Naya Midrange Wins a Starcitygames Standard Open

December 4, 2012 | Posted by Dee

Wizards of the Coast is really understanding what it takes to create a fun, balanced Standard environment.

I’ve been playing Magic the Gathering for over ten years. Hands down, the current Standard season is the best one I’ve ever seen.

It’s by far the most diverse. Many different decks have done well, from super fast aggro to really slow control.

All kinds of cards are seeing play that you wouldn’t expect like Door to Nothingness and Pyreheart Wolf.

When you look at the Starcitygames Standard Open tournament circuit, you see a different winner in every tournament.

Here’s a list of the Standard Opens with Return to Ravnica and the winning decks.

DateLocationWinning Deck
October 7, 2012CincinnatiBlue/White/Red (UWR) Control
October 14, 2012ProvidenceGreen/White/Black (GWB) Tokens
October 21, 2012IndianapolisFour Color Reanimator
October 28, 2012New OrleansGreen/White (GW) Humans
November 4, 2012St. LouisBlue/White/Red (UWR) Midrange
November 11, 2012DallasBlue/White (UW) Flash
November 18, 2012SeattleBant Control
December 2, 2012BaltimoreNaya Midrange

Eight tournaments, eight different decks. That’s pretty amazing. I don’t think it’s happened before.

The latest winner is Naya Midrange. It came out of nowhere. No one was writing about the deck in the days leading up to the tournament but its dominance makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

Rakdos Aggro had just won Grand Prixs two weekends in a row so you had to expect many people would play it.

That proved to be the case as the top 32 had 16 Rakdos Aggro decks.

Naya Midrange is great against those decks because it can gain a lot life and launch strong counterattacks.

Check out the winning decklist below by Patrick Shifflett.

Naya Midrange
Creatures (24)
Spells (12)
Lands (24)
Sideboard (15)

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Deck Analysis

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Any deck with 4 Huntmaster of the Fells, 4 Thragtusk, and 4 Restoration Angel has got a strong foundation for beating aggro decks.

Huntmaster and Thragtusk gives you multiple blockers and life gain while Restoration Angel allows you to reuse their abilities to get more blockers and gain more life.

Also, the 3/4 flyer is a great blocker. For example, she matches up well against the 3/3 Hellrider. Also, she doesn’t die to Searing Spear.

Loxodon Smiter could’ve been Centaur Healer but I like the bigger body over the life gain. There are a lot of Searing Spears running around so Centaur Healer doesn’t live very long.

At 4/4, Loxodon Smiter doesn’t die to Searing Spear and it’s a better blocker against Geralf’s Messenger and Hellrider.

It’s more well-rounded than Centaur Healer because it ignores counterspells. Occasionally its second ability allows you to play it for free against Liliana of the Veil or Rakdos’s Return.

The mana ramp elements (4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim and 4 Farseek) are very important. They help you keep up with the fast starts of aggro decks.

Huntmaster and Thragtusk are great anti-aggro cards but they still cost four and five mana. When aggro decks can have six power on the board by turn two, you definitely want the ability to play Huntmaster and Thragtusk one turn earlier.

Late in the game, your mana ramp doesn’t go to waste. You can dump all the excess mana to cast big Bonfires or make your creatures huge with Kessig Wolf Run.

Avacyn’s Piglrim and Farseek also do a lot of work fixing your mana since you only have access to one shockland, Temple Garden.

Thundermaw Hellkite gives the deck a strong counterattack play. You’ll be setting up a solid defense with the other creatures and then, Boom! five hasty damage in the air to take the initiative and go on the attack yourself.

[Buy Thundermaw Hellkite on eBay at a low price]

Also, dealing one damage to flying creatures is relevant these days with decks running Moorland Haunt and Lingering Souls. They can’t even stop you from killing Spirit tokens by countering the 5/5 Dragon because you have four Cavern of Souls.

One card that’s starting to see more playing in sideboards is Drogskol Reaver. Thundermaw Hellkite attacks past that card with ease.

Bonfire is a card that dominates other decks with a lot of creatures because it’s a one-sided mass removal spell.

Against creature decks, you’ll often have battlefield stalemates with no good attacks for you or your opponent. In these situations, a miracle Bonfire usually just wins you the game.

Selesnya Charm is a solid role player that performs a couple roles in the deck.

It exiles Thragtusk, Thundermaw Hellkite, Wolfir Silverheart, and other big creatures. It slows down Green/White decks that rely on Rancor, Selesnya Charm, and Sublime Archangel. If they buff up their creature too big, you just exile it and undo all their work.

Selesnya Charm keeps your creatures alive against burn spells. Getting a 2/2 token is the least impressive option on the Charm but sometimes you can surprise your opponent with an end-of-turn 2/2 and attack for a ton by pumping it up with Kessig Wolf Run.

While this deck shines against aggro, it does have problems versus control. Avacyn’s Pilgrim, Huntmaster, and Loxodon Smiter are weak against boardwipe spells.

Selesnya Charm doesn’t do much against control decks. Bonfire of the Damned can be good in certain situations versus control but usually it’s a low impact card.

Plus, Bonfire really struggles against Sphinx’s Revelation, which has become a four-of in many control decks.

Naya Midrange is definitely a metagame call, but if your local metagame is teeming with creature decks, I highly recommend it.

General Sideboard Plans

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Remember you can write down your sideboard plans before the tournament and look at them in between games. You don’t have to memorize them. Here’s the ruling.


+4 Pillar of Flame

-4 Selesnya Charm


+2 Rest in Peace
+3 Angel of Serenity

-4 Selesnya Charm
-1 Bonfire of the Damned


+3 Angel of Serenity
+2 Zealous Conscripts
+2 Garruk Relentless
+2 Garruk, Primal Hunter

-4 Selesnya Charm
-4 Bonfire of the Damned
-1 Huntmaster of the Fells

Other Decks

Give me specific decks in the comment section and I’ll try to give you sideboard plans for them.

Deck Price Tag

Here’s the price tag of the deck. I used the prices of a popular online store.

Click the links below to buy the cards at a low price on eBay.

Total Deck Price: $768.35

QTYCard NameAvg. PriceTotal Price
Total Deck Price:$768.35
4Avacyn's Pilgrim$0.26$1.04
4Loxodon Smiter$3.51$14.04
4Restoration Angel$14.22$56.88
4Huntmaster of the Fells$21.01$84.04
4Thundermaw Hellkite$27.66$110.64
4Selesnya Charm$1.00$4.00
4Bonfire of the Damned$26.61$106.44
4Temple Garden$13.23$52.92
4Rootbound Crag$2.51$10.04
3Clifftop Retreat$10.23$30.69
4Cavern of Souls$20.40$81.60
2Kessig Wolf Run$1.50$3.00
3Angel of Serenity$21.04$63.12
2Zealous Conscripts$1.78$3.56
2Rest in Peace$1.48$2.96
2Garruk Relentless$13.89$27.78
2Garruk, Primal Hunter$10.48$20.96
4Pillar of Flame$0.42$1.68

17 Responses to “Naya Midrange Wins a Starcitygames Standard Open”

  1. BLACKADHAM on December 5th, 2012 12:06 pm

    I like this blog, this deck its a powerfull weapon vs rackdos thats bat for me :(

  2. BLACKADHAM on December 5th, 2012 12:07 pm

    but its a exelent article :) congratulations

  3. Dee on December 5th, 2012 9:43 pm


    Yeah, recently it seems like the metagame always changes to make the top deck worse.

    But oftentimes local metagames are slow to adapt so Rakdos might still be very good for you. :)

    If you want extra edge against this deck, you can try playing Mizzium Mortars because it kills Loxodon Smiter.

  4. Chris on January 2nd, 2013 3:23 pm

    Hey I’m running a naya midrange deck, and I wanted to know what your currently running? And agaisnt control is taking 4 charms out really worth it? You can’t kill and thunder maws or serenitys. I’m having trouble knowing what hands to keep and which to throw away, any help would be amazing

  5. Chris on January 2nd, 2013 3:29 pm

    Also I want to know your opinion on cloudshift, I tested it out and against a board wipe you can cloudshift your resto angel which then saves your thrag gets you 5 health an a bigger board then your opponent

  6. Dee on January 2nd, 2013 10:32 pm

    @ Chris

    I haven’t played Naya Midrange in a while but this decklist still looks solid.

    Control doesn’t usually play Thundermaw Hellkite or Angel of Serenity. If you come across those creatures, feel free to leave some or all of the Selesnya Charms in the main deck.

    If you’re having trouble with mulligan decisions, why don’t you leave some sample hands and I can say what I would do with those hands.

    I haven’t tested Cloudshift. It seems okay against pinpoint removal but it’s actually bad against board wipe.

    For example, if you cast Cloudshift on Restoration Angel or Thragtusk in response to Supreme Verdict or Terminus, all your creatures will still die.

  7. Chris on January 3rd, 2013 12:14 am

    2 lands with hunt master, loxdon, thrag + random two, I guess my question is do you keep a non land ramping hand. Oh I was thinking cloudshift took resto out of combat so it would make him immune to board wipe

  8. Chris on January 3rd, 2013 1:39 am

    I see alot of top decks are not using loxdon smiter and thundermaw, do you think sagarda is better then thundermaw?

  9. Dee on January 4th, 2013 8:10 pm

    @ Chris

    I need to know the specific lands and the random two cards to make a good mulligan decision.

    I keep hands without ramp spells. It depends on the deck I’m playing against, whether I’m on the play or draw, and of course, what my actual hand looks like.

    What are those decks playing instead of Loxodon Smiter and Thundermaw?

    Thundermaw is better than Sigarda because he has haste. Haste is good against Supreme Verdict whereas Sigarda is more vulnerable to that spell.

    Also, the haste helps you race other aggro and midrange decks. Plus, you can play multiple Thundermaws. You can’t with Sigarda because she is legendary.

    If your local metagame has a lot of Ultimate Price and Selesnya Charm but not a lot of mass removal and Lingering Souls, then Sigarda might be better.

  10. Chris on January 7th, 2013 6:55 pm

    I’m having problems with long games like bant control, when the board is wiped a few times I come down to having small hands, gurrak just gets detentioned, I think those are my worse match ups

  11. Dee on January 7th, 2013 8:13 pm

    @ Chris

    Yeah, that’s just a bad matchup. Not much you can do, other than switching decks or getting lucky. You can swap sideboard cards to the main deck but then your other matchups get worse. One card you could try is Triumph of Ferocity. It’s good against control and it seems okay against non-control.

  12. Chris on January 8th, 2013 12:31 am

    I’m also having trouble with rakdos aggro, alot of decks are using vexing devil and not having board presence I have to take the 4 DMg, or trade a 3 cast loxdon for a 1 cast vexing

  13. Chris on January 8th, 2013 12:35 am

    I will try that card out, what would you side for it tho, and both gurraks get speard so they are also useless

  14. Chris on January 8th, 2013 12:40 am

    I’ve been thinking faith mender would be good to add to this deck, he seems very good against aggro, but rakdos uses astrocrats and hell kites so he is unable to block them, serintys would be decent but if you get a bad ramp then I’m not sure it’s worth it

  15. Dee on January 9th, 2013 5:58 pm

    Centaur Healer is good against Vexing Devil. Plus, you can blink it with Restoration Angel.

    Against control, bring in Triumph of Ferocity and take out Bonfire and Selesnya Charm. Garruk, Primal Hunter should not be Searing Speared because it goes to four loyalty or you draw a bunch of cards with it.

    Faithmender seems good. I would try Centaur Healer too because it’s cheaper. Against aggro decks with Hellkite, I board out Angel of Serenity instead of Selesnya Charm.

  16. Chris on January 10th, 2013 6:32 pm

    I have not been playing for a very long time, so I was convinced that you could searing spear garruk when he hit the table, a friend said searing spear was faster then a plainswalker ability, I guess I’ve been played for a fool. I’ve been thinking that naya isn’t as strong as I wanted it to be. I might try out 4c rites, it offers a midrange feel and has a bit more ramp which I like, thanks for the quick replys and helping out!

  17. Jake on February 5th, 2013 3:39 pm

    You know, I was under the impression that a Naya deck would run on massive creatures, being a combination of the most creature heavy colors. However, I see it’s use here ^_