Naya Lightsaber – Lifegain Midrange

The aggro annihilator!

The aggro annihilator!

Introduction

Naya lightsaber has been around since the printing of Wild Nactal, but it took center stage during the 2009 Worlds. There it beat out the all-powerful Jund decks to capture the top spot. A slick combination of powerful 1 drops, burn, Ajani Vengeant, and Baneslayer angel, this is a deck that plays fierce aggro creatures within a mid-range shell. Nevertheless, the majority of critical spells reside in the four mana slot, which results in the deck playing more like a mid-range deck than an aggro build. In the cube, you may find yourself drafting this deck if you opened or obtained a very early Ajani Vengeant, Baneslayer Angel, Thragtusk, or even Wild Nacatl.

"Bwa Ha Ha!"

“Bwa Ha Ha!”

Deck Strategy:

        The goal of this deck is to play the best cards across the three Naya colours, which results in a highly synergistic pile of face-stomping, life-gaining, mid-range craziness. Naya Lightsaber crashes out of the gates with Wild Nacatl caliber one drops and mana dorks, follows that up with powerful three drops, four drops, and seals the deal with life-gaining five drops. While throwing down all this creature power, the deck runs a suite of burn and removal, along with a few planeswalkers such as Ajani Veng ant and Elspeth 1.0.

        This deck beats up on aggro quite well, and takes apart any deck that cannot compete with its combination of efficient beats, lifegain, and removal. For control matchups, this deck will want to mulligan for 1 drops, shifting its role to that of an aggro deck that rides on the coat-tails of Nactl and friends. Against other mid-range decks, this deck packs a wallop of potent mid-game creatures, and can grind out matches with its removal and lifegain.

Key Picks:

  • Wild Nacatl + Friends (One drops) – These will put you into this deck, and justify the colour combination (Kird Ape, Loam Lion, Figure of Destiny, Savannah Lions).

    Ice cold mana fixing

    Ice cold mana fixing

  • Dual Lands – Three colour decks require a prioritization on mana. City of Brass will do some serious work in this deck.

  • Guild Spells – These may wheel, but it is often a safe bet to draft the highly sought over cards such as Ajani Vengeant or Bloodbraid Elf right away. These cards make or break your deck.

  • Burn – A suite of burn spells to clear the way. Starting with Lightning helix, and moving onto bolts and dividable burn spells.

  • Spot Removal – Because this deck will go into the later stages of the game, swords and path to exile will help against larger creatures.

  • Mana dorks – Hierarch and Birds are the best, but the others will help you cast the various naya spells.

    Well... no duh

    Well… no duh

  • Two Drops – Try to get stoneforge mystic, pridemage, and tarmogoyf. Otherwise focus on three and four drops, using mana dorks to ramp up.

  • Three and Four Drops – Just grab aggressive creatures that are easy to cast in terms of colour. Ranger of Eos and FTK, for example, are very, very strong in this deck.

  • Baneslayer/Exalted Angel, Thragtusk and other five drops – After you pick up a few three and four drops, make sure to grab these angels or other flyers to top the curve off and finish the game. Lifelink is especially important for this deck, so try to get the angels/thragtusk.

  • Equipment – Equipment can be quite strong in any creature based deck, but this deck really wants Batterskull!

Draft Strategy:

Grom! Grom! Grom!

Grom! Grom! Grom!

Drafting a three colour mid-range deck requires a focus on spell curve and maintaining the proportions of casting costs of your creatures. This starts with drafting 4-5 one drops that are similar to Wild Nacatl in power and function. Next, make sure to pick up a few mana dorks, especially Noble Hierarch, so that you can reliably play your higher cc spells. While this deck does not revolve around two drops, do not pass up very strong cards like Tarmogoyf or Stoneforge Mystic. Curve up into the 3cc slot with around 2-3 creatures such as Kitchen Finks, Troll Ascetic, or Mirran Crusader. Next, grab 2-3 more for the 4cc slot, especially Bloodbraid Elf, Ranger of Eos, FTK, and Exalted Angel (yes, she is a four drop). Finish this off with 2-3 5cc creatures, focusing on those that have lifegain – like Baneslayer Angel, Thragtusk, and Batterskull.

Meow?

Meow?

With a well rounded creature curve in place, you can also focus on drafting key removal spells. Try to pick up three burn spells and three spot-removal spells. In addition, grab 2-3 planeswalkers, especially Ajani Vengeant. He is a critical part of this deck, and does everything you could want. Meanwhile, also continue to grab dual lands, and also pick up a Slayer’s Stronghold if it tables.

This build can also be adjusted into a more aggro shell if you are not seeing any finishers, with your curve ending at three or four instead of five and including more one and two drops. This style of deck is often referred to as Zoo. It plays a huge amount of 2/x’s and burn spells to quickly dispatch opponents. However, in an aggro shell their is more impetuous to draft lands so you can play your cards right away and maintain pressure. Either way, Naya is an excellent deck to craft.

In summation, your goal is to build a deck that focuses on lifegain, strong beaters, Naya synergy, planeswalker support, and an excellent removal package. Make sure to draft the lands you need, and try not to make your curve too top heavy.

Weaknesses:

The main weakness for this deck and a lot of other midrange decks is control decks that go bigger. Try to use your removal well, and pick up some land destruction for the sideboard to bring in against control or other late-game decks. Without access to discard, permission can be crippling, so a Thrun may also be a valuable pick up for control matches.

Conclusions:

Naya Lightsaber is a very specific deck to draft, and may not always be the best pick. It’s reliance on lifegain creatures and cards that are highly drafted by other decks make it vulnerable to being ‘hated’ out by accident. Nevertheless, the deck itself is very strong, as the three colours can come together to form a fantastic midrange build that beats up on aggro with ease. With the power and prevalence of level of aggro decks constantly rising in the cube, Naya Lightsaber (a.k.a. KITTIES) might just be a deck you want to draft at your next cube event.

KITTIES!!!!!

KITTIES!!!!!

Sample Deck Lists:

Lots of one drops

One drop screw… but Jitte!

Naya AGGGGRRROOOO

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