Standard Naya Winota Deck Guide: The Queen of Standard

Winota, Joiner of Forces Art by Magali Villeneuve
Winota, Joiner of Forces Art by Magali Villeneuve

Hello everyone! Today I’m finally able to write about what I’ve predicted for a long time: Winota is a Tier One strategy. Not only is it Tier 1, it was the best performing strategy this week as well! Whether you love it or hate it, it’s important to know how the deck works and what makes it tick.

Before I continue, I looked through many different iterations of Naya Winota, and landed on Arne’s version as my favorite. Let’s take a look.

Naya Winota by Arne Huschenbeth 

Creatures (30)
4
Jaspera Sentinel
4
Selfless Savior
1
Lotus Cobra
2
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
4
Prosperous Innkeeper
1
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Elite Spellbinder
2
Minsc, Beloved Ranger
2
Blade Historian
4
Winota, Joiner of Forces
2
Kenrith, the Returned King
Spells (3)
3
Shatterskull Smashing
Artifacts (4)
4
Esika's Chariot
Lands (23)
4
Branchloft Pathway
4
Cragcrown Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
1
Forest
2
Lair of the Hydra
2
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway
2
Plains
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
1
Reidane, God of the Worthy
1
Giant Killer
3
Redcap Melee
2
Burning Hands
2
Drannith Magistrate
2
The Akroan War
2
Ox of Agonas
2
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate

This deck is an aggro deck at heart, but the entire deck is built around maximizing the value from Winota, Joiner of Forces. Generally you want to avoid building an entire strategy around one card, but if it’s capable of winning the game by itself like Winota or Emergent Ultimatum can, it’s more than worth it.

At the beginning of the curve, we have 8 non-humans to start you off. Jaspera Sentinel has recently become the darling of Standard as even clunky mana dorks are just really powerful right now. This works best in conjunction with Magda. Brazen Outlaw, but it’s just a generally powerful as it allows you to accelerate quickly. The other half of the duo is Selfless Savior, a really annoying dog for your opponent as it can protect your Winota the turn it comes down.

The twos of the deck are all non-humans as well and all help accelerate you into an early Winota. Prosperous Innkeeper is the newest addition to the crew and gets the nod over the other options as it doesn’t need to live to produce a mana a turn later. Although it’s only an extra mana once, that’s more than enough if it casts a lethal Winota.

The next is Magda, Brazen Outlaw which does require it to be tapped to start ramping, but as mentioned before, it works insanely well with Jaspera Sentinel. The last two is the lone Lotus Cobra who works excellently in the deck, but does require a land and for it to live to do any work.

Now, we start moving into the Human payoffs and the plus one. In terms of new cards, Minsc, Beloved Ranger has made the cut as a solid 3 drop before Winota, a decent hit off of her, and a mana sink later. Lastly, we have Elite Spellbinder which is just great at any point of the game and whether you cast it or get it for free. Move up the curve, you have Blade Historian which is a tad awkward with any green land, but is such a powerful hit off of Winota it doesn’t really matter. Lastly, you have Kenrith, the Returned King which is a ridiculously strong mana sink and a great attacker in it’s own right.

To fill out the deck, we have a few insanely powerful cards just because we have room. First, we have the lonesome Bonecrusher Giant which is a small bit of interaction and a great attacker for Winota. Esika's Chariot is the premiere 4 drop of the format and not only is it insane by itself, it works amazingly well with Winota. Lastly, you get Shatterskull Smashing that can either be a land, or a removal spell later in the game.

Winota is finally getting the attention it deserves as, just by looking at the list, the deck is no longer compromising on it’s cards. Every card in this list fills a specific purpose and all of them are powerful cards. Winota suffered in the past as you had to play some suspect cards to fill out the ranks, but now that it isn’t an issue, the deck is dominating.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARD GUIDE

Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Art by Lius Lasahido
Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate Art by Lius Lasahido

GRUUL ADVENTURES

INOUT
+1 Giant Killer-1 Lotus Cobra
+2 Burning Hands-4 Elite Spellbinder
+2 The Akroan War

This matchup is difficult to have a general board plan before because it’s rather intrinsic on what their board is and how they board. If they want to keep racing you, this is the plan I would recommend. If they go into the full control role and look to dismantle your board rather than be aggressive, you can respond in kind but adding in the Viviens, potentially even the Ox, and reeling back on your Winota plan. Be flexible in this matchup and watch out for Redcap Melee as that card can get you pretty good.

SULTAI ULTIMATUM

INOUT
+1 Reidane, God of the Worthy-4 Jaspera Sentinel
+1 Giant Killer-1 Bonecrusher Giant
+2 Drannith Magistrate-1 Minsc, Beloved Ranger
+2 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate

Sultai has recently started to fall out of favor and it’s mostly due to Naya. They struggle to keep up with the aggression and an errant Winota can kill them from a lot of board positions. I board very conservatively in the matchup by taking out Sentinels and adding in cards looking to grind into the late game like Magistrate and Vivien, but you don’t have to follow suit if you want to stay aggressive. Furthermore, you can keep the Sentinels if you’re on the play as they’re substantially better there compared to how bad they tend to be on the draw. Nevertheless, you definitely want Reidane as it helps stall their important interaction and Giant Killer and a hedge against Elder Gargaroth.

MIRROR

INOUT
+1 Giant Killer-2 Jaspera Sentinel
+3 Redcap Melee-2 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
+2 The Akroan War-2 Minsc, Beloved Ranger

This is one of those unfortunate circumstances where you have cards you want to board in and nothing you particularly you want to board out, but here’s where I landed. Sentinel can be really hit or miss and it’s stock will also largely depend if you are on the play or draw. It’s rare that it’s ever bad as getting a 4 drop in early is great and an extra body for Winota is nice, but drawing multiples can also be pretty bad.

Magda is also always decent and great with Jaspera, but similarly bad on the draw and gets tagged by Redcap Melee.

Minsc just isn’t that great in the matchup as it’s smaller than the most relevant creatures, so that was an easy cut. The entire matchup is predicated around the 4 drops so getting yours to stick is the highest priority. It’s very play/draw dependent, but that’s how aggro mirrors can be sometimes since we don’t play enough interaction to consistently stymie other Winota decks development.

TEMUR LUKKA

INOUT
+1 Giant Killer-4 Jaspera Sentinel
+1 Burning Hands-2 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
+2 Drannith Magistrate
+2 The Akroan War

This matchup is interesting as it’s a race between who can do their broken thing first. We’re trying to attack with a Winota on board and they’re trying to cheat a Koma, Cosmos Serpent out which makes the dynamics interesting between when you’re supposed to develop and when you’re supposed to hold back.

Although this is a “race”, I’m boarding out the weakest part of the Ramp package as they can be removed or blanked really easily compared to the other cards. Their main ways of interacting are Redcap Melee and Brazen Borrower so be mindful when playing a Winota into open mana.

DIMIR ROGUES

INOUT
+2 Ox of Agonas-2 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
+2 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate-1 Blade Historian
-1 Kenrith, the Returned King

We don’t have much to board here so we mostly stick to the main plan. Ox and Vivien are both just powerhouses against Rogues so although they are a bit clunky, resolving one of them can greatly shift the matchup into your favor.

I generally wouldn’t worry too much about individual removal spells as we have a lot of powerful cards we want to get onto the board so making them use removal early is generally good. Keep the pressure on, but be wary of Crippling Fear as that can really blow you out if you aren’t careful.

JESKAI MUTATE

INOUT
+3 Redcap Melee-2 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
+2 Drannith Magistrate-1 Lotus Cobra
-1 Bonecrusher Giant
-1 Minsc, Beloved Ranger

Jeskai is this weird midrange deck that can randomly combo off so you want a mix of interaction and pressure. The main concern is Goldspan Dragon as that’s how you’ll generally lose, so Redcap Melee is excellent here.

Drannith Magistrate isn’t amazing in this matchup or anything, but hurting their development with cards like Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Expressive Iteration I believe is worth the inclusion.

We take out Magda and Cobra since they play 4 Spikefield Hazard and Bonecrusher and Minsc since they aren’t bad, just not higher impact than what we’re bringing in.

Elite Spellbinder is in a similarly awkward spot as it is good against them, but terrible against Spikefield Hazard so you can consider boarding him out as well.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Esika’s Chariot Art by Raoul Vitale
Esika’s Chariot Art by Raoul Vitale

Prioritize development over damage most of the time when Jaspera Sentinel is on board. Winota is an aggro deck, but you generally win by overwhelming the opponent instead of chip damage.

Try to save your Fabled Passage as late as possible so you know which mana to get later and for the off chance you draw Lotus Cobra before then.

Although it doesn’t happen often, if you hit 5 Treasure tokens with Magda, Brazen Outlaw out, remember that you can get an Esika's Chariot.

You want to wait to cast Winota, Joiner of Forces until the coast is clear, but if your other play is much worse, sometimes you have to make them have it.

Blade Historian only gives attacking creatures double strike, it’s not a permanent buff.

Elite Spellbinder generally takes expensive spells against most decks in other strategies, but taking cheap removal with it is excellent for a few reasons. One, it makes it harder for them to develop and have removal for Winota. Two, if you don’t have a Winota, it can make the opponent think that you do which can make them play poorly against what you actually have.

Esika's Chariot can copy any token you control, not just creature tokens. You can copy a Treasure token if you really need the mana.

Be careful when you have Treasure tokens and Lair of the Hydra. Arena prioritizes tapping lands so if you wanted to animate the Lair first then use Treasures to do something else, it might automatically tap your Lair instead.

Thank you for reading!

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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.

3 Responses

  1. Zafarion says:

    In my opinion, Winota was already tier 1 since Strixhaven because of Blade Historian, but just got highly popular now. I made to mythic 2 times with her boros version.

    AFR made easier to cast her turn 3 but at the cost of 2 blade historians. So I don’t know if Naya is really better, because Historian is the key card to win fast and makes the deck (boros version) less dependent on Winota. I’m now playing Naya because it’s fun (new cards, chariot, Minsc) but I have to mulligan frequently and I feeling it less consistent than Boros. Even the boros version got a way to cast her turn 3 (loyal warhound) and the dog’s 3 attack power is great with blade historian.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I hold a pretty similar sentiment, but more specifically for Naya. Although Prosperous Innkeeper is good for the deck, you could just play 4 Cobra. Minsc is replaceable and you only play 2 Lair so Winota has likely been a pretty good strategy for awhile. Boros was a solid deck but fell out of favor kinda quickly, perhaps too many Bonecrusher Giants

      • Zafarion says:

        I think innkeeper is the main reason to play Naya (cobra can be killed). But speaking about more benefits of boros, it has access to more removal in form of skyclave apparition, which can also activate winota. Thats great.