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Compulsive Research: Cursing Hexproof

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

In this special edition of Compulsive Research, I wanted to focus on the matchup between our Naya Midrange deck and Bant Hexproof. I had been hearing for a long time from people who I trust that the matchup is terrible for Naya. Many words had been thrown around to describe it, only a few of which can be written on this website: terrible, one-sided, non-interactive, frustrating, @#$@#@$,#%%W@@#@#$ and lastly $#!@##@%!$$@$#^&#@!$%$&#^@%#$^&%$%#^@%#$%&^%$&^%$#@#%#^&$. I didn’t have the required personal experience with the matchup, so I decided to see how bad it was for myself. Here is the baseline list we were going to use for testing.

Traditionally, the most used sideboard card for this matchup is Ray of Revelation. Willy Edel once suggested on Twitter he would rather have the third copy be a Glaring Spotlight, but otherwise, it seems like non-targeted sweepers and Ray of Revelation combined with Unflinching Courage was the generally accepted method of attack. Stabilize and race.

It seemed like a somewhat unreliable plan to me. So many of our cards are designed to interact with the opponent’s creatures, albeit through combat, or through abilities like Domri Rade fights or Boros Reckoner redirections. I definitely wanted to try out a volume of Glaring Spotlights. If our best cards are designed to interact, then why not let them? The card also has a little known second ability that is basically, 3, sacrifice: Alpha-strike your opponent without fear or impunity.

In order to make this work, we had to change the entire way we thought about cards in this matchup. All of a sudden, Domri Rade seems pretty good. Boros Reckoner becomes very scary again. Mizzium Mortars could very well be a huge bomb. If we just dealt with the opposing Unflinching Courages, then we might just have a shot. I was going to make sure that I left no stone unturned.

Know Your Enemy

I enlisted Mildy Vein (@Mildy_vein) of the Heavy Meta SVU to help me with the battles this week. I wanted someone with a good list and a good pedigree of success with the deck to ensure the quality of the opponent. Mildy had recently made it to the finals of a PTQ with the list and I knew he would be a great opponent. Here is the list he was battling with:

Sideboarding plan for Naya: -4 Voice of Resurgence, -2 Sliverblade Paladin, +2 Pacifism, +2 Advent of the Wurm, +2 Strangleroot Geist (on the draw), +2 Spell Rupture (on the play)

Advent of the Wurm really stood out to me as an option. I didn’t know exactly what was happening when he tapped out on my Turn 4 end step and dropped a big monster on my head. Then it received a shot of Unflinching Courage and that was certainly that. “You need to diversify your threats in the face of all the hate that is coming in against your deck in Games 2 and 3.” Also, Pacifism helps to remove blockers AND pump up Ethereal Armor. Super …

Let the Games Begin

Here are the first few games in which we use the more traditional sideboard plan:


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Here are the games in which I try out some Glaring Spotlight:


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And here is the rest of the stream for your sadomasochistic pleasure:


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Lessons Learned

Glaring Spotlight as a gameplan against this deck is definitely capable of improving the overall matchup percentages, but we would have to run four in the sideboard to almost guarantee it is found every game. Drawing multiples of this are completely useless, though, making the plan less desirable even though it might possibly be more effective. With Standard being so open and varied, this is likely not a method that I will be using moving forward.

Bonfire of the Damned is basically the best answer we have to this menace, even though it has to be combined with Ray of Revelation and excellent timing. I will have to look hard into the value of Bonfires, because the deck only gains threats like Gladecover Scout and potentially even Witchstalker as we move into M14 Standard. No matter what we do, the matchup will likely never be better than 40/60 in Bant’s favor.

Seeing that the deck gets stronger with M14 and that it put five people into the Top 16 of GP Miami, I know I can’t just ignore the deck. Defeating Hexproof requires you to draw your sideboard cards in some combination and to capitalize on moments of delay that those cards can generate. Knowing what hands you can keep and which you have to ship back is very important. I also likely have been making some very bad choices when it comes to cards I have been removing, so I hope Willy Edel can give me some guidance.

I have the normal stream episode and article coming up on Monday. I was able to get none other than Willy Edel to join me, since it was his articles on Naya that got me interested in the archetype in the first place. I can honestly tell you it was the best stream we have put on yet at Legit MTG, and I can’t wait for you to watch the replays. We played in a daily event, and … well … I guess you’ll see on Monday. The stream was a huge four-hour monster full of great rips, sick plays, and amazing stories. Come on back Monday for all the goods, and see why Willy really is the #EDELGENIUS.

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