Forgotten Realms (Naya Walkers) by KeySam
Hi, my name is Nikolas Crisci, most of you might know me better as KeySam. Today I want to talk about a deck you probably know it is a RGW Planeswalker deck I call Forgotten Realms,.because most people seem to forgotten this archetype and I just love DnD. Now you will be given the decklist.
1 [10E] Karplusan Forest
1 [10E] Brushland
2 [SHM] Fire-Lit Thicket
4 [ALA] Jungle Shrine
4 [10E] Treetop Village
2 [EVE] Rugged Prairie
2 [SHM] Wooded Bastion
4 [SHM] Reflecting Pool
3 [10E] Battlefield Forge
4 [ALA] Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 [LRW] Garruk Wildspeaker
2 [LRW] Cloudthresher
3 [ALA] Ajani Vengeant
2 [LRW] Chandra Nalaar
4 [U] Wrath of God
4 [CFX] Path to Exile
4 [LRW] Fertile Ground
2 [CFX] Volcanic Fallout
4 [CFX] Banefire
4 [10E] Mind Stone
SB: 1 [LRW] Chandra Nalaar
SB: 2 [CFX] Volcanic Fallout
SB: 2 [ALA] Realm Razer
SB: 4 [SHM] Guttural Response
SB: 4 [ALA] Woolly Thoctar
SB: 2 [LRW] Burrenton Forge-Tender
Now you’ve seen the decklist, let me shortly talk about how this article will be broken down, so that you can skip anything you’re not really interested in. This article is divided into two parts. First I will talk about how the deck came to be, what the process was till now and so forth, afterwards I will give you a matchup analysis, some play and sideboard advice and talk about some card choices.
Sow how did I come up with this particular deck? First of all you probably should know that I almost only play on-line and only here on magic-league. So I played in some T2 trials and played mostly some pretty bad home-brew decks . What I found out pretty fast was that RW Cruise was everywhere and I always lost to it. So I figured, that if I could build a deck that has a good game against cruise I would have a great shot at winning a trial. The first thing when something like that happens is that I take a look at the deck I want to beat and figure out how it works,. You should also note that I don’t do this by playing the deck, since I played against it pretty often and thought I had a pretty good idea of what the basics of this deck are. So lets take a look at what this deck generally looks like:
Boat Brew by Akimasa Yamamoto (Top 8 at Pro Tour Kyoto)
4 [LRW] Windbrisk Heights
4 [EVE] Rugged Prairie
4 [SHM] Reflecting Pool
3 [ALA] Plains (1)
4 [10E] Battlefield Forge
3 [DD2] Mountain (1)
4 [ALA] Ajani Vengeant
3 [EVG] Siege-Gang Commander
3 [ALA] Ranger of Eos
3 [EVG] Mogg Fanatic
4 [ALA] Knight of the White Orchid
4 [EVE] Figure of Destiny
3 [MOR] Reveillark
1 [LRW] Flamekin Harbinger
2 [10E] Wrath of God
4 [SHM] Spectral Procession
3 [CFX] Path to Exile
4 [DD2] Mind Stone
SB: 2 [10E] Wrath of God
SB: 1 [CFX] Path to Exile
SB: 2 [CFX] Banefire
SB: 2 [LRW] Burrenton Forge-Tender
SB: 2 [ALA] Elspeth, Knight-Errant
SB: 2 [SHM] Faerie Macabre
SB: 4 [EVE] Stillmoon Cavalier
My first thought was: “Hell this deck isn’t actually that fast”. That is something that happens to me quite a lot, if I play pretty bad decks and get smashed quickly I just get a wrong impression of decks I am playing against. Then I came to the conclusion, that it’s a deck that can come out quite aggressively, but its real strength is in the midgame pumping out tokens with Siege-Gang Commander, getting stuff back with Reveillark and netting free cards of Windbrisk Heights. So a couple of ways to beat this deck came into my mind. You either need to be faster then the deck or you have to play a lot of sweepers. I tried the first and found out that red wasn’t all that good against this deck and I didn’t really think that Kithkin could keep up with it. (I even lost matches where I had 8 protection from white guys Maindeck), Now the direction seemed clear, I had to play a controlish deck, but since I am not a control player I wasn’t happy with the idea of playing 5CC. Then it hit me, I remembered when some time back the Planeswalker deck was pretty big and literally every deck I made had 4 pithing needles between the Maindeck and the Sideboard. From my experience and from what I heard it was pretty good against the field, but just couldn’t win against faeries. Of course this was before Conflux and this set actually has some nice anti faeries cards in it. The other thing that made me happy was that the deck didn’t strike me as a real control deck since it can change its basic plan according to a matchup (something I absolutely love). While thinking about this, I already had a pretty good idea what I wanted to play. I wanted to have turn 2 acceleration for a turn 3 Planeswalkers, also play 4 Wrath of God and a smaller number of Volcanic Fallouts were set. Since I wasn’t planning on playing a real control deck, it was pretty important that the Planeswalkers could protect themselves. Since playing a turn 3 Walker was kind of important , to be able to just change my game plan, a converted Mana cost of 4 was also vital. So there we go, that was ground zero:
4 Wrath of God
2 Volcanic Fallout
4 Fertile Ground
4 Rampant Growth (I forgott about Mind Stone)
3 Garruk Wildspeaker
3 Elspeth the Knight Errant
2 Ajani Vengeant
After that I figured some spot removal is needed and a good finisher after getting in with some tokens should be set too.
+4 Path to Exile
I wanted to play Path to Exile over condemn, because it
a) allows me to go beatdown when it’s called for.
b) is better against Mistbind Clique
Another card I just fell in love with was Lapse of Certainty, I was not sure if it would fit into the deck, but being able to Timewalk or just drag the game out at the beginning seemed promising. Also I liked the fact that it can completely mess up your opponents’ plans, because a lot of people won’t expect this card.
+3 Lapse of Certainty
Then I realised that I needed a creature if I wanted to play this deck in a trial (MWS makes some decisions for you) and instantly thought about Cloudthresher. First of all it’s good against faeries and spectral procession tokens, but even more. It’s also good against 5 colour control, because you can play it in their Endstep and force their hand, if they don’t counter it they may get smashed for 7 which brings them close to losing to Banefire and if they do counter/destroy it I get to untap and hopefully clear the path for my Planeswalkers.
I wasn’t sure how many lands this deck wants and remembered that the usual ramp decks play something like 24 lands. Since I had 25 cards left to put in the deck I just added 25. They where the usual suspects (Treetops and Jungle Shrines, some Basics, some Filter….) . I should also mention that the current version doesn’t run any basic lands and that makes PtE better against me, but I wanted to have a consistent manabase. In addition PtE isn’t all that great against me anyway, I mean you can remove a token and maybe a Thresher later(at which point the 1 land doesn’t make a huge difference, I know I know I play Banefire), but I did not felt that it was worth the trade.
At this point a trial sign up had already started. So I added some random collection of cards in the Sideboard.
The Sideboard look something like this
2 Chandra Nalaar
2 Volcanic Fallout
3 Guttural Response
2 Celestial Purge
3 Realm Razer
3 Relic Progenitus
I thought that Realm Razer should be pretty fine against other ramp decks and slow decks and the rest is pretty straight forward I think. So I signed in the trial and waited for the first round. Since the trial happened some time ago I can’t really recall the details, but I remember that I played against 2 Boatbrew in the first two rounds and beat both of them, after round two I talked to some people in #mtg.de and I think Holzi didn’t really believe me and played against the deck with Boatbrew, I beat him too. I finally lost to a Blightning Beatdown deck (not sure if it was round 3 or 4). After the trial the 3 Relics where swapped for 3 Kithkin Finks). At this pmentionoint my memory gets a little bit fogy, I remember tweaking the deck by playing some minis and on MWSPlay. Afterwards I stopped playing the deck, because Pro Tour Kyoto was right around the corner and I thought that at least some pros will play a similar deck. After Pro Tour Kyoto was over and I did not find this deck in the coverage I picked it up again and started to tweak it. I found out pretty quickly that 25 land was way to much and that I really wanted to play 4 of the important Walkers. At some point someone asked me why I played Rampant growth over Mind Stone and since I didn’t have an answer those were swapped. One of the last changes was to kick Lapse of Certainty and add Chandra Nalaar in the main deck, although Lapse was good in the deck I just wanted to have a more powerful card in the Maindeck. I didn’t put it into the Sideboard, because against control Guttural Response is so much better for me and against aggro a straight up removal spell also does a better job. I am still thinking about how I can squeeze some of those into the Maindeck, since it’s a good flexible card. After I have my Maindeck set I usually start to put some work into the Sideboard and the Sideboard strategy. I do this this late for several reasons:
1.If you play a new deck you can quickly jump to some wrong conclusions about how matchups play out, which can lead to thinking about matchups that are irrelevant, since you beat them anyway, or not thinking about matchups you should be thinking about.
2.After tweaking the Maindeck, you should know what’s your path to victory and how you lose, this leads to knowing what cards are relevant in certain matchups.
3.It’s also important to know which cards you are able to cut and so figure out how many cards you can side in.
You might be able to figure some of this stuff out ahead of time, but it’s impossible to know how many cards you can take out from your deck, if your Maindeck is still evolving. If I want to talk about the evolving of the Sideboard I have to talk about strategies in certain matchups, which means I will now start the second part of this article.
The Matchup Analysis
Before we get started, it needs to be said that I didn’t do enough testing to give you percentages, however I will give you my impression of the most common matchups. It’s also worth mentioning that even when I say your the control deck, that does not mean your just thinking strictly control. If you can attack for example against Boatbrew, you should do so. I just tell you a direction to go and why you side in certain ways. Also never forget if you have a Fallout, to wrath the board, pump 1 1/1 token with Elspeth and get an attack in with all your guys, such a play can easily swing the matchup from I am a control deck, to I am the beatdown. All the strategies are also draw depended.
Lets start with RW Cruise / Boatbrew:
This matchup is in your favour. Your plan is to play some Walkers and trade some stuff. It’s perfectly fine to lay a turn 3 Elspeth, even if they already have 3 Spectral Procession tokens and a 2/2 guy in play. The worst thing that could happen is that they 1 for 1 you. First of all that means you have 5 life and a 1 for 1 trade. Then they usually will need to spend a removal spell to do so, which is fine, it’s worse if they kill your token with a Mogg Fanatic. Why I do this stuff a lot of the time has a couple of reasons. First of all each redundant Planeswalker you draw is a dead card. Which means, even if they kill Elspeth they just turn any other Elspeth in your hand on (Of course this means, it is often clever to start with a Planeswalker, of which you have another copy in your hand). It also gives your opponent the opportunity to misplay and overextend. Even more, if they do not have the removal spell, you will start your turn with an Elspeth in play and may play another Walker or sweep the board (it’s great to sweep the board and afterwards you are still able to put pressure on your opponent). Also if they should decide not to attack Elspeth and start attacking you, you can just play more Walkers and start a race if your hand allows that or you know now that your opponent thinks he can race you and sweep the board. Depending on your hand you can also chump with the token if you feel you need to buy yourself more time. Another important aspect of this matchup is to use your Path to Exile in the right spot. You often want to remove Siege-Gang Commanders if they’re tapped out, even if you wrath the board anyway. The reason is that they then can not bring them back with Reveillark, which is another card you may use the Path on before you reset the board, although I would rather try to kill the Lark with a Ajani or Chandra. Sometimes they can’t even bring back something that scares you and you just wrath right away although the board doesn’t look that scary. Another main target for PtE is the one of Flamekin Harbinger which most of these decks have. You should play around this guy anyway, let them hit you or your Walker with it, often it’s wise to not attack into it. Also be aware of Windbrisk Heights. It’s sometimes right to let them play whatever is under there before sweeping, since the lists I’ve seen do not run any Anthem effects or even worse Mirrorweave, but if you do so, you should make sure you have a way to play around a Lark that may lay under it. You should also note that you don’t have the ability to block flyers other than Cloudthresher which deals with them anyway, It’s often better to just take some damage or trade cards if they do not control flying creatures. If .they run any of the Two Ajanis, use the damage of Thresher or Fallout to kill them or just attack them with a flying Token or a Trampling Treetop Village. If they slow down and your able to put pressure on them do so. Your Sideboard plan is just to do everything I just told you, just a little bit better.
Sideboard: -3 Banefire + 2 Volcanic Fallout +1 Chandra Nalaar
I should also mention that most of the Cruise decks I have played did not run any Fulminator Mages, which is good against me. If these see more play in your metagame, you have always the option of playing Pithing Needle in your Sideboard. (Which is a pretty fine card anyway)
This is another good matchup, but it is a bit harder then RW Boatbrew. You can almost take everything I said above. The biggest difference between those two decks is that BW has hand disruption which can hurt you and has Anthem effects, which makes them faster and more resilient to Volcanic Fallout.- Therefore they don’t get to use SGC and do not have the Harbinger to make your life more difficult later. Cloudgoat Ranger is a nice target for your spot removal as is Tidehollow Sculler. Be also aware that Heights can pump now. Other then that it’s pretty similar to RW Cruise, although faster and more disruptive.
Sideboard: -3 Banefire + 2 Volcanic Fallout +1 Chandra Nalaar
Yet another good matchup. The plan you have is very similar to the other two tokens decks, just that Kithkin doesn’t have disruption or a great midgame plan, therefore they are faster then the other two decks. Which means it’s important to hit your land drops and get a wrath effect going.. Other then that just play the control deck.
Sideboard: -4 Banefire + 2 Volcanic Fallout +1 Chandra Nalaar +1 Wholly Thoctar
I put the Thoctars in, because I think a 5/4 blockers is better then a pretty expensive spot removal against this deck. The Path needs to stay though to go after Burrenton.
5 Colour Control
This is a close matchup, I would say it is slightly in your favour. Against this deck your strategy is to go beatdown. In game 1 you either trying to get a Walker or two to stick, or go beatdown with Treetop Village. If they get low on life you can Banefire them out too. Another good thing is that most 5CC decks will only play 8 permission spells in their maindeck and it’s pretty hard for them to handle the pressure a Walker can put on them. Game 1 gets a lot better if they do not have a Broken Ambitions and it’s also good for you to go first. Some things you should keep in mind. Only do 1 token with Elspeth and then start pumping it. That way you put more pressure on your opponent, your guy trades with Plumeveil if he has one and you’re not going to get hurt that much by a Volcanic Fallout (although they Timewalk probably). If they pass the turn with 4 Mana up you should take a second and think if you’re able to play around Cryptic Command, because getting a Planeswalker countered and the other one bounced can easily lose you the game. It’s often right to just attack and say go if you have some pressure on them. If you play game 1 right you should be slightly favoured and if you know your opponent is playing 5CC, you should Mulligan any 7 card hand that does not have a turn 2 Fertile Ground / Mind stone to lead into a turn 3 Walker. After sideboarding you’ll be making a lot of problems for them.
Sideboard: -4 Wrath of God -2 Volcanic Fallout -1 Ajani Vengeant -2 Chandra Nalaar -1 Path to Exile +4 Guttural Response +4 Wholly Thoctar +2 Realm Razer
Lets get into what I want to achieve with this Sideboard plan. First of all you want to go beatdown, that is why you side in the Thoctars. But they’re doing more then just helping you to put pressure on your opponent. They also make their Sideboard plan less effective. After sideboarding their plan is to counter a lot of your Planeswalkers and they bring in Negate for that purpose. Both Negate and Broken Ambitions aren’t good against Thoctar, while Negate is pretty obvious, the Ambitions might be a little harder to understand. If you go first and start with a turn 2 Mind Stone or Fertile Ground you can always resolve a turn 3 Wholly Thoctar, because they can only Broken Ambitions for 1. Of course you might say, but they have spot removal and walls. Well in order to bring their stuff in they should side their spot removal out and keep the walls. The reason is that spot removal isn’t particular good against tokens created by Planeswalkers, but I need an answer to the walls or they will slow me down a lot and take a guy out. That is also the reason why I keep Path to Exile in. Furthermore they also want to keep their Volcanic Fallout to be able to kill a Garruk/Ajani or just get some counters of a Walker. Now that we have that covered we go to Realm Razer, this card fills a great role for this deck against any slower deck.. If it resolves and isn’t killed right away, it means you win within a few turns. Of course this is not always the case, but against 5CC it is almost always game over (Plumeveil helps them if you have nothing else going). And it’s not that unlikely that you can resolve it. First of all if you have one on your hand you’re going to try to resolve one Walker after another and if they have counter for every single one, it’s more likely they will run out if you decide to go for it (of course Negate also doesn’t help against Realm Razer). I only play 2 Realm Razer, because it gives their Volcanic Fallouts something else to go after. Now let’s go to the last card you bring in: Guttural Response. This helps you to resolve a thread of your choice. But it also is great in countering an EOT Cryptic that tries to bounce a Walker or an Esper Charm if you’re already ahead.
I didn’t play the matchups I will discuss from now on that often, but I will still give you my impression.
Mono Red / RB Blightning Beatdown
Against these decks you also are the control deck, but their creatures are bigger and Fallout is not good against them. They also play some burn to handle your Planeswalkers or just go over the top. Blightning can be annoying too. You’re still pretty good at dispatching creatures and trading. Your Planeswalker also often acts as gaining life (since they soak up damage). Overall I feel this matchup should favour you but I am not sure how good it really is. After siding it gets better.
Sideboard: – 2 Volcanic Fallout -1 Banefire +2 Burrenton Forge Tender +1 Chandra Nalaar
The Banefire stays over Wholly because these deck should achieve some protection from white guys. Burrenton is very good against these decks, since it’s a great blocker and can stop lethal burn. The Chandra should be pretty clear too. I want to mention that I like keeping Thresher in against these decks to stop Demigod and because he is just that big.
Although this deck isn’t played all that often right now, I think it’s worth mentioning. The few games I played I won and I think you’re pretty well set up to beat this deck. You should keep in mind that they have quite some reach between Resounding Thunder and Banefire. Double Dragon is also annoying. But overall you’re faster then they are and you have the better tools to interact with them. Ajani is great in letting lands tapped, it’s also fine to play Garruk of your own to deal with theirs.. Although Thresher, Ajani and Chandra can also help against them, Banefire is a real answer and in game 1 you also have 2 Volcanic Fallouts. An early Chandra can do a lot of damage and any walker forces their hand too. Wrath of god and Thresher are fine against Double Dragon, while Thresher hits pretty hard too. Path to Exile has to be used wisely. I should say I didn’t have the Wholly Thoctars in the Sideboard, when I played against this deck. Now I would probably side like this:
-4 Path to Exile -2 Volcanic Fallout -1 Wrath of God +4 Wholly Thoctar +2 Realm Razer +1 Chandra Nalaar
I am not sure if Wholly Thoctar is better then PtE but I think it should be fine, since it can block Kitchen Finks and also attack. Chandra Nalaar can help with their guys and also is capable of dealing a ton of damage. Realm Razer is there for the same reason you bring it in against 5CC.
I am not sure how good this matchup is, I’ve only played 5 games against faeries and I am 2-3. Although 2 of those games were game ones on MWSPlay where my opponents just dropped. I think faeries are favoured in game 1, but you are in games 2-3. You can certainly beat them in game 1, but it gets a lot better after siding. You are in the control role against this deck. In game 1 you need to sweep the board or resolve a couple of Walkers fast. I suggest almost always putting another token into play with Elspeth, because you can’t afford to get your 1/1 killed in response to the pump. I could see situations where you can still go for it, when you feel you should play beatdown.
Sideboard:-4 Garruk -3 Ajani +2 Volcanic Fallout +4 Guttural Response +1 Chandra Nalaar
After sideboarding you have 10 sweepers, four can’t be countered. I know some people do not like Guttural Response against faeries a lot, but it still can counter Cryptic Command, Broken Ambitions and Negate/Flash Freeze if those are being played. It also helps to get your Wrath or Chandra through. If you get a Chandra going it gets hard for faeries to win. Path to Exiles target is Mistbind Clique or Manlands, although Volcanic Fallout can handle those too (Thresher only Faerie Conclave).
This matchup is not good. Their guys are all so big, which makes Banefire worse and makes it a lot less likely that you can trade or eat up stuff with your tokens. Gaddock Teeg is extremely good against my list, Tidehollow Sculler is also decent. If this deck is big in your environment, I wouldn’t recommend playing this deck. It’s not unbeatable, but it’s not easy. Save your PtE if possible, because you can’t afford to let Teeg stay in play. Volcanic Fallout is not great against this deck either. Ajani can help in the right spot, Elspeth is great to chump block and Garruk can help too.
Sideboard: -4 Banefire -1 Garruk +4 Wholly Thoctar +1 Chandra Nalaar
You get the Thoctar because it’s better then Banefire against this deck, although it gives their removal spells something to throw on, but you need something to play if they get out an early Teeg and you do not have PtE or Fallout (that’s the reason I wouldn’t side them out). If Darkbant is big in your environment and you still want to play this deck, I would put Lignify into the Sideboard. Okay I can hear you going nuts right now, but Lignify is the best answer to Gaddock Teeg in the format, because it shuts down 2 Teegs with just one card. And it’s also a removal for any of their fatties and do not forget that they can play Wilt Leaf Lieges to pump up Teeg.
That is my take on the Planeswalker archetype, I hope you have enjoyed this article and will have some fun with it until next time.