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One deck you may have missed from the past couple of weekends is the three-color Green-Red-White Ramp strategy: Naya. Naya scored a Top 32 in France a couple of weeks ago, but was overshadowed by big name Finals and Finishes… You probably don't need me to remind you that Brad Nelson ruined every Golgari Explorer’s life with his main deck Tocatli Honor Guards, Eli Kassis redefined Jeskai with his Azor's Gateways, or that Papa Yellow Hat crashed to the Finals with his Tempest Djinns protected by Dive Down. On the Classic circuit, former US National Champion Ali Aintrazi finally even put Lich's Mastery onto the champion’s podium!

Precious little fanfare for the Naya.

Yet Naya is great!

Here is Sandro Bernabe’s deck, as it was played in France:


I played a few sets with exactly this, to get the feel, before making my inevitable modifications. Regardless of how you ultimately want to end up, the deck has certain advantages and play patterns. Perhaps most important is counting to seven.

3x3x... 3 + 3 + 1 = 7

Grow from the Ashes
I'm not sure what should stick out to you first when you look at this Naya deck. Certainly it plays some cards you don't see so often. What is a Grow From the Ashes again? Oh, that's the Rampant Growth. That is sometimes Explosive Vegetation. Me? I play Thaumatic Compass all the time: Were right old battle companions already.

But what should probably give a wise man pause is all the sevens. I mean this deck has a possibly unhealthy number of sixes; and maybe the only nine in any competitive deck… But that's a lot of sevens across multiple distinct spells, and a fair number of equally distinct pips. ggg rawr.

Star of Extinction is gaining popularity in multiple archetypes, so maybe it's not that unusual… But Pelakka Wurm?

Star, I found, is useful in two ways. It's main attraction is as a Cleansing Nova that also kills Teferi. Good show, man! But don't discount its value as a Stone Rain. I've enjoyed smashing flipped copies of Search for Azcanta - and nothing else - or Legion's Landing (though typically surrounded).

Pro Tip: One of Naya’s favorite punching bags is Golgari. You may be tempted to Stone Rain their Memorial (as they have few of any specialty lands beyond tapping for colors). Just watch it when you do that. If the opponent can sacrifice his Memorial in response, Star of Extinction will “miss” … And you'll lose the sweep effect, not just the Stone Rain one.

As for the Wurm? I actually found this guy to be a great comeback card. You’re down a ton of life, facing off some monster… And all of a sudden you’ve got most of your life total back and the biggest dude on the battlefield. Bigger than Carnage Tyrant, technically. Even if it ends up biting a Ravenous Chupacabra trigger, Pelakka Wurm does a ton to help you get caught up. I was surprised that a card with such an awkward casting cost could be so genuinely meaningful against faster decks. Still… Seven.

So… How do we get to seven?

Circuitous Route
Any Circuitous Route will take you from 4 → 6 mana. When you untap for the next turn you should be able to play any land in your hand untapped (except for the Guildgates). You shouldn't get stuck with Rootbound Crag because Circuitous Route can get you the basic you need to make your dual land fast. This step up is 4 → 6 → 7.

Grow from the Ashes kicks immediately from 5 → 7. There is a secret here, though. The lands enter the battlefield UNtapped! So even when you tap out five, you have sufficient mana to play one of your 2 mana artifacts immediately. Just watch it, though. Thaumatic Compass WILL flip. You might want it to flip (you might, for instance, want a land to power one of the other two 2 mana artifacts you already had in play)... But you might also want to eke out another card despite having already landed a large accelerator. You won't have the opportunity this turn, so you might not want to play the Compass. Just be mindful on this.

The Grow From the AshesThaumatic Compass play does set you up for your 9 mana fatty bang bang next turn, so it is an important specific play pattern to understand.

A final 6/7 acceleration pattern you should know is using The Immortal Sun. You can, say, Route into six, play The Immortal Sun, then play any 2 mana artifact via your next land! Same deal with Compass here.

I have to say the large accelerators really complement one another in this deck, rather than just being redundant to one another.

3x3x2 More Gateways

I said I started with Bernabe’s deck… And then I did the inevitable. That said, the changes that I made were not crazily extensive. This is the main deck that I (mostly) played, and largely what I would recommend for Naya going forward:


Azor's Gateway
The main changes were just to cut Trostani Discordant for some Azor's Gateways and a Fight With Fire. I also shaved one Treasure Map to emphasize Azor's Gateway at two. You can possibly not cut the second Map, or play Banefire instead of Fight With Fire. I don’t think you can really keep the Trostanis, though.

The Bernabe version pre-dated Kassis’s win. The world is now changed. I think we can now get on the same page regarding the Azor's Gateway-into-Banefire game plan. Gateway and Treasure Map used to be somewhat comparable grinding cards. Now we know better. Treasure Map is still a fifth Gateway here, but not equal to Gateway.

“But MichaelJ,” you might interject. “This deck only has one Banefire. Isn’t this whole Azor's Gateway line a bit over-emphasized?”

It might only have one Banefire MAIN deck; yes, that is a true statement assuming you play Fight With Fire. But it also has three copies of March of the Multitudes. Like Kassis’s Expansion // Explosion, March of the Multitudes here is an incremental x-spell that can pay you off for flipping Azor's Gateway.

Besides which, there are extra Banefires in the sideboard.

Trostani Discordant didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me. As a 5-drop threat creature… It left much to be desired. I would have just played some Truefire Captains (more on that later). I mean, the first time out I had to play against a deck with The Eldest Reborn. “I’d really love that un-Control Magic feature,” I thought as he reanimated my Carnage Tyrant.

… But that ability is by far the card’s least iconic. It really doesn’t come up that often, and even when you might need it, you have all those glorious Stars and Novas. This is much less the case for traditional Selesnya decks that get more out of Trostani’s body, and the rest of its text box, than Naya Ramp does.

Azor's Gateway is perfect, appropriate, here in a way it isn’t in other decks. In sketching out the Mono-Red deck that actually won Lille, I thought about replacing the Treasure Maps in that sideboard with Gateways. After all, it is a Banefire sideboard!

But the problem for Mono-Red is that there aren’t diverse enough casting costs. There are 22 lands. There are some small number of ones, twos, and threes; one-and-a-half fours. But actually flipping Azor's Gateway can be tough in Mono-Red. You’ve really got to get one of literally everything.

For Naya, though, there are a ton of interesting casting costs to work from. Ironically you don’t have a lot to pitch at one but Banefire… But like I said, you can pseudo-Banefire them with March of the Multitudes when you’re forced to exile that strategic one-of one; just don’t do that against Jeskai maybe. Naya has plenty of twos (but most importantly any other Azor's Gateway you draw) , and a smattering of everything else from three to nine. Except eight. Zacama, Primal Calamity was a stated payoff for Azor's Gateway when we all first saw it last year; go crazy gaining life, getting all your stuff back, or machine gunning the opponent’s team. In the case you have to exile your lone one-of 9-drop, revel in the fact, at least, that you’re going to annihilate the opponent… It just won’t be so flashy as it would have been with an Elder Dinosaur in play.

As I said, you can potentially play a second Banefire over the one Fight With Fire. Banefire goes better with the Gateways! I played Fight With Fire because I thought it would be more helpful for Azor's Gateway… But maybe another one is more valuable than another three. It often gets sided out for the real thing, though, regardless.

3x3x3 Possible Sideboards

One of the things I like best about Naya is how flexible you can make the sideboard. This deck has the highest reasonable casting costs in Standard, and can gun with some truly fancy stuff. In most decks another 6-drop would just be stuck in your hand. In this deck another 6-drop can help you cast your 7-drop.

Until you’ve heard the words:

Banefire your Teferi for five; make a Carnage Tyrant” you haven’t lived. Clarification: I want you to hear yourself saying those words, ideally not someone else. If you hear someone else doing that you’re probably going to lose.

Here is the first big sideboard I tried with the Naya:

… Because of course it was.

I saw a deck that had Star of Extinction, double checked for the White mana availability, and tried to make it into my strategy from And Now for Something Completely Different.

For those of you who don’t see it yet, if you can cast Star of Extinction with Truefire Captain in play, that is usually a win. Sure, the opponent can counter your Star of Extinction or remove your Captain, but dealing 20 to the Captain means dealing 20 to the opponent. You can just cast one into the other over multiple turns, ramp into eleven, or cast Star six-into-seven with Sunbird's Invocation on the battlefield; this last one rolls the dice to find and deploy aTruefire Captain with the Star on the stack.

Not surprisingly, this sideboard version was exciting. What it wasn’t was good. I got a lot of good Sunbird's Invocation two-for-ones, but never actually set up the 20-point instant kill.

That being the case, Truefire Captain couldn’t ultimately justify its heavy, dedicated, presence in this sideboard. I think my best game with them was just drawing several and casting them, attacking for four, then eight, then twelve. But even as a “creature” creature, the Captain is clunky. rrww is a tough cast for a deck with multiple basic Forests.

I decided I’d rather just have a lot of Knight of Autumn, for their flexibility and overall value against Mono-Red. This is what I’m sideboarding now:

Like I said, I just wanted more Knight of Autumn to speed bump against Mono-Red.

Knights also have some random utility against certain Boros builds who have a small number of Oblivion Ring effects spread across a large number of devastating permanents. This can be especially devastating in cases where they exiled a permanent with a rad immediate ability, like another Knight… or Pelakka Wurm.

I haven’t gone all the way this direction yet, but there is an even more extreme sideboard strategy you can go with. Naya can just have everybody. I’m a little underindexed for Izzet Arclight sideboard cards. But there are tons available!

This is what I might mean:

This version has fewer Knight of Autumn, but you get some anti-beatdown with all the 2 mana removal cards. They’re worse against Mono-Red’s already-effective / fast creatures… But Seal Away and Lava Coil are so much better against Arclight Phoenix! There are good and bad things about this strategy. The good: You can plausibly exile every Arclight Phoenix the opponent plays, with some Lava Coil action for their Crackling Drakes to boot. The bad: They’re usually still up cards anyway. Arclight if usually free (and gets in) while Drake draws a card. So even if you’re cutting them off where they actually want to go, you need them to be whiffing on air a bunch to make up for the fact that you’re constantly behind in actual cardboard. Luckily their deck is a lot of air.

This sideboard would be full-on okay, especially if you’re expecting a lot of Jeskai. The ability to go to 3+ Banefires and 4 Carnage Tyrants with our four main deck Gateways puts you in the driver’s seat there. The sideboard isn’t the most flexible, but lots of the cards are just good, and that can go a long way.

You don’t have much for Golgari, but the main deck is very, very, far ahead in that matchup. Your Clarions get some cheap pot shot card advantage in. You know, in that “I know this isn’t supposed to count as card advantage but while we agree on that point please still bury three of your 187 guys” way. You’re just buying time to all your heavy hitters. Two-for-one acceleration. Other two-for-one acceleration. Kick, wham, two-for-one (however many for one) Star. Cheap thrills, you know? The best thing there is The Immortal Sun. Some Golgari builds can’t remove an artifact but for Vivien Reid; meaning they can’t remove The Immortal Sun at all.

Standard is super cool right now.

There is a Modern-esque deck that plays free, hasty, threats while constantly maintaining 4+ cards in hand, an uber consistent middle deck with endless value, and, surprisingly viable: A clunky stack of expensive spells that mangles its lessers by resolving an honest to God 9-drop. Rawr.

LOVE

MIKE