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Compulsive Research: An Angel in the Outfield

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

Compulsive Research 700x235

Last week we began to look into Naya Midrange as my GP Calgary standard deck.  After playing a bunch of games with Dan Dusang (@CapnTopDeck) as my copilot, I was very happy with a number of the cards we were playing.  We have been tweaking the list for a while, and ultimately found that we were unhappy with Restoration Angel in the deck, and instead opted to test out some other candidates.  Testing Firemane Avenger last week may have been a little optimistic, but with the field looking more towards beating Voice of Resurgence and Blood Artist, the sheer volume of Pillar of Flames over Searing Spears was instantly apparent.  This led me to the next beauty on my testing list – Sublime Archangel.

Most of the changes we made to the deck last week I really liked actually.  The aggressive starts backed by “Fast Bacon” (Flinthoof Boar) into Ghor-Clan Rampager and Domri Rade’s arena ability were very satisfying, so I opted to keep those cards.  I was very satisfied with the card quality that Rampager presented; the threat of bloodrush was often enough to turn off the opponent from blocking, and then playing the creature post combat allowed us to continue the pressure without missing an opportunity.

Trample as an ability cannot be overvalued right now; Boros Reckoner and the infinite chump blockers all are ripe pickings for a nice rampaged attacker, and as such I really wanted to find a card that allowed me to further leverage this angle.  Sublime Archangel was the woman of my dreams.  There have been very few games that I have resolved this creature in and not just won in two turns.  Sublime allows us to stack power onto a trampler, making it even more effective without needing to commit our defenses to the attack.  It also provides a very fast clock in the air against decks that are short on flyers, while the big monsters gum up the ground and hold down the fort.  While all of this is good, she also allows you to make better use of Domri’s arena ability, since the boost from the exalted triggers lasts until the end of turn.  Talk about synergy! Wow!

Here is the list we battled with this week

The changes this week were very minor; we swapped out the Firemane Avengers from last week with Sublime Archangels, and then replaced the Boros Charms with Pillar of Flames as a nod to the mostly aggressive decks running Voice of Resurgence or Stromkirk Noble (and due to the lack of control on MTGO right now.)

Here are the games; please note that I had a new PC delivered this week (literally on the day of the stream), and I still had to work out some kinks. I will fix everything sound-wise next week.

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We jumped into a 2-man and an 8-man, hoping to get through the first before the second one started.  Of course, we end up having to drop when the 8-man starts.  Our first opponent? RG Aggro.

Round 1 – RG Aggro – We keep a reasonable hand and get run over early until double Reckoner and a Voice of Resurgence allows us to stabilize and clear up both boards. We draw all of our lands in a row and the opponent draws Hellrider and Rakdos Cackler.  Yep!

Sideboard: -4 Thundermaw Hellkite, -1 Sublime Archangel, -2 Domri Rade, -1 Selesnya Charm, +3 Bonfire of the Damned, +3 Unflinching Courage, +2 Pillar of Flame.  For this match I try to lower my curve and bring in removal and the life gain.  Domri has to hit the bench in some number since the concentration of non-creature spells gets really high.

Game 2 – Our first hand consists of five lands, a Pillar of Flame and a Ghor-Clan Rampager – obviously too slow to keep, and shipping it back reveals another equally-unplayable start.  Finally, a mulligan to five gives us two lands, a Voice of Resurgence and a Boros Reckoner along with a Rampager.  Turn one Stromkirk Noble from the opponent followed by Burning-Tree Emissary into Volcanic Strength on the Noble and our tickets were promptly incinerated.

Match 2 – GB Haste? – This deck showed me Dreg Manglers, Strangleroot Geists, Thragtusks and sweet removal. I kept a reasonably good hand and went about demonstrating just how powerful Domri Rade is as a card advantage engine. After burying the opponent in both a stream of creatures and a number of Domri activations, the opponent concedes in the face of an army ready to smash.

Sidebord: -3 Selesnya Charm, -4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim, -1 Arbor Elf, +2 Pillar of Flame, +3 Unflinching Courage, +3 Bonfire of the Damned.  In this match, I was happy to have an answer to Geist, and with the speed of the deck as we saw it, the extra boost from the mana generators was not going to be necessary.

Game 2 – We mulligan a hand full of super-sweet cards without a green land to cast them.  Shipping back reveals a perfectly-keepable six with Pig into Smiter into Archangel as a potential line.  We continue to draw gas, but eventually make a couple of mistakes which leads us to a grinding loss; the last turn that the opponent attacked, I could have blocked an attacking Geist with a Boar, allowing me to wipe the opponent’s board with the Bonfire of the Damned I had in hand.  Instead I take two damge, and then am just dead to the Deathrite Shaman that he played on turn one.

Game 3 we curve out precisely and are able to beat the opponent through both blockers and removal.

I decide at this point to give another 8-man a shot

Match 1 – Naya Blitz – We win the roll and are able to open up on a Domri on two, or a Voice if the Elf gets burned.  We keep it blind, and wait for the opponent’s play. A Champion of the Parish comes down and is answered by our freshly drawn Boros Reckoner. Domri Rade the following turn allows us to use Reckoner for the old two-for-none; another Domri and a Pit Fighter later has the opponent reaching for the board.

Sidebord: -4 Thundermaw Hellkite, -3 Selesnya Charm, -1 Domri Rade, +3 Bonfire of the Damned, +2 Pillar of Flame, +3 Unflinching Courage.  Removal and life gain.  Pretty academic at this point.

Game 2 – Turn one Pilgrim into Turn two Voice and Pillar of Flame is a good enough game plan to make me keep the opener.  This game allows us to really showcase the power of Sublime Archangel – we stabilize a clogged up ground board with some mana dorks and a Smiter, and then drop a Sublime Archangel; this allows us to swing with a 5/5 Avacyn’s Pilgrim while still leaving back a formidable defense. This forces the opponent to make some bad attacks to try to clear the field a bit, but still leaves the Sublime lady to swing over the remaining forces in chunks of eight at a time. The opponent disconnects for a while, then comes back to give us the concession.

Match 2 – Esper – This is actually one of the easier matches that I have been playing lately.  Naya just has a neverending stream of threats, all coming out of the gates quickly.  Despite both a Supreme Verdict and a Terminus on time from the opponent, Trogdor swoops in for clean up.

Sideboard: -3 Selesnya Charm, +2 Assemble the Legion, +1 Oblivion Ring

Game 2 – We keep a very loose hand with one land, needing only a second non-Kessig Wolf Run land to be able to dump our hand of double Voice of Resurgence and Flinthooof Boar.  We get an Avacyn’s Pilgrim as the first draw (good enough with the Temple Garden in hand) and proceed to run out the stream of threats until the opponent is dead.

Match 3 – Junk Aristocrats – Game one we mull to five landing on four lands and a Pilgrim. After seeing three spells in twelve cards, its time to pack it in.  Thankfully, I knew what I was up against.

Sideboard: -3 Selesnya Charm, -1 Domri Rade, -4 Voice of Resurgence, -1 Arbor Elf, +2 Pillar of Flame, +2 Rest in Peace, +3 Bonfire of the Damned, +2 Unflinching Courage

Game 2 we draw both Rest in Peace.  He does not draw removal for it. We win.

Game 3 was really a good one. I’m not going to spoil it, as I think you should watch it. It starts at 2:21:58.

The Breakdown

Overall, I have been very pleased with the deck.  I learned a couple of very important lessons from the stream this week, the most important being that if you have a trick that you are going to side out, then make sure you show it to the opponent in game one.  I should have done this versus the Blitz player in game one, instead of running the double Domri Rade.  This might have given me the edge over my opponent by making him think twice about value attacks into open mana or blocking to trade with my guys.

Having access to Ghor-Clan Rampager is one thing, but also having Selesnya Charm makes math harder for the opponent.  If possible, make him or over-think the next games.  Second (and most obvious) is that you should always play out the haste creature you have last, so that you can swing as a team on time.  I admit to having a bit of a hoof-on for Fast Bacon this week, but I expect that moving forward, I will be able to serve him to my opponents more effectively.

The major deficiency that I have found in this deck is a distinct lack of hard removal.  I have been getting pummeled by RG Aggro in almost every match I face it in, and as such I think it’s time to rework the board for that one pairing in particular.  I have been looking over the plethora of articles on Naya from this week, and I have a few changes that I expect will give us a little extra heat for tonight’s show.  For reference, check out LegitMTG.com writer Mike Keknee’s article, as well as both Brian Kibler’s video series and Adrian Sullivan’s article on StarCityGames.com (these are both premium.)  All of these are also good reads if you are looking to explore a little deeper into Naya builds.

Finishing Up

This week’s winner of LegitMTG money is Edwin Chong.  Please make sure you email sales@legitmtg.com with the ID of your legitmtg.com user account to collect!  If you don’t comment on the article, you can’t win any money. I look to the comment section for your valuable input on the deck choice, card ideas, and play advice, so please continue to leave them.  I read the stream chat, but if you aren’t live with me I can’t get your feedback.

Special mention to Keith Iosso for his amazing comment this week.  I want to thank you for the time you took to write it, and want to send you a thank you gift.  Hit me up via email at Mrscottymac@gmail.com.

Thanks for tuning in everyone! Can’t wait to see you all tonight!!  9:30PM.  Be there!

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