Vengaboys Comeback Tour: NQ Bristol 1st Place by Jake Wheatley

Vengaboys Comeback Tour: NQ Bristol 1st Place by Jake Wheatley


Hello there, and thank you for taking interest in my first article for mtgUK! For those of you who haven’t heard of me before (which admittedly, seems likely), I have been playing Magic since I was thirteen in and around Bath. My first sanctioned tournament was the Morningtide pre-release and have been playing constantly ever since. I would like to believe I’ve improved my game since then, after posting a sweet 1-5 record at said pre-release… (And yes, that single victory was indeed the bye!)

On April 10th, I qualified for Nationals in Bristol for the second consecutive year, and this is my tournament report.


Leading up to the tournament, I was certain of two things: First and foremost, that I really, really, under any circumstance, did not want to play any variation of Caw-Blade. This is not just because the mirror is just about the definition of soul-crushing, but mainly because I find the deck excruciatingly boring to play. The second, was that the combination of Stoneforge Mystic, Squadron Hawk and ‘Sword of X and Y’ was far too powerful to ignore.

Naturally, I decided I would play Boros. The deck was fast, fairly resilient, and had a habit of killing people out of nowhere. However, when scouring my folder for a playset of Stoneforge Mystics, four Vengevines sat there, staring at me. I paid it no attention, and turned the page, only to find four Fauna Shamans, looking just as pretty as when they were fetching Bloodbraid Elves, all that time ago. I figured the format had a formiddable group of ‘silver bullets’ at the moment that Fauna Shaman would be happy to recruit for the good guys all day, and I was sold. And really, for how much longer could I continue to ignore those adorable vegetables?

At that point, it was decided. The Vengaboys were making a comeback tour, baby! Here is the list I registered Sunday morning:

Vengaboys comback tour (Naya) by Jake Wheatley

Maindeck – 60 cards

3 Plains

2 Forest

2 Mountain

4 Raging Ravine

4 Copperline Gorge

4 Razorverge Thicket

4 Arid Mesa

2 Rootbound Crag

4 Birds of Pardise

4 Stoneforge Mystic

4 Squadron Hawk

4 Fauna Shaman

4 Vengevine

2 Acidic Slime

2 Baneslayer Angel

2 Cunning Sparkmage

1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence

1 Oxidda Scrapmelter

1 Hero of Oxid Ridge

1 Sylvan Ranger

1 Inferno Titan

1 Basilisk Collar

2 Sword of Feast and Famine

1 Gideon Jura


4 Leyline of Sanctity

3 Kor Firewalker

1 Condemn

1 Cunning Sparkmage

2 Obstinate Baloth

3 Arc Trail

1 Gideon Jura


I’m going to attempt to justify my card choices now, and explain changes I would make at the end of the article. Embarrassingly, the sideboard was a concession to the fact I left home with an 8 card ‘board, and had to build it on the train. Regarding the Gideon Jura in the maindeck, I will defend until the end of time. He does everything the deck needs, and is always fantastic when drawn. It most commonly fogs for a turn to set up a lethal counterattack, but the true beauty is how he acts as a psuedo-removal spell that the deck is obviously lacking. There’s also the fact he’s a 6/6 that evades all sorcery speed removal and can’t die in creature combat. I hear that’s absolutely fine, too.

Regarding the pair of Baneslayer Angels as opposed to the usual singleton… Well, the only justification I have for that is that I am an absolute Baneslayer-whore (the night before the tournament there were three!). The are very few non-Titan cards in the format which have the uncanny ability to say ‘Woops, I win’. Baneslayer Angel is one of those cards.  Most people will just argue that she’s vulnerable to removal (gets killed by both Doom Blade and Go For the Throat etc), but wasn’t all of that removal spent on Fauna Shamans, and assorted creatures with their pants down as they tried to pick up a sword? Pro Tip: Yes, a lot of the time it was.


The tournament itself was extremely small, sporting a field of just 19 players (8 from Team Bath, represent!). This meant that there would only be 2 qualification spots available, and tiebreakers would be absolutely huge. After registering decks, we sat down and shared some pre-tournament banter waiting for round one pairings.

I didn’t take notes, so all of these rounds are from memory. Thankfully, my memory is sweet.

Round one – Peter Attridge (Mono-U Grand Architect).

A fellow Bath player in round one, really? Well I suppose it wasn’t statistically unlikely. Oddly, this was one of the few decks I had actually tested against, so I knew that I had to overwhelm him before he could wreck me with one of his 2 Contagion Engines.

Game one – I mulled to six and kept a shaky two land, Fauna Shaman, Stoneforge Mystic, double Vengevine hand with no white source. He had a slow draw, so I was able to turn a Vengevine into a Sylvan Ranger, find some Squadron Hawks and the Vengaboys did their thing just before a Wurmcoil Engine ruined their fun.

-1 Cunning Sparkmage

+1 Condemn

Game two – In game two, I mull to five, and manage to get a Vengevine chain goinganyway. Contagion Engine shows up to ruin my day, and I allow Peter to proliferate out my team so that I can get back the Vengevines at full power. I started to feel like I was in the game again… Until he ripped Treasure Mage to find a second Contagion Engine. (Sidenote – the final points of damage is this game were dealt by a 12/12 Cosi’s Trickster. Sweet tech against Naya, for real.)

Game three – I mulligan again (obv) and keep 4 land, Stoneforge Mystic, Baneslayer Angel. In this game, my only green source gets hit by Spreading Seas. However, I still have a Baneslayer Angel holding a Sword of Feast and Famine, which is more than enough to take the match.

2-1 (1-0)

Round two – Thomas Rickarby (BUg control).

Thomas was playing a sweet variation on UB control, splashing green for Explore and Lotus Cobra, which results in some alarmingly speedy Grave Titans.

Game one –  I really still wonder how I got out of this one alive. My turn 2 Fauna Shaman was promptly dealt with, forcing me to just playing a Birds of Paradise on turn three leaving my first real play a turn four Vengevine. That was allowed to live, and I followed it up with another next turn. The Vengaboys were looking pretty good until they had to stare down a Grave Titan, so it was time to get big. I cast Sword of Feast and Famine, equipped it to Birds of Paradise, connected, and followed it up with Baneslayer Angel, leaving the Vengaboys back to block Grave Titan. Instead of electing to rumble with Grave Titan, Thomas decided to put me to four life with a pair of Creeping Tar pits. I untapped, put the sword on Baneslayer Angel, connected for seven, and cast Gideon Jura. Gideon said ‘come at me bro’, so I could make the lethal counterattack that ended a very close game one.

+1 Condemn

+1 Gideon Jura

-1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence

-1 Hero of Oxid Ridge

Game two – In this game I hit some quick Vengevines, whilst Thomas struggles to really get anything going to the point where he’s forced to bounce my Vengevine with Jace. A Precursor Golem from him tries to put the brakes on, but I force him to make unprofitable trades. A Fauna Shaman activation and 4 Squadron Hawks later he is firmly out of the game.

2-0 (2-0)

Round Three – Rikki Payne (Goblins).

Game one – Game one was uneventful, as Rikki mulliganed into a one-lander that couldn’t deal with my turn 4 Baneslayer Angel.

-3 Vengevine

-2 Fauna Shaman

-1 Hero of Oxid Ridge

-2 Acidic Slime

-1 Oxidda Scrapmelter

+3 Kor Firewalker

+2 Obstinate Baloth

+3 Arc Trail

+1 Condemn

Game two – I can’t remember the exact details on game two, but it involved me making Basilisk Collar, Obstinate Baloth and 2 Baneslayer Angels.

…I lost that game.

Game three – This game went absurdly long, and was always completely on the wire. I started out with a turn 2 Kor Firewalker and sent out some Squadron Hawks and a Basilisk Collar, sandbagging my Baneslayer Angel in hand until Rikki was low on cards. He had assembled a powerful board of Goblin Chieftain, Ember Hauler and Spikeshot Elder, which was breaking down my defences at an alarming rate (Spikeshot Elder is a beating for this deck, Goblin Chieftain pushes it over the top).

I cast Linvala, hoping it would be enough to start pushing through, but it naturally fell in my ends step. Next I ran out the Baneslayer Angel, which died to a Spikeshot Elder activation, Ember Hauler and half a Staggershock. When the dust cleared, Rikki was at 9 life from various Squadron Hawks and Firewalker attacks. He made Manic Vandal, destroying my Basilisk Collar, so I thought it would be an appropriate time to peel a Sword off the top. I did, and three turns later I was 3-0.

2-1 (3-0)

Round four – Mark Withers (Kudoltha Red).

This match was some real edge of your seat Magic, which is just how it should be with a Nationals invite on the line. Mark and I were the only players on 3-0.

Game one – I can’t remember what Mark did, but on turn 2 I was at twelve and on turn 3 I was at zero. Nice. Deck.

-4 Vengevine

-1 Hero of Oxid Ridge

-2 Fauna Shaman

-2 Acidic Slime

-1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence

+3 Kor Firewalker

+2 Obstinate Baloth

+3 Arc Trail

+1 Condemn

+1 Cunning Sparkmage

Game two – I start off with turn 1 Birds of Paradise into Kor Firewalker, which is quickly staring down Goblin Guide, three Goblin tokens, two Elemental tokens and a Signal Pest. I traded off some Squadron Hawks, then cast a turn 4 Inferno Titan. Mark promptly scooped, saying ‘This deck scoops to finishers’, which got a few laughs.

Game three – Game three involved a quick start from Mark, and me trading off infinite two-mana dorks. Eventually, my surprise single Condemn (Mise!) turned combat into a blowout, and an Arc Trail plus Inferno Titan played cleanup.

2-1 (4-0)

At this point, as the only player on 12 points I had effectively locked up my place at Nationals, although I was forced to play the last round. Excusing a tiebreak related nightmare, I was in.


Round five – Andrew Quinn (Valakut).

Well, it’s only possible to dodge the nightmare matchup for so long. This matchup is virtually unwinnable for the Naya player, as you are nowhere near fast enough to race them and have next to no disruption to stop them doing what they want to.

Game one – Andrew mulligans to six, and keeps an all ramp, no Titan hand. He manages to get about 4 triggers off of his single Valakut, but it isn’t enough and he is quickly eaten alive by the Vengaboys.

Here, I don’t bother to sideboard. The four Leylines in my sideboard are cute, but they are actually just awful against Valakut decks. If they resolve a Titan of any variety, excusing very extreme circumstances, the Naya player is just dead.

Games two and three – In both of these games, Andrew‘s Lotus Cobras did some serious work, giving him turn three Primeval and Inferno Titans respectively.

1-2 (4-1)

So that was that. The tournament was over, and with four players each on twelve points (myself, Thomas, Rikki and Andrew) it was all on tiebreakers. When the final standings were revealed, I had finished first, and Thomas Rickarby second. We shook hands and celebrated locking up our places at Nationals for another year!


How was the deck? Would I change anything?

For anybody hoping to pick up the Naya deck, or just others playing the same deck looking for contrasting opinions, this section is for you.

I think the first thing I would do is cut the Hero of Oxid Ridge. Really. Although it is extremely powerful in the Naya deck, if you are in a position to tutor for Hero of Oxid Ridge during a boardstall, you are probably already winning that game. The best thing about the Naya deck is that if the board is locked up in a creature based matchup, the Naya deck has inevitability. Fauna Shaman can supply outs to almost anything, random two-drops off the top give your Vengaboys an encore, Baneslayer Angel and Inferno Titan… they get work done. It also has the Sparkmage – Collar combo at its disposal, which is just as dominating as it has ever been.

As for what I would cut it for, I think it would most likely be another Gideon Jura or Baneslayer Angel. I would cut a Rootbound Crag for a Sunpetal Grove to accommodate this change.

As for the sideboard, I think that should be customised to suit your local metagame. As a general suggestion, if I were to play the deck again, I would go with:

4 Kor Firewalker

2 Obstinate Baloth

4 Arc Trail

2 Condemn

1 Cunning Sparkmage

1 Basilisk Collar

1 Sun Titan

Naya is an extremely powerful midrange-aggro deck, that I feel is very well positioned in the current metagame. The Valakut matchup is an absolute beating, but if you can do a good job of dodging it, there is no game the Naya deck cannot win. If you are competing in a Nationals Qualifier this weekend (I hear there is one at Manaleak!), I would definitely recommend you play this deck.

To finish up, a quick shoutout to Area 51 for holding the tournament, Adam Barnett for judging, and mtgUK for giving me the opportunity to write this report!

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this article enjoyable or educational. Comments and constructive criticism will be much appreciated! (:


Jake Wheatley

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