Runeforge Champion

Standard Naya Runes Complete Deck Guide: July 2022 Update

While fallen a bit from favor, Naya Runes is still very much a force to be reckoned with! With this deck guide update, we update the sideboard plans, add in A Bo1 option, and a Budget option as well!

On more than one occasion we have opened a Magic pack and when we see our rare/mythic we think that we have opened a card that will unfortunately never see play. Such was the case of Runeforge Champion.

I think a lot of the time no one wanted to pull this rare when opening a Kaldheim Booster, but that’s the beauty of Magic. Cards that are ignored for years suddenly develop an extremely functional use, and then before you know it, everyone is playing it.

While I think most of us can remember at least one or two of the uncommon runes printed in Kaldheim, for many, they just passed as cards that we occasionally play in Limited. Rune of Sustenance or Rune of Might are good examples.

The existence of Runeforge Champion wasn’t enough to make them truly competitive in constructed environments, however Kamigawa has brought with it a lot of support for playing enchantment-focused decks. A clear example would be Jukai Naturalist, a star card in decks like Selesnya Enchantments.

How can this card be enough to power an archetype based on Kaldheim’s runes? Well, let me explain this step by step:

  • Having Runeforge Champion lets you cast any rune for 1 colorless mana instead of its mana cost.
  • Jukai Naturalist makes your enchantment spells cost 1 colorless mana less to cast.
  • With both in the field this means that we can play any rune for 0.

This is basically the main reason of this decks existence. Cycling the runes for 1 and having Runeforge Champion adding small bonuses to our creatures is good, but being able of doing this for free can make our deck storm out of control really easily.

If we add more Kamigawa cards that reward us for playing enchantments like Generous Visitor and Kami of Transience, being able to play runes for free while we continue drawing cards and growing our board becomes a very powerful synergy.

Naya Runes
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Aggro
best of 3
2 mythic
37 rare
19 uncommon
2 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
Enchantments (21)
4
Rune of Speed
$1.00
4
Rune of Might
$1.56
Lands (23)
1
Forest
$0.25
1
Plains
$0.25
2
Sundown Pass
$17.98
60 Cards
$288.38
15 Cards
$29.05

After seeing the deck in action, I realized that in addition to the aforementioned synergies with Generous Visitor and Kami of Transience, there are even more ways to get the most out of this deck plan. Hallowed Haunting in particular is incredible in this deck since it allows us to diversify the ways of winning a game despite our opponent’s removals.

The deck in essence is quite simple, but that doesn’t mean that it’s weak. Aggressive decks have a lot of problems facing Runes because it’s really easy for us to start blocking their attacks and recovering our life total thanks to Jukai Naturalist‘s lifelink. Also, unlike other decks that try to win by attacking, this deck doesn’t often run out of gas because all the runes replace themselves, allowing us to draw a card, which help us vs slower decks that are focused on midrange or control strategies.

As if this wasn’t enough, the deck plays a full set of Showdown of the Skalds. Whether we have Runeforge Champion or Jukai Naturalist on the field or not, thanks to our low curve, we can easily play all four cards. However it’s not just getting those four cards, but making our creatures bigger, drawing more cards in the process thanks to the runes, and creating uncontrollable game states for our opponents.

Between the aggression and card advantage this deck can produce, it is surely a force to be reckoned with.


Best of One

Bo1 Naya Runes
by DoggertQBones
Standard
best of 1
0 mythic
35 rare
18 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (15)
Sorceries (4)
Enchantments (18)
4
Rune of Might
$1.56
2
Rune of Speed
$0.50
Lands (23)
2
Forest
$0.50
1
Plains
$0.25
1
Rockfall Vale
$2.49
1
Sundown Pass
$8.99
60 Cards
$253.3

For Best of One the Runes list remains mostly the same, but with a bit more emphasis on the creature matchups. Since it’s rare we’re going to have to play grindy games, we don’t need Hallowed Haunting nor as many Rune of Speed, but instead, get to play four Rune of Sustenance for the Lifelink and four Commune with Spirits for consistency.


Budget

Budget Bo1 Selesnya Enchantments
by DoggertQBones
Standard
best of 1
0 mythic
0 rare
32 uncommon
28 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (20)
Lands (22)
8
Forest
$2.00
10
Plains
$2.50
60 Cards
$20.92

While you can’t play Naya Runes without Rares as Runeforge Champion itself makes the deck, you can get a pretty similar feel with Selesnya Enchantments! This deck is excellent at beating up aggro decks as you have a lot of removal and plenty of ways to grow your creatures!


Potential Inclusions / Notable Exclusions

Welcoming Vampire Art by Lorenzo Mastroianni
  • Certainly a splash version of the deck would be possible. Rune of Flight and Rune of Mortality are interesting. Being able to give evasion to our creatures that tend to be huge could become very valuable. The problem is that green and white are the centerpiece of our deck, and playing red as a third color allows us to play Showdown of the Skalds so it’s hard to think of removing any of the colors that the deck already plays.
  • One of the lists plays Welcoming Vampire. I didn’t have the card in my 75 but this doesn’t mean the card is bad or doesn’t fit the archetype. We play 16 creatures that have 2 or less power, and having more draw with this card’s effect is a good idea in general terms. I didn’t use it because there are other options that could be more relevant in the current meta. It also seems to me that the deck is capable of drawing a lot of cards with its main board options to find the cards it needs to develop its game.
  • Wedding Announcement is a great card, but in this particular deck, I think that having 1 more Hallowed Haunting in our sideboard is better. Like I said with Welcoming Vampire, this deck has more than enough drawing power on its main board. Have extra slots in our sideboard for different options is incredibly relevant nowadays.
  • The Restoration of Eiganjo is another NEO card that works amazingly well combined with any other way of generating tokens or anthem effects like Wedding Announcement. It also ramps us and can let us recover any two mana permanent from our graveyard, like our runes or almost any of our creatures. However, I find that adding consistency to the deck by using 4 Commune with Spirits is preferable.
  • Cards like Curse of Silence are great sideboard choices in the right meta and it has the plus of being an enchantment. Playing 2-3 copies in your sideboard could be a good choice, especially with Hinata as popular as it is.
  • I saw some versions playing with Candletrap. It’s an interesting choice for dealing with creatures for just 1 mana and unlike Portable Hole, is an enchantment. I’m not a big fan of this option because it allows creatures that triggers effects on death like Eyetwitch or Shambling Ghast to block us, but on the other hand, in some situations you can stop a Goldspan Dragon‘s continuous attacks for one mana until you can win the game. So, it’s a card you can consider.
  • Without a doubt Michiko's Reign of Truth is a powerful card in this archetype. Many players opt for playing 1 or 2 in their lists. I think that it’s some kind of “win more” type of card. If you have enough enchantments to make this card work, you probably could have won the game either way (especially in an auras deck).
  • On one occasion I had to play against an opponent who was playing Kodama of the West Tree in their version. It’s certainly not a card that seems essential in this deck, but since we play a lot of auras and that counts as modifying a creature, the fact we can ramp as well is an interesting idea.
  • Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice is seeing some play in aura decks in Historic so playing it here could be quite interesting. Personally, I haven’t had enough opportunity to test a version focused on making this synergy work, but it is certainly an interesting option.
  • The Wandering Emperor comes to my mind as another answer to play against Goldspan Dragon decks. The fact that it has flash allows us to have an additional option to Valorous Stance to deal with the dragon quickly, allowing us to exert pressure on our opponent at the same time. Definitely an option to consider.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Jukai Naturalist Art by Anna Steinbauer
Jukai Naturalist Art by Anna Steinbauer

Jeskai Hinata

InOut
+2 Tamiyo's Safekeeping-4 Generous Visitor
+3 Valorous Stance-4 Rune of Might
+2 Ranger Class
+1 Hallowed Haunting

For Hinata we are looking to still go fast, but have enough interaction to keep our game plan moving or to slow down theirs. This can be a tough matchup, especially when they have an early Magma Opus, but if we can mount enough pressure and they don’t have the combo, it is still very winnable.

Prioritize growing your board over all else as they will win if you give them enough time to find their pieces. This shouldn’t be too hard as this build has a lot of threats, but if they have enough removal, it may be harder than it seems.

We take out Generous Visitor as it’s slow to get going which is far from what we want against a deck with a lot of cheap removal and Rune of Might as it’s the least relevant of all the Runes.

Orzhov/Esper Midrange

InOut
+2 Rip Apart-1 Generous Visitor
+2 Ranger Class-4 Rune of Sustenance
+1 Hallowed Haunting

Both decks work in pretty similar ways. Some small creatures to buy time and resources, some planewalkers to strengthen their midgame + 2 quintessential midrange enchantments: The Meathook Massacre and Wedding Announcement.

While we could use Circle of Confinement to deal with almost all their creatures, I don’t think they bother us as much as they do other aggressive decks. Rip Apart can cover this aspect by taking care of some of them when strictly necessary while being able to get rid of the aforementioned enchantments at the same time.

Finally, Hallowed Haunting allows us to grind into the late game as these matches tend to do.

We take out Rune of Sustenance because the lifelink is not particularly necessary. Having 7 remaining runes is enough to keep our deck going.

Grixis Control

InOut
+2 Tamiyo's Safekeeping-2 Generous Visitor
+1 Valorous Stance-4 Rune of Might
+2 Ranger Class
+1 Hallowed Haunting

The sideboarding here is very similar to Hinatas, but unlike Hinata, we don’t have to worry about dying quickly. This will be a very grindy matchup as each time you deploy a threat, Grixis will attempt to answer it so you’ll keep going until one of you can break through.

Since it’s such a grindy matchup, you want to prioritize getting as much value out of your cards as possible. Don’t play in a greedy way as that’s the fastest way to lose if the opponent can get you with a 2 for 1.

Make sure you’re always keeping the pressure on them so they don’t have any breathing room. They do have some board wipes, but they don’t have many and as long as you sandbag some good cards, you can rebuild pretty easily.

Aggro Decks

InOut
+3 Skyclave Apparition-4 Rune of Speed
+2 Rip Apart-2 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
+3 Valorous Stance-2 Hallowed Haunting
+2 Circle of Confinement-3 Showdown of the Skalds

The reason for grouping together so many decks is because, although each of these aggressive decks has its own particularities, for all of them the sideboard plan is basically identical. We take our our slowest cards in exchange for removals. We also take out the Rune of Speed, because in these types of matchups, we are not the aggressor.

That’s why, despite not having Showdown of the Skalds, in a attrition game against aggro, we are favored thanks to the natural cycling of our remaining runes and the intrinsic growth of our creatures.

In the same way, even though some cards have specific functions like Valorous Stance (better against Mono Green), without a doubt has a function in any other of the mentioned matchups. It allows us to deal with creatures (or creatures buffed by cards) like Luminarch Aspirant, Thundering Raiju or Halana and Alena, Partners. It also lets us support our creatures in case we can find a favorable trade or can prevent any attempt at removing our threats (as long as it’s not exile based anyway.)


Tips and Tricks

Generous Visitor Art by Iris Compiet
  • Don’t forget Generous Visitor lets us put +1/+1 counters on any creature, not just itself.
  • Remember that Showdown of the Skalds hitting it’s last chapter and dying will trigger Kami of Transcience if it’s in your graveyard.
  • 7 or more enchantments makes Hallowed Haunting tokens fly and have vigilance. Always count how many enchantments you have in play.
  • It’s always important to remember that pathways (like Branchloft Pathway for example) have to be played as the last possible land; this to avoiding picking the wrong color in the long run.
  • The deck has a lot of games were it plays proactively and others where you have to play reactively. Evaluate each game independently. In any case, playing your whole hand is very easily done, so don’t give any wins away. Play calmly, one turn at the time.

Final Notes

Being that my Modern deck on paper is UR Storm, working with this deck gave me a nostalgic feeling (I haven’t played Modern in a long time).

I think it had been a while since a deck like this had entered the meta so competitively. Certainly Bard Class is there, and a lot of people try cool things with Birgi, God of Storytelling from time to time, but the combination of Jukai Naturalist and Runeforge Champion making the runes cost 0 is very very powerful. A week ago I certainly would never have seen a rune deck coming and boy, it’s fun and extremely competitive!

Let me know in the comments your opinions in case you decide to give it a try and know that any comments regarding my articles will always be taken with love, in search of providing you, dear readers with better content.

Thank you for reading! Ah, and don’t forget to smile at least once a day. ^ -^

Card Kingdom - Double Masters 2022
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Bohe

A full time MTG content creator. Started playing Magic in 99’ with the release of Urza’s Destiny, 3 times Grand Prix attendant (1 as a player ending #78 and 2 as a judge). Mexican, lover of coffee, Korean culture, languages and ex-LoL coach.
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