Feature Article – Boss Naya Returns


Yep, still rockin’ the Nacatls.

My resurrection of Boss Naya began on Magic Online a couple weeks ago. I haven’t played Standard on Magic Online in awhile so I put a Naya deck together with what cards I had in my account. I have a bunch of Red/Green/and White one-ofs cards because I’m a big fan of Standard Singleton. I hadn’t traded for Vengevines yet and didn’t have enough time to hustle for a good price on them before an online PTQ began, so I sat down to brew a traditional, Vengevine-free Naya. It was actually comforting to be able to fool around with spells in the deck and not have to worry too much about my creature count for Vengevine.

I managed to top 8 before losing to Monored which I had absolutely no sideboard for. Two days later I changed out a couple cards and tried my luck in another online PTQ, that time finishing 10th.

You can check out my Magic Online PTQ lists here:
(CitrusD, 7th)
(CitrusD, 10th)

I eventually got ahold of some Vengevines and began testing them out. I didn’t like them at all and ended up cutting them from 4, to 3, to 2, down to just 1. The four-curve is already maxed out and I feel like taking out Ranger of Eos for them is plain wrong. Vengevine may be stronger at times but the versatility of Ranger of Eos is something I just can’t let go.

This PTQ was on a Sunday in Little Rock, Arkansas. The day before there was also a PTQ in Lafayette, Louisiana where I placed 12th. I must have answered the questions: “Hey, aren’t you Q’d already?” and “How can you play in PTQs?” at least 30 times. For those that don’t know, I’m currently Pro Level 5 and I don’t receive my invite until the day before the Pro Tour so technically I’m not qualified just yet. I couldn’t play in PTQs for Pro Tour San Juan because of my 9th place finish at Pro Tour San Diego, but since I bombed San Juan I was good to grind again.


Round 1 – Jund – Eric Mixon

I lose the die roll.

Eric’s playing a traditional Jund build. He notes the Channel Fireball shirt I’m wearing and mentions that he used to go to school with our very own David Ochoa and is in fact is the guy who nicknamed him Webster.

I lose a close one because I cast Lightning Bolt on an attacking Sprouting Thrinax. Post combat he plays Sarkhan the Mad and I’m unable to get past the Dragon token. If I would’ve saved the bolt until he targeted a guy with Sarkhan the Mad I would’ve been able to attack Sarkhan with a 4/5 Noble Hierarch thanks to Elspeth, essentially neutralizing it. Instead I’m soon overrun by Dragons.

+1 Behemoth Sledge, +1 Dauntless Escort, +1 Lightning Bolt, +1 Tectonic Edge
-3 Cunning Sparkmage, -1 Basilisk Collar

All I can remember from game 2 is that my opponent was at 4 life with Sarkhan the Mad, a Dragon token, and several other Jund creatures in play to my Knight of the Reliquary and Noble Hierarch. I’m dead on board to his attack when I topdeck the one Elspeth to give the Noble Hierach Flying and +3/+3 and search up Sejiri Steppe to Pro-red past the Dragon token for lethal. Gooooooooo 1-ofs.

Game 3 he keeps tanks for awhile before keeping a hand without and plays before turn 3. My single Lotus Cobra shows up and I’m able to Ranger of Eos + cast both my fetched creatures for a board of 6 creatures on turn 4. He concedes shortly after.


Round 2 – Jund – Todd W. Renuard

I lose the die roll.

Game 1 I see maindeck Goblin Ruinblasters. I tend to sideboard differently based on their build and then resideboard for game 3 depending on what they bring in. Jund players with Ruinblasters rarely also have Master of the Wild Hunt since it clogs up the 4 curve, so I don’t side in any more Lightning Bolt but keep in 2 Cunning Sparkmages and Basilisk Collar.

+1 Behemoth Sledge, +1 Dauntless Escort, +1 Tectonic Edge
-1 Cunning Sparkmage, -1 Oblivion Ring, -1 Wild Nacatl

The typical Jund vs Naya attrition war occurs. I ride a Behemoth Sledge to victory on various pets of Ranger of Eos.


Round 3 – Mono Red – Mark Mehochko

I lose the die roll.

I keep a slow hand, not knowing what he’s playing, and pay for it.

+2 Lightning Bolt, +1 Dauntless Escort, +1 Wild Nacatl, +2 Wall of Reverence, +1 Path to Exile
-1 Lotus Cobra, -2 Oblivion Ring, -2 Ranger of Eos, -2 Bloodbraid Elf, -1 Scute Mob

Game 2 I’m able to live for awhile and stick a big Knight of the Reliquary. On turn 5, I cast Stoneforge Mystic for Basilisk Collar and cast + equip. Though he won’t die for another 3-4 turns, he concedes as the lifegain will quickly get out of hand.

Game 3 I keep a hand with Wall of Reverence and it does the double-duty of blocking a Hell’s Thunder and bringing me back to a safe life total. He again concedes once I slip out of burn range.


Round 4 – Jund – Josh A. Lalo

I lose the die roll.

I don’t remember much from this match as all the Jund games now began to blend together. I sided the usual and nothing truly interesting happened.


Round 5 – R/G tokens/monument – Gregg W. Keithley

I lose the die roll.

I mulligan to 5 and am never really in it.

+1 Qasali Pridemage, +1 Lightning Bolt, +1 Cunning Sparkmage, +1 Path to Exile
-2 Ranger of Eos, -1 Wild Nacatl, -1 Scute Mob

I sideboard for this match thinking it was a Naya mirror as I saw maindeck Sparkmages along with Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, Vengevine, and Bloodbraid Elf. I didn’t know he was actually a R/G monument deck until my Shreveport friend Jacob Sklar mentioned after the match that he saw an Eldrazi Monument in his hand. If I did I would’ve definitely brought in the second Qasali Pridemage.

I mulligan into a hand of Sunpetal Grove, Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, Cunning Sparkmage, Oblivion Ring, Qasali Pridemage. I miss my second land drop and try to compete against his 3 Cunning Sparkmages, 2 of which come off of Bloodbraid Elf, but come up well short.


Round 6 – Turboland – David A. Glore

I lose the die roll.

I keep a hand in the dark of nothing but lands, accelerants, and a Knight of the Reliquary. I can’t interact with him as I draw only more lands and accelerants, and he eventually “goes off” around turn 6 or whatever.

+2 Lightning Bolt, +2 Manabarbs, +1 Wild Nacatl, +1 Tectonic Edge, +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Cunning Sparkmage
-1 Path to Exile, -2 Stoneforge Mystic, -1 Basilisk Collar, -1 Behemoth Sledge, -1 Scute Mob, -1 Raging Ravine, -1 Ranger of Eos

We sat next to each other the previous round and I noticed a Master of the Wild Hunt in play on his side against Bant. I figure he’ll side those in against me so my Lightning Bolts came in too.

Game 2 I get him with a quick start of turn 3 and turn 4 Bloodbraid Elf while Cunning Sparkmage removes his Plant tokens.

Game 3 he uses a Narcolepsy on an early Birds of Paradise to slow me down, then another on Knight of the Reliquary. I end up wasting my Sejiri Steppe on a Master of the Wild Hunt activation targeting my Bloodbraid Elf. I thought that his Wolf token would at least die from the exchange, but instead the Master of the Wild Hunt’s ability was countered on resolution so his Wolf lived. Such a complicated card to put in a core set…

On the final turn I activate my Knight of the Reliquary and tap my Birds of Paradise during my upkeep to generate enough mana to activate Stirring Wildwood and Raging Ravine to team up with the rest of my creatures to have exacties in combat.

After the match he tells me that he sided in Narcolepsy over Fogs. After a quick discussion conclude that he couldn’t reasonably side in either with comprimising the engine of his deck. I imagine the Fogs have their uses somehow, but they feel so loose to me. Perhaps Unsummon instead could buy enough time to get things rolling.


Round 7 – Caleb W. Scherer ID

I take this time to eat a Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad brought to me by a good man named Scott Jennings. The event staff announced that the Top 8 would get free pizza since they didn’t offer a lunch break, but getting stuffed on greasy pizza before the elimination rounds isn’t something I was interested in.


Quarterfinals – Monored – Mark Mehochko

I lose the die roll.

Game 1 is a blowout. I keep a slow hand of lands, 2x Knight of the Reliquary, Scute Mob, and Bloodbraid Elf. He has turn 1 Goblin Guide and I reveal a land. On my first turn I decide to not cast Scute Mob to discard a land instead to make the eventual Knight more valuable. I get another land with Goblin Guide and discard another land. I get greedy with Arid Mesa to make Knight of the Reliquary a 6/6 instead of a 5/5 and he uses [card]Smoldering Spires[/card] and attacks me for exactly lethal.

+2 Lightning Bolt, +1 Dauntless Escort, +1 Wild Nacatl, +2 Wall of Reverence, +1 Path to Exile
-1 Lotus Cobra, -2 Oblivion Ring, -2 Ranger of Eos, -2 Bloodbraid Elf, -1 Scute Mob

Games 2 and 3 are practically over as soon as I get a lifegain card online. The Lightning Bolts also help out a ton.

Semifinals – R/G tokens/monument – Gregg W. Keithley

I lose the die roll.

This time I know what I’m up against.

Game 1 I play around Eldrazi Monument as best as I can, mostly just killing Eldrazi Spawn and whatever else so I don’t die to flying alpha attack. My Ranger of Eos grabs 2 Birds of Paradise and soon his Eldrazi Monument becomes The Abyss for only him.

+2 Qasali Pridemage, +1 Lightning Bolt, +1 Cunning Sparkmage, +1 Path to Exile
-2 Ranger of Eos, -1 Wild Nacatl, -1 Scute Mob, -1 Oblivion Ring

I briefly consider siding in Wall of Reverence since it’s pretty good at outracing Eldrazi Monument.

Game 2 he mulligans to 6 and plays Lotus Cobra off of two Forests, while I have a great draw of Birds of Paradise into Cunning Sparkmage. Though it’s usually correct in a Naya mirror to not kill their accelerant since they can play their own Sparkmage to kill yours, killing the Lotus Cobra here felt right since I figured his deck was really low on Red mana sources that didn’t come into play tapped. Turns out it doesn’t matter much since he misses his third land drop. I end up having something like 7 creatures in play to his 0 on turn 4 and am soon into the finals.

Finals – U/W control – Jason Dooley

By this time everyone had left the site except for me, the finalist, the event staff, and the people we rode with making for a very quiet room.

I lose the die roll.

He stalls on 3 lands game 1 and doesn’t crack his Arid Mesa so he has a higher chance of drawing Plains. By the time he gets to four lands to Day of Judgment, he’s at 3 and I have a lethal Stirring Wildwood in play.

+2 Lightning Bolt , +1 Qasali Pridemage , +1 Tectonic Edge , +2 Manabarbs, +1 Dauntless Escort
-2 Stoneforge Mystic, -1 Basilisk Collar, -1 Behemoth Sledge, -2 Cunning Sparkmage, -1 Sunpetal Grove

I have a good start with turn 1 and 2 Noble Hierarchs, and then I have to choose between a turn 3 Manabarbs or Bloodbraid Elf to attack into his turn 2 Wall of Omens. I opt for the Manabarbs and he Day of Judgments for my mana producers and his wall. I cast Wild Nacatl (3/3) and Bloodbraid Elf into Lightning Bolt to put him to 13. He uses a fetchland and takes 1 from a Path to Exile on my Elf then 4 more from Elspeth, going to 7 and making a blocker for my Nacatl. Luckily, I have a little more gas and he soon finds himself locked out of spells, so that’s that.

So I had to deprive someone of a Pro Tour invitation, but hey, I gotta get mine.

I never felt like I got lucky. If you’ve been keeping track of my die rolls I lost every one (0-9). Going first has always been a huge factor in Constructed it makes me wonder if a PTQ has ever been won by someone who never won a die roll on the day. I Bloodbraided into Birds of Paradise a lot and mulliganed roughly twice as much as my opponents. The tournament wasn’t very big at 79 players and it didn’t looked like the competition had much prior Pro Tour experience, but yeah, a win’s a win. When I play this deck I feel like I’m able to win any matchup as long as I can stay focused and keep my play tight.

Jund is still a huge deck and I’ve played it against it my fair share, dating way back to Pro Tour Honolulu. Blightning hurts Naya as much as the next deck….especially when you don’t have a Ranger of Eos to recover. Now that Vengevine is a card the mere threat of discarding one or two of them is enough to convince some Jund opponents to sideboard out their Blightnings, even though when they don’t see one game 1.

No doubt, the 1-ofs definitely stand out in the deck. The theory behind them is that the first copy always has the most value while drawing additional copies can sometimes be clunky. An example would be having multiple Lotus Cobras in play. The mana from the second Cobra would often go unused, leaving me with a card thats worse than a Grizzly Bears. Only running 1 of each Planewalker guarantees that you’ll never be stuck with an uncastable copy in your hand. Also, having multiple different Planewalkers in play tends to go over well. Wild Nacatl has gotten worse with the introduction of Wall of Omens, but Noble Hierarch’s exalted helps out in that respect. Its not very good on turn 1 in many matchups, but 2 is good to have around to Ranger of Eos for when needed.

I loved having the Tectonic Edge in the sideboard. It served as a 26th land against Goblin Ruinblaster and any other land destruction effects. Against matchups that don’t kill my mana producers early I side it in for either a Stirring Wildwood, Raging Ravine, Sunpetal Grove, or Sejiri Steppe.

A couple quick tips about deck thinning before I go:

Remember, if you have both Ranger of Eos and Bloodbraid Elf and you aren’t under too much pressure, casting the Ranger of Eos first will thin your deck of 1-drops making for a stronger Bloodbraid Elf cascade.
The deck thins itself of lands fairly quickly with the 9 fetchlands and Knight of the Reliquary activations. Take note of when you cascade past a clump of lands with Bloodbraid Elf. Since there are lands on the bottom of your deck, using a fetchland and shuffling your library will actually increase the chances of you drawing a land.

There aren’t any more live Standard events for me to play until US Nationals, but theres a good chance that I’ll be rockin’ the Nacatls there too.

Thanks everyone,

Tom Ross

CitrusD on Magic Online

47 thoughts on “Feature Article – Boss Naya Returns”

  1. Thanks for the report. I am wondering, do you consider turboland a good or bad matchup?

  2. You’re forgetting the fact that even though he gets an invite winning the PTQ also gets him a plane ticket, which (correct me if I’m wrong) lvl5 doesn’t provide. I’d be doing the same thing in his shoes – flying isn’t cheap.

  3. He won the tournament and gained a 1200$ plane ticket. I don’t think it is unreasonable to do that.

  4. Without the free plane ticket, many people would be hesitant to spend 1200 dollars flying to a pro tour, so I see absolutely nothing wrong in Tom winning a PTQ. Now, if it was PT New Orleans, that might be a little different…

  5. alexj: If you were to give anyone a hard time about the dream crushing it should be wizards for making that situation exist, globetrotting is by no means cheap and this gives people in tom’s position a chance to affordably live the dream if they are good enough.

  6. Vengevine naya has been so good to me, it’s hard to believe you don’t think they’re good enough to make the cut… Anyways congrats on the plane ticket, it’s good to see you’re still innovating in standard

  7. Why did you not propose a split in the finals? Your opponent gets the slot that is useless to you and you get most of the money. Seems that would make both players quite happy. Though I suppose maybe your opponent needed the money to afford the trip and was not interested in a split…

  8. I heard it was illegal to propose to split a plane ticket in a ptq final, because it involves one of the player giving money to the other or something like that.

  9. I’m surprised that you feel like you need a sideboard for Mono-Red. I play Mono-Red and I feel like Naya is my worst matchup, even without any sideboard cards. Sparkmage and Sledge are just brutal.

  10. Given the way the system is set up, WotC should take the next logical step and allow the PT invite to cascade to the 2nd place player in this situation, imo.

    Tom and other PT players have the right to play in PTQs for the prize, i.e. flight, this is clearly delineated in the Floor rules. However, given his unnecessary Q is going to waste, why not allow the other hopefuls in the room the chance to Q even if they don’t get the airfare.

    One of the many bad quirks WotC programs have…

    Also, [email protected] losing the die roll all day… Pics or it didn’t happen! How can you lose that many 50/50 situations?

    Maybe your draws made up for all that bad luck?

  11. Good article overall, but please, ask someone to proofread your stuff before putting it online.

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  13. Oh well, silly me, the deck is actually 60 cards without Vengevine but it isn’t very clear if you kept the singleton or not.

  14. Losing the die roll 9 times in a roll is a 1/512 chance. If there have been way way more than 512 instances of “a guy played in a 9 round magic tournament” in human history, then we should have some guys who legitimately have the story “I lost 9 dierolls in a row”. And some guys who won 9 in a row.

  15. sneakyhomunculous

    I won a ptq losing every die roll, and the first game i lost was in the finals. Going second must be the stones

  16. @ tokens, I consider Turboland a very favorable matchup

    @ drew, No changes to the 75

    @ Emtee, If it played someone I knew in finals we probably would’ve worked something out where he got the invite and I got reasonable compensation. However, “splitting” with people you don’t know can be awkward.

    @Jaksiel, Mono-Red never wants to see me and I never want to see Mono-Red. Its as close to 50/50 as you can get. The games are typically determined around turn 4 which isn’t fun for the losing player.

    @ Alvaro, I played 1 Vengevine in Lafayette and 0 at Little Rock

  17. I was your round 5 / top 4 opponent. You actually beat me in game 1 of the Swiss, and I thought I got monument out, but I guess not. You mulliganed to oblivion in game 2 and I got all the sparkmages game 3.

  18. Agreed, on the please proof, rd one game three…..”He keeps tanks for awhile before keeping a hand without and plays until turn three…” UHHHH WTH…I cant make any of that out!! LMAO Just messin, no big deal, it just takes some creative thinking to put the peices together! But really, as someone who has ridden the back of Naya for months, glad to see its still vibrant and relevant! Beating a U/W is no little feat with a mid-range aggro deck. So kudos…would like to hear more from you Tom! Thanks again, And go Team Mac! Straight out da Nati. (Thats Cincinnati for the uninitiated)

  19. So was this just a case of Tom just being the best player in the room or is this version of the deck still legit?

  20. “Game 3 he uses a Narcolepsy on an early Birds of Paradise to slow me down, ”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you first untap your creatures during your untap phase, then during your upkeep, Narcolepsy retaps. However, in response to Narcolepsy triggering, you can tap your Birds of Paradise.

    Most people who play with/against narcolepsy think it’s a perma-tap, but it’s not. All it does against creature abilities is make them a sorcery that can only be cast at the beginning of your turn.

  21. @Charlie yeah, but the only thing he could use that mana for would be path, lightning bolt, or activating a manland. The bird isn’t permatapped, but it is close.

  22. @down3 you are allowed to split the prizes however you like, you just cannot introduce money or prizes. You can split the product for winning, but you cannot pay your opponent money or give them something extra for conceding.

  23. @Charlie – to elaborate on Taber’s response: don’t forget that mana disappears at ends-of-phases (unless you’re rockin’ Omnath).

  24. Congrats on the win.

    First off, maybe I should start flying to Little Rock to play in PTQs, since they are less than half as many people as these ones near NY/NJ/CT…haha.

    Secondly, I don’t blame Tom for playing in a PTQ to play for the flight. I think most of us would do the same thing. However, I do think that this is the perfect example of how the system is flawed. PTQs are supposed to be for non-pros, giving them a chance at playing with the pros, and seeing if they can become a pro as well. Technically it is possible for all of the level 5 and worse pros to travel around and play in every PTQ and if they win them all, they could potentially lock the Pro Tour, not allowing any new invitees and keep it to the same people that are already on the Pro Tour. While that sounds ludacris, its possible and therefore the system is flawed.

    The simplest way to fix this would be to just not allow any pro who is GOING to be invited to play in a PTQ. Then the flight question comes up for the pros – “That’s not fair – I want a chance at a free flight, and even though I am invited to Amsterdam, I am not going without a free flight.” Fair enough. There are people (like myself) that, if I had an invite to Amsterdam (and no free flight), I would probably still go. I play in PTQs for the invite – not the flight… so this situation is unfair to me as well, since pros already have an invite. The best solution would be to allow the invite drop to the next eligible player, giving the flight to the winner. For example, Tom would get the flight in this situation, and the 2nd place person would still get an invite. This seems the most fair for everyone, and easy to implement.

  25. @Cimos: You can’t play in a PTQ if you already have an invite from another PTQ. The list on Wizard’s website has 85 players worldwide at Pro Level 4 or 5 (the levels where you’re invited to all but can still play PTQs for the plane ticket). There’s quite a bit more than 85 PTQ’s for any given PT worldwide. Plus some of those 85 players are qualified for another reason. Bottom line: Even if being Level 5 meant you were so much better than the room that you are guaranteed a win (and it doesn’t), there’s enough PTQ’s that new players getting locked out of a Pro Tour by people who already have invites is impossible.

    Sure, when something like this happens it is disappointing for the loser, but it comes up infrequently enough that it’s not a huge deal if it doesn’t change.

  26. @Coldbrand: Why do you think so many people have their friends scout other decks? Although you’re not allowed to tell them during the match you can do it after, and not while you are about to play a match against them. But anytime in between rounds is fair game.

  27. Tom, could you add sideboard suggestions for the mythic conscription and next level bant matchups? Those are two serious decks you didn’t face during this PTQ and i feel like you could give some good advice for the plan on those matchups. Mythic sounds like pretty winable with lightning bolts, sparkmage combo and some path, however against NLB you have only 4 exile effects in your 75, how should we play out this one? If we go aggro then they have plenty of chump block material with mana dorks and vengevine, while if we play on the deffensive the card advantage will be unsurmountable.

  28. Casting the ranger before BBE to thin the deck is a marginal reason. You will only take out 2 critters. Playing BBE before ranger is often just much better simply because the BBE puts more threat on the table quicker often. Getting a BBE and knight or something out is just better then just a ranger.
    Also playing BBE before ranger is generally better if you happen to get or have a noble hierarch. Playing BBE first will let you attack with a exalted BBE this turn and possibly as well the next turn. Playing ranger first usually won’t let you attack that turn and let you double attack next turn, ie. not getting use out of exalted.

    Having said that, a vengevine version is definately stronger then a ranger version. Vengevine is just much better at giving a recursive threat and is faster as well, nacatl is a big hassle to get working and though it’s good it’s simply not as good as vengevine.
    The report also looks weird like the level of play was just really low or you just mised through. For example I read a narcolepsy being put on a KoTr but steppe not being used to get rid of the nacrolepsy and stuff like that.

  29. Naya without vengivine is amazing!! Its seems to be very good when you lose dice rolls.

    Vengivine is a strong card, but it is not worth cutting a Ranger or Bloodbraid for.

    What do you think of the M11 anti-blightning Baloth (Obstinate Baloth i think?)

  30. Markwerf that’s why Tom stated that the Ranger of Eos before BBE is just a cute play you can make if you are not under pressure, he didnt say at any point that is better under any circunstance, he even makes clear that is just a nice sinergy you can make use of on a certain position.

    I don’t know why you misquote the narcolepsy thing, seems like you forgot he is Pro Tour Club Member Level 5. If you read again you will notice that he said that a Birds of Paradise got enchanted, not an KotR.

    Tom your RDW sideboard strategy has a problem, you sideboard out 8 cards and bring in 7.

  31. @ alvaro.. obviously you need to be the one rereading he clearly states that. anarcolepsy is used on a bird and then another on his knight of the reliquary…. play skill also has no affect on a players correct use of grammar…

    Congrats tom

  32. @Dr. Cat — No. It’s actually much more unlikely to that, because losing a die roll decreases your chance to win the round, meaning that it’s unlikely that you will get to the next round at all, let alone lose the roll there.

  33. Ok, this list is like terrible I don’t get it. I play this but with more 4 of and 2 sejiri steppe. Naya is awesome but I do not like this list.

  34. hi, that’s a sweet naya deck.
    it’s great to be able to play strong decks that don’t require 4x jace or vengevines etc. I think i’ll give this a try with my singletons collection 🙂

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