The day is finally upon us! We have finally reached Nyx after a long and hard-fought journey. Standard has been feeling rather stale as of
late, but we finally have the shakeup it deserves! The Open Series is going to be in Cincinnati this weekend to showcase just
how much Journey into Nyx is going to change Standard. There is also going to be a Legacy tournament, but who really cares about that? Delver is good, the
end! The real story is going to be revealed on Saturday during the Standard Open!
Sadly I’m not going to be in attendance this weekend due to the Pro Tour that is right around the corner and I have to buckle down and test for that. I
did, however, put my heart and soul into a deck for the Standard Open, and I want to show you guys why I think Giant Growth is once again Standard
playable. Wait, I’m jumping ahead of myself! Ah, what the hell, here’s the deck!
- 4 Dryad Militant
- 3 Loxodon Smiter
- 4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 4 Boros Reckoner
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 4 Fleecemane Lion
- 3 Soldier of the Pantheon
I have been a strong advocate for this deck ever since Mana Confluence was spoiled and nothing has made me shy away from this explosive shell. I fell in
love with this deck a couple of months back but sadly gave up on it due to the poor mana base. All the spells were perfect but the deck just had too many
issues with enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands. Mana Confluence fixed all of my concerns, making this my frontrunner for the new Standard format.
Before we go any further I want to squash the “Soldier of Pantheon is bad in this deck” arguments I hear many players make. I understand you can’t target
it with the maindeck pump spells. And yes, it gets trumped by Sylvan Caryatid, Courser of Kruphix, and pretty much everything else in the midrange decks
because its protection from multicolored doesn’t matter that much, but it is essential to this strategy. Without a high volume of creatures in the early
game, Brave the Elements becomes much weaker as a way to win the game and it’s important to have one mana creatures to be able to deal enough early game
damage to be able to combo kill them in the midgame. Without early creatures, the deck falls behind too quickly and ends up failing to find a line that can
win the game.
Now even though I suggest this deck for this weekend, I want to preface this article with the fact that this deck is extremely difficult to play. This deck
is the perfect example of “What you did last turn will impact how you play this turn.” Please be aware of this before picking it up. You have to figure out
quickly how you want to win the game and play towards that goal. Whether that is a swarm of creatures, grinding them out, killing them with Ghor-Clan
Rampager plus Boros Charm, or casting an unstoppable Brave the Elements, you need to understand how you’re going to win the game. This deck does not have
inevitability against many decks, making it crucial that you find every point of damage you can.
Let’s break this down.
Brave the Elements can be used for two different things. It can either protect your creatures from removal or it can be used to deal large chunks of damage
when the board is littered with creatures. If you want to kill someone with Brave the Elements, you need creatures in play. This means that trading a
Soldier of Pantheon on turn two is probably not what you want to be doing. Sometimes it seems correct to do so, but only if you have other plans on how you
want to win the game. Sometimes letting the board build up is fine since that extra body will be the deciding factor of whether you win the game or not. It
also makes Voice of Resurgence stronger since the Elemental token will have some meat on its bones.
One play that should always be made with this deck is attacking with Voice of Resurgence. Not only does this creature have two lives, but players are often
scared of an Elemental token. Not only can you be representing a combat trick like Selesnya Charm or Ghor-Clan Rampager, but an opponent can also be afraid
of the token that follows the block. It is crucial to suicide Voice of Resurgence into creatures like Courser of Kruphix in the early game. Often times
you’re just going to get free damage and not have to worry about not progressing your board.
Sometimes clearing the board is exactly what you want so cards like Fleecemane Lion, Boros Reckoner, and Loxodon Smiter have room to outclass an opponent’s
board of creatures. Keeping both players low on creatures can be a good thing if your hand has more meaty threats and pump spells than Voice of Resurgence
and Brave the Elements.
I’ve been talking about this deck for some time now
, so odds are you have already heard most of my reasons for liking this deck. One thing that hasn’t been discussed is how I got to the fifteen cards in the
sideboard, so I think we should spend some time there.
I might actually end up wrong about this card. It has always been a great card in this deck’s sideboard against aggressive strategies, but I’m nervous that
all of those decks will have removal spells too good for this card to do more than hit once. Even then, it might be enough to swing the game. I haven’t had
a reason not to play this card yet, so my gut says that it will be good enough.
I can’t think of a better time to play Domri in the sideboard. Sure there will be more Abrupt Decays and Banishing Lights, but this format is going to be
extremely tempo-based and forcing an opponent to deal with a Domri Rade at the perfect time can lock up a game. Do not play this card as your route to
victory, but as a tempo play. Cast it at the most annoying time for an opponent to deal with it.
There are many creatures that this deck will just want dead in the early game. Courser of Kruphix, Scavenging Ooze, Archangel of Thune, Blood Baron of
Vizkopa, Loxodon Smiter, Frostburn Weird, you get the idea. Mizzium Mortars is the most bang for your buck right now.
Banishing Light was originally on my radar for a card I wanted to play, but I ended up shying away from it due to it not being a permanent answer to a
spell. It costs three and can be targeted by Abrupt Decay and other Banishing Lights, making it a weak card because both of those cards are already good
against this deck. I don’t want to board in removal that is answered by my opponent’s answers.
This led me to Glare of Heresy. There are not many cards that I want to Banishing Light that I can’t Selesnya Charm, Mizzium Mortars, or Glare of Heresy.
Even though Banishing Light is considered the ”catch all,” it just isn’t efficient enough to justify over these leaner removal spells.
It took a long time for me to figure out this creature, but I was locked in once I set my eyes on it. This is the perfect card for what I think is going to
show up this weekend in Cincinnati. Almost everyone is talking about Naya Hexproof and for good reason. The deck got better mana and another hexproof
creature. All that is left is the results to back up the deck, but our own Michael Jacob has already put his stamp of approval on the deck. I don’t know if you know
this, but MJ is all about the quality. I might be right more times than he is, but that is not due to a high percentage. I just talk more.
With that, I think many will follow in his footsteps and bring Naya Hexproof to battle. One of the strongest cards for this matchup is in fact Keening
Apparition. This guy not only comes down and starts dealing damage, but it also helps deal with problematic permanents like Unflinching Courage the split
second they come into play. This could even help keep creatures from attacking. No longer does a simple Ethereal Armor screw up the math. As long as
Keening Apparition is in play, the life of a Naya Hexproof player is complicated. You know what else will complicate the life of a Naya Hexproof player?
I will give you some time to laugh if you already haven’t. “Giant Growth is not a sideboard card!” is what I imagine all of you are saying. Now hear me out
because I think this is the perfect sideboard card for this deck.
One of the most difficult board states this deck can get in is attacking through big green creatures. Courser of Kruphix; Polukranos, World Eater; and
Sylvan Caryatid are all important hurdles this deck have to get around to deal damage. Brave the Elements is not a card I want against decks like this
since it won’t do any good on turn three when we can’t attack. This means that the deck has to transition away from Brave the Elements and more towards a
normal Naya Aggro deck. Since these midrange decks are full of green creatures, it will be easier to keep attacking through them if our density of pump
spells goes up.
The other strong place for Giant Growth is against Naya Hexproof. Often times the creature on their side of the board is roughly the same as the creature
we just cast, but the enchantment they play will change that. One timely Giant Growth can dismantle their plan of attacking and almost end the game on the
spot. Even if that isn’t the case, we will often times have to race them, making it more plausible to combo kill with Boros Charm.
I might be off the deep end with this card, but I put four copies into the Top 8 of a Grand Prix before, and I think it’s finally time to see it do some
VS. Sphinx’s Revelation Control
The goal in this matchup is to set yourself up to win when they tap out. Supreme Verdict can be answered with either Boros Charm, giving your team amnesty,
or a flashy Knight token coming down to finish the game with Ghor-Clan Rampager and Boros Charm. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is oftentimes their answer to a
board full of creatures, but this does not do as much in this matchup due to how well this deck can Brave the Elements.
Brave the Elements does not have much work to do in this matchup. Oftentimes it will be trying to protect a Voice of Resurgence from Last Breath, but Giant
Growth can do that on its own. Additional pump spells are also great when trying to finish the game off in a timely fashion or killing Jace, Architect of
VS. Red Based Aggression
The easiest way to win these matchups is to try to take the game over with three drops. Boros Reckoner and Loxodon Smiter are both tough-to-deal-with
permanents that do a great job not only at blocking but also getting on the offensive. Try to keep a high life total, but it’s pretty easy to be the
aggressor due to how big most of our creatures are.
Boros Charm just isn’t what we want here due to how fast the games will be. Sure the combo can win some games, but the card is almost always dead unless
it’s ending the game. It will rot in your hand more times than not.
VS. Naya Hexproof
Your goal is to try to keep a good board position for most of the game. This will become more manageable with enchantment removal.
VS. Green Based Midrange
These come in all different shapes and sizes, but the most important thing to know is to try to stay ahead of them. You’re on the clock due to how powerful
Scavenging Ooze can be. Pick your spots and don’t waste any resources needed to win the game. Also try to get a Voice of Resurgence to turn into an
elemental token as quickly as possible as that is one of the easiest ways to steal game 1.
This is often how I board against these decks, but since it’s week one there will be new decks that arise. Just know that if they have Sylvan Caryatid, you
always bring out Soldier of the Pantheon.
VS. Mono-Blue Devotion
Just hope you’re lucky! This is the worst matchup for Brave Naya. Originally I had cards like Banishing Light and Skylasher, but I decided to concede this
matchup. I’m assuming it will get worse with the new set, but if that’s not true, we’ll have to reevaluate in a week. For now I’m just letting this one go.
VS. Mono-Black Devotion Variants
This is one of the great matchups that makes me love Brave Naya as a strategy. They just have such a tough time keeping up with you. Unlike Selesnya decks,
Pack Rat isn’t even a real threat on the draw because of Boros Reckoner. Sure, they can kill it, but it’s one of the only threats we can play that will
hinder their rat infestation.
It will be much easier to analyze Standard next week once we get some results, but for now, I highly recommend this deck for anyone playing this weekend.
Not only is it proactive, it’s playing some of the most powerful cards in the format. I also have yet to find a deck that utilizes Mana Confluence as well
as Brave Naya.
I will be playing this deck at FNM tonight so if you are planning on playing this deck on Saturday I highly recommend you follow me on Twitter. I will be posting any changes to the deck tonight once I get my hands on some tournament
play. Good luck!