Hello again everybody, here on 95mtg.com!
This week I’ve spent tons of time preparing for MTG League Weekend by testing out a variety of archetypes. My favorite, which began proliferating over this past weekend, is Naya Adventures (or, as I prefere to call it, Naya Punch). That’s what the deck has been affectionately nicknamed in our testing group, so that’s what I’ll be calling it here.
The Standard Metagame reminds me of Modern circa 2015. There’s a variety of different options. Every deck has a bad matchup or two, or if not a bad matchup, a card it absolutely does not want to see.
Choosing a deck in a rock, paper, scissors world is tormenting, but you can also take solace knowing you can’t really pick a wrong deck. At least that’s what I’ll tell myself if I do poorly this weekend.
Did I choose Naya Punch as my weapon this weekend? No, but I would have been perfectly happy playing it. I’m playing Snow-White aggro but I’ll reveal all my secrets to that in next week’s article.
Naya Punch had breakout performances in this past weekend’s SCG Open events and while I do not know where to credit the original builder, I first saw the archetype in MTGMelee.com under Naya Adventures. At first glance, I thought “welp another meme deck” and went back to playing Mono Red vs Mono White, Rogues and Sultai etc.
As word spread the deck was performing well, we got to testing it to see if it was an improved version of Gruul, a deck we were fairly high on.
Here’s the approximate list I would have registered for league weekend:
While there are many ways to eat this Reese’s, the concept is simply to get Goldspan Dragon onto the battlefield and cast Unleash Fury once, twice, or thrice depending on how much damage you’ve been able to produce earlier in the game. While this is a lot of cards and a lot of mana, Goldspan’s abilities help cast the spells and all you have to do is draw them. This is certainly a tall order, but it’s made up for in redundancy and traction.
The adventure package both buys you enough time to stabilize and set up with Bonecrusher Giant and Lovestruck Beast slowing down aggro decks. Combined with Edgewall Innkeeper you can draw deeper into your deck, and set up combo pieces.
However, the true glue for this deck is Showdown of the Skalds. Showdown plays incredibly well into this combo as it curves smoothly into Dragon, while also providing a damage boost and drawing into combo pieces.
Turn 4 Showdown.
Turn 5 Goldspan Dragon, attack, use treasure cast Unleash the Fury, Showdown trigger resolves Fury still on stack, cast Unleash Fury. Both triggers resolve, Goldspan Dragon goes from six, to twelve, to twenty-four power.
“What if we don’t have two Unleash Fury?”
Well, you can use Kazuul’s Fury to also deal damage, but it can’t be cast off the single treasure. Solution to this? Use Usher to Safety, targeting the Dragon to produce a token. Leave a white mana floating and then with Usher still on the stack, use the new treasure and the leftover mana to fling that giant dragon at the opponent’s face.
While we never got around to it, and it’s likely worse, if you wanted to aggressively slant the deck more you could play Rimrock Knight over Shepherd of the Flock. I think that’s putting too many eggs in one dragon sized basket though.
Playing any two copies of any Fury is only sixteen damage with the dragon, without additional help. It’s important early in the game to get your chip damage in to get your opponent to sixteen to set this up. Occasionally you can set up wins with an unblocked Lovestruck Beast or Bonecrusher Giant as well, but it’s a bit tougher now that this deck is a known quantity.
The Adventure Package:
Innkeeper, Bonecrusher, and Lovestruck Beast are uncuttable. Giant Killer has proven to be quite strong in this format and while I wouldn’t play less than 4 copies right now, I think moving them into the sideboard could be correct at some point.
Shepherd of the Flock is the one I had the most problems with. While it does give you some utility being able to protect creatures, especially ones like Bonecrusher or Lovestruck that will provide additional value later, it’s not a card I want to draw more than one of.
The deck churns along just fine without any. It can bring back Showdown in long grindy games, but I find those to be fewer and farther between these days. For this purpose I’ve cut down to two copies, and replaced the other two with what I’d consider one of the best removal spells in the format right now, Glass Casket.
Glass Casket is a card that interacts favorably with Bonecrusher Giant, Lovestruck Beast, Seasoned Hallowblade and Anax. It also fights through a Selfless Savior out of Mono White. Against Rogues it exiles all their creatures so Lurrus won’t be able to bring them back, nor will Agadeem’s Awakening.
Its biggest downside is its sorcery speed and I think it’s palatable in this format. Additionally, it provides another option for Usher the Way.
While Sejiri Shelter can often feel like Pact of Negation on your combo turn, it’s still a card you don’t want to draw multiple copies of, and can usually find a win without it. Of course it can be played as a land as well, but we still want to not be forced to play lands tapped as this format is quite punishing with all the playable aggressive decks.
Kazuul’s Fury I found to be more cute than good. Since it’s not an easy thing to pull off on turn five, we’ve trimmed down for more untapped lands. I found this is a way to more often close out games that drag on and then produce a faster kill. We can always use Usher the Way to return it to our hand if played as a land and we need this angle. I’m not sure between two and three copies but I’m confident four is too many.
One of the biggest draws to this deck from my perspective is all the sideboard options it can play, and how often it’ll draw them.
This format has a lot of “Stoney Silences” as I called them in testing. This is in reference to the days of Modern where Affinity was the best deck on any given weekend when people didn’t bring enough Stony Silence to combat it.
Here’s the SB I’d register right now and why:
3 Ox of Agonas: Ox is an incredibly difficult card for Rogues to beat. This deck actually struggles with Rogues to an extent, unlike its matchup against traditional Gruul, because it’s trying to put too many pieces together and Rogues is excellent at disrupting that. Once we get to remove some of our “combo” pieces and just grind Rogues down with Ox of Agonas all bets are off. Ox of Agonas is Rogues “Stony Silence”.
The Ox plays additional duty against other control decks that may pop up like Esper Doom Foretold as a straight value card, if you feel you need it.
3 Drannith Magistrate: Drannith Magistrate is the bane of our own deck, and for the mirror this is what I want. Magistrate survives Bonecrusher Giant, while also shutting off any creatures on adventure. In addition to that, it’s really backbreaking against Showdown of the Skalds. Drannith is quite good at preventing your deck from gaining traction and hitting any value so it’s important to interact with it when you can. While it’s not quite as powerful as Ox against Rogues, it’s still quite a pain.
3 Archon of Absolution: Snow-White Aggro has a really tough time beating this if they don’t keep it in mind. There are ways around it but for the most part this card will shut them down and give you time to run away with the game. I think Snow-White is quite a strong deck right now, and actually the deck I chose for this week’s League Weekend. This is the most difficult card to beat for a very strong deck, so I wouldn’t leave home without it.
2 Glass Casket: As I said before, this is one of the most well positioned removal spells in the format at the moment. For that reason I want to max out my copies, especially given the card we have the most difficulty beating is a two mana creature. If you’re interested in instant speed removal I’d go for Scorching Dragonfire before Fire Prophecy as exiting Anax is a huge plus and can turn losses into wins.
2 Redcap Melee: The most efficient removal against Mono Red, also an option for the mirror to interact with Dragon for one mana. It’s possible you want Scorching Dragonfire instead as it will hit more matchups to answer Drannith Magistrate, but also, it exiles Anax out of red. Torbran can be a huge problem with the removal sweet we currently have so I think Redcap Melee wins out.
1 The Arkoan War: Least happy with this card but haven’t removed it. It’s a nice way to slow a game down against a variety of creature decks and can completely turn the tide.
I’m much lower on this card than I was in the last format, but it’s still got its moments.
Once the format shakes out a little more I won’t be surprised to cut this entirely, as I don’t think it’s the best card against any specific deck right now, just gives you another option. Also does some cute things with Usher to Safety too.
Dealer’s Choice: I currently have a Soul-Guide Lantern in this spot as a card to help against Cycling and Kroxa Rakdos, but those decks aren’t super popular. You could add a cheap removal or any form of graveyard hate, which are good against both decks.
I think you can combo them quickly and efficiently as they have very little disruption outside of blocking with improbable tokens. In those games, Bonecrushers and Lovestruck can do quite the job attacking on the ground.
Other Sideboard Options:
Scorching Dragonfire: Metagame dependant removal
Phoenix of Ash: Can be a lower curve creature to come in in control matchups over Ox (would strongly consider -1 Ox +1 Phoenix for the time being).
Roiling Vortex: If you expect a lot of Sultai, this is your go to. They have a really hard time beating this with any sort of reasonable clock of creatures as they generally won’t be able to spend a full turn casting Binding the Old Gods to remove it. In an open field tournament right now, I’d strongly consider this card. I think Sultai has gotten beaten up enough that it won’t be incredibly popular in the League Weekend.
Cut two Showdown of the Skalds if they have Drannith Magistrate. If not, keep all copies in and cut Shepherd of the Flock.
Maybe: Redcap Melee
This is the one matchup I didn’t test, for full disclosure. Generally when you’re testing if a deck is good enough for a tournament you won’t play it against itself until you’ve decided it’s good enough against the metagame. Unfortunately we never fully got to this point. I would expect this matchup to be very snowball-y one way or another.
In general, I would expect the winner to be the person who can draw better early on and create traction. I also think the Unleash the Fury package will be worse once more interaction is present and Drannith shuts off the Showdown. I’d expect to win with Lovestruck Beasts and Dragons for the most part. If you know your opponent is leaving in all the combo pieces, I think you’d want Redcap Melee in to answer Dragon potentially.
This matchup is fast. I think you still want to try and set up combo turns or turns with a lot of big damage with Unleash Fury while you interact with as many creatures as possible. Showdown can generate a lot of cards, but it’s quite slow, especially on the draw. While it can be useful to find pieces to deal a ton of damage, you don’t want to be forced to play it because you drew no other options, so I like shaving two copies.
(if they have Drannith Magistrate)
(if they don’t have Drannith Magistrate)
This was a tricky matchup and I’m not sure if leaving in the combo is a necessary evil.
You can do a good job at slowing them down on the back of Archon alone, but that won’t necessarily be enough as you need to close out somehow or their battlefield can continue to grow.
With their Drannith Magistrates slowing down your progress, it’s hard to have a fast combo without some seriously fortunate draw steps as Showdown will be shut off and adventure creatures left in the adventure zone.
A plan I’d like to try is keeping Unleash Fury in, cutting Goldspan Dragon and trying to set up a slower spike damage kill with Archon of Absolution. While you can’t use Showdown on Archon, you can try and cobble together three copies of Unleash Fury and Kazuul’s Fury. The games can drag on long enough that this is a realistic possibility, so it might be worth a try.
You’re already set up quite nicely in this matchup. Your goal is to simply punch them while their shields are down.
While Magistrate can shut off some of their random foretell cards and the Ultimatum, it’s pretty low impact here. Glass Casket is really bad, so we’re just putting a card in here that can have some impact.
Generally you want to sequence the Drannith to come out the turn they have six mana in play. That way they’ll have to spend a turn dealing with it to resolve an Ultimatum. If they have a really high number of Elder Gargoth, I could see bringing in The Akroan War instead of one copy of the Magistrate.
We are sideboarding in the Akroan War assuming they will bring in Archon of Sun’s Grace
While this sideboard is not ideal here, this is a deck that doesn’t win very much according to the data I’ve seen and it’s not super popular at the moment. If you expect a lot of this deck I’d adjust my sideboard with more options to kill Archon of Sun’s Grace that can be applicable elsewhere like Soul Sear.
Showdown can do a ton of work here and Ox of Agonas can do some work if you unload your hand early for the same reason. Giant Killer can kill a Yorion and cycle with an Edgewall Innkeeper. However, it’s not a good card here, so I’d want to be able to cut all of them if I expected a lot of this deck.
Make no mistake, I don’t entirely like how we’re set up post board here, but Rogues has been pushed around by the red decks enough to be on the decline.
Ox does enough work to keep us as a favorite post board, even if our numbers aren’t clean.
We have no Giant Killers in our deck, but ideally they can kill a creature they took control of and we’ll still draw a card when we draw Edgewall Innkeeper.
This is the matchup where Glass Casket over red instant speed removal costs us the most as normally you can leave up your two mana and kill a Soaring Thought-Thief while they’re tapped out. If you expect more Rogues, play Scorching Dragonfire over Redcap Melee and cut more Giant Killers for them.
You can also consider to bring in Redcap Melee.
It’s still unclear to me if Gruul is a worse or better Naya. Both decks are powerful, but Naya can grind a bit better with Showdown and has access to much better sideboard options. I think Naya is favored in the heads up because of Giant Killer specifically.
Naya Adventures decks without the combo in it I’d classify more on the side of the mirror than Gruul, as they will look similar postboard.
Redcap Melee is an option depending on how many red creatures their build has. In the dark however I’d leave it out as I don’t think it’s usually good enough.
If they play lots of Brushfire Elementals, Arni Brokenbrow and Goldspan Dragons then you may want to bring in a copy for something else. You may even shift to a more controlling plan and bring in both, cutting the Unleash Furys and leaving in the Shepherds and Showdowns.
Just try and kill everything and beat them down when they run out of threats. This is a bit more risky so I’d only go to this plan if they don’t have cards like The Great Henge or Vivien to bury you if you fall behind.
Naya Punch may look like a meme deck at first glance, but it’s doing some incredibly powerful things. It has the ability to kill on turn five out of nowhere and it looks pretty when it does. If the event I was playing was more open field this weekend, I’d register Naya Punch.
That’s it for today, I’ll see you next week with the Analysis of the deck I’ve chose to play this week, here on 95mtg.com. Siggy out!