Getting Nassty – Having Fauna with the Shaman

Many cards in M11 have been discussed. However, one has been discussed more than any other. That card is Fauna Shaman. While many think Mana Leak is more influential, the Shaman is a much more interesting card to look at. Personally, I think the Shaman will be the most influential card for Standard out of M11. While many people have discussed various brews with Fauna Shaman, I think it is much more interesting to look at its overarching impact on Standard one card at a time.

Cheap Removal: Lightning Bolt, Terminate, Journey to Nowhere, Flame Slash, and Doom Blade should see a lot more play with the printing of the Shaman. While Path is technically a cheap removal spell, Pathing a Fauna Shaman allows those decks to cast turn 3 Bloodbraid or Vengevine, which present even bigger problems than the Shaman itself. Oblivion Ring should also go down in popularity due to its inability to kill the Shaman, especially on the draw.

Lotus Cobra: There are arguments for gains and losses for Cobra because of its interaction with Shaman. First of all, they obviously fit the same slot in the curve. The Shaman is more powerful and thus might take away from Cobra. On the other hand, they are both creatures that demand removal. In a Fauna Shaman deck, you want as many of these as possible. Lastly, as I said above, I believe cheap removal will get more popular. This should hurt Cobra. Overall, I think the printing of Fauna Shaman will lead to Cobra seeing less play, but I could certainly see decks that would want both.

Knight of the Reliquary: This card was probably one of the best cards in Standard before Shaman’s printing, and only gets better after. First of all, it is a very reasonable tutor target on turn 3 if your curve involves turn one Bird turn two Shaman. Second of all, it is another must-kill creature. Because the value of must-kill creatures is on the up and up, I believe Next Level Bant should become less popular. The one argument for continuing to play Next Level Bant is to punish people for playing too much removal and overreacting to the Shaman.

Cunning Sparkmage + Basilisk Collar: Not only are both of these tutorable with Shaman, (Stoneforge-Collar) but both of these cards also tend to be good against Fauna Shaman decks. In addition, these cards are good against decks that are light on removal, meaning Shaman is likely to live to set up the combo in the mathcups you want it.

Birds/Noble Hierarch: These cards both would probably be in most decks that play Fauna Shaman to begin with, but it is worth noting their synergy. Birds and Hierarch are normally terrible lategame topdecks, but Shaman happily turns them into the best creature in your deck.

Mythic: Obviously this isn’t a card, but I do think it is worthy of mention. Decks that are reliant on creatures like Mythic are going to have trouble dealing with all the cheap removal that is going to be running around. It is most likely better to go in a direction with a lower curve that is less reliant on mana critters.

Ancient Ziggurat: This is one of the best cards in Standard. Yes, I realize it sees basically no play. This is the best way to play turn one accelerators without playing 10+ Forests and destroying your mana base. You should be playing a ton of creatures in your Shaman decks anyway, so why not get rewarded for it? This card should singlehandedly change the way people build manabases. Again, this is another argument for not playing a deck that likes Planeswalkers like Mythic.

Bloodghast/Vengevine: Obviously, creatures that like being in the graveyard are good with Shaman. Against control decks, you can sit on a Shaman and just keep pitching Vengevine and tutoring for a second Vengevine.

Tectonic Edge: This is a card that doesn’t exactly get better with Fauna Shaman, but I do think is underrated in Fauna Shaman/Knight off the Reliquary decks. Obviously, you are the favorite to win in general when Knight lives, but there are some matchups where untapping with Knight is not as relevant. Blue White and Turboland are two such matchups. Edge is very powerful in both matchups and being able to make Knight good against these decks is very relevant.

Baneslayer Angel: As Brad pointed out in his article, this is the single best creature to have live in Standard. Obviously, it isn’t great against Blue White Control or Turboland, but it is still probably going to be one of the most common Shaman targets.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence: Soon she should get a lot more popular, since she is a great target for Fauna Shaman and is great against Fauna Shaman decks. If the format is going to revolve around Fauna Shaman as I predict, Linvala will be one of the biggest Shaman targets in the format.

Sovereigns of Lost Alara: I think these will be somewhere in the middle. I think they might see more play in decks, but less 4-of play. The biggest problem with them in Fauna Shaman decks is that if the deck isn’t playing Jace, the Conscription is going to be a terrible draw. Most Shaman decks are going to cut Cobra, meaning Sovereigns will be hard to cast, and it there will be no way to brainstorm them away. It is worth noting that the manabases of Fauna Shaman decks (even Naya versions) should be able to cast Sovereigns. You can get as many as 21 sources without playing more than 1 Island (4 Misty 1 Island 4 Birds 4 Hierarch 4 Cobra 4 Ziggurat) which is more than enough for a main color, let alone a splash of one card.

Putrid Leech: I think this card is once again weak, and possibly even worth cutting from Jund again. Decks now have a bunch of cheap creatures that demand removal. This means that turn two is often going to involve Jund casting a removal spell. I would not be surprised if playing cards like Doom Blade and additional removal means Fauna Shaman will have no chance of living and start setting up Baloths and Vengevines to fight through Jund’s Blightnings.

Blightning: This is another loser. People keep saying Obstinate Baloth is going to ruin Blightning, but I think the Shaman may be just as big of a problem. Once Shaman gets active, Blightning becomes a dead card because the Shaman always threatens to tutor up Vengevine or Baloth. I think if you play the extra Doom Blade version, Blightning might be reasonable, but this is definitely another card that seems worth looking into cutting from Jund. It is possible a build where Bloodbraid always cascades into removal would be interesting in the Shaman-filled metagame.

I think I’ve covered most of the big changers in standard with Fauna Shaman’s printing. However, I haven’t fully covered how I would build a Fauna Shaman deck. I really liked the looks of Brad Nelson’s Naya build, but I think some changes could be made to it based on my observations. Here’s what I am planning on bringing to a local PTQ this weekend:


UW out: 4 Sparky 1 Baloth 1 Slayer 1 Mystic 1 Collar 3 Flame Slash

UW in: 4 Ruinblaster 3 Escort 1 Realm Razor 1 Qasali Pridemage 1 Thornling

Jund out: 4 Sparky 1 Mystic 1 Collar 3 Flame Slash?

Jund in: 1 Lin Vala 3 Baloth 4 Ruinblaster 1 Thornling

GW Decks Out: 4 Vengevine 1 Baloth 1 Baneslayer?

GW decks in: 1 Lin Vala 4 Burst Lightning 1 Qasali Pridemage

Red Out: 4 Vengevine 4 Sparky

Red in: 3 Baloth 4 Burst Lightning 1 Lin Vala

Turboland out: 1 Baneslayer Angel 1 Baloth 1 Stoneforge 1 Collar 1 Flame Slash

Turboland in: 4 Ruinblaster 1 Razer

I feel like this deck is one of the best Fauna Shaman decks in the format, and one of the best decks against opposing Fauna Shaman decks. It has a very tight base and has Sparkmage to attack opposing Fauna Shaman decks. The Blue White matchup (which was the biggest problem for Naya decks in the past) gets a lot better since Cobra was pretty weak against Blue White and Shaman can just keep getting Vengevines to grind them out.

While there are many powerful cards in M11 inlcuding Titans, Mana Leak, and Destructive Force, I truly believe that Fauna Shaman will not close be the most played card from M11 in Standard. It is a two drop that takes over games if it doesn’t die, and is in a color that supports it very well. It would be a Shame(an) if people did not have F(a)un(a) with this powerful card.

35 thoughts on “Getting Nassty – Having Fauna with the Shaman”

  1. I actually *facepalm*ed when I saw Ancient Ziggurat, it seems so obvious now! Good job. 🙂

  2. I absolutely adore Fauna Shaman and I also really like the addition of Ancient Ziggurat, but why didn’t you add the Behemoth Sledge or even Sword of Vengeance? Oh, and for your sideboarding options, you have Baloth in for Red and Jund, but they aren’t in your sideboard.

  3. Thanks, I completely agree on Ancient Ziggoraut. I facepalmed when I thought of it too 🙂 The reason for the lack of Sledge and Sword is partially the Zigg. They are very hard to play and equip with Zigg. In addition, as Brad pointed out in his article, there are not many decks in the current metagame that are soft to powerful equipments (besides Collar). I just really haven’t found clunky equipments very affective in this deck.

    Wow great point Sandwitchking. I don’t exactly know how that happened, but I will definitely look into it. For what it’s worth, I would probably cut Burst Lightnings, and then just bring in Dauntless against red decks and Ruinblasters against GW decks. This isn’t a perfect soltuion, and the board may need some more finnecking, but my first instinct is that Burst is the card to cut down on for Baloths.

  4. Why Burst Lightning and not Lightning Bolt? Is the extra kicker point worth it? And how would you deal with Leyline of Punishment?

  5. I’ve heard fauna shaman is good. I hope they write a million more articles presenting a million more slightly varying deck lists.

  6. yes, this card has gotten more discussion than any other card in the set. It is one of the best and most provocative cards in the set. The goal of this article was to analyze impacts of the Shaman and not just through out a slightly different list.

    I consider Ancient Ziggoraut to be the most noteworthy thing in this article as I have yet to see it in a Fauna Shaman list and consider it one of the best cards in the deck.

    This has actually been one of the best Knight decks I’ve played. It plays Tectonic Edge, which a lot of Knight decks don’t. If there’s one card your probably underrating in these decks besides Zigg, its Edge. The fact that it doesn’t have as many manlands as most Knight decks doesn’t really bother me because you can enver really activate more than one manland at once anyway.

  7. I agree that shaman is a good card but in no way does blightning become worse because of it. I have had so many games where I had shaman on the board and no creatures in hand.

    If you can force them to dump their hand early (which a deck like this is going to do within the first 3 turns) then smash their hand with blightning they stall out. Jund is running enough cheap removal as it is to deal with shaman. If jund quashes the creatures out of your hand then deals with shaman then what? Game 2-3 jund can side out the blightnings and put more cheap removal (aka vendetta, smother).

    If you go too creature heavy to build around shaman that makes you very weak to destructive force, doj, earthquake, and all the other control/board wipe in standard. Seems to me like you are going to have a horrible win% game 1 vs most decks in standard. I have a feeling this deck is either going to win or lose solely on the back of how you decide to sideboard and what your opponents side.

  8. What’s with the skepticism regarding NLBant in this new Fauna Shaman world? I see its inevitably tough matchup against Naya Fauna being outweighed by its better Jund and UW matchups. Shaman is no slouch in NLBant either since it also runs Vengevine and Ranger while having access to Baneslayer, Linvala, and both Sphinxes. Jace + Fauna Shaman allows you to see many cards a turn 🙂

  9. Why play flame slash and not forked bolt? It is better against decks that rely on mana creatures like naya, mythic and nlb. Flamse slash is better against knight of the reliquary and putrid leech. I think the first category of creatures is more important.

  10. Hm. I definitely put Ancient Ziggurat in my list, it was one of the first things I thought of. Creature based deck? Maybe it can support Ancient Ziggurat! One annoying thing I’ve found with playtesting is that if its your only green source, you can’t use it to activate the shaman’s ability.

  11. The main problem with ziggurat is that the card hurts a lot when it’s about activating manlands/maze :/
    Otherwise it’s probably pretty good in the deck.

  12. Why don’t you mention Sun titan as 1-of search target? Especially with dauntless escort. It should be awsome… discard a knight, play a titan, return knight or a killed shaman or something else, what obviously is getting killed.

  13. Thanks for the nice article! Indeed the more articles on my favorite deck right now the better (so far however for trying to keep it “under the radar”).

    I have some questions:

    Why are you playing Flame slash? My guess is that Path is much more versatile as it kills way more targets (Sovereigns, Thrinax, Baneslayer, Vengevine, etc.). Now I know you also have access to the Sparkmage+Collar combo, but that can be disrupted quite easily and is quite slow to assemble.

    What’s up with the burst lightnings in the sb? I guess that kicking it must be hard, esp. with a Ziggurat manabase?

    Again with the Ziggurat manabase: I see you don’t play Manabarbs in the sb. I found it quite effective against random control, turbolandish (GU turbo, GR ramp and the like) and combo (e.g. the new Pyromancer Ascension deck). I guess you have Ruinblaster to fight that type of decks. Is it good for you?

    I think it’s a very nice catch that this deck may be able to support the Ziggurat manabase. Right now I’m thinking of playing it as a 2-3 off, and still try to support manabarbs in the side. What do you think?

    Thanks again!

    p.s. @Mike: Sun Titan indeed is very powerfull. My guess is that the manacost of 6 is holding it back, just as it holds back a Sovereigns O.L.A. package. This because the deck doesn’t play Lotus Cobra. Then again, he does play the Realm Razer Main at 6 mana. But that card can win you the game on the spot. E.g. against Turboland, Razer wins you the game where Sun Titan wouldn’t and sovereigns only iof their live total is low enough.

  14. There are no Baloths in your sb, and yet you list them as coming in for quite a few matches. Oops?

  15. Cobra is better than Shaman. The most broken thin you can do with a shaman is pitch a Vengevine for a cool creature. The most broken thing you can do with a Cobra attack with it and give it +10/+10 on turn three. Even dropping a third turn baneslayer is better than a chain of vengevines.
    Don’t get me wrong, Shaman is powerful, but Cobra it is not.
    U/W is a traditionally hard match for Naya because most draws were tad slow to just go all out and kill them, so you had to walk the fine line between power and overcommiting to the board. While at the same time it had few answers to Baneslayer. That being said, a decent hand and you can overwhelm them early. This deck loses the speed advantage and still is weak to their big drops. With the loss in speed, it also goes to a slight disadvantage vs RDW, where as traditional Naya is a coinflip.
    In a world of Mythic and RDW, I don’t see this being nearly as successful of a deck. I don’t think Shaman will really shine until post Shards rotation. Many decks in the format can kill you by turn 4, so a Shaman isn’t that scary when you are attacking for near lethal damage on the turn it can be activated.

  16. Ziggurat is something I’ve been a fan off a long time in naya as it just the only way to make the early game consistent and planeswalkers are in no way a neccesity with 8 BETTER 4 drops already.
    2 tectonic edge’s and 1 mystifying maze is extremely greedy though and I definately don’t recommend this. Maze is harsh with ziggurat and is just very inefficient, a manland is the better choice almost all the time. Tectonic edge’s can be sweet at times but the colorless CAN hurt alot and you will find that very rarely you want to dig these up, afterall the decks you want to edge against (turboland & UW usually) are the decks where you want to attack with your KoTr. I’d recommend just 1 edge and no maze.
    Also the flame slash main deck is pretty rubbish. Sorcery speed stinks and the difference between 4 and 3 damage is not often enough relevant.. Just play lightning bolt. Slash especially stinks when cascaded into as you will often enough be without a usefull target whereas lightning bolt is never dead.
    Also I’d look into sword of vengeance if I were you, it’s great to turn those birds and noble’s into a threat later on as there will be plenty of occasions where fauna shaman won’t be doing that for you. I’m also not a fan of playing stoneforge with just 1 tutor target as then you are just better off playing 2 collars imo. 1 mystic, 1 collar, 1 sword seems best to me, the sword is very good against controllish decks making the mystic better there as well.

    Finally I’d recommend switching 1 sparkmage and 1 dauntless escort between main and board. Sparkmage is slightly better all around but escort isn’t that far behind and there are definately cases agianst controllish deck’s where you’d want the escort as a tutor target.

    As for the board, the ruinblasters are great in a ziggurat setup. Perhaps even better then manabarbs in a non-ziggurat deck. The 1-offs make sense though I don’t see the use for thornling, can’t really imagine situations where you want to fetch him instead of vengevine especially in a ziggurat setup, you just cant abuse him as well. I’d recommend world queller instead which can be a great tutor target against annoying planeswalkers and enchantments (read gideon, elspeth and o-ring).
    Assuming there is some typo and there are indeed baloth’s in your sb i’d definately swap 1 of them out for a kor firewalker. Firewalker is just better in the RDW matchup as it can be played earlier and generates more life over the course of the game if played early. Especially if you are playing BBE and lightning bolt / burst lightning yourself. As for the bursts, they should obviously be bolts as kicking with ziggurat is hard and there are few problems at 4 toughness you care about anyway.

    Also one problem I like the least about this deck perhaps, it’s stonecold against a baneslayer. I expect many decks to revert to maindeck baneslayers since there is alot of baneslayer sideboard hate now, but this deck just can’t handle it. Sure you can do flame slash + sparkmage or sparkmage + collar but those combinations are unlikely against UW control.
    Having a way to kill baneslayer is not neccesary per se but something to bust through it would be good, all the deck has now is sejiri steppe and kotr to get past it. Without elspeth in the deck I’d look into some other ways to fix this problem (o-ring, path, sword of vengeance etc.)

  17. i think Flame Slash is a reasonable pick over Lightning Bolt. consider how much 4 toughness is out there that he’s VERY interested in killing. the top of that list is Linvala, which completely borks his entire deck. That alone is reason enough. Cleaning up on Walls (omens and battlements both), Obstinate Baloths, Rhox War Monk, etc. makes it a good choice in my opinion.

    i do have a critique though:

    Its wrong to say that Blightning is weak against Fauna Shaman. its one of the best cards. there’s a relatively minor marginal cost associated with them being able to tutor for an Obstinate Baloth. they probably won’t do that except in response to a Blightning anyway so a Jund player can just remove the shaman first or wait until a time when getting Baloth’d isn’t a huge problem. but at all other times the Jund player has a huge incentive to Blightning the opponent. dumping creatures out of their hand makes the deck start to malfunction. it does not do well in top deck mode.

    it really doesn’t matter if they dump Vengevines, as long as they have less creatures in general. the time it takes to draw up 2 more creatures to bring back vines might be too much. Jund might just have you dead by then or have enough removal for everything by then.

    the only real disincentive on Blightning would be the presence of 4 maindeck Obstinate Baloths, which would make it very risky to lead in with a turn 3 Blightning or a Blightning on BBE cascade. this deck isn’t set for that except after sideboard. Jund’s Blightnings are still great for game 1 against basically everything. they’ll probably get boarded out in game 2 for more removal against green decks but they won’t be exiting the 75 card list at all.

  18. Also there is one way to totally get cute against jund decks and the like:
    worldheart phoenix

    Ziggurat can cast this from the graveyard and by playing a swamp or something in the sideboard it’s not hard at all to cast this from the graveyard. And it’s obviously good with fauna shaman.

  19. Watch Pyroclasm get alot more play now with everyone running Shaman, bird, heirarchs, and friends.

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  21. Why flame slash over path/lightning bolt/forked bolt/condemn?

    I can only assume you want to have something that deals with early threaths while not giving your opponent an advantage (like path on leech or wall of omens, fauna shamman, etc)
    I believe you should consider one of the instant removal spells in this slot as it improves the mono red matchup significantly (which is still very popular and really bad for this naya builds)

  22. People asking about Flame Slash: there are arguments for basically every removal spell. Looking over the advantages and disadvantages of each mentioned above, I still consider Flame Slash the best. I also still consider Burst a better sideboard card than Bolt. Obviously, Bolt is in the abstract a more powerful card than either of these, but it’s not about what’s powerful in the abstract. The whole point of this article is really thinking about what the future meta is gonna look like and not just playing the best cards.

    I obviously haven’t played a game with Mistifying Maze, but I’ve found 2 Edges to be absolutely insane. Playing the preM11 version of the deck, the mana was really solid even with two colorless lands. Zigg more than offsets the two lands. I added Mistifying Maze in a nonland slot, so I think it’s safe to say the mana will still work.

    People who say Blightning isn’t worse: It is. Having to board it out against green decks is frustrating, and even game 1 it’s still somewhat worse.

    People who say Cobra is better than Shaman: I think your living in the Magical Christmas Land again. Shaman is good with your bad draws, Cobra is good with your good draws. Also, Cobra is not good against UW. Your not going to actually turn 3 people on a consistent basis, and iuf they cast Wrath after you used Cobra to cast more dudes you are going to get 3 or 4 for oned. Trying to race UW is not the way to attack them.

    Phoenix is a cute one, I might give it a try. It would probably want 4 verdant instead of 2 and 2 then and then one swamp in the board.

    Obviously Ziggoraut can’t be used for every spell and ability in the deck, but having minor drawbacks does not mean it’s wrong. A five-color land that comes in untapped is allowed to have a little drawback and still be one of the best cards in your deck (City of Brass, Gemstone Mine). Ziggoraut in this deck has less of a drawback in my opinion than those lands had.

  23. I’m fine with Slash over Bolt in the maindeck. The best reason for that is that Slash + Sparkmage kills BSA, and Bolt doesn’t accomplish the same. Slash also kills Leech dead. These are enough to make up for it being much more awkward with BBE. I just don’t get Burst Lightning over Lightning Bolt in the board. There are relevant 3-toughness targets, and you sometimes will send it to the face mid/lategame. How often is a deck with 21 applicable lands, some of which are likely to die during the game (manland/edge), really going to kick Burst Lightning? I can’t see how it’s often enough to play Burst over Bolt when one of the decks you’re bringing it in against often has early 3/3 Knights, and occasionally will keep in clunky X/3s in the matchup, like Vengevine or Escort. This is in addition to some of the more random matchups like WW or Boros where Lightning Bolt kills Skyfisher and kills Lynx/Geopede through a fetch and Burst doesn’t. Bolt also takes Chandra’s Spitfire out of the sky and Burst doesn’t work there. All of this adds up to far more relevant cases where Bolt>Burst than the other way around.

  24. Loves to Fauna your Shaman

    Agree that Bolt>Burst. Recommend making that switch. Also, 18 card sideboards are nuts.

  25. Why burst lightning instead of blot in the sideboard. Burst lightning can’t always hit Vengevine.

  26. @ Mattn
    Traditional Naya can race UW on the play, on the draw games take a little longer and you have to hold back cards more. But as many have pointed out, you are effectivly stone dead to a Baneslayer a Sphinx of Jwar Isle.
    Shaman doesn’t make a bad hand good, it just makes you want to keep a bad hand. Just like mana dorks like Birds make people want to keep one landers. Shaman is a mid to late game threat. Cobra is an early game threat that enable very broken plays. Cobra is a better card than Shaman and cutting it is a mistake.

  27. Ok i tested this list a fair bit in the meantime and found out a few things:
    – 3 colorless lands is too much, you rarely want to fetch these anyway as you really want to be aggresive with your Kotr most of the time. I’d recommend going down to 1 tectonic edge only and adding a forest and a terramorphic expanse (or playing 1 less land). Only 7 forests can be too little if you want to activate shaman early or need something to sac to your Kotr.
    – Baneslayer is a HUGE problem for this list both pre and post sideboard. It gives them too much time if you have to assemble sparkmage + slash or collar.
    I recommend dropping some flame slashes for oblivion rings, letting other people’s shaman or birds live for a turn is really not that bad as this article makes it out to be. Red mana isn’t reliable enough anyway to be played early on.
    – I’m not that sold on 4 noble + 4 birds, the double ‘birds’ hand is not that great so I’d rather go down to 6 one mana dorks and 2 lotus cobra. It’s just better to open with cobra and noble/birds then two of the latter. Cobra is also much better then birds as a topdeck or cascade. There also exists the occasion that you want to fetch a cobra on turn 3 if you have a vengevine in hand so you can recur it straight away like: turn 3, get cobra discard venge, play cobra lay fetchland and play Kotr/sparkmage.

    On a sidenote, i’m also really tempted to add a 4th color when you are play ziggurats anyway. You should play 4 green fetches anyway so you can make a fairly easy black or blue splash. Blue could give something like sphinx of the lost truths and possible other sideboard goodies as meddling mage. Black could give bloodghast and possibly malakir bloodwitch in the sideboard. Offcourse the ruinblaster in the sideboard would have to go then but both options look tempting, you’d only have to replace 2 colorless lands with 2 of the splash color and you’re set.

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  29. after some games i come to the conclusion the combo of fauna shaman + vengevine + bloodbraid (into guaranteed creature) is really hard to beat.
    so maybe even the flame lash are too much.
    i also would prefer journey to nowhere in that slot.

  30. Hey Mr. Nassty lol!
    I created a naya deck splashing black for vampire nighthawk and gatekeeper of malakir. Could you take a look and tell me how it is?

    4 birds
    4 knight of the rel
    4 vampire nighthawk
    4 gatekeeper
    4 lotus cobra
    4 cunning sparkmage
    4 vengevine
    4 lightning bolt
    4 burst lightning
    4 forked bolt
    4 ancient ziggurat
    4 forest
    4 swamp
    4 plains
    4 mountain.

    I’d like to know if my deck is competitive and if any changes need to be made. thanks Nassty lol!

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