tom-ross

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 [card]Vengevine[/card]s 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 [card]Ranger of Eos[/card] for them is plain wrong. Vengevine may be stronger at times but the versatility of [card]Ranger of Eos[/card] 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.

[deck]5 Forest
2 Mountain
2 Plains
2 Raging Ravine
2 Stirring Wildwood
2 Sunpetal Grove
4 Arid Mesa
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Evolving Wilds
1 Sejiri Steppe
4 Noble Hierarch
2 Birds of Paradise
1 Lotus Cobra
2 Wild Nacatl
3 Ranger of Eos
2 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Bloodbraid Elf
3 Cunning Sparkmage
4 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Scute Mob
1 Path to Exile
1 Lightning Bolt
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Ajani Vengeant
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Gideon Jura
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Basilisk Collar
Sideboard
1 Dauntless Escort
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Cunning Sparkmage
1 Wild Nacatl
2 Wall of Reverence
1 Pithing Needle
1 Tectonic Edge
2 Qasali Pridemage
2 Manabarbs
1 Path to Exile
1 Behemoth Sledge[/deck]

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 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] on an attacking [card]Sprouting Thrinax[/card]. Post combat he plays [card]Sarkhan the Mad[/card] 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 [card]Noble Hierarch[/card] thanks to Elspeth, essentially neutralizing it. Instead I'm soon overrun by Dragons.

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

All I can remember from game 2 is that my opponent was at 4 life with [card]Sarkhan the Mad[/card], a Dragon token, and several other Jund creatures in play to my [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] and [card]Noble Hierarch[/card]. 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 [card]Sejiri Steppe[/card] 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 [card]Lotus Cobra[/card] shows up and I'm able to [card]Ranger of Eos[/card] + cast both my fetched creatures for a board of 6 creatures on turn 4. He concedes shortly after.

1-0

Round 2 - Jund - Todd W. Renuard

I lose the die roll.

Game 1 I see maindeck [card]Goblin Ruinblaster[/card]s. 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 [card]Master of the Wild Hunt[/card] since it clogs up the 4 curve, so I don't side in any more [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] but keep in 2 Cunning Sparkmages and Basilisk Collar.

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

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

2-0

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 L[card]ightning Bolt[/card], +1 [card]Dauntless Escort[/card], +1 [card]Wild Nacatl[/card], +2 [card]Wall of Reverence[/card], +1 [card]Path to Exile[/card]
-1 [card]Lotus Cobra[/card], -2 [card]Oblivion Ring[/card], -2 [card]Ranger of Eos[/card], -2 [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card], -1 [card]Scute Mob[/card]

Game 2 I'm able to live for awhile and stick a big [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card]. On turn 5, I cast [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] for [card]Basilisk Collar[/card] 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 [card]Wall of Reverence[/card] 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.

3-0

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.

4-0

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

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 [card]Eldrazi Monument[/card] in his hand. If I did I would've definitely brought in the second Qasali Pridemage.

I mulligan into a hand of [card]Sunpetal Grove[/card], [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], [card]Noble Hierarch[/card], [card]Cunning Sparkmage[/card], [card]Oblivion Ring[/card], [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card]. 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.

4-1

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

We sat next to each other the previous round and I noticed a [card]Master of the Wild Hunt[/card] 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 [card]Narcolepsy[/card] on an early Birds of Paradise to slow me down, then another on Knight of the Reliquary. I end up wasting my [card]Sejiri Steppe[/card] on a [card]Master of the Wild Hunt[/card] activation targeting my [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]. 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 [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] and tap my [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] during my upkeep to generate enough mana to activate [card]Stirring Wildwood[/card] and [card]Raging Ravine[/card] 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 [card]Fog[/card]s. After a quick discussion conclude that he couldn't reasonably side in either with comprimising the engine of his deck. I imagine the [card]Fog[/card]s have their uses somehow, but they feel so loose to me. Perhaps [card]Unsummon[/card] instead could buy enough time to get things rolling.

5-1

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.

5-1-1

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

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 [card]Eldrazi Monument[/card] 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 [card]The Abyss[/card] for only him.

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

I briefly consider siding in [card]Wall of Reverence[/card] since it's pretty good at outracing [card]Eldrazi Monument[/card].

Game 2 he mulligans to 6 and plays [card]Lotus Cobra[/card] off of two Forests, while I have a great draw of [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] into [card]Cunning Sparkmage[/card]. 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 [card]Lotus Cobra[/card] 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 [card]Arid Mesa[/card] so he has a higher chance of drawing Plains. By the time he gets to four lands to [card]Day of Judgment[/card], he's at 3 and I have a lethal [card]Stirring Wildwood[/card] in play.

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

I have a good start with turn 1 and 2 Noble Hierarchs, and then I have to choose between a turn 3 [card]Manabarbs[/card] or Bloodbraid Elf to attack into his turn 2 Wall of Omens. I opt for the Manabarbs and he [card]Day of Judgment[/card]s 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