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Pantheon Deck Tech – Standard Naya Ramp

I arrived in Belgium 10 days before the PT. We rented a very nice place in the middle of nowhere a couple hours away from Brussels and testing with the rest of the Pantheon was a blast as usual.

Unfortunately, we didn’t come close to breaking it or even solving the format even though I thought the team had all-around solid decks. I started off by trying out UB Control, hoping that Anticipate would make the deck more consistent, but it didn’t seem like that was the case, and I (too?) quickly dismissed it . I tried a bunch of other stuff, but all my brews were usually abandoned after just a few games. One card that I really wanted to play a lot of copies of was Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. I also wanted to play with perhaps the most powerful card in the format, Courser of Kruphix.

Pairing white and green with blue wasn’t really an option since it would mean losing horribly to Goblin Rabblemaster decks and my teammates were taking care of tuning Abzan, so I decided to give red a shot. I started off with Xenagos, the Reveler and Polukranos in the 4 slot but they didn’t really fit the plan of the deck and they were eventually replaced by Explosive Vegetation. I spent a few days tuning the deck and felt like it had decent matchups against red, Abzan (midrange and aggro), Jeskai Tokens, and red/green variants. WG Devotion was a bit rough but I was hoping Seismic Rupture maindeck (a card I added on the Thursday before the PT) would help a bit.

One of the things I really liked about the deck is that I got to play with 10 scry lands and 8 fetchlands which makes it very consistent and helps you hit Caryatid on turn 2 and Courser on turn 3 more often.

I thought that we had a lot of solid decks and I pretty much considered playing each and every one of them at some point during testing, but I eventually decided to stick to the deck I had played the most with. Here is what I registered:

I did something I usually hate to do: play a deck that has some really bad matchups. The ramp deck’s blue control matchups are fairly hopeless but I thought the blue control decks were pretty bad (looks like I was wrong) and didn’t even bother testing a single game vs. Andrew Cuneo’s different control decks. I was hoping that the control decks would represent about 10% of the field (which was the case) but after starting off with a 1-2 in draft, I got paired once against UB and once against my teammate Josh Ravitz playing the Soulflayer/Chromanticore deck which is a very bad matchup too. I did get paired against Mono-Red in the three other matches but could only beat two of them.

I think the deck has favorable or even matchups against the rest of the field but could definitely use some more tuning. I thought about adding some blue for cards like Sarkhan Unbroken and Disdainful Stroke the day before the PT but decided to stick to the version I had tested. Even though the new Sarkhan is a great card, I don’t feel like it’s worth stretching the mana base as I already have a lot of powerful tools and I didn’t think having countermagic in my sideboard would really salvage my control matchups. I also felt like Stroke would play out awkwardly against other ramp decks since I want to be tapping out most of the time. A copy of Treasure Cruise in the sideboard would be nice to have against other midrange/control decks and if you want to get fancy, Profaner of the Dead might be an option.

I also feel like I should have taken a more extreme route for my sideboard choices and played the 4th Arbor Colossus as well as more Perilous Vaults (which might actually be pretty good against the control decks). I also considered playing 4 Seismic Rupture maindeck but having tested with mostly 4 Wild Slash/0 Rupture, I didn’t want to deviate too much from what I knew worked.

Here is how I would sideboard against the main archetypes:

Mono-Red

Remove

Add

Abzan Aggro

Remove

Add

UB Control

Remove

Add

Red/Green Dragons

Remove

Add

Abzan Midrange/Control

Remove

Add

In hindsight, I wish I had played Andrew’s UW Control deck (I even considered making an audible when I woke up on Friday morning) and I’m not entirely sure Naya Ramp is tier 1, but it could be a good metagame call if control isn’t too popular. Unfortunately that might not be the case since the Esper Dragon deck seems very good and Shouta and Adrian Sullivan both made Top 8 with UB, but I like the shell of the deck, and I like the fact that you can easily splash for a 4th (or who knows maybe even a 5th) color—having access to Garruk, Apex Predator for opposing Ugins could be interesting. So if you’ve been itching to ramp up into planeswalkers with Explosive Veggies, give the deck a try!

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