Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing you the Kaldheim evolution of Gruul Adventures, Naya Adventures. With the introduction of Showdown of the Skalds, a card I thought was seriously underappreciated in the spoiler season, Adventures has it’s Escape to the Wilds back and it couldn’t be happier. I was first introduced to the deck by fellow streamer and nicest man alive, MythicMatt, who brought this version of the deck to the Streamer League Finals.
I really like this as it’s nothing out of the box, it just makes sense. The deck liked Escape so much that having a light splash for a very similar effect just seems logical. With that, Showdown gives the deck significantly more grinding power, something Gruul didn’t really have an issue with before, but now we transformed an efficient aggro deck into an extremely scary midrange monster. I tried some matches with MythicMatt’s list first, then after I got my feet wet, tuned it up a bit. Let’s see where I ended up.
Like a lot of my lists, the base stays the same and it’s generally a few cards different in the main deck and a revamped sideboard. Let’s discuss card choices.
4 Kazandu Mammoth
4 Edgewall Innkeeper
Gruul didn’t have that many adventure creatures and Edgewall was still great there. In this list, we’re playing a staggering 16 to make Edgewall go from great to amazing.
4 Giant Killer
Everyone knows how much I love Giant Killer, and it looks really good right now as well. Giant Killer is removal for large creatures, a cheap Adventure creature for Edgewall, as well as a cheap spell to cast off of Showdown of the Skalds. It’s rare you want to main deck Giant Killer, but I think 4 here looks great.
2 Scavenging Ooze
Scavenging Ooze is an interesting 2 drop as it’s rarely not great on turn 2, but shines when it’s drawn much later in the game. It has a lot of utility against decks like Rogues and Rakdos and can grow out of control when a lot of creatures die which makes it a perfect 1-2 of in most green decks.
4 Shepherd of the Flock
Shepherd of the Flock does so many ridiculously good things for Naya. It’s a cheap Adventure creature, it insulates your creatures from removal, it rebuys Adventure creatures to use again, it loops with itself, and it gets back Showdown of the Skalds. Card is just gross in this deck.
4 Bonecrusher Giant
It’s Bonecrusher Giant. Interaction, an Adventure creature, great body, no surprises it’s here.
4 Lovestruck Beast
3 Shatterskull Smashing
This deck doesn’t use too much red unlike Gruul, but having access to this later in the game is great and you can use this as a land in the interim.
I really like the inclusion of a single Embercleave as the deck has a bigger focus on grinding, but you’ll always have an out in a really clogged board. Without the more aggressive elements like Brushfire Elemental, Embercleave isn’t as impressive as well which makes the single copy so smart.
3 The Great Henge
No matter how many new toys Midrange gets, it’s going to be really difficult to match the power of The Great Henge. The card is just so absurd if you get to cast it, we may as well make it the primary game plan.
4 Showdown of the Skalds
The new kid on the block. Draw a bunch of extra cards, grow your guys, and do it all over again with Shepherd of the Flock. Furthermore, once you get to cast a bunch of spells, you get to grow your board as well! This card is just the perfect top end in creature strategies.
1 The Akroan War
The Akroan War won’t always be live, but the card is so ridiculously powerful in creature matchups it’s hard to ignore. Even when it’s not at its best, nearly every deck plays a creature worth stealing for a turn or two.
22 Lands + 4 Kazandu Mammoth +3 Shatterskull Smashing
I added an extra land compared to MythicMatt’s list. Original Gruul and Matt’s list played 28 functional lands, but with 3 colors and a higher curve, 29 functional lands seems way more appropriate and I wouldn’t be surprised if the deck goes up to 30.
3 Glass Casket
Having access to more early removal is great for this deck and covers the holes that Bonecrusher Giant and Giant Killer could potentially miss which is great, or just having a bevy or removal in some matchups is great.
2 Masked Vandal
As it stands, I wanted 3 pieces of artifact and enchantment hate in the board and you can reasonably do any combination between Masked Vandal, Embereth Shieldbreaker, Wilt, and Shredded Sails. I generally opt for Embereth Shieldbreaker as you can always guarantee that it does what you want and it’s an Adventure creature, but since I believe the Naya mirrors are going to be prevalent, I think Vandal deserves a spot for now. Getting rid of The Great Henge is the cards top priority, but also exiling Showdown of the Skalds so they can’t bounce it with Shepherd of the Flock may turn out to be an important interaction. Maybe even more important, exiling an Akroan War before the card can demolish your board state is also very relevant. If Naya isn’t as prevalent as I predict it will be or exiling Showdown doesn’t seem relevant, I’d go back to more Embereth Shieldbreaker. If stock Gruul becomes more prevalent, there is a consideration for Wilt, but having a body you can bounce with Shepherd of the Flock is quite nice.
1 Embereth Shieldbreaker
2 Klothys, God of Destiny
Klothys is pretty narrow, but it absolutely decimates Rakdos and Rogues which generally makes a few copies in the board more than worth it.
1 The Akroan War
The Akroan War is insanely good against creature decks so it’s no surprise we have an additional copy here.
4 Ox of Agonas
Do you like losing to Rogues? Me neither. 4 Ox generally makes sure that doesn’t happen.
2 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate
Naya is a lot more focused on grinding compared to Gruul and Vivien is more than happy to work towards that game plan. Whether you’re casting creatures off the top of the library or overwhelming the opponent with free 3/3s, Vivien is a great card to have in the slower matchups.
That’s the card choices, but I do want to discuss something quickly that should be on everyone’s minds by now before we talk about sideboarding.
WHICH IS BETTER: NAYA OR GRUUL?
This is a difficult question to answer and is going to be largely meta dependent. However, if I had to pick between the two right now, I think Naya is the stronger of the two decks. Gruul has two main advantages over Naya: it’s faster with Brushfire Elemental and more Embercleave, and the mana base is better. That being said, Naya doesn’t have a bad mana base, but it’s definitely shakier than Gruul’s and casting all your spells on curve isn’t always a guarantee. Gruul is definitely faster, but as of right now, I don’t think speed is what you should be aiming for.
With the uptick of a lot of decks like Abzan Yorion, Mono Green Food, and Izzet Tempo, I think speed isn’t as important as the ability to grind. With Naya, your ability to keep powering through in the late game is significantly better than Gruul’s ability to do so overall. Furthermore, in the Naya vs Gruul matchup, Naya would have a rather hefty advantage as the Gruul mirror tended to be very grindy and as we just discussed, Naya plays the long game way better than Gruul with Showdown of the Skalds and Giant Killer. I don’t think you’re foolish for playing Gruul right now, but I do think Naya is the better of the two.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
|+2 Masked Vandal||-1 Embercleave|
|+1 Embereth Shieldbreaker||-2 Scavenging Ooze|
|+1 The Akroan War||-1 Shepherd of the Flock|
The best way to win the mirror is to have the right game plan in mind when you’re playing it. On the surface, you would want to bring in Glass Casket and it’s extremely likely your opponent is going to, but I don’t think it’s correct. Since there should be a lot of artifact removal on both sides, getting your removal destroyed feels really bad overall. The matchup will revolve around The Great Henge and Showdown of the Skalds, don’t forget that.
|+3 Glass Casket||-4 Giant Killer|
|+2 Klothys, God of Destiny||-3 Shepherd of the Flock|
|+4 Ox of Agonas||-1 Embercleave|
|-1 The Akroan War|
Considering how teched we are for Rogues, this should be a pretty good matchup. 4 Ox, 2 Klothys, and 3 pieces of cheap removal go a long way in this matchup. On top of that, Showdown of the Skalds is like our version of Into the Story in the matchup, which really taxes their interaction when you constantly threaten a functional draw 4. Don’t play too greedy and this matchup should be good for you.
|+2 Klothys, God of Destiny||-2 Shepherd of the Flock|
|+2 Ox of Agonas||-1 Embercleave|
|+2 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate||-2 Scavenging Ooze|
|-1 The Akroan War|
This matchup should be quite good for you as you generally have more threats than they do answers. Keep the pressure up and slam a Vivien, Showdown of the Skalds, or a Henge in their face and this should be very reasonable.
|+2 Masked Vandal||-4 Giant Killer|
|+1 Klothys, God of Destiny||-2 Scavenging Ooze|
|+2 Ox of Agonas||-1 The Akroan War|
|+2 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate|
Although Naya is a very strong grindy deck, Abzan Yorion does have the advantage in the long game. You don’t really have a super fast game plan, so trying to midrange them better is really your only option. That isn’t impossible of course as The Great Henge and Showdown of the Skalds are extremely powerful grindy tools, but you will be unfavored, especially if they’re the Food version.
|+2 Klothys, God of Destiny||-4 Giant Killer|
|+2 Ox of Agonas||-1 Scavenging Ooze|
|+2 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate||-1 The Akroan War|
The boarding will largely depend on what exactly they’re playing, but this is a good place to start. Klothys can be a real headache for a lot of decks to remove so I like bringing them in. Ox of Agonas is great at refueling your hand, but does play a bit awkwardly with a somewhat high curve and Showdown of the Skalds so you have to be careful on timing it. Vivien is obviously great against any deck looking to grind and resolving it will make winning significantly easier on you.
That’s all that I have for today! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out here! Thank you for reading and have a great day!