Hello all! My name is rainin6, and while a frequent reader of MTGO Academy, this is my first time writing! I decided to pick up the “pen and paper” to share my latest adventure in the Standard Daily Event held on August 18, 2010. The deck I decided to run was Naya with an idiosyncratic sideboard. That is, I consciously chose to run a singleton sideboard — allow me to explain after presenting my 75 cards.
Naya Shaman played by rainin6 on 08/18/2010
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Singleton Sideboard Rationale:
My reasons for playing a singleton sideboard were twofold: (1) I wanted to have a versatile and unexpected sideboard; and (2) I love to “mise” victories by drawing my one-of cards for complete blowout victories. Generally, I would not recommend bringing a singleton sideboard to a tournament if you want to do your best, but I see Daily Events as good testing grounds with decent competition to try out different cards against various matchups. Also, who would really be expecting Naya to have a clutch Bojuka Bog to clear the graveyard in the mirror match or against other graveyard-centric decks? The same goes for cards like Martial Coup that no one would really expect from a creature deck (at least in this era). So with this paradigm set, we’ll see which, if any, sideboard cards had a noticeable impact and if any are worthy of consideration in a legitimate deck list!
Round One: strong sad (w/ Naya Shaman)
G1: Unfortunately, MTGO lost this game. I wish I could provide some pertinent information, but all I remember was that I had a Fauna Shaman online and searched up my Linvala, Keeper of Silence, hushing his Fauna Shaman and Knight of the Reliquary. From that point forward, the game was easily in my favor, and my Cunning Sparkmage (equipped with Basilisk Collar) took the game from him.
G2: Would you keep a hand with 4 lands (Nayatron), Fauna Shaman, Gideon Jura, and Sun Titan? I found this hand to be a bit slow, but felt confident that if I could get Fauna Shaman online, I would be able to retrieve Linvala (much like I did the first game). Moreover, Gideon Jura would be excellent in the match. I think that deciding whether or not to take a mulligan is one of the most crucial decisions that a player can make in a game. For most of the part, the plays made within the games are nearly automatic once you know what is important to win the matchups. But I see people keeping questionable hands all the time!
As for the game itself, strong sad played a Turn 3 Linvala and shut me down for a long moment. Unfortunately, I was not able to get two White mana before he had taken quite a chunk of life from me. But here was the board position; what is the correct play (with two White mana floating)?
If you said, “Play Gideon Jura and destroy Linvala, use Sparkmage to kill his Sparkmage, and tap Forest for Birds of Paradise to use for defense,” you would be correct. However, in the excitement of finding a second source of White mana, I incorrectly tapped my lands and was unable to cast the Birds of Paradise even though I made the other two plays. On his turn, he came over for lethal damage with the Raging Ravine while completely ignoring Gideon. Having the Birds in play would not have necessarily turned the game around entirely; however, it would have afforded me an opportunity to play Sun Titan and bring back Knight of the Reliquary. This goes to show that my emotions could still get the best of me, and they quite possibly cost me a chance at winning the game.
G3: For the final game, I had the best possible hand possible. It contained 4 lands (Nayatron), Birds, Sparkmage, and Linvala. While my opponent did have a solid draw of Fauna Shaman, followed by Knight of the Reliquary, and then followed by Vengevine, Linvala proved to be invaluable. He did threaten quite a bit of damage, but when I played my Inferno Titan on Turn 6, he conceded.
Note: In the Naya mirror, I learned the value of Linvala (as she dominated all three games that she came into play). What I found a bit peculiar was the Vengevine that strong sad played in Game 3. It is my opinion that Vengevine is not that great in the mirror match. The mirror match, as I see it, is strictly determined by who has the proper utility creatures for the situation. Vengevine appears here simply as a very aggressive and recurring creature, but that doesn’t do enough on its own.
Round Two: NinjaJeff (w/ Blue-White Control)
G1: My most dreaded matchup! I don’t know how other Naya players feel about this matchup, but I (almost) always perform terribly- my win percentage must be in the low 30 percentile. Needless to say, I lost this game. Perhaps I was a bit dejected at this pairing (or perhaps it was the fact that he played counters on my first three plays), but I felt like there was no chance for me to win. What I may have done incorrectly here was assume that he had counters every time, and thus I slowed my pace of play down a little bit. My problem was that I gave this deck too much credit and expected him to have the answer to everything. As it turned out, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Down a game and whining bitterly to ChrisKool, I decided that I had nothing to lose and would not slow my game down at all for him. I would leave myself in a position where if he has a Day of Judgment, so be it.
G2: I played this game out without fearing the counters as noted. A crucial decision came up on Turn 4.
A little background: On his turn, he played a Tectonic Edge and cast Elspeth, Knight-Errant. At the end of his turn, I fetched up Tectonic Edge and destroyed a Celestial Colonnade (considered getting a Raging Ravine, but I didn’t). So, do you cast anything? Who do you attack — NinjaJeff or Elspeth?
I chose to attack NinjaJeff and ignore Elspeth. Then, I cast the second Knight. The biggest fear of this play is that if he has a Day of Judgment, I am completely blown out since the board would be cleared and he would have an Elspeth in play. I chose this line of play because if I was him, instead of casting Elspeth, I think I would have definitely played Day. The argument could be made that he was trying to be greedier by having an Elspeth in play post-Day. I dismissed this because from his end I could have possibly played Vengevine to kill his Elspeth and leave him still in a rough spot (and now with a Vengevine in the graveyard to deal with) or a Bloodbraid Elf (which would have been equally bad). If he had the Day of Judgment, he had to cast it that turn. Without him holding Day of Judgment, the line of play seemed clear. From there, I was able to win while Elspeth stayed on the board. I bring this up because one of the most exciting parts of this game is the mental puzzles presented. Part of the strategy was placing myself in the shoes of the opponent and considering what plays he could make without knowing what cards are in his hand. As explained above, I deduced that either: (1) he wasn’t holding Day of Judgment; or (2) he was being extremely greedy by holding Day of Judgment for one more turn. After doing some analysis, it felt that (2) was not realistic, because it would be much too dangerous.
G3: Since my aggressive strategy worked out in Game 2, I decided to do the same thing in the match decider. I was able to continually cast a stream of creatures, which he removed with Oblivion Rings, but when my Fauna Shaman untapped, it immediately started fetching Vengevines. I did not fear Day of Judgment as I did in Game 2 because of double Vengevine. On Turn 5, at 12 life, when he was facing exactly lethal damage, he tapped out for Jace, The Mind Sculptor and unsummoned my Vengevine instead of a Fauna Shaman. I just recast the hasted creature and dealt the exact 12 damage. By bouncing the Fauna Shaman, he would have bought himself one whole turn.
Note: The thing I did here was go as near all-in as possible. Instead of being too wary of counters and not casting creatures (which generally just gifted him too much time), my better line of play was to cast threats that he would have to answer and hope eventually that he would be too behind to turn the game around. As you can see, this plan worked out!
Round Three: chihoi (w/ Mythic Conscription)
G1: This game started with both of us with mana acceleration creatures, but nothing for me to get Linvala nor Cunning Sparkmage. A key point came when he played a Mana Leak on my second Noble Hierarch. This should have set off bells in my head- mainly, I should have added to my many thoughts, “Could he possibly have another Mana Leak for an actual threat?” Apparently, my mind was completely blank to the possibility, and it showed when I walked one of my best cards in this matchup, Linvala, right into his second Leak. To his credit, I was slightly baited by not realizing (obviously) that Lotus Cobra and Verdant Catacombs means that he had Leak protection up still. After he countered my threat, he found his Sovereigns of Lost Alara, and there was nothing I could do about it.
G2: After taking a mulligan, I was presented with this hand: Raging Ravine, Arid Mesa, Plains, Bloodbraid Elf, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, and Inferno Titan. Would you keep this hand or go down to five cards? I ended up keeping this hand, which proved to be much to slow as my Linvala was removed with an Oblivion Ring while he did his thing. Sorry, but these particular games against Mythic Conscription were a bit bland.
Note: What I learned from this match was that I should not be afraid to mulligan down to five if necessary. I was comfortable with taking a mulligan down to six cards if the hand doesn’t have a sound game plan. But, when I looked down at six cards, I almost nearly always kept- so long as there was sufficient land. After this match, I thought to myself that going down to five would have been a better option. After all, if I kept this hand, I would most assuredly lose unless my opponent has some similarly clunky draw — basically leaving the game up to him to dictate whether I win or lose. If I went down to five cards and it was not a winner, hey, at least I gave myself a shot at winning the game by gambling and taking the mulligan. And the upside, I could have had a marvelous five card hand that could indeed win me the game. I erred on the side of being conservative and paid the price here. Also, it’s always, always crucial to have your head in the game and think through all the possibilities whenever a certain play sets off bells and whistles.
Round Four: depardiue07 (w/ White Weenies — splash Blue)
G1: Unfortunately, MTGO lost this game. But for posterity’s sake, there are two keys to winning this relatively favorable matchup. First, Cunning Sparkmage equipped with a Basilisk Collar will win this match single-handedly. On balance with this is the second- you mustn’t leave your life total so low with creatures on defense of shared color so that a Brave the Elements can win him the game. With these two concepts in mind, I was able to play the “combo” while being wary of Mana Leak and also use random Birds of Paradise to chump block in order to keep my life total high enough. I won shortly thereafter.
G2: What Naya tournament report would be complete without giving the readers a chance to see what they would get with Fauna Shaman? Here was the board:
My frontrunner plan was to get Inferno Titan; whereby if he didn’t have the Mana Leak, I pretty much would win immediately. I ended up choosing Dauntless Escort. My reasoning was that prior to the match, I knew that he had Day of Judgment and felt that he was slow rolling a little bit and trying to create an issue with his fully-leveled Student of Warfare. A Dauntless Escort would allow me to play around Day of Judgment while allowing me to hold back his Student via Knight of the Reliquary which could get Sejiri Steppe anytime and let the game drag on a bit. This proved to be the incorrect call. On his turn, he played a Sigil of Distinction and used Brave the Elements to bypass my Green guys for lethal damage. In retrospect, the case could be made for Inferno Titan, Baneslayer Angel, or even Stoneforge Mystic being tutored for during the above Fauna activation. It was my fear of Day of Judgment that ultimately clouded my own judgment and allowed him to win this game. Using Fauna Shaman can be tough!
G3: As I feel this is report is going a little long and I’ve failed to find any key points with my sideboard, I’m most lucky that this game showed the goods! After swapping some red zone visits back and forth, I was able to resolve a blowout Martial Coup (complete with sandbagging threats in my hand) followed by a Garruk Wildspeaker to seal the deal for me. Go Martial Coup!
All in all, going 3-1 with this deck made me happy. I netted a profit of 16 tickets and had some fun. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the huge impact from my sideboard that I had wished. But then again, my sideboard wasn’t totally mind-blowing (aside from a few cards). I did enjoy the Martial Coup and was looking forward to playing Garruk against the Blue-White Control deck. Inferno Titan seemed like an excellent card to have somewhere in your 75 to go get. If I had to play this deck again, I would definitely cut the Sword of Vengeance, since it was never really a card that I wanted to get with Stoneforge Mystic, but I can see the value in having a non-Basilisk Collar target. As for the sideboard, it will stay in flux as I continue to try out random ideas.
Well, that about wraps it up on my end here. If you have any compliments or critiques, feel free to respond in any form that you see fit. I would like to write a Standard Format tournament report every few weeks and look to improve as the weeks go by. Would you like more discussion on mulligans? Sideboard tactics? In-game decisions? Let me know if there is anything that could be changed for the future or if there is anything you enjoyed especially. Until then, good luck grindin’ on MTGO!