Today’s deck made the Top 8 of an Invitational Qualifier, showing that it has the chops to compete. It definitely has some cool things going for it—and some things I dislike. Let’s go over both aspects.

Powerful creatures paired with planeswalkers and sweepers is a tried and true strategy. Gideon of the Trials is a fantastic planeswalker that comes down early and can help take over. It shuts down a threat, forces opponents to overcommit onto the board and walk into a sweeper. Gideon can emblem to force your opponent to find an answer (this can actually be huge against Approach of the Second Sun), and can even get aggressive for big chunks of damage.

Nissa, Vital Force does serious work in a midrange deck. Plan A is to tick up Nissa to protect herself so you can quickly go ultimate. From there, each land results in extra cards and more lands. Nissa also has the same upside as Gideon in the ability to get aggressive when the time is right. Combining a sweeper with these high loyalty planeswalkers that can also create an attack force is brutal, and returning permanents from your graveyard gives you access to more planeswalkers.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance is an incredible card. That said, it’s the only red card in this main deck. It also happens to be a double-red card you want to cast on turn 4. Chandra takes over games by killing a creature, generating a large amount of card advantage and damage, and an ultimate that closes out the game in a hurry. Finding a way to reliably cast Chandra is a challenge, so some changes will have to be made to make that happen.

Settle the Wreckage plays well with a deck full of planeswalkers. It’s a little awkward with Gideon of the Trials due to the fact that the card you tick up on likely won’t be attacking, but keeping creatures from hitting you or your super friends is ideal. A couple of copies of Fumigate makes sure to really punish opponents who look to go wide against your planeswalkers.

Getting some early pressure on the opponent is always nice, and you want to make sure your opponent is on the back foot dealing with your permanents while your planeswalkers generate advantage. Glory-Bound Initiate hits hard and gains a ton of life, making it a formidable threat.

Walking Ballista has no synergies with anything else in the deck, but it can hold the fort and act as a late-game mana sink. It’s a powerhouse against Mono-Red and Rakdos Aggro, picking off their small creatures to control the board.

This deck does some nice work with Heart of Kiran. You have planeswalkers to help crew it, and a plethora of other 3-power creatures when needed. Like your planeswalkers, Vehicles pair well with sweepers like Fumigate. You can sweep the board, turn Gideon into a creature, have Nissa animate a land, and then tick down a planeswalker to turn the Heart on to attack for 13 after your opponent loses all of their creatures!

Rhonas the Indomitable is hard for midrange decks to deal with and works nicley with cards like Heart of Kiran. You don’t have a ton of 4-power creatures, but a God that survives sweepers and plays well with your cards is a beating.

Prowling Serpopard makes decks with countermagic feel silly. Turning on Rhonas, crewing Heart, and protecting some of your big spells from blue interaction are all awesome, and a 4-power creature for 3 mana can present an intimidating clock.

Blossoming Defense protects your creatures from spot removal, helps win combat, and can turn a Rhonas on to start attacking alongside Glory-Bound Initiate. That said, it does feel out of place in a deck with a bunch of planeswalkers and indestructible creatures.

The mana feels like a total mess. You have 4 basics to go with 4 Evolving Wilds and then a ton of lands that could potentially come into play tapped if your draw doesn’t line up perfectly. Then you have 4 Aether Hubs with zero other ways to produce energy despite playing double-green and double-white 3-drops, and your only red card being a double-red 4-drop.

Instead, you can make some small changes to capitalize on the power of energy. Attune with Aether can’t completely replace lands, but you can shave a couple while adding 4 Attunes. This makes your Hubs better, allows you to draw more basics, and help Sunpetal Groves and Rootbound Crags to enter untapped. Blossoming Defense is underwhelming here, so you can move to Harnessed Lightning as early interaction at instant speed to help your planeswalkers survive and buff your energy.

Naya Midrange has some great things going for it. Planeswalkers and interaction create a potent combination in a land of aggro and midrange!

Naya Midrange

Mihai Iacob, Top 8 at an Invitational Qualifier