How I Quickly Built a Powerful Naya Pod Deck

January 30, 2012 | Posted by Dee

Updated Feb. 27, 2011: I made changes to the deck and came up with some sideboard plans. Check out this post to learn more.

Two weeks ago, I predicted the undying mechanic from Dark Ascension would turn Pod into a tier one deck in Standard. I wanted to find out if my prediction was right, so I started testing Pod last week.

Fortunately, it didn’t take too long to build a deck that had tier one potential. This made me very happy because usually it takes many hours of testing and trying out a bunch of different decklists to come up with a winning list.

The main thing I did to save time was use my Value Bant Pod list (pre-Dark Ascension deck) as a template. This deck had a win rate of 62% over 131 matches.

Value Bant Pod 1.5
Creatures (28)
Spells (9)
Lands (23)
Sideboard (15)

Using a winning list as a template is a great way to build a deck. You’ll be playing a lot of the same cards, which have been proven to win, so your chances of creating a strong deck are pretty high.

I was pretty much set on playing Naya from the get-go. Naya has two of the same colors as Bant so it made sense to incorporate green and white cards from the Bant list.

Also, I could use the Bant mana base and mana curve as a guide for the Naya deck.

Why Naya?


Naya was my first choice of colors for several reasons.

First, with Avacyn’s Pilgrim and two green Scars lands, it easily has the best mana out of the three-color combinations that include green.

A Naya mana base gives you:

  • 12+ lands that produce green on turn one for the one-drop mana creatures
  • 17+ lands that produce green to play Strangleroot Geist on turn two
  • More mana sources for your non-green colors than the other three-color combinations (after the above requirements are met)
  • Space for 1-2 “spell-lands” like Gavony Township

Second, white has the best three-drop and seven-drop by far, Blade Splicer and Elesh Norn.

Third, I wanted to try out new red cards from Dark Ascension. I thought Huntmaster of the Fells, Hellrider, and Flayer of the Hatebound would be pretty good in a Pod deck.

Fourth, I wanted access to the cheap efficient removal in red. Oblivion Ring is the best removal spell in Bant but it is often too slow and clunky versus fast aggro decks like UW Delver.

Right now, I’m playing Arc Trail instead of Oblivion Ring. The red spell is definitely an upgrade over the white enchantment. I like Arc Trail over other red removal spells because I think decks with a lot of small creatures (like Tokens and UW Delver) will be popular.

One-Drops


Before:
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim

The Bant list had a full set of Birds of Paradise and Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Your typical Pod deck wants a good amount of one-drop mana creatures because it plays many creatures that cost four or more. Also, dropping a Blade Splicer on turn two is a strong play.

The one-drops give you another plan of attack if you don’t draw Pod. You can just operate like a ramp deck and drop powerful creatures one or two turns early.

I cut one Avacyn’s Pilgrim because the mana curve for the Naya list is lower than the Bant list.

After:
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Avacyn’s Pilgrim

Two-Drops


Before:
4 Viridian Emissary
1 Phantasmal Image

Strangleroot Geist looked much better than Viridian Emissary so I added a full set of the undying creature. I kept two Viridian Emissary to lower the mana curve and to help with mana fixing.

Strangleroot Geist has been really good in testing. It’s been by far the best creature in the deck. It deals a lot of damage quickly and you can sac it to Pod twice to flood the board with Blade Splicers.

Also, Strangleroot Geist is excellent with Fiend Hunter. You can sac it to Pod, get Fiend Hunter to exile a blocker, and then swing for three.

I remember one sideboard game against red/black Vampires. I played two Strangleroot Geists and sacced them both to Pod and got two Fiend Hunters. The Fiend Hunters exiled his first two creatures, one of which was Olivia Voldaren.

He didn’t have removal and I Arc Trailed his other creatures so he quickly died to the two 3/2 Strangleroot Geists.

Spellskite is a new addition to the main deck that I’ve been happy with. I had it in the sideboard of the Bant deck because it’s not good against mass removal, which had become more popular.

I was so close to moving it to the main deck because it’s good against spot removal and direct damage. Undying creatures gave me a much better game against mass removal, so it seemed like a good time to move Spellskite to the main deck.

Spellskite protects Pod or our best creature on the board. Also, it makes undying creatures even better and it makes the mana curve lower.

After:
4 Strangleroot Geist
2 Viridian Emissary
1 Spellskite

Three-Drops


Before:
3 Blade Splicer
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Skaab Ruinator

The three-drop slot is largely unchanged. Blade Splicer and Fiend Hunter have proven their worth, so there was no need to find replacements for them.

Blade Splicer is an aggressive creature so it plays very well with Strangleroot Geist. Fiend Hunter is a solid removal effect early in the Pod chain.

I had to find a replacement for Skaab Ruinator since I switched colors. With the help of Ari Lax’s list of Pod creatures, I settled on Daybreak Ranger.

I haven’t had much chance to play with this Werewolf, but it seems solid. On the day side, it can kill a flipped Delver, Inkmoth Nexus, and Spirit tokens. On the night side, it can take out just about any creature short of a hexproof creature and a Titan.

After:
3 Blade Splicer
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Daybreak Ranger

Four-Drops


Before:
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Hero of Bladehold
1 Wing Splicer
1 Garruk Relentless

Solemn Simulacrum and Phyrexian Metamorph stayed in the deck. Sad Robot is a card advantage machine that fixes mana and every Pod deck needs a clone creature to double up on the enters-the-battlefield triggered abilities.

It sucks that I’ll probably have to pay two life to cast Phyrexian Metamorph since I’m not playing blue anymore. But the card is still good especially with undying creatures. If you copy an undying creature with Phyrexian Metamorph and it dies, it returns from the graveyard with a +1/+1 counter and it can copy a new creature.

I moved Hero of Bladehold to the sideboard for Hellrider. Its haste ability allows you to kill an opponent more quickly because you don’t have to wait a turn to attack. I like Hellrider over Hero of Oxid Ridge because it survives Whipflare and a fight with Snapcaster Mage.

I replaced Wing Splicer with Huntmaster of the Fells. The mythic rare Werewolf is your go-to guy at the four-drop spot if you need more creatures on the board. Its life gain can be relevant if you’re facing burn or need to race.

I played against Zombies one time and he drew three Geralf’s Messengers! I lost a ton of life and I probably would’ve lost the game if I didn’t have Huntmaster of the Fells in the deck.

Huntmaster of the Fells is a double-faced card, which gives you a cool play with Pod. If you have a three-drop and Pod on the board before your turn starts, you can sac the three-drop to Pod, get Huntmaster of the Fells, and not play a spell on your turn to flip it on your opponent’s turn.

I played Garruk Relentless in Bant to fight mass removal and give me some extra removal. With undying creatures, I don’t fear mass removal and I’ve already got removal with Daybreak Ranger, Huntmaster of the Fells, and Inferno Titan. Plus, Garruk Relentless is not a creature for Pod purposes, so it was easy to cut him.

After:
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Hellrider

Five-Drops


Before:
1 Acidic Slime
1 Geist-Honored Monk
1 Kessig Cagebreakers

I’ve been very happy with Acidic Slime and Geist-Honored Monk so I kept them in the deck. Acidic Slime gives you an answer to non-creatures other than planeswalkers. Geist-Honored Monk gives you some flyers and it’s often very big since the deck has a lot of creatures including token producers. Also, the Human Monk combos very well with Gavony Township.

Kessig Cagebreakers can be very powerful, but it can also be inconsistent. For example, if you draw it early, you usually don’t have a lot of creature cards in the graveyard so it’s not very good. Vorapede is a much more consistent creature. Plus, it has undying so it took Kessig Cagebreakers’ spot.

After:
1 Acidic Slime
1 Geist-Honored Monk
1 Vorapede

Six-Drops


Before:
1 Frost Titan
1 Sun Titan

Frost Titan is awesome but it’s blue. Fortunately, we have a great replacement in Inferno Titan. With all the small creature decks out there, the red Titan is a house.

Sun Titan, while powerful at times, was a bit inconsistent for me. Sometimes you just didn’t have a good target in the graveyard. I replaced it with Flayer of the Hatebound because it’s better against mass removal. Also, it combos with the other undying creatures and it has a direct damage ability that can function as removal.

After:
1 Inferno Titan
1 Flayer of the Hatebound

Mana Base and Sideboard


I built the following mana base based on the changes I made.

4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Copperline Gorge
1 Sunpetal Grove
3 Rootbound Crag
1 Evolving Wilds
5 Forest
2 Plains
2 Mountain
1 Gavony Township

There are 13 lands that produce green on turn one. There are 18 lands that produce green. I went with 10 red lands for the 8 red spells and 8 white lands for the 6 white spells.

I had to change the sideboard a lot. I couldn’t use most of the sideboard cards from the Bant list. I’m not playing blue and Gut Shot is not needed anymore since we have Arc Trail.

I went with a sideboard of Pod creatures, Ratchet Bombs, more cheap removal for Delver, and Oblivion Rings as a catch-all answer. Ratchet Bomb is going to be huge if Tokens takes off. It’s the best card to have if you’re facing down a horde of token creatures.

Here’s the complete Naya Pod decklist.

Undying Naya Pod
Creatures (29)
Spells (8)
Lands (23)
Sideboard (15)

I can’t say for sure if this deck is tier one but it definitely feels like one. I’ve only played 11 matches but I won all of them except one. Also, most of my wins were pretty easy.

Over to You

Try out the deck and let me know what you think.

If you have a comment or question, you can leave a reply below.

15 Responses to “How I Quickly Built a Powerful Naya Pod Deck”

  1. Miguel on January 31st, 2012 8:55 am

    I`m testing a very similar list and I am 56-9 by now.

  2. Kroan on January 31st, 2012 11:18 am

    Hello,

    very nice article. I’m really looking into playing either this or monogreen Dungrove Elder in an upcoming GPT. Do you have any suggestions for sideboard tactics and/or tips for when to mulligan?

    Thanks in advance!

  3. Mark Ian on February 1st, 2012 10:27 pm

    Have you considered changing one Avacyn’s Pilgrim into Llanowar Elves? I think this is need for a consistent turn two S. Geist..

  4. Dee on February 2nd, 2012 9:38 pm

    @ Mark Ian

    I haven’t had problems with getting a turn two Strangleroot Geist. 18 green lands, 4 Birds of Paradise, and 13 lands to play Birds of turn one seems like enough green sources.

    But maybe I’m just drawing well :) If you’re having problems playing Strangleroot Geist on turn two, I could see swapping 1-2 Avacyn’s Pilgrims for Llanowar Elves.

    Here is my reasoning for going with Avacyn’s Pilgrim.

    I only have 8 white lands and Avacyn’s Pilgrim helps cast the six white spells including a couple double white spells (Fiend Hunter, Geist-Honored Monk, Elesh Norn in main; another Fiend Hunter and Hero of Bladehold in sideboard).

    The Fiend Hunter, Hero of Bladehold, and Oblivion Rings have been key cards for me. I’m hesitant to cut Avacyn’s Pilgrim for Llanowar Elves because in some matchups, I add a double white spell or three Oblivion Rings.

  5. Taldarin (on MTGO) on February 2nd, 2012 10:02 pm

    Do you use MTG Workshop to test your decks ??

  6. Asprijost on February 3rd, 2012 8:58 am

    Two things: How about a Sun Titan?? he can bring back strangleroot and stuff, also has sinergy with Flyer of the Hatebound.

    And… how do you eliminate annoying Grafdigger’s cages??

  7. Mark Ian on February 3rd, 2012 9:36 pm

    What were your matchups?

  8. Dee on February 4th, 2012 1:56 am

    @ Taldarin

    I use Magic Workstation (MWS).

    @ Asprijost

    Sun Titan was sometimes powerful in the Bant deck but it was also inconsistent. Sometimes you just didn’t have a good target in the graveyard.

    I only want to play two six-drops to lower the curve. I think Inferno Titan is more reliable and its great against creature decks. You want Inferno Titan over Sun Titan if you need to kill flying Spirit tokens or a flipped Delver right away.

    Flayer of the Hatebound is better against control than Sun Titan. Also, Sun Titan strains the mana base because it only has 8 white lands.

    If Grafdigger’s Cage becomes popular, then you can play Naturalize or Ancient Grudge in the sideboard. What to cut depends on your local metagame.

    @ Mark Ian

    2-1 Esper Tokens Midrange

    2-0 Illusions

    1-0 RDW
    1-0 4Color Graveyard Mulch deck
    I counted this as one match.

    2-0 RG Midrange

    2-1 UB Control

    2-0 BR Aggro

    2-0 Grixis Control

    2-0 UB Zombies

    0-2 Jund Wolf Run Ramp

    2-1 Jund Midrange

    2-0 RB Vampires

    2-0 Esper Tokens

    1-0 Mono Black Zombies
    1-1 Wolf Run Green
    1-1 4Color Burning Vengeance

  9. Asprijost on February 4th, 2012 2:59 am

    Enought for me, I’m gonna play this deck, thanks :D

  10. Mark Ian on February 4th, 2012 7:15 am

    Tried your list earlier on our local tourney. My few adjustments were:

    -1 Spellskite
    -1 Vorapede
    -1 Flayer

    +1 Acidic Slime
    +1 Sun Titan
    +1 Sylvok Replica

    -2 Arc Trail
    +1 Oblivion Ring
    +1 Red sun Zenith (against other Strangleroot Geists)

    Went 3-1 and got 2nd Place.

    Rd 1 UW Delver Lost 0-2

    Rd 2 BUG Control Won 2-0

    Rd 3 RDW Won 2-1

    Rd 4 BUG Dredge 2-0

    My sideboard was different. I should really need the Ratchet Bomb in the SB. Multiple Midnight Hauntings is just a nuisance. Also not including Thrun might be another mistake.

  11. Dee on February 4th, 2012 7:44 pm

    @ Asprijost

    Awesome. Thanks and good luck!

    @ Mark Ian

    Thanks for the update. It’s always interesting to see how your deck does in a real tournament. Congrats on the 2nd place finish :)

  12. Evan F. on February 6th, 2012 4:07 pm

    I’d like to play the deck, the only thing I would be worried about is Township messing up your undying flow.

  13. Dee on February 6th, 2012 11:48 pm

    @ Evan F.

    Yeah, Gavony Township can hurt your undying creatures.

    But in my testing, it hasn’t been a problem. There’s only one Gavony Township and you can play around its +1/+1 counters. For example, you can block with Strangleroot Geist so it dies before activating the land or sac it to Pod first before adding the +1/+1 counters to your guys.

    Also, there’s only six undying creatures in the main deck. Oftentimes, by the time you draw Gavony Township, your undying creatures will already have a +1/+1 counter.

  14. bob on February 7th, 2012 7:32 am

    i think i would take out a few other lower drops and put in 1 wurmcoil. this card is just to good to pass up in my opinion

  15. Asprijost on February 22nd, 2012 5:51 am

    @Evan F.
    I found Gavony mess with my particular playing dynamic, so I changed it for a Kessig Wolf Run, maybe this particular idea would be useful to you too