Deck Tech: Naya Midrange with Magnus Lantto

Posted in GRAND PRIX MANCHESTER 2016 on May 29, 2016

By Frank Karsten

A glance at the top tables at the start of Round 8 indicated that Naya Midrange was the most popular choice near the top of the standings. It had undergone a huge growth in popularity in recent weeks. One of the people running it, undefeated at that time, was Magnus Lantto, so I sat down with him to learn more about the Naya Midrange deck.

The Player

Magnus Lantto

Magnus Lantto is a 25-year old professional Magic player from Malmö, Sweden. He is best known for winning last year's Magic Online Championship and is a member of team EUreka. He tends to take preparation for tournaments seriously and regularly chairs meetings for that team.

The Deck

Magnus Lantto's Naya Midrange – Grand Prix Manchester 2016

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"It's a deck that plays the most powerful cards and the best generic answers," Lantto said. "Four-Color Rites contains the most broken cards, but has to run many weak cards to make it work. Naya has all cards that are good by themselves."

The origin of the deck can be traced back to Grand Prix Tokyo, where Riku Kumagi won the event with a list that was quite new at that time. Then Jonathan Anghelescu played it at the Magic Online Championship, and it has grown in popularity on Magic Online ever since. Lantto also discovered the power of the deck on there: " I was testing various decks for Grand Prix Manchester on the Magic Online leagues. I heard that this Naya deck was pretty good so I tried it, and it was the first deck that I 5-0'd a league with."

"Sylvan Advocate, Tireless Tracker, and Nissa, Vastwood Seer is a great trio for a mid-range deck. They offer card advantage, are early on the curve, and are good both on offense and on defense. This trio of green cards are too good not to play with."

So then the next question is which cards to put next to those key green creatures. "I was testing Sultai for a while, which adds support cards from blue and black. But I found that Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and other Sultai threats were not as powerful as the planeswalkers that Naya offered. Nahiri, the Harbinger, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and Chandra, Flamecaller are great ways to lock up the game."

So according to Lantto, the red and white support cards have the highest general power level. What's more, the removal spells in those colors are versatile. Ultimate Price, for instance, can be overly specific and restrictive, but Stasis Snare and Nahiri can kill anything, which gives a lot of flexibility. "But it's important not to view it as a Nahiri deck—it's a green creature deck with planeswalkers and removal spells," Lantto clarified.

Lantto made a couple of small tweaks to the deck, such as a singleton Deathcap Cultivator and a Sigarda, Heron's Grace. "The Deathcap Cultivator is a bit random, but I wanted to lower the curve a little bit. As for Sigarda: Pierre Dagen and Marco Cammilluzzi worked on the deck, and it was their idea to put it in. Archangel Avacyn doesn't fit the deck that well, and I expected to face more Archangel Avacyn than Reflector Mage. Sigarda matches up well against Avacyn and does well against black removal spells, so I like it."

Positioning, Matchups, and Sideboarding

When I asked Lantto what the good and bad matchups for his deck are, he replied that it's a typical midrange deck in that it has a lot of even matchups. "The Bant Eldrazi deck that I played at the Magic Online Championship is a good matchup for Naya because of Stasis Snare and Dragonlord Atarka. Red-Green Ramp is an example of a bad matchup."

"Sideboarding with this deck is not easy, and it can change a lot on the play and on the draw. You could go aggro or more defensive. The nice thing is that you don't have any cards in the main deck that are terrible in certain matchups, so you rarely need to overboard."

Tips and Tricks

Many of the cards in the deck are relatively straightforward, but Lantto had one piece of advice for players who are interested in picking up the deck: Check whether you can win right away.

"It's surprising how much damage the deck can do," he said. "For instance, I played one game where my opponent was at 20 life and I had Sylvan Advocate, Needle Spires, and an eight-loyalty Nahiri, the Harbinger on the battlefield. My opponent tapped out to play some creatures, and I won on the next turn: I ultimated Nahiri, got Dragonlord Atarka kill his blockers, activated my creature-land, and attacked with all of my creatures. Eight from Atarka, eight from Spires, and four from Advocate. That's 20!"