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Valuable Lessons – Naya Hexproof with Journey into Nyx

Welcome back to Valuable Lessons. Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the possibilities for new decks in Standard with Journey into Nyx. Today, we’ll be focusing our attention on one of those decks. Hexproof is a strategy that’s received quite a boost with Journey into Nyx. Last week, we explored GW Hexproof. Today, we’ll be focusing our attention on the more powerful Naya version of the deck.

Let’s start by taking a look at the version of Naya Hexproof that’s been doing well on Magic Online for the last two months:

This main deck has been all but universally adopted by Hexproof players on Magic Online. It’s the same main deck that Jacob Maynard used to Top 8 Grand Prix Cincinnati. Clearly this a strong list, but there are a few obvious things that need to change with the addition of Journey into Nyx.

When writing last week’s column, Bassara Tower Archer hadn’t been officially announced yet. With knowledge of this card, it becomes clear that the Hexproof deck won’t want to go bigger. A two-mana hexproof creature adds an element of strength to the deck that hasn’t been available since before Theros. The casting cost on Bassara Tower Archer may seem a bit prohibitive for a three-color deck, but Mana Confluence solves a lot of the mana issues that used to plague the Naya Hexproof deck.

The addition of Bassara Tower Archer means that we won’t be playing as many Sacred Foundry in our Hexproof deck. Chained to the Rocks was already a bit of a stretch here. Having only eight Mountains in the deck made the card extremely unreliable. Chained to the Rocks will become impossible now that we’re removing some number of Sacred Foundry. Luckily, Banishing Light, while much more expensive, fills a similar role here while helping to alleviate some of the deck’s inconsistency.

We’re adding more creatures, and the ratios of the deck were already pretty good. We don’t want to cut into the deck’s enchantment count so we’re really looking at Fiendslayer Paladin, Selesnya Charm, and Boros Charm as potential cuts. I’ve generally been impressed with Boros Charm as an answer to Supreme Verdict or a finishing blow via double strike or 4 damage. Selesnya Charm and Fiendslayer Paladin look like the most obvious cuts to me. Fiendslayer Paladin was sometimes difficult to cast, had redundant lifelink with Unflinching Courage, and found itself exposed to Detention Sphere (and now Banishing Light)—this seems like an easy cut. Selesnya Charm has been very impressive, but the decks higher creature count means that the card’s versatility won’t be quite as impressive in the new list.

Godsend is pretty strong with hexproof creatures. I’m not sure if the card is better than the second copy of Ajani, Caller of the Pride in this deck, but it’s definitely worth testing it out. I would play two Ajani, Caller of the Pride or one Ajani, Caller of the Pride and one Gift of Orzhova if I were bringing this deck to a tournament this weekend, but I’m definitely going to be trying Godsend here.

Voice of Resurgence is still a great tool for a deck like this. Playing a hexproof deck gives our opponent a number of avenues to set us up for a blowout. Voice of Resurgence closes a lot of those loopholes and lets us play our game on our terms.

Gladecover Scout and Witchstalker aren’t going anywhere. The deck now has twelve creatures with hexproof. We may see Black Devotion strategies move away from Bile Blight and start playing Devour Flesh again. This isn’t something that will happen overnight, but, if Hexproof becomes a real threat, we can expect Devour Flesh to creep back into a lot of main decks, perhaps as a 4-of. We can play around Devour Flesh with Voice of Resurgence, but we won’t always have it. When we suspect Devour Flesh or Celestial Flare we can make sure to tandem creatures and go all-in on one of them.

Unflinching Courage gets decidedly better with Bassara Tower Archer taking the place of Fiendslayer Paladin. So much so that I’d like to find room for a single copy of Gift of Orzhova in the main deck. We won’t be able to first strike our way through things as often when we don’t have the pair of Fiendslayer Paladin and having a way to go into the air seems pretty nice.

Here’s how I think our Naya Hexproof main deck should look with Journey into Nyx.

Naya Hexproof

Sideboarding is always difficult when going into an unknown field. Sure, we know that Black Devotion, Esper Control, White Weenie, and other decks are going to be factors, but it’s hard to quantify what decks will look like.

Sideboarding with the Hexproof deck is one of the bigger skilltesters of playing it. I often see players try to jam six or more cards in their deck for a postboarded game. Sure, we can do that if we’re cutting creatures for creatures or cutting spells for auras, but we can’t just ruin our deck’s whole game plan for the sake of fitting in some cards because they happen to be strong in a particular matchup.

Let’s talk about the sideboard cards we’d like to include in our deck and discuss how we might be able to fit them into the mix for postboarded games.

Cards like Mizzium Mortars and Ajani’s Presence are both great for particular matchups. Ajani’s Presence is a nice upgrade to Mending Touch and Mizzium Mortars is an efficient removal spell for the decks that might want to race us with things like Loxodon Smiter. We can’t bring in more than one of these cards at once and we probably don’t want to be taking out Auras or creatures. Taking out Boros Charm for Ajani’s Presence would be redundant in the matchups where we want to be doing that. Mizzium Mortars is likely much stronger than Ajani, Caller of the Pride in the matchups where we want it, and that means that we can afford to spend those two slots on the card while we wouldn’t want to play more than one copy of Ajani’s Presence.

Skylasher is obviously the perfect way to punish the Blue Devotion deck. Slap a lifelink enchantment on Skylasher and watch it go the distance against a helpless opponent. We can get away with cutting some number of creatures for Skylasher in the Blue Devotion matchup because Skylasher essentially has hexproof there.

Fiendslayer Paladin may not be an ideal maindeck choice anymore, but out of the sideboard this card is still a very fine addition to the strategy. We’ll play against black or black/red opponents and having a card like this as an option is obviously going to be very strong.

Holy Mantle is a card that hasn’t had much traction in the hexproof lists recently. Mantle is still very strong and it combos very well with Unflinching Courage or Gift or Orzhova in the matchups where our opponents won’t have Devour Flesh or Supreme Verdict as options.

Here’s what our deck should look like with a sideboard:

Naya Hexproof
by Jacob Van Lunen

 

Here’s how I would sideboard for the big matchups:

White Weenie

Remove

Add

 

Blue Devotion

Remove

Add

 

Esper Control

Remove

Add

 

Black Devotion

Remove

Add

 

Naya Decks (not hexproof)

Remove

Add

 

Naya Hexproof

Remove

Add

 

Red Burn or Aggro Red

Remove

Add

 

The new Naya Hexproof deck offers a level of consistency that wasn’t available in previous incarnations of the deck. I believe this deck will have a great deal of success in the coming Standard season. We’ll continue working on the sideboard when we revisit the deck in a few weeks, but the main deck seems tight, with only the singleton Gift of Orzhova as a questionable slot.

Be sure to comment with your sideboarding/main deck suggestions and don’t miss next week when we will continue exploring the new Standard format with Journey into Nyx.

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