Ad Nauseam Very Much Alive In Modern Despite Simian Spirit Guide Ban

Genoslugcs · January 26, 2023 · 7 min
Ad Nauseam Very Much Alive In Modern Despite Simian Spirit Guide Ban

Modern Ad Nauseamimage was/is one of my all-time favorite decks and by far my favorite combo deck. The intricate play lines, the ability to combo off at instant speed in response to something, getting to surprise opponents with Pact of Negationimage and then circumvent losing the game on your upkeep, drawing your entire deck and going to -40 life - There were so many things that set the deck apart from everything else. That said, with the banning of one of the key cards, Simian Spirit Guideimage, Modern Ad Nauseam as we knew it was dead, or so it seemed.

However, Ad Nauseam players are a resilient bunch and after some lamenting, they set to work to find a way to keep the deck alive post-ban. As we approach the two-year anniversary of the banning itself, I am happy to report that they have succeeded. Granted, it is different. It is not the titan that it once was but it feels the same way to play it as it used to and many of the things that make the deck so unique are once again there.

So, yes, as an Ad Nauseam player, the deck feels alive and well in Modern, to me. Even though it is far from in a good spot in the current meta. That said, I would like to pay homage to the archetype and the people in the Ad Naus community who dedicated their time and effort to keeping it alive with this article. Today I will go over what the deck is, how it used to play, losing Simian Spirit Guide, and finally, what the deck looks like today. Without further ado, let's get started.

How The Deck Used To Play

Let's start with the deck pre-ban - What it did and how it played.

The Combo

image image image

The Pre-ban variants of the deck had a main win-con and a very solid backup plan. The main focus of the deck was to either cast Angel's Graceimage the turn you were going to combo or have Phyrexian Unlifeimage already in play - Both of which prevent you from dying. While either one of these effects shielded you from death, you cast Ad Nauseamimage and put the top card of your library into your hand, until you had drawn your entire deck.

image image

Doing so would often put you at around -40 life, and leave opponents unfamiliar with the combo wondering what the hell you were doing. With your library at your disposal, you could exile three Simian Spirit Guideimage to cast Lightning Stormimage, and then holding priority, you could discard enough lands to kill your opponent.

Once upon a time, this was the primary way that the deck won most games. However, as mentioned, the deck also had a very solid alternate win condition.

image image image

With the aforementioned Angel's Graceimage and/or Phyrexian Unlifeimage in play, pilots could cast Spoils of the Vaultimage and name a card that wasn't in the deck. When this happens the player's entire library would be exiled. With Labratory Maniac in play, this would be done on your upkeep so you could move directly to the draw step and win. With Oracle, you could put Thassa's Oracleimage onto the stack and then respond to the trigger with Spoils of the Vaultimage and win.

By the way, the different cards that players choose to name when casting Spoils could get quite funny.

You May Also Like: Magic: The Gathering Glossary - Terms, Lingo, Slang, And Jargon Explained

Support Cards

image image image

Let's talk briefly about what other things were run to support the combo.

First, the deck did and still does run quite a few cantrips to dig for combo pieces. The ones that come up most often are Serum Visionsimage and Slight of Hand. Next, are acceleration cards that allowed the deck to combo as fast as possible. Lotus Bloomimage is/was the main one here and if suspended on turn one could lead to an easy turn four (sometimes faster) combo.

Pentad Prismimage also put the deck ahead on mana but also served the purpose of filtering mana from one color to another. Moving on we have a very important card for the deck and a personal favorite of mine - Pact of Negationimage. Once you've combo'd and drawn your deck Pact gave you protection from opponents disrupting your victory by countering Lightning Stormimage, redirecting damage, or giving themselves Hexproof.

One of the coolest interactions in the deck involves Pact too. If you use Pact to counter something prior to your combo turn., when it comes time to pay the cost on your upkeep, you could cast Angel's Graceimage and stack the triggers in a way so that Grace will completely negate the Pact trigger and you no longer have to pay it at all.


A little bit later in the deck's history, some versions started playing Wishclaw Talismanimage as a tutor. The great thing about Wishclaw was that given the decks' ability to win at instant speed, once you tutored, you could win the game before your opponent ever got to use it.

Moving on, the last thing I want to mention before finishing the "good old days" section is the concept of what's known as a value Ad Nauseam or Spoils of the Vault cast. I cannot move on without mentioning it as it is one of the most exhilarating parts of playing the deck. Let's say you have everything you need to go off except an Ad Nauseamimage and you are at 19 life. Well, if things get hairy, you can cast Spoils of the Vaultimage naming Ad Nauseam and gamble that it would be on the top 18 cards of your library.

If you're right, you'll lose some amount of life (one life per card you had to exile) get your combo piece, and win. If you're wrong and there were no copies in the top 18 cards, you'll lose. This is quite an exciting line of play and you could always take heart in the fact that if you needed a single card that bad and died to your Spoils trying to get it, you probably weren't going to win that one anyways.

Simian Spirit Guide Gets Banned

This is the official announcement of the banning of Simian Spirit Guideimage from the February 15, 2021 banned and restricted announcement. As you can see, Ad Nauseam was not called out by name. That said, I think it's fair to say that Ad Nauseam as a deck died for the sins of other decks like Belcher, Oops All Spells, and Tibalt's Trickeryimage builds. While I do wish these decks could have been thwarted without Ad Naus being collateral damage, I am not surprised that it got banned overall.

Regardless, I must say, this was a legitimately sad day for me and countless other players. The Facebook group for the deck is quite a tight community and I have never quite shared that type of sadness with a group of strangers before; Especially over something like Magic: The Gathering. That said, it was a pretty amazing thing to witness. The first reaction of most players (myself included) was to concede that our favorite deck was forever a thing of the past.

You May Also LikeTop 10 Saltiest Commander Cards

And while, the deck as we knew it might be, the show must go on and it did. After the shock wore off, the community as a whole set to work on finding ways to make the combo and overall strategy possible again. Most people opted to abandon the namesake card and play a Levelerimage + Thassa's Oracleimage build.

While this was the best we had for a time, it simply didn't feel like the same deck, because it wasn't. However, as time passed, people got more and more creative and some more familiar lists began to come together.  So, let's take a look at what the deck looks like these days.

The Current Ad Nauseam

In April of 2022, Streets of New Capenna came along and brought with it the missing peace the deck was looking for. I'll start by showing a full deck list and then go over the new additions and how they work.

Ad Nauseam

Main 60 cards (23 distinct)
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (36)
Creature (4)
Land (20)
Side 15 cards (10 distinct)

As you can see, most of the cards mentioned above are present and accounted for here. However, as mentioned, there are a few new key additions as well. The main one is An Offer You Can't Refuseimage and how it works with any zero mana spell. In this case, Intervention Pactimage.

image image image

In these newest builds, you use Ad Nauseamimage, Angel's Graceimage, and/or Phyrexian Unlifeimage just like I outlined above. So, you'll make yourself unable to die for the turn, cast Ad Nauseam, and draw your entire deck. With all your cards in hand, you cast Intervention Pactimage for free, hold priority, and cast An Offer You Can't Refuseimage targeting your own spell and making two treasure tokens. At this point, you'll have an empty library and can use the treasures to cast Thassa's Oracleimage and win the game.

Will these lists feel much closer to what the deck originally was, it saddens me to say the archetype is not in a great spot at the moment. With so many decks playing sideboard cards to deal with cascade spells like Crashing Footfallsimage or Living Endimage cards like Lotus Bloomimage and Profane Tutorimage get hated out as well. Furthermore, a lot of the same cards that deal with the Hammer Time deck are also quite effective hate for Ad Nauseam.

Maybe one day, it'll be in a better spot again. If and when it does, I know I will sleeve it up once again.


The newer deck feels somewhat different at times for sure. For example, running fewer copies of most cards and tutoring them with Profane Tutorimage is new, the deck is overall less powerful than it was, there is a new win condition, etc. However, overall, this list takes me back to the glory days of playing the deck I love. I want to give a shout-out to GR_DONKIN for his help.

If you're new to the deck, welcome to the club - I hope you've enjoyed this small primer and history lesson. If you're a veteran player, thanks for taking a bittersweet trip down memory lane with me. Until next time, get out there and play some MTG.


Login to comment


Search Articles

Enter The Battlefield Prepared

With the MTGA Assistant deck tracker MTGA Assistant

Latest Articles

Six new legendary creatures from a "DnD movie" Secret Lair have been leaked... And they're good!

Oathbreaker has been made an official format! Come learn how to play, specific rules, and more.

Possible Battle card mechanic, returning legends, modified old abilities, and more!

Today we talk about proxy sites - More specifically, WOTC's recent crackdowns on them and why.

Only one "The One Ring" will be printed... And it'll likely take all the gold in Gondor to get it!

There's a revamping of an old aggro favorite in Modern and one spicy card is making it possible.

LOTR spoilers are upon us - Come check out the MTG version of the most notable characters!

Shadows of the Past event will feature different cards for Draft and Sealed every week!

Interested in a Solphim, Mayhem Dominus EDH Deck? Come check out three unique ways to build it.

Taking a look at the "The Legendary Flyers (Not That Kind)" Drop and its cards.

Looking to crack Collector Boosters without breaking the bank? Well, I have five sets for you!