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King of the Hill – New Standard, New Naya

Hello everybody, Khans of Tarkir will be released shortly and Pro Tour Honolulu is closer than you think, so it’s time to discover the new format.

With the departure of Return to Ravnica block we will soon lose plenty of powerhouses that ruled Standard for almost two years, but in particular since this format is defined by its mana—shocklands are the biggest loss of all. We know now that they are going to reprint fetchlands, which are good, but not nearly as good as what we have at our disposal right now.

The first place to look when Standard rotates is at which strategies were good in Block Constructed. I actually had a great experience with Theros block, since I Top 8’d Pro Tour Journey into Nyx with a Naya brew, so if possible I am going to stick with these colors.

Mana Dorks

This is the green shell every midrange deck should have.

Courser of Kruphix was good before, but now since we can play up to 8 fetchlands it’s even better. We can basically use the “scry” effect to select which card we want to draw like we already do in Modern.

In Theros Block Constructed Courser was great because it let you sandbag a Temple if you saw a good card on top, but with fetchlands Courser really gets a new dimension and I’m very excited to see how it will impact Standard.

If we consider that a Standard Naya deck plays around 24 lands with the addition of 12 mana dorks, 36 slots are already settled.

What now? Do we want creatures? Do we want planeswalkers?

  • Xenagos, the Reveler: Xenagos was one of the best cards for me in Theros block. It provides a good amount of pressure, but also ramps up to big cards like Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. M15 though gave us a perfect fatty to ramp to in the form of Genesis Hydra.
  • Genesis Hydra is the perfect creature to ramp with Xenagos, always a 2-for-1, though it sometimes will brick putting in play some mana dork or low impact spell, but if we manage to find something spicy such like a Nissa or a Elspeth it’s nuts. A huge body that brings along with it a planeswalker or another big creature is incredible.
  • Stormbreath Dragon: He was one of the main threats, but still very killable by Hero’s Downfall, Silence the Believers, or Elspeth’s -3. In the Naya Mirror, though he was very hard to beat, Fated Conflagration or Arbor Colossus were options but still pretty narrow.
  • Khans of Tarkir solved the Dragon problem with a new planeswalker: Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. PV also wrote an intersting article about this card that you can find here. Sarkhan is not meant to be an answer to the Dragon (even if it is able to kill it), but rather a more versatile one with removal attached.
  • Polukranos, World Eater: In Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, I was playing 0 copies of Polukranos, and 4 copies of Polis Crusher, but that was a different story since that block was all about enchantments. I’m not sure if we want to play The World Eater in our Naya deck, that choice is completely metagame dependent since Polukranos shines if you can use its ability profitably, but is not that great against an opponent with a bunch of spot removal. As a start in this unknown new environment we can try to blank opponent’s removal using tough-to-deal threats such as planeswalkers.
  • Nissa, Worldwaker: This card is simply insane, Yuki Ichikawa played 4 copies in his Jund Planeswalker list that took him to the Top 8 of Pro Tour M15, and I believe it’s the most important card from M15 for Standard. It is an auto-include for this deck as was Xenagos when it was printed.
  • Chandra, Pyromaster: Another planeswalker present in Pro Tour M15 in basically the same shell as Jund Planeswalker, this time piloted by Pierre Mondon. Chandra is no surprise—it was already present in the old Standard and its strength depends heavily on the format surrounding it: not great in aggro matchups but really good in attrition wars.
  • Elspeth, Sun’s Champion: Unlike Block Constructed now we have plenty of cards to remain RG without adding a third color, but Elspeth is so good that it’s really hard to let her go. Fetchlands come in handy here, helping the mana base, so for now I’ll stick with this lady and see if it’s worth the splash.

In the end I would rather go for a heavy planeswalker build and it would be something like this:

Spells

Unfortunately there’s not a wide selection of cards for this section but we still have some options available:

  • Lightning Strike, Banishing Light, and Magma Jet were the spells that Naya used in Block Costructed, they are versatile enough to answer almost everything.
  • Khans of Tarkir hasn’t spoiled a large number of removal spells that can fit in a Naya shell probably because won’t be one of the clans and it won’t be much to add.
  • Regarding the removal selection, Utter End seems just the right piece of technology that we are looking for in a midrange deck like this, but unfortunately is not in the right colors.

All considered I would opt for this combination:

Blue would probably be better as a splash than white since we could obtain more tools from Khans of Tarkir, we can also try to cut red for black going Junk, but red offers so many good threats that it’s difficult to part with it.

So the final question is: Is white better than blue?

Unfortunately we aren’t able to answer yet. As things stand, I would go for Naya over UGR. Jacob Wilson wrote an article about the power of Rattleclaw Mystic, though our deck is not considering Mystic since we already have 8 mana ramp spells and I don’t want to play more.

Mana Base

Once we’ve decided that Naya is the way to go we need to put together around 24 lands.

  • 8 fetchlands are mandatory, since it’s what lead us to this combination, and as I already said are great with Courser.
  • Even though this deck is full of double-colored casting costs, and basic lands aren’t very good for this, this won’t be a big deal since they cost all about 4 or more, so we’ll have time fix our mana, and Sylvan Caryatid will help us in this.
  • Temples: I had never been a huge fan of Temples in these kind of decks, where you want to curve out and not just sit there and wait for a Sphinx’s Revelation. I’m glad to play less of them, but still we need to play a high number: 7 or 8.

This would be my mana base:

Sideboard

I think it’s too early to discuss a sideboard, so I will not spend too many words on it. I will just put a pile of cards together, since first of all we are still missing cards, second the metagame is totally unknown, and one gauntlet of 1x could be more useful.

Now it’s time for the final list and with that I say goodbye!

 

 

Ciao!

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