that Hogaak mostly went under the radar until the Pro Tour. Maybe Magic players are finally getting good at card evaluation after all.

Since the two cards are so similar, we can look at how Wizards dealt with Hogaak as a precedent for how they might address Nadu. Instead of banning the card in question right away, Bridge from Below took the fall in the first round of Hogaak bannings. Many criticized this move as financially motivated, and a way to keep packs of Modern Horizons selling well. It only took one more month before Hogaak itself was banned, however, along with perennial shenanigans enabler Faithless Looting.

Because of this pattern, MTG players are predicting a ban for either Shuko or Outrider en-Kor, rather than Nadu itself. Time will tell if this proves to be the case, but one thing’s for sure. After a Pro Tour performance like that, the Bird Wizard in the room will need to be dealt with. One way or another.

Read More: MTG Pro Tour Decklists

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