FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – THE TOP SOLDIERS OF – NAYA

Greetings, readers! This week marks my return to the nearly-concluded Top Soldiers Of series. For those unaware, this is the series where I highlight power players in specific color combinations that you might not be aware of, in the hopes that you get some spicy new ideas when undertaking the deckbuilding process.

This entry is the final shard, and it’s the one freshest in my memory, since all I seem to do is play it these days. Combining the pound-for-pound best creatures, insane combat tricks and synergy with flavor, this combination of red, green and white is one I’ve taken quite a large interest in in the past year. That combination, of course, is Naya.

Naya’s generals exhibit a number of different strategies, ranging from some terrifying token shells to goodstuff builds featuring artifacts, creatures or enchantments. There’s a fair amount of flexibility in the color combination, and a number of interesting takes, to say the least.

Before I get into the generals, however, I’m going to go over the top 5 Naya spells. We begin with:

#5 – Meglonoth

Meglonoth

Meglonoth has an interesting niche in EDH in that it’s a relatively versatile combat creature. It attacks well, being a 6/6 trample body for 6, but the fact that it additionally blocks is quite powerful. A Sword is ripe to fit in this behemoth’s mouth, but what makes it interesting is that it offers an effect often aligned with Rakdos; Backlashing your opponent’s attackers. When you’re staring down an Omnath, Locus of Mana, or any general aimed at dealing you crazy amounts of general damage, the rattlesnaking threat Meglonoth has is pretty impressive.

On top of that, Meglonoth has a very strong political aspect to it as well. “Don’t attack me, or you’ll take damage.” No matter how insignificant that seems, few people will actually run their armies into this if they can just eliminate the inconvenience of 3-5 damage coming their way, which is paltry for some. That in and of itself gives Meglonoth a varying political edge, but it’s really up to your playgroup. If you feel you can cheese the board into not attacking this thing, by all means, feel free to run this, but some opponents will see that the risk is well worth the reward and attack you anyway. It’s a pretty nasty Mayael the Anima activation, if you get lucky.

#4 – Naya Charm

Naya Charm

Naya Charm, like its brethren before it, has a lot of flexibility in that it’s removal that has utility tacked onto it as well. Naya’s Charm, however, lacks in raw power in comparison, not really being the best removal spell in your deck, nor the best utility spell. If you want cards that do more in terms of raw power, cutting this is certainly an option, but having your Lightning Bolt be a Regrowth (at instant speed, as well) too can be quite useful in certain situations.

Of course, tapping down your opponent’s army does have pretty useful applications, as it saves you from a lethal swing from a hexproof general, and it can be used offensively to clear the way of blockers, but a lot of the time, Master Warcraft outperforms it as a combat trick. At the same time, Charms are always a question of flexibility vs. raw power; while the Charms usually have a standout option, usually other cards are better options at doing what the Charms can do on their own. It’s a decent Sunforger target.

#3 – Titanic Ultimatum

Titanic Ultimatum

Titanic Ultimatum, while ridiculously win-more in nature, is an absurd way to either end the game outright, or just gain yourself an absolutely mind-boggling amount of life. Obviously, it does nothing when behind, but the best-case of this after dropping a large Avenger of Zendikar trigger on the board just makes it hilarious in concept. The sheer power it potentially has to steal a game away isn’t to be underestimated, and don’t forget that first strike makes it absurdly difficult for your opponent to block even if their armies are up to the challenge. I’d run it in a token shell; say, Rith, the Awakener.

#2 – Mayael’s Aria

Mayael's Aria

Again, Mayael’s Aria is guilty of doing very little as a topdeck and being win-more in nature, but it has the potential to literally win you the game. While I applaud anyone who’s ever won a game off a trigger of this, actually achieving the feat takes a whole lot of work (although Uril, the Miststalker) goes a long way in making this happen), and it’s mostly a consistent stream of +1/+1 counters and lifegain. That being said, 10 life a turn is a lot if you manage to control a large enough creature, but often times when that’s the case, your opponents will prioritize removing this, or you’ll win the game without controlling a colossal monstrosity.

#1 – Godsire

Godsire

Godsire is unsurprisingly the penultimate embodiment of Naya’s flavor; an absolutely massive creature that costs an obscene amount of mana to do something that’s really powerful, but not all that flashy. Godsire’s power, however, is the fact that it’s an incremental; the longer this stays out, the easier it is to make absolutely ridiculous.

First of all, Seedborn Muse. That in and of itself provides absolutely ridiculous pressure, because you’re putting 32 power on the board when you’re untapping on your turn. Second of all, Doubling Season. Combine the two, and you’re putting now 64 power onto the board. Haste, lifelink, trample and some silly enablers make this creature a solid finisher, welcomed in Mayael the Anima as its staple creature, as well as various other Naya decks who want an 8-drop that will literally win you the game if not dealt with.

Now that I’ve discussed the spells, let’s move onto Naya’s legends. We begin with:

#5 – Rith, the Awakener

Rith, the Awakener

Rith, like many of the generals in his color, is quite powerful when allowed to do what it’s supposed to do. One thing I’ve found when playing or playing against Rith, however, is that few people will ever let you get more than one activation. In white, effects like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Cathars’ Crusade are commonplace, and in red, you can just play Mana Echoes and get really dumb.

Overall, there are plenty of enablers for Rith, but he’s definitely subject to “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”, which can be commonplace in EDH if you’re attempting something really disgusting. (For the record, building a deck with the sole intention of flashing Notion Thief into a Jace’s Archivist activation is a terrible idea; don’t do it.)

#4 – Hazezon Tamar

Hazezon Tamar

Much like Adun Oakenshield and Angus McKenzie, Hazezon has the unfortunate pitfall of being an accidentally EDH-designed card, and thus its price is obscenely high due to demand. Is Hazezon worth it? I mean, it’s in theory more useful than Rith because you never have to worry about doing damage, but at the same time, it’s a token build through and through, making it vulnerable to sweepers, and the tokens don’t immediately hit the board, making it difficult to gauge its worth.

That being said, Purphoros, God of the Forge is no stranger to “and suddenly there were creatures”, though this combo will obviously draw ire from the table, but there are a number of powerful enablers for the list, from Crescendo of War to Shared Animosity that will enjoy having a large influx of creatures to work with, which can make Hazezon powerful in theory.

#3 – Mayael the Anima

Mayael the Anima

Mayael is certainly one of the flagship generals of EDH, having one of the most encapturing “this seems great to always have access to” effects in the game. She’s also one of Naya’s most powerful generals, having an effect that’s both easy and extremely fun to build around. Tribes of Beasts, Dragons and Angels are easy to build with Mayael when you realize many of their most useful creatures are 5 or more power, and what makes it even better is how easily Mayael is enabled. You can activate Mayael on turn 4 or earlier with the right draw, and with Seedborn Muse, you can establish a dominating board presence right out of the gate.

What makes Mayael so great is that it’s not only easy to build around Mayael, but it’s fun as well. There are a number of flashy and powerful 5+-power creatures to sneak in, between Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Utvara Hellkite and Vigor that can make for quite a splashy board state. In addition, you don’t need to dedicate much to Mayael herself that isn’t a far stretch from a goodstuff deck in the first place; all you’re really doing by putting a bunch of fatties in your deck is heightening the curve, which is offset by good acceleration. Overall, Mayael, while easy to shut down, has a very goodstuff vibe about her, which a player like me can surely get behind.

#2 – Marath, Will of the Wild

Marath, Will of the Wild

Gasp! Marath, the apple of my EDH-playing eye, is not number 1? What blasphemy have I wrought? Well, Marath definitely has a lot going for it, but in my time running him, one thing I’ve found when resolving him is that he rarely ever poses a threat to the table. Purphoros, God of the Forge or Doubling Season are just about the only spells in my list that make people care that I have a Marath on board. That being said, what Marath lacks in threat density he makes up for in just about everything else. He’s literally Naya’s Swiss army knife, and while it may be a tad confusing to take in what he does, allow someone who’s had extensive experience with this lovely little antelope show you the ropes.

First of all, his returns. Marath will bounce back from death to come back stronger and stronger, and he’s by far the best incarnation of this effect. The ammo Marath gets make it less and less advantageous for the board to ignore. Putting counters on a creature is not terribly useful on its own; you’ll likely counter a Chaos Warp by merely transferring Marath’s counters to a combat-relevant creature–I personally enjoy having Kor Duelist or Serra Ascendant around for when this happens–but its most deadly application of this effect is when you control a Doubling Season. Because the counters go on any target creature, removing a counter and placing one back onto Marath will in fact get you returns and double his counters for the mana you’re paying. If you’re not really doing anything else with Marath, you can just gorge him on his own counters and make him a massive monstrosity. If you back him with evasion in some form or fashion, you can actually achieve 21 general damage quite easily.

Dealing damage allows Marath to mow down utility creatures and generals alike, which for some, such as Kaalia of the Vast or Norin the Wary players, can make Marath quite a threat, but of course, everyone by now has figured out that deathtouch makes this ability bonkers. I don’t know how many times I hear “You should put Basilisk Collar in your deck!”, but while I understand it’s a good card, as a Sunforger list, my Marath deck gets insane mileage out of another deathtouch enabler; Bow of Nylea. As soon as you declare Marath as an attacker, you can mow down the board to your heart’s content, and the two provide a deadly combination, as the Bow also replenishes Marath’s ammo. The fact that it fights graveyard hate and lets me recycle my Sunforger’s spells is what makes it the perfect card in my particular Marath shell. While I lose the ability to have deathtouch at instant speed, the offset ability to do everything my Marath deck wants makes it an absolute workhorse in my list, and I recommend others who play Marath to consider the card as well. Just having the two on board can win you the game on its own, and while Swords and Swiftfoot Boots can be a pain, Aura Shards is in your colors.

Lastly, the token ability; the most commonly used, it has great applications with a lot of cards across the board. Mostly, you’ll find Puphoros, God of the Forge doing a lot of damage with it, but you can cheese with the slow, yet efficient Cathars’ Crusade for some fun board states. Obviously, mass pump makes the effect that much better (I use Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Mirari’s Wake, personally), but what I like most about the effect is how you can just have blockers at will for one mana, which is actually somewhat difficult to pull off for as cheap as Marath provides. Overall, while I know I’ve dragged on slightly with Marath’s explanation, he’s my favorite general for a number of reasons; he’s just a good creature overall, and he does a lot, providing pressure, removal and being superb on both offense and defense. He just has so much value that I couldn’t ignore him if I tried.

#1 – Uril the Miststalker

Uril, the Miststalker

Of course, Marath’s raw power pales in comparison to this behemoth, the most imposing of the Hexproof Five, Uril, the Miststalker. For one, it has the best stats in combat, tied with Sigarda, Host of Herons (which, funny enough, fits right into the 99). Secondly, it gets absolutely stupid huge with a single Aura. Slap Bear Umbra on it and attack for 9 on turn 6 (or earlier). Follow up with Daybreak Coronet and it gets really silly. Uril has a downright terrifying amount of power with a single Aura attached to him, and when you give him evasion or trample, it’s disgustingly simple to end the table in sequence.

What makes Uril dumb is how easy it is to build around him. You play Enchantresses such as Verduran Enchantress and Kor Spiritdancer to draw a bunch of cards. You play Grand Abolisher and Vexing Shusher so Hinder doesn’t screw you. You then play Aurelia, the Warleader, Seize the Day and Waves of Aggression so that you go from ending one person to ending everyone in one fell swoop. It’s seriously dumb how quickly you can end games with Uril, and how little your opponents can do to stop him. If you get Hindered, that’s your own fault (and even then, it’s not particularly difficult to find him again, being in green and whatnot). If you get Cyclonic Rifted or Terminused, that’s just bad luck on your part. Overall, the situations in which Uril doesn’t have a chilling presence from even the command zone are few and far between, and well-tuned Uril decks can dominate if they counter their meta properly enough.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There you have it, my thoughts on Naya’s top power players! Considering that all that’s left for the Top Soldiers Of series is 5-color, I think I’m going to move onto a new monthly segment to replace it where I discuss sleeper hits or things I suggest to our local players, to give a similar feel of suggesting things for the deckbuilding process. I really appreciate the feedback everyone’s given me on this series, and as I look towards closing it out at the end of the month, I’d like to keep the momentum and focus of the series going. After I close it out, I think I’m going to be doing another month-long string of Let’s Build articles where I take consensus on generals to build, and then I’ll start August with this new article series.

Until next week, when I figure out something for my monthly Let’s Build article!
~L

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2539

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586

M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Born of the Gods - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2800
Journey into Nyx - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3101

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691
Part 13 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2822
Part 14 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2933
Part 15 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3086
Part 16 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3134

Let’s Talk Conspiracy:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

Let’s Talk M14:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228

Let’s Talk Theros:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2362
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2378

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

The Slippery Slope:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2440

The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Bant - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2907
Boros – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2854
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Esper - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2957
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
Jund - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3124
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Simic - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2900

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

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