Naya, One Year Later – Journey to Somewhere with Ben Heath

Journey to Somewhere – Developing Tempered Steel by Ben Heath


Hello, and welcome to another edition of the (hopefully now that I have successfully balanced studies and MtG) bi-weekly segment Journey to Somewhere. Today’s article actually starts last year, when I went to GP Barcelona with Team Leeds, most of whom piloted a deck now known as ‘Leeds the Stampede’, created by Andy Devine, known for his funky homebrews, which include Loam Zoo (from when Extended was good) and Living End (Modern). ‘Leeds the Stampede’ was a deck that was relatively successful, and saw a few members make Day 2 of GP Barcelona, including himself and Rob Wagner (who wrote an article on the deck).

‘Leeds the Stampede’ was a creature– heavy Naya deck that took full advantage of the sheer quality of utility cards back from Zendikar-M11-Scars of Mirrodin Standard (Pre-NPH). It utilised various card synergies, such as Fauna ShamanSquadron HawkVengevine and Cunning SparkmageBasilisk Collar as well as just using big fatties, such as Leatherback Baloth. When the situation arised that you ran out of creature cards to play, you used Lead the Stampede to refill your hand, hence the name of the deck. It was the perfect deck to take into a varied (at the time) and large field such as a European Grand Prix (no CawBlade dominance here, no sir) which is why I wished I had played it.

Fast forward to one year later, and I’m shortly on my way to GP Lille. I believe that Naya is a deck that is once again in a good position to kick some butt, simply because of one card from Dark Ascension. That’s right, Huntmaster of the Fells is here, and boy is he exciting. Brian Kibler stated on his post-Pro Tour stream that this card was the best card in his deck, and I fully agree with him, it really is that good. It forces your opponents to play spells when they want to be holding mana up, whilst not really affecting the way you play.

Now, that last part may sound strange, but in testing, I rarely cared if and when I flipped it, because it’s my opponent’s problem, not mine as I continue to slam down other creatures for my opponent to be worried about. Seriously, he joins Thrun, the Last Troll and certain MtG players, who shall remain nameless, in my ‘list of man-crushes‘.  There are other awesome creatures in the format. Sure, not of last year’s Standard quality, but you can fill those gaps in with non-creature spells that really can do the business, and there’s quite a few of them, at least one of which I’m sure you’ve forgotten about.

So, I have the deck laid out in front of me, time to start showing the deck list and explaining the card choices. thank you in advance to David Inglis for sharing his decklist on the MtgUK Decks Facebook page, it gave me some ideas, so cheers buddy :)

The Mana Accelerants

4 Birds of Paradise, 2 Llanowar Elves, 2 Avacyn’s Pilgrim, 2 Dawntreader Elk

You basically want to get to three mana on turn 2, and four mana on turn three, the latter being more important so you can cast Huntmaster or Thrun. The 2/2 split between Elves and Pilgrim is about right, as there is a creature in the deck that requires white mana on turn 2, something that Elves does not provide. Dawntreader Elk is very interesting, and acts both as a Grizzly Bear and a 3 mana Rampant Growth. You don’t want to see it all the time, but it is certainly a useful card to have.

The Board Presence

2 Blade Splicer, 4 Huntmaster of the Fells, 2 Thrun, the Last Troll, 1 Acidic Slime

Blade Splicer is an interesting choice, and it came down to this versus Mirran Crusader. Mirran Crusader usually wins hands down. However on this occasion I chose Blade Splicer, because he beats Mirran Crusader in a straight up fight, and doesn’t need two white mana to play, which you’re not always going to get on turn two. The downside is that the token generated can be Vapor Snagged, but in all honesty I’d rather they waste the Vapor Snag on the token than on my Huntmaster when it’s about to flip.

I’ve already discussed Huntmaster, and anything less than 4 is criminal. You can easily make this guy on turn 3, or turn 4 with a Green Sun’s Zenith for 4 (we’ll get to that later). Thrun, the Last Troll is a must have in this deck. It’s the only spell which you can play with certainty that it’s going to resolve and stick around for a bit. Phantasmal Image is annoying, but to be honest I’d rather they copy Thrun than Drogskol Captain. Acidic Slime is the ultimate utility card, and one of the best situational cards in the deck. In theory I really want more than 1, but in practice 1 is right, simply because it’s only a 2/2.

The Finishers

1 Inferno Titan, 1 Primeval Titan, 1 Sun Titan, 2 Sword of Feast and Famine, 1 Sword of War and Peace

A Triple Titan Threat, and a setup that is just about right. Primeval Titan is the weakest of the three, but can be fetched with Green Sun’s Zenith, and can fetch the Kessig Wolf Run in order to start dealing a lot of damage. Sun Titan is very good, and can get back smaller creatures, as well as the three swords, lands that can be destroyed as well as other things (we’ll get to those in a bit).

The Swords require no introduction, and this setup was used by many of the players at Pro Tour Dark Ascension. To me, this is about right. The deck struggles more against Ramp than it does against Delver/White decks, so the current setup is 2:1, but this may change if I see a significant shift towards white decks that makes it worthwhile.

The Backup

4 Green Sun’s Zenith, 1 Lead the Stampede, 2 Garruk Relentless

Green Sun’s Zenith is nuts. There’s a reason it’s banned in Modern. Here’s a quick guide as to what you can put into play with this card:

1 – Birds of Paradise, Avacyn’s Pilgrim, Llanowar Elves

2 – Dawntreader Elk

4 – Huntmaster of the Fells, Thrun, the Last Troll

5 – Acidic Slime

6 – Primeval Titan

I have searched for every one of these creatures at some point, and they have all helped me out of a bind.

Garruk Relentless is a very underrated Planeswalker. He makes guys, pings a creature, transforms, makes more guys, acts as a tutor and then gives you a win condition (rarely used, but used nonetheless to devastating effect). Forget the low, understandably off-putting loyalty, this guy is the real deal.

Lead the Stampede is only a one-off, as you rarely want to see it in your hand. But when you do need it, boy does it provide backup. I’ve drawn 1 to 5 creatures as a result of this card, and not once have I whiffed, and not once have I cared that my opponent gets to see them. The hand reload is worth it.

The Saboteurs

2 Ratchet Bomb, 2 Tumble Magnet

Yes, that’s right. No, you’re not misreading the article. No, this isn’t the sideboard. These are maindeck, and boy do these make a difference. Pesky tokens go bye-bye, and big fatties are stopped for three turns. Three. Momentum, and games, are won and lost with cards like these. The deck’s weakness to Mirran Crusader is overturned as well. It may seem strange to you, and you may prefer cards like Strangleroot Geist in this slot, but these cards have already won me more games than Strangleroot Geist (despite it having undying, I don’t think it’s tough enough. 1 toughness followed by 2 toughness is not that hard to deal with) and Predatory Ooze (too slow for this deck) ever did. There’s two more of each of these in the sideboard as well. Loads of tokens? Out comes Tumble Magnet. Loads of fatties? Out comes Ratchet Bomb (Grave Titan is an exception where you may want to keep some Ratchet Bombs in).

The Manabase

4 Razorverge Thicket, 4 Copperline Gorge, 3 Rootbound Crag, 3 Sunpetal Grove, 5 Forest, 2 Mountain, 2 Plains, 1 Kessig Wolf Run

This manabase is tried and tested, and 13 untapped turn one green sources means that you can make your turn 1 acceleration play pretty regularly. The multiple mountains and plains are about right, as Ghost Quarter is real, and you need two red and/or white sources in order to play your Titans.  Kessig Wolf Run is a nice finisher, and combos really well with Thrun.

The Sideboard

2 Ratchet Bomb, 2 Tumble Magnet

See above

2 Timely Reinforcements

Aggro off to a fast start? Get your life back, get some dudes, build a winning board position. Never has a card been so aptly named.

2 Ancient Grudge, 2 Naturalize, 1 Acidic Slime

This was the Channel Fireball removal package for artifacts and enchantments, and it’s about right. I considered a Viridian Corrputer, but I don’t think it’s worth it as I think these are suffice.  Naturalize is better than Ray of Revelation right now, because it can hit both enchantments and artifacts, and there aren’t enough enchantments to make Ray worth playing.

2 Lead the Stampede, 1 Sun Titan, 1 Karn Liberated

Against Control, things will get countered, so the extra Sun Titan will enable you to get them back. The game will also go on longer, so you will need to reload more often, which is why I’m packing more Lead the Stampede in the sideboard. Karn Liberated is just a massive finisher versus control, and I play this instead of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite because I already have four Ratchet Bombs in my 75.


Matchup Analysis

Delver Spirits

Pre-board it’s in your favour. I have yet to lose on the play versus this deck. On the draw, it’s about 50/50. Post-board, the additional Ratchet Bombs become a real pain for the Delver deck to deal with post-sideboard if they’re not playing Steel Sabotage in the sideboard.

Haunted Humans

This match-up is similar to the Delver Spirits match-up, except both Ratchet Bomb (for the weenies) and Tumble Magnet (for Mirran Crusader and Hero of Bladehold) are useful here. There’s also enchantments such as Oblivion Ring and Honor of the Pure to get rid off, which can be a real pain and is often the difference between winning and losing. Unless your opponent is packing 1 Day of Judgment sideboard, I can’t see there being much to worry about for you post-sideboard, whilst you bring in things such as Naturalize and Timely Reinforcements. The matchup for them pretty much depends on what kind of hand your opponent draws, but I believe its slightly in Naya’s favour.

ChannelFireball Ramp

Pre-sideboard, if you can get your Huntmaster down first, you’re in a good position. You’re in an even better position if you can also get Tumble Magnet down and your opponent can’t deal with it (don’t forget that they will be packing one or two Slimes main deck). You can’t allow the Titans to go too crazy, otherwise it’s goodnight. Post-board is pretty rough, as all the hate for your answers comes in, whilst you bring in Ancient Grudge, Naturalize and extra Tumble Magnets to deal with Sphere of the Suns and Inkmoth Nexus, whilst they’ll bring in Ancient Grudge and Naturalize to get rid of your Tumble Magnets (possibly, there’s no guarantee that they will go down this route).

What’s important is that you take out your Huntmasters on the draw, and keep them in on the play, as being the non-active player when both players’ cards flip is vital, as you’ll kill their Huntmaster with their flip ability on the stack. (For more info on this, look up stack rulings with regards to Active Player and Non-Active Player). This is a rough match-up, mainly because of Whipflare and Slagstorm, but it is winnable!

Wolf Run Black

Pretty much see above, except that this possibly has more ways to deal with your threats, depending on the removal package your opponent has gone for.

Blue-Black Control/Grixis Control

Quite easy, in my opinion. Pre-sideboard you overwhelm them with threats, whilst keeping their major threats at arm’s length thanks to Tumble Magnet. Black Sun’s Zenith and Slagstorm are played in multiples, so be careful not to overextend. Post-board you bring in your bigger threats and Lead the Stampede in order to outlast your opponent and take the win. I believe this match-up is in Naya’s favour, but if the control deck gets access to a lot of it’s spot removal then you may have some problems without the multiple Lead the Stampedes pre-board. 60/40 in Naya’s favour, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Control nicked a game or won.


Whether it’s UB or monoblack, you shouldn’t have too many problems with the creatures, or the removal and/or counter package. It’s the equipment you want to watch out for. Lashwrithe can win games single-handedly for monoblack, whilst UB goes for Runechanter’s Pike. Both can be lethal with Inkmoth Nexus or Phyrexian Crusader, and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon is always bad news (hello, Tumble Magnet!) Again, the match-up is in your favour, but be careful, don’t let the infect deck have the ability to suddenly snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, because if given the chance, it will.


Ending Thoughts

That’s pretty much everything covered. I really enjoy playing with deck, and look forward to taking it with me to Lille. If you have suggestions or any questions please feel free to write in the comments, which I pretty much always reply to.





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