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Domri Naya Primer

I’m preparing for my U.S. tour this month, where I’ll be attending GP Houston, GP Las Vegas (which will be my Modern Masters prerelease) and GP Miami. Along with several 2-2s and some 1-3s in DGR Sealed Dailies, I am playing a good amount of Standard to prepare for Miami, and Naya is the only reason I’m not completely broke on MTGO.

Recently, I wrote an article about how I came to the Naya list I used to Top 8 at GP Guadalajara last month. Since then, several people have asked for an updated list, sideboard guide, “on-demand” lists, or just general advice on how to play the deck against the most popular matchups.

Naya is still a great choice for the upcoming Standard GP and the remainder of the PTQ season. It is a deck that naturally preys on aggro (not Bant Hexproof, though, which is bad) and stumbles against control decks. Against midrange, the matchup is pretty much even and highly depends on how you build your own version. The core cards are:

4 [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card]
4 [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card]
3-4 [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card]
3-4 [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]
4 [card]Domri Rade[/card]
4 [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card]

I would always play 24 lands in this deck, and the mana base will be something like:

12 Shocklands
~9-10 M10 lands
1-2 Basic Lands
0 [card]Cavern of Souls[/card]
1 Utility land (either [card]Gavony Township[/card] or [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card])

I think you need at least 14 sources of white and red, and at least 15 green. As for basics, one should be a Forest to increase the chance of a first turn Pilgrim, even though it is awkward with [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]. The other land, if you want two basics, is up for debate. A Mountain turns on [card]Flinthoof Boar[/card], another Forest increases the first turn plays, and a Plains doesn’t add much.

Some use [card]Cavern of Souls[/card], but I don’t approve. It will not make your control matchup better (the problems are the sweepers and [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], not counterspells), creatures in your deck don’t really share types, and it doesn’t allow your M10 lands to come into play untapped.

For the last 16-18 slots, you will need some removal (4-5), and some creatures to fill the curve.

The best card in this deck by far is [card]Domri Rade[/card], and to maximize its potential, you need to play as many creatures as you can, which means you can’t have many slots dedicated to removal. Since you don’t have a lot of room here, you need some really versatile removal spells.

[card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] is the best option and for a long time they used to be a four-of. This card is amazing, since it kills pretty much everything early on, and is a one-sided wrath in the late game. It doesn’t kill [card]Angel of Serenity[/card], the only creature that really mattered that passes the Mortar test. But times have changed. Nowadays, UWR/Esper decks barely play creatures and Mortars are usually dead. Junk pretty much ignores it since you can’t kill anything profitably, and by the time you can overload it, you’ve already won or lost.

Some people like [card]Bonfire of the Damned[/card] here, and even though it is really good against Junk I don’t think it’s the best option. Killing a creature on turn two is vital against the super aggressive decks, and having your spot removal at two mana is really important. Aside from Junk or when you miracle Bonfire, Mortars will be better 90% of the time.

Enter [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]. This card does all you need. It kills everything bigger than your own creatures, including bloodrushed targets, it is turn two blocker against fast aggro, it can save creatures from burn spells, and sometimes even trample for the final points of damage. Right now, I think a mix of [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] and [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] is the way to go in the main deck.

For the last creatures, I don’t think anyone should play more than four creatures costing 4—remember you’re still running four [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card]s to top off the curve. The best options are:

[draft]Restoration Angel
Huntmaster of the Fells
Sublime Archangel
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Advent of the Wurm[/draft]

[card]Advent of the Wurm[/card], while amazing, doesn’t interact well with Domri. I can see Rampagers in a more dedicated aggro build, but this deck is not my focus here today. I raised my eyebrows when someone suggested [card]Sublime Archangel[/card] at GP Guadalajara. I totally dismissed it at first, since having a lot of creatures in play isn’t typical, and it looks bad against both aggro and control decks, but I can see some merits vs. Junk to steal games from nowhere, especially if you are playing with [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]s or [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card]s.

[card]Restoration Angel[/card] is good against pretty much everything, but not amazing without enters-the-battlefield effects to abuse. [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card] is great against aggressive builds and isn’t embarrassing in any matchup. Even though I think [card]Restoration Angel[/card]s are better overall when you compare these two, Angels become even better when you have some Huntmasters in the mix. I used to be all-in on Angels, but now it’s time for a split between Angels and Werewolves.

As for the last creature slots, you need some creatures that helps your game plan (being aggressive vs. control and becoming control vs. aggro). Keeping the curve stable is even more important, so no more creatures with CMC 3 or more. That said, these are all the best options to fill the remaining slots:

[draft]Arbor Elf
Experiment One
Dryad Militant
Flinthoof Boar
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Burning-Tree Emissary
Gyre Sage
Call of the Conclave[/draft]

In the last six months, I tried all these cards at least a little. Emissary was great once, but unless you want to be very aggressive, I’d keep him out. [card]Gyre Sage[/card], or Gyre ‘Goyf, is frequently called a mana guy. He is not. Don’t ever consider cutting a mana dork for a Gyre Sage in the “mana creature slot.” He is an amazing, cost-efficient creature, and pretty devastating on turn two vs. aggro. The downside is that he is a pretty miserable topdeck against control at any time—you need to evolve him but, at the same time, can’t overextend to get caught by [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. See the problem?

[card]Dryad Militant[/card] is a good aggressor with a relevant upside against all these [card]Unburial Rite[/card]s, [card]Think Twice[/card]s, etc. It is bad at defending, and since the current field is flooded with aggro decks, it is not time for the little Dryad now.

[card]Llanowar Elves[/card] would definitely see play in this deck as mana dorks 5-6. Unfortunately, their cousin from the Arbor isn’t that good without a lot of Forests. If the 2 basic lands you are using are Forests, I can see playing this guy.

[card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card] is good at blocking and against control—a devastating start when you are on the play. Her ability will not hurt you much, and right now she definitely has a slot in the 75 final cards.

[card]Flinthoof Boar[/card] is very good both in defense and attacking. His downside is the necessity of a Mountain to upgrade him. [card]Call of the Conclave[/card] has the same problems as [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card]—I really wanted a [card]Watchwolf[/card] reprint in DGM.

[card]Experiment One[/card] is a fine early game blocker that also give you more resilience to sweepers. It is still a mediocre topdeck, but it is amazing when played in the early turns. It has synergy with [card]Gavony Township[/card] as an extra advantage.

Building a sideboard is tough, because this deck can go aggressive or control depending on the matchup, and sometimes you play both roles in the same match, switching even during the course of a single game. So, to try covering all bases, I prefer to build a sideboard with versatile cards that can help a bit in several matchups than a very specific hate card that trumps only one.

Aggro decks are generally your best matchup, so you don’t need much here. My advice here is to lower your curve and have more cheap spot removals. Considering the current state of Standard, the best cheap removal out of the sideboard is [card]Pillar of Flame[/card]. I see some people playing with [card]Searing Spear[/card], but besides [card]Hellrider[/card], I don’t see any reason to play it. 1 mana is huge when they are blitzing you. Exiling Voices and undying creatures is a nice bonus. [card]Unflinching Courage[/card] is an amazing addition, considering how big your creatures are against the red-based removal. Cloaking a Boar of even Voice on turn three usually wins you the game unless they have the nut nut draw.

I consider midrange a good matchup too. Your combination of Dragons, card advantage from Domri, and a fast start usually are too much for them to handle. Your late game is worse, but against Jund, for example, Olivia is the only card that really matters, so the strategy here is to bring extra removal for her and more resilient threats. Thalia also gives headaches to [card]Farseek[/card] decks.

Junk Rites may look like a midrange-y deck, but it is a totally different animal. The combination of graveyard manipulation, mana dorks accelerating [card]Thragtusk[/card]s, [card]Angels of Serenity[/card], and [card]Acidic Slime[/card]s is really hard to handle. Game one is fine if you have a fast start and can slow them down a little bit with Domri fights on their Elves. Mulligan for it, as trying to grind a Junk deck rarely works. They will eventually start landing [card]Thragtusk[/card]s, but you can race those with your Dragons. The real problem is [card]Angel of Serenity[/card]. It is generally correct to save your [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]s for it, and sandbag a Dragon for the final points of damage after the Angel lands. After sideboard, things get worse since they bring in some removal and remove some clunky cards.

In Guadalajara, I went 1-3 against Junk. Though my games were incredibly close, I was always a turn late or losing with my opponent stabilizing the game on a low life total, leaving me only Hellkites as outs. So I need something that helps me attack their mana, keep the clock, and deal the final points of damage. At the same time, I wanted these cards to be versatile so they would help me in other matchups as well.

After a couple days grinding 8-man queues, I found the solution that provided my first positive win rate versus Junk: [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card] + [card]Bonfire of the Damned[/card]. Remember when I said I was a turn late? Thalia gives you one turn or two. What about the last points of damage? Bonfire provides that, and also gives you some Time Walks by killing their mana dorks.

It’s also good to have specific graveyard hate for some free wins (and also helps against the 4c reanimator without mana creatures). For this slot, I like [card]Rest in Peace[/card] since it is also very good against all the Aristocrats builds, particularly the Junk variant. The best graveyard hate against Junk Rites, however, is [card]Purify the Grave[/card], which can provide big blowouts, but maybe it is too narrow.

Control is your worst matchup and, considering how few you see nowadays, I would personally just ignore it and save some sideboard slots. The best card here is [card]Boros Charm[/card]s. If you want some more versatile choices, I’d go with [card]Assemble the Legion[/card] or planeswalkers. [card]Assemble the Legion[/card] is a bit worse now with [card]Renounce the Guilds[/card], and planeswalkers got better now that control decks aren’t playing many creatures anymore, but I still stand on the Legion’s side. [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]s are good to protect your big threats from [card]Detention Sphere[/card]. [card]Ray of Revelation[/card] does a good job here, and helps you fight Bant Hexproof.

With all these in mind, my recommended list for an unknown meta (or something like MTGO’s) is:

[deck]Main Deck
3 Clifftop Retreat
2 Forest
1 Gavony Township
3 Rootbound Crag
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
3 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
1 Arbor Elf
2 Experiment One
2 Flinthoof Boar
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Boros Reckoner
2 Loxodon Smiter
2 Restoration Angel
2 Huntmaster of the Fells
4 Thundermaw Hellkite
2 Mizzium Mortars
2 Selesnya Charm
4 Domri Rade
Sideboard
2 Assemble the Legion
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Pillar of Flame
1 Rest in Peace
2 Unflinching Courage
3 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Purify the Grave
1 Ray of Revelation[/deck]

I really wanted another mana Elf, and since the only option was [card]Arbor Elf[/card], so be it. I started with 9 Forests but quickly upped it to 10. I need to cut a 3-drop, and adding a second basic Forest made me think for a while about cutting a [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]. In the end, I stuck with four since he is way stronger than [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card], and 21 lands plus the 4 Pilgrims should be enough to cast them, but I understand if anyone chooses to play with fewer Reckoners and more Smiters.

I already explained why I like [card]Experiment One[/card] so much in this deck, and for the mana curve’s sake I think two is the right number here.

I wanted two [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card]s in my 75, and since they really shine when you are on the play, I’m keeping one main and one on the sideboard. I would play two in the sideboard and three Boars main, but unfortunately I’m limited by the 15-card cap.

As I said, I think [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card] is good in a heavy-aggro environment and they add value to your Angels, so right now I’m happy with the 2-2 split.

I don’t like more than one [card]Rest in Peace[/card] in the sideboard. Drawing two is extremely awkward and I want to be proactive in the Junk Rites matchup. I wouldn’t even use it if they weren’t so good against Junk. When building this sideboard, I have one “specific hate slot” available. I chose [card]Purify the Grave[/card] as I can’t stand losing to Junk and want an extra punch there, but in this slot you can have something against Bant Hexproof (an extra [card]Ray of Revelation[/card], or even [card]Glaring Spotlight[/card]), something against control ([card]Boros Charm[/card] or a planeswalker), something against midrange (a planeswalker or [card]Aurelia, the Warleader[/card]), or simply a catchall answer like [card]Oblivion Ring[/card].

I typically don’t give sideboarding guides for a versatile deck like this one. There are a plethora of different builds of each of the major archetypes, and your opponents won’t all sideboard against you the same way, so why would you always sideboard the same way versus some deck?  Another thing to keep in mind is try to read the playstyle of your opponent. As weird as it may sound, some people are very tight playing aggro decks and some control players try to close games as fast as possible. This is not wrong by any means, but for example if you know that you aggro opponent never respects when you have four untapped lands on his turn, or if you know your control opponent loves bluffing counters on early turns, you can play and sideboard differently.

But, as I know the most-asked question is how to sideboard, here are some guidelines against popular matchups, assuming it is the most popular version of the deck and an unknown opponent.

Vs. Junk Rites

Add

[draft]1 Rest in Peace
3 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Thalia, guardian of thraben
1 Purify the Grave[/draft]

Remove

[draft]2 Mizzium Mortars
1 Experiment One
3 Voice of Resurgence[/draft]

You need to keep a reasonable number of creatures to make sure your Domri operates properly and to pressure them. This is the only matchup in which [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card] is bad, and they are even more embarrassing when you have an RIP out. If you know that they will not keep [card]Acidic Slime[/card]s (which I doubt), bring [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]s in. If you know they will have voices, you may want to bring the Pillars.

Vs. Jund

Add

[draft]2 Assemble the Legion
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Bonfire of the Damned[/draft]

Remove

[draft]1 Arbor Elf
2 Experiment One
2 Flinthoof Boar
2 Huntmaster of the Fells[/draft]

You are fine playing a grindy game here as soon as there is no [card]Olivia Voldaren[/card] on the opposite side. The way I sideboard, I minimize the number of dead topdecks I have in the late game. I understand some people that take out some Voices, but I like them for extra resilience against sweepers and Liliana.

Vs. Red-Based Aggro

Add

[draft]1 Oblivion Ring
2 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Unflinching Courage[/draft]

Remove

[draft]4 Thundermaw Hellkite
2 Domri Rade
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/draft]

The only thing set in stone here is taking out the Dragons, since they are too slow and will blow you out if they pack [card]Act of Treason[/card]. Domri is bad when you draw him in multiples, because you pretty much only want to fight, and the second one will be stuck in hand for at least one more turn.

Thalia is a good blocker, but she can backfire on you since now you are more controlling with a lot of removal. But, if you are playing against the mono-red version with [card]Legion Loyalist[/card], she is better than [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]. [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] comes to fight opposing Reckoners and [card]Volcanic Strength[/card], so you can board an extra one if you know you will face several of these cards, or none if you know they don’t have them. Bonfire can be bad against some versions (like “big” red) and really good against versions with several X/1 dudes, so feel free to add/remove some accordingly.

Vs. Supreme Verdict Decks

Add

[draft]2 Assemble the Legion
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Ray of Revelation
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/draft]

Remove

[draft]2 mizzium Mortars
1 Arbor Elf
2 Selesnya Charm
1 Boros Reckoner[/draft]

Sideboarding against control really depends of the version they are playing. You will keep Mortars if they have some good targets for it. You can board out all the [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]s against Esper. You want to keep [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]s if you know they have targets for it, namely [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] and [card]Thragtusk[/card]. You will not board in [card]Ray of Revelation[/card] if they don’t have [card]Detention Sphere[/card]s, you can even board in some Bonfires if they have [card]Lingering Souls[/card]. The options are infinite and there’s a chance you will never sideboard the way I showed, so trust your instincts and try to anticipate what they are bringing in to fight you.

Vs. Aristocrats

Add

[draft]3 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Rest in Peace[/draft]

Remove

[draft]2 Selesnya Charm
2 Experiment One
1 Thalia, guardian of thraben
1 Flinthoof Boar[/draft]

Again, there are several versions of this deck. If you know they will bring big creatures, or you are playing against the original version (RBW with Humans), keep Charms in. I didn’t play enough games against the new Junk version of Aristocrats, so I’m not sure how good the Pillars are since they have a lot of sacrifice outlets. Maybe with a couple more games under my belt I will have a final answer. Against the Act 2 version with Blasphemous Act and a lot more spells, Thalia and Experiment One are a lot better and should be in.

More important than a sideboard guide, you need to keep three things in mind when sideboarding:

1 – Don’t sideboard so much that your deck will lose its identity.
2 – Keep a smooth mana curve—taking out all 2-drops for 5-drops isn’t good.
3 – Know what game you want to play and sideboard accordingly. You want to end the game ASAP? Are you the control deck? You want to play a grindy game?

Naya quick FAQ:

1 – Do you like the slower/midrange version of Naya?

No, if you want to play eight cards costing four, you will probably want [card]Farseek[/card]s; and if you have [card]Farseek[/card]s, [card]Domri Rade[/card] is a lot worse. If you want to spend your first three turns fixing mana and killing creatures, Jund will fit your style better.

2 – What about the faster Naya build?

I still don’t know how the mana works in a deck with [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card] and [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]s. I consider this deck more inconsistent than Naya Blitz and a lot slower. Sure, you have some late game gas but if you want to play an aggressive deck, RG or even Naya blitz are better options.

3 – My area has a lot of control and Junk, what should I do?

Don’t play this deck. In all seriousness, you will be better served with a more aggressive build.

4 – Why so many one- and two-ofs?

I usually build 75-card decks instead of 60. With that in mind, I want the best possible set of 60 cards against most matchups so I need some versatile cards with similar functions. That’s one of the reasons there are some odd numbers in the main deck. Some cards are there to free up sideboard slots while others are to improve a specific matchup where you don’t have many options after sideboard.

Bonus Section: M14

It may sound like a bold statement, but I think this will be the best deck after M14 release. You get an amazing 2-drop, [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card], that conveniently fights Reanimator, and a good and reliable mana creature (Elvish Mystic). The planeswalker rule is also great for Domri, as it removes his big weakness.

Well, nothing is perfect, and [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] will rotate out in October, since they chose to replace it with another probably unplayable mythic Dragon. At least we will have 3 more months with it.

It is still too early to say, but unless something really unexpected happens, I will be sleeving up this deck for both the WMC and PC in early August.

Thanks for reading.

Willy Edel

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