Let me start off by listing the deck that I registered for SCG LA.
Naya Midrange by David Moline
This deck started out as my Naya Tokens deck that I took to a 9th place finish at SCG LA in 2014. I loved this deck and due to unfortunate breakers somehow missed top 8 at 8-1-1. Such is life. Once Khans pushed RTR out of standard this deck lost a lot of its luster with Domri Rade, Voice of Resurgence, Mizzium Mortars, and Scion of Vitu-Ghazi gone. Sometime later I found myself realizing that Hordeling Outburst and Rabblemaster were great with Purphoros. That led me to putting Wingmate Roc in place of Scion and I filled it out with a little bit of Mastery of the Unseen and Dictate of Heliod and the deck felt great.
Then B/G Devotion came along and the deck was just cold to it. This led me to try and find builds that were more resilient to Doomwake and Ugin. Eventually Whisperwood Elemental came along and brightened my day. With B/G not being very popular I still think the tokens route is a strong strategy as well and welcome you to try it and let me know how it performs for you.
I landed on this list maybe 2 weeks before SCG LA and due to a very busy schedule with work, kids, and projects I wasn’t able to test it nearly as much as I wanted. I did get to run it at an FNM but due to the way things happened I only got 2 real matches in against decks I was expecting to see. This did lead to a few changes but they were marginal. This deck is very much a midrange deck that has the ability to switch modes very easily from aggressive into controlling (a strategy that I am very fond of). It’s difficult to describe but many times after game one my opponents would sideboard expecting R/G monsters or a token strategy and face a much different deck game two that they were ill prepared for. I will do a brief summary of the tournament and how each match went and offer some insight into how the decks interact and what I feel was good, bad, or awkward in the match ups.
Round 1 Jeskai Aggro against Thomas: Game one was back and forth but I was able to ramp out into some big creatures and put him on the back foot and closed out the game with Xenagos. Game two I had Glares for his two Mantis Riders and he got stuck on three mana and I closed out the game pretty quickly. I played this match up three times during the tourney and won all three. It feels close but if you are on the play I feel very good about the chance of winning.
Round 2 Abzan Midrange: Game one I was able to get my engine up and running quickly and killed him quickly. Game two was interactive. He got me down to 8 life before I stabilized and he conceded at 18 life to the board state. This feels like a very advantageous match up with Naya’s threats being difficult to handle and matching up very well with what they are doing.
Round 3 U/B Control against Tim: Game one I didn’t have much acceleration and he countered my early threats and took over. Game two I got to remove the fluff and add difficult threats and killed him very quickly with Shamans and Xenagos. Game three was the same as game two having threats that got around his board wipes. He conceded with a full grip of cards not having enough answers. This feels like a favorable match up. This deck puts them in difficult positions and they often can’t answer all the threats in time.
Round 4 Jeskai Tokens against Gaston: This was my first and only loss day one. Game one was interactive and he was able to do a lot of damage and kill me the turn before I started to get my engine going. Game two was less interactive and I died fairly quickly to a very good draw from my opponent.
Round 5 Mono Red against Adrian: Luckily I won the roll and had the type of hand you want to see against mono red with acceleration into fat like Polukranos and Whisperwood Elemental. Even with that I killed him with only 4 life left. Game two he drew too much land and I killed him at a healthy life total. Very dependent on who goes first but if you have early Courser, that’s a great start as they have to expend quite a bit of resources to remove it.
Round 6 R/W Aggro against Dominic: This was my first encounter with R/W and game one was rough but I was able to stick a Polukranos and a Xenagos and put him away after a couple turns. Game two he got mana screwed or flooded. I can’t remember but I killed him at 27 life on the draw. R/W feels like the most difficult match up and I made changes to the board to shore it up. It is certainly winnable and I don’t think it’s unfavorable but the person on the play has a large advantage.
Round 7 G/R devotion against Samuel: Game one was very similar to game one of my semifinal match. I ended up killing him with Purphoros triggers behind an obscene wall of creatures and a very healthy life total. Game two he ramped out quickly and killed me. Game three I set up early and took out a couple early mana dorks and put him on the defensive and never let him land anything big. I won with 26 life. I feel like this is a favorable match up especially with the changes in the board. They really only can win on the play with a fast start in my experience.
Round 8 Sultai Control against Eddie: Both games were me landing early Whisperwood Elementals backed up by a Xenagos and he just couldn’t keep up. I won both games at 19 life with the only life I lost coming from fetches. This match up feels very favorable with their only real threat being an early Ashiok followed by a board wipe.
Round 9 Jeskai Aggro against Luis: I won game one at 4 life and it was a timely Arbor Colossus that allowed me to win. Round two was also back and forth but I drew my sideboard cards and killed his fliers that were putting me under pressure and closed out the game shortly after that with him not drawing the burn he needed.
I ended day one at 8-1 in 9th place overall and was very happy with my deck and my chances for making top 8. My friends and I (Brian also making day two) decided to celebrate and get some food before getting a good night’s sleep. That sadly wasn’t in the cards for me as I got incredibly sick and ended up getting maybe two hours of sleep in total. Luckily I felt quite a bit better in the morning and was able to drink some energy drinks and gear up for the second half of the tourney. I arrived at the hall worried about how my exhaustion was going to affect my chances but remained determined to succeed.
Round 10 Jeskai Aggro against Michael: I do remember in this match he would have killed me had I not hit an elf off of a Mastery of the Unseen manifestation and flipped it with my one remaining mana. I killed him on the crack back at 2 life. Game two he got stuck on mana (not having a blue source) and I killed him quickly.
Round 11 Abzan Mid against Qian: I won both games at 18 life. Abzan only has a chance if they can take care of Whisperwood without it gaining too much value. This match up felt very heavily in my favor and I wish I would have played it more during the tournament.
Round 12 Mono Red against Nic: This was a very close 3 game match with me making a mistake that cost me game two (I can’t remember the specifics but I feel it had something to do with how I sequenced my spells).
Round 13 Jeskai Aggro against Joey: This match I lost the draw and got punished by a very explosive start from my opponent. Luckily the next two games went my way and I won both at a healthy 19 life. Game two was the opposite with me putting him under early pressure that he couldn’t get out from under. Game three I hit two Coursers that brick walled his team and gained me quite a bit of life and I took over shortly after.
Round 14 U/W Heroic against Nick [VIDEO] I punted game one hard and lost quickly game two. This feels like a rough match up but winnable and should be better with the changes to the board but probably still very rough. This deck will probably fall out of favor with how prominent R/W is and how miserable that match up is for them.
Round 15 R/W aggro against Chad White: This was the opposite of our finals match with him beating me game 1 and me coming back and taking games 2 and 3. I feel like the R/W match up is a close one and it just comes down to the texture of each other’s draws.
Quarterfinals Mono Red: I was able to go first which was a huge advantage and took game one quickly. Game two after a misplay by my opponent, I put myself in a winning position but he was able to top deck Wild Slash to kill me exactly. Game three was a similar game to our first and I put him on the defensive early and he drew quite a few lands.
Semifinals G/R Devotion against William Miller [VIDEO] This was a fun match and if you like crazy games of magic do yourself a favor and watch the video.
Finals R/W Aggro against Chad White [VIDEO] Sadly the reverse happened and I took game one fairly soundly and he took games two and three. Game three I flooded out hard and I felt I kept a fine hand and just needed to draw into some gas and that just never happened.
It was a sad way to end the tourney getting flooded out and not really interacting with my opponent but all things considered I was elated to have made it that far and it definitely re-motivated me to succeed at higher levels and pursue qualifying for the PT or SCG Player’s Championship.
I did decide to change some things about the deck to give it a better chance against the decks that seemed to be able to go under it. I replaced the pair of Shaman of the Great Hunt for a couple of Temur Sabertooth as this makes your creatures harder to kill and roadblocks anything on the ground while also giving the ability to bounce important spells or even lands that have been manifested and reset utility creatures like Polukranos or Arbor Colossus if needed. It can also just allow you to abuse Purphoros by bouncing an elf or Caryatid over and over.
I also felt like I sideboarded out the Rabblemasters in most games and most decks are very well positioned to deal with a Rabblemaster. I replaced them with 3 Hornet Nest and a third Xenagos, the Reveler. Hornet Nest might seem a little odd but it gives you so much more gas against the problematic decks and a lot of the times you will be able to manifest it and either surprise them or utilize it as a 2/2 in the match ups where its dead (control). It can also interact very well with Purphoros out and you can even monstrous Polukranos and kill it to get in more damage while getting some 1/1 deathtouch hornets in a pinch. So far I am unsure on this change as it makes the U/B match up much harder as you have far more dead cards against them.
The sideboard definitely needed changing. I cut the Shaman and the Nissas for another Mastery of the Unseen and two Nylea’s Disciples. I cut the Reclamation Sage and a Glare of Heresy for two Wild Slash. These are essential to have a better chance against R/W and G/R devotion on the draw. I replaced the Arc Lightnings with Anger of the Gods. This deck is much better at resetting than most and against certain decks this is back breaking and allows you to keep your Coursers, Polukranos, Sabertooth, and Colossus dealing a large amount of damage the same turn.
I really like this deck and feel like it can be better. I will be testing this deck making tweaks here and there and if you have any questions or suggestions feel free to message me or leave a comment. You can find me on Twitter @RagingGumby or you can check out my stream at www.twitch.tv/raginggumby. Hopefully you will have some more articles and videos from me with some more of my decks. I love brewing and almost all of my success at tournaments have been with decks of my own design.