Standard Naya Midrange Deck Guide: The Counter to the Creature Meta

Clarion Spirit Art by Anastasia Ovchinnikova
Clarion Spirit Art by Anastasia Ovchinnikova
naya midrange
48.7% global win rate
0.17% metagame share
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best against
vs bant ramp
66.7% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs izzet turns
55.6% win rate
18 tracked matches
vs mono-green aggro
52.9% win rate
17 tracked matches
vs izzet dragons ️
50.0% win rate
6 tracked matches
worst against
vs dimir control
40.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
vs mono-white aggro
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to share a deck I’ve been working on nearly since the format began: Naya Midrange. With the new Innistrad dual lands, I realized that the original Shard combinations (Grixis, Bant, Naya, Jund, and Esper) are viable since there’s now 20 lands to help support the mana. Considering Naya is my absolute favorite shard, I just had to give it a go.

Usually I can find the right base for a deck quickly and then spend a lot of my time tuning the individual card choices, but for this deck, I actually went through the opposite process. Once I found the base tuning was simple, but finding the correct base was a big challenge. There was a lot of potential directions to take the deck so it was hard to see which ones were good in abstraction (it’s just a good deck), contextually (it’s good because of the other decks in the meta), or both.

To that end, the best place to usually start when crafting a new deck is to use a deck from the past. I didn’t have to go back that far as Naya Adventures was a very popular deck up until rotation, but there was no real analog that could be created with this pool of cards. Instead, I went back a little bit further when Naya was focused on the Clarion Spirit plan and made this.

Naya Tokens
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
2 mythic
42 rare
12 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (4)
60 Cards
$198.08
Sideboard
2
Brutal Cathar
$2.98
4
Burning Hands
$1.40
2
Paladin Class
$6.98
4
Ranger Class
$47.96
15 Cards
$60.07

A lot of fast decks were doing very well so I figured I could use the fast game plan as well while utilizing the best cards in 3 colors. The deck worked decently and it’s good starts were really good as this deck can get the ball rolling quickly and put forth massive board states. Of course though, this deck ran into a host of problems. The curve, while good, was too concentrated on the lower end of the deck. It made my opening turns strong, but if I didn’t finish the game quickly, I was drawing dead significantly more often than my opponent.

As a function of that, I found that Showdown of the Skalds was surprisingly seriously underperforming in this version of the deck. Showdown always felt like one of the best cards in Standard with the Adventure creatures, but felt pretty bad here, how is that possible? Well, the card quality has dropped and the metagame is less about grinding. Drawing 4 cards isn’t that high impact if the cards you’re hitting don’t heavily impact the board, you can’t make the +1/+1 counters matter significantly, and the opponent is trying to end the game quickly. Although this build was promising, it wasn’t performing well for me. I thought about other iterations of Naya I could try and I went even further back in time to another Naya deck, cftsoc’s Naya Fury.

Naya Combo
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
5 mythic
41 rare
11 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (22)
4
Lotus Cobra
$11.16
4
Goldspan Dragon
$199.96
Instants (10)
3
Run Amok
$0.75
4
Sejiri Shelter
$2.76
3
Kazuul’s Fury
$1.77
Sorceries (1)
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (19)
1
Forest
$0.25
4
Rockfall Vale
$23.96
60 Cards
$383.04
Sideboard
2
Brutal Cathar
$2.98
4
Burning Hands
$1.40
2
Paladin Class
$6.98
4
Ranger Class
$47.96
15 Cards
$61.11

We don’t have Unleash Fury anymore so Run Amok was the closest replacement, which surprisingly wasn’t that far off which either speaks to the power of the strategy or to how bad Unleash Fury was as a card (or both!) The concept beyond this deck, like it’s predecessor, is that you can play a normal midrange game plan that will sometimes cheese out wins with Goldspan Dragon, Run Amok, and flinging it with Kazuul’s Fury (even better if you get some Showdown of the Skalds counters on it.) I was trying this iteration out for a little while and it was definitely performing better than the previous version.

I liked having a slightly higher curve, Goldspan Dragon was obviously solid, and the combo was cool. However, the combo didn’t feel relevant enough to devote slots to it and although Goldspan is a great card, it didn’t feel like that great of a card in this deck. I found myself boarding out the combo functionally every post board game leaving me with a Naya midrange deck with a much worse manabase. With that, I found my answer. If just a Naya Midrange deck felt like the best version of the deck, I should just have that be the deck the whole time, and not 1/2 to 2/3 of the time. So I built and tuned the final version of Naya.

Naya Midrange
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
8 mythic
45 rare
7 uncommon
0 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
4
Wrenn and Seven
$103.96
Creatures (22)
4
Lotus Cobra
$11.16
3
Brutal Cathar
$4.47
2
Moonveil Regent
$23.98
Sorceries (2)
1
Emeria’s Call
$5.99
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (6)
2
Ranger Class
$23.98
Lands (22)
1
Forest
$0.25
3
Rockfall Vale
$17.97
60 Cards
$348.66
Sideboard
1
Brutal Cathar
$1.49
2
Tangletrap
$0.50
4
Burning Hands
$1.40
2
Ranger Class
$23.98
15 Cards
$33.03

So the mission of any new deck in Standard right now is two things: have a plan to beat the aggro decks and be fast enough to not get killed by the Izzet decks. Since you can’t realistically go over the top of Izzet, it actually really helps deck building as you’re forced to go under them so you know you have to be midrange (Control could hypothetically do both, but we have yet to see that). With that in mind, I tried to build the deck in such a way that it can capitalize on the blind spots of the other strategies to make a solid deck that is also well positioned, a mission I believe I reasonably accomplished.

The creature decks don’t have a wealth of interaction and we need speed against the slow decks so I started my curve with a boatload of mana dorks. These will help me accelerate quickly ahead into my mid game like Esika’s Chariot, Moonveil Regent, or Wrenn and Seven which are all excellent at stabilizing against the creature decks and pressuring the slow decks. If my mana dork gets killed, I have plenty of interactive 3s to help me stay alive to reach the mid game. Elite Spellbinder is just a generally good card and obviously at it’s best against Izzet, Brutal Cathar is for the creature decks, and Reidane, God of the Worthy is great against both Izzet and the expensive spells of Monogreen. Finally, we have plenty of strong late game options with the aforementioned Wrenn and Seven, Showdown of the Skalds, and utility lands/MDFCs. This deck can realistically have all of it’s bases covered with a solid proactive and relatively interactive game plan. With that in mind, what I found about this deck is that the real reason to play it is the sideboard.

Naya has a wealth of interactive spells and this list makes really good use of them. Obviously the function of the sideboard is to become better against the opposing deck in the post board, but Naya is probably one of the more extreme examples of this that can also manage it in a variety of matchups. If you’re facing a creature matchup, they can’t really change their game plan, but Naya can with a bunch of removal spells that work in conjunction with the late game to become a Control deck of sorts. If you’re facing a slow deck, you can board in relevant interaction and look to tempo them out before they get their game plan going. The versatility of this deck is the main appeal and makes it a strong and satisfying play experience.


MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Curse of Silence Art by Irina Nordsol
Curse of Silence Art by Irina Nordsol

MONO WHITE AGGRO

INOUT
+1 Brutal Cathar-4 Elite Spellbinder
+4 Burning Hands-2 Ranger Class
+2 Thundering Rebuke-1 Showdown of the Skalds

Like I said, against the creature decks we’re looking to turn into more of a Control deck. We have a lot of really strong late game cards, the trick is to make it that far. However, with a lot of ramp creatures and interaction, that usually isn’t a problem. As long as you keep a hand that has enough to do in the early game, you can generally survive until you find something that can help stabilize like Esika’s Chariot or Wrenn and Seven. Don’t be too patient with removal as prioritizing your life total in this matchup is key. Lastly it may seem weird, but Burning Hands is still good enough here as 1 for 1ing is good enough to win.

MONO GREEN AGGRO

INOUT
+1 Brutal Cathar-2 Elite Spellbinder
+4 Burning Hands-2 Reidane, God of the Worthy
+2 Thundering Rebuke-2 Ranger Class
-1 Showdown of the Skalds

We’re functionally doing the same thing we do in the Monowhite matchup, but here I like keeping in some Elite Spellbinder as it does a similar thing to Reidane where it can stall big spells, but this also trades with Werewolf Pack Leader which is a nice bonus. This board plan isn’t set in stone as some Monogreen opponents will also try to go bigger, and if they do, you can keep in or even bring in more Reidane to help punish that. Overall, you should be flexible in how you board here as unlike Monowhite, they can be a bit more versatile in how they approach the matchup; since we’re the control deck, we need to respond in kind.

GRUUL AGGRO

INOUT
+1 Brutal Cathar-3 Prosperous Innkeeper
+2 Burning Hands-2 Reidane, God of the Worthy
+2 Thundering Rebuke-2 Ranger Class
+2 Tangletrap

Another creature matchup, another similar board plan. Gruul ironically doesn’t have that many Green creatures so we don’t want the full set of Burning Hands (and arguably don’t want any copies), but I think 2 is fine to hedge against Esika’s Chariot. With that, Tangletrap is excellent here as it kills the Dragons and Esika’s Chariot making it the best interactive spell in the matchup. I considered adding a 3rd Tangletrap to the board, and if Gruul and Dragons get more popular, it’ll likely be worth it. Like the other decks, you’re looking to grind but Gruul won’t make it easy on you as they are also pretty good at grinding. Keep interaction heavy hands and try to prioritize Wrenn and Seven as they have a really tough time beating a 5/5 if it resolves.

IZZET DRAGONS

INOUT
+2 Tangletrap-3 Prosperous Innkeeper
+2 Thundering Rebuke-3 Brutal Cathar
+2 Ranger Class-2 Reidane, God of the Worthy
+2 Curse of Silence

Dragons is obviously looking to grind, so we should do the same. Unlike the Turns variant, they aren’t reliant on Alrund’s Epiphany to win but their creatures to having some amount of removal is essential to not getting run over. Beyond that, the best you can do is pressure them with annoying threats and have a well timed removal spell to knock them out. Curse of Silence is a fun card here as naming Goldspan Dragon or Alrund’s Epiphany can both be pretty great, but it’s normally correct to name Goldspan Dragon since it’s usually so pivotal to them winning.

IZZET/GRIXIS TURNS

INOUT
+2 Thundering Rebuke-3 Prosperous Innkeeper
+2 Reidane, God of the Worthy-3 Brutal Cathar
+2 Ranger Class-2 Showdown of the Skalds
+2 Curse of Silence

Here we have a classic midrange vs Control matchup where your objective is to have more threats than they have removal spells. Despite a lot of our cards being strong against them, this matchup is generally a toss up as sometimes they have it all and sometimes they can’t beat a fast start. There’s no real secret to this matchup beyond don’t keep any hand that is particularly slow. You really need to pressure them early so they can’t combo you out later.

If you want, you can board in more removal to deal with their boarded Smoldering Egg and Goldspan Dragon (if Izzet, they generally keep in Lier if they’re Grixis), but it’s hard to justify having more than 2 removal spells in a matchup where they are otherwise dead. I like Thundering Rebuke more as it can kill Smoldering Egg before it flips as well as Lier, Disciple of the Drowned against Grixis, but Tangletrap can kill Goldspan Dragon on their turn against Izzet so it’s up to you.


TIPS AND TRICKS

Moonveil Regent Art by Joshua Raphael
Moonveil Regent Art by Joshua Raphael
  • I very rarely keep hands without a mana dork game 1 unless it has a really strong curve. In the post board games, keeping hands without dorks is fine if you have interaction to make up for it.
  • Unlike many other strategies, I try to play Tangled Florahedron as a creature more often than a land unless I have multiple mana dorks in hand.
  • If you think the opponent has removal for a mana dork, you can circumvent that with all of them one way or another. You can play Tangled Florahedron as a land, you can just run out Prosperous Innkeeper since using removal on it is bad, or sandbag Lotus Cobra until you can double spell with it.
  • After you play Brutal Cathar or your opponent plays something that triggers Day/Nigh, be mindful of what time of day it is when deploying a Brutal Cathar, you may be expecting to exile a creature just to find it’s night and it’s a 3/3.
  • Don’t forget about the Valkmira side of Reidane, God of the Worthy as a means to stave off aggression. This side is particularly effective against Monowhite and Izzet Turns in the right circumstances.
  • I trade often with my Moonveil Regent as you can frequently get 2 for 1s against the creature decks, no need to wait until you can get value out of it’s triggered ability.
  • Try to hold onto Showdown of the Skalds as long as possible unless your other plays are really bad. The longer you hold it, the more valuable it generally becomes as you have more lands out and a higher chance of using all 4 cards.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.