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Diving Deeper Into Naya Adventures In Kaldheim Standard

With a known Kaldheim Standard metagame, it’s time to adjust Naya Adventures. Ari Lax offers a tuned list and extensive sideboarding guide.

Giant Killer, illustrated by Jesper Ejsing

Two weeks ago, Brad Nelson wrote about all his lessons learned playing Naya Adventures.

For Week 0 coverage of a deck, it was a pretty good starting point. But with what we know about the metagame now, I think we can do a little bit better. With two weeks of iteration, here’s everything I know about Naya Adventures.

The List


The main difference between my list and Brad’s is maindecking Showdown of the Skalds. It’s probably because I’ve found the card to be phenomenal in almost every matchup where Brad started playing less proactive versions of the deck that could easily get into trouble and not want to spend a turn drawing cards. Starting with less aggressive lists probably also led to Brad underestimating the +1/+1 counters distributed by the later chapters. Showdown is most of The Great Henge plus most of Embercleave, and that is pretty darn good.

Brad is right that Showdown gets better after sideboarding, but if anything my issue has been that I want too many cards in my sideboard these days and the metagame spread is too wide. If Showdown is one of those “sideboard” cards, it’s by far the one I want the most against everything. Sure, you can point towards the tried-and-true rule of matchups becoming grindier after sideboarding, but in practice people don’t have that many cards against Naya Adventures because there aren’t a lot of great ways to reposition against it. What, are you going to sideboard into better answers against the two-for-one theme deck with Tidings in it? The games don’t really shift that much and Showdown is constantly overpowering people.

Brad said the mana was dicey for white and I have not found that to be true for Showdown. The cost is a single basic Plains and turning some Shatterskull Smashings into Needleverge Pathways.

The card that has made me feel like I’m stretching my white mana is Giant Killer and that’s only because the 1/2 tapper function of the card keeps overperforming. Unlike Embereth Shieldbreaker, it feels great to cast Giant Killer as a Edgewall Innkeeper cantrip, since it sitting around is valuable as the game progresses.

Let’s move on to where Brad and I agree.

Cutting Brushfire Elemental is a stupid idea. You aren’t a control deck; you are an aggro deck with good enough cards to play midrange if forced to.

Shepherd of the Flock is not a Standard-level card. It’s Blade of the Sixth Pride. You also quickly learn that setting up the second Showdown is mostly overkill in a good deck, and saving something with Usher to Safety is not much better than just drawing another good card.

Once you clear the basic Gruul Adventures plus Showdown core, there aren’t many flex slots. I’m not especially attached to any of the creatures that fill out the deck, but they do a good enough job. Scavenging Ooze and Embereth Shieldbreaker are largely sideboard overflow that are fine at keeping your Game 1 curve down, and Goldspan Dragon is just a decent tool for closing out clogged games. If you want a maindeck copy of The Akroan War or to try out cheaper haste creatures like Arni Brokenbrow or Questing Beast, go ahead and start by trimming these cards.

I should briefly comment on the absence of Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate. I like the card, and zero might be wrong, but Goldspan Dragon really cuts into the range of decks you want the card against. Not only is it so hard for Vivien to safely land against that card, Goldspan Dragon is a natural predator of the green mirrors where Vivien shined the brightest. I would go back to playing some if the mirror and Mono-Green Food go back to the primary matchups, but it’s expendable until then.

Matchups

More than anything else, the thing Brad couldn’t give two weeks ago is finely tuned matchup plans. The format was just too new to know where everything sat. He was fairly close since most of the old Gruul knowledge still applied, but here’s where everything sits as things settle into the Kaldheim era.

VS Sultai Ramp (Yorion)


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The opening hands you’re looking for are any aggressive start, especially backed by Showdown of the Skalds. Your expensive cards are less exciting than they look. Brushfire Elemental is your best non-Showdown card.

Todd is a maniac for thinking this matchup is good for the Sultai side. In a trend you will see across every remotely controlling matchup, they can’t beat a Showdown of the Skalds cast between Turn 5 and Turn 7 unless they have Ultimatum on the spot. If they have answers, they die to the cards; if they don’t have answers, they die to the cards and added power. Their absolute best hands with perfect mana, answers, and an on-time Ultimatum are good, but every other plan they pursue is a dead end against Naya Adventures. Maybe that was good enough for 60-card decks with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, but 80-card piles without Uro don’t work that way.

The real sideboard gain here is Phoenix of Ash as yet another haste creature to finish the job quickly. Ox of Agonas is only a mild upgrade to the Throne of Eldraine artifacts, one that has baseline power and toughness and can still play after a Shadows’ Verdict. Honestly, I might be leaving in too many high-end cards and a Klothys, God of Destiny might be better than a random five-drop. Their answers are clunkier than your threats; hit them and don’t get stuck with uncastable cards.

VS Doom Foretold Yorion Decks


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Your best hands of raw pressure with a Showdown are the same, but your window to close is a bit smaller. They can start churning unbeatable Yorion, Sky Nomad chains between Turn 5 and Turn 6, and at the latest it is Turn 7 regardless of whether they draw a specific card like Emergent Ultimatum.

As a result, more expensive engines like The Great Henge and even Ox of Agonas are too easily exploited. You just want to get in your aggro lane and hit them until they die. Free Embercleave wins are too good to pass up since you have fewer turns of good attacks and less Jwari Disruption-style stuff to worry about.

One of the easier ways to lose this matchup is to throw away 1/1s into Omen of the Sun. Try not to do that.

The lower-power two-drops are things you can trim in the matchup if your sideboard plan shifts against specific things they have, like wanting Giant Killer to cover Polukranos, Unchained or other Abzan nonsense. If you have access to their decklist, look specifically for Mazemind Tome for Embereth Shieldbreaker. Otherwise your own dead creatures letting Ooze size up into an opposing Yorion and clear Elspeth Conquers Death targets tend to make it a better curve-filler.

VS Gruul and Naya Adventures


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Your best hands Game 1 are a good curve of threats topped off by an artifact. Showdown of the Skalds is usually as good as an artifact on the play, or if you have a Giant Killer to keep them off the creature they need for their artifact.

The white cards make a huge difference in the sideboarded games. Giant Killer is very effective against Embercleave, removing the need for conditional draws like Wilt. Showdown of the Skalds also covers The Akroan War fairly well, giving you a good play to respond to Chapter I with before unloading on Chapter II, similar to how your own The Akroan War often could counter theirs. It’s also really hard to play the reactive role against Naya Adventures because you can easily get trapped with a hand of answers against the unanswerable Showdown, so I try to play the mirrors more threat-densely than I did before Kaldheim.

Especially after sideboarding, this is one of the matchups where holding Edgewall Innkeeper until it draws a card the turn it’s cast is the most important. Once the artifacts are well covered by sideboarded answers so many things trade with each other that being up a card is brutal, and ending up down a card if your Innkeeper gets Stomped is tragic. On the same note, spending a Stomp on a Human token is a dicey proposition.

This sideboard plan tends to flex a little depending on their exact list. Against Gruul Adventures or if they just have three The Great Henge, I want the extra Embereth Shieldbreaker since it actually handles all their big plays, and on the draw I will think about trimming a Forest for the last Fire Prophecy. If your opponent is heavy on Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate you may want Goldspan Dragon, where it’s usually a worse high-end than an artifact or enchantment and a slight liability against The Akroan War.

VS Rakdos Midrange


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Your best hands are graveyard hate plus Showdown of the Skalds. Graveyard hate tends to be slightly more important than Showdown since you have more ways to approximate what Showdown does with Innkeeper and Henge than you have ways to cut off Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger.

Rakdos is a scary matchup at first, but once you understand what’s going on, it’s pretty easy. Your opponent is going to have a couple of good spots between Turn 4 and Turn 7 where The Akroan War or Claim the Firstborn bashes you hard. You need to not die there, and then also not die in the turns after to Kroxa or Woe Strider being a recursive threat grinding you down.

The way you do this is by becoming a deck full of interchangeable creatures, graveyard hate, and Tidings. If you just don’t die, don’t let them Kroxa you, and cast Showdown of the Skalds or The Great Henge or even just Ox of Agonas after spending your hand, their deck really can’t win. Don’t worry about killing them unless that’s your plan to cut them off Kroxa. Usually the game ends with you just churning through stuff while they sadly draw one card a turn.

Goldspan Dragon is the exact kind of card you don’t want in the matchup. You want your spells to be cheap and disposable so you resolve your card draw effect closer to ten life than zero, and Dragon is especially weak to Valki, God of Lies.

The Akroan War is mostly a defensive tool against their copies of The Akroan War with an occasional upside of cleaning up a sketchy situation before you start winning. Similarly, the cheap high-toughness creatures are good ways to hedge your commitment into The Akroan War since they don’t die to Chapter III.

Giant Killer as a tapper is especially effective, both holding off earlier damage and letting you kill one of their creatures by tapping it in response to Chapter III. Even if they don’t play Egon, God of Death, I still want the card in my deck. Since you want to use the tap ability so often, you should try to get your second white mana once you establish the double-red, double-green, single-white baseline.

Remember to not Stomp their other things when they control Woe Strider. I may have done this more than once.

Of course, this matchup might not be relevant for much longer. Being able to trim down on Klothys and maybe move some Scavenging Oozes around would be great, but the matchup swings so much thanks to those cards I’m not cutting them until after the wider metagame proves I don’t need them.

VS Izzet Midrange❄


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Brad had left the answer to whether this matchup is good or bad up to the wider metagame to solve. Having played it, I think the answer is it’s a tight one either way.

Your best hands are low to the ground with solid threats. Your expensive cards are good to resolve, but interchangeable and a liability if you fall behind. You want just enough to threaten to hammer the game home through their biggest threats, but not so many your hand is clogged up. Embercleave is clearly the worst because of how it lines up against Petty Theft and their general one-for-one trade plan. Despite dying to Stomp, Phoenix of Ash plays a crucial role in giving you an early play that continues to pressure late and can actually trade off for a flying threat.

Don’t attack threats into Shark Typhoon on convenient turns for your opponent.

Giant Killer as a tapper is again doing heavy lifting, covering Faceless Haven, Shark tokens, and Goldspan Dragon. This is another matchup where finding a spot to get a second white source counts.

Even if they trade a one-mana Frost Bite for a three-mana creature, their deck is oddly terrible at double-spelling. So many of their cards are one-for-ones and just expensive and reactive that they rarely get to make more than one play a turn unless attacking with Faceless Haven is a play. It doesn’t change a lot, but don’t feel too bad if they trade a card for your Kazandu Mammoth and don’t do anything else with their mana.

You may want to trim a land on the draw for an Ox of Agonas, since you want to lower your curve anyway and just casting spells as many turns as possible is so important when all their cards trade. This is definitely a matchup where flooding out is bad enough to take a bit more risk of mana screw.

VS Mono-White Aggro


I don’t have a set sideboard plan against the mono-white decks outside of bringing in Fire Prophecy since they are so variable, but here are some of the things that move around.

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You want the extra Shieldbreakers against the Maul of the Skyclaves versions. You trim Showdown when they have large amounts of Reidane, God of the Worthy and Drannith Magistrate to tax it, but if they’re just heavy on Reidane the artifacts tend to be a bit worse. The Akroan War is better against the Maul-heavy lists as well, but comes at the price of more exposure to Reidane. I usually just end up with a messy mix of the expensive spells and hope it works out, and it usually does because they are all uniquely powerful.

Brushfire Elemental is better against the non-Maul builds where breaking through blockers is important, and on the other side Giant Killer is one of the better answers to Maul.

It’s probably more important to think about your general strategy in the matchup. It has a similar feel to Rakdos, but instead of their good spots being assured swings, they have a limited number of game-ending plays that you just need to trade for. If you can just ensure the game stays as close to a midrange battle as possible, you will win because Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant will each solo about 80% of their deck.

On that note, Turn 1 Heart’s Desire is actually a risk in this matchup if they have Drannith Magistrate. If they might follow up with that card, just wait on your Adventures, and if they do have it, a three-mana 5/5 is good enough and it will attack eventually.

Edgewall Innkeeper is phenomenal here. Their hate creatures don’t touch it, and they can’t beat cantripping 4/3s and 5/5s.

VS Dimir Rogues


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Nothing changed. Read Autumn’s article. Your best hands pressure them well with some interaction. Showdown in multiples is going to be too slow, but the first one hammers it home and doesn’t require the same established presence The Great Henge does.

Adventures Versus the World

Unlike past midrange decks that have fallen off as a sixth or seventh set entered Standard, it really feels like Naya Adventures has kept up with the format. Throne of Eldraine was a bonkers set and it’s going to take a lot to override the raw power of the cards that aren’t banned.

Until I start seeing the decks that effectively go over or under the deck, I’m going to keep bashing people with these cards. And if someone does find the deck that Adventures can’t beat with just a couple of small changes, I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.