Hey everybody! I'm Ben Wienburg. If you've watched the StarCityGames.com Open Series over the past few years, you've likely seen me on camera in a feature match or two. I've been grinding on the Open Series circuit to varying degrees of success, including making the finals of the Invitational in Los Angeles last year, a Legacy Open win in Indianapolis with Counterbalance, and numerous Top 8s. I've played on the Pro Tour a few times, with my best finish being 23rd at Pro Tour Dark Ascension last year, along with a Top 8 appearance at Grand Prix Philadelphia in 2008 where I lost to some guy named Luis Scott-Vargas.
For SCG Standard Open: Nashville, I knew I wanted to play an aggressive deck. The format was getting pretty grindy due to G/B/W Reanimator and Jund, and I felt like the Naya Humans list I had been playing wasn't great in the format. When given the choice, I prefer aggro-control decks, but there isn't one I like in current Standard. While my friend and streaming personality XMIMX is still grinding away with Naya Humans on Magic Online to success, I knew I wanted to get even more aggressive and that Huntmaster of the Fells didn't do enough.
I chose to play Naya Blitz because it's the most aggressive deck in the format that plays Champion of the Parish. A lot of the time you can just kill your opponent before they play their Thragtusk—or it's just a speed bump if you have a Frontline Medic in play. I also felt like Supreme Verdict was on the decline, which meant that I could play a deck that overcommits to the board and not get punished. Sometimes, even if they do have the Supreme Verdict, they die before they even get their fourth turn. Other times, you have the Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and they can't even cast it.
People told me that the deck is inconsistent, but I found that isn't the case from the games I played on Magic Online if you're willing to mulligan aggressively. You pretty much mulligan any hand without a one-drop or Burning-Tree Emissary + a castable two-drop off of it. Hands with only one land should generally be mulliganed, but I would keep a one-lander with multiple copies of Champion of the Parish. If you're on six cards and have a one-drop, a second land lets you go completely crazy.
The maindeck of Naya Blitz is usually pretty stock. My list was:
- 4 Boros Elite
- 4 Burning-Tree Emissary
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 4 Experiment One
- 4 Flinthoof Boar
- 4 Frontline Medic
- 1 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 4 Lightning Mauler
- 4 Mayor of Avabruck
- 2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
The M13 tap lands can change depending on your colored spells but are mostly irrelevant. The Thalia, Guardian of Thraben; Giant Growth; Searing Spear; and Frontline Medic spots are all up for grabs. I think you want some number of Thalias in the maindeck because on the play the start of Champion of the Parish into Thalia is impossible for some decks to beat. Searing Spear deals some damage and can kill some creatures, but it's honestly very unimpressive. Sadly, I think it is a must because Boros Charm is too awkward on the mana and sometimes you need to kill a Fiend Hunter.
Giant Growth was not a card that I expected to impress me, but it did because players often did not play around it—even when they do, sometimes a Lava Spike is just what you're looking for. I actually blew out two Open Series household names with it!
Against Jeff Hoogland and his RUG Flash deck, he passed the turn with four mana versus my board of Boros Elite, Lightning Mauler, and two lands. I untapped, played a Boros Elite for the turn, and soulbonded with my Lightning Mauler. Jeff went to Searing Spear my Lightning Mauler before my attack step, and I Giant Growthed it and smashed him for eleven instead of one for the turn.
The other time was versus Robbie Cordell and his B/G deck that I had seen in the Top 4 of a Magic Online PTQ. I attacked with a battalioned Frontline Medic, a 3/3, and a 2/2 and had a green mana up. He blocked the Frontline Medic, and I ate his Desecration Demon with my Giant Growth. I felt like he should have blocked the 2/2 because he was at around fifteen life and I was fairly low because he had an aggressive draw.
The cards that impressed me the least were Lightning Mauler and Searing Spear. As I said earlier, Searing Spear is probably a necessary evil that has to be played just so you can deal with random problems. Lightning Mauler also needs to stay because the haste does matter. My biggest problem is that it just dies a lot if you don't have Mayor in play because one toughness is simply embarrassing. Ghor-Clan Rampager also underperformed for me, but that was probably because I tended to board it out against decks with spot removal and never really cast it.
My sideboard had some cards that I boarded in a lot and some that I never touched. My sideboard was:
Thalia, Boros Charm, and Viashino Firstblade all performed as expected. Viashino Firstblade was for decks that did not have green, played lots of spot removal, or had access to Supreme Verdict. Pacifism was solid and is another card I would not cut. While I never boarded the Ray of Revelation in, I would still like to have some for the Bant Hexproof decks that seem to be all over the place. Tormod's Crypt was fine versus G/B/W Reanimator, but I would probably cut one and both Electrickerys for three copies of Mark of Mutiny. I originally had Electrickery in my sideboard for Lingering Souls out of Reanimator, but that card looks to be on the decline and Mark of Mutiny seems better there anyway.
Make sure when you're sideboarding not to overboard. If you bring in too many cards, you dilute your deck from its main focus of reducing your opponent to zero life as quickly as possible. Generally, I didn't sideboard more than three cards in at any one time. Situations do exist where I would board in five, like if I boarded out all the Frontline Medics, but that wasn't too common on the day.
Remember, Frank Karsten made the Top 8 of a WMCQ without a sideboard playing Naya Blitz, which really shows the raw power of the maindeck!
I would definitely play this deck again in a heartbeat. It has a ton of power; multiple games I had five or more creatures in play on turn 3 and my opponent just scooped because they had no answer. If you want to beat this deck, make sure to play cheap removal. Golgari Charm is way better than Curse of Death's Hold since both are mass removal effects but one is three mana cheaper. Electrickery is another card that is pretty good against it.
Naya Blitz will continue to be very well positioned if U/W/R Flash is not played and green decks keep dominating. All you have to do is be willing to pull the trigger and realize that attacking your opponent quickly is another way of controlling the game even if you have fewer options. There are a couple cards I want to give a try moving forward:
While I did not play or even consider Kessig Malcontents, I know John Milner had it in his version of Naya Blitz. SCGLive commentator Osyp Lebedowicz said that every time he cast it, it was incredible. I'm not entirely sure that it's better than Frontline Medic, but it's worth a shot.
As for Glorious Charge, sometimes you get tired of losing to Electrickery and Golgari Charm. Yes, it's probably too cute, but it might still be good enough, so don't be surprised when I show up to SCG Standard Open: St. Louis with Naya Blitz and Glorious Charge you out!
Thanks for reading!