The late H. C. Andersen, Danish fairytale author, once told the tale of how a respectable hen lost a single feather. The other hens told the owls, the owls told the doves, the doves told the bats, each adding their only dramatic twist to the news until it reached the roosters at the other end of town that five whole chickens had died last night.
And so it went that a single feather turned into five whole chickens. In essence, it’s a story about not believing in rumors and checking your source material, something I guess many people could learn from today, but the story does not actually have anything to do with the topic for today.
Except for maybe how a single Feather, the Redeemed can turn into five MTGO Standard league trophies.
Last week, I posted some decks that I had taken an interest to in early M20 Standard, and of those I’ve really taken a liking to Naya Feather. I think the green splash adds a lot that the straight Boros version doesn’t get access to. I’ve been tuning the deck and my sideboard approaches quite a bit, and this deck guide will get you right up to speed to where I’m at with the deck.
Keeping it up to date
Naya Feather by Simon Nielsen
4 Dreadhorde Arcanist
4 Tenth District Legionnaire
4 Thorn Lieutenant
4 Feather, the Redeemed
2 Gruul Spellbreaker
4 Gods Willing
4 Defiant Strike
4 Reckless Rage
2 Domri’s Ambush
2 Season of Growth
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple Garden
3 Temple of Triumph
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Clifftop Retreat
2 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
3 Veil of Summer
3 Tocatli Honor Guard
1 Lava Coil
Compared to the list I posted last week, I cut two of the Season of Growth to move a couple of Shock to the maindeck. This might seem odd, seeing as Season of Growth was the reason I splashed green to begin with. But I have found that it doesn’t really make or break any matchup. Even control decks can certainly win through it. But the card can be quite clunky and cause you to fall behind on board. Shock is the exact opposite of this and can help buy back the tempo losses you can have with 12 shocklands and no 1-drops.
You might wonder if it’s even worth it to play Naya rather than Boros if Season of Growth isn’t that amazing, but honestly I’ve grown to like the other green cards so much that I think they warrant a splash by themselves.
And don’t even get me started on how great Domri’s Ambush is for the deck. The fact that it shoots planeswalkers is huge, and it works beautifully with Dreadhorde Arcanist. Veil of Summer is also a welcome addition, even though it is somewhat awkward against Teferi, Time Raveler.
I also found that UG Nexus is one of the worst matchups because we aren’t terribly fast and can’t win through Root Snare. This is why I added both Cindervines and Demystify to the sideboard to shore up this matchup.
Tips and tricks
Get a head start on the common pitfalls
This deck isn’t exactly straightforward to play. It’s not like Heroic decks in Theros Standard where you just build up a giant creature they can’t interact with and kill them quickly. Feather is very much a value deck, especially this version. This means that you will be the aggressor against decks like Nexus, but most of the time you’ll face creature decks where you play the control role. And this deck demolishes creature decks, especially once you get Feather, the Redeemed plus Reckless Rage going.
So keep in mind that you are not just here to jam creatures on a curve and that you often want to hold back until you have protection up or you can guarantee value. And other times you do just want to jam. It really is a judgment call.
Here’s some tips and tricks to get you started:
- If you’re playing on Arena, remember to set your stops right. When you have Feather, the Redeemed in play with instants you can cast in hand, put a stop in their 2nd main phase. This is the phase where you need to cast your instants so that you get them back in their end step and have access to them on your own next turn. This way you get to draw two cards a turn from Defiant Strike. Even if it’s something as innocuous as casting Gods Willing just to scry one, remember to get that free value. Just keep in mind when you cast something in their 2nd main phase, they can still cast sorceries afterwards.
- Another stop you’ll need to have sometimes is in your own end step. This comes up often when you want to kill a bigger creature with Reckless Rage while you have Feather, the Redeemed in play. Cast it to deal 4 damage in your main phase, then in your end step after you get it back you get to cast it again to finish off their creature. Just remember that you need two creatures for this so you don’t accidentally kill off your own Feather. Or if you have Gods Willing you can use the next trick:
- Sometimes you need to cast two Reckless Rage in the same turn, but you only have a single creature which would die as a result. This comes up most often with Dreadhorde Arcanist. You can use Gods Willing to save it, but be aware of your timing! If you cast Gods Willing first, your creature will no longer be a legal target for Reckless Rage so you can’t cast that at all. Instead, cast the lethal Reckless Rage first, then respond to your own spell with Gods Willing. Since Rage has two targets it won’t fizzle, but it also won’t deal any damage to your creature with protection from red. On Arena you need to go into Full Control to pull this off.
- Sequencing can be very important with this deck, and usually you have a selection of 2-drops to choose between. If you have Gods Willing, the most important two-drops to protect are Dreadhorde Arcanist and Tenth District Legionnaire. This means you can safely use your turn 2 to deploy Season of Growth or Thorn Lieutenant.
- Another sequence you’d really like to go for is turn 2 Dreadhorde Arcanist, turn 3 Tenth District Legionnaire plus Defiant Strike or Reckless Rage. This gives you a nice boost of card advantage, a big attack and some card manipulation to boot.
- Dreadhorde Arcanist and Feather, the Redeemed have this weirdly wonderful interaction where if you cast a spell from the graveyard and target one of your creatures, you’ll actually get the spell back at the next end step. This is because Dreadhorde Arcanist tells you to exile the spell if it would end up anywhere but exile, but Feather, the Redeemed also says to exile the spell as it resolves, so Arcanist sees no problem with that happening.
- You can use that interaction to gain all sorts of advantage, but a common line where it comes up is usually on turn 4. On that turn, you often want to cast Defiant Strike or Reckless Rage on your Dreadhorde Arcanist BEFORE you play your Feather. Then play Feather pre-combat and attack, regrowing the spell you just cast and giving you a free extra use compared to just playing Feather, then casting your spell to get it right back before it hits the graveyard for Arcanist to use.
- That interaction can also let you do a loop with Shock. Simply point the Shock at their creature or their life total before attacking, then attack and cast it from the graveyard targeting your own creature. Now Feather will bring it right back to you to use again. This is a way you can break through a wall of Root Snare if their life total is low enough.
- Remember that you can use Defiant Strike on their creature in a desperate spot to draw towards a creature of your own.
- Sometimes Tenth District Legionnaire is a perfectly valid target for Shock. This comes up especially if you have Feather in play to generate a constantly growing Legionnaire. You can also do it without Feather on your own turn to make your Legionnaire survive a potential damage-based sorcery speed removal spell next turn, like a Cry of the Carnarium or Lava Coil.
- Also please remember that if you go turn 1 Temple of Triumph, your Clifftop Retreat won’t come into play untapped on turn 2. It shouldn’t really be necessary to say, but I’ve robbed myself of a turn 2 enough times that I thought I needed to mention it.
Sideboard against Mono Red/White Weenie/BW Vampires
Against Vampires specifically I’ve also experimented with bringing in a couple copies of Veil of Summer. But I think if you do this, only do it on the play where leaving up the mana is more reasonable and they probably will have more removal in their deck (since they’d be on the draw). You can maybe shave on Thorn Lieutenant to fit them in.
Sideboard against Esper Hero/Control
I assume they’ll board out their Hero of Precinct One, so I’m boarding appropriately. If they do keep it in, you can keep a couple Reckless Rage in your deck (since it also kills Basilica Bell-Haunt) and instead take out a couple Gods Willing. This might seem counterintuitive, but the protection spells can really brick against Teferi, Time Raveler, and you already have Veil of Summer anyway.
Teferi, Time Raveler is often such a nuisance. Often you’ll respond to it with Veil of Summer so that you draw a card and prevent it from dealing with your creature, then hopefully you can amass 5 power to take it down. Otherwise it’ll just shut off all your protection spells and also stop Dreadhorde Arcanist.
Sideboard against Gruul/Dinosaurs
Sideboard against Elementals
This is the matchup where Tocatli Honor Guard really shines. Risen Reef is so laughably bad with this card in play. Usually when you bring it in, you’ll just swap it for Thorn Lieutenant. Recent elementals lists are going quite big, almost like Simic Ramp. In those cases you can board closer to the plan in that matchup and keep in the Season of Growth.
Sideboard against Simic Ramp
As stated in the last paragraph, there’s a fluid border between the ramp decks and the elemental decks. Usually whenever they play Risen Reef that’s when you’d want to replace the rest of your Thorn Lieutenants with Tocatli Honor Guard. If you’re up against Mass Manipulation decks, you can also replace the Lieutenants with a couple Veil of Summer.
Sideboard against Mono Blue/UG Flash
In this matchup Veil of Summer really shines and effectively negates their game-plan of using counterspells to slow you down.
Against UG Flash you can leave some of the red removal in your board and instead bring in a couple Tocatli Honor Guard. Between Merfolk Trickster and Frilled Mystic I think it does enough to warrant an inclusion.
Sideboard against Nexus
In this matchup, it’s very important to be aware of your clock. Remember that putting them to 4 is significantly better than 5, because they essentially have to start casting Root Snare at that point, otherwise they die to double Shock (or Shock and an attack with Dreadhorde Arcanist). This is why we bring in Shock even though it really doesn’t have any targets outside of their face.
Sideboard against Boros Feather
The mirror match is super complicated, but it can also just be a blow-out, especially if one person gets Feather, the Redeemed plus Gods Willing up and running early. Adanto Vanguard can be an issue, but other than that I think we are slightly ahead in the mirror due to Season of Growth and additional lands.