In my opinion, synergy is power. Cards need to feed off each other to reach their potential. Rarely do we see cards so powerful that they end a game on their own as soon as they are cast (LOOKING AT YOU UGIN!!!!). All jokes aside, prior to Strixhaven, Naya Adventures was the closest we seen to this synergistic play approach. When Naya first showed up, the deck was spread far too thin attempting to gain value from Edgewall Innkeeper, Showdown of the Skalds, The Great Henge, and still slam a powerful Embercleave and ride it to victory.
This led me to write an article a long while ago which can be found here:
In this article I discussed the weaknesses of the Naya Adventures deck and why it fell from grace and how I would solve the issue by going Boros or I guess “Lorehold” now. Shortly after, we seen a new Naya deck. One that was far more focused and only looked to abuse the Adventure package and Showdown of the Skalds for advantage.
This list was better by miles, but I still felt as though the deck was trying too hard to force Naya to the point where it was only really playing two green cards in the main, Edgewall Innkeeper and Lovestruck Beast. The sideboard usually only had a few copies of Klothys, God of Destiny as the only green card. These are powerful, but I do not think the addition of three cards is worth a shaky mana base. You could go the more midrange style Naya with Jaspera Sentinel to smooth over the mana, but I feel “meh” at best on that version of the deck.
Thankfully Strixhaven has stepped in and gave us some new toys to help solidify “Boros” or “Lorehold” as the dominant Showdown of the Skalds deck, with a Spirit subtheme!
The first new card I want to discuss is Stonebinder's Familiar. This card does not look like much on the surface, but when you realize that it gets a +1/+1 counter whenever you exile a Bonecrusher Giant for its Adventure, or remove a threat with Skyclave Apparition, or when you resolve a Showdown of the Skalds, it gets much better. A one drop with potential to be a 4/4 or a 5/5 on its own is hard to pass up.
Next, we have Hofri Ghostforge. We have seen how powerful Nightmare Shepherd is in fringe decks for a while, but it has never broken through to be a real contender. This is a straight up better version in almost every way.
Not only does Hofri have 1 more toughness so it can block or attack into threats such as Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, the creatures that die while Hofri is in play comeback with their base power and toughness and become spirits, so they get the +1/+1 Trample and Haste that Hofri provides. This works wonderfully with Selfless Savior, allowing to save multiple cards, and powers up the spirits we are already playing. Notice that the creature gets exiled, so it also triggers Stonebinder’s Familiar. It is just perfect for what this deck wants to do. I cannot really think of a better card to play versus non-exile-based sweepers and removal.
Finally, we have Furycalm Snarl, a passable dual land. This will make the mana much more consistent and powerful since it can come into play untapped and will not hinder our aggressive strategy.
Putting it all together, this is the list I ended up with and was quite happy with.
This is solid and I love it. I honestly have trouble editing it since I have already cut so much fat off the deck, that I feel like any changes take away too much from somewhere else.
Cards Not in the Deck
Oh, how I wanted to play this card so badly. It was the last card I ended up cutting because it was just so agonizingly slow. If the meta shifted to make this card more playable I would in a heartbeat. As it stands, it is just too easily handled by better 3-drops like Lovestruck Beast that make it impossible for Warsinger to do work. But the potential is there, just not in this meta.
I also love this card, but I think its home is in a midrange or control deck. The second mode is wonderful but being a 5-drop makes it far to slow, and all the best sweepers exile anyway.
I love this thing, but no… Its ability is too specific and it doesn’t help when you are behind and needs other cards to be effective. Plus being a 5-drop destroys it.
I love this card versus midrange or control decks, but the randomness of it makes it unreliable. Making a 3/2 is grand, but I would still play Roiling Vortex over it.
Playing the Deck
Early game you should use your best judgement on what to lead on if you have the option between Stonebinder’s Familiar and Usher of the Fallen. Leading on Usher is usually safe, but you can lead on Familiar when you see that you can curve out playing a Bonecrusher Giant’s Stomp on a creature, then follow it up with a Skyclave Apparition for maximum value while getting its counters.
When it comes to the two drops, you can usually play the Luminarch Aspirant if you fear mass removal as it builds up damage fast and makes threats without over-extending, then follow up with Clarion Spirit after the sweeper. But if you have no fear of said sweeper, then I love getting Clarion online so I can begin to build my board.
Turn three is just whatever you have available. If you have a troublesome blocker, slam the Apparition. Don’t be afraid to cast Bonecrusher without casting its Adventure first. It is fine. But there are some situations where I will sandbag a Elite Spellbinder to maximize my chances of taking something good and ruining my opponent’s game plan, such as waiting for them to hit six mana before slamming it to snipe an Ultimatum versus those decks or the turn before a deck can slam Ugin.
Tips and Tricks
- If you control Hofri, you can sacrifice Selfless Savior pre-combat. Hofri will bring back Selfless Savior as a 2/2 with trample and haste, this can be a neat combat trick.
- Also, if you have Hofri, you can Stomp a creature to bring it back as a bigger creature. I have done this with a Clarion Spirit to make it a 3/3 and make a 2/2 flier to end the game, dealing 1 more point of damage than if I just cast the Stomp.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
|+3 Drannith Magistrate||-4 Skyclave Apparition|
|+2 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-1 Bonecrusher Giant|
This match up is a grind. Showdown is our best weapon to refuel. I cut Skyclave Apparition because it just does not have that many good targets early on. At best it snipes a Wolfwillow Haven, there are just better things to do. I trim one Bonecrusher Giant because he is just a big beater in this matchup. I bring in Magistrate since it stops Emergent Ultimatum, a foretold Alrund's Epiphany and an Escaped Polukranos, Unchained. Reidane slows down their big mana value spells and can usually buy you a turn in a pinch.
|+2 Pheonix of Ash||-3 Hofri Ghostforge|
|+2 Ox of Agonas||-4 Usher of the Fallen|
|+3 Rip Apart||-1 Showdown of the Skalds|
|+3 Glass Casket||-2 Bonecrusher Giant|
Oh Rogues, how I despise thee. This in my opinion is the designated fun police of the format. Good news is, this matchup is no worse for us than any other deck except Mono Red. When boarding we cut Hofri as he is just too slow against this deck. Usher lines up poorly against every creature in their deck so there is 0 reason to keep it in. I then trim 1 Showdown and 2 Bonecrusher to help smooth our curve so we can be a bit more consent. Bonecrusher is “fine” and can be decent removal. But I do not want to lose too much of the refueling ability of Showdown.
Mono Red Aggro
|+3 Rip Apart||-3 Hofri Ghostforge|
|+2 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-4 Usher of the Fallen|
|+3 Glass Casket||-1 Showdown of the Skalds|
Mono Red does Mono Red things. Sometimes they curve out like crazy, slam an Embercleave and it is over and there is nothing any deck can do. But this isn’t always the case, and we look to bring in cards to slow them down and make them play a fair game. Hofri is just way to slow. Usher lines up poorly vs their threats and then I trim 1 Showdown as drawing multiple when you are not ahead is a death sentence.
We bring in Rip Apart as more removal and a way to get rid of Embercleave. Even at sorcery speed I think this is passable. Reidane shows down their lands and can potentially show down an Embercleave. Also, the artifact side of Reidane can make combat or removing our threats horrible for them, so keep that in mind. Glass Casket is just great removal for
This has been a fun update on one of my favorite decks I have done. If you love Showdown or just the advantage aggro playstyle then I think you should check this deck out. It checks a lot of my boxes for being a contender.
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