FFfreaky Friday – Naya Revisited for States

Last week I spent a ton of time working on the RUG control deck. Even though it seemed like ti would be very good, it took one conversation with Brian Kibler at the Pre-Release to know what I wanted to do. I wanted to break Scroll Thief.

I started with a brew of RUG designed to have enough utility creatures to make Molten-Tail Masticore good. This was the list:

The deck was mediocre at best, but what I found out is that Masticore is the real deal. So many times I would ask my opponent when they were at and they would say some low double digit number. This meant they were just dead on upkeep. The power of using Jace very aggressively to get the last 4 points needed to burn them out was astonishing. This deck showed me that Molten-Tail Masticore has real potential.

Now it’s time to find out what type of surroundings this guy needs to be good. The first thing this guy needs is a deck that can deal with creatures without only relying on his help. Molten-Tail Masticore will not be the removal spell you want to always rely on. It is very slow and can take until turn 5 to kill a creature. When I first started brewing with him, I pretended he could count as a removal spell. This was stupid since I would be too slow and lose a ton of tempo. His ability is best when racing so that you can deal 4 damage to their face or when the game is slowing down. This means I do not want to use him as the core of a deck even though you want to build around him. This is when I stumbled onto this lovely brew.

Naya Shaman!!!

So I know I love this deck way too much but it is still probably one of the best decks to be playing right now. Here is the list before I get to involved with talking about it:

Let’s talk about the cards before we get into the deck.


These two lands are probably the most powerful lands for aggressive green decks since the original duals. They fit this deck perfectly. The downsides to them are almost ignored with 11 creatures that help produce mana and not having many cards that cost more than 4. This means that 1 accelerator means you really only need 3 lands to play most of the spells in the deck.

These lands also help getting the turn one accelerators down on the turn they belong. Naya has always had a tough time with their mana. This is by far the best the lands have ever been in the deck and gives the deck a consistency it has never had.

Eldrazi Monument

My brother talked me into this card before Nationals. I never really liked it all that much, but it has a chance to really shine in the new format. Artifact destruction is at an all-time low with the loss of Oblivion Ring and Maelstrom Pulse. It also gets much better since Eldrazi Ramp and Valakut Ramp will be very popular decks in the next few weeks. Eldrazi Monument is a hard card for both of these decks to deal with and can be set up as an Overrun when they have started to gain board position.

One of the downsides to this card is having both it and Molten-Tail Masticore in the same deck. Losing a card and a creature every turn can be very bad if they are not going to die right away. It should not come up that much but is something to be concerned about when playing the deck.

Squadron Hawk

I will have to swallow my pride a bit here while I tell you a story.

I was having a conversation with Patrick Chapin at Gen Con this year about Squadron Hawk. He was going on and on about how powerful this card can be and I just thought it was another rant about a card that probably won’t pan out. Well I was wrong. I know I cannot always agree with decks with the man, but he does know his theory.

Squadron Hawk is the new best friend of Naya. Naya is not as fast as it used to be when it had Bloodbraid Elf and Knight of the Reliquary, but it still is as powerful. These four birds make all of your 4- and 5-drops so much more powerful. They also are just good at attacking people for small amounts of damage. They are the new backbone of the deck.


The new lands help fix what a Llanowar Elves cannot. This means the card is just there to help power out fast starts. The deck really wants to have explosive starts since most decks have no way to beat them. These cards also help become fodder for Fauna Shamans and Masticores. It is very important to have an abundance of these guys even though the best one of them all rotated.


Inferno Titan 

This guy seems like he might be out of place but there are some games you just want to power out a big guy to end the game. He is here when Lotus Cobra and Fauna Shaman team up to produce 7 mana in the early turns. He can just end the game vs. aggressive decks and be a 1 turn clock against a ramp style deck. I also look very good on this card :-).

The rest of the deck is self explanatory. The most important thing to talk about is why this deck will be good. Like I said in my article last week, control is not the place most players want to be right now. They do not know what they will be trying to deal with and the lists will be untuned. This is good for Naya since control has always been a tough matchup for them. What is not a bad matchup is creature decks.

Naya has always been good at beating other creature decks and that is because of Cunning Sparkmage. Sparkmage is the key card for this deck. It gives the deck an angle that can decimate other decks. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail, but if white weenie and elves are popular….

Another good matchup is the ramp decks. They have a tough time dealing with a fast clock+ Eldrazi Monument. Their removal is very slow and are trying to do something powerful the same turn you are trying to kill them. I think people will also play Ratchet Bomb as a removal spell and even though it is good against White Weenie, it is terrible against Naya.

I do not know what I want for the sideboard yet since I haven’t played anything but game ones. I think these 13 cards could be good and have to figure out the last few depending on the metagame.



Flame Slash seems very good right now because it kills Molten-Tail Masticore, Overgrown Battlements, and Linvala, Keeper of Silence. All three of these cards are good against a deck like Naya.

The only card I need to test more is Refraction Trap. Pyroclasm is very good against this deck and can justify playing a fringe card to help beat it. The interesting thing about Refraction Trap that I learned this week is that it is the source of the damage as opposed to Harm’s Way. This is not that important since the cards work almost the same way, but Refraction Trap can redirect the damage to opponents’ planewalkers while Harm’s Way cannot. Keep that in mind if you play with this card.

The rest of the cards have specific roles that I think will be important in the next few weeks. I might try a few Elspeths in the sideboard to see if they are any good against other fast aggressive decks but we will see.

Before I wrap up this article and start my 4 days of Magic at Paradox Comics and Cards (they have tournaments all weekend with enough 8 hour breaks to sleep), I want to talk about my first draft on Channelfireball.com.

The first three picks were Inferno Titan, Lightning Bolt, and Hoarding Dragon while passing a Mind Control. The fourth pick was between Cloud Crusader, Runeclaw Bear, Mana Leak, and Harbor Serpent. I ended up taking the Runeclaw Bear and many people thought this was a bad pick. PV even gave me a hard time and put it in his article.

Now I am not hear to defend this pick, but to defend something about Limited I have thought for a long time. For many years pros have written about putting cards on scales. Now these scales are still used quite often in set reviews and pick orders.


I used capital letters to get your attention! Too many people take these evaluations and set them in stone like they came from the mountaintop or something. They are just here to help players that are not familiar with what we have already been working with. It is just a good starting point. Magic becomes a very hard game to play the more you view it as black and white.

Luis taught me a very important lesson when I started working with him. He told me to always take the rare if the pick was close, because you will get more opportunities to play with the commons and uncommons. I also started to do this when I didn’t think the pick was close. I just wanted to know how every card played out. I also tend to draft green much more than most people. I drafted green in all four drafts at Nationals and Amsterdam. This is why I would value a card like Runeclaw Bear over the other spells. Not because it is a better card, but because if I get into the color I will have another playable that curves well.

Learning that there are so many possibilities and that no matter what, there will never be a perfect algorithm to draft is very important. This week was the first time we have had five different drafters in five days. I think it is a good time to learn how different people play Magic. I know I was here at midnight to see PV do a draft video. I want to learn just like everyone of you. I just think it is even more important to learn how to learn.

Next week I will be bringing you another draft video and an article on everything I know for States. I also just joined Twitter @fffreakmtg and will be giving some good information there as well. I didn’t know I could fall in love with Magic more than I already am but I did. Thank you for all of the support over the last year because much of my success is because of you guys. Good luck in the release events!

41 thoughts on “FFfreaky Friday – Naya Revisited for States”

  1. I didn’t like this article. You posted one decklist you said wasn’t good and one decklist you haven’t tested (or at least haven’t played more than a few game 1’s with). Brainstorming articles are fine, but they should include more than just 2 hastily sketched out decklists and should have an overall point beyond the actual playability of the decks.

    Finally, you devoted the last quarter of the article to a draft mistake, and instead of justifying it, explaining it or reflecting on it, you excused it. As an audience, we don’t learn anything from that. Fans watch the draft walkthroughs specifically to help them improve in making tough decisions. If you pass off mistake as “different people draft differently” or “I’ll take the rare to try it out” or “I haven’t drafted red in a while” then there’s literally no point in watching – you’re waiving the only meaningful decisions.

    I’d like to see both more quality and substance in the future, or else just write an article when you have something to write about rather than on a schedule (SCG has announced they’re moving to this format).

  2. Nice article.
    I believe playing 2 Kor Sanctifier offers more versatility and consistency over the 1 War Priest of Thune and 1 Manic Vandal.
    You won’t have to tutor for them as much if you need either or because you’d rather be tutoring for something more proactive instead of an answer for a problem card. If your fauna shaman gets dealt or you don’t draw it the kor gets better as well. It’s especially better against journey which should increase in play too.

  3. @Ian Duke: looks like you didn’t understand what he wrote.

    Picking runeclaw bears over mana leak isn’t just a comparison in which card is better. The point is that he thinks this pick hinges more on the COLORS of the spells than WHAT THE SPELLS ACTUALLY DO.

    “And oh by the way I top 8’d nationals and a pro tour drafting green decks”

  4. About your draft : I must say you puled this deck to max (in my opinion). im lookinf forward to new Vid. I really like the number of articles and videos in channelfireball.

    “I want to learn just like everyone of you. I just think it is even more important to learn how to learn. ” hmm nice title of article 😛 …..

  5. Decent article

    I respectfully disagree with naya being a decent deck of choice. Without bloodbraided elf, I feel like the deck lost too much power to be considered a contender. Bant on the other hand lost KoTR to as well as elepeth, but it seems like that is the way to go with fauna shaman/ vengevine.

    The only two cards bant can’t run that naya can are cunning sparkmage and inferno titan. The trade off is that bant gets jace the mind sculptor and mana leak. Seems good =)

  6. Don´t give away Squadron Hawk tech!
    With everyone jumping on the Trinket Mage + Memnite Train I was hoping people would forget about Hawk having sweet interaction with Vengevine.

    I agree with John that bant is probably the way to go for Fauna Shaman even though I´m trying to get rid of Birds and Elves from the lists.

    1. They don´t help with geting Shaman online any faster.
    2. They do nothing late game other then helping triger vengvine which is something that can be done with other cards like Squadron Hawk and Squadron Hawk even help when they kill your Shaman.

    It´s quite interesting to look at agrodecks from a historical point though.
    Going back to things like Fires that played 7-8 Birds/Elves but back then your goal was to curve into
    T1 Elf/bird
    T2 Fires of Yavimaya
    T3 Blastoderm
    T4 Saproling Burst

    After Fires died with rotations Mana critters haven´t really ben popular until the last year since Green agrodecks aven´t ben very good or not interested in playing lots of them and suddenly everyone is.

    Just looking at that Naya List I think it has the problem of – What do you really want to curve into?
    T2 Sparkmage, T3 Double Hawk(Masticore/Vengevine. A Nutdraw with Birds + Cobra into your one Titan since two critters into conscription really isn´t a nutdraw.

    Take the fire´s deck again and with the perfect draw you was looking at
    5 Damage on Turn3
    17 damage on turn 4
    speeding up your clock a whole turn (even though landing FoY was even more important)

    I just don´t see that Nayadeck being a whole lot faster or more consistent with the help of your birds online, sure you might be able to pay for a fauna shaman and play a critter on the same turn if you get them but it does require a whole lot of bodies to be alive at the same time and with no KotR you don´t have this awsome 3-drop that justify running 8 one drops that do nothing to often.

    Someone like Zvi could probably say this better then I do and when I´m thinking bout it I think I remember him talking about his RG-deck on his PT come back and the absense of Birds/elves from that deck and why he chosed to not play any. I can´t remember which one that was though but it should have ben Lorwyn so people should probably be able to find it if they want.

  7. I have to agree with the other guys that I think bant is just better than naya now. Jace is just better than cunning sparkmage.

    I also think your ramp match-up can’t be as good as you say, given I always used to find it problematic with old naya, they lost virtually nothing on rotation, and when I did win it revolved around bloodbraid elf/vengevine insanity or realm razer. Masticore can’t make up for that.

    Before, the argument about naya shaman vs. bant shaman used to centre not around sparkmage, but around bloodbraid elf (which is insaaaane with shaman/vengevine) vs. jace/mana leak/sovereigns. The shaman/BBE/vengevine package was very powerful, very good against your worst match-up (control), decent against your next worst (ramp), and very quick.

    Thanks for the eldrazi monument tech for my bant list though. Much appreciated 😉

  8. I know it’s a little off-topic from your article, but I’ve been mulling over some ideas myself… Everyone at my shop has been saying for weeks now that poison looks useless in constructed, and I’d like to prove them wrong.

    I submit this sequence for your consideration:
    T1: Swamp, Adventuring Gear
    T2: Forest, Plague Stinger
    T3: equip Adventuring Gear, Verdant Catacombs, fetch a forest, Groundswell, Groundswell.
    13 poison damage on turn 3 with evasion.

    I’ve been testing a black/green build similar to this one from the Daily Decklist Archive:
    It’s surprisingly resilient against a number of different strategies, and has a few outright degenerate draws.

    Also, Infiltration Lens paired with Scroll Thief and Trinket Mage looks like a beating waiting to be uncorked on someone. Add to that Jace (who’s still awesome, in case anyone has forgotten), Grand Architect, Frost Titan, and maybe a Rite of Replication for good measure.

  9. I don’t get why people expect great things from every article. I certainly learn quite a bit from your articles and CFBs videos.

    This was a solid article imo and the draft theory at the end was valuable enough to not even consider that you showed us two decklists. People who want to do no work perpetually fall into the cycle of thinking they are better than they are (something I’ve dealt with over the years). Taking starting points from better players and working from there is a great way to develop your own skills, imo.

  10. The full on elf route seems much better then naya at the moment.
    All your good guys are in green anyway and it’s easy to splash one color (red or white) for whatever you really need. The elf route has the advantage of a lord and a fantastic anti-wrath / finisher and your best guys are elves anyway (shaman, accelerators). I just don’t see a good reason to go 3 color at the moment if monogreen of green with splash is so much more consistent and powerfull.

  11. and squadron hawk you are overrating imo.
    The interaction of turn 2 hawk to dump vengevines is great but rarely really works because this deck has a turn 1 play all the time anyways. kor skyfisher seems a more reliable way of setting up vengevines imo.

  12. Mark – I have been testing out the Hawks in my version as well, and they have been fantastic. They are almost a must if you want to make good use of Shaman and Masticore, both of which are well worth using.

  13. This decklist looks very viable, a whole lot of 2 and 3 for 1 creatures and fairly decent removal. My concern with piloting or testing this deck so close to States is I am unsure of its chances against RDW (which I feel is still viable) and rogue lists using multiple ratchet bombs and graveyard hate. Overall, I am suprisingly happy with the MB, but might I suggest maybe a 1 or 2 of Leyline of Sanctity in the Side? Also, as I assume you plan on testing this deck, I am interested to see how this deck performs against Control heavy deck archetypes. In conclusion, great article and keep up the “articling”

  14. @ Ian Duke

    Didn’t your mother ever tell you that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”?
    I for one appreciate the fact that we get an abundance of awesome articles and draft videos from PRO PLAYERS and it’s all for FREE!
    If you want to complain about insight and content from PRO PLAYERS go pay out the a** for it at Star City and then your complaining may be justified.
    As far as the article is concerned, I thought it was well done and informative. Nothing in it seemed “hastily” written in my opinion. Brad is simply putting his ideas and thoughts out there for everyone since right now, there isn’t a single person playing MTG that has a good idea what the new metagame will look like.

  15. Make no mistake, I loved the article. I just had a disagreement about the best way to use the fauna shaman/vengevine article.

    So Brad, keep up the good work.

  16. Ahh the old format rotation tournament. So many janky and untested/undertested decks smashing into eachother. Having a consistent aggro deck with a diversity of sideboard options will get you far in the new meta until things settle down and control can know what archtypes it has to fight.

    Also given the nature of the new set one should be prepared to fight all manner of strange combos people want to build a deck around.

  17. Great article. First guy who complained needs to start thinking for himself instead expecting to be spoonfed.

  18. Another great article!
    I love the fauna shaman deck, and I’m really glad you think it’ll make it in new standard. I’ll definitely be testing it myself!

  19. hey brad really liked the last bit of your article. a lot of new players (like myself) tend to walk about swinging their “isochron scepters” like they know what the hell they’re doing (see: ppl harassing the ocho about passing crystal ball).

    i appreciate your humility & feel like i’m growing as a magic player just by watching you grow.

  20. The Hawk/Jace interaction is really interesting. Being able to cash in the retrieved hawks for more cards, then get them back and repeat a couple times is pretty powerful. At its worst it gets you 2 non hawk cards you would not have had. Careful play will net you a bit more (putting 2 back for two turns, one back for one) and show you four new cards each turn for 4 turns.

    And there is always alternating casting/bounc hawk then brainstorm next turn. Though If you get to the point where you are bouncing hawks you probably should have won the game ten turns ago.

  21. Nice article! People that didn’t like it should still speak up, though, right? The whole point is to provide feedback, and not everyone is going to like every article. By speaking up about which ones we like and don’t like, the authors learn more about what readers like. You can’t ask people for feedback and then get mad if they don’t like it. It doesn’t matter if readers pay $2.50 a month or $0 a month, criticism is not the same as “whining and complaining.”

    The authors here are being paid to produce content to drive traffic in an effort to sell cards, among other streams of revenue. They may love what they are doing and they be helping us a great deal, but this is not some favor one friend is doing another, this is a business that is producing a product that is being sold. Premium subscriptions are only one form of revenue generating from this business. Ads and singles are others. This business has asked us for our feedback, not to stroke their egos week in and week out. I happen to like this article, but I am glad that people that don’t chime in to help make CFB the best it can be!

  22. I like Sylvok Replica as a tutorable artifact/enchantment destroyer

    he’s a little slower than war priest of thune and manic vandals
    but if I had it my way I’d still be playing Quasali Pridemage so what can you do.

  23. Ive been building a similar deck, and have you considered a splash for sarkhan the mad? Its pretty doable with the birds and cobras, you’d have to change the mana base to include more verdant catacombs but it seems good….although maybe to inconsistent mana wise

    Also Im not sold on masticore yet, especially in a deck with eldrazi monument… I havent played with it so my opinion is not set in stone, definitely a card I will have to test

  24. Ian duke- go to scg and pay a premium then you can whine. Otherwise enjoy the FREE articles and hush. Nce article brad.

  25. @seigl3, I don’t think people’s response to Ian’s post is because he disagrees with the article. I think much like myself, everyone responded to his post because it was more along a tirade. Not thought out and just increasingly accusing. Also, noting that SCG is moving to this format really only amplifies the my site vs. your site argument. Far from being constructive by the way.

  26. “Artifact destruction is at an all-time low…”

    really? Is it? Are you sure? Like positive? Because I’m not so sold on that statement.

  27. @Harrison He means multi purpose artifact destruction. people still won’t maindeck shatter. there are very few catchall answers now. name 3 that you think will see play maindeck.

  28. Very well-written piece, but I do have a suggestion that one other has mentioned in the comments. Kor Skyfisher is another way to trigger Vengevine, as he can bounce himself the first time down, and the deck plays enough mana guys to make his bounce trigger a non-factor. Also, Skyfisher has a subtle interaction with the Masticore, in that he can boune a creature that’s not really getting the job done anymore, and you’ll have some Masticore fuel next turn. It also works well with cards like Stoneforge Mystic, as he allows you a virtual rebuy on your Equipment tutoring, allowing you to play a package, rather than just a single target. And speaking of equipment, Skyfisher can also bounce those, which doesn’t seem awful. And flying is very good in this format right now.

  29. Dunno if u can handle against elrazi ramp , and i cant even see a single card in your sideboard that could improve that mu

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