A couple days ago I talked about how I would update my existing Abzan Aggro to fit the new Standard format once Battle For Zendikar releases on October 2nd, just about 10 days or so away. I’ve been playing the archetype since I got into Magic last October, almost a year now, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. But, I also like to play other decks, and in the last several months I’ve experimented with archetypes like Sultai Midrange, UW/Jeskai Heroic and also GW ORB, the latter of which is a GW aggro deck utilizing the Outlast, Renown and Bolster mechanics from the Khans of Tarkir block and Magic Origins.
With the new post-rotation format however, I want to experiment with something a bit different, such as Naya Aggro. I’m a GW player at heart, so branching out to other colours such as red or blue isn’t so comfortable for me, but with the spoiling of certain cards from Battle For Zendikar, red is looking very appealing on several different levels. Gideon’s Reproach, Scythe Leopard, Outnumber, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and the new fetchable dual lands are a great reason to branch out I think and that Naya provides a really nice shell for these and other existing cards that fit into this archetype.
This is the decklist that I’m going with so far. It has a creature and spells top-curve of 3, with the only more expensive spell being the two copies of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar as far as the main deck is concerned. I go up a bit in the sideboard with Wingmate Roc, Thunderbreak Regent and Outpost Siege but that’s really it. I’ve kept the curve on this deck intentionally low for explosive starts and to finish out the game before my opponents can have a chance to stabilize and hit back.
The plan here is to attack with cheap and efficient creatures which are backed up by cheap and efficient pump spells and removal. In kind of the way that Mono-red Aggro lists of the recent Standard have set themselves up to win by turn 3 or even 4, I intend to do the same here. This is a list built to put a lot of pressure on the opponent in the first few turns and should they miss out with their removal, then they are going to be incredibly behind.
Creatures like Monastery Swiftspear and Scab-Clan Berserker come with Haste tacked on and get in a few hits immediately. An early Scythe Leopard backed up with fetches, of which I run 8 so far, can become a monster on the turn it attacks, essentially becoming a 1-mana 3/3 at least. Patric Chapin and Mike Flores’ recent podcast on the Battle Lands, the new duals from Battle For Zendikar, has convinced me about the power of the fetchable duals and shard-colour manabases and this is a nod to that. Knight of the White Orchid and Abbot of Keral Keep provide a significant card advantage, helping to either trigger Landfall for the Scythe Leopard and put me ahead on mana, or trigger Prowess on other Abbots already in play or Monastery Swiftspear or the Seeker of the Way. The Seekers in turn help me stabilize and attack profitably with it even if it eats mid-combat removal spells.
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is the biggest flex spot in this list. I’ve included him because being a non-creature spell he helps turn on Prowess for three of my creatures, and also because of his -4 ability which can instantly boost any of my creatures. Both of those combined put any of my creatures out of Wild Slash range, which is pretty important since we no longer have Lightning Strike in the format. And if I just want to not get the anthem effect, then I can add a creature to the board and should I happen to untap with him in play, then I can hit back for 7 damage on turn 5 with just Gideon.
The spells suite here took a lot of work to get it down to the numbers I have and I think I cover pretty much everything without compromising in any way. The main thing of course is that with nine creatures packing Prowess, cheap spells are the way to go, and most of the spells I have fall in 1-2 mana range, with only Exquisite Firecraft being the expensive one at 3-mana. Even then, that’s beneficial because those cheap spells help me get Spell Mastery for the Exquisite Firecraft to prevent it from being countered, a big advantage in the mid-late game against any blue decks.
My take on these spells is that they all provide me with 2-for-1 advantages against my opponents. Titan’s Strength can help my small creatures take down bigger creatures and fix my next draw step. Swell of Growth does a similar thing but also puts me ahead on lands, which is important for the Scythe Leopard. Atarka’s Command is like Swell of Growth combined with Gideon’s -4 combined with Lightning Strike combined with some life-gain prevention, all for the measly cost of RG. That’s a hell of a rate, and makes it one of the key cards that I have. Dromoka’s Command can be used to prevent burn/damage spells from doing their thing at a crucial moment, while also helping me to boost my creatures in or out of combat. The Enchantment-sacrifice mode is also relevant against some of the newer spells such as the Retreat cycle of Enchantments, Stasis Snare, From Beyond, Molten Nursery or what have you. The mode is a little weaker in the absence of the Theros block, but it is still very relevant. Wild Slash and Exquisite Firecraft on the other hand are typical spells to be found in red decks, and I believe that together they are going to be the premier burn spells of the format. I probably won’t get to trigger Ferocious on the Wild Slash all that often unless my creatures get really big, but it is still a good way to steal the early aggression from an opponent. And the Exquisite Firecraft, it is self-explanatory anyway.
Looking at the manabase here now. As I said above, Patrich Chapin and Mike Flores’ latest Top Level Podcast on the Battle Lands was extremely informative on the power of the fetchable duals. As many people have said before, this is the first time in Standard that we have had Fetchlands and fetchable duals in the format at the same time. I’m running 8 fetches right now, both oncolour in the form of the Windswept Heath and Wooded Foothills, so combined with the 7 basics, I pretty much have a very high chance of having them enter untapped on turn 3. With the 2-2 split that I have for Canopy Vista and Cinder Glade, they are also the only tapped lands in the entire list, with my final 4 slots given to Battlefield Forge.
This combination helps ensures that I won’t have the same problems as many of the other three-colour decks such as those built around the Khans of Tarkir clan colours, or even the four-colour and five-colour decks that are going to spring up in the new format to take advantage of the Converge mechanic. I simply will be able to cast all my creatures and spells on-curve and on-time without having to wait a turn just because all I could do was put a Khans of Tarkir triland or a Theros block Scryland in play for that turn. Again, being an aggro deck with a low curve, this is all the more important in the new format.
The sideboard is where things get really interesting. I don’t hold myself to be a good deckbuilder by any stretch, especially not sideboards, so this is where I think the deck needs some significant work, especially with the new format incoming.
The two copies of Outnumber are there to take advantage of my early aggression to get any annoying big creatures out of the way, or even any small creatures. Of course, to be truly effective it requires a certain amount of critical creatures to be on the board, which I’d put at 2 since I almost always want to cast this mid-combat. That’s where it shines. The Roast is there to take out creatures like Siege Rhinos and Whisperwood Elementals etc, creatures that I can’t go toe-to-toe with in a straight fight. Cheap and efficient like I said. The Outpost Siege is there for some mid-late game staying power. Both modes on the Enchantment are powerful in this deck because I can play any spell in my deck through by choosing Khans while also being able to play any spells from my hand at the same time, and because Dragons can be reliably triggered as well.
This is where the next spell in the sideboard, Hordeling Outburst, comes in as a 2-of. It combos nicely with Atarka’s Command, Giden, Ally of Zendikar, Outnumber, the Prowess creatures, and with Outpost Siege itself. The tokens are slightly more powerful since we no longer have Bile Blight and Drown In Sorrow in the format, though we have also lost Goblin Rabblemaster, which was a great card that could double-down on the tokens to boost itself. The card gives me a different angle to attack with and I value that highly. The Thunderbreak Regent and the Wingmate Roc are two others way for me to get some staying power in the mid-late game. They are also both fliers and are good against spot removal because they always provide a 2-for-1 advantage against my opponent. The Den Protector similarly comes in for the long game where I want to have some card advantage to make up for the cheap creatures and spells. It is also another great target for some of my pump spells given the first ability on the card, which can be very powerful later on. And finally, Ride Down. This is actually one of the most fun cards in this list. It is a very situational card as with most of the sideboard, but it also helps me get around chump-blockers, token creatures most of all. On creatures like the Scab-Clan Berserkers for whom getting Renowned is a pretty big deal, Ride Down is very, very good, even on the Prowess creatures.
So that’s the list I’ve come up with. I was initially going for a RW Allies list when I started brewing, but couldn’t get the numbers down for that, and just ended up switching to Boros Aggro to make it more streamlined, and then Naya Aggro to take advantage of the new lands and the synergies there with other creatures and spells. As we get some more clarity about the set through Prerelease, and release and then the Pro Tour and Game Day, I’ll refine the list, since I do want to see how cards such as Heir of the Wilds and Warden of the First Tree can function here as alternate 1-drops and 2-drops or whether Chandra’s Ignition and Fiery Impulse are good spells to add in. And the sideboard definitely needs to be more balanced since it is very red-heavy, but this is a pretty damn good shell to work with, and I’m pretty excited to be testing this out as soon as I can.