Two days before Grand Prix Miami, I still hadn’t picked a deck yet, which is usually a pretty decent recipe for success:
I am usually one to stick to my guns and play Jund, but I have had horrendous results with it on Magic Online and losing with it at the WMCQ was pretty disheartening. The deck is still good but it just isn’t the choice for me, too many of the matchups are close and entirely draw-dependent, and I feel like it takes a huge amount of luck to continually win 55% matchups all the way through a Grand Prix. I want to pick a deck more like Bant Hexproof where you can obliterate people who are unprepared, but I don’t want to play that particular deck because it’s too inconsistent. Believe it or not, I actually spent a long time playing with Naya Blitz before dismissing it as well.
Naya Blitz is very attractive to me because of its ability to draw unbeatable opening hands. I like that you could have either [card]Champion of the Parish[/card] or [card]Boros Elite[/card] into [card]Burning Tree-Emissary[/card] with [card]Lightning Mauler[/card] and attack for 7 damage on the second turn of the game, which is disgusting. I can’t fault anyone for joining a tournament with four copies of [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card] in their deck—it’s just a broken card that does things people were not meant to do in Magic. If you play enough rounds in the tournament, you will get multiple opening hands that contain two [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card] and you effectively prevent your opponent from even playing a game.
I tried [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card] in the deck over [card]Experiment One[/card]. This may sound pretty unorthodox, but in my experience the [card]Experiment One[/card] was really marginal because it very rarely evolved past a 2/2, and was primarily in the deck because it was a one-casting-cost Human creature that has synergy with [card]Champion of the Parish[/card] and [card]Mayor of Avabruck[/card], and it’s also important to have a large number of cheap creatures in your deck to get battalion as well.
I eventually dismissed [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card] because it was simply too low power for the deck. The small amount of time [card]Experiment One[/card] does evolve matters, and if it ever spikes to a 3/3 from [card]Frontline Medic[/card] you feel like a superstar. [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card] also made me extra weak to [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] because it didn’t attack for all that much and incentivized me to use all my mana every turn to drop my hand on the table. It’s interesting that when you have a 1/1 and you know you need to kill them quickly and that isn’t enough, you decide to play more spells, and the mana from the Pilgrim makes it more appealing to play more spells so you just get blown out by Verdict even more badly. I liked the Pilgrim because it allowed me to cast my sideboard cards much faster and easier.
I also briefly considered [card]Dryad Militant[/card] since it can be cast off a huge percentage of lands in the deck and attacks for 2 right off the bat, but it’s too similar to [card]Experiment One[/card] without having the bonus of being a Human.
One problem I encountered with the deck was an inability to remove a creature. If an opponent cast [card]Boros Reckoner[/card], I just threw my arms in the air and couldn’t do anything. [card]Frontline Medic[/card] helps mitigate this a little, but when 90% of the cards in your deck only attack then you don’t have much choice. This lead me to the change I feel the best about, which was to play 4 [card]Firefist Striker[/card]. He’s a Human and works excellently with [card]Lightning Mauler[/card], because he can provide an extra attacking threat out of nowhere or push through something like a [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card] that would usually have an opponent feeling real safe. He pushes the deck’s basic strategy perfectly, is awesome with [card]Champion of the Parish[/card], [card]Boros Elite[/card], [card]Lightning Mauler[/card], and [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card], and he acts as a form of removal when the other best options are [card]Fiend Hunter[/card] and [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card].
For additional help with troublesome creatures, I resorted to playing [card]Bonds of Faith[/card] in my sideboard. It is unique in that it’s never really a dead card—you can slam it on their [card]Stromkirk Noble[/card] or your own [card]Lightning Mauler[/card] if you really need to get something going. When practicing with the deck, I found mono-red to be a really problematic matchup because they have [card]Stromkirk Noble[/card] and [card]Boros Reckoner[/card] which are hard to stop at almost any moment in the game, and they have great cheap removal so it’s difficult to make a big [card]Champion of the Parish[/card] or have uncontested battalion.
I had a couple [card]Volcanic Strength[/card]s in my sideboard for this matchup, and I often found myself in a spot where both players were just using [card]Volcanic Strength[/card]s on the first creature they could and chump blocking with the rest, which makes the games feel a lot like a crapshoot. [card]Bonds of Faith[/card] is great for this, since you 2-for-1 them when they pursue that plan, and it gives you a similar though admittedly much less effective way of going big.
One of the best cards in my sideboard is easily [card]Boros Charm[/card], and if I were to play this deck in a big tournament I would never consider playing less than 4. Two things that a deck like this struggles with are dealing those final points of damage in the face of cheap removal, and handling a [card]Wrath of God[/card]. Control does both of these things and [card]Boros Charm[/card] can counteract both in dazzling fashion for only two mana. Let’s not forget the ability to use [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card] to give any creature +4/+4 and then use [card]Boros Charm[/card] to give it double strike and get in for a massive amount of damage. This one won’t come up very often, but it’s a good thing to remember.
Against control decks I like to sideboard out [card]Frontline Medic[/card], which might sound odd—it looks like it stops [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], but it rarely plays out that way. They have to [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] or use smaller cheap removal to completely halt your first wave of creatures anyway. Against control, I don’t like to have a 3/3 creature for 3 that doesn’t impact the board the turn it comes into play and requires some setup before it can be effective. On top of that its battalion ability will not matter very often, since combat is irrelevant and three mana is a large investment for a card that just dies to a [card]Far // Away[/card], [card]Azorius Charm[/card], or [card]Supreme Verdict[/card].
4 Temple Garden
3 Sunpetal Grove
1 Clifftop Retreat
4 Stomping Ground
4 Boros Elite
1 Rootbound Crag
4 Lightning Mauler
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Firefist Striker
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Mayor of Avabruck
4 Frontline Medic
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Experiment One
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Bonds of Faith
4 Boros Charm
3 Fiend Hunter
2 Domri Rade[/deck]
If I were to play with Naya Blitz, my final list would look very similar to this. I originally had only two [card]Fiend Hunter[/card]s to deal with creatures, but the more I played the more I found myself wanting more. I slowly increased the numbers because I loved each one, and I even had four copies for a brief period, I only just now revised it down to three of each because I admit that it’s possible I went overboard, but also because I wanted the sideboard space for [card]Domri Rade[/card].
I think it’s a big mistake not to play with [card]Domri Rade[/card] in an aggressive base-red/green deck. It pretty much does everything you could possibly want a card to do. It’s hard for the fight ability to be great in a deck with so many small creatures, but it can matter with [card]Champion of the Parish[/card] getting as big as he does, and when you actually do want that particular ability it will be outstanding, and even if you aren’t doing that he will be a constant source of card advantage that if left unchecked will win the game. It’s fun to see how Domri wins the game for you in spots like that, since just drawing five additional cards can be as good as having all your creatures get haste, hexproof, double strike, and trample.
I am a little skeptical that there are too many sideboard slots against control when you count [card]Boros Charm[/card], [card]Domri Rade[/card], and [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card], but I think control is the closest matchup, since literally every game comes down to whether they have [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] or not, and all the cards you want to sideboard in against them greatly mitigate that.
I love [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card]. I try to play it in Modern every chance I get, and it’s no surprise to me that it’s a staple of Legacy. I like it in this list because it’s a Human, one of the best answers to [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] (being proactive here is key), and it is a perfect sideboard card against Junk Reanimator. Thalia against Junk Reanimator can range from an inconveniencing card that they need to deal with to a total game-breaker. When you are on the play and they don’t have a mana-accelerating one-drop it can lock them out from casting [card]Grisly Salvage[/card] and [card]Mulch[/card] early, which completely disrupts their game plan, even if you don’t get that very specific ideal situation you can still just cast it the turn before they have access to four mana which gives you a one-turn break from an [card]Unburial Rites[/card] on [card]Angel of Serenity[/card], and needless to say one attack step in this Naya Blitz deck can be deadly.
The sideboard can be toyed with, but the biggest takeaway is this:
#1) Always play four copies of [card]Boros Charm[/card] in your sideboard, because it is great. Flexible and incredibly effective at what it does, counterspelling a four-mana card that is the most important card to your opponent’s strategy or just being a two-mana [card]Char[/card]. Imagine a game where you draw two [card]Boros Charm[/card]s and just burn your opponent’s face off from 8 life.
#2) Play removal. I think it is a huge liability to not pack a way to clear blockers like [card]Boros Reckoner[/card] and [card]Thragtusk[/card]. I recommend moving up to 4 [card]Firefist Striker[/card] in the main and a good number of [card]Bonds of Faith[/card]/[card]Fiend Hunter[/card] in the sideboard. [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card] also works pretty well at bulldozing past creatures.
#3) You should definitely have [card]Experiment One[/card] in your deck, despite the fact that there are other very similar and powerful cards you can play instead, like [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card], [card]Dryad Militant[/card], and [card]Wolfbitten Captive[/card].
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